The True Value of Aeroplan Miles

Bassel Abdel-Qader
by Bassel Abdel-Qader April 3, 2016 / No Comments

It might be the most popular travel loyalty program in the country, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that Aeroplan will always give you great value when you redeem a reward. There are many different factors that contribute to the value of an Aeroplan Mile, many of which can’t be quantified.

Let’s forget for a moment all the non-travel rewards such as hotel bookings, car rentals, and gift certificates that you can use your Aeroplan Miles to redeem. It’s generally thought that these rewards don’t provide very high value for your miles, so we’ll leave them out of the discussion.

As for travel rewards, the amount of miles required to redeem a flight depends on factors such as the flight class and region of the world you’re travelling to. The best we can hope to do is to come up with an average dollar value of an Aeroplan Mile to use as a benchmark when trying to determine whether or not a particular reward gives us good value. As a rule of thumb, if a particular reward provides a dollar per mile amount lower than the benchmark, it’s not a good reward to redeem.

Up until this point we’ve only looked at the numbers at play. What’s really important here, and what many people fail to take into account when judging the value of an Aeroplan Mile, is the stuff that can’t have numbers attached to them. Let’s take a look at a few of these:

Extent of Coverage

Certain loyalty programs allow you to redeem your miles for the entire flight charge, including taxes and additional fees, while other programs only allow you to redeem your miles for the price of the ticket, and make you pay for all the extras out-of-pocket. Unfortunately, the Aeroplan program is part of the latter group, so don’t expect to arrive at your dream destination without paying a thing. With that said, Aeroplan doesn’t set the rates for the taxes and fees, and they vary greatly by airline and destination country, so be sure to get the best deal.

Associated Airlines

Some programs make your hard-earned points redeemable only through a particular travel agency or with a particular airline, which can really limit your choices if that one airline you’re stuck with doesn’t operate flights to the destination you want. The more flexibility you have to book a flight the way you want, the more valuable your miles are. The Aeroplan program was created by Air Canada in 1984 but has since grown its list of airline partners to include the entire Star Alliance, which has over 25 members, giving Aeroplan Mile collectors lots of freedom when booking a flight.

Transferability

Being able to convert points from one rewards program to another is extremely valuable as it greatly increases your “revenue stream” for that one program. The Aeroplan program has plenty of partner programs whose points can be converted to Aeroplan Miles, many of them on a 1:1 basis. The most notable partners include American Express’s Membership Rewards program and Starwood Preferred Guest’s Starpoints program.

Expiration

Aeroplan has a 12-month mileage expiry policy that has been in place since 1997. Basically, if your account isn’t active for 12 consecutive months, then your miles will expire. It isn’t hard at all to keep your account active; here are just a few ways you can do that:

  • Pay with your Aeroplan credit card when making purchases
  • Fill up gas at Esso gas stations
  • Buy your hardware at Home Hardware

Aeroplan Credit Cards

Although there isn’t one best travel credit card, there are some that are objectively better than others. When it comes to collecting Aeroplan Miles, there are two that stand out for us among the rest:

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card

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  • Receive up to 30,000 Bonus Aeroplan Miles
  • Earn 1.5 Aeroplan Miles for every $1 spent on gas, grocery and drugstore purchases, and eligible purchases on aircanada.com
  • Earn 1 Aeroplan Mile for every $1 you spend everywhere else
  • 50% Annual Fee Rebate for the first year(Primary Cardholder only) – that’s $60 in savings! Offer Valid until Dec. 2, 2016
  • Comprehensive suite of travel protection, including auto rental collision/loss damage insurance, travel medical insurance and trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance
  • Receive VISA Infinite benefits

For those who can afford it, an annual fee of $499 will get you a very powerful Aeroplan credit card, complete with an equally robust set of perks:

American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum Card

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  • Earn 50,000 Bonus Aeroplan miles after spending $1,000 in your first 3 months, if you sign up by September 30, 2016
  • Partner ticket benefit gives you a 2-for-1 short-haul flight when you redeem 15,000 Aeroplan Miles
  • Earn 1.25 points per dollar on your first $25,000 in purchase, and earn 1.5 points per dollar on all purchases thereafter
  • $499 annual fee
  • Access to over 700 airport lounges worldwide with a complimentary Priority Pass Membership

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Flickr: BriYYZ