What Is An Aeroplan Mile REALLY Worth?

whatisanaeroplanmilereallyworth.jpgWith all the negativity surrounding Aeroplan lately, some people might say they are worthless actually!

Believe me, I’m frustrated too: lack of availability, bad connections, high taxes and fees, and big fuel surcharges (when oil prices were higher) are REAL. Amia needs to wake up and fix these flaws before they lose all their members due to frustration!

Find out what an Aeroplan Mile is really worth. Download the PDF version of this analysis.

However, if you know how to work Aeroplan to your advantage, Aeroplan miles are actually VERY valuable. If you follow the suggestions in my complete guide to the rewards program linked above, then you will easily avoid most of the major pitfalls and start getting maximum value for your miles.

The Quick Answer: 3 Cents

If you look through the various examples below, you will see that an average person is quite capable of achieving roughly a 3 cent per mile value. That is while booking realistic flights inside North America as long as you put a little effort toward getting good value when you redeem your miles.

A Simple Way Of Determining The Value Of A Mile

There are all kinds of calculations that you could do to determine the value of a single Aeroplan mile and each one of them would produce a different answer because it depends on the flight you are booking. The amount of miles required to fly are fixed when flying within a specific region, but all flights in that region definitely aren’t priced the same.

Take the North America region for example, a reward flight costs 25,000 miles for a round trip flight both departing and arriving anywhere in North America. Those flights range in cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars for fairly short flights to major cities, to about $700 for coast to coast flights, and then all the way up to $2,000+ for flights involving really remote areas and an peak flying times, like Christmas.

Related: The Top Aeroplan Credit Cards Right Now

It also makes a big difference if you calculate your value against the cheapest possible flight with any carrier, during a huge seat sale, at the cheapest time of year, on the cheapest day of the week, booked at the perfect time. If you do that, value plummets, or you can reverse all those scenarios and value skyrockets.

Let’s avoid all that complexity, and look at it from 3 different scenarios: typical value an ordinary person could expect to get, maximum value if you optimize for the most expensive flights, and low end value if book the worst possible reward flights.

1) Typical Value Of An Aeroplan Mile: 2.5 to 3.3 cents

I always encourage people to maximize everything, but the truth is that people want what they want even if it doesn’t give them the best value. Keep that in mind, I would consider a typical reward ticket to be either from coast to coast in Canada (Halifax to Vancouver) or even from Toronto to Vancouver in economy class.

Toronto (YYZ) to Vancouver (YVR):

  Flight Cost Taxes & Fees Total Cost
AirCanada.com $636.00 $148.03 $784.03
Aeroplan.com 25,000 miles $160.28 $160.28
Value Of 1 Mile: 2.50 cents Savings: $623.75

Halifax (YHZ) to Vancouver (YVR):

  Flight Cost Taxes & Fees Total Cost
AirCanada.com $798.00 $190.36 $988.36
Aeroplan.com 25,000 miles $166.03 $166.03
Value Of 1 Mile: 3.29 cents Savings: $822.33

2) High End Value Of An Aeroplan Mile: 3.7 to 13.3 cents

There are lots of ways to increase the value of your Aeroplan miles including booking:

International Business Class Flights

Ottawa (YOW) to Hong Kong (HKG) in business class.

This is a pretty common business class fare, but it goes to show you how much business class can increase the value of your miles. If you throw a few smaller airports and further destinations into the mix, your value should easily surpass 4 cents per mile.

  Flight Cost Taxes & Fees Total Cost
AirCanada.com $5,723.20 $80.20 $5,803.40
Aeroplan.com 150,000 miles $217.32 $217.32
Value Of 1 Mile: 3.72 cents Savings: $5,586.08

Extremely Popular Routes

Halifax (YHZ) to Sydney, Australia (SYD) in business class.

Flights to Australia are among the most popular reward flights out there, and you can see why with a total cost of more than $10,000 per person in business class! There is very limited availability here and you have to book far in advance to secure one of these tickets because competition is high.

  Flight Cost Taxes & Fees Total Cost
AirCanada.com $10,350.00 $171.33 $10,521.33
Aeroplan.com 160,000 miles $916.63 $916.63
Value Of 1 Mile: 6.00 cents Savings: $9,604.70

Peak Times And Holidays

Halifax (YHZ) to Vancouver (YVR) at Christmas.

