Great New Aeroplan Offers: Hundreds Of Dollars In Free Travel For Most Canadian Travelers

After literally years in the making, the new Air Canada Aeroplan program is now live (albeit after a one-day technical delay). And most importantly, a new program means new credit card welcome bonuses so that all Canadians can earn free travel very easily!

(It’s important to remind you that contrary to most who aren’t travel rewards experts think, welcome bonuses are really the key to getting over $1,000 in free travel every year like I’ve been doing myself for over a decade.)

While we might have expected an offer with more points, the short version for most travelers is that with the American Express Aeroplan Card, you get a welcome bonus that can easily be worth ≈ $433 thanks to the very interesting new Air Canada Buddy Pass, a buy-one-get-one flight deal. The card has no minimum income requirement, and you get great benefits, like a free checked bag when flying on every Air Canada flight (for up to 9 passengers).

But since there are a total of 11 new Aeroplan credit cards, there are other options… and it can be a bit confusing.

So I’ve made this guide as clear, curated, and actionable as possible with different sections, to make it easier for you to determine which card is the best for you (and that might even actually not be an Aeroplan card…)

 

Overview of our recommendations

Given how card eligibility depends on your income, I believe it is useful for you to split our recommendations up by revenue. (If you’re a pro and prefer to just see every Aeroplan card on your own, skip to that section.)

In all cases, remember that our recommended card application cycle is usually one every 3 months for travel rewards enthusiasts, as long as you have an old card and always pay your cards in full. If you are a beginner in the world of travel rewards, you can start with one every 6 months to build up your length of history. And if you just want less hassle, even just 2 cards a year is probably 100% better than what most get in terms of rewards.

In other words, you can get a nice welcome bonus today… and then another nice one in 3 months! Maximizing travel rewards isn’t any more complicated than that! And you’ll also be improving your credit score: as a reminder, contrary to the widespread myth, having more cards is factually better for your credit score if you follow the 2 rules I just mentioned (full on-time payments + keeping old cards).

(By the way, we are offering a very useful free checklist for when you get a new card, with great and important pro tips.)

 

Income under $60,000

If you plan to travel within North America (Canada, USA, Hawaii, Mexico):

Your best Aeroplan option is likely the American Express Aeroplan Card (Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $433 for the Welcome Bonus), since TD and CIBC cards have a minimum income requirement.

However, it’s true that there are rumors of better offers in January, although there’s no guarantee. In our opinion, the North America Buddy Pass (details in the card info) is very valuable for a majority of travelers, but if it is not appealing to you, you can consider the next option…

 

If you want more points OR don’t plan to travel within North America:

You are likely better off with one of the many other great non-Aeroplan offers (some with a Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $357 for the Welcome Bonus) for now so you can wait for the January Aeroplan offers, that could possibly include more points instead of a North America Buddy Pass (but we really don’t know).

Points are more complicated than the Buddy Pass, but also can offer even more outsized value. With points, you are not limited to traveling with someone else, you are not limited to traveling to North America and not limited to flying on Air Canada (as is the case with the Buddy Pass).

 

If you prefer luxury travel and elite benefits:

Your best option is likely the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card (Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $296 for the Welcome Bonus) or even the American Express Platinum (when the normal offer returns; same Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $296 for the Welcome Bonus).

But maybe waiting for travel to resume for these is a better option as their travel benefits are really what make them worth considering. In the meantime, the many other great non-Aeroplan offers (some with a Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $357 for the Welcome Bonus) can be better and you can focus on getting luxury in future card applications.

 

Income over $80,000

If you aren’t in urgent need of Aeroplan points:

Quite honestly, the HSBC World Elite Mastercard (Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $790 for the Welcome Bonus) is a non-Aeroplan offer that is definitely the best bet right now for travelers who earn over $80k. It is one of the highest welcome bonuses we’ve ever seen in Canada.

Just note that if you are a Quebec resident, the HSBC World Elite Mastercard offer is slightly different (Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $731 for the Welcome Bonus).

 

If you want Aeroplan points and prefer luxury travel and elite benefits:

Your best option is likely the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card (Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $296 for the Welcome Bonus), or even the American Express Platinum (when the normal offer returns; same Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $296 for the Welcome Bonus). The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege (Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $501 for the Welcome Bonus) is an alternative as well, but it has a steep $200,000 income requirement.

But maybe waiting for travel to resume for these is a better option as their travel benefits are what really make them worth considering. In the meantime, you can consider the next option.

 

If you want Aeroplan points but aren’t a luxury traveler OR can’t reach a higher minimum spend:

Your best option is likely the American Express Aeroplan Card (Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $433 for the Welcome Bonus) that has a lower minimum spend requirement to unlock the welcome bonus. The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite and CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite (both with a Flytrippers Valuation of over $500 for the Welcome Bonus) are alternatives, but in the past, those cards’ welcome bonuses have included more points than now… and there are rumors of better offers in January.

AMEX’s card is new, so we don’t have any history… but maybe it could be better in January too (but we really don’t know). In our opinion, the North America Buddy Pass (details in the card info) is very valuable for a majority of travelers, but if it is not appealing to you, you can consider non-Aeroplan offers (some with a Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $357 for the Welcome Bonus), as some have low minimum spend requirements too.

 

Income between $60,000 and $80,000

If you plan to travel within North America (Canada, USA, Hawaii, Mexico):

Your best Aeroplan option is likely the American Express Aeroplan Card (Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $433 for the Welcome Bonus). The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite and CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite (both with a Flytrippers Valuation of over $500 for the Welcome Bonus) are alternatives, but in the past, those cards’ welcome bonuses have included more points than now… and there are rumors of better offers in January.

