Aeroplan vs Air Miles Review 2021

Pilots flying and airplane

Aeroplan and Air Miles are two of Canada’s biggest travel rewards programs. They’ve each been around for decades, and you likely belong to one of them, if not both.

When collecting rewards, it’s usually best to focus on one of the major loyalty programs to earn as many points or miles as possible. Let’s take a look at Air Miles vs Aeroplan in this comparative review by Wealth Rocket.

Table of Contents

An Air Miles Review for 2021

The Air Miles rewards program was launched in Canada in 1992 and has nearly 11 million members. As well as being able to use Air Miles for flights, there are also many other ways to redeem them.

Let’s take a look at how Air Miles works in greater detail.

How Does Air Miles Work?

There are several ways to collect miles including at Air Miles partners, at airmilesshops.ca, and by using an Air Miles credit card offered by American Express or BMO.

Some Air Miles in-store partners include Budget, Holiday Inn, IGA, Irving, Jean Coutu, Metro, Safeway, Shell, Sobeys, and Staples.

If you use one of the Air Miles credit cards at an Air Miles partner, you can double dip and earn miles faster.

There are also annual rewards programs, such as the Shop the Block promotion, that allow members to earn bonus miles when shopping online.

Card Annual Fee Potential bonus miles
American Express Air Miles
$0
500
American Express Air Miles Platinum
$120
2,000
American Express Air Miles Reserve
$299
2,400
BMO Air Miles Mastercard
$0
1,500
BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard
$120*
3,000

*waived for the first year

The number of miles you can earn vary based on the card you choose and your spending habits. For instance, you can earn more miles on gas, grocery, or drug store purchases with certain cards.

What Can I Use Air Miles For?

Air Miles can be used for flights, hotels, cruises, vacation packages, merchandise (electronics, appliances, etc.), entertainment (movie passes), and e-vouchers (similar to gift cards). Alternatively, they can be redeemed for cash at participating stores.

Air Miles Pros & Cons

There seem to be a couple more disadvantages of Air Miles than advantages, but it all depends on what you want to get from your travel rewards credit card.

Pros: The Good Stuff

Logo Large selection of rewards options and partners

LogoAnyone who reached gold or onyx status in 2020 will keep it until the end of 2022

Cons: The Not So Good Stuff

Logo Takes a lot of spending to reach gold or onyx status

Logo Flights can only be booked if originating in Canada (or in the United States as long as the destination is in Canada)

Logo $0.15 per mile fee to gift miles or merge collector accounts in separate households

Logo Air Miles can expire if your account is inactive for 24 months

An Aeroplan Review 2021

Air Canada launched the Aeroplan rewards program in 1984. Today, the company has more than five million active members. When comparing Aeroplan vs Air Miles, Aeroplan has been around longer but Air Miles has more members.

Below, we’ll take a look at Aeroplan in greater detail, looking at how it works and how it can benefit you.

How Does Aeroplan Work?

Aeroplan members collect points by flying with Air Canada, staying at certain hotel chains, renting vehicles, purchasing from the Aeroplan eStore, and using Aeroplan-branded credit cards.

These are the personal Aeroplan cards that are available as well as the potential bonus points that you can earn in the first year:

Card Annual Fee Potential bonus miles
American Express Aeroplan
$0
500
American Express Aeroplan Reserve
$120
2,000
CIBC Aeroplan Visa
$299
2,400
CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite
$0
1,500
CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege
$0
1,500
TD Aeroplan Visa Platinum
$0
1,500
TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite
$0
1,500
TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege
$120*
3,000

*waived for the first year

Many of the bonus points are earned if you reach a certain spending threshold within 90 days of opening your account.

Like most credit cards, the earn rate is better when the annual fee is higher. There are also opportunities to earn more points in certain spending categories, such as grocery and gas, and for every $1 spent on eligible purchases made directly with Air Canada.

How to Qualify for Aeroplan Elite Status

There are several different Aeroplan tiers for Elite Status.

