This week, Chase and Air Canada announced a new partnership set to launch in late 2021. At that point, Air Canada’s reward program, Aeroplan, will launch a branded credit card through Chase. The new Mastercard credit card is expected to give U.S.-based travelers an additional way to earn Aeroplan points and perks when flying on Air Canada.
Aeroplan will also be added as a Chase Ultimate Rewards® transfer partner in late 2021. Pending other changes, this addition will increase the number of Ultimate Rewards® transfer partners to 14 airlines and hotels. Here’s what you need to know about the new partnership and why the Air Canada Aeroplan program should be on your radar.
What you need to know about Aeroplan
If you’re based in the United States, you may be wondering why you should care about the loyalty program for Air Canada. But, learning just a little bit about the recently relaunched Aeroplan program can pay big dividends — even if you don’t plan on flying internationally.
Star Alliance and other partners
Between Star Alliance and Aeroplan’s non-alliance partners, you can use Air Canada Aeroplan points to book award flights on over 40 airlines.
The most relevant partner for U.S.-based travelers may be United Airlines. Award flights on United start at just 6,000 Aeroplan points each way in economy or 15,000 points each way in business class.
Air Canada is a founding member of Star Alliance, a partnership involving 26 airlines from around the world. As part of this alliance, you can use Air Canada Aeroplan points to book award flights with any alliance member. The Star Alliance includes well-rated airlines such as ANA, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, SWISS, and Turkish Airlines.
In addition to the Star Alliance, Air Canada partners with over a dozen airlines. This includes sought-after carriers such as Etihad Airways, Cathay Pacific and Virgin Australia. These extra partners give you even more flexibility for using your Aeroplan points.
» Learn more: Your guide to the Star Alliance
Even before Aeroplan joins as a Chase Ultimate Rewards® partner in late 2021, you can already transfer points from three major transferable programs to Aeroplan:
American Express Membership Rewards (1:1 transfer ratio).
Capital One Miles (4:3 transfer ratio).
Marriott Bonvoy (3:1 transfer ratio plus a 5,000-point bonus for transferring 60,000 points).
» Learn more: The best AmEx transfer partners — and ones to avoid
Award chart basics
Like many U.S.-based airlines, Air Canada charges a range of award prices on its flights. For partner airlines, Aeroplan uses a unique combination of a zone and distance-based chart.
Partner award flights start at just 6,000 points each way for economy award flights within North America up to 500 miles in distance. While that might not sound very far, it includes plenty of routes that you’d rather fly than drive. Flights between 501 and 1,500 miles in distance cost just 10,000 points, which can still be a pretty good deal.
International flights to Europe or Asia start at 35,000 points each way in economy. Neither of those are great rates. However, business class awards to Europe start at just 60,000 points each way and you can score a business class award to Asia for as few as 55,000 points, which represents a much better value for your points.
Speaking of which, let’s show you some of the best uses of Aeroplan points.
Aeroplan sweet spots
We dive into the best Aeroplan sweet spots in this article, but let’s give you a few other examples of the great award pricing found in the Aeroplan program. As with any program with distance-based award pricing, the best sweet spots are generally when flights fit just inside a distance range.
For example, partner flights within North America between 1,501 and 2,750 miles in distance cost 12,500 points in economy or 25,000 points in business class. So, you can fly from San Francisco (SFO) to any of United’s Hawaiian destinations at those rates.
Partner flights between North America and the broadly defined Pacific region in business class start at 55,000 points each way for flights under 5,000 miles in distance. That’s enough to cover a 4,803-mile direct flight from Seattle (SEA) to Tokyo-Haneda (HND).
The smallest distance band for partner flights to the Atlantic zone — which includes Europe — is for flights up to 4,000 miles. These flights cost 35,000 points in economy (not great) or just 60,000 points in business class (pretty good).
That 4,000 mile range is enough to fly on more than a dozen routes between United hubs on the East Coast and a variety of European destinations. One example of maximizing this distance range would be the 3,945-mile flight from New York-Newark (EWR) to Zurich (ZRH).
No worries if you need to take a longer route to Europe. Flights between 4,001 and 6,000 miles in distance cost 70,000 points each way in business class. That’s still a solid deal.
Benefits of being an Aeroplan cardholder
The announcement of a forthcoming Air Canada Aeroplan credit card is excellent news for U.S.-based travelers. Thanks to Aeroplan’s existing partnerships with AmEx, Capital One and Marriott, there are already easy ways to accumulate Aeroplan points to book sweet spots.
However, U.S. customers haven’t yet had access to the extra perks Aeroplan credit cardholders receive. The airline grants cardholders perks including discounted award pricing, free checked bags, lounge access and even flight upgrades.
There are three tiers of credit cards with benefits varying based on the type of card. These cards are currently available only to Canadian residents, and the new Chase product will be the first made available to U.S. customers.
Details of the new Chase-issued Aeroplan credit card are sparse at this time. But hopefully, U.S. customers will also get a choice between different levels of credit cards, so that you can pick the card that provides the most appropriate level of benefits for you.
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now
Ultimate Rewards® earning credit cards
The addition of Air Canada as a Chase transfer partner will make Ultimate Rewards® points even more flexible and valuable.
However, not all Chase Ultimate Rewards®-earning credit cards earn points that can be transferred to partners. Instead, you need to have one of the following Chase credit cards:
If you have one of these cards, you can combine points earned from other Chase cards — such as the Chase Freedom Flex℠ or Ink Business Cash® Credit Card. Once combined, you can then transfer these points to partners like Southwest, United, Hyatt and soon Aeroplan.
» Learn more: Chase Ultimate Rewards®: How to earn and use them
The bottom line
Air Canada’s partnership with Chase is great news for U.S. travelers. The ability to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards® points to Air Canada Aeroplan will add even more flexibility and value to the Chase Ultimate Rewards® program. But unfortunately, you are going to have to wait until late 2021 to take advantage of this new partnership.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card