Aeroplan Card

Air Canada Aeroplan Review

Aeroplan is one of the most successful loyalty programs in existence. What makes this program stand out to others? Aeroplan was, for a time, spun off and not owned by Air Canada all together. This forced Aimia (Aeroplan’s previous owner) to get creative and vastly expand their partnerships. As a result, earning miles became a breeze as a significant amount of retailers awarded miles; things you would buy anyway in daily life. This expanded the program past frequent flyers, and into mainstream life. This is why Air Canada’s Aeroplan boasts over 5 million members today. Lets review what makes Aeroplan can do for you.

Note: This only deals with the rewards part of the program, and not the Air Canada’s Altitude frequent flyer program. They are currently separate, although quasi-joined together (its all very confusing, thanks to the sale of the program and the fact that it was not controlled by Air Canada for a while). We are working on this review to get this clarified, and will post a link soon.

Earning Miles

Before we figure out how we can spend our miles, we need to review how to earn your Aeroplan miles. Fortunately, there is no shortage of ways to accomplish this. Between financial and retail partners, and travel rewards (doi!) you would be hard pressed to not find a way to earn miles without changing anything you do. (Spoiler alert – you can double dip!)

Financial Partners

Aeroplan Financial

Aeroplan partners with not one, not two, but three major different banks in Canada. TD, CIBC, and Amex all offer Aeroplan branded cards with various levels of benefits. Here is a list:

TD

TD bank offers four different Aeroplan credit cards.

  • Aeroplan Visa Platinum Card
    • 89 CAD annual fee
    • 1 mile/dollar on gas, groceries, and drugstore purchases
    • 1 mile/1.5 dollars on everything else
  • Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card
    • 120 CAD annual fee
    • 1.5 miles/dollar on gas, aircanada.com, groceries, and drugstore purchases
    • 1 mile/dollar on everything else
  • Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card
    • 399 CAD annual fee
    • 1.5 miles/dollar on gas, aircanada.com, groceries, and drugstore purchases.
    • 1.25 miles/dollar on everything else
  • Aeroplan Visa Business Card
    • 149 CAD annual fee
    • 1.5 miles/dollar on travel and gas
    • 1 mile/dollar on everything else

CIBC

CIBC offers six different Aeroplan credit cards.

  • Aero Platinum Visa Card &
  • Aero Platinum Visa Card for Students
    • 39 CAD annual fee
    • 1 mile/1.5 dollars on everything else
  • Aerogold Visa Infinite Card
    • 120 CAD annual fee
    • 1.5 miles/dollar on gas, aircanada.com, groceries, and drugstore purchases
    • 1 mile/dollar on everything else
  • Aerogold Visa Infinite Privilege Card
    • 399 CAD annual fee
    • 1.5 miles/dollar on gas, aircanada.com, groceries, and drugstore purchases.
    • 1.25 miles/dollar on everything else
  • Aerogold Visa Card for Buisness
    • 180 CAD annual fee
    • 1.5 miles/dollar on travel and gas
    • 1 mile/dollar on everything else
  • Aerogold Visa Card for Buisness Plus
    • 120 CAD annual fee
    • 1.5 miles/dollar on travel and gas
    • 1 mile/dollar on everything else

Amex

Amex offers two Aeroplan Credit Cards

  • American Express AeroplanPlus Gold Card
    • 120 CAD annual fee
    • 1 mile/dollar for up to 10,000 dollar annual spend
    • 1.25 mile/dollar over 10,000 dollar annual spend
  • American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum Card
    • 499 CAD annual fee
    • 1.25 mile/dollar for up to 25,000 dollar annual spend
    • 1.5 mile/dollar over 25,000 dollar annual spend
    • annual short haul bonus companion ticket worth 15,000 miles

Additionally, American Express offers four different cards with a 1:1 transfer ratio for Aeroplan

