Aeroplan isn't the best points program out there but we can help show you the best way to use aeroplane miles.
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Yes, I am well aware that Aeroplan isn’t the best points program and there are others that are much better without the hassle of Aeroplan. However, being that Air Canada kind of has a monopoly in Canada, and points are easy to collect (they are ubiquitous in the Canadian credit card scene- take for example, the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card and the CIBC Infinite Aeroplan Visa), especially with credit card churning, it’s kind of the airline rewards program that most people in Canada end up collecting.

So with the accumulation of my Aeroplan points over the years, I have redeemed my points for small flights through Aeroplan and have been very pleased with the process- one time I redeemed a round trip from Amsterdam to Sweden with SAS airlines, another time I redeemed a flight from Vancouver to Denver, Colorado for a meditation retreat, and most recently, I redeemed a flight for Vancouver to Whitehorse to try and catch a glimpse of the northern lights.  I haven’t done my mini- Round the World trip though, hopefully one day I will!

It’s a good idea to have an objective and standardized process to see whether your Aeroplan redemption is a ‘good deal’ because the last thing you want to do is to use your points that you toiled over and pay lots of fuel surcharges and taxes for nothing.

The Best Way to Use Aeroplan Miles

Don’t redeem your Aeroplan miles for merchandise or gift cards.  It’s just not worth it.  Unless you’re not interested in traveling at all and you like to collect merchandise and gift cards.  If that’s the case, you likely shouldn’t be collecting Aeroplan miles in the first place.

So, what’s the best way to use your Aeroplan miles?

The best way to use your Aeroplan miles can be summarized as follows:

  • Long Haul International flights
  • Long Haul International Flights in Business or First Class (very high return on Aeroplan mile investment especially with business or first class)
  • Places in Canada that are less frequented and therefore more expensive- usually the cost is high but it is considered a short haul flight (e.g. going to North West Territories or Whitehorse)
  • Pick Star Alliance partners (HowtoSaveMoney suggests) and I want to add that not all are created equal.  There are some that have almost no taxes and fuel surcharges, which sweetens the redemption deal that much more!  You can check out this post from One Mile at a Time to review booking Aeroplan Awards without taxes and fees.  Just to recap, these are Star Alliance airlines to look out for:
    •  Air China
    • Brussels
    • EgyptAir
    • Ethiopian
    • EVA Air
    • Scandinavian
    • Singapore
    • Swiss
    • Turkish
    • United
    • US Airways,
  • Book early, otherwise you might not be able to get the ticket that you want!  With Aeroplan, you are allowed to book up to 365 days ahead in advance.

Specifically, Canadiankm’s (a website on travel hacking) recommends that a business class ticket to Europe is the way to go to get the most bang for your Aeroplan buck.  Also, he recommends trip from Hawaii to South America as a great way to get the bang for your Aeroplan dollar.

How to Calculate your Return on Aeroplan Mile Investment (RAMI)

Instead of Return on Investment, RAMI, or return on Aeroplan Mile investment is a good way to gauge whether your redemption is ‘worthy’ of a redemption.

Flight fox recommends that you use a benchmark to compare.  In their example, they used a flight from Toronto to Calgary, costing about $494.

$498 (cost of flight) subtract $146 (taxes and fees) divided by 25000 (number of miles required)= $0.014 x 100= 1.4 Cost per Mile

Anything less than this number is not worth it, the higher the number, the better the RAMI and the better use of your sweat and tears and Aeroplan miles.

The higher the RAMI and CPM the better!

So, for my flight to Whitehorse from Vancouver, the average cost is about $550.  I paid $100 in taxes and fees, the number of miles required was 15,000.  So the CPM is about 3 which is pretty good!  So it’s not always true that booking a long haul international flight is the best way to use your Aeroplan miles, I think it is better to calculate the RAMI and CPM.

Readers, what was your favourite and most memorable Aeroplan mile redemption?  What was the “CPM” on that trip?

Article comments

nancy says:

i used my points to check on flights to Munich from Vancouver, it was only 400 less than the cost of a regular ticket. No plan i my opinion, $800 plus 120,000 point. What is the point or savings?

I. MacLean says:

Tried to fly premium economy one way on points Toronto to Dublin with my husband. It would have cost 75000 in points AND over $600 in charges. This is for just one way! Aeroplan is a waste of points. You are much better off getting an AMEX card

Ray says:

With Air Canada’s decision to terminate their relationship with Aeroplan in mid-2020, it will be interesting to see what becomes of this loyalty program.

Georgette says:

Air Canada has yanked their mainline plane from Bogota to Toronto. As of 2017, you can only fly their crap brand Rouge. F/Mexico City and the US you can also only fly Rouge. Hence, I will NOT fly AC anywhere now. As a form of protest, I am now transferring my AC miles to another airline. AC also does not make it easy to receive feedback about their changes. They obviously know or suspect that their passengers are unhappy.

Paulette says:

Hawaii from St. John’s ,nl was quite cheap last year. For a family of 4 , it was less than 100,000 aeroplan miles. Taxes were also cheap, have no idea why, Hawaii was on sale.

Kyle says:

That’s pretty cool Paulette – What season?

PinguinoHalifax says:

My husband and I only accumulate aeroplan points through filling up at Esso. We do not have a credit card that is associated with aeroplan. What other ways do you recommend accumulating points and would you still recommend using your points towards travel? We usually get $25 gift cards for gas at Esso with the points.

Kyle says:

You will definitely get more bang for your buck using the points for travel than anything else.

Joe says:

With the ability to cover taxes and fees starting in April, does this change the hierarchy of best ways to use Aeroplan miles?

BeachBoy says:

When I use Swiss instead of AC th

Young says:

@BB- Good to know! How much is the online booking fee again? I’m thinking about using my Aeroplan for a trip to Hawaii or Europe this year 🙂