Air Miles vs. Aeroplan: Compare Canada's Two Top Rewards Programs

Air Miles vs. Aeroplan: Compare Canada's Two Top Rewards Programs

If you've been following us for a while, you'll know we've published in-depth guides on getting the most out of both the Air Miles and Aeroplan reward programs.

But one question remains...which one is better?

Which will earn you more rewards per dollar spent, give you the best options for redemption, and provide the best travel credit cards to get you there?

It's better to put all your time and money into one program instead of splitting it between two…

So which should you choose?

We'll compare:

Air Miles vs. Aeroplan earn rates

Earning method Air Miles Aeroplan
Shopping at partners (regular rate) 1 per $20 1 per $1
Credit card (best option) 1 per $10 Up to 3 per $1
Earn rate while flying x 0-150% of actual miles flown
Bank option 1 per $30 x

On the surface, this may seem like a clear win for Aeroplan, but there are several factors you'll want to consider. The first is how much each point is worth – which we'll discuss in the redemption section.

But something else to consider is the fantastic deals, coupons, and bonus days that Air Miles offers. Aeroplan's bonus offers can't compare to the sheer amount of options Air Miles gives its users to earn more than the regular rate.

Related:  Which AIR MILES Credit Card Is Best?

These offers include:

  • multiplier days,
  • product bonuses,
  • bonus coupons, and
  • big promotions.

That being said, Aeroplan's ability to earn on travel can get you fantastic value that Air Miles simply can't match.

Here are the earn rates for Aeroplan travel:

Ticket class Percent earned
Economy Basic (Canada, U.S.) 0%
Standard (Canada)
Economy Basic (International)
25%
Standard (U.S., Sun, International) 50%
Flex (All regions) 100%
Comfort (Canada, U.S., Sun) 115%
Latitude (All regions)
Premium Economy (All regions)
125%
Business class (All regions) 150%

So as a travel rewards program, Aeroplan outshines Air Miles.

Related: Which Aeroplan Credit Card Is REALLY Best?

Best Aeroplan credit card vs. best Air Miles credit card

Credit cards are some of the best ways to earn extra points without being restricted to specific partners.

Let's take a look at your best options for each program and how they compare to each other.

  BMO Air Miles World Elite American Express Gold Rewards
Annual fee $120 $150
First year free? Yes No
Welcome bonus 3,000 miles (worth $606*) 25,000 points (worth $625*)
Earn rate 1 per $10 on all purchases 2 per $1 on gas, grocery, drugstore, travel
+1 point on americanexpress.ca/travel
Annual rewards $509 $885
Examples of perks Mastercard Airport Experiences
2 complimentary lounge passes
24/7 concierge
Amex Front of the Line
The Hotel Collection
Hertz Gold membership
Insurance 14 10
Unique benefits 15% off required miles for flight redemption
1 companion voucher
Flexible transfer to Aeroplan & Avios at a 1:1 ratio
Income requirements $80,000 personal
$150,000 household
N/A
CCG Awards Best Air Miles Credit Card 2019
Best Mastercard 2019
Best Aeroplan Credit Card 2019
Best Gas Credit Card 2019

*Rewards value was calculated assuming a reasonable point value.

Both cards definitely have their benefits. The BMO has a lower annual fee plus first year free, 4 more insurance types, and a straightforward earn rate.

But on the other hand, the American Express Aeroplan card has better annual rewards and more flexibility, since you can transfer to many airline and hotel programs, along with Membership Rewards redemptions as well.

Find out more details for both cards here:

Air Miles vs. Aeroplan reward redemption

Figuring out the value of your reward points involves calculating two values:

  • the cents per mile (CPM) and
  • rate of return.

To get the CPM, you simply divide the cash value of a reward by the number of points required to purchase it. In order to get the CPM for each category, we surveyed several options and took the average.

But this alone isn't a good measure of value. If we just looked at CPM, Air Miles would look way ahead of Aeroplan since each point is worth several times more…But that's because 1 Air Mile is 20x harder to get than a single Aeroplan point on average. I'd hope they'd be worth much more since they cost so much more to get!

That's where rate of return comes in. It's calculated by the following formula:

Amount of points earned * Average CPM = X
X / Money spent = Rate of return

This way, you can see the real value of your miles in relation to how much you have to spend to get them.

Related: What Is An Aeroplan Mile REALLY Worth?

Here's how the programs stack up against each other:

  Air Miles point value AM rate of return Aeroplan point value AP rate of return
Cash & gift cards 10.5 CPM 0.53% 0.71 CPM 0.71%
Flights 17.2 CPM 0.88% 2.5 CPM 2.50%
Car rentals 16.2 CPM 0.81% 0.64 CPM 0.64%
Hotels 12.3 CPM 0.62% 0.73 CPM 0.73%
Vacation packages 11 CPM 0.55% 0.83 CPM 0.83%
Merchandise 7.7 CPM 0.39% 0.83 CPM 0.83%
Events 21.6 CPM 1.08% x x
Attractions 13.4 CPM 0.67% x x
Average 13.8 CPM 0.69% 1.04 CPM 1.04%

Please note: Rate of return was calculated assuming a standard earn rate of 1 Air Mile per $20 and 1 Aeroplan point per $1.

