Air Miles Cash Vs. Air Miles Dream: What You Need To Know

If you’ve been on the Air Miles website recently you may have noticed a few changes to how you earn and redeem your rewards.  First, there’s a new feature called Air Miles Cash.

Starting March 2012 Air Miles collectors can instantly redeem the reward miles in their Air Miles Cash balance towards purchases at participating sponsors.

Second, there is another feature called Air Miles Dream rewards, which basically replaces the old program.  Here you can still find Air Miles travel booking options and redeem Air Miles for gift cards, activities and merchandise.

Here’s what you need to know in order to set-up your allocation between Air Miles Cash and Air Miles Dream rewards balances:

New Air Miles Cash Feature

Air Miles Cash is a new program feature that allows you redeem your reward miles instantly at the checkout towards purchases at grocery stores, gas stations and pharmacies.  You can redeem 95 Air Miles for $10 off at the checkout.

Unless you have already made these changes online, any Air Miles you’ve earned prior to December 31st, 2011 should exist inside your Dream rewards balance.  These Air Miles can still be used to redeem for travel, merchandise and more.

The new Air Miles program now gives you the flexibility to choose how you want to allocate your reward miles.  You can earn just towards your new Air Miles Cash balance, both your Air Miles Cash and Dream rewards balances, or do nothing and keep earning inside your Dream rewards balance.

Setting Up Your Account

It’s easy to get started.  If want all of your earned Air Miles to go towards your Air Miles Cash balance, log-in to your account, select the Air Miles Cash balance option, follow a few simple steps and you’re ready to go.

If you want to earn Air Miles towards both Air Miles Cash and Dream rewards balances, select the ‘Air Miles Cash and Dream’ option and move the slider to choose how you want to allocate your Air Miles.  Remember, you’re not transferring your existing Air Miles, you’re choosing how they will be allocated in the future.

Once you’ve decided on a preference, follow the instructions and you’re ready to start earning towards both your Air Miles Cash and Dream rewards balances.

You can adjust your preference at any time, in case you change your mind.  For example, if you choose to split your reward miles evenly between Air Miles Cash and Dream rewards balances, and you earn 20 Air Miles at the grocery store, 10 Air Miles will go to your Cash balance and 10 Air Miles will go to your Dream rewards balance.

Redeeming Air Miles Cash

When you reach 95 Air Miles in your Cash balance, you can redeem them for $10 off your bill at participating sponsors when you swipe your Air Miles collector card at check-out.

At this time, you can still redeem Air Miles for gift cards and certificates but according to the Air Miles website this will be phased out over time and be fully replaced by the new Air Miles Cash balance feature.

Current Participating Sponsors

There are only a few confirmed sponsors in the Air Miles Cash balance program at this time.  Hopefully this list expands soon:

  • Jean Coutu
  • Metro
  • Rexall / Pharma Plus
  • Rona
  • Shell
  • Totem

Final Thoughts

The Air Miles Cash balance feature allows for instant redemption at checkout, which is a nice alternative to waiting 4-6 weeks for a gift certificate to arrive.  However, as a loyal Air Miles collector, I’m not a big fan of these new changes because the reward miles are devalued in favour of instant gratification.

I like to redeem Air Miles for $20 gas certificates at Shell, which I used to redeem online for 175 Air Miles.  Now it will cost 190 Air Miles to get $20 off at checkout.

Eventually the Air Miles Cash program will replace all gift card rewards that were once available for redemption.  Hopefully more sponsors will come onboard as the program develops.

For loyal Air Miles collectors like me, it’s hard to see anything positive coming out of these changes.

My account is currently set to allocate 100% of my Air Miles towards the Dream rewards balance, but I have a feeling I won’t be using Air Miles as often as I used to.

As travel programs like Air Miles and Aeroplan continue to tighten restrictions and devalue rewards, I think most people are better off using a cash back credit card to collect and earn rewards on everyday spending.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Marianne on March 28, 2012 at 6:16 am

    I cashed in a bunch of AirMiles awhile back for $60 worth of gas. That was 8 years of accumulated points! I have not been a very successful AirMiles collector. 🙂 Therefore the changes have not affected me too drastically…

    • Me, Myself and I on September 16, 2016 at 12:56 pm

      I signed up for AirMiles in the mid-90s. After getting my card and reading the accumulation and redemption rules I simply cut the card in half and through it in the garbage. If it wasn’t worth my time and effort back then I can’t image how bad it’s gotten with the recent changes.

