Which Aeroplan Credit Card is REALLY Best?

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Aeroplan is the most popular airline rewards program in Canada and any serious collector should have a matching credit card to earn the most miles. Figuring out which Aeroplan credit card is best though isn't an easy task.

I've done all the work for you by comparing each card across 40+ different ranking factors including Aeroplan mile earning rates, sign up bonuses, annual fees, bonus spending categories, 15 types of insurance coverage, exclusive Air Canada benefits, and a long list of other perks that these cards offer.

After the dust settles, each card is left with a single unbiased score out of 5 proving which card really is top dog. A single easy number to help you make the right decision.

Aeroplan Credit Cards Compared and Ranked for 2016

You might think this is just a comparison between Aeroplan branded American Express and CIBC cards. You'd be wrong. TD recently launched 3 brand new Aeroplan branded choices into the fray and cards that earn points that can be easily converted to Aeroplan miles shouldn't be left out either. In all 14 different Aeroplan credit cards have been compared and ranked in the table below from best to worst.

Please note that the table scrolls horizontally by using the slider at the bottom.

  Credit Card
Apply American Express Gold Rewards1
Apply CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite Privilege
Apply TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege
Apply TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite
Apply American Express 
AeroplanPlus Platinum
Apply CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite
Apply The Platinum Card1
Apply The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express1
Apply American Express AeroplanPlus Gold
Apply American Express AeroplanPlus Reserve
Visit Amex To Apply  American Express AeroplanPlus
Apply TD Aeroplan Visa Platinum (scroll to the bottom to apply for Platinum)
Apply CIBC Aero Platinum Visa
Apply Chase Marriott Premier Visa
Overall Score Rewards on $25,000 Spend2,3 Rewards on $100K Spend2,4 Sign Up Bonus Value5 Annual Fee First Year Free? Insurance Score Perks Score
5.0 $919 $4,125 $750 $150 Yes 2.9 1.6
4.9 $604 $3,614 $750 $399 No 5.0 2.4
4.8 $604 $3,614 $750 $399 No 4.7 2.4
4.5 $761 $3,405 $450 $120 No
Yes*
3.5 1.5
4.5 $439 $4,657 $1,200
$1,500*
$499 No 3.8 2.3
4.4 $761 $3,405 $300 $120 No 2.9 1.7
4.3 $239 $,3051 $1,500 $699 No 3.8 5.0
4.2 $818 $3,630 $750 $120 No 2.4 1.3
3.6 $743 $3,555 $450 $120 No 2.4 0.2
3.2 $39 $2,851 $1,500
$1,800*
$899 No 3.8 3.5
2.6 $690 $2,940 $150 $60 No 0.6 0.0
2.5 $499 $,2261 $300 $89 No 2.4 0.0
1.9 $461 $1,961 $150 $39 No 0.9 0.4
0.9 $188 $1,112 $420 $120 Yes 0.0 1.5

(+/-) Footnotes:

* Limited time promotion ending soon.
1. In the cases where the credit card in question earns points of another kind than Aeroplan, points are assumed to be converted to Aeroplan miles in the most favorable way possible.
2. The rewards dollar values shown are calculated by splitting spending sensibly across spending categories like groceries, gas, drugstore, travel, bills, and everyday spending. All points are converted to Aeroplan miles when determining reward value. All spending bonuses, tiers, limits, and caps are taken into account. Sign up bonuses are NOT included in these numbers, so that will be an extra perk for you. Finally, the annual fee is deducted from the rewards values shown giving you the true value of the rewards left in your pocket for the year.
3. $25,000 in annual spending works out to $2,083 in monthly spending which is achievable for a typical Canadian family funneling most of their spending through credit.
4. $100,000 in annual spending works out to $8,333 in monthly spending which is too high for most families. I have included these numbers to better evaluate cards and give an advantage to those that don't have spending caps or limits. It also allows cards that have a good tier system to shine at higher spending levels.
5. The sign up bonus is a lump sum of points or miles you get when first opening a new credit card. It is often given when you make your first purchase, spend a reasonable amount of money on the card within the first X months, keep the card open for X months, or some combination of those. The criteria to qualify for the sign up bonus are usually very reasonable.

What's Important To You?

There is never one size fits all when it comes to credit cards so the top-ranked one might not suit your needs. I've highlighted which ones are best according to popular features to help you make an informed decision.

