There is another amazing promo announced by Aeroplan that can be very lucrative for Canadians who have the cash flow right now and want to save a lot of money—and for those who want to take advantage of that other great Aeroplan promo to earn elite status from home.
In these past few days, there has been a lot of news about Air Canada to talk about (Q1 results, current liquidity, new safety measures, fleet retirements, new rewards program news, etc.) and we’ll cover the rest too…
But right now you really need to know about this great Aeroplan initiative. Credit where credit is due: Air Canada is really being innovative with its rewards program during this lockdown.
While credit cards are still the best way to earn a lot of points, for some this offer can be a great alternative or complement!
On Thursday, Aeroplan will be selling Miles at a very good price, especially if you act fast.
- You can buy Aeroplan Miles for as little as 1.47¢ per point
- You need to be among the first to act to get this incredible price
- After the first 10M Miles, the price will be a still good 1.68¢ per point
- Half of the Miles you buy count towards the great elite status promo
- If you want premium cabin travel you can save thousands with Miles
- If you use them well, everyone can save a lot of money on flights
- The new Aeroplan rules have been pushed back to Q4 2020
- Miles can be used at current rates into Aug. 2021 if booked in Sept. 2020
- This “Buy Miles” promo starts on May 7th at 10:00 a.m. ET
I’ll tell you who this promo is for, but many travelers should consider this. Aeroplan Miles are variable-value points, the best type for those who want to get outsized value. Our Flytrippers valuation is 1.5¢ per point, which means this is a very good price to buy the Miles.
But because Aeroplan miles are so valuable if you’re flexible and use them for one of their best uses (or if you want to fly in luxury) you can obviously also get a lot more value with these Miles and therefore save a lot of money. As long as you use them right. I’ll show you exactly how below.
The very real risk of the program being devalued with the upcoming rule changes is no longer really relevant, since Air Canada also announced that you’ll now have until at least the end of September to book at the current rates before the program rules change.
That means you’ll be able to book all the way into August 2021 (you can book a year in advance). I will likely be taking advantage of this myself to earn elite status with the other promo.
Here’s everything you need to know.
Who Should Buy Aeroplan Miles
The short bullet-point list of the types of travelers who should consider the offer was really popular in our American Express Cobalt Card review this weekend, so let’s do the same for this Aeroplan “Buy Miles” promo.
Read on if you check at least one of these boxes.
This is a great promo for travelers who:
- usually buy plane tickets that are more expensive than the “regular” price
- usually buy premium cabin seats in cash (business/first class)
- want to take advantage of the elite status shortcut promo
- want to visit destinations where tickets are usually expensive
- want to visit more than one destination on one trip
- earn under $60,000 and aren’t always eligible for good credit card offers
- have the cash flow and have a non-precarious travel budget
- don’t believe Trudeau will let Air Canada disappear
Buying Points Basics
Most rewards programs allow you to buy points. We always told you that buying points speculatively (i.e. without a specific redemption in mind) is rarely a good idea. That’s because the price most reward programs sell their points at is usually a bit over our Flytrippers valuation of the point’s value, or over the conservative estimate in other words.
These are variable-value points, as mentioned. So if you use them very well, you can always save so much more than our Flytrippers valuation and more than the price to buy the points, meaning it can make sense to buy the points. But that’s why you need to have a specific redemption already decided, to make sure you do the math and know that you’re really saving money.
And the price to buy points with this Aeroplan promo is excellent, so if some of the uses below seem like a good fit for you, it can be very lucrative.
In other words, like we always say: one of the most important things that beginners in the world of travel reward points have a hard time understanding is that you need to use your points well. Not all redemptions are good.
Aeroplan “Buy Miles” Promo
Aeroplan historically did not offer point purchases, but this has recently changed and this new promo is a great way to launch the feature. The “Buy Miles” promo offers bonus Miles (up to a 115% bonus!) to bring down the “cost per point” to a very interesting price.
Like I said, our Flytrippers valuation of Aeroplan Miles is 1.5¢ per point, meaning if you save at least 1.5¢ per point by using them, it’s a good use. Simple calculation.
Half of the Miles you purchase will count towards the great Aeroplan elite status promo we told you about (see next to last section).
