Hidden gems of the Aeroplan program

Hidden gems of the Aeroplan program

Unless you’ve been living under a modest-sized rock in this country, you probably know by now that Air Canada and the beloved Aeroplan loyalty program are breaking up in 2020. For now, nothing changes folks.

Aimia, the parent company of Aeroplan, is considering new partners beyond 2020 and Air Canada – although those negotiations are largely unknown (at least to me).  We’ll see what the future holds…

Regarding the past and present, I’ve been objective and critical at times on this site about the Aeroplan program.  I feel there are both risks and rewards associated this program.



That said there are some hidden gems you might not know about – I certainly didn’t.  So, while we as members of this program have no idea what the future clearly holds when it comes to Aeroplan, it is my hope you can at least make some informed decisions about how and when to apply your loyalties with this program.

I got a chance to speak with an Aeroplan/Aimia representative recently (no affiliation) and she was kind enough tell me about some hidden gems of the Aeroplan program.

Christa, thanks for the time and welcome to the blog.

You’re most welcome Mark and thanks for having me.

Let’s get right to it.  Most program members are questioning whether they should be burning through their existing Aeroplan miles – now.  What advice can you provide members?

Right now Mark nothing has changed. We’ll continue to be here for you and other members beyond 2020 to help them get the most from their miles and achieve their travel plans. We’re working hard to build the next-generation of Aeroplan and we can assure members that we will continue to offer flight rewards on multiple airlines.

Great to hear. OK, backing up a bit can you remind readers how they can earn miles?  What tips or tricks can you share with readers?

No problem Mark.

No doubt one of the quickest and easiest ways to earn Aeroplan Miles is to use an Aeroplan-affiliated credit card with our partners TD, CIBC or American Express.  This will let you earn Aeroplan Miles for every dollar that you spend.  Basically, use the card and earn miles.

What some members don’t take advantage of is earning miles not once but twice on every transaction. So, if you book a flight or a hotel room that qualifies you to earn Aeroplan Miles or you fill up your car at Esso, or shop at Home Hardware – use your Aeroplan Credit Card to pay. That way you earn miles once with the retail partner and then a second time from the credit card provider.  There are a whole range of different credit cards with different benefits so you can be sure to find one that suits your needs on our web site.

If credit cards are not for you, that’s fine, you can still join the program and enjoy its benefits without using an affiliated credit card provider.

OK, so you asked about some tips and tricks to earn more miles.  Here are ones I would consider looking into:

  • Make sure to check out Aeroplan’s latest promotions. It doesn’t cost you anything.  You’ll find lots of great offers from our partners that will help you earn miles much faster and reward yourself much sooner.
  • Shop online. There are over more than 120 retailers where you can earn Aeroplan Miles when you shop online through Aeroplan’s eStore. You simply log in to the eStore with your Aeroplan number and then link through the site to shop and automatically earn miles.  Members can earn at least 1 Aeroplan Mile for every $1 spent (depending on the retailer offer). You can earn Aeroplan Miles at online stores such as Hudson’s Bay, Indigo, Sephora, the Apple Store, Kobo, Aldo, SONOS, Garmin, Banana Republic – even some US retailers like J Crew, Macy’s and LL Bean or with purchasing your rail ticket via Rail Europe. The list goes on and on…
  • Earn miles with FTD. Celebrating an anniversary or looking to send flowers to Mom?  Earn 10 miles for every US$1 spent at FTD.  How?  Simply provide your Aeroplan Number when you order floral arrangements from FTD either online or by phone.
  • Earn miles with your favourite magazines. You can earn up to 150 miles a month by signing up to Texture and enjoy unlimited access to over 150 of the world’s best magazines like People, InStyle, National Geographic, Time and Macleans.  Again, a huge list for the reading fan.
  • Earn miles with Costco. Earn 1 mile per $1 spent online at costco.ca or up to 1,500 miles for a new membership.
  • Earn as you spice up the home. Shop at Aeroplan partner Home Hardware for such items as new lawn and garden tools or patio furniture for that summer BBQ, or whatever fall renovation you have coming.  Members earn 1 Aeroplan Mile for every $2 spent at all Home locations, on more than 100,000 quality brand name and private label products. Visit: homehardware.ca for more details.
  • Don’t forget fashion. Members can earn miles when they shop for fashion, footwear, jewellery and accessories with fashion retailers across Canada. Members earn 1 Aeroplan Mile for every $2 spent. For a full list of fashion retailers, please visit: aeroplan.com/fashion.

How is that for starters?

