Canada’s Best Aeroplan Credit Cards
For frequent flyers of Air Canada and Star Alliance partners, these top picks come with lucrative welcome offers to consider right now.
For frequent flyers of Air Canada and Star Alliance partners, these top picks come with lucrative welcome offers to consider right now.
Canadians have been hotly anticipating information about the changes to Aeroplan and Aeroplan-branded credit cards since Air Canada acquired the loyalty program. The good news is that the changes are finalized, and we’ve got all the details about the best Aeroplan credit cards you can apply for.
Under the brand-new Aeroplan program, earn rates remain pretty much the same as before, with the notable exception that drug store purchases are no longer a bonus spending category. For travel-related perks, the program has changed for the better, with both new and updated Aeroplan-branded credit cards. Beefed-up travel insurance, free luggage check for your first bag, preferred pricing, and points that never expire are just a few of the welcome tweaks to cards in the Aeroplan family. And if that’s not enough to tempt you, consider the slew of juicy welcome bonuses designed to lure consumers over to the new program.
Whether you’re looking for a pared-down card to get you started with Aeroplan or a full-service travel card with all the bells and whistles, there’s an Aeroplan credit card for you.
The first thing you may notice with the new TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite is the impressive welcome bonus. Once approved, new cardholders will receive 10,000 Aeroplan points after their first purchase and an additional 10,000 points. Plus, a bonus Buddy Pass is awarded when you spend $1000 within the first 90 days. The Buddy Pass can get you a free flight for a friend when you book an economy fare to anywhere Air Canada flies (excluding the taxes and third-party charges). The first year’s annual fee is rebated for the primary and first 3 additional cardholders—a perk worth $364 ($139 for the primary and $75 for secondary cardholders). To receive the first-year annual fee rebate, you must activate your card and make your first purchase on the account within the first three months of opening and add your additional cardholders by August 17, 2021.
The bonus Buddy Pass is reason enough for Canadians to take note of, but the travel benefits don’t stop there. With the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite, you’ll get your first bag checked for free for you and up to eight travel companions on the same reservation. This comes out to about $30 in savings per traveller when flying economy within Canada or to the U.S. A Nexus application fee rebate every 48 months will save you up to $100. Plus, you’ll get “preferred pricing,” the opportunity to book flights with fewer points.
As an Aeroplan credit card, the new TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite has virtually the same earn rates as before, except that, as mentioned above, drug stores are no longer a bonus category. This means that you’ll earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on gas, grocery and Air Canada purchases, and 1 point per $1 on everything else. Want to boost your points? Pay with your card and give your Aeroplan number for double the points at more than 150 partner brands and retailers. As always, as long as you’re the primary cardholder and in good standing, your Aeroplan points never expire.
You can use your Aeroplan points towards any Air Canada seat on any flight, any time. There are no restrictions or blackouts. Aeroplan points can also be used for booking hotel rooms and car rentals. Or, if you’re not looking for travel-related rewards, consider turning your points into gift cards or merchandise, easily selected at aircanada.com.
Get more details about the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite*
The CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite card is almost identical to the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite, in that cardholders get the same everyday rewards and virtually identical perks. Both cards cost $139 annually, but the CIBC card has an edge when it comes to authorized users. In comparison to the TD annual fee of $75 per supplemental card, CIBC charges $50 per year. This is a big deal because additional cardholders can take advantage of all the same benefits as the primary cardholder, and rack up valuable Aeroplan points.
New CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite cardholders will get 10,000 points when they make their first purchase, plus a one-time Buddy Pass once they spend $3,000 in the first four months. The primary and up to eight additional travellers on the same reservation will get their first bag checked for free, and the annual fee of $139 is waived for the primary cardholder and up to three supplemental cardholders. That’s a savings of $289.
Unlike the virtually identical TD and CIBC cards, the American Express Aeroplan card takes the concept and tweaks it. The first notable difference is the annual fee which is the more conventional $120 with additional cards costing $50. The points structure is also a slight departure, offering 2 Aeroplan points per $1 on purchases at Air Canada, 1.5 points per $1 on dining and food delivery purchases, and 1 point per $1 spent on anything else.
New American Express Aeroplan cardholders get the same Aeroplan perks, such as a free checked bag and preferred pricing. The welcome bonus includes a free Buddy Pass along with the chance to earn up to 15,000 Aeroplan points. The card has travel insurance, including $500,00 in travel accident, flight and baggage delay, and lost or stolen baggage, plus hotel burglary, car rental theft and damage.
Perhaps most notably, the American Express Aeroplan card is a charge card, so while you won’t be restricted by a credit limit, you will have to pay off the balance in full every month.
Note: The American Express Aeroplan card is a charge card, so you’re required to pay off your balance in full with this card every month.