      • Scott on March 28, 2020 at 8:18 pm

        I’m about to do the same thing nothing but a pain in the ass !

    • Plastered in points on November 28, 2016 at 6:06 pm

      Well here it is 30 days before my 8000 dream miles expire from when I jointed in 1998. Thought I could buy a laptop at staples with a evoucher. OH MY…how silly of me…need cash miles. The reward”prizes” of having a commercial attitude all these years seem pale compared to my dreamscape of a new Dell Computer.
      Aeroplan burned me years ago for 37900 miles as I did not see the snail mail letter informing me my miles would expire. My Bad ….My Ignorance.
      Like others…I will think alot less of going the extra foot to whip out my blue card of point happiness.

  2. SavingfromScratch on March 28, 2012 at 10:05 am

    Prior to reading this, I was also in favour of stockpiling the AirMiles and AeroPlan points for trips and vacations. It was awesome to sock it all away and then be pleasantly surprised whenever I checked the balance online.

    I guess I should now look into everyday point redemption. I guess it could help with groceries!

  3. Steve @ Grocery Alerts on March 28, 2012 at 10:32 am

    It is incredible the return of AirMiles when you shop at Safeway – this is where we cquire most of our Air Miles.

    I dislike that this program removes the gift cards (eventually). That is how we usually spend our redemptions or our favorite magazines.

    • As I See It on March 5, 2013 at 2:04 pm

      I used to shop at safeway, but their prices are almost twice that of superstore or no frills and I can get almost twice as much groceries for the same price as shopping at Safeway. At safeway you are not getting free airmiles, you are buying them.

  4. Echo on April 2, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    @Marianne – yeah, the changes only really affect the serious Air Miles collectors.

    @SavingfromScratch – Since Air Miles set a five year time stamp on your rewards, it makes sense to go for the instant redemptions at check-out. Too bad they had to increase the number of Air Miles you need to redeem for products.

    @Steve – I feel the same way. We earn most of our Air Miles from shopping at Safeway. The best deal is for the Nature’s Blend bagels what go on sale, plus 25 bonus Air Miles for every two packages. We buy 6 packages to last us the month, and collect 75 bonus Air Miles.

    @Modest Money – We started redeeming Air Miles for products after we had our first child and my wife stayed home full time. We were looking for ways to save money, and redeeming Air Miles for $20 gift certificates from Shell helped supplement our fuel budget.

  5. Lillian on July 5, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    Shame on Air Miles for dramatically increasing the number of airmiles required to take trips compared to the number of air miles required in 1994. Air Miles has reneged on their original promise to redeem a certain number of airmiles when consumers signed up for their cards. Plus, West Jet no longer offers Air Miles. If you’re going to offer a sales promotion make it worthwhile.

  6. Retirees on September 10, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    We used air miles for gas as we are retired one does not need as much when on a fixed income.Have tried cash back with other cards did not like so only used air we have to cash in our miles as soon as we can because rewards are dropped without notice. We are looking at other cards after 15 years of loyalty to air miles.We are not pleased with this new program

  7. Larry on October 4, 2012 at 9:18 am

    It seems I pasted one too many times. Sorry about that!

    On 29 Jun 2012 all the 18,600 airmiles in my account defaulted to Dream Rewards and apparently cannot be transferred to Cash Rewards. On 28 Jun I could purchase approximately $2,000 of Shell Gas. On 29 Jun I couldn’t even redeem 1 cent towards Shell Gas certificates. Shell gas can only be purchased with Cash Rewards earned from 29 Jun 2012 forward. Shell gas is the only reward I am interested in redeeming after ’20 years’ of airmile accumulation. So all the airmiles earned by purchasing gas at Shell prior to 29 Jun 2012 cannot be redeemed to acquire Shell gas!! When and by what media were we given warning that Airmiles earned would default to Dream Rewards; that we would NOT be able to transfer from Dream to Cash Rewards and in particular that Shell gas certificates can only be acquired from Airmiles using Cash Rewards collected from 29 Jun 2012 forward?