AMEX’s card is new, so we don’t have any history, but maybe it could be better in January too (but we really don’t know). In our opinion, the North America Buddy Pass (details in the card info) is very valuable for a majority of travelers, but if it is not appealing to you, you can consider the next option…

 

If you want more points OR don’t plan to travel within North America:

You are likely better off with one of the many other great non-Aeroplan offers (some with a Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $357 for the Welcome Bonus) for now so you can wait for the January Aeroplan offers, that could possibly include more points instead of a North America Buddy Pass (but we really don’t know).

Points are more complicated than the Buddy Pass, but also can offer even more outsized value. With points, you are not limited to traveling to North America and not limited to flying on Air Canada (as is the case with the Buddy Pass).

 

If you prefer luxury travel and elite benefits:

Your best option is likely the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card (Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $296 for the Welcome Bonus) or even the American Express Platinum (when the normal offer returns; same Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $296 for the Welcome Bonus).

But maybe waiting for travel to resume for these is a better option as their travel benefits are really what make them worth considering. In the meantime, the many other great non-Aeroplan offers (some with a Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $357 for the Welcome Bonus) can be better and you can focus on getting luxury in future card applications.

 

Overview of all cards

Here is a table that summarizes the Aeroplan credit card program (excluding small business cards):

 

In the world of credit cards, there are 3 card “levels” (or market positionings) for consumer/personal cards, and they are not necessarily related to the income requirement:

  • core card (main)
  • premium card (higher-end)
  • basic card (lower-end)

There are Aeroplan cards in each level and they are issued by 3 different banks (which is why there are so many cards)

In short, the core cards are very similar from one issuer to another (not 100% the same, but similar). The main differences are really from one card level to another, so that’s the first thing to consider (then within a card level, you compare the different products).

Finally, there are also small business cards (that are not just for those who have an incorporated business, but rather anyone who has any type of self-generated income). We’ll cover those cards in a separate post soon since it’s certainly more of a niche proposition.

If you would prefer to see each card’s benefits in a summary table, here they are for each card level.

 

Core Aeroplan cards

These are the cards for the vast majority of travelers who want to earn rewards.

 American Express® Aeroplan®*CIBC Aeroplan® Visa Infinite*TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite*
CardAmerican Express® Aeroplan®* CardCIBC Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* CardTD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card
Minimum income required$0$60,000 $60,000
Flytrippers Valuation of Welcome Bonus≈ $433≈ $545≈ $515
Minimum spend requirement$1,500 in 3 months for 9,000 points
$500/month all 3 months for 3,000 points
$0 for points
$3,000 in 4 months for the Buddy Pass
$1,000 in 3 months ($0 in QC)
Welcome Bonus (pts)12,00010,00010,000
Welcome Bonus (other)Buddy PassBuddy PassBuddy Pass
Additional spending bonus
(excluded from the Flytrippers Valuation of the Welcome Bonus)
1,000 pts/month after $500/month for 3 extra monthsN/AN/A
Previous offerN/A20,000 pts25,000 pts
Annual fee$120$139 ($0 first year)$139 ($0 first year)
Additional card (with benefits)$50$50$75 ($0 Year 1)
Additional card (without benefits)$0N/AN/A
Earn rate on Air Canada spending2pts/$1.5pts/$1.5pts/$
Earn rate on restaurants and deliveries1.5pts/$1pt/$1pt/$
Earn rates on gas and groceries1pt/$1.5pts/$1.5pts/$
Basic Earn rate1pt/$1pt/$1pt/$
1st checked bag free on Air Canada for 8 peopleYesYesYes
Preferred Pricing with Aeroplan on Air CanadaYesYesYes
Elite status qualification boostYesYesYes
NEXUS creditN/AN/A$100
Medical Travel InsuranceN/A15 days (4 for 65+)21 days (3 for 65+)
Trip cancelation insuranceN/AYesYes
Trip interruption insuranceN/AYesYes
Car rental insuranceYesYesYes
Flight delay insuranceYesYesYes
Lost/delayed baggage insuranceYesYesYes
Hotel burglary insuranceYesYesYes
Doubled warranty on purchases1 extra year maximum1 extra year maximum1 extra year maximum
Loss/damage protection on purchases90 days; $1,00090 days; $1,00090 days; $1,000
Mobile device insuranceN/AYesN/A
More details and application b> Apply now Apply now Apply now

 

Premium Aeroplan cards

These are the cards for travelers who want luxury and elite benefits.

