Here is your roundup of relevant updates from the most important and valuable rewards programs for Canadian travelers, Marriott and Aeroplan. The highlights are the Marriott promo for those traveling soon and yet another round of new partners for Aeroplan.
We are finalizing our ultimate guides to both Marriott and Aeroplan (and the other essential programs for Canadians), so make sure you sign up for our free travel rewards newsletter (if you haven’t already) to get them first.
So we’ll go over these updates with you and explain how you can take advantage of them.
6 Marriott updates
Marriott Bonvoy is by far the best hotel rewards program for Canadians since it’s so easy to earn many points, as you’ll see in update #6.
But the first 4 updates aren’t really updates, but rather promotions. Until October 14, Marriott Bonvoy is offering many offers, specials, and discounts to celebrate its Week of Wonders event so you don’t get very long to use (or register for) these.
Here are the details for each of these Marriott promotions.
1. Off-Peak pricing for all hotels in October
Marriott is offering Off-peak pricing at all hotels until October 31st, as long as you book before October 14th.
For example, if you were to go to one of Mexico’s Category 1 hotels like the waterfront AC Hotel Veracruz, a 5-night stay could cost as little as 20,000 points total!!!
That’s an amazingly low price!
It’s like getting 15 completely free nights just with the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card‘s current welcome bonus instead of 11 free nights normally (or 23 free nights if your travel buddy gets one too) since we always use the Standard price to count the most common amount of free nights you can get.
Most not-very-nice hotels here in Canada cost more than 20,000 points per night… in October you can get 5 nights for the same price by choosing the right destinations!
That’s why it’s important to maximize your points if getting more free nights for the same amount of points is something you want! So don’t use them in expensive or popular destinations as we’ve always told you.
This promo translates to receiving a 33% discount compared to the Standard price when redeeming your Marriott Bonvoy points for a hotel stay this month!
As a reminder, there are 3 ways to maximize the value of Marriott points (which are variable-value rewards):
- Choosing Standard or Off-peak dates
- Choosing category 1 or 2 hotels
- Staying 5 nights at a time
Every Marriott hotel has only 3 possible prices for a free night paid for with points:
- Standard dates (the majority of dates)
- Off-peak dates (a bit cheaper)
- Peak dates (a bit more expensive)
These are dynamic dates, there’s no set calendar.
So every day is considered Off-Peak from now to the end of October and will cost fewer points:
- An Off-Peak category 1 hotel will cost 5,000 points
- An Off-Peak category 2 hotel will cost 10,000 points
There are many countries where you can normally get a lot of nights with Marriott Category 1 hotels but right now the most appealing for a last-minute trip in October are probably Spain and Mexico.
Mexico is as wide open as a country can be, with no entry requirements whether you are vaccinated or not. Spain has no entry requirements for vaccinated Canadians. You can check out our guide with every country’s entry rules to see the 160+ countries open to Canadians (it will be updated next weekend).
So with this sale, it’s worth shopping around if you want a last-minute trip and lock-in the lower price if the Off-Peak dates might work for you (and set a reminder to cancel it for free if you end up not needing them).
Bookings made with points are always refundable for free. There’s a deadline: Usually 1, 2, 7, 14, or more rarely 30 days before your check-in date; the cancelation deadline for each hotel is indicated very clearly when you book.
Our guide coming soon will tell you everything you need to know about maximizing your Marriott points.
2. Bonus of 2,000 points for current Marriott Bonvoy Amex Cardmembers
If you already have the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card—the only card in Canada that literally every traveler should have—you can earn a one-time bonus of 2,000 points bonus on a stay that includes at least 1 paid night (a paid stay means a night paid with cash; a stay paid with points only would not count) at participating Marriott hotels worldwide.
You need to register for this offer on the Marriott website (log in first) by October 14 and your stay must be completed by November 21, 2021.
The great thing is that this promo can be stacked with update #5 below so you can double-dip and get even more bonus points (and stacked with the ≈ 14 points per C$ you already earn at Marriott by having and using the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card.
If you don’t have the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card, now is a great time to apply as there’s an amazing welcome bonus (that’s update #6 below).
3. Bonus of 55% when buying Marriott Bonvoy points
Marriott is selling Marriott Bonvoy points with a 55% bonus until October 14th.