You need to have a certain amount of status qualifying miles (SQM) or status qualifying segments (SQS), which are earned when you fly with Air Canada or Star Alliance member airlines. You also need to earn status qualifying dollars (SQD), which are based on the price of your ticket.

These are the different tiers of Elite Status that Aeroplan has along with their requirements:

Status SQM or SQS… …plus SQD
25K
25,000 or 25
$3,000
35k
35,000 or 35
$4,000
50K
50,000 or 50
$6,000
75k
75,000 or 75
$9,000
Super Elite
100,000 or 100
$20,000

The higher your status, the better the benefits. These may include complimentary checked baggage, priority security clearance, priority boarding, and free access to the Maple Leaf Lounge.

Soon, Aeroplan says that you can reach 25K Status if you earn 100,000 points through eligible transactions during a calendar year.

Keep in mind that that doesn’t include signup bonuses or points transfers from other rewards programs.

What Can I Use Aeroplan For?

The most common reason to use Aeroplan is for flights, but points can also be redeemed for upgrades, hotels, car rentals, merchandise, activities, and gift cards. You’ll get the most value for your points if you use them for flights though.

Aeroplan Pros & Cons

So, we’ve established that Aeroplan is a suitable travel rewards program if you want to use your rewards points mainly toward flights and travel. Here are the pros and cons to help make your decision clearer.

Pros: The Good Stuff

Logo With 44 airline partners, you can use your points for flights almost anywhere in the world

LogoFamily sharing plan allows up to eight family members to share points without transfer fees

Cons: The Not So Good Stuff

Logo Not the best program if you don’t mostly fly with Air Canada

Logo Difficult to qualify for Elite Status, especially if you don’t fly often

Logo Points expire if your account is inactive for 18 months

Our Final Thoughts

In the Air Miles vs Aeroplan battle, both programs offer great rewards. However, the one you choose should be based on what you plan to do with your hard-earned points or miles.

If you want to use them towards flights and travel, Aeroplan could be the answer.

If you want a broader selection of benefits or if you don’t often fly with Air Canada or its Star Alliance partners, Air Miles could be better for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

There’s no clear answer here because each program is different. However, it will depend on some factors, such as what you plan on using your rewards points for and how often you want to travel.

If you plan on traveling often with Air Canada or one of its Star Alliance partners, becoming an Aeroplan member is a no-brainer. Air Miles might make more sense if you plan on flying with other airlines or plan to use your miles for other rewards.

Also, there are more places where you can earn Air Miles if shopping in physical stores compared to Aeroplan.

With an Air Miles–branded credit card, you can double dip. You can do the same with an Aeroplan-branded credit card but mostly only when you shop on the Aeroplan eStore.

The easiest place to earn Aeroplan points is by flying with Air Canada or its partner airlines.

When you travel, you can earn points at Avis, Best Western, Budget, Choice Hotels (including Comfort, Quality, and Clairon), IHG Hotels & Resorts (including Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, and InterContinental), and Marriott (including Delta, Sheraton, Westin, Courtyard, and Fairfield). You can also earn points at Home Hardware, Starbucks, and the Aeroplan eStore.

Air Miles are available at a number of car rental agencies (including Alamo, Budget, and National), gas stations (Irving and Shell), grocery stores (including IGA, Metro, Safeway, and Sobeys), hotels (including Candlewood Suites, Crown Plaza, Holiday Inn, and InterContinental), retailers (including Global Pet Foods, Foodland, Jean Coutu, Kent Building Supplies, Staples, The Children’s Place, and Timber Mart), and airmilesshops.ca.

Again, this will depend on how often you plan on traveling and what you expect to do with the rewards you earn.

There are more places where you can earn Air Miles, so that might be a better option if you shop at specific retailers and grocery stores. Air Miles can also be redeemed for flights on various airlines that fly out of Canada.

Aeroplan is the better option if you fly with Air Canada or its partner airlines on a regular basis.

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