Rather extensive!  We do some of those Christa but what about redeeming miles?  I’ve redeemed Aeroplan miles over the last decade for a variety of rewards, specifically a couple of gift cards but also short-haul flights within North America.  For the most part, I find the best deal/value for points for these short-haul flights.  We might book a flight next year.  Anyhow, what hidden gems exist with this program that some members might not know about?

Agreed!  I use all my miles on flights as well.  Aeroplan’s flight rewards start as low as 7,500 miles for a short-haul one-way Fixed Mileage Flight Reward in Economy Class, and provide access to a limited number of seats on Air Canada flights and over 25 Star Alliance member airlines and with access to Economy, Premium Economy and Business Class.  In addition, Aeroplan has Market Fare Flight Rewards in which members have access to any seat at any time on all Air Canada flights. Aeroplan’s Around-the-world reward is also exciting where for 200,000 miles for Economy Class, a member can literally go around the world with a maximium of five stopovers and one open jaw are permitted per reward on allowable routings.   However, we recognize not everyone can travel as often as they would like and on top of that, we aspire to make this program as flexible as possible for all members – so to your question – here are some things members might not know about:

  • Donate miles. Aeroplan’s member donation program invites Aeroplan members to join us in supporting more than 300 organizations in which members can donate their miles.  All are working to improve lives and assist communities locally, across Canada, and around the world.  For each charitable donation made through the Aeroplan member donation program, we top it up by a 10% contribution from Aeroplan. This applies for all donations to all accounts, all the time.  Just a quick example for you.  If someone donates 1,000 miles to our partner Engineers Without Borders, Aeroplan will chip in another 100 miles…To date, more than 658 million miles have been donated to charity by members to organizations like Doctors without Borders and the Stephen Lewis Foundation, War Child and David Suzuki Foundation.  We’re extremely proud of this part of our program.
  • Use miles towards higher education. School is right around the corner!  Members can redeem 33,750 Aeroplan Miles through our partnership with Higher Ed Points which can be used to help offset University and College tuition, meal plans and/or residence fees in Canada.  The miles translate into $250 which can be used at participating universities in the Higher Ed Points program such as Queens University, Western, McGill, University of New Brunswick, Dalhousie, Bishops University, Sheridan College, Humber College and many more.
  • Give your miles as a gift. You already mentioned this Mark but members can use their miles for travel gift cards such as: A $100 Best Western Gift card, a $100 Air Canada gift certificate, or a $100 Fairmont Hotels & Resorts gift card and more – all for 13,500. Visit aeroplan.com/myrewards for more details.
  • Get something special. Beyond the gift card idea or your flights Mark members can also use their miles to get autographed merchandise.  Want a Carey Price signed puck from the Montreal Canadiens?  You can get that.  What about a Sidney Crosby signed jersey?  You can get that too!  We think these are pretty awesome gifts for any die-hard hockey fans.  You can also make a difference in other ways.  Have you ever thought about volunteering overseas?  Members can do so using Aeroplan’s member donation program partner:  We (Me to We Adventures).  135,000 Aeroplan Miles will get you a $1,000 gift certificate to put towards a trip of a lifetime.

Back to the travel, a reminder that you can now use your miles to cover your flight taxes.   New in 2016, Aeroplan Members can use their Aeroplan Miles to cover the cost of taxes, fees and carrier surcharges when making a flight reward booking via aeroplan.com, the Aeroplan Mobile app, or through Aeroplan’s Contact Centre.   We’ve done this so Aeroplan Members will have the choice and flexibility to redeem their miles to fly cash-free.

Thanks for this Christa, some interesting rewards I didn’t know about.

My wife and I have been loyal Aeroplan members for many years and we’ll continue to hold our member cards to redeem miles as early as next year.  Sure, there are some quirks with this program (what program doesn’t have quirks?) but I still believe there is value in remaining a member.

Our game plan will likely see us redeeming our miles in the coming years for a flight (or two) while taking advantage of these tips and tricks where we can.

What’s your game plan for earning or using Aeroplan Miles?  Are you a member?  Do you have any questions for Christa at Aeroplan/Aimia?  Thanks for reading.

My name is Mark Seed - the founder, editor and owner of My Own Advisor. As my own DIY financial advisor, I'm looking to start semi-retirement soon, sooner than most. Find out how, what I did, and what you can learn to tailor your own financial independence path. Join the newsletter read by thousands each day, always FREE.

13 Responses to "Hidden gems of the Aeroplan program"

  1. Basically – the company is all false advertising – what was once a great travel rewards program – the what they actually offer for your points is now cruel joke……there is nothing International about what they offer – perhaps they have a few domestic deals – but that is certainly not what they advertise…..

  2. Does anyone mention the cost of booking with these points? Going outside North America on points with Air Canada is pure waste!