  • The American Express Gold Rewards Card
    • 150 CAD annual fee
    • 2 points/dollar on gas, groceries, drugstores, travel.
    • 1 bonus point/dollar on all purchases at Amex travel
    • 1 point/dollar on everything else
  • The Platinum Card (OUR REVIEW)
    • 699 CAD annual fee
    • 3 points/dollar on dining
    • 2 points/dollar on travel
    • 1 bonus point/dollar at Amex travel
    • 1 point/dollar on everything else
  • American Express Business Gold Rewards Card
    •  250 CAD annual fee
    • 1 point/dollar on all purchases
    • 1 bonus point/dollar on purchases from 3 select vendors
  • Business Platinum Card from American Express
    • 499 CAD annual fee
    • 1.25 points/dollar on all purchases

Summary

As you can tell, with sixteen different cards, there is no shortage of available options or earning opportunity. We will have a comparison review of all these Aeroplan cards up shortly and will link it here when it is available. Aeroplan tends to offer the best earn rates, assuming you are willing to swallow the annual fee. That being said, don’t let that discourage you as they often offer other benefits. On to other earning opportunities! 

Retail Partners

Aeroplan Review Retail

Aeroplan partners with a genuinely insane amount of retail partners- lets review them! Over 170 retail partners are available VIA their eStore. These partners include HBC, Adidas, Apple, and even Ebay! (Amazon was available, however the partnership was suspended March 26, 2020 due to ‘current extraordinary circumstances’. Weather they will come back remains to be seen.)

I simply do not have the … retail room (puns!) to post all their partners, but I can include a link

It is not unheard to earn up to 10x points on your purchases when there is a promotion on with the retailer, so keep your eyes peeled!

Hotels

Most hotels have a partnership with Aeroplan to allow you to either earn miles directly or through a points conversion program. They currently partner with around 120 hotel chains, the full list is availablehere. Earn rates can vary vastly, however tend to be in the 2-4 points per dollar range. As an example, Marriott offers a transfer ratio of 3:1- for a total of 3.33 miles/dollar in their hotels (as they earn 10 points/dollar at their hotels)

Flights

Oh boy do things ever get complicated here. Aeroplan works off a mile-flown framework, and not one where prices matter. The math gets complicated (but some great deals can be found!)

Here is a chart of the earn rates for Air Canada:

Aeroplan Review Mileage Chart

Here are some more Star Alliance partners that earn Aeroplan miles.

United

United Chart

Eva Air

Eva Air Chart

Lufthansa

Lufthansa Chart

As you can tell, the rates vary somewhat. However the general rule with these earn rates is the following:

  • Economy: 50-100% of miles flown
  • Premium Economy: 100-125% of miles flown
  • Business: 125-150% of miles flown

These rates do compound with the frequent flyer status bonuses, however more on that later. 

The ‘double dip’

Double dipping in this case refers to using a Aeroplan Credit Card at an Aeroplan partner to earn miles on both sides. Whether retail or travel, any partner will award points in full on the purchase, and the credit card will as well. As a result, the earn rates will be compounded! This way you can ensure all your miles are in one program for easier use.

Spending Miles

Now we get to the fun part! How do we redeem our precious miles for the perfect trip? The Aeroplan program gets complicated as there are many ways to redeem miles, so let’s review!

Aeroplan Reward Redemption 

There are many different ways to redeem miles. Here is a short list:

  • Gift Cards
  • Merchandise
  • Vacation Packages
  • Hotels
  • Car Rentals
  • Fixed Mileage Flights
  • Market Fare Flights

Right away, we want to do away with the first 5 options. The highest mile value achievable with these categories is about 1c/mile, and that is only on Air Canada gift cards. Excluding those, the average value drops to about .7c/mile. So, lets focus on flight receptions!

Market Fare Flights Vs Fixed Mileage

Market fare rewards are the most flexible way to spend your miles. You can book any Air Canada flight, on any date without restrictions. However, given Aeroplan’s relatively few blackouts, this has little value unless you plan to fly that exact day.

The point value for a Market Fare redemption is typically lower than one for fixed mileage. The question becomes weather its ever a better deal to book market fare. 