Earning The Most Miles

After deducting the annual fee, the American Express Gold Rewards1 is going to net you the most rewards at normal spending levels. The double spending bonus on gas, groceries, drugstore, and travel purchases in unmatched and covers all of the most popular spending categories, especially for an avid traveler.

If you have a lot of everyday spending that doesn't fall into the 4 bonus categories offered by the Amex Gold, then The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express1 is what you want. You get the option of converting your points to miles in over 30 airline rewards programs (mostly 1:1) and for every 20,000 points converted they will give you an extra 5,000 bonus miles. That works out to 1.25 Aeroplan miles per $1 spent on ALL purchases with a reasonable $120 annual fee.

Getting The Biggest Bonus For Signing Up

The Platinum Card1 has the biggest bonus at 50,000 points which can be converted to 50,000 miles. It also comes with the top heavy annual fee of $699. With that $699 fee you get a $200 travel credit that can be used on any travel. If you sign up mid-year, you can also have a chance to use a second $200 travel credit in the new year before your 2nd annual fee triggers, essentially reducing the annual fee to $299 in the first year which is quite reasonable for 50,000 miles.

In terms of value, the American Express Gold Rewards1 wins again because you can get 25,000 miles after conversion to Aeroplan for FREE because the annual fee of $150 is waived for the first year.

The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite is also worth considering because for a limited time you can get 15,000 miles directly with the first year annual fee of $120 waived.

Cheapest Annual Fee

Choosing the card with the cheapest annual fee usually doesn't make a lot of sense because the value of the rewards you will receive for using one with a higher annual fee almost always makes up for the added cost if you spend a decent amount of money on the card and use most of the perks.

However, if you really want Aeroplan miles at the cheapest possible price, then the American Express AeroplanPlus is actually quite a bargain. It still has good earning potential at 1 mile per dollar spent on all purchases with no caps and it will cost you just $60 annually.

Best Insurance Coverage

If you're a frequent traveler, then the insurance coverage offered by a good credit card can easily save you thousands of dollars. Whenever you rent a car you can decline the Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) that adds up to $20 per day to the bill. If you drop your brand new iPad within the first 90-180 days of owning it, you can get a full repair or reimbursement of the purchase price. Need medical insurance? Good cards offer from 15-31 days of travel medical absolutely free which could easily cost you hundreds per trip. With more than 15 types of insurance available, the potential savings certainly don't end there!

The CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite Privilege really outshines the rest of the competition on this front with 11 types of insurance coverage and having the best coverage across 7 of those 11 types. This is a major accomplishment because typically the winner has the highest annual fee. $399 is still a lot to pay annually, but the extra insurance it gives you could pay for all that with just one or two claims.

If you want something more budget friendly and with a lower minimum income, then the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite has relatively good coverage with 10 types of insurance with 3 of those being best. Its annual fee is paltry $120 in comparison.

Best Perks Overall

If you want big perks, you need to pay big bucks because The Platinum Card1 completely destroys the competition when it comes to perks.

We're talking access to lounges in almost any airport world-wide, $200 in free travel of your choosing annually, exclusive events held only for Platinum cardholders, free upgrades and companion tickets on some airlines, the best free lounge access of any Canadian card, automatically upgraded status with several big hotel chains, free valet parking service at YVR, doctors that will pay you house calls in foreign countries, a personal concierge that will take care of your every travel, entertainment booking, and purchasing need (within reason), and many more.

Seriously, this baby has so many perks you're going to feel like Mr. Worldwide himself (Pitbull) as you jet set around the globe like a superstar.

Best Air Canada Perks

If you're a die-hard Air Canada fan, and you probably are because you're looking at Aeroplan credit cards, then the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege gets another nod as the best choice for Air Canada specific perks. It offers Air Canada priority check-in & boarding, 4 passes to the Maple Leaf Lounge annually, a 50% off business class companion ticket annually, and your first checked bag is free on all Air Canada flights. Not bad!

The American Express AeroplanPlus Reserve is also worth considering if you can stomach the $899 annual fee. It has the added benefit of unlimited access to the Maple Leaf Lounge and Priority Pass Lounges worldwide but lacks priority boarding and limits you to 5 complimentary checked bags per year. Another big plus is that it gives you a 100% free partner ticket in economy class when you redeem up to 25,000 Aeroplan miles. You also get the option to purchase up to 2 Air Canada Privilege Flight Passes annually, when help you save money on flights and earn Aeroplan status miles.

