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 American Express Aeroplan Gold Card, the TD Visa Infinite Aeroplan, 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
- EVA Air
- 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?