The new Air Canada Aeroplan program has finally been launched on November 9, 2020. After much anticipation (and dread for a lot of people), the program is finally out!
In this article, we will cover the most important factors when it comes to the new Air Canada Aeroplan program: earning and redeeming your points. We will also cover the benefits of the Aeroplan status as well as the new family sharing program.
VIDEO – The New Air Canada Aeroplan program
What’s new in the New Air Canada Aeroplan program
- The old Aeroplan website is no longer in use, instead, you will be using the Air Canada website
- Aeroplan miles is now renamed as Aeroplan points
- Fuel surcharge has been eliminated
- Flight rewards is a hybrid between geographical zones + distance-based
- Four travel zones: North America, Atlantic, Pacific, and South America
- There is a total of 10 travel zone combinations
- Three redemption methods: all points ($0 cash – pay fees with points), points + cash (minimum 60% of points requirements + cash), standard (taxes and fees in cash)
- Change fee is per one way bound
- The cancellation fee is per ticket
- There is a $39 partner booking fee per ticket
- There is a $30 phone booking fee
- You can mix and match the class of service when putting together your itinerary (Economy, Business, First class)
- You can now search using IATA city codes (example: NYC for New York)
- New award search will return up to 150 results per search + new criteria for sorting and filtering
- Air Canada flights have dynamic pricing
- Partner flights have a fixed price
- 18 months instead of 12 months to keep your account active
- New micro redemption feature: seat selection, onboard WIFI, onboard meals and drinks
- AQM (Altitude Qualifying Mile) is now SQM (Status Qualifying Miles)
- AQS (Altitude Qualifying Segments) is now SQS (Status Qualifying Segments)
- AQD (Altitude Qualifying Dollars) is now SQD (Status Qualifying Dollars)
- New Family Sharing Feature
How to earn Aeroplan points
The best way to earn Aeroplan points in the new program is through credit card sign up bonuses. By getting applying for some of these credit cards every year, you can earn Aeroplan points relatively quickly.
The first set of credit cards are the AMEX charge cards that we’re all too familiar with:
- AMEX Platinum – 25,000 AMEX points sign up bonus, $200 travel credit, $699 annual fee
- AMEX Business Platinum – 50,000-75,000 sign up bonus, $499 annual fee
- AMEX Gold – 25,000 AMEX points sign up bonus, $150 annual fee
- AMEX Business Gold – 30,000-40,000 AMEX sign up bonus, $250 annual fee
Since the launch of the New Air Canada Aeroplan program, several rebranded credit cards have also been released. At the moment, the sign-up bonuses aren’t anything to rave about. However, because some of these cards have extra perks including first year free, it might be a good idea to sign up for some of them. Note that I’m not doing a full review of every credit cards in this article, I will simply mention how much points you can earn and the annual fee associated with the card.
The AMEX Aeroplan card seems to be rebranded from the AMEX Aeroplan Plus Gold card. It is also a core Aeroplan credit card that AMEX offers (they are not offering any entry-level Aeroplan credit card). When you sign up for this card, you are eligible to earn a total of 15,000 Aeroplan points as well as a buddy pass (we’ll cover what this is down below). However, if we take a closer look, you actually earn 9,000 Aeroplan points after spending $1500 within 3 months of getting this card. The remaining 6,000 points can be earned by spending $500 per month. Basically, for every $500 spent, AMEX will award you with a bonus of 1,000 Aeroplan points for up to 6 months. This charge card also has an annual fee of $120 per year.
In my opinion, this card is a pass. The signup bonus is low and there are more hoops to jump through just to get them. Also, the annual fee is not waived for the next year so really, there’s no benefit to getting this card. You’re better off applying for the TD or CIBC cards because they actually waive the annual fee for the first year and also have a bigger sign-up bonus.
