The Aeroplan vs. Air Miles debate has been raging for years, leaving many Canadians wondering: which should you choose?
Air Miles and Aeroplan are two of Canada’s most recognized travel rewards programs, but they couldn’t be more different from each other. Sure, both programs allow you to use your miles/points for free travel, but which credit card you use to earn those rewards and how you decide to redeem them can vary quite a bit between the two programs.
Which is the Best Travel Rewards Program in Canada?
Generally speaking, most people prefer Aeroplan since it’s the loyalty program of Air Canada, Canada’s number one airline. Since Air Canada is part of Star Alliance, you can use your Aeroplan points on any of their partner airlines which is also appealing.
That being said, Air Miles can be attractive too, since you can use your miles for flights, merchandise and even cash. If you happen to shop a lot at Air Miles partner merchants, then this loyalty program may be best for you but it’s still worth looking at both of them to see what they offer before you decide on which rewards to collect.
To help you decide between Aeroplan and Air Miles, we’ve come up with this guide that will show you how each program works, what the best credit cards are to earn rewards, and how you can redeem your rewards.
Aeroplan Points vs. Air Miles
When comparing Aeroplan vs. Air Miles, at face value, Aeroplan comes out ahead but for some people, Air Miles could give them better value if they shop on a regular basis at Air Miles partners. So this is where things get tricky as these are two very different programs and it’s not fair to just look at the earn rates below to declare a winner.
With Aeroplan, you could earn more points depending on which class fare you book. It’s also worth noting that Air Miles frequently runs promotions where you can earn additional miles which may be a valuable opportunity for some people. The below chart is just a quick look that compares Aeroplan and Air Miles earn rates but you should also factor in the types of redemptions you like to make when choosing a program.
|How to Earn Points||AIR MILES||Aeroplan|
|With participating merchants||1 mile per $20 spent||1 point per $1 spent|
|Earn rate from featured credit cards||1 mile per $10 spent||Up to 1.5 points per $1 spent|
|On flights||No miles earned on flights||Up to 150% of actual miles flown|
Aeroplan Rewards Program
The Aeroplan points program is a rewards system with a focus on travel with Air Canada, a leading Canadian airline. Your accumulated points can be redeemed for travel rewards, such as flights on Air Canada and their partner airlines, hotels, car rentals, vacation packages, event tickets, and merchandise. With over 150 partner brands and over 150 online retailers, it’s super easy to earn Aeroplan points when shopping for everyday items, especially if you have an Aeroplan credit card.
When it comes to Aeroplan, people like to collect points since they can be used on flights on Air Canada and their partners. Aeroplan is pretty straightforward and easy to understand and when you are able to redeem a flight or other travel rewards, you can get some great value.
Aeroplan points expire if you haven’t earned, redeemed, donated or transferred any miles in 18 consecutive months (however, they will not expire if you are a TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* cardholder in good standing). But you can easily avoid losing your hard-earned points simply by using an Aeroplan-affiliated credit card to make purchases.
AIR MILES Reward Program
Air Miles is one of the most popular loyalty programs in Canada. With an Air Miles Collector Card, you can turn everyday purchases – like gas and groceries – into free flights, car rentals, event tickets, hotel stays, electronics, and so much more. Here’s how it works: when shopping at participating partner stores, flash your Air Miles card at the check-out counter and automatically earn AIR MILES for your purchases. If you pay using an Air Miles credit card, you can supercharge your points earnings.
With Air Miles, you have the option to earn AIR MILES Cash Rewards or AIR MILES Dream Rewards. You select what you want within your account and it can be split up in any way you want (e.g. 50/50, 80/20, 100/0). Once you’ve earned the miles in your selected category, you can’t transfer them. However, you can modify how you earn your miles at any time.
Like Aeroplan, Air Miles has an online shop (AirMilesShops.ca) where you can earn points through purchases, but their retail partner list isn’t as extensive. While it’s fairly easy to collect Miles, it can take much longer to accumulate enough points to redeem them. However, what’s unique about Air Miles is that you can directly pay at some partner retailers, which is handy for everyday purchases like groceries. Another pro: Air Miles never expire.
TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite*Card
The TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card has a welcome bonus that makes this card very attractive. You’ll get 10,000 Aeroplan points after your first purchase with your card + another 10,000 Aeroplan points and a bonus Buddy Pass after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days of account opening. This card does come with an annual fee of $139 but rebated for the first year for both the primary and additional cardholders as part of the current promotion. To take advantage of this limited-time offer, you must apply by May 30, 2021.
With this card, you’ll get 1.5 points for every $1 spent on eligible grocery, gas and AirCanada.com purchases. All other purchases earn you 1 point for every $1 spent, and you can earn double the points on purchases at participating partner brands and online retailers via the Aeroplan eStore.
