Canadians love to travel and collect frequent flyer miles, and one of the most popular rewards programs in Canada is Aeroplan.  Aeroplan members redeem their miles for over 1.5 million flight rewards each year.

Aeroplan Miles: How to Collect and Redeem

I first began collecting Aeroplan miles back in 2007 when I was travelling a lot on business.  They were easy to accumulate when I was flying across the country with Air Canada.

I’ve also earned Aeroplan miles on occasion by filling up at Esso and shopping at Home Hardware.  I even thought enough of the Aeroplan loyalty program to purchase shares in Groupe Aeroplan (AER).

Redeeming your Aeroplan miles for flights is fairly straightforward.  Redemption for short haul flights in Canada and the U.S. starts at 15,000 miles, and long haul flights starts at 25,000 miles.

I’ve redeemed Aeroplan miles for a free short haul flight from Lethbridge to Edmonton with no hassle, other than the extra fees and taxes.  I also like to redeem my points for products, and I have redeemed my Aeroplan miles for gift cards at Toys R Us, HBC and Home Hardware.

Changes to the Aeroplan Program

Many Canadians heard about recent changes to the Aeroplan program that came into effect July 15th, 2011.  These changes increased the number of miles required to redeem for certain long haul flights.  According to Aeroplan, these changes represent an average increase of less than 5% in the number of miles per flight rewards.

There has also been an outcry from members over the apparent expiration of Aeroplan miles over time.  The Aeroplan website claims that when you stay active in the program, you make sure that your Aeroplan Miles don’t expire.

All it takes is one transaction every 12 months to keep your account active, and you have a full 7 years from the time you accumulate the miles to redeem them for a reward.

For the record, my last transaction was in March 2012 and there is a note on my account stating that my Aeroplan miles will expire in March 2013 unless I redeem my points or add to them with another transaction.

Best Loyalty Program or Waste of Time?

After I changed careers and stopped traveling frequently I found it difficult to collect Aeroplan Miles.  They don’t have a long list of sponsors like the Air Miles program does, especially here in Alberta.

My transaction activity last year consisted of two flights, three visits to Esso and one trip to Home Hardware.  I even sold my Groupe Aeroplan shares last year.

For frequent Canadian travelers, the Aeroplan card should be in your wallet just for the simple fact of having Air Canada and the Star Alliance partnership.

But with the recent changes to their rewards program, constant booking issues and customer service complaints, lack of other retail sponsors and the possibility of your rewards expiring due to inactivity, it seems that collecting Aeroplan miles is more of a hassle than it’s worth.

Do you collect Aeroplan miles?  What are your thoughts on their rewards program?

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