For us Canadians, here are the prices:
- 1.4¢ per point — a 115% bonus (first 10 million Miles sold)
- 1.6¢ per point — a 90% bonus (next 100 million Miles sold)
- 1.8¢ per point — a 65% bonus (all other Miles until May 13)
You need to pay the sales tax on the point purchases, which vary by province. Since I am based in Quebec, I included the 5% tax that comes out to 1.47¢ per point in the math below to make even more simple, but it will be a bit more expensive in other provinces.
It’s even more interesting if you have a US-based credit card, because there is no sales tax charged. Once again, Americans have it so much better than us in terms of travel rewards, but this promo still provides amazing value.
Again, the promo starts on May 7 at 10:00 a.m. ET and I would assume even with the coronavirus crisis, many savvy travelers know how to do the math, and know to avoid the most common mistake of travel rewards beginners (being shortsighted and not being strategic)… and will see how great this promo is. Especially with the other promo for elite status.
So the first 10 million Miles might sell out very quickly. Even at the following price point of 1.68¢ it’s worth considering your redemption options below, but in all cases, the promo will end on May 13, so you still need to act pretty fast (you should be used to this if you follow us for our curated flight deals at 50% off: those are such good deals that they expire in hours, not days).
You can purchase up to 250,000 Miles per transaction or 500,000 Miles per year in total, but only the base Miles count towards that limit. So if you were to buy 500,000 Miles in two separate transactions on Thursday (that high of an amount would only make sense if you usually pay cash for business class flights), you would actually get 1.075 million Miles with the promo despite the annual limit.
If you really want a lot of Miles and are in “travel rewards two-player mode” with a spouse/partner, you could hypothetically get a million Miles each, leaving very few for all the rest of us. You can also gift Miles to someone else.
Best Ways To Use Aeroplan Miles
We’ll soon have a complete guide to maximize the current Aeroplan Mile rules (you can sign up for our free travel rewards newsletter now).
The bottom line is that Aeroplan Miles are great to pay for flights that are expensive in cash. If you usually pay for expensive flights, you can save a lot of money by locking in lower prices with Miles with this promo. We’ll define what “expensive flights” are with examples below; there are many situations where Aeroplan Miles will save you a lot of money.
And since you’d be buying the Miles in cash outright, it’s very easy to see how much every flight will cost you compared to if you pay the cash price.
Here are a few basic facts for Aeroplan beginners:
- The cost of a flight is the same every day of the year
- Rates for a flight are based on the region
- Rates are the same for all airports in a region
- You can add a free stopover to any flight
- You need to find flight availability (easier in advance)
- You need to pay taxes (we’ll of course include it in all the math)
- You can avoid surcharges by avoiding Air Canada (and others)
That last one is the most important thing many beginners don’t always understand. The worst use of Air Canada’s Aeroplan Miles is often on Air Canada flights. The best value is with partner airlines that don’t impose surcharges, those with whom you just need to pay the low taxes.
Yes, this is the key to maximizing the current Aeroplan program: use your miles to fly United Airlines, TAP Air Portugal, Swiss, Turkish Airlines, etc. You don’t need to do anything special, you don’t need to have ever even heard of those airlines. It doesn’t matter.
When Can You Save With Aeroplan Miles
Before I get into concrete examples with numbers, here is the list of 9 situations where you can save a lot of money with Aeroplan Miles:
- If you fly during peak travel periods
- If you have no flexibility on dates
- If you don’t bother searching for low prices
- If you buy last-minute flights
- If you are flying to an expensive smaller/more remote airport
- If you can leave from a US airport
- If you need international one-way flights
- If you want more than one destination on the same trip
- If you want to fly business class
To illustrate the concept of seeing if it’s good value for you or not in a very simple way (it’s really easy to understand if you do the math), let’s take this example: 25,000 Miles + ≈ C$87 gives you a roundtrip flight from Canada to anywhere in the US on United (including Alaska, excluding Hawaii).
With this promo, that means that for $455 total you get a roundtrip flight to anywhere in the US: $368 for the Miles (25,000 * 1.47¢) and $87 for the taxes (there’s a way to lower these, see next section).
If you usually fly to California with the deals we spot at $300, then, of course, it’s not a good deal to pay $455.
But many pay $600 (or more) to fly to the US because they:
- travel during peak times
- have no flexibility on dates
- don’t bother searching for low prices
- buy last-minute flights
- fly to smaller airports
… you get the point. Aeroplan Miles are great if you usually pay a lot.
