I’ve earned a ton of Aeroplan miles over the last 24 months from credit card sign-up bonuses and Air Canada flights. With my balance now hovering around 165,000 miles, I’m starting to ponder how to extract the most value from the loyalty program.

From years of research I know it’s best to redeem Aeroplan miles for flight rewards, but where to go, and when? Then there’s the looming break-up between Air Canada and Aeroplan in 2020, not to mention the value of a reward mile seems to dilute every year. Time to get booking!

Related: When free isn’t exactly free (The shocking truth about Aeroplan rewards)

Our kids are getting older and so we’re more likely now to travel by air as a family. It costs just 60,000 Aeroplan miles for the four of us to fly from Lethbridge to Vancouver round-trip. Or, my wife and I can take a kid-free holiday: A long-haul flight anywhere in Canada or the continental U.S. would cost us 50,000 Aeroplan miles. Hawaii’s another option at 90,000 miles – we’d even have enough miles to upgrade to business class. The options are seemingly endless.

There are several ways to spend that many Aeroplan miles depending on where you live, if you’re single or married with kids, and what kind of travel experience you’re looking for.

I reached out to seven Canadian travel experts to get their secrets and tips to redeem Aeroplan miles for flight rewards. Each replied back with some great advice on how to get the most out of 50,000 or more Aeroplan miles. Here’s what they had to say:

Best Ways To Redeem Aeroplan Miles For Flight Rewards

The Best Way To Redeem Aeroplan Miles For Flight Rewards

Stephen Weyman, founder of How To Save Money

To maximize reward value, the only thing you should do with Aeroplan miles is redeem them for flights. North America flights typically give some of the best value for economy, so two Classic economy class tickets anywhere in North America – 25,000 miles each – is a great use of miles.

I would suggest booking a trip for two people to a destination in North America on Air Canada that is about as far away from the city you live in as possible. You can expect to get about $1,400 – $1,500 worth of value for your miles that way.

If you want to increase value further, I would consider finding a city that is somewhere roughly in between your home city and your final destination to have a free stopover. That way you can visit two places instead of just one. Try to form a triangle on the map with the three cities.

Calling the Aeroplan contact centre will help you easily determine which cities are eligible for a stopover.

Patrick Sojka, founder of Rewards Canada

Definitely lots of options like you mentioned!

For your family of four, the best bet might be to take advantage of the relatively new one-way flight rewards that price out at half the cost of a round-trip. So you can get four one-way tickets to almost anywhere in North America. Of course, you have to buy tickets for the way back, but still an option to save some money.

On the other hand, 50,000 Aeroplan miles for one person can get you two round-trips in North America (or one round-trip for two people), one round trip to northern South America (Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Venezuela) Caribbean, Mexico or Hawaii. All in economy class.

Look at flights within Canada as some of those can get really expensive! A trip to the Yukon to experience the Klondike or winter flights to Yellowknife to see the Northern Lights.

Cross country as well, is an option. It is usually pretty expensive to fly Vancouver/Calgary/Edmonton to the Maritimes so that is great option for redeeming Aeroplan miles. All of these flights tend to be more expensive than flying to the U.S., even Hawaii!

Barry Choi, budget travel expert at Money We Have

50,000 Aeroplan miles is enough to get you two return flights to anywhere within the continental U.S. You could also get two tickets to Hawaii for 90,000 miles, or visit northern South America for 100,000 miles.

For 150,000 miles you and your wife can travel to Asia 1 – where destinations include China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Korea.

Marc Felgar, founder of Greedy Rates

From Montreal, I’d fly United Airlines out of Burlington, Vermont and take a trip to Los Angeles with my wife.

Each return ticket is 25,000 Aeroplan miles, and flying United out of Burlington means taxes and fees are only $14.60!

Frugal Trader, founder of Million Dollar Journey

We are a family of four, so for all of us to go on a trip on points, we would require 100,000 Aeroplan miles. However, I would ideally use 50,000 points for me and my better half to travel to a place that we’ve never been before, but as far as possible on the points available (hopefully grandparents would help out with the kids!).

Since we live in Newfoundland, we would look for a trip across the continent to maximize value, places like Vancouver, somewhere in California, and/or Las Vegas!

