Canada’s best Aeroplan credit cards in more detail
The Aeroplan loyalty program was created by Air Canada in 1984 to reward frequent flyers—and has transformed many times since then. In 2002, it spun off as a separate entity, and was eventually sold to Aimia. In 2018, it was acquired back by Air Canada. There have been many changes to the program as a result—including updates to Aeroplan-branded credit cards. Beefed-up travel insurance, free luggage check for your first bag and preferred pricing are a few of the welcome tweaks to cards in the Aeroplan family. And if that’s not enough to tempt you, consider the juicy welcome bonuses designed to lure consumers over to the program. What’s more, in response to the pandemic, the Aeroplan program has offered more flexibility to members. Notably, more leniency in its flight cancellation policy.
You can earn Aeroplan points simply by having an Aeroplan membership which you can couple with the payment method of your choosing. You can also earn Aeroplan points when you spend with an Aeroplan-affiliated credit card (or a credit card capable of transferring points to Aeroplan, such as Amex). Once you have accumulated enough points, the options to redeem are extensive. For travel, you can use points toward flights, hotel stays, experiences, upgrades and car rentals. Also, you can use points to treat yourself at the Aeroplan e-Store— which has an extensive selection brand-name merchandise (everything from Apple products to high-end homewares) and gift cards. So, whether you’re looking for a no-fee card to get you started earning Aeroplan points or a full-service travel card with all the bells and whistles, there’s an Aeroplan credit card for you—and a few compatible cards, too.
Summary: Our picks for the best Aeroplan credit cards
Best Aeroplan card for fast-tracking points
This Amex earns you 5 Membership Rewards (MR) points for every $1 spent on dining out, groceries and food delivery. It also earns 3 points per $1 spent on streaming, 2 points per $1 spent on travel and 1 point per $1 on all other spending. So, what does this have to do with Aeroplan points? Well, you can transfer your MR points to Aeroplan (and other loyalty programs) at 1:1 ratio. That means this card has an earn rate that surpasses many of the Aeroplan branded cards. What’s more, you’ll also get access to Amex perks like travel insurance and entertainment service (American Express Invites). That paired with its impressive welcome offer of earning up to 30,000 points in the first year, this is a definitely a card to consider adding to your wallet.
- Annual fee: $156
- Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases, 21.99% on cash advances
- Earn rate: 5 points per $1 spent on dining out and groceries; 2 points per $1 spent on travel; 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
- Additional benefits: Travel insurance; American Express Invites
- Welcome offer: Earn 2,500 points for each month you spend $500, up to a maximum of 30,000 points—that’s $300 towards a weekend getaway or concert tickets.
- Annual income requirement: $12,000
Best Aeroplan credit cards for spending on groceries and gas
The CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite card and the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite are almost identical. Both cards cost $139 annually, and both rebate that fee the first year. And they have the same earn rate, too. With each card, you earn you 1.5 Aeroplan points for every $1 spent on groceries, gas and purchases at aircanada.com, as well as 1 point per $1 spent everywhere else. If you already bank with TD or CIBC, this may be an easy choice. If you’re not sure, read on to find out what sets these two cards apart, so you can choose the right one for you.
What sets the TD card apart from the CIBC card is its impressive welcome bonus. New cardholders will receive 10,000 Aeroplan points upon their first purchase and another 30,000 points if they spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 180 days. Cardholders can earn another 15,000 Aeroplan points if they spend $7,500 on purchases within 12 months of opening an account. The first year’s annual fee is rebated for the primary and additional cardholders—$139 for the primary and $75 for secondary cardholder.
With the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite, you’ll get your first bag checked for free for you and up to eight travel companions on the same reservation. This comes out to about $30 in savings per traveller when flying economy within Canada or to the U.S. A Nexus application fee rebate every 48 months will save you up to $100. Plus, you’ll get “preferred pricing,” the opportunity to book flights with fewer points.
- Annual fee: $139
- Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances
- Earn rate: 1.5 points for every $1 spent on groceries, gas, and on purchases at aircanada.com; other eligible purchases earn 1 point per $1 spent
- Additional perks: Comprehensive travel insurance, including up to $2 million in travel medical for the first 21 days of your trip; first checked bag free for you and up to eight other travellers on the same reservation; mobile device insurance.