Why do travelers buy points? Well, variable-value rewards like Marriott Bonvoy points can provide outsized value and unlimited value so it can be worth it in some situations. But even with the huge bonuses often offered, there aren’t many of those situations (because the price to buy points is just too high).
It’s certainly not for everyone (or every use) and you’re much better off instead getting points by getting new credit cards and new welcome bonuses.
But if you don’t want to wait (or want to keep your Amex points to transfer to the valuable Aeroplan program instead) and you want to increase your stash of points, well, you can save a lot of money by buying points… if you use them for very luxurious and expensive hotels.
Yes, compared to paying the obscene amount of money the hotels in the highest categories cost when paid in cash, you can save money by buying points. But that’s about it.
To see a concrete example and all the details, check out our post about the Marriott points sale.
4. A few other less-interesting Week of Wonders promos
Also ending on October 14:
- 25% discount on paid stays worldwide
- US$300 credit for stays at luxury properties
- Triple points for Homes & Villas bookings
- 15% discount on All-inclusive hotels
- US$50 gift card for US$200 Marriott merchandise purchases
These are far from being interesting unless you were already going to book these at full price. This is true for the vast majority of travel sales and promotions, by the way. That’s why we don’t usually cover all those discounts that aren’t good enough to plan a trip around.
You can check out our detailed post about those 5 Marriott Week of Wonders promos if you want more details.
5. Marriott fall global promotion
Marriott’s fall global promotion gives you 1,500 bonus points for every stay.
It’s not the most lucrative of their global promotions (it might actually be the least lucrative we’ve ever seen), but it’s better than nothing. You must stay before December 12 but you must register before November 28.
If you want to maximize it, you need to stay in inexpensive hotels for just one night at a time (promos are often per stay and not per night, so changing hotels every night always boosts your earnings significantly).
By stacking with the update #2 promo above, your first paid 1-night stay would earn:
- 2,000 bonus points from this global promo
- 1,500 bonus points from the Week of Wonders promo
For someone with the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card, that would be in addition to the:
- 10 points per US$ earned on all paid stays
- 1 point per US$ earned as an Elite bonus
- 5 points per C$ earned by paying with the card
That comes out to ≈ 14 points per C$, or another 1,400 points for a C$100 stay.
That would give you 4,900 points, a return of ≈ 44%, which isn’t bad. But as soon as you spend more, that return goes down dramatically.
Note that we told you about an Amex Offer that gives you $50 off if you spend $250 at Marriott a few months ago. If you had taken our advice and activated it on your account (because now it’s too late), you could stack that with these promos (the Amex Offer ends on October 31st though).
6. Increased welcome bonus on the Marriott Bonvoy Amex Card
As mentioned, the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card is one that all Canadian travelers should have and now the welcome bonus is 70,000 points instead of the regular 50,000 points.
You can check out our detailed review of the Marriott Bonvoy Amex Card.
The American Express Cobalt Card offers even more Marriott points and also has an increased welcome bonus.
In fact, it’s the highest welcome bonus ever seen in Canada on a non-premium card) but those points can also be transferred to Aeroplan, which theoretically offers more value.
4 Aeroplan updates
Air Canada’s Aeroplan is also by far the best airline rewards program for Canadians since it’s actually even easier to earn many points, as you’ll see in update #10.
The first of these updates was announced while I was at a travel rewards event in Vancouver 2 weeks ago, where Air Canada’s Vice President of Loyalty was a guest speaker. He also promised more good news to come soon, which is promising!
Here are the details for each of these Aeroplan updates.
7. Enhancements to multi-City itineraries
For those who want to take advantage of Aeroplan’s stopovers, one of the program’s best perks that allows you to visit an additional destination for just 5,000 more points and create mini-round-the-world itineraries, there is good news.
The revamped Air Canada site does not yet have the technical capability to handle complex itineraries with stopovers, so temporarily you absolutely need to call to book if you want stopovers.
The first good news is that the phone booking fee (which is very appropriate in normal times for travelers who want to use up resources instead of just booking online like everyone else, but really not appropriate when the itinerary is simply impossible to book online) will be eliminated for bookings with stopovers.