Matthew Lau, chief editor at Pointshogger

I would book two rounds-trips to anywhere in North America, preferably on United Airlines with a companion. I say United because they have lower taxes and fuel surcharges than Air Canada. In which case I would use 50,000 Aeroplan miles on one booking (25,000 miles each for anywhere in continental North America).

At 120,000 miles you can get two round-trip flight to parts of Europe or South America. Hawaii (90,000) or Mexico (80,000) are also a possibility for two.

Steve Zussino, founder of Canadian Travel Hacking

One of the major benefits of Aeroplan is that it allows free stopovers on any ClassicFlight reward ticket redemption (i.e. so you can stop in Toronto for your flight from Vancouver to St. Johns, Newfoundland). This lets you increase your return of each Aeroplan mile.

We took a trip from Victoria, BC with a stopover in Halifax on our way to Thunder Bay, Ontario! This flight would have cost over $850 dollars each ticket as opposed to 25,000 Aeroplan miles and $140 taxes each person.

I think if you were looking to see a lot of Canada or United States that using a stopover is a great idea!

So for 50,000 Aeroplan miles you could get a nice trip around Canada and the U.S. for two people.

Aeroplan also has short-haul flight redemption that would work for your family of four. For example, a member living anywhere in Ontario can fly for just 15,000 Aeroplan miles round-trip to Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec in Canada, and to over 20 states in the U.S., including New York and Washington DC.

British Columbia residents have the options of Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon, Oregon, and Washington State for a short-haul flight.

Remember that the stopovers work here as well so if you lived in remote Ontario (i.e. Thunder Bay), you could stopover in Toronto on your way to New York City!

Finally, if you were rich in frequent flyer miles in other programs (Air Miles, Avion, Aventura), you could always use the Aeroplan to just book a one-way ticket (they now charge 50% of the round-trip miles needed).

Final thoughts

It can be tricky to find the best value when redeeming Aeroplan miles for flight rewards, so hopefully Aeroplan collectors can take advantage of tips such as flying United Airlines out of a nearby U.S. city to save on taxes, leveraging the new one-way fares at a 50% discount, or stretching your points (and your trip) by including a stopover location.

As for us, we’re still undecided as to how we’ll spend our 165,000 Aeroplan miles. We have a Big Trip planned to the U.K. in 2019, so we can certainly save our miles and use them at that time. It’ll cost 240,000 Aeroplan miles for the four of us to go to the U.K. and back, so we’re a little short (plus the program can and probably will change the value of a reward mile in two years)!

We’d also love to explore more of Canada with the family, and so Vancouver and Victoria are definitely an option in the next year. Short-or-long-haul economy flights within Canada and the continental U.S. also look like some of the best bang for your Aeroplan buck!

Readers: Are you still using the Aeroplan program? If so, do you like to redeem your Aeroplan miles for flight rewards, or something else?

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13 Comments

  1. GYM on August 28, 2017 at 7:09 am

    Love this! So many Aeroplan experts all rounded up! I just redeemed 80,000 aeroplan points for two tickets to Hawaii and $150 in taxes-Not the best “roi” for points but not bad. I would be interested to see what you end up deciding 🙂 saving up for 240,000 points for a UK trip would be prudent- you might be able to pay less taxes for your points provided you aren’t flying into Heathrow. But saving on a trip to Vancouver is nice too!

    • Echo on August 28, 2017 at 8:27 am

      Yeah, I’m a bit concerned about the high taxes on the flight reward (we don’t have a major U.S. city nearby, either). Ireland doesn’t have an air travel tax, so flying into Dublin might be the best option.

      A quick scan for four round-trip flights from Calgary to Dublin would cost a total of $3,656.80 (including taxes). Aeroplan has market-fare available for the same dates and it actually would only cost 128,000 Aeroplan miles, but the fees and taxes amount to $2,248.92(!). So I’d still be saving $1,400+, but the value per mile there is pretty low.

      A couple of short trips might give us the best value.

  2. Wilks on August 28, 2017 at 7:23 am

    I’m glad you touched on fees and surcharges and how United is cheaper. Will definitely be looking into that. Also, the free stopover, didn’t know that so that was interesting. Can you book that online yourself or do you have to call an agent?