 American Express® Aeroplan®* Reserve CardCIBC Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege* Card<TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege* Card
CardAmerican Express® Aeroplan®* Reserve CardCIBC Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege* CardTD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege* Card
Minimum income required$0$150,000 $200,000 (household)
Flytrippers Valuation of Welcome Bonus≈ $296≈ $51≈ $501
Minimum spend requirement$3,000 in 3 months for 35,000 points
$1,000 each of the 3 months for 15,000 points
$0 for points
$3,000 in 4 months for Buddy Pass
$0 for 20,000 points
$1,000 in 90 days for 30,000 points ($0 in Quebec)
Welcome Bonus (pts)50,00020,00050,000
Welcome Bonus (other)$100 creditBuddy PassBuddy Pass
Additional spending bonus
(excluded from the Flytrippers Valuation of the Welcome Bonus)
5000pts/month after $1,000/month for 3 more monthsN/AN/A
Annual fee$599$599$599
Additional card (with benefits)$199$149$199
Additional card (without benefits)$0N/AN/A
Earn rate on Air Canada spending3pts/$2pts/$2pts/$
Earn rate on travel spending1pt/$1.5pts/$1.5pts/$
Earn rate on restaurants and deliveries2pts/$1.5pts/$1.5pts/$
Earn rates on gas and groceries1pt/$1.5pts/$1.5pts/$
Earn rate (basic)1pt/$1.25pts/$1.25pts/$
Air Canada Maple Leaf lounges access in North AmericaYesYesYes
Access to 1,300+ Priority Pass lounges worldwideN/A6 passes6 passes
Priority boarding /check-in on Air CanadaYesYesYes
Rollover unused elite benefitsYesYesYes
1st checked bag free on Air Canada for 8 peopleYesYesYes
Preferred Pricing with Aeroplan on Air CanadaYesYesYes
Elite status qualification boostYesYesYes
Toronto-Pearson priority serviceYesN/AN/A
NEXUS creditN/A$50$100
Medical Travel Insurance15 days (under 65)31 days (10 for 65+)31 days (4 for 65+)
Trip cancelation insuranceYesYesYes
Trip interruption insuranceYesYesYes
Car rental insuranceYesYesYes
Flight delay insuranceYesYesYes
Lost/delayed baggage insuranceYesYesYes
Hotel burglary insuranceYesYesYes
Mobile device insuranceN/AYesYes
Doubled warranty on purchasesUp to 1 extra yearUp to 2 extra yearsUp to 2 extra years
Damage/loss/theft protection on purchases90 days; $1,000180 days; $60,000120 days; $1,000
More details and application b> Apply Now Apply Now Apply Now

 

Basic Aeroplan cards

These are the cards for those who aren’t really into maximizing travel rewards.

 

 

American Express Aeroplan Card

 

The American Express Aeroplan Card‘s Welcome Bonus is worth ≈ $433 based on our Flytrippers Valuation.

But it can also be worth a lot more than that thanks to the Air Canada Buddy Pass that is very valuable: it’s a nearly-free ticket to anywhere in North America. More on that in a second.

In terms of benefits that we didn’t attribute a value to, you also get a free checked bag (for you and up to 8 passengers traveling with you) on all flight itineraries that originate on Air Canada. And cardholders get access to Preferred Pricing on Aeroplan flight rewards.

In short, by spending the standard $1,500 in 3 months (easy with our tips—it’s just $115 per week, and Christmas is coming up), you’ll get:

  • Air Canada Buddy Pass
  • 9,000 Aeroplan points as a Welcome Bonus
  • 3,000 Aeroplan points if you split your $1,500 evenly out as $500 per month for all 3 months
    (you can also get another 1,000/month if you spend $500/month in each of the next 3 months—not included in Flytrippers Valuation)
  • 1,500 Aeroplan points on your minimum spend at the basic earn rate

That is worth ≈ $553 in free travel when considering the Buddy Pass at an extremely conservative $350. But the card has a $120 fee for a net of ≈ $433 as our Flytrippers Valuation of the Welcome Bonus.

If you use the Buddy Pass well… it can easily be worth a lot more!

 

Welcome Bonus – Buddy Pass

In short, the Air Canada Buddy Pass is essentially a Buy-One-Get-One plane ticket for anywhere Air Canada flies to in North America (including Hawaii and Mexico).

You’ll get it soon after you reach the $1,500, so let’s say in 3 months. Then you have a full year to book, and the flight schedule will be open for almost another year at that point, so expiry shouldn’t even be an issue at all: you could book a trip into 2023!!!

The Buddy Pass you get with the American Express Aeroplan Card is very simple: you pay for any economy-class ticket, then you’ll get a 2nd identical ticket for a $0 base fare. You’ll only pay the taxes (NO surcharges), which are as little as $100 for many destinations.

Find a $450 ticket to a cool destination like California? The 2nd ticket will be just ≈ $100. That is a simply exceptional deal to fly to anywhere in North America, despite the taxes.

Please don’t make the beginner mistake that all beginners make: thinking that everything must cost zero to be a good deal. No: are you better off with a lousy card that costs $0 but gives you $0… or a card that costs $120 and gives you $500? That math is easy.

Same thing for this Buddy Pass. Yes, you’ll have to pay a small amount on the 2nd ticket… but the overall savings on the flight is what matters. If you were going to pay $450 for the flight, you get $350 in value out of this Buddy Pass! It’s a good reflex to avoid fees most of the time… but not always. Fees alone are irrelevant: the total net value is what matters, always.

Anf if you travel at peak times like at Christmas, Spring Break, or in the busy summer months… the Buddy Pass is even more valuable.

Extremely valuable!

The 2nd ticket is always free, no matter the cash price. There’s no limit. An outsized value.

Here are just 3 quick examples, I’ll have more for you this week (sign up for our free travel rewards newsletter to get it along with our checklist for new cards).

The very basic: a $450 ticket to anywhere, like say the US or Mexico. Right now Spring Break dates are actually reasonably-priced because of the pandemic, but these can easily cost you more if you’re not flexible on your dates, especially given how many people prefer nonstop flights instead of saving money and traveling more often.

Saving $350, that’s where our conservative valuation for the American Express Aeroplan Card‘s Buddy Pass comes from.

Or let’s say you want to go to Hawaii over the holiday period.

