Imagine having a beautiful sports car sitting in your driveway. It has a tonne of power under the hood. There’s only one issue – the car isn’t much good to you because you can’t drive a manual. Likewise, Aeroplan is also a very powerful travel program – but is misunderstood which causes it to be useless to many.
This post will teach you How to become an Aeroplan Power User. Ready to make the most of your points, and earn thousands upon thousands of more points! I won’t promise that you’ll be able to drive a standard – but you will be able to hop on a flight for just about nothing.
What is Aeroplan?
Aeroplan is a loyalty program administered by Air Canada. The official currency of Aeroplan, originally enough is Aeroplan Points. You can use these points to shop, book hotels, and of course book flights. For example, it would cost 25,000 points for a round trip economy class flight in North America, 60,000 for a return trip to Europe, and 80,000 to head to Australia / Oceania round-trip.
Point Redemption Chart:
One Aeroplan point can be valued between $0.02 and $0.04 depending on whom you speak with. For me, I value my Aeroplan points at $0.03. Therefore, 25,000 points to me are worth $750. The basis of this is that my closest airport is St. John’s YYT, it would cost me at least $750 to fly to Vancouver or LA, so my points are worth at least that amount.
How to Earn Points?
There are many ways to earn points via Aeroplan which I’ve broken down into six (6) categories.
- Ongoing Promotions and Surveys
- Hotel Stays
- Credit Cards
- Points Transfers and Bonuses
Earning Points through Flying
You can earn Aeroplan points by flying with any member of the Star Alliance – not just Air Canada. Simply type your Aeroplan number when booking / checking in for your flight in the frequent flyer program section.
One tip that I would suggest when booking through Air Canada for a paid flight is think hard about which booking class you will use.
A Tango Fare will earn you 25% of the miles you fly domestically and 50% of the miles you fly internationally, a Flex fare will earn you 100% of the miles you fly domestically or internationally.
If you are flying 5,000 miles (Domestically) round-trip and a Flex Fare costs $75 extra than a Tango Fare:
Tango Fare = 25% x 5,000 = 1,250 Miles
Flex Fare = 100% x 5,000 = 5,000 Miles
Flex Fare would earn you an additional 3,750 miles. Using the assumption that an Aeroplan mile is valued at $0.03:
3,750 x 0.03 = $112.5
In this case, you are earning $112.50 in points by spending an additional $75.00. You can figure out how many miles your flight will be HERE.
You can expect the price difference between Tango and Flex to be the least when booking a last minute flight, but always be aware in case there is a gap in the airlines pricing matrix.
Earning Points through Shopping
Aeroplan is partnered with many different physical and online stores. You can earn a great number of points if using your Aeroplan Card while shopping at these stores.
Esso Gas Stations
Credit Card spending is a great way to earn points on every purchase. This is especially the case when you use an Aeroplan affiliated Credit Card at an Aeroplan partner.
I.e – I can use my Aeroplan Credit Card at ESSO to earn 1.5 points per dollar of gas spent, and also earn 1 point per dollar spent credited on my Aeroplan account.
On a $50 gas purchase –
50 x 1.5 = 75 Aeroplan points (or $2.25)
50 x 1 = 50 Aeroplan points (or $1.5)
It isn’t much, but being credited $3.75 back into your bank account on a $50 purchase (7% Return) is a pretty good deal and can add up quickly! This deal in particular has been going on forever.
Earning Points through Ongoing Promotions and Surveys
This one speaks for itself, but throughout the year Air Canada and Aeroplan will have some bonus point promotions. Another good option to earn points if you have some time on your hands is by using eRewards or Asking Canadians.
Earning Points through Hotel Stays
Booking accommodations is a great way to earn points toward your next trip!
One great service that is becoming more popular is Rocketmiles, it is a tool to book your hotel through and you’ll earn a great deal of airline points while doing so! If you haven’t already, we highly encourage you to sign up HERE.
Hotel Loyalty Programs
Plenty of hotel loyalty programs allow you to transfer your points to your Aeroplan program (or other airline loyalty program). The loyalty programs can also get you perks like: Free WiFi, Early Check In, Late Check Out, Room Upgrades
I suggest signing up for:
Starwood Preferred Guest, Accor Hotels, and Marriott Rewards
Earning Points through Credit Cards
Credit Cards are by far the easiest way to earn travel points. Generally, there is a major one time lump sum of points credited if you are approved for the card and actually use it – then there are ongoing perks as long as you use it.