The answer is yes, but also no. Market fares fluctuate based on the actual cost of the ticket, however (barring a spectacular deal) the value per point remains relatively constant and typically sub 1c/mile. If the market fare falls below the cost of the fixed mileage flight, it’s very likely on a sale. Our recommendation at that point (from an optimization perspective) is to pay for that flight in cash, unless its an Aeroplan exclusive deal. 

Do I pay for taxes with miles?

No. Nope. Nada. Don’t do it. The value for taxes is fixed and always LOWER than the flight redemption. It is currently pegged at .7c/mile.

The reason taxes are always less worth it is that taxes are something that the airline has to actually pay out of pocket to someone (governments, airports, taxes, etc). Ticket fares are, typically, more expensive than the cost of the flight. A 500$ flight may only cost an airline 300$ to operate, so they can play around with mileage and get you a better deal.

Example Redemptions:

Enough chat. Lets look at some redemptions.

Redemption Chart for Fixed Mileage rewards:

Aeroplan Redemption Chart Review

There are lots of examples, but here are the main ones:

All fares are on the same dates, cost for round trip fares. All values in CAD.

Dates: Departure 7/11/2020 Arrival 7/18/2020      
Origin Destination Airline Class Original Cost Mileage Cost Tax Point Value
Toronto Hong Kong EVA Air Econ $1,619.00 75,000 $101.48 $0.0202
      Business $5,939.00 150,000 $114.22 $0.0388
Vancouver Halifax Air Canada Econ $858.00 25,000 $196.10 $0.0265
      Business $2,024.00 50,000 $196.10 $0.0366
Calgary Houston Air Canada Econ $379.00 25,000 $118.45 $0.0104
      Business $838.00 50,000 $118.45 $0.0144

In general, these are the rules to follow when it comes to optimizing flight rewards:

  1. Business class has a higher redemption value that economy. 
  2. Longer flights tend to have a better value
  3. Tickets during peak season tend to have higher redemption values
  4. There is one more secret.

That secret is called seat Upgrades

Aeroplan has a little known redemption option for seat upgrades- lets review this option! Lets take a look at that Toronto-Hong Kong flight.

Origin Destination Airline Class Original Cost Mileage Cost Tax Point Value
Toronto Hong Kong EVA Air Econ $1,619.00      
      Econ (full) $2,235.48      
      Business $5,939.00      
      Difference $3,703.52 50,000 $0.00 $0.0741

And WOAH. Look at that redemption value. Before we get too excited, we need to take a look at restrictions on this reward. Only fares of certain classes are eligible. These are typically full fare economy. You are forced to buy a more expensive fare (see full econ rate above), however the redemption value is still off the charts. These are also restricted to only star alliance partners. Full eligibility can be found here.

Other Tips

  • If you book a trip with Aeroplan and pay taxes with you Aeroplan card, the insurance benefits will likely extend to the trip. Booking with another card will likely disqualify you from some of the insurance products on your credit cards. That being said, each card is different and we always recommend you check your cardholder agreement for final details.
  • Booking redemptions if you have an Aeroplan Card will get you some extra benefits. These may include priority check in, free baggage, and lounge access. Each card is different and we always recommend you check your cardholder agreement for final details.

Conclusion

I think we have droned on enough with the review and we are ready to draw some conclusions. Who is this program for?

  • If you fly business or long haul, you will definitely find some great deals on Aeroplan.
  • Flying during peak will also give you some better redemption values as ticket prices are higher.
  • You need to be willing to work for it. Variability is high on this program (we got point values any where from 0.7 to 7c/mile). You need to play around lots to get the high redemption values we have seen. That being said, if you put the research in you can get some impressive rewards your way.
  • Anything other that flight rewards are not worth it on Aeroplan- 1% cash back cards will give a better value.

Overall, your mileage will vary. That being said, even in the more poor redemptions, Aeroplan will still be a relatively mid-tier rewards program. That is a good thing, as your rewards will still be comparable even if you find a not-that-great deal. That being said, stay away from anything other than flight rewards and do not pay for taxes with points. Its not a surprise this is arguably the most popular rewards program in Canada. The Aeroplan website is availablehere for your review.

We hope you found the Aeroplan review informative! If you have any questions, shoot them in the comments section below.

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