- Annual Fee: $139 (annual fee rebate for first year if you apply by May 30, 2021)
- Income Eligibility: $60,000 personal income or $100,000 annual income
- Credit Score Requirement: Good to Excellent
- Welcome Bonus: 10,000 Aeroplan points after first purchase + another 10,000 Aeroplan points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days. Must be approved by May 30, 2021
- Additional Perks: Travel insurance, VIP benefits when travelling on Air Canada flights, $100 Nexus fee rebate (every 48 months), Auto Rental Collision/Loss Damage Insurance, and no Aeroplan points expiry for cardholder
- Purchase APR: 19.99% | Cash Advance APR: 22.99%
*This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For Quebec residents, please click here.
BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®
With the BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®, you get 2,000 AIR MILES as a welcome bonus when you charge $3,000 to your card in the first three months of card membership. The earn rate of 1 mile for every $10 in credit card purchases is good and you can double dip your points at AIR MILES partner merchants by showing your loyalty card first and then paying with your BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®.
One huge benefit with this card is that you get a 15% discount on all flights in North America when booked with your Air Miles – which is a great way to stretch out your miles. Best of all, right now, the annual fee of $120 is waived for the first year, so it’s a great time to test out the card for free.
Note that with the BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®, you need a personal income of $80,000 or a household income of $150,000 to qualify the card. TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* requires an annual income personal income of $60,000 or a household income of $100,000 for applicants to be considered. If your income falls below that threshold, you could apply for one of the other best Air Miles credit cards in Canada or one of the best Aeroplan credit cards in Canada instead.
- Annual Fee: $120 (waived for first year)
- Income Eligibility: $80,000 individual or $150,000 household income
- Credit Score Requirement: Excellent
- Welcome Bonus: 2,000 AIR MILES Bonus Miles
- Additional Perks: Travel insurance, Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey
- Purchase APR: 19.99% | Cash Advance APR: 22.99%
|BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®||TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card|
|Annual fee||$120 |
(waived for the first year)
|$139 (Annual fee rebate for first year if you are approved by May 30, 2021)|
|Welcome bonus||2,000 AIR Miles (after $3,000 spend in first 3 months)||Up to 20,000 Aeroplan points. Must be approved by May 30, 2021)|
|Earn rate||1 AIR MILE per $10 on all purchases||1.5:$1 on groceries, gas and AirCanada.com |
1:$1 on everything else
|Other perks||15% off AIR MILES flights within North America booked using AIR MILES, travel insurance which includes travel medical for up to 15 days per trip||Travel and rental car insurance, 24/hour concierge service, priority boarding/check in, one first free checked bag|
|Unique benefits||Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey with two free annual passes||$100 Nexus fee rebate (every 48 months)|
|Income Eligibility||$80,000 personal or $150,000 household annual income||$60,000 personal or $100,000 household annual income|
|More Info||Learn More||Learn More|
Air Miles vs. Aeroplan Reward Redemption
As you can imagine, how you make a redemption through Air Miles and Aeroplan is very different. Both programs allow you to redeem for various types of travel and merchandise, but the miles required to make a redemption vary quite a bit.
With Air Miles Cash, it’ll cost you 95 cash miles to claim $10 at participating stores. Many people find this to be of good value since you can easily make a redemption at any time as long as you have enough points. With Air Miles Dream miles, most people try to save their points for flights. The number of points it takes to redeem a flight depends on where you’re flying to and what season it is. Generally speaking, flights offer good value for your points but using your points for events such as concert tickets can give you even more value. Most of the time using your Dream Miles for merchandise is of low value so try to stick to travel or event redemptions.
Recently Aeroplan also adopted this variable pricing model for flight rewards. This means that the number of points you need to use for any given flight is more closely tied to the flight’s value in cash. So, while you may end up paying more for flights on popular routes at peak times, the converse is also true. Another change to the program is that you can book any seat on any Air Canada flight—not just seats reserved for Aeroplan members. You can also book a seat on one of the partner airlines, however, the fare is based on a fixed number of points, and there are only a certain number of seats available for purchase with points on each flight.
Aeroplan also allows you to use your points to redeem other types of travel such as hotels, car rentals, and vacation packages.
With both programs, you still need to pay any taxes and fees when making a redemption. However, under the new Aeroplan program, you are no longer charged carrier surcharges.
Which Program Is Right for You?
If you prefer to use your rewards for travel, then Aeroplan typically comes out on top. The program has a few sweet spots, such as flights from major Canadian cities to Mexico or Hawaii, where your points can be worth a fair amount. That being said, Air Miles is great for travellers who fly within their province on a regular basis.
For those who regularly shop at Air Miles merchants and prefer cash-back, then Air Miles is a good choice. Keep in mind that there’s nothing wrong with collecting rewards from both programs, but when choosing a credit card, go with the program that benefits you more.