Travelling can be an expensive endeavour– especially if it’s an activity you often engage in. But, whether you fly casually or for business, frequently or just once or twice a year, being part of a loyalty program exclusively designed for travellers can make the whole process so much more seamless and rewarding.
The Aeroplan Rewards program was conceived in 1984 by Air Canada as a way to reward their frequent flyer customers. Since then, the brand has changed hands multiple times, and Aeroplan has grown to over 5 million members– making it one of the most popular travel reward programs available for Canadian travellers. In November 2018, Aeroplan was sold back to Air Canada for $450M in cash, and there are several major changes about to set in action in the year 2020.
But the core of the Aeroplan program is unlikely to change. By signing up for this program, you get to earn and redeem Aeroplan Miles on multiple national airlines, hotels, gift cards, etc, and work your way up the elite tiers – Silver, Black and Diamond.
Those who are new to Aeroplan might find learning the nuts and bolts intimidating, this article will explain everything about the Aeroplan Program and give you strategies to make the most out of each mile.
How to Earn Aeroplan Miles
The Aeroplan Loyalty Program runs on a currency called Aeroplan Mile. There are two ways to earn Aeroplan miles – Aeroplan credit card, or by making purchases through Aeroplan merchant partners. The amassed points can be put towards travel or non-travel related purchases.
Let’s talk about Aeroplan Partner Merchants: Aeroplan program have partners across a variety of industries such as bank & financial services, travel (car rentals, cruise, flights, hotels, parking, vacating packages), online retailers and physical retailers. Some of the participating merchants only let you earn points through online stores.
Check out Aeroplan eStore to browse through over 170 online retailers.
One of the best ways to earn Aeroplan miles is through Star Alliance Airlines– which is an exclusive group of 27 member airlines which includes Air Canada, Lufthansa, United Airlines, Thai Airways, Air China, Avianca, Asiana Airlines, Air New Zealand, and more. Every time you fly on one of these airlines, you will get Aeroplan miles depending on the flight duration, the airline and the ticket class (economy, standard, business class).
Aeroplan credit cards are another way to easily accumulate Aeroplan miles. Aeroplan is affiliated with several Credit card networks. Some examples include TD airplane visa infinite, CIBC Aero platinum Visa card. These Aeroplan credit cards come with generous welcome bonuses containing thousands of free Aeroplan miles for new cardholders. Every time you use an Aeroplan card to make a purchase, you will earn miles per dollars that you can redeem for flights, car rentals, hotel rooms, vacation packages and other merchandise. The best part is that whenever you shop at airplane merchant partners using your Aeroplan credit card you will be able to earn 2X miles.
Another important thing to note is that, there are several credit cards that lets you transfer there in-brand reward points into airplane miles. And example of this is the Platinum Card from American Express. The AMEX points that you receive for making purchases using your American Express card, can be transferred to several airline programs including Aeroplan on a 1:1 ratio. So if you have 20,000 AMEX points, you will be able to convert it to 20,000 Aeroplan Miles.
How To Redeem Aeroplan Miles
Now that we know about the two main methods to earn Aeroplan Miles, let’s look at all the different ways to redeem them:
Aeroplan enables you to redeem Points for flights based on two options – fixed mileage option and market fare rewards.
Fixed mileage option
This is the most popular method people use to book flights with Aeroplan miles, and this option is available for all the airlines that are part of the Star Alliance group. The number of Aeroplan miles required per trip does not change based on season but they are limited in other ways. For example, during busy seasons they might only be limited seats available which means you will have to book well in advance. Some flights may have awkward departure times and arrival times, long layovers and convoluted routes.
Market fair rewards
With this option, you can put your Aeroplan miles to reserve any unsold seat. But the number of miles required to book this flight isn’t fixed. It varies based on the market fare at the time of booking. If your ticket fare increases, so will the miles required to book the flight. If your price goes down, then the market fair will go down as well and you will need less miles to book the ticket. Although it offers more flexibility than fixed mileage, market fair flights usually require higher mileage. Mileage level can vary depending on the destinations, time of booking, demand, time of travel, and conversion of fares to miles. Also, this option is only available for Air Canada flights.
Note: To learn exactly how many points you need to reach your destination, take a look at the Aeroplan points chart on their website.
