What Is An Aeroplan Mile REALLY Worth?

What is an Aeroplan mile really worth?

With the news breaking that Aeroplan will be replaced as Air Canada's loyalty program in 2020 - its future has become increasingly uncertain.

We know the program will continue on after 2020, your miles are 100% safe, and there will still be some options for redeeming on industry leading airlines, one of which could still be Air Canada. That is what has been promised.

What we don't know is how the reward choices, flight redemption options, and reward value will change after 2020...

Will it still remain a true airline rewards program?

Will they find a new airline partner?

OR ...

Will it become more of a flexible travel rewards program like what bank travel credit cards tend to offer?

Ultimately, what everyone wants to know is "what are my miles worth today?", "what will they be worth after 2020?", and "is Aeroplan still worth it?".

Here you'll find a concrete answer to the first question, my predictions on the second, and a discussion about the third.

So - what are Aeroplan miles worth today?

Want to get the best value for your Aeroplan miles? Download the PDF version of this analysis.

The Quick Answer: 2.5 Cents

I used to value Aeroplan miles around 3 cents each, but in recent years the price of flights has dropped significantly. There are still plenty of ways to get a 3 cent value or higher, but I no longer think that is a realistic value that most people can achieve on a long haul economy flight.

But, if you look through the examples below, you will see that an average person is still quite capable of achieving a 2.5 cent per mile value.

That is while booking realistic flights inside Canada & USA 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 you could do to determine the value of a single Aeroplan mile. And each one of them would produce a different answer.

Why?

Each flight booked has a different value. The miles needed to fly within a specific region is fixed, but the price of all the flights in that region is NOT.

Consider the Canada & USA region. A round-trip reward flight there costs 25,000 miles.

Those flights cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars for fairly short flights to major cities, to roughly $700 for coast to coast flights, all the way up to $2,000+ for flights to extremely remote areas or during peak flying times, like Christmas.

Related: The Top Aeroplan Credit Cards Right Now

Additionally, it makes a big difference if you calculate your value against the cheapest possible flight with any airline, 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 angles: typical value an ordinary person can 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: 1.9 to 2.5 cents

Saving your miles for flights that maximize your reward value is something I encourage ... but the truth is that people want what they want even if it doesn't give them the best value.

That said, I 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 $496.00 $129.83 $625.83
Aeroplan.com 25,000 miles $160.28 $160.28
Value Of 1 Mile: 1.86 cents Savings: $465.55

Halifax (YHZ) to Vancouver (YVR):

  Flight Cost Taxes & Fees Total Cost
AirCanada.com $622.00 $163.96 $785.96
Aeroplan.com 25,000 miles $167.26 $167.26
Value Of 1 Mile: 2.47 cents Savings: $618.70

2) High End Value Of An Aeroplan Mile: 3.4 to 13.3 cents

There are plenty 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.

It's worth noting that very few seats were available at these rates - most of them were nearly double the cost.

  Flight Cost Taxes & Fees Total Cost
AirCanada.com $5,159.60 $112.17 $5,271.77
Aeroplan.com 150,000 miles $150.02 $150.02
Value Of 1 Mile: 3.41 cents Savings: $5,121.75

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 nearly $15,000 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 extremely high. For my test booking, I had to look nearly a year in advance within a couple of days of the Aeroplan inventory being released to the public.

  Flight Cost Taxes & Fees Total Cost
AirCanada.com $14,002.00 $180.98 $14,182.98
Aeroplan.com 160,000 miles $1,081.92 $1,081.92
Value Of 1 Mile: 8.18 cents Savings: $13,101.06

Peak Times And Holidays

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

2 years ago when I looked for flights at Christmas they were almost double the normal prices. This time around they are only a couple hundred dollars more expensive and there's almost no Aeroplan inventory available.

The price of airfare at Christmas fluctuates heavily but ticket prices are definitely trending down overall. Flights approaching $2,000 used to be normal, but not right now.

  Flight Cost Taxes & Fees Total Cost
AirCanada.com $882.00 $198.44 $1,080.44
Aeroplan.com 25,000 miles $171.78 $171.78
Value Of 1 Mile: 3.63 cents Savings: $908.66

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: 0.6 to 0.9 cents

Now, it's also possible to book some pretty cheap flights with Aeroplan and in doing so greatly reduces the value of your miles. Here are two examples:

Montreal (YUL) to Toronto (YYZ)

These two cities are close together and are both major airline hubs. That makes the price of flights between them very cheap.

