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Aeroplan Rewards: What Is The Best Value For Your Miles?

The Aeroplan rewards program is arguably the most popular (and reviled) loyalty program in Canada.  Aeroplan members can earn miles at over 75 sponsors in the travel, retail and financial sectors.

Over two million Aeroplan rewards were issued to members last year alone, including more than 1.3 million flights on Air Canada and Star Alliance carriers.  In addition to flights, members also have access to over 800 specialty, merchandise, hotel, car rental and experiential rewards.

The challenge with travel programs like Aeroplan and Air Miles is figuring out the value of your reward miles.  There are two main ways to redeem Aeroplan miles – you can redeem for flight rewards, or for activities and merchandise.

Aeroplan Rewards for Flights

Members can use their Aeroplan rewards to access more than 170 destinations every year on Air Canada and Air Canada Jazz flights.  Below is the number of Aeroplan rewards needed for a round-trip.

Flights leaving from Canada:

  • short-haul flight within Canada & Continental U.S. – 15,000 Aeroplan rewards
  • long-haul flight within Canada & Continental U.S. – 25,000 Aeroplan rewards
  • to Mexico/Caribbean/Central America – 40,000 Aeroplan rewards
  • to Hawaii – 45,000 Aeroplan rewards
  • to Northern South America – 50,000 Aeroplan rewards
  • to Southern South America – 60,000 Aeroplan rewards
  • to Europe – 60,000 Aeroplan rewards
  • to Greece – 75,000 Aeroplan rewards
  • to Asia – 75,000 Aeroplan rewards
  • to Middle East – 80,000 Aeroplan rewards
  • to Australia – 80,000 Aeroplan rewards

It takes 15,000 Aeroplan rewards for a short-haul flight from Calgary to Vancouver.  I looked up the same flight on Air Canada’s website, which costs $99 each way for a total of $198.  With this short-haul flight, your rewards are worth about 1.3 cents per mile.

It takes 45,000 Aeroplan rewards for a flight from Calgary to Hawaii.  I looked up the same flight on Air Canada’s website, which costs $525 each way for a total of $1,050.  With this long-haul flight, your rewards are worth about 2.3 cents per mile.

Booking an executive class seat offers the most value when redeeming your Aeroplan rewards for flights.  It takes 80,000 Aeroplan rewards for an executive class seat from Calgary to Hawaii.  The flight on Air Canada’s website costs a minimum of $2,600 round-trip.  In this case, your rewards are worth about 3.3 cents per mile.

It’s important to note that Aeroplan members are responsible for paying the fees, taxes and surcharges when you redeem Aeroplan rewards for flights.  There is also a $30 administration fee per redemption.

Related: Air Miles Travel: Redeeming For Flights

Aeroplan Rewards for Activities and Merchandise

Members can redeem Aeroplan rewards for a slew of other items under the Activities and Merchandise category:

  • Activities & Entertainment – dining, spa, theatre, parks and attractions
  • Fashion & Accessories – jewelry, handbags, watches and sunglasses
  • Electronics – TV, camera, computers, music players and gaming
  • Gift Cards – groceries, pharmacy, movies, gas and clothing
  • Home & Garden – kitchen appliances, bed & bath, baby & toys, home furnishings
  • Media – books, magazines and digital media
  • Sports & Outdoor – golf, fitness & sport, recreation & hobbies, memorabilia
  • Travel & Getaways – cruises & travel gift cards, travel accessories

Redeeming Aeroplan rewards for activities and merchandise varies widely by product.  The easiest way to determine the value of one Aeroplan mile is to look at the gift cards available.  Here are a few examples, along with the corresponding value:

  • Esso Gift Card: $50 cash value – 6,500 Aeroplan rewards (0.7 cents per mile)
  • Costco membership: $55 cash value – 6,500 Aeroplan rewards (0.8 cents per mile)
  • Home Hardware Gift Card: $100 cash value – 12,500 Aeroplan rewards (0.8 cents per mile)

Aeroplan Rewards: Expiry policy

Aeroplan members must stay active in the program by making at least one transaction every 12 months.  Members have seven years to redeem their Aeroplan rewards before they expire.  This policy has caused some confusion for Aeroplan members who are no longer actively collecting but have accumulated a significant amount of Aeroplan rewards.

Final Thoughts on Aeroplan Rewards

Loyalty programs like Aeroplan continue to offer less and less value for their members by increasing the number of miles needed for flights and gift cards while punishing less active members by de-activating accounts and introducing an expiry policy.

Still, because of the partnership with Air Canada and the Star Alliance, Aeroplan members who travel frequently can still do well with this travel program.

The best way to redeem your Aeroplan rewards is to book an executive class seat.  The gift cards, activities and merchandise just don’t offer enough bang for your buck.