You can use your Aeroplan miles to earn a rebate on Air Canada vacation packages or cruise. Currently, the online Aeroplan miles redemption for vacation packages is available only for Mexico, Carribean, Hawaii, Las Vegas and Orlando. Give their Reservations Department a call if you want to redeem points for booking in any other destination.
You can use the Aeroplan miles to rent a car in U.S., Canada, Europe for any date and any destination. Their popular car rental partners include Avis and Hertz. Your miles will cover taxes and fees too.
You can redeem your Aeroplan miles for hotel reservations but the value per mile isn’t the greatest.
Merchandise and gift cards
Starting at just 5,000 miles, you will be able to reward yourself with merchandise across categories such as electronics, jewelry, home products and more, and gift cards to stores like Costco, Home Hardware, and Indigo. There are over 800 rewards to choose from.
6 Ways to Maximize Your Aeroplan Rewards
1. Spend it on flights
The value of Aeroplan miles differs based on the redemption method. As a rule of thumb, you get the most value out of each mile by redeeming it on flights, while car rentals gives you the lowest value per mile. Also, within the category of airfare, note that you will receive the most value on a domestic flight within Canada or even a short haul flight to the USA, instead of a huge international flight.
Here is an average breakdown of your miles based on redemption options:
- Flights: 2.5 CPM (Cents per Mile)
- Gift Cards from Air Canada: 1 CPM
- Vacation packages: 0.83 CPM
- Merchandise: 0.83 CPM
- Hotels/Motels: 0.73 CPM
- General Gift Cards: 0.71 CPM
- Car Rentals: 0.64 CPM
As you can see from above, if you’re redeeming your miles for anything other than flights, you are significantly its value.
2. Avoid fuel surcharges
Some of the worst offenders when it comes to fuel surcharges are Air Canada, Australian Airlines, and Lufthansa. A fuel surcharge (now called carrier imposed surcharge) is basically a fee that’s set by a carrier to offset the regional and seasonal differences in fuel costs. On international flights, fuel surcharges can be over $500 which can drastically increase the final price of your flight ticket. There are several airlines that don’t slap on a huge surcharge. These include Air China, United, Egypt Air, Brussels Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Swiss and EVA Air. Even if the carrier you choose does require a surcharge, make sure that it’s a reasonable fee and nothing outrageous.
3. Take advantage of Stopovers
One easy way to squeeze the maximum value out of each of your hard-earned miles is through stop-overs. You might be interested in visiting more than one city on a single trip without paying extra. The most efficient way to do this is by adding stopovers to your flight. A stopover is different than layover as it extends beyond 4 hours of wait time before catching a connecting flight to your destination. Aeroplan members are currently allowed one stopover or one open-jaw (travelling from Point A to Point B, then from Point C back to Point A) per round-trip. When travelling within the same continent, members are limited to one open-jaw and no stopovers. You can stay at your stop location for as long as you want. You can add any number of layovers in your roundtrip as you want though.
4. Book first class
To get the maximum value, redeem your points for business or first class tickets. This is not always possible for an average traveller since the ticket fare would be high too. So, even if you can’t book first class, make sure you still use your miles for flights.
5. Sign-up for Aeroplan Credit Card
By signing up for an Aeroplan affiliated credit card, you will be able to quickly assimilate a significant amount of points ranging anywhere from 5000 to upwards of 50,000 miles, just for being a new Aeroplan credit card customer and for finishing a few simple tasks. The size of your welcome bonus and the Aeroplan Miles offered for every dollar will depend on the credit card. Some will even let you double dip when using the card at Aeroplan merchant partners, which means that you get to use your Aeroplan credit card and your Aeroplan loyalty card on the same purchase.
6. Travel with infants
Although stressful, travelling with your infant (under 2 years of age) can bring you sweet rewards. Even though the baby might sit on your lap for the entire duration of the flight, many airlines will have you pay 10% to full-airfare for that privilege. But Aeroplan allows you to use miles to pay for an award ticket for a lap infant. This comes out to $50 or 5,000 miles in economy class, $100 or 10,000 miles for business and $125 or 12,500 miles for first-class.
If you travel often or go for that big family vacation once or twice every year, there is a lot of value to be redeemed from Aeroplan miles as long as you don’t mind being flexible with your travel dates and times. Getting a credit card affiliated with Aeroplan will help you earn miles faster from your everyday purchases– which brings your next trip that much closer.