AMEX Aeroplan Reserve
The AMEX Aeroplan Reserve is AMEX’s premium Aeroplan credit card. You can earn 35,000 Aeroplan points as well as a $100 statement credit after spending $3000 within the first 3 months of getting this card. Furthermore, if you spend $1000 per month for the next 6 months, you can earn a total of 30,000 Aeroplan points (5000 points per month). Those who signed up for this card prior to the launch also got the waitlist special 10,000 bonus points. So in total, you can earn between 65,000-75,000 Aeroplan points for this card. This credit card has an annual fee of $599 ($499 after the $100 statement credit).
I’d say this card is decent if you got 75,000 points from the waitlist special. If you didn’t apply during that waitlist period, I would say that it’s still an okay card but it wouldn’t be my first choice. I think the AMEX Business Platinum is the better option with 75,000 points as a sign-up bonus and has fewer hoops to jump over.
AMEX Aeroplan Reserve Business
The AMEX Aeroplan Reserve Business card will earn you a $100 statement credit and 35,000 Aeroplan points after spending $5000 within the first 3 months of getting this card. Furthermore, if you spend $1000 per month for the next 6 months, you can earn a total of 30,000 Aeroplan points (5000 points per month). In total, you can earn 65,000 Aeroplan points. However, if you signed up during the waitlist period, you would have earned an additional 10,000 Aeroplan points for a grand total of 75,000 Aeroplan points. This credit card has an annual fee of $599 ($499 after the $100 statement credit).
My opinion in regards to this card is the same as the AMEX Aeroplan Reserve personal card. It’s an okay card but it wouldn’t be my first choice.
TD Aeroplan Visa Platinum
This is the entry-level TD Aeroplan Visa. You can earn 10,000 Aeroplan points after your first purchase. Also, the annual fee of $89 is rebated for the first year after spending on the card within your first 3 months of getting this card.
In my opinion, this card is good for those who are young and just starting out to get credit cards. Otherwise, you’re better off getting the core credit card instead.
TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite
The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite is a core Aeroplan credit card. You can earn 10,000 points after your first purchase with this card within the first 90 days of getting this card. The card also has an annual fee of $139 which will be rebated after making a spend within your first 90 days. Finally, you will also earn a buddy pass after spending $1000 within the first 3 months after getting approved for the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite.
Do keep in mind that you need an annual personal income of $60,000 or a household income of $100,000 to qualify for this card. From what I remember, the household income is pretty flexible so I’d go that route if you don’t make $60,000 or more.
I personally don’t think this promotion is very good. Before the rebranding, this card is typically offering 25,000-30,000 sign up bonus points. I’d personally wait until there’s a better promotion before applying for this card.
TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege
The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege is a premium Aeroplan credit card. You can earn a total of 50,000 Aeroplan points when you get this card. 20,000 Aeroplan points will be rewarded to you after your first purchase. Then, after spending $1000 within the first 3 months of having this card, you will earn 30,000 Aeroplan points and a buddy pass. This card comes with an annual fee of $599.
In my opinion, because the annual fee is so steep, it’s not worth getting this card to earn Aeroplan points. If you want to get lounge access, then I think the AMEX personal or business Platinum cards are a much better deal as you get unlimited access instead of just 6 per year.
TD Aeroplan Visa Business
The TD Aeroplan Visa Business card will earn you 10,000 Aeroplan points after your first purchase. You’ll also receive a buddy pass after spending $1000 within the first 3 months of being approved for this credit card. Finally, you’ll also get an annual fee of $149 rebated for the first year. You do need a business number to get this card (referral link – get $50 off when you get a business number through Ownr).
I personally think the sign up bonus for this credit card is pretty terrible at the moment. Back between April and May of 2020, TD was giving out 45,000 Aeroplan miles and first year annual fee rebated. I’d wait for a better promotion before applying for this credit card.
CIBC Aeroplan Visa
The CIBC Aeroplan Visa is an entry level Aeroplan credit card. You can earn 10,000 Aeroplan points after your first purchase. There is also no annual fee for this credit card.