Here you can see what a difference Christmas can make. This is the same flight mentioned above that cost $988.33 in November, but near Christmas it skyrockets to $1577.08. That’s on the low side as well because there were only a few flights on the Saturday before Christmas with these lower prices. Most of the available flights Saturday to Saturday cost about $2,000.

  Flight Cost Taxes & Fees Total Cost
AirCanada.com $1306.00 $271.08 $1577.08
Aeroplan.com 25,000 miles $170.55 $170.55
Value Of 1 Mile: 5.63 cents Savings: $1,406.53

Remote Locations

Montreal (YUL) to Iqaluit (YFB).

According to this blog post, you can use Aeroplan miles to fly to some pretty remote locations in the northern parts of Canada, like Iqaluit. These destinations don’t show up on Air Canada’s route map and aren’t bookable through Aeroplan.com because Air Canada uses partner airlines to provide service to these destinations.

However, with a little work dealing with an Aeroplan agent over the phone, they are in fact bookable. According to the blog post, you will have to pay 15,000 miles, the $30 agent booking fee, and roughly $37.56 in taxes and fees. He also mentions that in doing so he is saving about $2,000 on the flight so that works out to 1 mile being worth a whopping 13.3 cents.

3) Low End Value Of An Aeroplan Mile:

Now, it’s also possible to book some pretty cheap flights using Aeroplan and in doing so greatly minimize the value of your miles. Here are a couple of examples:

Montreal (YUL) to Toronto (YYZ)

These two cities are relatively close together and are both major airline hubs, so the prices for flights between them are very cheap.

  Flight Cost Taxes & Fees Total Cost
AirCanada.com $242.00 $109.61 $351.61
Aeroplan.com 15,000 miles $169.95 $169.95
Value Of 1 Mile: 1.21 cents Savings: $181.66

Vancouver (YVR) to Victoria (YYJ)

Proximity is a big factor here as well making these flights ultra cheap. You’d probably just take a ferry to Victoria if you lived in Vancouver, but seeing as the flights exist, some people must book them.

  Flight Cost Taxes & Fees Total Cost
AirCanada.com $212.00 $46.56 $258.56
Aeroplan.com 15,000 miles $124.16 $124.16
Value Of 1 Mile: 0.89 cents Savings: $134.40

The Golden Rule: ALWAYS Redeem For Flights

The golden rule of maximizing the value you receive from your Aeroplan miles is to ALWAYS redeem them for flights.

Sure, there are people who redeem for other things out of their rewards catalog, most frequently gift cards, and that’s fine. Just know that if you choose to do this you will be absolutely destroying the value of your miles.

Redeeming For Gift Cards

For example, if you were to redeem your miles for American Express gift cards you could get $500 worth for 69,000 miles. With some simple math, that works out to 0.72 cents per mile, significantly lower than even the worst flight redemption options shown above.

Please, only do this if you have no use for reward flights whatsoever or you are badly in need of some extra cash.

25,000 Aeroplan Miles Are Worth $750

Given our 3 cent per mile valuation, 25,000 miles equates to $750 worth of free flights.

25,000 is a bit of a magic number when it comes to Aeroplan because that is the exact number of miles required to flight from any airport in Canada to any other airport in North America where Air Canada or one of its partners fly.

It’s also the number of bonus miles that are frequently given as a sign up bonus for Aeroplan affiliated credit cards or credit cards that can have their points converted to Aeroplan miles. $750 for signing up for a credit card that will often give you the first year free with no obligation to continue is pretty amazing. Check out the Hot Credit Card Deals This Month section below as there is usually a good Aeroplan deal listed there.

Related: Improve Your Travel Experience With These Travel Hacks

Finally, 25,000 is also a pretty reasonable amount for a middle class family with two working adults to be able to spend on a credit card in the run of a year. That means if you earn 1 mile per dollar spent on your credit card, you will rake in about $750 worth of rewards per year.

A Few Notes About The Calculations

  • Flight prices were calculated using AirCanada.com, seeing as Aeroplan tickets are only valid on Air Canada and their partners.
  • All flights checked were round trip tickets of an approximately 1 week duration usually departing and arriving on the weekend.
  • The cheapest available seat in either economy or business class was chosen, ignoring flexible tickets because Aeroplan reward tickets aren’t flexible either.
  • Prices were spot checked about 5-6 months before the date of departure.
  • Identical flights were used where possible, but sometimes Aeroplan forces you to use strange connections that aren’t available on AirCanada.com.
  • Regular flight prices were used in the calculations, not big seat sales.
  • Taxes, fees, and surcharges aren’t part of the reward so they were deducted from the value calculations.