    • Seb on December 6, 2012 at 7:50 pm

      I don’t have as many AirMiles as you do but I’m in the same situation.
      What to do with all my “previous” AirMiles that were in my account before the changes?
      The airlines tickets redemption is a joke. The only thing AirMiles was useful for was getting gift certificates, but they cannot be ordered with my balance…
      AirMiles is a kind of scam that just increases the price of all items we buy at the stores participating in the programme.

      • Paula on December 18, 2014 at 5:20 pm

        Completely agree!!!I used to redeem for Cineplex or Sobeys gift cards……..NOTHING!

    • Lloyd on May 3, 2016 at 3:41 am

      Years later… I’m in the same situation. Will be quitting after my $10 Metro claim.

  8. Abe Paul on January 16, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    Presumably, you were given the option last June as I and everyone else was.
    If you did not act, they became Dream miles!

  9. Ramzy on July 20, 2013 at 10:18 am

    Mee too, I’m very disappointed. The AirMiles itself is BS. It takes years to accumulate AirMiles. I only use an Amex AirMiles for Costco, because Costco does not take Visa or MasterCard.

    Cash back Credit Cards are far better as some of them provide 2% on groceries and gas.

  10. linda poole on November 13, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    wondering how to get air miles cash instead of dream thanks

    • Echo on November 14, 2015 at 10:51 am

      Hi linda, you have to make the designation in your Air Miles profile. You should be able to do it from this link –

      The disappointing thing is that you can’t retroactively set your miles to dream or cash, or transfer existing miles between dream or cash. Set your preferences now and any miles you earn going forward will go towards that allocation.

    • rhonda on July 7, 2016 at 2:43 pm

      You have to call in but you only get caxh miles from the time you changed over. Anything in your dream miles is left dream miles.

  11. Laurel on March 16, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    I stopped using aeroplane because all my points were trashed. Air miles have become the same kind of joke. Tickets for flights are never available .. They probably only have 2 seats at the back of the bus. I now have the Capital 1 cash card, and got a $490 rebate. I find there is no info on how to redeem air miles, and waiting for a rep just lets you stay “on hold”. To be fair, you can now leave your phone # and indicate when they will return your inquiry. You once had a store to spend your points. What kind of bozos pulled this crap on the beleaguered public? We live in an age with total lack of integrity, designed to make you aware that you’ve been had once again.

  12. Lloyd on May 3, 2016 at 3:37 am

    Air Miles is sneaky. Years ago, they took my hundreds of points and put it into “Dream Miles”, a category full of items I have no use for and can’t transfer the points to “Cash Miles”. Apparently, there was an email that warned about this and the customer should go in and choose the category. However, if the customer doesn’t choose or even find out about this, then that doesn’t mean you choose for him by choosing the category that has items that the customer has never had a history of showing interests in. The professional thing to do is to freeze those points until the CUSTOMER chooses the category.

    With that being said, there’s NO need to lock up points in certain categories. We should be able to spend our points on whatever item or category we wish. I think this plan was to discourage point usage and have a lot of customers lose points amidst the confusion. It worked.

    I’m going to claim my remaining “Cash Miles” (most of my miles are trapped under “Dream Miles”) at Metro, and then cut up my card. It’s a nuisance and is very dishonest.

  13. HELEN TAYLOR on July 6, 2016 at 8:10 am

    the past two weeks my flyer said that I could use 50dream miles plus$95.00 TO RECEIVE $100.00 in Sobeys gift cards
    H O W C A N I D O THIS?????????

  14. robert kirkpatrick on July 20, 2016 at 7:29 am

    wish to buy $100 sobeys gift card using 50 dream miles and paying $95 cash. how do I do this.

    • Bev Templeman on July 25, 2016 at 7:58 pm

      please tell me how to redeem my points.

  15. Thelma Alday on July 23, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    What I have is dream miles I want to convert it to cash so that I’ll have a discount because I am a senior citizen and my only income is pension. How can I do this.