You can often find cheaper on another airline (Flytrippers regularly spotted deals to Hawaii in the $400s from Western Canada and $500s from Eastern Canada, but never during the Holidays) but many pay a lot more than $600 to go there too, especially on popular dates.

So with just $100 in taxes, you’ll get $500 off the 2nd ticket. That’s even better than our Flytrippers Valuation.

Taxes on a roundtrip flight to Hawaii are usually under $100

 

Finally, a more extreme example: you know all too well how airfares within Canada can be very expensive (among the worst among all developed countries). Let’s say you want to go across the country on peak summer dates: right now, those are selling for $900.

If you were going to pay such an amount for a Canadian flight, you’re saving a whole lot with the Buddy Pass. The taxes are slightly higher within Canada of course (we have some of the highest airport fees in the developed world after all) but it’s still just ≈ $150 to ≈ $230.

Your savings are very significant: you’d save over $700 on that flight!

Anyway, even saving $350 with just one Welcome Bonus alone is pretty good!

So basically, with the Buddy Pass, it’s just like we always tell you about variable-value points (like Aeroplan points for that matter): if you usually buy expensive tickets, you can maximize the value! Because no matter the price of the ticket, the American Express Aeroplan Card‘s Buddy Pass gets you one free.

I could give dozens of examples, but you get the point: with the Buddy Pass, you get a ticket to anywhere in North America for around $100, which is an exceptional deal.

 

Welcome Bonus – Aeroplan points

It’s true that the American Express Aeroplan Card‘s base Welcome Bonus of 9,000 Aeroplan points is not what we hoped for, but the Buddy Pass is something we had never seen before (and the more we analyze it, the more we like it too… at least for most travelers).

But with the extra 3,000 points (if you split your $1,500 minimum spend to hit the $500/month threshold) and the 1,500 points earned on the minimum spend, you get a total of 13,500 Aeroplan points.

That is worth ≈ $203 based on our Flytrippers Valuation. That more than covers the $120 fee, meaning you get some free travel with the points in addition to the Buddy Pass (and points never expire if you are a cardholder or if you earn 1 point every 18 months).

We’ve given you a teaser about the new Aeroplan pricing system, and we’ll have a lot more about that soon.

But just to give you a teaser, those 13,500 Aeroplan points are enough for a roundtrip short-haul flight on Air Canada or United if you are flexible on your dates (to any destination under 500 miles flown). You’ll have those same taxes to pay, but still: the savings on that roundtrip are probably worth more than our prudent Flytrippers Valuation in many cases.

If you prefer, you even have enough points for a one-way from Eastern Canada to Costa Rica! That’s a pretty nice addition to the Buddy Pass.

Finally, we have not included this in our valuation, but with the American Express Aeroplan Card you can also earn an extra 1,000 points per month if you spend another $500 each month the next 3 months, for a total of 3,000 more points in addition to what we’ve told you about already.

As mentioned, our minimum recommended card application cycle is usually one every 3 months, as long as you have an old card and always pay your cards in full. So if you do opt for getting another big Welcome Bonus after 3 months, that’s certainly worth more than getting those 3,000 extra points and that’s why we didn’t include them in our Flytrippers Valuation.

If you’re not going to be using your spending to unlock a new Welcome Bonus, then it can be worth it to reach that $500 per month for months 4, 5 & 6 to get another 3,000 points (worth ≈ $45).

 

Card benefits

As mentioned, the American Express Aeroplan Card‘s free bag benefit can be quite valuable for some travelers. We didn’t include that in the valuation because for those who are on #teamcarryononly like us, it’s worth nothing. But we are very well aware that most people love to overpack, so this is a great benefit!

Also interesting: being a cardholder also unlocks Preferred Pricing for Aeroplan redemptions on Air Canada (flights on Air Canada now have dynamic pricing, while flights on the 38 partner airlines have fixed prices).

Until we can see exactly how Preferred Pricing works in the new system, it’s hard to evaluate how valuable that is, but one thing was made clear by Air Canada executives at our pre-launch event with them: you will see lower prices for redemptions if you are a cardholder.

The earn rate on the American Express Aeroplan Card has 2 category multipliers:

  • 2 points per $ on Air Canada purchases
  • 1.5 points per $ on dining and food delivery
  • 1 point per $ everywhere else

You can also add a free additional card to earn more points faster. If you prefer, you can add a slightly different additional card that also has the same Air Canada free bag benefit for $50 (for example, if someone in your family often flies without you and wants the free bag).

In terms of insurance, the card includes a very useful flight delay insurance and car rental insurance, as well as baggage loss/delay insurance. You also get the standard retail protections (extended warranty doubled; 90-day purchase protection).

Amex-specific perks include year-round Amex Offers that can give decent discounts, as well as Amex Front Of The Line that give you presale tickets to events both virtual, and hopefully soon, in-person.

Finally, if you care about sustainability, the card itself is made with 70% reclaimed plastic.

 

American Express Aeroplan Card summary

In short, you’ll get ≈ $433 in value with the American Express Aeroplan Card, or even a lot more depending on how you use the Buddy Pass, Aeroplan points, free bags, and Preferred Pricing.

There is no minimum income requirement: all you need is a good credit score.

You can apply via the American Express Aeroplan Card secure application.

 

American Express Reserve Card

The American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card‘s Welcome Bonus is worth ≈ $296 based on our Flytrippers Valuation, but the premium Aeroplan cards are not so much about the Welcome Bonus: they’re more about the luxury travel benefits.