The second good news is that the maximum duration of stopovers, which was only 30 days since the relaunch of the program, will increase by 50% and will now be 45 days.
8. Uber partnership
If you have an Aeroplan credit card, you get a free Uber Pass subscription for 12 months (premium level cards, the black ones), for 6 months (main level cards, the slate ones), or 3 months (basic level cards, the light grey ones).
This gives you free delivery and some other discounts. Additional integrations between Aeroplan and Uber will follow by the end of the year.
If you have the Amex Aeroplan Card or the Amex Aeroplan Reserve Card, you also get a free $10 credit for Uber Eats in October ($10 minimum purchase) and the membership offer will be available in November.
9. Gulf Air, new airline partner
Gulf Air is becoming an Aeroplan partner so that gives you a 40th airline option to use your points with.
I love testing new airlines, especially with points. So I’ve already booked my own flights on Gulf Air for November.
I bought the crazy Toronto-Kuwait deal we shared with you recently for only $250 roundtrip and if the country opens up, I’m going to explore that country (there are Marriott category 2 hotels in Kuwait City).
But I might also go to Dubai because I want to discover this city for more than 3 hours (I had a layover there and just saw the Burj Khalifa), it’s the Expo 2020 [sic] and because there is a Marriott category 1 hotel in Sharjah nearby.
Anyway, from Kuwait City (KWI) to Dubai (DXB) only costs 7,500 points, or 15,000 points roundtrip and $122 in taxes/fees.
Very good compared to the still expensive cash prices in this region, at least for a while longer, while the ultra low-cost carrier (ULCC) Wizz Air grows its new Abu Dhabi division.
As a reminder, many travelers don’t know that the best value for your Aeroplan points is most often not to fly with Air Canada, but rather with the many partner airlines (since the pricing system works differently for Air Canada and for partner airlines). The upcoming guide will include many concrete examples.
Aeroplan is really on a roll, having added many very cool and unique non-Star Alliance partners.
In the last few months, they’ve added:
- Etihad (UAE)
- Azul (Brazil)
- Vistara (India)
- Air Serbia (Serbia)
- Virgin Australia (Australia)
And as Mark Nasr, AC’s Senior Vice President, told me at the July 2020 Aeroplan presentation event, we should expect even more additions.
This is great for us, as it gives us more opportunities to find good value for our Aeroplan points.
10. Huge amounts of Aeroplan points available
We’ll have articles (and even videos) comparing the current cards and offers soon, but in the meantime, it’s worth mentioning that there are a lot of incredibly high welcome bonuses for Aeroplan points right now courtesy of American Express.
|Best credit cards for Aeroplan points|
|American Express Cobalt® Card|
|Bonus: spend $500/mo for 12 mos. + $3k in 3 mos.|
|Welcome bonus: $1313|
|Card Fee: $156|
|American Express® Gold Rewards Card|
|Bonus: spend $3k in 3 mos.|
|Welcome bonus: $918|
|Card Fee: $250|
|Platinum Card® from American Express|
|Bonus: spend $6k in 3 mos.|
|Welcome bonus: $1490|
|Card Fee: $699|
|American Express® Aeroplan®* Card|
|Bonus: spend $1.5k in 3 mos.|
|Welcome bonus: $685|
|Card Fee: $120|
|American Express® Aeroplan®* Reserve Card|
|Bonus: spend $3k in 3 mos.|
|Welcome bonus: $1131|
|Card Fee: $599|
|Terms and conditions apply. Flytrippers editorial opinion only. Financial institutions are not responsible for maintaining the content on this site. Please click "See More" to see most up-to-date information.|
Short-haul flights only require 12,000 points roundtrip and flights to Florida only require 20,000 points roundtrip, for example. So the welcome bonuses are offering a lot of award flights right now!
It’s a great time to join Flytrippers readers who have now accumulated over $1 million in travel rewards with our welcome bonus recommendations alone (or add to your collection).
Want to get more content to learn how to earn free travel?
Those are noteworthy updates for those who earn the 2 most valuable rewards currencies in Canada.
What would you like to know about these programs? Tell us in the comments below.
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Featured image: AC Hotel Veracruz (photo credit: Marriott)
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