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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