Low Minimum Income

If you don't have the necessary income but still want a top card, then the American Express Gold Rewards1 is an easy choice with its unusually low minimum income requirement of $20,000. Honestly, any option from American Express will work because their minimum incomes range from $15,000 to $40,000 for all but Reserve cards.

The Top 5 Credit Cards In Detail

1) American Express Gold Rewards1

Amex Gold gives you the highest mile earning potential on daily essentials like gas, groceries, and drugstore purchases at 2 miles per dollar spent. No competitor even comes close to that, and it offers 2 miles per dollar on travel purchases as well. The others? Simply not possible! Travel purchases are treated like any other normal purchase with them.

You also have the flexibility of purchasing any sort of travel you want with your American Express Membership Rewards points if you opt not to convert them to Aeroplan miles. No seat restrictions, no black out dates, no specific travel agency you have to deal with. Simply book the travel on your credit card and pay for it with your points using their online interface. It only takes a few seconds to do.

There's a whole host of other benefits to this one as well as it definitely earned the top spot for a reason!

Why You Want It:

  • 2 points/miles per dollar spent on all gas, grocery, drugstore, and travel purchases.
  • 25,000 bonus points/miles for signing up which are essentially free because the annual fee is waived the first year.
  • You can add 1 extra cardholder for free and earn more points faster, instead of paying $50+ with the other guys.
  • Added flexibility when redeeming points by transferring to other rewards programs or redeeming them directly for any travel purchase you charge to the card. Tip: Transferring them to Aeroplan or Avios gives you much better value though.
  • Offers the second best insurance package for cards in the $120-$150 annual fee range, including trip interruption and emergency medical which are premium features.
  • Low $20,000 minimum income needed - most comparable cards require $60,000 or more.
  • Your first year is free with the $150 annual fee waived.

Apply Now

2) CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite Privilege

The CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite Privilege comes with a nice suite of perks, especially when it comes to flying Air Canada. It starts with an increased base Aeroplan earning rate of 1.25 miles per dollar spent and continues with free checked bags, complimentary Maple Leaf Lounge passes, priority check-in & boarding, and a 50% discounted business class companion ticket yearly.

The problem is the $200,000 minimum income needed to qualify and the $399 annual fee. I'd say the fee is worth it for frequent Air Canada travellers, but that income will be hard to hit for many. If you have a good credit history but a lower income, you could give it a try anyway - they might just accept you. Otherwise, you could start with a lesser CIBC offering, build a good history and spend a lot of money with them, and then call in to see if you can work your way up.

Why You Want It:

  • Higher base rewards accrual rate of 1.25 miles per dollar spent.
  • 1.5 miles per dollar spent on gas, grocery, drugstore, and Air Canada purchases.
  • A good sign up bonus of 25,000 miles.
  • Air Canada perks without needing frequent flyer status including:
    • 50% discounted business class companion fare annually.
    • 4 annual Maple Leaf Lounge passes.
    • First check bag free.
    • Priority check-in.
    • Priority boarding.
  • Complimentary Priority Pass membership for global lounge access including 6 passes yearly.
  • The best travel insurance package with 11 types of insurance, 7 of which are as good or better than all other cards.
  • Personal concierge service to make you feel like a rock star!

3) TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege

This card is almost identical to the CIBC Privilege that is ranked #2. It offers identical rewards and Aeroplan perks and the other perks and insurance coverage are nearly identical too. The CIBC alternative does a little better with its purchase protection, emergency medical, and hotel burglary coverage whereas this one is stronger with flight delay and baggage insurance.

The choice really comes down to TD vs. CIBC. If you prefer TD over CIBC, then feel free to choose this one - you aren't missing out on anything important.

4) TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite

If you like the sound of the above Privilege cards but the $200,000 minimum income or the $399 annual fee give you sticker shock, then this is a reasonable substitute. It has a lot of the same features, just toned down a little bit. The Aeroplan specific perks have fewer quantities and tighter restrictions, the insurance isn't quite as good but still among the best, and the mile accrual rates are less but still good.