  Flight Cost Taxes & Fees Total Cost
AirCanada.com $196.00 $102.73 $298.73
Aeroplan.com 15,000 miles $169.95 $169.95
Value Of 1 Mile: 0.86 cents Savings: $128.78

Vancouver (YVR) to Victoria (YYJ)

Proximity is a big factor here as well making these flights uber 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 $170.00 $44.46 $214.46
Aeroplan.com 15,000 miles $124.16 $124.16
Value Of 1 Mile: 0.60 cents Savings: $90.30

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 it will completely destroy the value of your miles.

Redeeming For Gift Cards

For example, if you were to redeem your miles for a $250 Costco gift card, it would cost you 33,750 miles. With some simple math, that works out to 0.74 cents per mile, significantly lower than almost all the 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 $625

Given our 2.5 cent per mile valuation, 25,000 miles equates to $625 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 Canada & USA 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. $625 for signing up for a credit card that will often give you the first year free with no obligation to continue is pretty amazing. Take a look at 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 $625 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.
  • 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 Will Aeroplan Miles Be Worth In 2020?

Right now no one knows for sure, but I can picture a few scenarios that could play out.

The first, and least likely, is that Aeroplan will find a new Canadian airline to partner directly with. There are really only two good options: WestJet and Porter.

WestJet has gone to great lengths to create and promote their own loyalty program. It isn't nearly as good as Aeroplan, but it is simple to use and understand. WestJet has also figured out how to be a very profitable airline with their current system, so I don't see much incentive for them to change things up.

Porter, on the other hand, is a much smaller regional airline. If they have ambitions of becoming a full-fledged national or international airline, then Aeroplan could help raise their profile quickly. Right now, they seem content to remain a smaller niche airline that serves their market very well so I think it's unlikely they will make a play for Aeroplan either.

If either one of those two airlines do happen to partner with Aeroplan, then miles could theoretically continue to be worth up to 3 cents each if they adopt a similar reward chart to what they have now.

A second, more likely option is that Aeroplan will start operating on a reward schedule based on actual dollar values much like a bank credit card rewards program that has a fixed redemption schedule for booking flights or possibly any type of travel.

If that happens, then each mile will likely be worth between 1 and 2 cents, with 1 being the norm. If that happens, then the theoretical reward value could drop by as much a two thirds. However, it would open up a lot more travel redemption options and the possibility of hunting for deals and sales to pay for with Aeroplan miles.

Third, Aeroplan could mimic the AIR MILES program and offer a wide range of rewards with the possibility of redeeming them for travel through an online booking system with hidden and variable reward values. If they can one-up AIR MILES in that space, they could possibly overtake them given all the negative press AIR MILES has received lately.

If the third scenario plays out, I hope that Aeroplan miles will give a much higher return on spending than AIR MILES is known for with easier and better travel reward options. That, for me, wouldn't be terrible and might coax AIR MILES to compete harder and offer better rewards. My guess is that a 1 to 2 cent value would happen here as well.

Is Aeroplan Still Worth It?

Up until 2020, the answer is definitely still yes.

Signs of increased booking activity by members is already apparent, so getting those coveted classic flight rewards to popular destinations is going to be harder than ever.

If you're willing to be flexible with your travel dates and departure times then there is still plenty of value to be had. That is doubly true if you are able to book far in advance. I'm still going to be collecting and redeeming miles myself.

After 2020, I would expect a significant devaluation in the value of your miles.

It might NOT happen and reward value could even improve, but I would peg those chances as being very low indeed.

One positive thing we probably WILL see is increased credit card competition with both Aeroplan and Air Canada launching some juicy new credit card offerings with big sign up bonuses to try and grab and retain market share.

I'm looking forward to what those offers might be and how this whole thing plays out...

How about you?

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.

Hot Credit Card Deals This Month:

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
Daniel
Daniel's picture

I definitely agree here - Aeroplan is an infinitely complicated pain in the arse that makes it practically impossible to book any reasonable flight inside North America (return flights I mean, not one way). I was never able to find a sensible flight I liked, without stops and night times. I gave up as well a long time ago, got a bunch of gift cards and allowed the change to expire. I am not currently collecting miles even though I still have a card somewhere in a drawer. Basically, more headache that it's worth. I stick with the simple stuff in life - cash back.

July 25, 2017 @ 1:57 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 apples 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 fares 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
Bobby Ricky
Bobby Ricky's picture

You had my hopes up at "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 "

I think you're slightly confused with either number of miles required or with definition of North America. North America as a continent includes countries all the way to Panama.
North America in political sense at the very least includes Mexico, and you're not going anywhere to Mexico with 25000 aeroplan miles.

October 07, 2016 @ 2:11 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

You are correct - I will change that to be Canada & USA.