Unlike TD’s offering, the American Express Gold Rewards Card earns you American Express Membership Rewards (MR) points, which you can then transfer 1:1 to Aeroplan points for flight redemptions on Air Canada and Star Alliance partners. This attracts people who want flexibility around where to redeem their points and who also understand that Amex is accepted less widely than some other cards.
Those who do choose to use this Amex card can take advantage of its higher earn rate, since it offers up to 2 MR on everyday purchases. It’s worth noting the American Express Gold Rewards is a charge card, which means that unlike other credit cards, you’ll need to pay off its balance in full every month.
Note: American Express Gold Rewards card is a charge card, so you’re required to pay off your balance in full every month.
Get more details about the American Express Gold Rewards Card*
This is American Express’ premium offering, ringing in at a hefty $699 annual fee. Like the Gold card, you can transfer MR points one-to-one to Aeroplan, but comes with Priority Pass and Centurion Lounge access, alongside a generous $200 annual travel credit (essentially reducing your annual fee to $499), hotel upgrades, and a 50,000 point sign-up bonus if you spend $2,000 in the first three months of membership. The American Express Platinum is a charge card, which means you’ll need to pay off its balance in full every month, unlike the Aeroplan Visa cards on this list.
Note: This is a charge card, so you’re required to pay off your balance in full with this card every month.
The appeal of CIBC’s Aeroplan Visa Card is its $0 annual fee. It’s a great way to step into the Aeroplan game and start racking up rewards through your credit card spending. The welcome bonus starts things off with 10,000 Aeroplan points when you make your first purchase with the card.
Not surprisingly for a no-fee card, the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card doesn’t give you access to the free checked baggage or comprehensive insurance perks the other co-branded Aeroplan credit cards covered earlier have. However, cardholders do get preferred pricing so they can often book flights using fewer points. The included insurance is lean with only common carrier accident coverage, car rental collision and loss damage protection and purchase protection.
The earn rate is 1 point per $1 on gas, groceries and at Air Canada; and 1 point per every $1.50 charged on the card. You can double your earnings by giving your Aeroplan number at more than 150 partner locations.
|Credit Card||Annual Fee|
|1||TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite||$139 (rebated for first year)|
|2||CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite||$139 (rebated for first year)|
|3||American Express Aeroplan Card||$120|
|4||American Express Gold Rewards Card||$150|
|5||American Express Platinum Card||$699|
|6||CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card||$0|
According to the new Aeroplan redemption chart, how many points you need to redeem to book a flight depends on the distance between your city of departure and arrival, and which of the four “travel zones” you’re flying between.
At a minimum, you’ll need at least 6,000 points to redeem a one-way ticket within the North America travel zone to any destination within 500 miles of your departure (or 12,000 points for a round-trip). That includes trips like Toronto to Ottawa, or Vancouver to Calgary.
The number of points you need for redemption increases as you go further from your departure city or enter a new travel zone. For example, you’d need at least 70,000 Aeroplan points for a round trip to the Atlantic Zone travel zone within 4,000 miles of your city of departure.
Aeroplan has a handy points predictor tool to estimate how many points you need to redeem for a flight.
Unfortunately, Aeroplan points don’t have a fixed value. You can use the points predictor tool to see how it can vary. That said, you can get better value depending on the destination.
This formula can:
1 Aeroplan point = (Price of Ticket – Aeroplan Fees) ÷ points needed to redeem
Generally, if the result of this equation is more than 1.2 to 1.5 cents per Aeroplan mile, you’re looking at a solid deal. For example, if you were to fly round-trip from Calgary to Halifax in January 2021, you’d need around 25,000 Aeroplan points, and you’d have to pay the taxes and fees. Since the total price of a ticket is currently around $770 and Aeroplan charges $80 in taxes and fees, in this scenario, the value of 1 point would be 2.76 cents, based on the above equation: ($770 – $80) ÷ 25,000. That’s according to Google Flights as of this article’s publication date.
Business class flights are also known to offer better value as their retail value is much higher, but you’ll need to rack up more points to redeem for those rewards.
Aeroplan has introduced a new stopover policy that will help both casual and seasoned travellers stretch the value of their points.
When travelling almost anywhere (excluding Canada or the U.S.), you can add a stop over on each one-way flight for an incremental 5,000 points. By leveraging this stopover policy, you can strategically add stops on your routes, see more destinations, and maximize the value of your points.
Aeroplan has many retail and brand partners, offering the ability to earn twice. Once with the credit card, and another with your membership card. So a good tip is to scan your Aeroplan cards for points as well as for charging at the register. Plus, you can take advantage of Aeroplan’s online store to make purchases and earn additional bonus points from popular online retailers like Amazon.
New Aeroplan points can be redeemed for flights on Air Canada or any of the roughly two dozen Star Alliance member airlines, just like before. However, Aeroplan has introduced a few changes when it comes to its redemption rules.