This card is truly designed for Air Canada Elite members, or at least those who fly on Air Canada very often. However, as mentioned, it’s quite possible that the American Express Platinum Card is actually a better option for many of you who want luxury and elite benefits.

There is no minimum income requirement for the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card, as is always the case with Amex, but as a premium card, the minimum spend requirement to unlock the Welcome Bonus is a bit higher.

In short, by spending the $3,000 in 3 months, you’ll get:

  • 35,000 Aeroplan points as a Welcome Bonus
  • 15,000 Aeroplan points if you split your $3,000 evenly out as $1,000 per month for all 3 months
    (you can also get another 5,000/month if you spend $1,000/month in each of the next 3 months—not included in Flytrippers Valuation)
  • 3,000 Aeroplan points on your minimum spend at the basic earn rate
  • a $100 statement credit

That is worth ≈ $895 in free travel, but the card has a $599 fee for a net of ≈ $296 as our Flytrippers Valuation of the Welcome Bonus.

If you use your Aeroplan points well, it can be worth a lot more, especially for premium cabin flights (but also for any flights that are expensive in cash).

 

Welcome Bonus

The 53,000 Aeroplan points you get with the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card are certainly very interesting.

We’ve given you a teaser about the new Aeroplan pricing system, and we’ll have a lot more about that soon.

But just to give you a teaser, those 53,000 Aeroplan points are more than enough for 4 roundtrips flights to close destinations (500 miles flown) or 2 roundtrip flights to almost anywhere in North America on Air Canada or United if you are flexible on your dates (to any destination up to 2,750 miles flown). You’ll have taxes around $100-$150 to pay, but still: the savings on that roundtrip are probably worth more than our prudent Flytrippers valuation in many cases.

In fact, under the new distance-based pricing system, those 2 roundtrip flights can be from Eastern Canada to Costa Rica! Alternatively, it’s almost enough for a one-way business class flight to Europe (or a roundtrip in economy).

That’s a pretty nice addition to the travel benefits below.

Finally, we have not included this in our valuation, but you can also earn an extra 5,000 points per month if you spend another $1,000 each month the next 3 months, for a total of 15,000 more points in addition to what we’ve told you about already.

As mentioned, our minimum recommended card application cycle is usually one every 3 months, as long as you have an old card and always pay your cards in full. So if you do opt for getting another big Welcome Bonus after 3 months, that could be worth more than getting those 15,000 extra points and that’s why we didn’t include them in our Flytrippers Valuation.

If you’re not going to be using your spending to unlock a new Welcome Bonus, then it is certainly worth it to reach that $1,000 per month for months 4, 5 & 6 to get another 15,000 points (worth ≈ $225).

 

Card benefits

With the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card, you get:

  • unlimited Maple Leaf Lounge access in North America (with one guest)
  • priority boarding/check-in/standby
  • many benefits for travelers with elite status
    • priority airport upgrades
    • qualification boost (SQMs and SQSs)
    • rollover SQMs
    • rollover eUpgrade credits
  • VIP benefits at Toronto-Pearson (YYZ)
  • first free checked bag
  • Aeroplan Preferred Pricing
  • annual worldwide companion pass after $25k in spend

We didn’t include any of these in our Flytrippers Valuation of the Welcome Bonus as usual, since each benefit’s value will vary for every traveler.

We love airport lounge access and it’s not necessary to have such a premium card to get a few lounge passes every year for free. And while it’s nice to have access to all of Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounges in North America, it’s a limited footprint. And you have to be flying on a Star Alliance carrier to be eligible.

(The American Express Platinum Card‘s unlimited lounge access is worldwide, through the Priority Pass network, and works no matter the airline.)

You get many elite travel benefits when flying on Air Canada or Star Alliance, in addition to various benefits to make requalification easier or rollover your benefits to the next year if unused. You also get some VIP benefits at Toronto-Pearson Airport.

As mentioned, the free bag can be quite valuable for some travelers. We didn’t include that in the valuation because for those who are on #teamcarryononly like us, it’s worth nothing. But we are very well aware that most people love to overpack, so this is a great benefit!

Most importantly, being a cardholder also unlocks Preferred Pricing for Aeroplan redemptions on Air Canada (flights on Air Canada now have dynamic pricing, while flights on the 38 partner airlines have fixed prices).

Until we can see exactly how Preferred Pricing works in the new system, it’s hard to evaluate how valuable that is, but one thing was made clear by Air Canada executives at our pre-launch event with them: you will see lower prices for redemptions if you are a cardholder, and premium cardholders will see more of them than regular cardholders.

The earn rate on the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card has 2 category multipliers:

  • 3 points per $ on Air Canada purchases
  • 2 points per $ on dining and food delivery
  • 1 point per $ everywhere else

You can also add a free additional card to earn more points faster. If you prefer, you can add a slightly different additional card that also has the same Air Canada elite benefits for $199. For example if someone in your family often flies without you.

The card insurance is excellent as you’d expect, as it includes all the main types of coverage possible: medical travel insurance, trip cancelation and trip interruption insurance, the very useful flight delay insurance and car rental insurance, as well as baggage loss/delay insurance. You also get the standard retail protections (1-year extended warranty; 90-day purchase protection).

Amex-specific perks include year-round Amex Offers that can give decent discounts, as well as Amex Front Of The Line that give you presale tickets to event both virtual, and hopefully soon in-person.