What Do You Think They Are Worth?

I know not everyone is going to agree with my conclusion here, because there are definitely some very commonly flown routes for people in Toronto and other major hubs that will get you a value of 2 cents per mile, or sometimes less.

Others will say that you can’t really say you are getting a 6 cent per mile value out of a business class flight to Sydney because no normal person in their right mind would pay $10,000 on a single plane ticket.

What do you think they are worth?

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Comments

My Own Advisor's picture

The biggest problem I have with Aeroplan is the milk-run associated with their flights for redemption purposes.

It's such a PITA but I agree, the North American flights offer the best value.

Mark

June 02, 2015 @ 9:05 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

The time of day and multiple stops can certainly be frustrating. I usually find that I am able to get the same number of stops as a paid ticket for one direction of the flight, but on the return ticket there is usually a +1 stop or an overnight lay over. I think that's because the less desirable flights still have good connections travelling from east to west, but they don't jive so well with Air Canada's schedule going from west to east.

June 03, 2015 @ 8:08 am
John Wilson
John Wilson's picture

I gave up on Aeroplane years ago when I realised that trying to arrange ANY flight using points was almost impossible. A much better idea it to take advantage of seat sales, and forget the frustration of trying to use aeroplane points to achieve your travel requirements.

June 02, 2015 @ 9:35 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

The frustrations are definitely real, but I don't know why anyone wouldn't take advantage of the 25,000 American Express Gold Rewards sign up bonus for example because the first year is free and there is no obligation to keep the card if you don't like it for the second year. It's like $750 for free!

Why not combine seat sales with Aeroplan when it makes sense? Use a seat sale if a good one is available. Use Aeroplan if a good routing is available or if your dates are flexible. Trying to get seat sales probably involves about the same amount of work as dealing with Aeroplan and you still often have to deal with inflexibility, low availability, and poor flight times to get the lowest prices.

June 03, 2015 @ 8:11 am
Kerry Boon
Kerry Boon's picture

The frustrating part is if you do not use the market fare which is considerably more than 25000 points within North America , you will have to take sometimes a 10 hour connection to destination , instead of maybe a 2 to 3 hour flight.

Also booking a business Class fare to Europe , was advised taxes were around $1,100.00. and 90000 points,

Instead I flew with a charter company upgraded seat for around $1,100 taxes included , and no points, kept my valuable points for next time.

These are my only negative comments.

June 03, 2015 @ 7:51 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Yes, Europe is a really bad destination for Aeroplan due to taxes and fees. You can try flying with one of their partner airlines to lower the fees substantially. Taxes and fees are probably slightly more reasonable these days with low oil prices because Air Canada has dropped most (maybe all) of their fuel surcharges.

June 03, 2015 @ 8:13 am
JORGILL
JORGILL's picture

The problem I have is to collect enough miles to redeem. I keep using the credit card but never get enough miles..is there any tip you have to increase miles? to duplicate them when purchase...etc..? thanks!

June 03, 2015 @ 12:21 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Sure, if you check out my how to earn Aeroplan miles fast page you should find lots of suggestions. Otherwise, signing up for one or two credit cards a year with good sign up bonuses is another good way.

June 07, 2015 @ 1:45 pm
Bruce Roney
Bruce Roney's picture

I discovered if I book to Europe (London) with Aeroplan, but fly on an American carrier through a U.S. city (Newark) on the dreaded United, there is no surcharge - only taxes. There are a few more taxes, but at the time Air Canada had a $400 fuel surcharge that I didn't have to pay.

June 05, 2015 @ 6:53 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Yes, there are some partners that charge much less taxes and fees and most of them don't have fuel surcharges. I think the fuel surcharges are basically gone now with low oil prices again, but if the price of oil rises again they will inevitably bring them back.

June 07, 2015 @ 1:46 pm
Erick
Erick's picture

How does using Aeroplan points towards Air Canada Vacation packages compare?

June 06, 2015 @ 3:51 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Not very well because it costs 119,000 miles for a $1,000 rebate. That makes each mile worth 0.8 cents, a terrible value. Flights are really it when it comes to good value with Aeroplan.

June 07, 2015 @ 1:49 pm
Tim
Tim's picture

Best way to use Aeroplan miles is to buy gas cards--just like getting cash back.

July 14, 2015 @ 1:41 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I would strongly disagree with that as you will only get a 0.72 cent per mile value for your Aeroplan miles that way. If you redeem for flights you should get close to 3 cents per mile. That's 4.2x more value.

