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Published April 22, 2022

Aeroplan Rewards: A Guide to Air Canada’s Loyalty Program

Air Canada’s Aeroplan is one of Canada’s most popular loyalty programs for travel rewards.

Aeroplan is Air Canada’s loyalty program. While the rewards chart may appear intimidating at first glance, the program allows you to fly just about anywhere in the world. Understanding how Aeroplan works is essential if you want to maximize the value of your points.

What is Aeroplan?

Aeroplan was created in 1984 as a loyalty program for Air Canada customers. The ownership of the loyalty program changed hands a few times over the decades, but it was sold back to Air Canada in 2018.

The new Aeroplan launched in 2020 with a focus on rewards that any traveller can use. Although some frequent flyers were disappointed that many award flights now required more points, there were many positive changes, such as the elimination of fuel surcharges.

In addition, Aeroplan has continued to add airline and retailer partners to the program, and there are many Aeroplan credit cards to help members quickly earn points. Plus, they’ve run unique promotions that would allow members to earn status without even flying.

How does the Aeroplan rewards program work?

At its core, Aeroplan is an airline loyalty program. Every available seat on Air Canada flights is available for redemption with your Aeroplan points with no restrictions or blackout dates. In addition, you can also redeem your points for available seats on 40+ partner airlines.

The number of points required to redeem a free flight depends on the following:

  • Your departure city
  • Your destination
  • Seat class
  • Miles flown
  • Airline
  • Demand

Aeroplan rewards chart

Essentially, Aeroplan operates under a zone-based chart with dynamic pricing. The farther you fly, the more points it’ll likely cost you. Plus, if the flight is in demand, the number of points required will fall closer to the upper end of the scale.

Aeroplan flight rewards chart

As you can see, the Aeroplan flight reward chart is broken into four travel zones: North America, Atlantic, Pacific and South America.

In addition, each zone is broken down into 2 to 6 distance bands. The farther you fly, the more points it’ll take for redemption.

Aeroplan rewards highlights

Sweet spots

If you study the chart, you’ll quickly find that there are a few sweet spots where flying will cost you a reasonable number of points.

For example, at 4936 miles, a partner airline flight from Calgary to Tokyo costs 35,000 points. If that route was just 65 miles longer, the flight would move into the 5,001 – 7,500 mile distance zone and cost 50,000 points.

In addition, if you’re flexible with your travels, you can take advantage of any flights that require fewer points for redemption.

Many ways to use points

Aeroplan allows you to use your points to improve your travel experience. You can use your points to bid on seat upgrades or even use them to purchase in-flight Wi-Fi. Beyond flights, your points can be redeemed for a variety of rewards, including hotels, car rentals, vacation packages, merchandise, gift cards and more.

Unlike some other airline loyalty programs, there are no cash surcharges when booking a flight with your points. That said, you would still have to pay any taxes and third-party fees. If you prefer, you can even pay those fees with your points.

Family sharing

Another new feature from Aeroplan that has quickly become popular with members is Family Sharing. With this plan, up to eight family members or friends can join together to share points. Each member would still keep their individual Aeroplan accounts, but all points earned individually are added to the shared points. This includes any existing points that are brought in when joining.

The major advantage of Family Sharing is that it’s easier for families to make a redemption since all the points are pooled. Plus, if one member has Aeroplan Elite Status or an Aeroplan credit card, all members benefit from the preferred Aeroplan redemption pricing benefit that’s included.

Aeroplan points value

Since Aeroplan uses dynamic pricing, the value of every redemption will differ. NerdWallet searched more than 75 flights in 2021 and 2022 to determine the average value for Air Canada flights.

Based on our analysis, the value of 1 Aeroplan point is worth 1.69 cents.

More specifically, you can expect to get around

  • 1.69 cents in value per Aeroplan point for economy class awards on Air Canada, and
  • 2.81 cents in value per Aeroplan point for business class awards on Air Canada flights.