Why You Want It:

  • Provides many features of the Infinite Privilege cards without the high minimum income and annual fee.
  • 1.5 miles per dollar spent on gas, grocery, drugstore, and Air Canada purchases.
  • Exclusive Air Canada perks without needing frequent flyer status including:
    • 1 annual Maple Leaf Lounge pass.
    • First check bag free on reward flights.
    • Priority check-in on reward flights.
    • Priority boarding on reward flights.
  • Top insurance package for cards under $150 in annual fees including trip cancellation, trip interruption, and emergency medical.
  • Travel insurance coverage applies on Aeroplan reward flights as well as paid flights (rare).
  • Personal concierge service to make you feel like a rock star!
  • A good sign up bonus of 15,000 miles.
  • Your first year is free* - this link only.

Apply Now

5) American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum

If you're a heavy spender on everyday purchases, the AeroplanPlus Platinum will earn you the maximum possible Aeroplan miles. You get 1.25 miles per dollar spent on all purchases and that jumps to 1.5 miles per dollar spent for spending above $25,000 annually. Additionally, this is one of the few cards that gives you unlimited access to the Maple Leaf Lounge. The $499 annual fee is a bit steep but it does have reasonable minimum income requirements so if you can regularly use the lounge access and perks it can be worth it.

Why You Want It:

  • Highest base earn rate of 1.25 miles per dollar spent that jumps to 1.5 miles for spending over $25,000 annually.
  • Great 40,000 Aeroplan mile sign up bonus.
  • Nice Air Canada perks:
    • Unlimited access to the Maple Leaf Lounge for the primary cardholder.
    • One 2-for-1 short haul flight reward annually when you redeem 15,000 Aeroplan miles.
    • Priority check-in.
  • Above average insurance package with emergency medical, trip cancellation, and trip interruption coverage.
  • Priority Pass membership for additional lounge access.

Apply Now

Aeroplan Is Worth The Effort

People love to hate Aeroplan, but the fact of the matter is Aeroplan miles are valuable and getting a top credit card to collect them quickly is entirely worth it if you aspire to travel the world or even just North America.

Why settle for just one card either? You might as well swap cards every year or two to take advantage of sign up bonuses and annual fee waivers while maximizing your miles in the process.

Hot Credit Card Deals This Month:

  • Best Cash Back Credit Card
    • 2% earned on ALL purchases - no caps or limits
    • 10,000 bonus points = $100 cash + no annual fee for the first year
    • I personally earned $1,053 cash back with this card in 2015
    • Redeem your cash any time and not just as a statement credit
    • Looks like a travel card, but points convert to cash at 2% rate
    • Great insurance and perks including RARE price protection
  • The #1 Credit Card in Canada
    • 25,000 bonus points - worth about $750 when converted to Aeroplan miles
    • Can also redeem points for ANY travel booked with ANY travel provider
    • Double rewards on grocery, gas, drugstore, and travel purchases.
    • Low minimum income to qualify - $20,000
    • First year free, cancel anytime
    • See why it's #1
  • $150 Cash Bonus + Amazing Insurance Coverage + FREE Roadside Assistance
    • 1.75% cash back on ALL purchases
    • 14 different types of insurance included - the best in Canada
    • Double the usual extended warranty and purchase protection coverage
    • $2,500 trip cancellation & $2,000 trip interruption
    • Personal effects insurance - covers lost/stolen items for your whole trip (rare)
    • FREE roadside assistance included - 1 of only 2 cards to offer this
    • Total of $150 in cash sign up bonuses - ends August 31st

Comments

Gordp
Gordp's picture

I have the TD Visa infinite, I would rate it OK, the issue is when I travel over seas TD declines my purchases. It happened to me last year when I went to Italy and again recently in Brazil. What good is a travel card that you can't travel with? They gave me a number to call and register my travel plans with. They ignored my notices of travel and locked my card. When I got home I had a message on my Vmail saying we noticed a suspicious purchase and froze your card.

So I didn't get the Aeroplan points for those trips and was embarrassed by the payment declined messages.

I am looking for a new card, one that understands I travel. Any advice?

July 15, 2016 @ 5:23 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

The way I combat this problem is by carrying multiple cards so I always have a backup. Have a fee-based card as your primary card and then at least 2 more as backups. I like to have 1 MasterCard, 1 Visa, and 1 Amex. I'd consider getting the MBNA Smart Cash World MasterCard and the Amex SimplyCash as backups to your TD Visa.

Also, the more you travel with the TD Visa, the more those types of purchases will look "normal" to their fraud alert system and you most likely won't get your account frozen nearly as often if at all.

July 15, 2016 @ 8:00 pm

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