July 15, 2015 @ 12:54 pm
Steve
Steve's picture

I don't agree that it is easy to get a value of 3 cents per mile flying in North America.

While you do provide examples of where 3 cents is achieved, I do not think this is common at all. Especially if you primarily only fly economy class.

In order to get the 3 cents calculation in one of your examples you had to base this off a $784 round trip from Toronto to Vancouver. While I am sure that price was found online, A little bit of planning or booking in advance and you could easily find a Toronto-Vancouver flight for $500-$600. which would actually pull the value to under 2 cents. That is just by looking around a little for a cheaper fare, wouldn't require any insane seat sales. The only people who would pay $784 are A) people with too much money that they just don't care or B) people booking very last minute.

I generally try to get 2 cents for my Aeroplan miles, flying within North America and sometimes I have to do Multicity trips in order to get it over 2 cents. Multi city trips and last minute bookings are where the best value can be found in North American for Aeroplan miles. Multicity works well for me because I like to visit family in Ontario and also have a vacation at the same time. I very rarely have a need to book last minute though.

February 18, 2016 @ 2:15 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Contrary to popular belief, there are a lot of people who pay full price for things or that will go to AirCanada.com to book their flights. It's also easy to say "I can get a flight between Toronto to Vancouver for $500-$600 any time I like". However, you may have to fly a different airline or be more flexible in your schedule. As soon as you start having to jump through hoops like those, you aren't really comparing apples to apples and are trading work and research for a slightly lower price.

AirCanada.com should be the barometer for making apples to applies comparisons when redeeming your Aeroplan miles. I went right to AirCanada.com to do my comparisons and tried to look for either the exact same flight or the cheapest available flight on that day. I wasn't even considering those who need to book last minute or higher priced fairs that offer more convenience, which would have substantially increased my mile valuations above.

I also didn't say Toronto to Vancouver was 3 cents, I said it was 2.5 cents in my example.

My last couple of flights booked personally have all been last minute. I hate last minute bookings as I'm sure you do, but often times it's unavoidable. One situation was an emergency (only a few days notice) and the other was a last minute business trip. In both cases, I was quite surprised to find decent Aeroplan availability. I was flying from New Brunswick to Vancouver in one instance and Edmonton to New Brunswick in another. In both cases my economy value was much higher than 3 cents per mile. If I recall correctly, I was approaching 4 cents per mile.

I think given the multitude of examples I can provide where value is close to or higher than 3 cents, that 3 cents is a more than fair value. Not everyone will get 3 cents all the time, sure. But, if you are willing to do the most basic of research and save your miles for (slightly) more expensive flights, then it is very easy. If you engage try hard mode and start considering really rare routes and business class flights then your value skyrockets well above 3 cents every time.

February 22, 2016 @ 12:29 pm
JohnnyLarge
JohnnyLarge's picture

Great article! While the actual value of an Aeroplan mile is debatable, what's important here are the strategies for maximizing the value, which you have outlined. Perhaps a "top 10" list of strategies ranked from best to worst could be a follow on article.

Canadian remote locations (Montreal-Iqualuit at 13.3 cents per mile)
Popular business/first class international flights (Halifax-Sydney Australia at 6.0 cents per mile)
Peak times/holidays (Halifax-Vancouver at Christmas at 5.63 cents per mile)
Business/first class international flights (Ottawa-Hong Kong at 3.72 cents per mile)
North America (Halifax-Vancouver at 3.29 cents per mile)
North America (Toronto-Vancouver at 2.5 cents per mile)
Short-Haul (Montreal-Toronto at 1.21 cents per mile)
Short-Haul (Vancouver-Victoria at 0.89 cents per mile)
Gift card redemption (0.72 cents per mile)

I have been an Aeroplan member since 1997, and have used most of these strategies (except for the business class/first class ones). Most of my travel has been with our family of 5, which is why I have not used the international business class (I don't accumulate that many points!) However, now that my wife and I are empty nesters, perhaps its time to splurge. Hawaii round trip is also great value. I have only used short-haul with 2 for 1 short haul promotions or with the remote location option (example: Toronto-Winnipeg-Thompson via Air Canada/Calm Air), and never redeem for gift cards.

August 18, 2016 @ 4:55 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Glad to hear someone has been using the program successfully for so long. Nice summary of the values in your comment, thanks!

September 05, 2016 @ 1:06 pm

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