Finally, if you care about showing off, the card itself is made from precision-cut and engraved 13 g metal. For the record, that is slightly less impressive than the 18 g American Express Platinum Card… but honextly, it hasn’t happened that often that someone actually noticed after 3 years.

 

American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card summary

In short, you’ll get ≈ $296 in value with the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card but most importantly you’ll get many luxury travel benefits.

There is no minimum income requirement: all you need is a good credit score.

You can apply via the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card secure application.

 

American Express Platinum Card

 

Although not an Aeroplan card, Amex points can be transferred 1:1 to Aeroplan…

So it’s worth taking a look as it can be an alternative for those looking at the premium Aeroplan cards, either the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card (no minimum income) or the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege ($200,000 minimum income).

I won’t do a full comparison of the 2 premium American Express cards today, you’ll find it on our website soon.

But just know that when the welcome bonus for the American Express Platinum Card returns to the level it normally is, it’s arguably a better premium card unless you fly Air Canada very often. Yes, it might very well be the best premium card option for many travelers.

To be clear: we would not recommend getting the American Express Platinum Card now, as the Welcome Bonus offer is at its lowest ever.

I will personally keep the Platinum Card in my wallet for the travel benefits (I am not saying I won’t get the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card, of course I eventually will. I am saying I will get it for the welcome bonus like most of my cards, and only keep the Platinum instead.)

That’s because I don’t fly Air Canada that often: I always choose the cheapest airline, and Air Canada being a premium airline… is not often the cheapest one.

But the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card has many Air Canada-specific benefits that can make it a better choice if you fly Air Canada often.

Here are the main differences that make the Platinum Card better for non-Air Canada travelers:

  • $100 less per year
  • Automatic Gold Elite status with Marriott, Hilton, and Radisson
  • Unlimited access to 1,200+ lounges worldwide instead of only Maple Leaf Lounges in North America
  • Lounge access no matter the airline instead of only for flights on Star Alliance airlines
  • 100% higher earn rate on all non-Air Canada travel expenses
  • 50% higher earn rate on restaurants and food delivery
  • VIP benefits at Toronto-Pearson no matter the airline
  • Heavier metal card (okay, I’m just kidding with this one: who cares)

If you prefer to see the full comparison table, sign up to get our upcoming detailed post (and our checklist for new cards too).

 

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite

 

The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite offer is very similar to the American Express Aeroplan Card offer, but is only for those who earn over $60,000 and those who haven’t opened a TD account in the past 12 months (which is a new rule; it was previously 6 months).

In short, by spending $1,000 in 3 months (or $0 if you are a Quebec resident), you’ll get:

  • Air Canada Buddy Pass
  • 10,000 Aeroplan points as a Welcome Bonus
  • 1,000 Aeroplan points on your minimum spend at the basic earn rate

That is worth ≈ $515 in free travel when considering the Buddy Pass at an extremely conservative $350. The card’s $139 fee is waived for the first year, for a net of ≈ $515 as our Flytrippers Valuation of the Welcome Bonus.

If you like the Buddy Pass, this is not bad. But still, considering that 2 days ago the offer was 25,000 points and the fact we’ve seen 35,000 points in the past… we are certainly inclined to believe the rumor about the January offer being better.

Many people close to the situation have hinted at that without giving more details, and it would make sense given how it’s not the best time to promote a travel card in the peak of the pandemic’s second wave. Who knows. But if you don’t want to wait, in terms of overall value, it is better than the American Express Aeroplan Card.

 

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege

 

The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege offer is very similar to the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card offer, but is only for those who earn over $200,000 and those who haven’t opened a TD account in the past 12 months (which is a new rule; it was previously 6 months).

That is a very restrictive income requirement, to say the least.

In short, by spending $1,000 in 3 months, you’ll get:

  • Air Canada Buddy Pass
  • 20,000 Aeroplan points as a Welcome Bonus
  • 1,000 Aeroplan points on your minimum spend at the basic earn rate

 

CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite

 

The CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite offer is very similar to the American Express Aeroplan Card offer, but is only for those who earn over $60,000.

Frankly, there aren’t really any good reasons to choose this card over the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite unless you’ve opened a TD account in the last year, mostly because you’ll need to spend $3,000 to unlock the Buddy Pass instead of $1,000.

In short, by spending $3,000 in 4 months, you’ll get:

  • Air Canada Buddy Pass
  • 10,000 Aeroplan points as a Welcome Bonus
  • 3,000 Aeroplan points on your minimum spend at the basic earn rate

That is worth ≈ $545 in free travel when considering the Buddy Pass at an extremely conservative $350. The card’s $139 fee is waived for the first year, for a net of ≈ $545 as our Flytrippers Valuation of the Welcome Bonus.

If you like the Buddy Pass, this is not bad. But still, considering that 2 days ago the offer was 25,000 points and the fact we’ve seen 35,000 points in the past on the TD version… we are certainly inclined to believe the rumor about the January offer being better.

We’ve heard that from many people close to the situation and it would make sense given how it’s not the best time to promote a travel card in the peak of the pandemic’s second wave. Who knows. But if you don’t want to wait, in terms of overall value, it is better than the American Express Aeroplan Card.

 

HSBC World Elite Mastercard (non-Quebec)

 

In absolute terms, this is the highest Welcome Bonus we’ve ever seen in Canada: 100,000 points.

You can read all the details about the card or apply via the HSBC World Elite Mastercard secure application link.

