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
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).
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?