To calculate the value of a redemption, you would use the following formula:

(Ticket price – taxes) X 100 / points required for a redemption = Cost per point

For example, let’s say you want to fly round-trip from Toronto to Los Angeles in economy class. The cash price is $600 or you can redeem 20,000 Aeroplan points and pay $75 in taxes to get the flight for free. Your formula would be as follows:

($600 – $75) X 100 / 20,000 = 2.63 cents per point

Since the value of this redemption is worth more than the established base value of 1.69 cents per point, this is a worthy use of your points. If the value of any potential redemptions you’re looking at falls below the base value, you’re better off paying cash and saving your points

How many Aeroplan points per dollar?

How many Aeroplan points you’ll earn per dollar spent will vary depending on a few different factors, such as:

  • If you have an Aeroplan credit card
  • If you’re shopping at a merchant partner
  • If you’re shopping through the Aeroplan eStore

Note that unless you have an Aeroplan credit card, or a travel credit card that earns Aeroplan points, you don’t earn Aeroplan points based on the amount you spend on Air Canada.

Instead, the points awarded are based on miles flown and the fare option. Standard and basic fare flights also take into account where you’re flying to, with standard flights between the U.S. and Canada earning more points than standard flights within Canada, for example.

It’s worth mentioning that Aeroplan has announced that points earned will eventually be based on dollars spent instead of miles flown, but that date is still to be determined.

How Aeroplan points are calculated

The number of points it takes for a flight reward depends on where you’re departing from, where you’re flying to, the miles flown between the two destinations and the seat type.

You’ll notice that the Aeroplan rewards charts show a range of points for Air Canada flights. That’s because flight rewards on Air Canada are priced dynamically. More popular flights will typically cost more.

Partner airlines require a fixed number of points. While appealing, there are a limited number of award seats made available by partner airlines and there’s a $39 booking fee.

Aeroplan does have a points predictor tool that will give you the range of points required for a redemption. However, since it just provides a range, you’d have to search your exact flight manually for a more accurate price.

For example, let’s see what a one-way flight from Calgary (YYC) to London (LHR) might cost.

Using the points predictor tool, that one-way flight is estimated to cost 40,000 to 70,000 Aeroplan points in economy on Air Canada, or 40,000 points on partner airlines.

Using the points predictor tool, that one-way flight is estimated to cost 40,000 to 70,000 Aeroplan points in economy on Air Canada, or 40,000 points on partner airlines.

To narrow down that range, we used Air Canada’s website to check for a more specific cost.

If we booked that one-way flight 60-days out:

  • A non-stop flight in economy on Air Canada cost 38,100 Aeroplan points (at the time of writing).
  • A one-stop flight in economy on United Airlines, a partner airline, cost 38,700 Aeroplan points (at the time of writing).

A non-stop flight in economy on Air Canada cost 38,100 Aeroplan points (at the time of writing).

A one-stop flight in economy on United Airlines, a partner airline, cost 38,700 Aeroplan points (at the time of writing).

If we booked that one-way flight 30-days out:

  • A non-stop flight in economy on Air Canada cost 38,000 Aeroplan points (at the time of writing).
  • A one-stop flight in economy on United Airlines, a partner airline, cost 40,000 Aeroplan points (at the time of writing).

A non-stop flight in economy on Air Canada cost 38,000 Aeroplan points (at the time of writing).

A one-stop flight in economy on United Airlines, a partner airline, cost 40,000 Aeroplan points (at the time of writing).

As you can see, the type of flights available and the number of points required varies by airline and date.

» MORE: The best ways to use your credit card overseas

How to earn Aeroplan points

There are multiple ways to earn Aeroplan rewards points. Focusing on the methods that earn the most Aeroplan points as quickly as possible is always a good start, but there are other tricks you should know to maximize your earning potential.

Flying Air Canada

When flying a cash fare on Air Canada, you’ll earn Aeroplan points. How many points you get will depend on your fare class, type of seat, destination and miles flown.

Aeroplan credit cards

Co-branded Aeroplan credit cards will always be the quickest way to earn points since you’ll earn Aeroplan points on every purchase you make. In addition, these rewards cards often come with a welcome bonus and an increased earn rate when spending on specific categories.