- Welcome bonus: Not available to display at the moment. Quebec residents, click here.
- Annual income requirement:
CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite
While this credit card from CIBC doesn’t offer as substantial of a welcome bonus as the above TD card, it has an edge when it comes to authorized users. Authorized users on your account can help you rack up points more quickly. While TD’s annual fee is $75 per additional cardholder, CIBC charges $50 per year per additional cardholder and you get up to 3 authorized users on your account. While the $25 difference may seem like peanuts, for 3 extra users, that’s $75 worth of savings. Additional. Also, he primary cardholder and up to eight additional travellers on the same reservation will get their first bag checked for free, and the annual fee of $139 is waived for the primary cardholder and up to three supplemental cardholders. That’s a savings of $289.
- Annual fee: $139 (rebated for the primary cardholder plus up to three secondary cardholders for the first year)
- Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances (21.99% in Quebec)
- Earn rate: 1.5 points for every $1 spent on grocery, gas, and purchases at aircanada.com; other eligible purchases earn 1 point per $1
- Additional perks: Comprehensive travel insurance including emergency travel medical; first checked bag free for you and up to eight other travellers on the same reservation; mobile device insurance; Visa Infinite privileges
- Annual income requirement: Personal income of $60,000 or household income of $100,000
Best Aeroplan credit card for travellers
American Express Aeroplan Card
Unlike the virtually identical TD and CIBC cards, the American Express Aeroplan card takes the concept and tweaks it. The first notable difference is the annual fee which is the more conventional $120 with additional cards costing $50. The points structure is also a slight departure, offering 2 Aeroplan points per $1 on purchases at Air Canada, 1.5 points per $1 on dining and food delivery purchases, and 1 point per $1 spent on anything else.
New American Express Aeroplan cardholders get the same Aeroplan perks, such as a free checked bag and preferred pricing. The welcome bonus allows you to earn up to 50,000 Aeroplan points in the first six months, too. The card has travel insurance, including $500,000 in travel accident, flight and baggage delay, and lost or stolen baggage, plus hotel burglary, car rental theft and damage.
Perhaps most notably, the American Express Aeroplan card is a charge card, so while you won’t be restricted by a credit limit, you will have to pay off the balance in full every month.
- Annual fee: $120
- Interest rates: n/a
- Welcome bonus:
- Rewards earn rate: 2 Aeroplan points per $1 on purchases at Air Canada Vacations, 1.5 points per $1 on dining and food delivery purchases and 1 point per $1 spent everywhere else
- Additional perks: Travel insurance including travel accident, flight delay and delayed or lost baggage coverage.
Best Aeroplan credit card for luxury perks
While not an officially-branded Aeroplan card, this premium Amex card allows you to transfer your Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan— at one-to-one rate. It also comes with access to Priority Pass and Centurion Lounge, alongside a generous $200 annual travel credit (essentially reducing the value of your annual fee to $499), hotel upgrades and a sizeable points sign-up bonus. The Platinum Card is a charge card, which means you’ll need to pay off the balance in full every month. While it is typically good practice to do that, the Aeroplan Visa cards on this list do not require you to like Amex does. While its earn rate is impressive, it does come with a hefty $699 annual fee, so do the math on how much you plan to spend on it, before you apply.
- Annual fee: $699
- Interest rates: n/a
- Welcome bonus: Earn up to 80,000 Membership Rewards® points – that’s up to $800 towards a weekend away.
- Rewards earn rate: 3 points per $1 on dining and food delivery; 2 points per $1 spent on travel; 1 point per $1 on everything else
- Additional perks: Front of the Line access for concerts and other ticketed events; Priority Pass and Centurion Lounge access; $200 annual travel credit; hotel membership upgrades; comprehensive American Express travel insurance and purchase protection plan
Note: This is a charge card, so you’re required to pay off your balance in full with this card every month.
Best no-fee Aeroplan credit card
CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card
The appeal of CIBC’s Aeroplan Visa Card is its $0 annual fee. It’s a great way to step into the Aeroplan game and start racking up rewards through your credit card spending. The welcome bonus starts things off with 10,000 Aeroplan points when you make your first purchase with the card. Not surprisingly for a no-fee card, the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card doesn’t give you access to the free checked baggage or comprehensive insurance perks the other co-branded Aeroplan credit cards covered earlier have. However, cardholders do get preferred pricing so they can often book flights using fewer points. The included insurance is lean with only common carrier accident coverage, car rental collision and loss damage protection and purchase protection. The earn rate is 1 point per $1 on gas, groceries and at Air Canada; and 1 point per every $1.50 charged on the card. You can double your earnings by giving your Aeroplan number at more than 150 partner locations.