- Bundle of points upon sign-up
- Earn points every time you use the card
- Travel Perks
- There is often an Annual Fee involved
The best cards to look out for are cards that offer a sign-up bonus with no annual fee, then cards that have an annual fee that waive the fee for the first year (once you get your sign up bonus you can simply cancel the card), and finally cards that have an annual fee in which the fee isn’t waived.
Doing the math when a card has an annual fee
If a Card has an annual fee, first do the straight math:
I.e If a card has a $400 Annual Fee and a 40,000 point sign-up bonus
As mentioned earlier, the average value of an Aeroplan point is $0.03 so 40,000 points would be valued at around $1,200. Signing up for the card is actually a smart fiscal decision. Not to mention, if a card has such a high annual fee you will often get perks like Free Access to Lounges, Priority Check In, Priority Boarding, and Free Checked Bags. I would likely register for this card and keep it for 11 months and cancel before I was charged a second annual fee.
Getting Fees Waived
There are Credit Card companies that will waive your annual fee to keep you as a customer. I can try to explain a good script in getting it waived – but Ramit Sethi (an absolute genius) says it best on his website – click HERE
Point redemption is a definite pain point for most people who use Aeroplan, but there are definitely ways to get around this. The two major issues I hear is regarding flight availability, and high booking fees.
When should I book?
Booking using points is a bit different than buying a fare with money. Normally, when you buy with cash there is a sweet spot where the price is best – generally a couple of months prior to flying.
When you are booking a trip on points, it is harder to establish this sweet spot. Try to book as far ahead as possible and try and have an open mind for dates. Use some common sense when thinking about dates – it will be harder to find reward flights in peak travel seasons like Christmas and Summer.
If you are super flexible, seats start to become available in the couple of weeks leading up to the date of the flight if the airline isn’t close to selling out. In order to have a fuller plane, the airline may release more Reward seats which could be up for grabs.
Minimizing Taxes and Fees
Taxes and Fees are the biggest complaint people have about flying using Aeroplan. Some people still pay well over $1000 in taxes for a long haul flight even with points! The biggest trick to working around this is simple –
Use Aeroplan to book your flight on another airline besides Air Canada – an example below shows fees of just $189 to take you to New Zealand and back from St. John’s only because we fly a leg using Air New Zealand. Tip – play around with the itinerary and try and get on flights not operated by Air Canada!
Making the most of your Aeroplan Points
This is the part where we talk about making a point worth a lot more than $0.03!
Take this fare for example:
Fly from St. John’s to London, hang out in London for a month, fly from London to Singapore, hang out there for a few days, and then fly back to St. John’s. All of this in First Class (laying in beds, living the dream!). Total cost? 150,000 points.
Same cost of booking this on Air Canada? Over $17,000!
Do the math:
$17,431 = 1,743,100 cents / 150,000 = $0.1162 cents per point. Much more than our previous valuation of $0.03 per point.
A Stopover is a time between flights exceeding 4 hours booked on the one itinerary. Aeroplan is extremely generous in that you are allowed to use stopovers very flexibly.
On a Domestic Flight (Canada/USA) you are allowed to make one free stop.
I.e – Fly from St. John’s to Toronto stay in Toronto for a few days, fly from Toronto to LA, stay in LA for a few days and then fly from LA to St. John’s. All for 25,000 miles or what a normal round trip flight would cost.
How do I do this?
In the Aeroplan online booking system, just choose three one way flights. St. Johns to Toronto, Toronto to LA, LA to St. John’s with whatever dates you wanted. Aeroplan will only charge you 25,000 points! This is one of my favourite things about Aeroplan!
But wait, it gets better!
On International Long Haul Flights you can take advantage of this further! As shown above I can fly to Asia and stop in Europe for a month for the same price as just flying direct to Asia! This is a good way to do an “Around The World” trip! Head to Europe for a few months explore, then hop on a flight to Asia and explore for awhile before heading back to Canada at the same cost as what you would have had to pay for just a trip to Asia! Technically, you are allowed a second stop on an international flight – to do this, you’ll have to call the Aeroplan Booking Centre (They will charge a $35 Fee for helping you book).
I’m hoping this tutorial helped make you appreciate Aeroplan a bit more! If you liked this article, I would appreciate you share it with your friends! Feel free to Like StealthTrips on Facebook to keep track of all of our latest Tips and Deals!