    I’ve stopped ‘actively’ collecting Aeroplan miles and had switched to a cash back card 3 years ago. So glad I did. With AirMiles fiasco last year and Air Canada announcement this year – my approach now is take the rewards as soon as can and don’t let it sit for more than a year. I still have over 350K of Aeroplan points that I need to figure out what to do with before 2020. I’m still holding out for travel as it’s the best value.

    • Echo on August 28, 2017 at 8:33 am

      Hi Wilks, you can book the multi-city online. Just click ‘Use Your Miles’, then ‘Travel’, then you can select between round-trip, one-way, or multi-city. The multi-city selection has a handy how-to guide that explains how to build multi-city trips.

      You make an important point about staying active in the program at least once a year, otherwise your miles may expire. Good luck with your rewards!

  3. Carl on August 28, 2017 at 7:30 am

    I don’t know if Aeroplan has changed for the better in the last few years, but last time I tried to redeem them for air travel it was a nightmare. The cheap aeroplan seats fill up fast. So book as far in advance as possible. There are some strange rules they don’t publish either. For example, we did a Panama canal cruise and tried to book our flights using aeroplan. Toronto to San Diego and Ft Lauderdale to Toronto. Because the distance between San Diego and Ft Lauderdale is greater than the distance between Ft. Lauderdale and Toronto, you cannot book it as a return trip or as a package. The flights had to be booked as 2 separate 1 way trips, which cost more miles. Now I only redeem aeroplan miles for car rentals or gift cards. Too much of a pain in the ass to book air travel with aeroplan when there are so many better rewards programs.

    • Echo on August 28, 2017 at 8:34 am

      Hi Carl, yeah that’s why I’m thinking about using the miles for our Ireland trip. We’ll be booking quite far in advance and I’ve already found market fare rewards for just 128,000 miles (four round-trips).

      Capital One Aspire Travel is still my go-to credit card rewards program and I still have that option to cover the ridiculous fees & taxes from my Aeroplan “reward”.

    • Ron on August 28, 2017 at 8:55 am

      That’s interesting. We did a similar cruise only it left from San Francisco to Fort Lauderdale through the canal and than home to Toronto and we went to Victoria BC to visit my son first. We made our way from Victoria to San Francisco using Air Miles. I had no problem booking return tickets for myself and my wife from Toronto to Victoria and Lauderdale to Toronto using 25,000 Aeroplan miles and $160 in taxes for each of us and I did it online.

      • Carl on August 28, 2017 at 9:17 pm

        Perhaps they have changed their rules since our trip? Glad it worked for you.

  4. mel on August 28, 2017 at 11:02 am

    I have used aeroplan points for years. Twice, I have cashed in my points and said to the booking agent, I’d like to go as far away as possible, for two. Once the two of us ended up in Brazil and the second time we ended up in Thailand, with two stopovers included so we went to China and Japan as well. I have loved aeroplan. My biggest piece of advice – whatever plan you save with, only go with one plan as your points will rack up and then suddenly you are on an amazing adventure.

  5. Michael on August 28, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    any concerns over AC starting their own rewards system?

    Personally I use airmiles which I use to travel to Vancouver from Smithers. It can cost as much as $700.00 and with airmiles its $100.00

  6. Sandi on August 31, 2017 at 5:45 am

    This is probably a very basic question but I am new to this game. What do you mean by a stop over…is it a few hours or overnight in another city or can it be for a few days.

    • mel on August 31, 2017 at 6:59 am

      In my experience, a stopover was a week in each city. It was a really great deal for me. I got to stopover in China for a week on my way to Thailand and then another stopover in Japan for a week. The booking agent with AC points program was great at helping me plan it all out. I’m not sure if I could have stayed longer in each of the cities.
      And yes, I am concerned about the switch of points program with AC. I haven’t heard what their new offer is yet so I’ll wait and see.

  7. Steve on September 3, 2017 at 4:29 am

    People, you fail to advise the public that the flights, rarely if ever, are available at the lowest fare points! The cost to go to Europe is ridiculous! I’m flying on West Jet this week to London for less than $800 return. With Air Canada and Aeroplan the quote was a combined $600 and 60,000 points. What a scam! We have gone back to using our TD Select Visa that gives us points for cash and AMEX has a no-fee 1% cash back card on all purchases. Aeroplan is rarely of equal value unless you fly off season, mid week, and use connecting flights. It will get worse with the break up from Air Canada.

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