    • Lloyd on July 26, 2016 at 8:43 am

      If you’re not clear about the article or have read what others have been posting, please read my post: Lloyd on May 3, 2016.
      It explains how Air Miles screwed their customers.

    • Magda on September 7, 2016 at 6:41 am

      I have 5000 dream air miles that I wish to use when shopping at metro as I have no plans of travelling, I need to get this done prior to end of the year,how can I do this.
      Thanks for your help

      • Peter Newall on September 9, 2016 at 7:29 am

        I also have 5000 points in the dream category which I was not aware the program changed until I attempted to use them at Metro. This is nothing but a scam to the cardholders to increase their bottom line! Shame!!!

  16. John on July 27, 2016 at 11:41 pm

    Thelma, sorry to advise you but you are out of luck. You can only use Dream miles for their stupid Dream Miles rewards which are totally useless! The previous comment from Lloyd which he posted May 3 2016 explains all. We didn’t now this was happening either. I actually was never fond of the program but my wife was, when I signed up to access the information I discovered all our points were in the new Dream Rewards:

    Air Miles is sneaky. Years ago, they took my hundreds of points and put it into “Dream Miles”, a category full of items I have no use for and can’t transfer the points to “Cash Miles”. Apparently, there was an email that warned about this and the customer should go in and choose the category. However, if the customer doesn’t choose or even find out about this, then that doesn’t mean you choose for him by choosing the category that has items that the customer has never had a history of showing interests in. The professional thing to do is to freeze those points until the CUSTOMER chooses the category.
    With that being said, there’s NO need to lock up points in certain categories. We should be able to spend our points on whatever item or category we wish. I think this plan was to discourage point usage and have a lot of customers lose points amidst the confusion. It worked.
    I’m going to claim my remaining “Cash Miles” (most of my miles are trapped under “Dream Miles”) at Metro, and then cut up my card. It’s a nuisance and is very dishonest.

  17. Deborah on September 6, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    It may be that Air Miles sent us an email but if they did, and if I read it, I certainly didn’t understand it.
    I am actually quite furious at the Air Mile changes and have cancelled my Air Miles Master Card in protest, but no one seems to have noticed.
    I don’t understand how companies are permitted to change the conditions under which we enrolled and then apply the new conditions retroactively to our detriment! This is a major consumer protection issue! Same thing when Aeroplan tried this.
    The whole division into two categories comes across as a transparent ploy to ensure that people lose their air miles. Why can’t we use the air miles however we want?
    I understand that the phone lines to Air Miles are backed up due to “a higher than usual call volume”. What did they think would happen? Why aren’t the phone lines available in the evenings and every day on the week-end? So not only do they decide to put our air miles where they will do us the least good, and not only do they ensure that thousands of air miles are never used, but then they fail to prepare for the influx of calls that they have created!
    I wanted to find out how many air miles I stand to lose so I went to their website. I had to do a search to find out the expiry rules, then I had to go to Qs and As to find out how this is handled. Then I was told that I had to request the list of points that will expire in the next year. Why? Why can’t they just show me? I tried to make the request but couldn’t access the account because I didn’t know the PIN. In this case, I am told to phone them and then read an article telling me that the phone lines are backed up. Well, where is the surprise there? They are only open from 8 am until 7 pm! and only 6 out of 7 days in a week.
    I did a quick calculation. Because I am not a math whiz, I am not sure that my arithmetic is correct. But this is what I found: Earning one air mile requires an expenditure of $20. But redeeming $20 costs approx 190 air miles. Huh? Are they trying to tell me that this isn’t enough profit?????????????
    Sorry for the rant. If I could opt out of air miles and pay less for everything, I would. But the system is based on the vendors providing air miles whether or not I use them. The cost of the air miles program is built into the cost of the items I am buying.
    I was saving the air miles for travel, but haven’t had the opportunity lately because my husband had a stroke. I guess we deserve to be punished for that also.
    An Aeroplan rep once told me that the points are not meant to be “saved” until retirement and then used for an around the world trip. Why not? Why are we required to trade long term planning for a very limited instant gratification? And if Air Miles believes that they made a mistake in their program that requires correction, then the new rules should start as of a stated future date, not a past date!
    Really, I think that this calls for a revolt against air miles. Their contempt for the consumer, reflected in their new policies (even if the policies are 5 years old) should not go unremarked. And if anyone is planning a petition, I would like to add my name.