When redeeming on Air Canada, Aeroplan has introduced “dynamic pricing,” which effectively means the number of points you need for a flight can vary within a range. For instance, a round-trip economy flight from Calgary to Halifax with Air Canada can require anywhere between 25,000 and 35,000 points. You may need more points within this range if you’re travelling to a popular destination or during a high-demand travel season.
When redeeming on Star Alliance member airlines, which include United and Lufthansa, dynamic pricing isn’t part of the picture. For instance, the same round-trip flight from Calgary to Halifax always requires 25,000 points at any point in time. The one caveat is you’ll have to pay an extra $39 booking fee per traveller when flying on a Star Alliance airline versus using Air Canada itself.
When booking travel, you’ll want to compare between Air Canada and the other Star Alliance airlines to see which one offers the best return for your points. The answer will depend on your particular travel booking.
Aeroplan is an excellent loyalty program for frequent flyers of Air Canada—and, when coupled with an Aeroplan credit card, it can be a powerful way to fast-track some excellent reward redemptions, like flights in Air Canada’s premium Signature Class cabin. While the airline has actively worked to make the program more flexible for those seeking to maximize the benefits of everyday purchases, it still can feel complicated sometimes to navigate various options.
So, whether you’re looking for something that’s more flexible or you’re simply not travelling as much nowadays, here are some alternatives.
Truly a game-changer for American Express, the American Express Cobalt Card is targeted toward savvier customers with a monthly fee ($10 rather than $120/annually) and an extremely generous 5-points-per-$1 multiplier on restaurant, grocery and even food-delivery purchases. Earn double the points on travel (not just with Air Canada, but all airlines, hotels, and car rental companies), as well as on gasoline, public transit and rideshare services. Plus, when using the MR program, you can easily redeem through the American Express Travel portal or for travel purchased on your own. Redeem on Amex’s flexible points system.
Here’s how it works: 1,000 points gets you $10 towards an eligible travel purchase. You could also choose to book through the fixed points system, wherein you can find sweet spots to maximize points valuation upward of $0.02 per mile, depending on destination, supply and demand for those flights. Be mindful, however, that the Membership Rewards program for the Cobalt Card is the MR Select, which is limited to redemptions on Amex’s Travel platform or transfers to select hotel partners. It is more restrictive than MR First (available to Amex Platinum and Gold cardholders), which allows for miles transfers to Aeroplan.
Get more details about the AMEX Cobalt*
If you’re looking to redeem miles exclusively for flights and you’re willing to be flexible, the RBC WestJet World Elite Mastercard is a strong choice, made even stronger if you already bank with RBC Royal Bank. Earn 1.5% on everything you buy (the standard is 1%), and 2% when you purchase through WestJet. Redeeming is simple, too: 1 point equals $1 on WestJet flights, so there aren’t any complicated rewards charts to follow. Plus, thanks to an annual “companion flight” incentive, you can book a second WestJet ticket at a reduced fare—a tremendous value if you’re travelling with a loved one. The primary cardholder gets the first checked bag free on WestJet flights for themselves and up to eight guests on the same reservation, providing additional incentive on a $119 annual fee that’s below most comparable Aeroplan cards. Lastly, if you’re an RBC Royal Bank customer with a VIP banking plan, you can waive the cost of this card.
Brim Financial is a new entrant to the travel rewards space, with competitive perks travellers will love. This card is a bit of a black sheep, as it’s positioned as a cashback card—but with travel-friendly features such as no foreign exchange fees, so you can easily shave off the standard 2.5% markup on foreign-currency purchases when you’re travelling abroad or shopping online. Earn 1.5% on everyday purchases, but reap the benefits of partner airlines like Emirates, Lufthansa, Etihad and Sunwing, with the ability to earn up to 3% per $1 spent. Redeem simply with 100 points per $1 credited, or 1.5% cash back. Additional perks include free global WiFi from Boingo, mobile device insurance, event ticket reimbursement, and common carrier accident insurance.
Get more details about BRIM Financial World Elite Mastercard*
Scotiabank prides itself on having one of the easiest and most flexible point programs in Canada. Scotia Rewards doesn’t follow a specific rewards chart, but redeeming is easy to understand. With 1 point equalling $0.01 in travel rewards. Earn 2 Scotia Rewards points from every $1 you spend on eligible groceries, dining, entertainment and daily transit purchases. Plus, earn 1 point per $1 for everything else. You can redeem points from any travel website, agency or company as you wish, or you can book through Scotia Rewards. When travelling, you get access to a Priority Pass membership with six free airport lounge passes annually. And this is the only credit card from a major bank that offers no foreign-exchange fees for shopping abroad or shopping online in non-Canadian currencies—a trend we hope to see pick up traction with other major banks. At an annual fee of $139, this card offers tremendous value in a wide range of ways, with easy-to-comprehend earn and redemption systems.
Get more details about the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite*
As of Nov. 8, 2020, Air Canada launched some new changes to the Aeroplan program. Here’s what you need to know.
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