Saving up your reward points for free flights and TVs is an admirable goal, but what if you don’t have enough points for the big stuff? Fear not — there are many ways to stretch your reward spending.

The first thing to do is make sure your reward card is giving you the best reward returns on your purchases. Spending a few bucks on annual fees might be worth it to give you the best collection rate for points.

For example, Aeroplan gives users up to double or triple the amount of points, depending on what level of program-approved credit card you use for purchases, while BMO offers a similar reward structure with a Bronze Mosaic Air Miles card.

The next thing to do is realize you don’t have to save up thousands of miles just to get some use out of your points. Air Miles customers, for instance, can trade points for gift cards, grocery cards and gas cards. Even as few as 25 Air Miles can get you a movie pass.

Perry Schwartz, senior manager of public relations for Air Miles, says the reward system is designed to let people choose rewards they can use on a daily basis.

“It’s built around everyday spending. If people just do what they’re doing every day, they can hit that 25 miles reward rather quickly,” Schwartz said.

BMO also offers Air Miles rewards using your debit card from a savings account, and most rewards programs give regular promotions such as seasonal discounts of flights booked using reward miles. Retail stores frequently run bonus reward miles promotions too, so keep an eye out for chances to rack up a few extra points with your grocery or drugstore purchase.

While several websites allow you to consolidate your reward points from different sources, be aware that most of them take a heavy cut of your points in the exchange, sometimes as much as 50 per cent. Do your research, pick the reward point program that is right for you and stick with it to maximize the spending power of your points.

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