Other Great North American Uses
If you fly Air Canada instead of United, they add on surcharges to the taxes, so it’s a bit more expensive (≈$550 total roundtrip). It can still be extremely lucrative, especially for expensive Canadian flights. My former firm once paid $2,000 for my flight from Quebec to Alberta.
That’s extreme, but it’s not uncommon to see $800 flights in Canada due to the uncompetitiveness of our aviation sector and our high taxes and airport fees in Canada. If you buy Miles and it costs you $550 to go anywhere in Canada, that’s a lot of savings in many cases.
And it’s especially true for smaller towns where Air Canada has a near-monopoly and charges a lot of money, or for cool destinations like the Canadian territories that are very expensive in cash.
Everything is $550 roundtrip with this promo. For those who plan to travel within Canada post-coronavirus, that’s a way to lock in a reasonable price. Because although we do often spot deals across Canada for much less, some often pay way more than that.
They’re variable-value points, so their value varies according to your own use and your own situation.
Here are the two tips to lower taxes: if you can fly out of a US border airport near you (Plattsburgh, Buffalo, Everett, etc.), a roundtrip only costs 25,000 Miles and C$14 in taxes, meaning the roundtrip to anywhere in the US costs you $382. That’s very good in many situations as well. The other tip is to get Air Canada elite status with these two promos, to avoid surcharges in North America and fly Air Canada for the same price as United (see last section about the status promo).
Great Overseas Uses
Let’s look at Europe: with 60,000 Aeroplan Miles + $96, you can fly roundtrip from Canada to anywhere in Western Europe on TAP Air Portugal, and many places in Northern Europe.
With this promo, that means for $978 total you get a free trip to Europe. If you usually are like us and are flexible on dates, you hopefully pay a lot less than that to go to Europe. But if you travel on peak dates, maybe you pay more. For you, this one is a great use.
If you are going to a remote faraway destination that costs a lot of money, then Aeroplan Miles can also be very lucrative. I went to the Middle East during peak summer dates for 80,000 Miles, and was able to visit 3 destinations for that price (the rule is now 2 destinations only, temporarily). That would mean $1,300 to visit two Middle East countries that are rarely on sale, during the busiest time of the year. The cash ticket for my dates was over $2,000. Amazing savings.
Yes, if you want to visit California and Utah during the same trip, it’s still 25,000 Miles thanks to the free stopover, so you still pay only $455 total. By paying in cash, that would be much more expensive.
If you have ever searched for a long-haul one-way flight, you know it’s often as expensive as a roundtrip. With Aeroplan Miles, you only pay half of the cost. So let’s say you want to go to Asia for a longer trip and don’t want to buy your return in advance, it will probably cost you at least $2,000 in total. If you book two separate one-ways, it can cost you as little as $1,300 with this promo.
Finally, business class flights deserve their own section.
“Best” Use For Business Class Flights
To me, “maximizing” means saving the highest amount of money possible, compared to what I would actually have spent. I would never buy business class seats with cash, it’s so ridiculously expensive. So since I would not really be saving thousands, I don’t use them that way personally (I prefer to travel more often).
But business class seats are so expensive in cash that it’s the best way of “maximizing” the savings overall with Miles, in terms of comparing with the cash price.
If you pay for business class seats in cash, you should really get into travel rewards ASAP. You can start with this Buy Miles promo, I’ll show you how much you can save.
Here’s a nonstop business class flight from Montreal to Switzerland next February, in case you want to go skiing in the Alps.
This is a relatively normal price for a lie-flat seat like that.
Now let’s compare:
- Price if paid in cash: $4,260
- Price if paid with “cashback” points: $4,260 (you can never “save” money with cashback points)
- Price if paid with fixed-value points: $4,260 (you can never “save” money with fixed-value points)
- Price if paid with this Aeroplan promo: $1,729 (110,000 Miles @ 1.47¢ per point and $112 in taxes)
That’s 59% less. That’s $2,500 in savings. On one ticket.
The exact same flight.
If you were going to buy that with cash, this promo is simply amazing. It’s just one example, but almost every business class seat will be a great deal with this promo.
Especially if you live in a city where carriers other than Air Canada offer long-haul flights, or if you can connect to the US on United. Air Canada flights will add on hundreds of dollars in surcharges, in those cases make sure you do the math before purchasing miles.