    As an example, try to book a flight from Montreal to London, England. 60k points + 700$ in taxes??? Ridiculous. Yes these are “surcharges that Air Canada recuperates” according to Aeroplan. But then why don’t all of the star alliance programs charge the same for flying on Air Canada? Book a points flight with United and you’ll see that the same flight costs under 100$ in the taxes and fees.

  3. I joined Aeroplan in the 80’s when it was a frequent flier program. It was really good when there was competition from Canadian Airlines. Points in those days were treated like real money when being cashed in for flight rewards; there was no differentiation between the seat that your points bought compared with any other cash purchaser. Standard rewards included hotel and car rental vouchers as well as plane tickets – and this was when a ticket included free baggage, meals and sometimes even drinks for the journey.
    Once Air Canada and Canadian merged, there wasn’t any real need for an airline loyalty program until WestJet got going. Unfortunately by that time Air Canada had sold off millions of Aeroplan miles to banks to avoid bankruptcy and it eventually sold off the whole business to an unrelated corporation. The banks in turn gave away lots of miles they purchased as sign up bonuses for their credit cards. These actions have resulted in the steady decline in the quality of the types of flight rewards offered; circuitous routes, long layovers for example, and increases in the numbers of points that they cost.
    You do have the option of cashing in your points for other goods but these represent poor value in the exchange ratio between points and dollars.
    Aeroplan now is really no different to the Air Miles program and has exactly the same issues.
    Participants are at the mercy of the program owners and the businesses that purchase the points to give out. Rules change at the sole discretion of the owners and the store that once wanted your loyalty may suddenly exit the program. Air Miles received a lot of negative publicity over cancelling points and restricting rewards last year. Sobey’s the grocers used to give Aeroplan points in Western Canada but now deals with Air Miles.
    There seems to be a fatal flaw in collecting something to get something else. Surely if I want to save up for something I’m better off putting money in a savings account until I have enough. At least I will get a minimal amount of interest and will be able to take the cash out or change my mind at a later date without any problems. Collecting points or miles never increase in value over time even though these programs are supposedly run by financial experts. What happens to all the money that Aeroplan and Air Miles sit on between selling their points to retailers and when they eventually have to buy a reward?
    In my opinion you are lending money to someone who will decide later whether they want to pay you back or not at a later date. In the meantime they at their sole discretion will devalue, reduce or simply cancel the program if they feel like it.

  4. Thanks for sharing this Mark! I was hoping to save up enough for a RTW ticket but only had 100,000 points. I just recently booked two tickets to Hawaii so I’m still happy with that. My husband recently lost his 50,000+ Aeroplan points that he was saving up because of the 1 year lapse and lack of activity but as a lovely spouse I bought his ticket with Aeroplan miles (lol giving your loyalty points are the ultimate sacrifice right).

    1. 2 tickets to Hawaii sound great!!

      Losing 50,000 points doesn’t sound very good but alas that is a “lovely” spouse gesture for sure 🙂

      Thanks for reading,

  5. If you are located in a major centre, a place like Toronto, I think you can use your miles for flights fairly easily.
    However, because I live in a smaller city in BC, I am offered things like 4 connecting flights taking 24 hours to get to where I want to go in the east/central….very disheartening. I was able to use miles for one way travel last year however, and arrive the same day I left! My hubby has a lot of miles to use up. Thought he would use some when he flew to Los Angeles (LAX) last summer, but paying cash was such a low fare and the connections so much better, he just didn’t bother.

    1. I can appreciate the challenges of using Miles if you don’t live near a major airport in Canada. We have similar issues here with Ottawa. That said, if we only have to connect through Toronto or Montreal to get to where we want to go – that’s not too bad.

  6. Sadly this post offers nothing new – more like spend more money and ear more points – not exactly good financial advice. Further when trying to redeem points I have learned that Aeroplan does not actually offer all the flights it advertisies and not at the points values it advertises either. I wanted to go to Lima, Peru – flights were available but the website blocked my ability to book. Eventually after going up the food chain athe company’s head office in Montreal – Aeroplan booked my flight to Lima (one way/no seats), and at the exact same time (same booking #) they booked me a return flight to Cuba leaving two days later with seats! The seem happy to pick my destination for me and send me to Cuba but not to Lima…. and forget the one free stop offered on points flights ……it is a sad criminal joke……It is all false advertising on the part of Aeroplan. They made a big mistake with me but I printed copies of their error before they removed this booking from the internet so I have proof of what I’m sharing with you.

    1. Sounds like you didn’t have a great experience Tracey…. I know of other stories as well.

      We have found international flights are challenging but have been successful with North American flights to use our Miles.


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