How do you redeem your Aeroplan rewards?  Is this loyalty program still worth joining?

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13 Comments

  1. Modest Money on March 26, 2012 at 10:30 am

    It is confusing how travel reward credit cards call their points miles, but those miles don’t translate directly into actual miles. This breakdown really clears that up. Currently I’m focusing on using my cash back credit card since I can’t really afford the additional expenses of a vacation. With the other rewards for Aeroplan members it might be worth reconsidering though.

    • Echo on April 2, 2012 at 8:18 pm

      @Modest Money – I also like using a cash back credit card. I know you can sometimes get more value by using a travel rewards card, but like you I don’t want the additional expenses that come redeeming for a vacation.

      • Modest Money on April 5, 2012 at 10:26 am

        Yes in the long run, a cash back credit card will save you the most money. When you’re earning travel rewards, it’s easy to justify the flight discount as a reason to take a vacation that you can’t really afford.

  2. Steve @ Grocery Alerts on March 26, 2012 at 10:40 am

    I think that it is worth joining. I don’t redeem for flights though (poor past experience) and I stack all my points to use the Alaska Airlines miles (enough points for us to go to New Zealand next year – business class)!

    I usually redeem my Aeroplan miles for Rexall gift cards or Esso gift cards.

    Great job breaking down the price per mile.

    • Echo on April 2, 2012 at 8:19 pm

      @Steve – I’ve seen you mention Alaska Airlines before; I need to check out their program.

  3. Ray Fontaine on July 3, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    How do I get costco cash with my aeroplan miles ?

  4. Chris on August 16, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    If you’re a frequent traveller…your first purchase MUST be Bose Quiet Comfort 15 headphones at 38,000 points. Futurehsop price is $350 giving you 0.92 cents per mile. The best part is…no additional fees like you get using points for flights.

    Hands down the best headphones out there. Trust me

  5. Lorraine on August 30, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    i have to say, i’m a BIG fan of this point system… i redeemed a flight to europe back in 2004 with NO EXTRA CHARGES… so, it was a true redemption… and the points were accumulated on real business-related purchases that i would have bought anyway – i didn’t go out of my way to buy at aeroplan partners… HOWEVER… i’m disappointed to learn that today, the game has changed… i’m trying to redeem a flight to europe (60,000 miles needed… because i don’t have enough for north africa, my real final destination which is 80,000), anyway, depending on the destination in europe i choose to transit through, the taxes and fees add up to a minimum of $270, but can go much higher… then my flight onto Casa makes the total $570 (i’ve looked into a few options, that was the cheapest total i could find)… it hardly seems worth redeeming them when you think about the occasional flight specials that come up online… i chose to book a flight to Casa for $800 (and collect points from another carrier) instead of ending up paying a total of $570 plus my 60,000 miles… in other words, in order to save $200, I would have cashed in 60,000 miles for a value of about 3 to 4 tenths of a penny per mile… that’s ridiculous…
    i will either wait till airport taxes and other fees become reasonable before redeeming, OR i will see if redeeming for short haul is actually worth anything… just thought i’d share this story from today to give people an idea of what’s worth redeeming… i hope it helped…

    ALL THIS SAID, i still think aeroplan is a much better valued than air miles!!!!!

  6. tim on February 4, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    Aeroplan miles earned do not translate to flight miles. False advertizing! Eroding quantity required to redeem flights. I’ve been saving for a long haul flight since 1991. Almost there then one month ago Aeroplan yanked all my miles away – inactive for 12 months. I’ll be going to court on this one. I’ll never do Aeroplan or Air Communist again. Note they are both based in Montreal. That’s how business is done in Montreal. Mafia style.

    • A on February 11, 2013 at 12:12 am

      Aeroplan is crap, never once have I gotten a flight I have desired or not transferring numerous times. I am spending my last 31,000 and going to kayak.com or the states for all my future flights, is it really worth the savings of 200 bucks, after yearly visa sign up cost, taxes etc I don’t think so. Final straw was the rate increase from 35k to 40k.

    • Gerard on April 11, 2013 at 12:37 pm

      Tim, I think that’s now how it works for pretty well all reward programmes these days. I lost all my Amtrak points last year for the same reason. Lesson learned — even a tiny transaction (like donating a few points to charity) keeps your file active. But in the long run these programmes are worth it only if you rack up points fast and spend them even faster.

  7. David on July 3, 2013 at 11:28 am

    I’ve been accumulating points for years and seems each time I check (only every few years as slow points building) points required have changed and I’m then further away from my goal than before. Ugh.

    A short haul flight for 15,000 points can currently get you from Vcr to Calgary. Did it used to be you could hop 2 provinces, i.e. Vcr to Saskatoon, for short haul and that has changed too or am I confusing with another program?

  8. Steven on August 5, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    The expiring policy is ridiculously annoying.

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