There’s not much to say about this card. It’s a good one to get if you’re young and have never gotten a credit card before. Otherwise, you are better off with the Infinite Visa.
CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite
The CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite is a core Aeroplan credit card. You can earn 10,000 Aeroplan points after your first purchase. As well, you can earn a buddy pass after spending $3000 within your first 4 months of being approved for this credit card. Finally, the first year annual fee of $139 is rebated and it remains waived as long as you have a CIBC Smart Plus account. You do need to have an individual income of $60,000 or household income of $100,000 to qualify for this card.
I personally applied for this card when the sign up bonus was 20,000 after your first purchase. Personally, I’d wait until the sign up bonus is higher before applying.
CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege
The CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege is a premium Aeroplan credit card. You can earn 20,000 Aeroplan points after your first purchase. Also, you can earn a buddy pass after spending $3000 within your first 4 months of being approved for this credit card. The credit card has an annual fee of $599. If you have the CIBC Smart Plus account, they will rebate $139 from this card every year.
You also need a minimum personal income of $150,000 or household income of $200,000 to qualify for this card.
In my opinion, the steep annual fee and low sign up bonus makes this card unattractive to sign up for. I’d focus my attention on the Infinite card if you’re looking to get an Aeroplan credit card with CIBC.
CIBC Aeroplan Visa Business
The CIBC Aeroplan Visa Business card will earn you 10,000 Aeroplan points after your first purchase. You will also earn a buddy pass after spending $3000 within the first 4 months of being approved for this credit card. Also, the annual fee of $180 is rebated for the first year. I’m pretty sure you need a business number to get this card (affiliate link – get $50 off when you get a business number through Ownr). Unlike the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Business Plus, you also need a personal annual income of $35,000.
This card looks exactly like the old CIBC Aerogold Business Visa card. The main difference is that the sign up bonus is nowhere near as good as the old version of this credit card. Personally, I’d hold on getting this card until a better offer becomes available.
CIBC Aeroplan Visa Business Plus
The CIBC Aeroplan Visa Business Plus card will earn you 10,000 Aeroplan points after your first purchase. You will also earn a buddy pass after spending $3000 within the first 4 months of being approved for this credit card. Also, the annual fee of $120 is rebated for the first year. You do need to have a business number to get this card (affiliate link – get $50 off when you get a business number through Ownr).
This card seems similar to the old CIBC Aerogold Business Visa card. The main difference is that the sign up bonus is nowhere near as good as the old version of this credit card and it has a lower annual fee. Personally, I’d hold on getting this card until a better offer becomes available.
CIBC Aeroplan Visa Student
As mentioned in the name of this credit card, it’s a great card for students. Specifically, students who have never had a credit card before. With this credit card, you can earn 10,000 Aeroplan points after your first purchase. As well, there is no annual fee for this card.
A buddy pass is basically buy one get one free kind of deal. It’s eligible for use for any Economy (Standard, Flex, Comfort, or Latitude) Air Canada flights in North America including Hawaii and Mexico. You do have to pay taxes on the buddy pass so it’s not 100% free.
I think this pass is great during peak season travel. You never know when you’re going to need one of these. I remember when I did an Aeroplan mini-RTW during peak season. It was hard to find a flight back home from Hawaii at the tail end of my trip. I ended up using the Alaska Airlines companion fare to get my girlfriend and I home. So I think the buddy pass does have its use and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Extra benefit of getting a core or premium Aeroplan credit card
Did you know that if you have a core or premium Aeroplan credit card, your points redemption on Air Canada flights will also be reduced? This unpublished perk can also be stacked if you have Aeroplan 25k status or higher.
Take a look at the flight below going from Vancouver to Calgary. Normally, the minimum amount of points you need to redeem for this short haul flight is 6,000 Aeroplan points. But because I have a core Aeroplan credit card (CIBC Aeroplan Infinite Visa) and Aeroplan 25k status (thanks to the Spring promotion earlier this year), the amount of points I’d need to redeem has been reduced by 900 points.