Transfer points

There are a few loyalty programs that allow you to transfer your points to Aeroplan. American Express Membership Rewards can be converted to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio. There’s also Marriott Bonvoy that has a 3:1 transfer ratio, but you get a bonus of 5,000 Aeroplan points when transferring 60,000 Marriott points over.

Other programs include:

  • ALL – Accor Live Limitless points, 2:1 ratio.
  • Best Western Rewards points, 5:1 ratio.
  • Choice Privileges points, 5:1 ratio.
  • Coast Rewards points, 1:1 ratio.
  • Hilton Honors points, 10:1 ratio.
  • IHG Rewards Club points, 5:1 ratio.
  • Radisson Rewards points, 10:1 ratio.
  • Shangri-La Golden Circle Award Points, 1:1 ratio.
  • Wyndham Rewards points, 5:1 ratio.

Aeroplan partners

Aeroplan has a variety of retail partners that allow Aeroplan members to earn points even if they don’t have an Aeroplan credit card. You just need to show them your Aeroplan number or card.

Some of the most popular partners include:

  • LCBO
  • Uber
  • Home Hardware
  • Starbucks
  • The UPS Store

Aeroplan eStore

Aeroplan has an eStore where you can earn points with 200+ online retailers. To get your points, log into your Aeroplan account and navigate to the partner merchant via the Aeroplan eStore. All eligible purchases you make would then earn you Aeroplan points.

Promotions and special offers

Occasionally, Aeroplan runs promotions and special offers, such as an increased earn rate when you meet certain spending criteria, enter a contest or fill out a survey.

Convert the Air Canada Buddy Pass

Previously, members that held an Air Canada Buddy Pass could convert it into 30,000 Aeroplan points. While that’s no longer an option, Air Canada has suggested that this offer may return one day.

Hotels and car rentals

When you book your hotels and car rentals through the Aeroplan travel portal, you’ll earn 1 to 5 points per dollar spent.

Purchasing points

Buying Aeroplan points is always an option, but the cost is usually more than the established base value and those purchased points won’t count towards Aeroplan status or the Air Canada Altitude program.

That said, there are occasional sales, so it could be worth buying points if you just need a few more for a specific redemption. You can purchase up to 1,000,000 Aeroplan points per calendar year.

Ask a friend

Aeroplan allows members to gift points to other members at a rate of 2¢ per point. So, if you’re a few points shy of the reward you’re eyeing, you could ask a friend to transfer anywhere between 1,000 to 250,000 points.

How to redeem Aeroplan points

Generally speaking, your Aeroplan points will usually be redeemed on aircanada.com or via the Air Canada app. When you log in, you’ll see your profile and points balance. Once you start searching for travel, you’ll see an option to use your points.

It’s worth mentioning that if you have Aeroplan Elite Status or a core or premium Aeroplan credit card, you may get preferred pricing on flight redemptions. Depending on what you want to do with your points, how you redeem your points will differ slightly.

Aeroplan flights

While inputting the search criteria for your flights, you’ll see an option to pay in cash or points. Once you select points, the search results will show you the number of Aeroplan points it takes, plus any taxes or third-party fees for the flight. Aeroplan does allow you to pay your fees with points, so it’s possible to get a flight without paying anything out of pocket.

Aeroplan hotels

Aeroplan has a dedicated travel portal for anyone who wants to book hotels or flights. Once there, you would just input your destination, dates and the number of guests in the room. A list of hotels with the cost in points will then be displayed. Note that you can also do a mixture of points and cash.

Aeroplan car rental

Booking car rentals with points is done the same way as hotels. You would just click the “cars” tab. Besides your destination and dates, it’ll ask you for your age and if you want to return the vehicle to a different location.

Aeroplan gift cards

When logged into Aeroplan, you can go to the eStore to redeem your points for gift cards. They have dozens of partners, including:

  • Apple
  • Amazon
  • Uber
  • LCBO
  • Mastermind Toys
  • Rocky Mountaineer
  • Old Navy

The number of points required per redemption will differ depending on the merchant, but the most common rates are as follows:

  • 7,000 points = $50
  • 14,000 points = $100
  • 35,000 points = $250

Aeroplan merchandise

The Aeroplan eStore also has a variety of products you can choose from, including electronics, toys, small appliances, beauty products, travel accessories and more. Click on the “Products” tab for the full list.