See how much more savings you can get with variable-value points like Aeroplan compared to cashback cards and fixed-value points? Those can never “save” you any money. It’ll be the same price with those, you’ll just be paying in points instead of money. It’s better than paying with money, of course… but it’s still the same price.
And cashback is particularly bad since they usually don’t even offer welcome bonuses, and welcome bonuses are the key to earning a lot of points. Earning a lousy 1% or 2% back on your purchases is NOT the way to earn a lot of travel rewards.
And with this promo, buying miles directly can be an alternative way to save a lot of money.
Aeroplan Status Promo
Now, by stacking both current promos, everyone can get elite status for all of 2020 and 2021. A week ago, Aeroplan announced that the normally expensive-to-reach elite status can be earned by simply earning 50,000 Aeroplan Miles before May 31.
All the details are in there, but in short, we told you that if you had American Express Points (like many travel reward pros do), it was a very easy way to get elite status by transferring them to Aeroplan. If you have the AMEX Gold Card, it’s even more interesting now that the new Aeroplan program launch has been postponed and you have more time to use your Miles at the current rates.
If you have the Platinum Card, this “Buy Miles” option is now possibly better for you (I told you to wait!).
In short, until now, without already having AMEX Points it was almost impossible to get the 50,000 Miles since the deadline is too short to earn Miles the easiest way (and the way everyone should earn most of their Miles): with credit cards that offer great welcome bonuses.
Now, you can simply buy your way to elite status. And you’ll have a great stash of Miles for future trips too, so it’s not like you’d be paying just for the elite status. It’s really a great opportunity for luxury travelers.
Important: remember that you need to register for the Travel at Home elite status shortcut promo BEFORE earning the Miles so that they count.
You would need to buy 100,000 Miles (only half of what you purchase counts towards the elite status shortcut) assuming you’ll earn zero Miles from the 3 other sources (Aeroplan or AMEX credit card spending, AMEX transfers, or shopping portal purchases).
That would cost you $1,470 for elite status… but you would also get ≈ $1,500 worth of Aeroplan Miles.
As you just saw, 100,000 Miles is 3 free one-ways to Europe, or 8 free one-ways to anywhere in North America. Or it’s almost enough for a roundtrip business class flight to Europe in a lie-flat seat!
This is as good as it gets in terms of elite status shortcuts.
If you have the Platinum Card, it actually makes a lot more sense to take advantage of the Buy Miles promo than to transfer 50,000 AMEX Points if you do the math. I show you exactly why in my post with the Platinum Card tip for Air Canada elite status.
As mentioned, the Aeroplan program will be completely changed in Q4 2020, meaning award redemption prices will likely go up. If you can’t book before September 2020 (for travel all the way to August 2021), the promo is a lot riskier.
There’s the risk that travel restrictions are still hard to navigate, but it’s hard to tell at this point. Some believe there is a risk every airline could go bankrupt, but the Canadian government has made it pretty clear that Canadian airlines will get a bailout.
Your financial situation might be fine now, but make sure you’re confident it will stay that way before investing money into miles. Even if it’s a great price, Miles are obviously not as liquid as cash.
If you’re not flexible at all on dates, by selling so many Miles, award space availability could be a bit more limited. But then again, most experts agree that demand will be slow to pick up, so planes might not be anywhere near full either.
Making a decision about this promo really depends on your personal situation and travel preferences. Hopefully this guide gave you enough information to clarify the details.
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Aeroplan Miles Purchase Sales Tax Rate By Province
Here’s the tax rate you’ll pay on your points purchases for each of the 3 pricing levels for Aeroplan Miles (depending on how quickly you buy them).
It’s in Canadian dollars (cents), and is based on your credit card billing address.
|Credit Card Billing Address||Tax Rate||1.4¢ (First 10M)||1.6¢ (Next 100M)||1.8¢ (Rest until May 13)|
|Prince Edward Island||15%||1.61||1.84||2.07|
This Aeroplan “Buy Miles” promo is very interesting if you know how to maximize Aeroplan Miles. It can also give you elite status for 2020 and 2021, essentially free since you’ll get valuable Aeroplan Miles that can be used for a variety of great redemptions.
Have any questions about the Aeroplan program? Ask in the comments below.
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