This perk seems to extend to Air Canada international flights as well. In the example below, instead of paying 35,000 points in Economy or 55,000 points in Business, the amount of points I’d need to pay has been reduced by 4,600 in Economy and 4,800 in business.
Other ways to earn Aeroplan points in the New Air Canada Aeroplan program
Askingcanadians is a survey website. Basically, for completing a survey, you can earn between 5-200 Aeroplan points. It’s not a lot of points but it helps push back the expiry date of your Aeroplan points.
Rocketmiles is a hotel booking website that rewards you with frequent flyer miles. You can connect your Aeroplan account to Rocketmiles and you can earn between 1000-5000 Aeroplan points per hotel booking. The catch is that they do mark up the hotel price higher than if you booked directly from the hotel brand. The main perk of using Rocketmiles is if you need a little bit more points to make an Aeroplan redemption. In that case, it might be worthwhile to stay in a hotel through Rocketmiles for a bigger return when you make an Aeroplan flight redemption.
Transferring your Marriott Bonvoy points to Aeroplan
I don’t recommend this method unless you are close to making an Aeroplan flight redemption. Basically, you can transfer your Marriott Bonvoy points to Aeroplan at a 3 to 1 ratio. If you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, you can also earn an additional 5,000 Aeroplan points. So if you decide to go this route, you might as well transfer at a 60,000 points increment to maximize your Aeroplan points earning.
New Air Canada Aeroplan program redemption rules
- All booking types are now “one-way” flights
- You are allowed to add 1 stopover for every one-way bound for 5000 Aeroplan points
- Stopover is not allowed in Canada or USA
- A one-way bound is limited to 6 segments
- You can combine up to 6 one-way bounds to create your itinerary
- You can have 12 segments if you have a flight with an Air Canada in the itinerary and 16 segments for partner only itineraries
- Open jaw counts as a segment
- No backtracking to the same airport or country after already passing through on each one way bounds. However, you can “backtrack” on a separate one way bound even if it’s on the same ticket.
- Can use priority reward voucher on the combined 6 one-way bound flights
- Flying more than 100% the direct distance between two points breaks the circuitous routing (technically – but doesn’t seem to be enforced)
- Pacific to Atlantic with transit in North America is valid as long as your stopover in North America is not in Canada or USA
- North America to Atlantic with transit in Pacific is not valid
- North America to Pacific with transit in Atlantic is valid
- Intra Pacific flights may sometimes transit through Atlantic
- North America to South America cannot have a transit flight in the Atlantic
- Intra North America can sometimes transit in South America
- Intra South America can sometimes transit in North America
- Air Canada only flights will calculate the amount of points you need to redeem based on the direct distance between your starting point and destination (your connections are not counted as long as you don’t fly more than 100% of the distance between your starting point and destination)
- You need to add the mileage flown segment by segment to determine how much points you need to redeem when flying with partner airlines
Four travel zones
Booking with the new Aeroplan program is simple. You simply log in to your Aeroplan account on the Air Canada website, select points and then enter your search.
After checking for availability, a list of available flights will show up. On the top left corner, you will see a “sort and filter” link. There, you can modify your search criteria based on connecting flights, cabin types, airlines, and more.
If you want to add a stopover for 5000 Aeroplan points, you do need to call the Aeroplan call centre to add it to your itinerary.
Also, if you want to book an Aeroplan mini-RTW much like the old program, you do need to piece your itinerary segment by segment. That means researching flight availability and then piecing it together to make sure it’s valid. I’ll be doing a separate article on the new Aeroplan mini-RTW sometime in the future.
Checking for route validity if you customize your own itinerary
Much like the old Aeroplan program, in the new Air Canada Aeroplan program, you can still customize your own itinerary. One of the important rules to keep in mind is making sure you don’t go over 100% direct distance between two points. And while at the moment, this is not enforced, they might enforce it in the future so it’s good to learn how this works.
To determine if your route is valid, use the Great Circle Mapper online tool.
