AIR MILES Cash allows you to instantly redeem the reward miles in your AIR MILES CASH balance towards everyday purchases at participating Sponsor locations. As always, you can redeem for Dream rewards like travel, merchandise and more using the reward miles in your Dream balance.
Once you have accumulated 95 reward miles in your AIR MILES Cash balance you will be able to redeem instantly at participating Sponsor Locations (95 Reward Miles = $10)
Air Miles 'Cash' is nice because the value of each AM is fixed... 95AM for $10 means each AM is worth 10.526c/each. Sometimes there are "redeem 95AM and get 25AM back" type promotions which increase the effective value of each AM too.
Take a look at 'Dream' rewards and figure out what the value per AM works out to be. The people that redeem for magazines and flights find 'Dream' rewards better. For mostly everyone else, 'Cash' is better.
If you area serious collector and you have a BMO AIR MILES World MasterCard and regularly shop sponsors such as Safeway and Shell, and accumulate a thousand or more AIR MILES a year, you should send 100% of your AIR MILES to Dream and redeem for a flight. That is where you get your best value, especially with the 25% discount on required AIR MILES flights you get with the BMO AIR MILES World MasterCard.
If you are a casual collector and only collect a few miles here and there, you should send your AIR MILES 100% to Cash. Yes, the return is less, but it is still better than redeeming for merchandise and you only need 95 AIR MILES to get $10 to redeem at a sponsor. AIR MILES expire after 5 years from the end of the quarter from which they were earned (ex. we are now in Q4, AIR MILES earned today (October 2, 2014) will expire December 31, 2019) so you may not be able to get enough for a flight (1,200+) within 5 years. Merchandise rewards give you THE WORST value out there at around 7 or 8 cents per mile. AIR MILES Cash is 10.5 cents per mile at least.
Now that Costco is accepting MC, I will be accumulating a few more Airmiles, but I would never go out of my way to get them. It's been a pretty useless program for me since I never can get a flight when I want. It's marginally better now with the two tiered redemption schedule but you have to spend a lot more points to get those flights.
I have mine set for dream rewards...cash rewards would be a good idea if you like using it for groceries and now Sobey's is taking AM's too.