- Annual fee: $0
- Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances (21.99% in Quebec)
- Rewards earn rate: 1 point per $1 on gas, groceries and Air Canada; and 1 point per every $1.50 charged on the card for everything else
- Additional perks: Earn additional points when presenting an Aeroplan number or membership card at participating retailers; common carrier accident coverage, car rental collision and loss damage protection and purchase protection insurance
- Annual income requirement: Household income of $15,000
How many Aeroplan points do you need for a flight?
According to the new Aeroplan redemption chart, how many points you need to redeem to book a flight depends on the distance between your city of departure and arrival, and which of the four “travel zones” you’re flying between.
At a minimum, you’ll need at least 6,000 points to redeem a one-way ticket within the North America travel zone to any destination within 500 miles of your departure (or 12,000 points for a round-trip). That includes trips like Toronto to Ottawa, or Vancouver to Calgary.
The number of points you need for redemption increases as you go further from your departure city or enter a new travel zone. For example, you’d need at least 70,000 Aeroplan points for a round trip to the Atlantic Zone travel zone within 4,000 miles of your city of departure.
Aeroplan has a handy points predictor tool to estimate how many points you need to redeem for a flight.
How much are Aeroplan points worth?
Unfortunately, Aeroplan points don’t have a fixed value. You can use the points predictor tool to see how it can vary. That said, you can get better value depending on the destination.
This formula can:
1 Aeroplan point = (price of ticket – Aeroplan fees) ÷ points needed to redeem
Generally, if the result of this equation is more than 1.2 to 1.5 cents per Aeroplan mile, you’re looking at a solid deal. For example, if you were to fly round-trip from Calgary to Halifax in January 2021, you’d need around 25,000 Aeroplan points, and you’d have to pay the taxes and fees. Since the total price of a ticket is currently around $770 and Aeroplan charges $80 in taxes and fees, in this scenario, the value of 1 point would be 2.76 cents, based on the above equation: ($770 – $80) ÷ 25,000. That’s according to Google Flights as of this article’s publication date.
Business class flights are also known to offer better value as their retail value is much higher, but you’ll need to rack up more points to redeem for those rewards.
What is Aeroplan’s stopover policy?
Aeroplan has introduced a new stopover policy that will help both casual and seasoned travellers stretch the value of their points.
When travelling almost anywhere (excluding Canada or the U.S.), you can add a stop over on each one-way flight for an incremental 5,000 points. By leveraging this stopover policy, you can strategically add stops on your routes, see more destinations, and maximize the value of your points.
How to earn Aeroplan points faster
Aeroplan has many retail and brand partners, offering the ability to earn twice. Once with the credit card, and another with your membership card. So a good tip is to scan your Aeroplan cards for points as well as for charging at the register. Plus, you can take advantage of Aeroplan’s online store to make purchases and earn additional bonus points from popular online retailers like Amazon.
Redeeming through Air Canada versus Star Alliance member airlines
New Aeroplan points can be redeemed for flights on Air Canada or any of the roughly two dozen Star Alliance member airlines, just like before. However, Aeroplan has introduced a few changes when it comes to its redemption rules.
When redeeming on Air Canada, Aeroplan has introduced “dynamic pricing,” which effectively means the number of points you need for a flight can vary within a range. For instance, a round-trip economy flight from Calgary to Halifax with Air Canada can require anywhere between 25,000 and 35,000 points. You may need more points within this range if you’re travelling to a popular destination or during a high-demand travel season.
When redeeming on Star Alliance member airlines, which include United and Lufthansa, dynamic pricing isn’t part of the picture. For instance, the same round-trip flight from Calgary to Halifax always requires 25,000 points at any point in time. The one caveat is you’ll have to pay an extra $39 booking fee per traveller when flying on a Star Alliance airline versus using Air Canada itself.
When booking travel, you’ll want to compare between Air Canada and the other Star Alliance airlines to see which one offers the best return for your points. The answer will depend on your particular travel booking.