Here’s an example of a valid route and none valid route:
Enter NRT-JNB to find distance percentage. NRT-JNB is the direct distance between two points. From there, you can compare it with your own route as shown in the example below. Don’t forget to put a ; to compare between the two points (NRT-JNB in this case) and your customized route (NRT-AKL-PER-SIN-JNB as shown in the example).
Invalid route (technically)
New Air Canada Aeroplan program elite status
- Status tiers are: 25k, 35k, 50k, 75k, Super Elite
- Aeroplan 25k – 25,000 SQM or 25 SQS + $3000 SQD
- Aeroplan 35k – 35,000 SQM or 35 SQS + $4000 SQD
- Earning 100,000 Aeroplan points per year will also get you Aeroplan 25k (this excludes signup bonuses and transferring points)
- Aeroplan 50k – 50,000 SQM or 50 SQS + $6000 SQD
- Aeroplan 75k – 75,000 SQM or 75 SQS + $9000 SQD
- Super Elite – 100,000 SQM or 100 SQS + $20,000 SQD
- Priority voucher can be used to get 50% off your Aeroplan redemption (example: 12,500 points redemption instead of 25,000 points)
- Methods to earn vouchers: 4,000 SQD = 1 voucher, 7000 SQD = 2 voucher, 10,000 SQD = 3 voucher, 15,000 SQD = 4 voucher, 1 voucher earned for every 5,000 SQD (20,000 SQD then 25,000 SQD with a maximum of 50,000 SQD or 11 vouchers earned)
- 25k or 35k can only redeem their voucher for flights within Canada/USA in Economy
- 50k can redeem their voucher for up to Premium Economy in North America
- 75k can redeem their voucher for up to Premium Economy worldwide
- Super Elite can redeem their voucher for up to Business Class worldwide
- Status pass – Aeroplan 50k, 75k, Super Elite members can bestow their elite privileges to others even when travelling separately
- Status pass recipients will enjoy Air Canada priority services on their journey including priority check-in, security, boarding, and Maple Leaf Lounge Access
- You can share with up to 8 Aeroplan members in your “family”
- Family lead can invite up to 7 members
- Family lead can designate a family member who can contribute or redeem points
- Aeroplan will not ask for proof of familial relations
- You must remain in the family for 3 months
- Cannot join another family group for 6 months if you leave one
- Sharing works on both earning and redeeming
- Points will be deducted from everyone and the ratio is based on who has the most points
I haven’t used this feature yet and I’m not sure if I will anytime soon. However, if you navigate the new Air Canada Aeroplan website, you’ll see that it’s fairly intuitive on how it works.
Points deduction ratio
Here’s an example of how your points will be deducted from each of the family member’s Aeroplan account:
- Bill has 300,000 points, Sally has 200,000 points, and Jeremy has 100,000 points = 600,000 combined Aeroplan points in total
- Bill = 300,000/600,000 = 50%
- Sally = 200,000/600,000 = 33.3%
- Jeremy = 100,000/600,000 = 16.6%
- If Bill redeems 100,000 Aeroplan points for a flight, then the following points deduction will happen: 50,000 points (50%) will be deducted from Bill, 33,000 points (33.3%) will be deducted from Sally, and 17,000 will be deducted from Jeremy.
The launch of the New Air Canada Aeroplan program is an end of an era for us travel lovers. With the old program, we were able to go on amazing around the world trips for a reasonable amount of Aeroplan miles. And for those of us who knew how the Aeroplan mini-RTW worked, we really maximized its benefits.
My only regret is not learning the old program sooner and booked more Aeroplan mini-RTW flights.
Regardless, the new program gives us an opportunity to take advantage of sweet spots. I also welcome the fact that it’s easier now to put together your Aeroplan mini-RTW itinerary. The elimination of fuel surcharge also opens up doors to flying on carriers we avoided previously such as Air Canada and Lufthansa.
The next several months will be interesting in the points and miles world as we uncover better use of the New Air Canada Aeroplan program.