How the Aeroplan Program Works

Alyssa Furtado
by Alyssa Furtado January 28, 2015 / No Comments

Aeroplan is one of the most popular travel rewards programs in Canada, and it’s also one of the oldest. Founded in 1984, Aeroplan is a loyalty program for frequent flyers of Air Canada. Today, more than 4.6 million active members use their membership cards and/or travel rewards credit cards to earn Aeroplan Miles wherever they shop. Miles can then be redeemed for travel expenses (flights and hotels), be converted into points under other programs or even be donated. If you’re a frequent flyer of Air Canada and want to be rewarded for your loyalty, keep reading.

How to Earn Aeroplan Miles

CIBC, TD and American Express offer several credit cards that are affiliated with the Aeroplan rewards program, and let you earn miles with everyday purchases. Most Aeroplan credit cards offer 1 mile for every $1 spent on the card, but certain purchases are rewarded with more miles. For example, the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite offers 1.5 Aeroplan Miles for every $1 spent on gas, grocery and drugstore purchases.

Additional miles are also rewarded when you take Air Canada flights that were purchased with your Aeroplan credit card. It’s important to note that you actually have to take the flight to get these miles. For example, if you book a flight on your credit card and your spouse takes the flight instead, you would not receive the miles yourself – but your spouse could get them. Finally, note that you will not receive any miles for flights booked with Aeroplan Miles.

Finally, to earn miles twice, you can sign-up and get a free Aeroplan Membership Card, and present it at over 150 Aeroplan partner brands and online retailers, then use your Aeroplan credit card to pay!

Distinction Status

Distinction status is an added reward for Aeroplan members who accumulate a high number of miles in a calendar year. There are three distinction levels: silver, black and diamond. If you earn 25,000 miles in a calendar year, you reach the silver distinction level, which rewards members with up to 20% off the required miles for market fare flights. If you earn 50,000 miles, you reach the black distinction level, which rewards members with up to 25% off the required miles for market fare flights. If you earn 100,000 miles, you reach the diamond distinction level, which rewards members with up to 35% off the required miles for market fare flights. All three distinction levels offer opportunities to earn bonus miles. Once you reach a distinction level, benefits begin for that year and continue through the following calendar year.

Altitude Status

Aeroplan Miles earned on Air Canada flights count as Altitude Qualifying Miles, which can qualify you for Air Canada’s Altitude Program. Air Canada’s Altitude Program rewards frequent flyers with priority reservation services, priority airport services, lounge access and more. To reach Altitude status, you need to earn 10,000 Altitude Qualifying Miles in a calendar year. Air Canada offers 100% of the miles flown for Air Canada Flex flights booked using your Aeroplan credit card. For example, if you booked an Air Canada Flex flight with a distance of 250 miles, you would earn 250 miles (100%). For a Tango flight within Canada with the same distance, you would earn only 63 miles (25%). The miles earned on these flights would count as both Aeroplan Miles and Altitude Qualifying Miles. Once again, it’s important to note that you actually have to take the flight to get these miles. Credit card purchases for anything other than flights will not earn you any Altitude Qualifying Miles.

How to Redeem Aeroplan Miles

To see how many miles you’ve earned, login to your Aeroplan account. Under the “Your Account” tab, you can view all the transactions you have earned Aeroplan Miles from. Here, you can see how many miles you have accumulated in total or during a specific month. The account will also distinguish between miles earned through flights versus credit card purchases. Only miles earned on eligible flights will count towards airline programs, such as Air Canada’s Altitude Program. In your account, you can also view past rewards that you booked and see how many miles you redeemed to get those rewards.

To redeem your Aeroplan Miles for a flight or hotel stay, scroll over the header “Use Your Miles” and click on “Travel”. To search for available flights via Air Canada, choose your departing airport, arriving airport and the dates you want to travel.

There are two types of flights you can book: ClassicFlight and Market Fare Flights. ClassicFlight rewards offer flights at low fixed mileage levels with Air Canada and Star Alliance member airlines. Keep in mind that the number of available seats on a ClassicFlight is controlled by the airline and will often run out early for popular flights. Market Fare flights, on the other hand, are offered at variable mileage levels, as the required miles is derived from the market price at the time of booking and the conversion of the market price into mileage requirements. When purchasing a Market Fare flight, you have access to any unsold seat on the flight. Market Fare flights have higher mileage requirements, but offer greater access to flight departures, routes and travel times.

Aeroplan Miles can be redeemed online without any charge, but if you redeem over the phone you will have to pay a $30 fee to redeem miles. Miles can also be redeemed online for a wide range of merchandise.

Aeroplan Taxes and Fees

Many Aeroplan users are shocked when they find out that they have to pay hundreds of dollars in taxes for a “free flight” that they booked with miles. Aeroplan does not allow users to pay these taxes with miles, like some other travel rewards programs do. Although users often blame Aeroplan for the high taxes, these taxes are not created by Aeroplan but are rather charged by the airlines Aeroplan is affiliated with. These taxes are primarily made up of airport fees, immigration fees, passenger fees and fuel surcharges. Fuel surcharges are usually the largest fee by a wide margin and are the reason that these taxes can be very costly.

The Value of an Aeroplan Mile

Have you ever wondered how much 1 Aeroplan Mile is worth? Many consumers only focus on earning miles, instead of determining the best way to redeem their miles. The truth is that the value of Aeroplan Miles varies greatly, based on which reward you redeem your miles for. For example, if you choose to redeem your miles for a round trip to New Zealand, 1 Aeroplan Mile could be worth as much as $0.026. But if you used the same miles and only flew to Montreal, 1 Aeroplan Mile could be worth only $0.004. According to our calculations, the average value of 1 Aeroplan Mile = $0.0120.


As mentioned above, American Express, CIBC and TD all offer credit cards attached to the Aeroplan rewards program. However, the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite comes with one of the best sign-up bonuses, making it one of the best credit cards in Canada. If you want to earn more Aeroplan Miles with this card, sign up today!

More details on this credit card:

  • Earn 15,000 Aeroplan Miles with your first purchase
  • Earn an additional 10,000 Aeroplan Miles when you spend $1,000 in purchases on your card within the first 90 days, plus pay no annual fee for the first year!
  • Earn 1.5 miles for every $1 you spend on gas, grocery and drug store purchases
  • Earn 1 mile for every $1 you spend on all other purchases
  • Earn twice the miles when you present your Aeroplan Membership Card at over 150 Aeroplan partner brands and with 100 online retailers through Aeroplan’s eStore
  • Access an extensive suite of travel insurances
  • Benefits from Air Canada® 6 such as:
    • 1st Checked Bag Free when travelling on an Aeroplan flight reward operated by Air Canada (for Primary Cardholder)
    • Priority Check-in when travelling on an Aeroplan flight reward operated by Air Canada (for Primary Cardholder)
    • Priority Boarding when travelling on an Aeroplan flight reward operated by Air Canada (for Primary Cardholder)
    • Annual Maple Leaf Lounge One Time Guest Pass when travelling on an Aeroplan flight reward operated by Air Canada
  • Complimentary Visa Infinite Concierge service available 24/7
  • A card that offers no miles expiry, as long as you are a Cardholder
  • $120 annual fee
  • Annual interest rate 19.99% on purchases and 22.99% on cash advances