    • Lloyd on September 6, 2016 at 7:46 pm

      Every single point you’ve made is more than valid. I detest their dirty tricks. I’m done with them. If there was a petition, I’d sign it too.

      • Deborah on September 8, 2016 at 4:13 pm

        I have been giving this some thought. I can’t remember who said that he writes to Bryan Pearson, President and CEO of LoyaltyOne/Air Miles (Canada), on a regular basis but never gets a response. And I can’t remember who did the open letter to Bryan Pearson, but what do you think about anyone who is interested, writing an open letter to Bryan Pearson and posting it? In my experience, embarrassment is the only weapon that has even a chance of working. And if there are enough comments maybe they will have to at least, pay attention. Has anyone tried to get the media involved?

        • George on September 8, 2016 at 8:08 pm

          Deborah, good comments and suggestions. Yes, I have also written to Air Miles and asked if they would share my comments and suggestions with Bryan Pearson……….all I received was the automated email response that they have many customers to respond and they will get back to me………yes, I’m still waiting. I also wrote to my Federal and Provincial Government representative with suggestions on how the Air Miles could be used by seniors, homeowners and others to purchase do-it-yourself items to improve their lives and inject some dollars into the economy… answer from them either. I also shared my comments/suggestions with CARP with no response.

          The only person that responded was Ellen Roseman of the Toronto Star. She volunteered to ask her Air Miles contact phone me………we live in hope but I’m not holding my breath!

          Another idea that comes to mind is a Class Action Lawsuit that a hungry law-firm would like to tackle and benefit if they can win? This might motivate Air Miles/Loyalty One to use some common sense and ‘do what is right’?

  18. George on September 6, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    We are now boycotting the organizations that offer Air Miles. Perhaps a Class Action lawsuit would force Air Miles to do the right thing?

    • Joelle Berchini on September 8, 2016 at 11:33 am

      air miles reward program has changed for the worse.. no longer can u expect to fly using air miles!

  19. Bob Burford on September 7, 2016 at 8:39 am

    I am not a happy Gold Air Miles collector of > 30 years.
    My wife and I have always used our Gold rewards for premium gifts for family members. We have redeemed for about 6 cameras over the years and for a couple of small appliances.
    Most recently I have been saving up for a Bose Wave radio, a new Pentax waterproof camera and a new android tablet. With the 15,979 miles we have this year I have been looking again for those items in the last six months online – but none of these premium rewards are no longer shown. What?!
    As a Gold collector it takes a while to get to that level of status and for AIR MILES now to remove those premium choices is very misleading to its loyal followers. I called AIR MILES in Aug 2016 about these deleted items and was advised if their stock ran low they might have been taken the item down for a short time until restock was received – but after seeing all the other changes AIR MILES is making it appears I may be wasting my time waiting for those items to return and rechecking every two weeks.
    At one time they would feature about 6-8 cameras from three manufactures. Right now they have two poor choices for me, one with a polaroid type paper feature. Recognizing cell phones with cameras are a popular choice for most consumers I checked there – only one off branded smart phone is currently shown.
    Someone has dropped the ball and it is not bouncing!
    I drink coffee waiting for AIR MILES pages to appear on their painfully slow website.
    I doubt I will be keeping this Reward Card if this situation does not change dramatically in the next 60 days.

  20. Brain Dean on September 8, 2016 at 11:30 am

    This is one good reason why I don’t take “loyalty programs” very seriously. I buy my things based on where I get the best value & service, not based on air miles.

  21. Inger on December 4, 2016 at 10:10 pm

    Does anyone know how many cash air miles they can use at one time? Specifically for groceries?

Leave a Comment

Join More Than 10,000 Subscribers!

Sign up now and get our free e-Book- Financial Management by the Decade - plus new financial tips and money stories delivered to your inbox every week.