Extras and upgrades

When purchasing an economy or premium economy class ticket on eligible Air Canada flights, you can bid with points to be upgraded to a higher cabin class. In addition, you can use your points in-flight for Wi-Fi.

Charitable donations

The Aeroplan Member Donation Program allows members to donate their points to more than 300 organizations, charities and causes. Since its founding in 2006, the program has raised more than 1.5 billion points for 1,435 causes — equal to about $2.5 billion, based on our valuation of Aeroplan points. Visit donatepoints.aircanada.com for a full list of organizations.

What to know about Aeroplan Elite Status

Aeroplan Elite Status is a program within Aeroplan designed to reward its most frequent flyers. Simply put, the more you fly and spend with Air Canada, the more benefits you’ll get. What’s interesting about Elite Status is that each tier comes with core benefits that will enhance your travel experience. In addition, you get select benefits that allow you to choose specific perks that matter the most to you.

Status levels and benefits

Aeroplan Elite Status has the following tiers:

  • 25K
  • 35K
  • 50K
  • 75K
  • Super Elite (100K)

Once you reach a certain status tier, you’ll get benefits, such as:

  • Priority reservation waitlist
  • Priority seat selection
  • Complimentary preferred seats
  • Priority check-in
  • Free checked bags
  • Free sports equipment handling
  • Priority baggage handling
  • Priority security clearance
  • Priority boarding
  • Airport lounge access
  • Guest lounge passes
  • eUpgrades
  • Priority rewards
  • Elite status partner offers
  • Additional points earned on hotel stays, car rental bookings and the Aeroplan eStore

While it’s obvious how some of these perks benefit you, some of them require you to study the Aeroplan Elite Status benefits chart.

For example, the number of eUpgrades required to get a higher cabin class depends on your fare type and if eUpgrades are available on a specific flight.

How to earn Aeroplan Elite Status

There are three different types of criteria that are used to earn Aeroplan Elite Status.

  • Status Qualifying Miles (SQM). Earned as a percentage of the distance you fly.
  • Status Qualifying Segments (SQS). Earned for each flight segment.
  • Status Qualifying Dollars (SQD). Earned on eligible dollars spent.

To reach each status tier, you would need the following:

  • 25K – 25,000 SQM or 25 SQS and $3,000 SQD
  • 35K – 35,000 SQM or 35 SQS and $4,000 SQD
  • 50K – 50,000 SQM or 50 SQS and $6,000 SQD
  • 75K – 75,000 SQM or 75 SQS and $9,000 SQD
  • Super Elite (100K) – 100,000 SQM or 100 SQS and $20,000 SQD

Note that SQM, SQS and SQD are separate from the Aeroplan points you’ve earned.

How to get the best value for Aeroplan redemptions

Earning Aeroplan points is just one part of the equation. Knowing how to redeem your Aeroplan points for the best value is equally important. Although every redemption value will be different, there are a few things you can do to maximize your points.

  • Know your base value. Whether it be for airfare or hotel stays, whenever you redeem your points, you should aim for a value of at least 1.69 cents per point. Anything less is not a good value.
  • Look for partner airlines. Partner airlines require a fixed number of points for a redemption, so you should check with them first as they tend to offer the best value for your points.
  • Study the Aeroplan chart. Since the Aeroplan program uses a zone and distance rewards chart, there are a few sweet spots — specific routes and seats that offer the best value.
  • Go for business. When booking Aeroplan rewards in business class, the base value is 2.81 cents per point. That’s significantly higher than economy seats.
  • Earn points as quickly as possible. Maximizing the value of Aeroplan becomes easier when you have a lot of points to use. Get a co-branded credit card so you can stack rewards and be sure to earn Aeroplan anywhere you can.

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About the Author

Barry Choi
Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a personal finance and travel expert. His website moneywehave.com is one of Canada's most trusted sites when it comes to all things related to money and travel. You can reach him on Twitter: @barrychoi.

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