There is no doubt that you should absolutely take advantage of this offer if you are eligible ($80,000 income) and if you can reach the minimum spend of $5,000 in 6 months (which comes out to $192 per week, which is doable with our tips, especially with Christmas coming up).

I have this card myself and definitely recommend it with this offer. The card is one of the only ones not to charge the 2.5% foreign transaction fee and the points it earns are extremely flexible.

 

HSBC World Elite Mastercard (Quebec)

 

In absolute terms, this is the highest Welcome Bonus we’ve ever seen in Canada: 130,000 points.

You can read all the details about the card or apply via the HSBC World Elite Mastercard secure application link.

There is no doubt that you should absolutely take advantage of this offer if you are eligible ($80,000 income) especially since there is no minimum spending requirement for us in Quebec!

As a reminder, if you have a good enough credit score and specifically a good amount of cards already open and a few old ones, you can take advantage of our pro tip and apply for 2 different cards the same day to get 2 welcome bonuses, as it will only count as one hard credit inquiry. If so, return to the $80,000 section to select which card is best for you to combine with the HSBC World Elite Mastercard.

I have this card myself and definitely recommend it with this offer. The card is one of the only ones not to charge the 2.5% foreign transaction fee and the points it earns are extremely flexible.

 

Other non-Aeroplan cards (under $60,000 income)

There are currently a few other alternatives that could be better than the American Express Aeroplan Card for those with under $60,000 in income. You’ll notice that you don’t have as many options, because most banks keep their best offers for those with higher incomes sadly.

It’s still possible to get $1,000 in free travel every year and maximize travel rewards with a lower income, but it makes it even more important and valuable to learn about variable-value points like Aeroplan and Marriott (since you can double or triple the valuation we use and get outsized value).

As always, you can bookmark our ranking of the best credit cards in Canada to see the month’s best offers for travelers (and the page design will be revamped and improved soon).

 

Marriott Bonvoy Card

(Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $357 for the Welcome Bonus)

The Marriott Bonvoy Card is one that every traveler should have, with its welcome bonus of up to 8 completely free hotel nights in many countries (that doesn’t expire as long as you use your card once per year). It’s also great for beginners specifically, because with the annual free night certificate in luxurious hotels all around the world, it’s one you should never cancel, therefore building up the length of credit history component of your credit score.

Even if you don’t want to stay in Marriott hotels, as an alternative, the Welcome Bonus alone is almost enough to be transferred to 25,000 Aeroplan points (which would still make this Welcome Bonus worth ≈ $255 based on our Flytrippers Valuation).

 

American Express AIR MILES Platinum

(Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $276 for the Welcome Bonus)

The American Express AIR MILES Platinum Card is not a premium card, despite its name. It’s a card accessible to all and it is the best one to earn many AIR MILES miles that are best used for short-haul flights and car rentals, not as a cashback-type rewards. You can easily get 20% (or more) in additional value that way.

After unlocking the Welcome Bonus with $1,500 spent, you’ll have 3,300 AIR MILES miles and with the $120 fee, that’s a net of ≈ $276 in free travel or even more if you usually buy expensive short-haul flights.

 

American Express Cobalt Card

(Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $528 for the Welcome Bonus)

The American Express Cobalt Card is amazing, but especially if you can spend a bit more on a card. That’s because the welcome bonus is different than all the others: instead of having a minimum spend amount in the first 3 months, you need to spend $500 per month the first year to maximize it.

That gives you a ton of points though, especially if you spend a lot at the grocery store (for groceries… or for gift cards to other retailers), because it earns an incredible 5 Amex Select points per dollar!!! It’s with the American Express Cobalt Card that I earn a vast majority of my Marriott points for free hotels (5 Amex Select points = 6 Marriott points).

 

American Express SimplyCash

(Flytrippers Valuation of $301 for the Welcome Bonus)

The American Express SimplyCash Card’s welcome bonus is higher, but to unlock it in full you need to spend $4,000 in 4 months. The Welcome Bonus is in fact 10% cashback on your first $4,000 in the first 3 months., worth $400 but with a $99 fee for $301 in free travel.

We usually don’t recommend cashback cards since they often don’t have welcome bonuses (and welcome bonuses are the key!) but this one is pretty good if you prefer simple cashback and can spend $4,000 with the holiday period coming up.

 

BMO AIR MILES Mastercard

(Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $120 for the Welcome Bonus)

The BMO AIR MILES Mastercard is not as attractive as the AMEX version above, but it’s a great way to get even more AIR MILES rewards by eventually getting both. Again, with a lower income, it’s important to get the most of variable-value points to maximize your travel rewards, which means using AIR MILES as Dream Rewards for travel and not as Cash Rewards.

The BMO AIR MILES Mastercard has a great earn rate at AIR MILES partners and as a Mastercard, it is accepted at Costco. And while annual fees are not evil unlike what most people think (remember: the total net value is what matters!!!), as a no-annual-fee card, you can keep it to build up the length of credit history component of your credit score.

 

Other non-Aeroplan cards (over $80,000 income)

Here are a few interesting options.

As always, you can bookmark our ranking of the best credit cards in Canada to see the month’s best offers for travelers (and the page design will be revamped and improved soon).

Some offers not limited to those with $80,000 in income are excellent too:

 

BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card

(Flytrippers Valuation of $342 for the Welcome Bonus)

The BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card is a brand-new card that we’ll soon add to our ranking. It requires a minimum spend of $3,000 in 3 months, which is a bit higher than most cards at this level, but the welcome bonus is very lucrative and it has the best earn rate in Canada on some purchase categories.

