How to redeem Aeroplan points for maximum value
Air Canada’s loyalty program, Aeroplan, is a favorite among award travelers, and for good reason. It’s easy to earn Aeroplan points, and the redemption rates are great, with plenty of sweet spots.
The program was independently run for several years, but that all changed in 2020 when Air Canada retook the reins and launched the completely revamped Aeroplan. Naturally, many award travelers were worried about how these changes would affect a valuable and popular loyalty program.
However, it wasn’t bad news; the new program’s pros actually outweigh the cons.
Most notably, unlike with some major U.S. loyalty programs, the award chart hasn’t disappeared completely, and the long list of airline redemption partners is impressive (and has continued to grow).
Here are the best ways to use Air Canada Aeroplan points for maximum value.
How to redeem Aeroplan points
You can redeem Aeroplan points for flights to more than 1,300 destinations on more than 50 airline partners worldwide. Partners include Star Alliance carriers as well as some non-alliance partners like Azul Brazilian Airlines, Bamboo Airways and Etihad Airways. Plus, you can mix and match partners as you see fit, which can be useful if award availability is hard to come by.
Aeroplan’s award chart is valuable for short-haul economy flights or international premium-cabin seats, particularly on partner airlines.
Air Canada’s flights have variable pricing to make every one of its seats available for award booking. Partner awards have a fixed price based on a chart, and seats may be limited.
The Aeroplan program uses a hybrid award chart, factoring in the distance you fly and the departure and arrival regions.
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Flights within North America
The chart below shows the one-way award costs for Aeroplan awards within North America, with round-trip awards available for double the cost.
The best sweet spot here is for the short-haul economy flights less than 500 miles on the likes of United Airlines and Air Canada, which cost as little as 6,000 points. TPG values Aeroplan points at 1.5 cents each, so 6,000 points are worth about $90. Routes under 500 miles include most flights within the Northeast of the United States and to and from Toronto Pearson Airport (YYZ).
Short-haul flights, such as one-way flights from Montreal-Trudeau International Airport (YUL) to Washington’s Dulles International Airport (IAD), can be incredibly expensive. You can book these awards for 6,000 to 10,000 Aeroplan points.
Longer economy flights within North America generally price out between 10,000 and 12,500 points each way, around the industry average. The exception is flights over 2,751 miles, such as from the East Coast to Hawaii, which range between 17,500 and 25,000 points. The benefit of using Aeroplan is the flexible transfer options you have for earning points in the first place.
Related: 6 award chart sweet spots that will save you money on domestic flights
Travel to Europe
Aeroplan shines with award rates for long-haul travel — even more so now that Aeroplan has eliminated fuel surcharges. In the past, you could have paid close to $1,000 each way in fees for a premium-cabin award from the U.S. to Europe, eating away at the value of your “free” award, but that isn’t the case anymore.
Generally, when traveling from the continental U.S. to Europe on one of Air Canada’s partners, you’ll pay 35,000 to 40,000 points for economy, 60,000 to 70,000 points for business and 90,000 to 100,000 points for first class. To give you a better idea, a flight from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) to Frankfurt Airport (FRA) is roughly 3,900 miles, putting it in the first pricing band. Meanwhile, a flight from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Frankfurt is about 5,800 miles, which falls in the second band.
This means you can book business class from the East Coast of the United States to most of Western Europe for just 60,000 points in business class, or just 70,000 points from the West Coast to, say, Italy.
This is lower than what you will now be charged for the same flights using United Airlines MileagePlus miles following the program’s recent devaluation.
Related: 5 of the best ways to redeem 75,000 Air Canada Aeroplan points
Travel to Asia
You can also get great deals heading west. Partner awards between North America and the Pacific cost 35,000 to 75,000 points in economy, 55,000 to 105,000 in business and 90,000 to 140,000 in first class, depending on the distance.
Take, for instance, a flight from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport (HND) operated by All Nippon Airways. This route is just under 5,000 miles in distance, so a business-class ticket would cost 55,000 points. Cash fares are usually upward of $3,000 each way, yielding a value of over 5 cents per point, which is phenomenal.
Related: Is EVA Air business class worth it on the Boeing 787-10?
Use Aeroplan for family travel
Aeroplan is one of the best loyalty programs for families. Aside from the family points pooling feature, Aeroplan charges some of the lowest fees for traveling with a lap infant. Infant awards are free for travel wholly within Canada and between Canada and the United States and cost just 25 Canadian dollars ($19) or 2,500 Aeroplan points for all other itineraries.
You can also add stopovers for just 5,000 points each. You can add one stopover for each one-way trip and two for each round-trip itinerary. Just note that flights within North America aren’t eligible for stopovers.
Another great thing about Aeroplan is that it offers an incredibly reliable search engine for Star Alliance award availability. Aeroplan also highlights mixed-cabin itineraries, so there’s no confusion about what class of service you’re booking. Additionally, Aeroplan’s booking engine was designed to minimize phantom award availability — a fairly common problem in the past.
How to earn Aeroplan points
The easiest way to earn lots of Air Canada Aeroplan points is with the right credit card.
New Aeroplan Credit Card applicants can currently earn up to 100,000 Aeroplan points: 75,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months from account opening, plus an additional 25,000 Aeroplan points after spending $20,000 total in the first 12 months from account opening.
TPG values Aeroplan points at 1.5 cents each, making this sign-up bonus worth up to $1,500.
Despite such a valuable welcome bonus, the Chase Aeroplan card has an annual fee of just $95.
With triple points in multiple categories, monthly bonus points, statement credits, Aeroplan elite status and discounted award pricing, this is an incredibly valuable card, especially if you ever fly Air Canada.
Aeroplan transfer partners
You can also transfer the following credit card rewards to Aeroplan at a 1:1 transfer ratio:
This means that the following cards all currently offer strong welcome bonuses with rewards that you can transfer to your Aeroplan account:
Air Canada’s Aeroplan loyalty program offers solid redemption rates, flexible stopovers and no fuel surcharges. This means you can get some excellent deals on award tickets. It also partners with many of the largest transferable-points programs, so you may be sitting on various rewards that can ultimately become Aeroplan points.
Don’t forget the incredibly valuable Aeroplan credit card that offers plenty of benefits, especially if you fly with Air Canada.
As major programs switch to fully dynamic pricing with eye-watering redemption rates, Air Canada’s Aeroplan program remains an underrated and valuable option for your next points redemption.