Though Air Miles has a much higher CPM on average, the rate of return for Aeroplan is better in all options except 3 categories – 2 of which it just doesn't offer. Overall, Aeroplan boasts a 0.35% higher return on average and a high score of 2.5% return on flight purchases.

Air Miles vs. Aeroplan flights

But let's look at the flight options in specific since air travel is a major part of both reward programs.

They both offer the option to redeem variable amounts of miles for a flight. Aeroplan calls this Market Fare Flight Rewards and the miles required changes depending on things like:

  • destination,
  • time of booking,
  • time of travel, and
  • conversion of fares into miles.

These flights offer less value on average.

Aeroplan and Air Miles both offer fixed mileage flights, which (as the name suggests) requires the same amount of miles no matter what. Of course, they have limited amounts of seats available so you'll have to grab yours fast – often as soon as they're released.

Your effort will be rewarded with an average value of 2.9 CPM for Aeroplan – compared to the 1.5 CPM average of Market Fare rewards. This value can go up to 3.95 CPM on average when booking on Business/First class.

And for Air Miles, your CPM will go up to 17.2 cents on average – a 25% boost in value.

Related: 5 Best Ways To Redeem Your Air Miles

So which reward program is better?

Aeroplan consistently offers better value throughout their program – giving both a higher earn rate and return.

But with its upcoming changes in 2020, it's hard to know where things will stand in the future.

Do you have a preference between the two reward programs? Which one do you use?

Let us know in the comments below!

Disclosure: Some links in this article may be affiliate links. We're letting you know because it's the right thing to do. Here’s a more detailed disclosure on how HTS makes money.

Editorial Disclaimer: The content here reflects the author's opinion alone, and is not endorsed or sponsored by a bank, credit card issuer, rewards program or other entity.

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Comments

Harvey
Harvey's picture

One intangible item is the ability to redeem points for your travel. In the past, I could never redeem my Aeroplan points for a single return trip from Winnipeg to Toronto, except at 5 a.m. or 10 p.m. I could not make these times work for me, so I gave up trying to redeem my Aeroplan points. Now, the air miles program costs more miles for travel than ever before. In the end, I use Air Miles way more for travel and my Aeroplan points are just sitting in my account. Maybe Aeroplan will get better once Air Canada resumes control. Maybe.

March 19, 2019 @ 7:21 pm
Elaine
Elaine's picture

I agreed with you until recently. I had Aeroplane miles that seemed useless to me and gave up trying to find flights and quit collecting points. On a whim I decided to give them one more shot and found perfect flights at the fixed point rate for an upcoming vacation. Amazing thing was my account was about to express in the next 2 weeks.

My point is give them another look. Either I got extremely lucky or Aeroplane may have revamped ther program in a competitive points market.

Good luck!

March 20, 2019 @ 6:25 am
Elaine
Elaine's picture

*** please ignore the auto correct errors I know it is AEROPLAN and the points were about to EXPIRE

March 20, 2019 @ 6:29 am
Harvey
Harvey's picture

Thanks, Elaine! Funny you should mention that. I just booked a Toronto flight that had lots of options.Thye must have changed something. I hope the options continue to improve. I don't collect Aeroplan points anymore but I may have to change my ways. I typically fly Westjet anyways when I have to pay for it myself.

March 20, 2019 @ 1:01 pm
HowToSaveMoney Team
HowToSaveMoney Team's picture

This is a great thread! I'm glad Aeroplan has been seeing some improvements lately, hopefully it continues once the changes go through.

March 20, 2019 @ 2:39 pm
Wayne
Wayne's picture

Another bonus to acquiring Aeroplan points is the multiplier for many of the stores/businesses listed on the Aeroplan Web site which we just recently became aware of. Several times a year (like around Black Friday & Christmas) places like Amazon.ca and Hudson Bay offer up to 10x the Aeroplan points.

March 22, 2019 @ 4:38 pm
HowToSaveMoney Team
HowToSaveMoney Team's picture

Great point, Wayne! Thanks for your comment :)

March 25, 2019 @ 1:30 pm
James
James's picture

Air Miles like Aeroplan also offers bonus points several times a year for those who shop via Airmilesshops.ca including Amazon, The Bay and many more. I have shopped at both sites but the thing I like better about Air Miles is that they often have promotions where if you purchase at 3-5 shops you can get a whole bunch of bonus Air Miles in addition to any other bonuses offered by their partners.

April 17, 2019 @ 2:00 pm

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