Visa cards are a bit more widely accepted than Amex and BMO Rewards points are a lot more flexible (but consequently worth less, of course).

 

Marriott Bonvoy Card

(Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $357 for the Welcome Bonus)

The Marriott Bonvoy Card is one that every traveler should have, with its welcome bonus of up to 8 completely free hotel nights in many countries (that doesn’t expire as long as you use your card once per year). It’s also great for beginners specifically, because with the annual free night certificate in luxurious hotels all around the world, it’s one you should never cancel, therefore building up the length of credit history component of your credit score.

Even if you don’t want to stay in Marriott hotels, as an alternative, the Welcome Bonus alone is almost enough to be transferred to 25,000 Aeroplan points (which would still make this Welcome Bonus worth ≈ $255 based on our Flytrippers Valuation).

 

American Express AIR MILES Platinum

(Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $276 for the Welcome Bonus)

The American Express AIR MILES Platinum Card is not a premium card, despite its name. It’s a card accessible to all and it is the best one to earn many AIR MILES miles that are best used for short-haul flights and car rentals, not as a cashback-type rewards. You can easily get 20% (or more) in additional value that way.

After unlocking the Welcome Bonus with $1,500 spent, you’ll have 3,300 AIR MILES miles and with the $120 fee, that’s a net of ≈ $276 in free travel or even more if you usually buy expensive short-haul flights.

 

American Express Cobalt Card

(Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $528 for the Welcome Bonus)

The American Express Cobalt Card is amazing, but especially if you can spend a bit more on a card. That’s because the welcome bonus is different than all the others: instead of having a minimum spend amount in the first 3 months, you need to spend $500 per month the first year to maximize it.

That gives you a ton of points though, especially if you spend a lot at the grocery store (for groceries… or for gift cards to other retailers), because it earns an incredible 5 Amex Select points per dollar!!! It’s with the American Express Cobalt Card that I earn a vast majority of my Marriott points for free hotels (5 Amex Select points = 6 Marriott points).

 

American Express SimplyCash

(Flytrippers Valuation of $301 for the Welcome Bonus)

The American Express SimplyCash Card’s welcome bonus is higher, but to unlock it in full you need to spend $4,000 in 4 months. The Welcome Bonus is in fact 10% cashback on your first $4,000 in the first 3 months., worth $400 but with a $99 fee for $301 in free travel.

We usually don’t recommend cashback cards since they often don’t have welcome bonuses (and welcome bonuses are the key!) but this one is pretty good if you prefer simple cashback and can spend $4,000 with the holiday period coming up.

 

BMO AIR MILES Mastercard

(Flytrippers Valuation of ≈ $120 for the Welcome Bonus)

The BMO AIR MILES Mastercard is not as attractive as the AMEX version above, but it’s a great way to get even more AIR MILES rewards by eventually getting both. Again, with a lower income, it’s important to get the most of variable-value points to maximize your travel rewards, which means using AIR MILES as Dream Rewards for travel and not as Cash Rewards.

The BMO AIR MILES Mastercard has a great earn rate at AIR MILES partners and as a Mastercard, it is accepted at Costco. And while annual fees are not evil unlike what most people think (remember: the total net value is what matters!!!), as a no-annual-fee card, you can keep it to build up the length of credit history component of your credit score.

 

Other non-Aeroplan cards ($60-000 to $80,000 income)

There are currently a few other alternatives that could be better than the American Express Aeroplan Card for those with under $60,000 in income.

 

BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card

(Flytrippers Valuation of $342 for the Welcome Bonus)

The BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card is a brand-new card that we’ll soon add to our ranking. It requires a minimum spend of $3,000 in 3 months, which is a bit higher than most cards at this level, but the welcome bonus is very lucrative and it has the best earn rate in Canada on some purchase categories. Visa cards are a bit more widely accepted than Amex and BMO Rewards points are a lot more flexible (but consequently worth less, of course).

 

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Summary

The new Aeroplan credit card offers are different than what we expected but they can be extremely valuable for many travelers. The Buddy Pass is actually probably more valuable (and certainly simpler) for most travelers than having more points!

Have any questions about these offers? Tell us in the comments below.

 

Explore awesome destinations: travel inspiration

Learn pro tricks: travel tips

Discover free travel: travel rewards

 

Featured image: Hawaii (photo credit: Karsten Winegeart)

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The views and opinions expressed in this blog are purely our own. Redemption values evoked are also Flytrippers’ own and solely based on our own points valuation estimates as described. All offers described on the Flytrippers website are subject to the financial institutions’ latest terms and conditions that can be found on their website.

Offers from financial institutions change quickly; it is your responsibility to ensure the accuracy of these offers on their website when applying for a card. Flytrippers will not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of the offers or the result of your actions.

American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details and current product information click on the provided links to proceed to product website. All the information was independently collected by Flytrippers and not provided by financial institutions.

Flytrippers’ website does not contain all available credit card offers or all available credit card companies on the market. Flytrippers never shares an offer if it is not considered advantageous for certain travelers, at its sole discretion.

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Andrew D'Amours

Andrew is the co-founder of Flytrippers. He is passionate about traveling the world but also, as a former management consultant, about the travel industry itself. He shares his experiences to help you save money on travel. As a very cost-conscious traveler, he loves finding deals and getting free travel thanks to travel rewards points... to help him visit every country in the world (current count: 62/193 Countries, 46/50 US States & 9/10 Canadian Provinces).

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