Many of us are travelling over the holidays, so this is a great opportunity to compare a few alternatives to travelling.
Is taking the bus worth it? The answer, as usual is, it depends. I am clearly a big fan of points, so I really don’t like travelling without earning points. But I am also too cheap to pay for regular fare, so I will always shop for the best price I can for any type of transportation. I always have a set price in my mind, so I have a goal in mind when I look to purchase a train ticket, flight ticket or whatever other means of transportation. I also prefer to travel more comfortably, so I am not a big fan of travelling by bus. That being said, the bus can also be a very affordable way to travel if you can find the right deals.
For example, with Greyhound, always consider the available discounts such as: advance purchase, web fares only, student discounts, senior discounts, military discounts, etc. Do not ever settle for regular fare, otherwise you are better off buying a train ticket (if available) at a discounted rate, which might actually come out much cheaper than the bus ride, and you get points! I would not assume that the bus is the only cheap option out there when VIA Rail is constantly putting out sales of their own.
One promotion that will be hard for the train to beat is the Megabus with Coach Canada. If your travelling hours are flexible, then you can get extremely low cost bus tickets. Even cheaper than driving yourself. The gas price will actually cost more than the bus ticket, which makes Megabus the number one mode of transportation is terms of affordability. It might take a little of work and flexibility to find the right price, but it can be totally worth it if you are looking for a great deal.
To make up for the loss of loyalty points by taking the bus, you can look into getting a credit card that gives a higher earning ratio on travel related expenses. For example, the American Express Gold Rewards Card gives 2 points per $1 spent on travel expenses, but 1 point per $1 spent on other purchases.
Unfortunately in Canada, any credit card that gives an added bonus for travel related expenses will usually have an annual fee. Just remember to do your calculations to determine whether an annual fee is worth it. I have written a lot about whether annual fees are worth it for certain credit cards throughout the site.
Conclusion: Always book travel expenses that meet your budgets. Avoid overpaying for transportation because there are enough sales going around for us to take advantage of, whether it’s advance purchase deals or even last minute deals. Don’t be scared to give your business to the competition if you find a better deal.