October 14, 2016 @ 1:13 pm
Laura
Laura's picture

I have been a member since 2002 and we have had 38 flights, the most interesting story is when we missed a flight between Roatan, Honduras and Detroit, Michigan. We were able to book a flight to mainland Honduras with a local airline, then with Aeroplan we were able to book a flight to Huston for $95 USD & 40,000 points, then we got the connecting flight from Huston to Detroit for $21.40 and 25,000 points. I think that all equated to about $20 a point. Our last flight was Detroit to Sydney, Australia, $151.20 return per person with two free suitcases each. We are able to collect about 80,000 points per year but we also take advantage of everything and every deal. I convinced the salesman of my last two vehicles to let me pay on visa, of course these were $8,400 & $17,100, nothing fancy but it helps. I found this web page while trying to decide if I should pay a $5,000 bill with my Aeroplan card or with my PC Points card so I could save on groceries...Aeroplan won, I will keep collecting and keep playing the game. I have found I can not get some flights I want but I just make a different plan.

November 02, 2016 @ 9:47 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Great attitude towards the program Laura and sounds like you are making out like a bandit. 38 nearly free flights is impressive!

November 07, 2016 @ 2:36 pm
Kevin
Kevin's picture

I have been collecting Aeroplan miles for a number of years now and the program is becoming worse and worse. Flight availability isn't great and there are blackout periods during Christmas and New Years.

A few years ago I was consistently using my miles for flights from Vancouver to Toronto that cost upwards of $700 and using 25,000 miles (and paying the taxes and fees myself) which worked out to around $0.02 per mile. These days it seems like I consistently can't find Aeroplan flights that match my itinerary and when I do, it just isn't worth it having to pay the taxes and fees (using cash or Aeroplan miles). I usually save my miles hoping to find a better deal and pay the airfare myself.

The best programs around right now are the travel rewards credit cards that give 2% travel cash back, and partner with websites like Expedia and Orbitz. The BMO Mastercard, TD Visa and MBNA Mastercard are a few examples. You can use your cash to book any flight or hotel you find on Expedia/Orbitz. No blackouts and your cash covers taxes and fees.

I'll keep collecting Aeroplan mils when I fly Air Canada but I've scrapped my Aeroplan credit cards and it's no longer my primary rewards program.

November 17, 2016 @ 12:40 pm
Don
Don's picture

I just used 50,000 Aeroplan points to book two return tickets from Moncton to San Francisco in mid September.

The taxes, fees and surcharges were $ 238.44 per ticket for a total of $ 477 and the equivalent cost of a return ticket with the same travel times and stops wouldd have been $ 1,141 per ticket. The net saving worked out to $ 902 per ticket which equates to 3.6 cents per mile.

I am happy with this and the flight that I have is a one stop going and a two stop returning but only a total of 10 1/2 hours flying time which is really good.

However, having said that, I am not a big fan of Aeroplan, but I do intend to secure another Amex Gold card and accrue points again on this card, and more than likely I will transfer points 20,000 at a time in order to get the 25% bonus that Amex allows for this type of a transfer to Aeroplan & a number of other airlines.

January 02, 2017 @ 7:03 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Sounds like you are getting great value on those flights to San Francisco.

I think the 25% bonus you are referring to is with the Starwood Amex not the Amex Gold?

January 10, 2017 @ 10:20 am
L.Scott
L.Scott's picture

Dear Mr. Weyman:

I read with great interest your article and seek your wisdom about how I have recently done my own comparison computations.

Generally, I tell anybody that will listen that a "really good Biz-class to Europe" costs less in point redemption (or $ value per point return) than the same points for multiple within Canada flights. ie: YYZ > YOW
Therefore more bang for the buck.

Anyway, I've looked at it both ways and with this one sample item (I did 7 in all) do you think I'm on the right track?
(All point amounts were taken at face value from the Rewards Chart and not actual flight searches)

YYZ > HKG / 2 pax / Prem. Econ. / $4,194 total (and yes I included taxes here in error) for which AP wants 250,000 points which by $ / points = .0167
and in reverse 250,000 / $4,194 = 59.60 points / $

My thoughts are that the higher the former result and/or the lower the latter result is the go-to figure for the best ROI.

Your thoughts?
much thx.

January 30, 2017 @ 6:44 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Yes, you are doing it correctly. You want to maximize the first figure and minimize the second. You want to strive for at least $0.02 though I would say.

January 31, 2017 @ 10:45 am
L.Scott
L.Scott's picture

Ok good and nice to know I'm still avoiding senior moments when it counts.

I re-jigged my test cases as it appears that an Aeroplan Can > Continental USA - Long Haul in Biz-class seems to (currently) offer the best ROI.

That being, YYZ > LAX / Sept. 30 > Oct. 7 / AirCan fare of $2,452 + $245.87 tax exactly matches the AP of 50,000 miles + $195.71 tax.
The crunch numbers come to .04904 cents per mile and 20.3915 miles per dollar. (and the tax is out this time)

Seems pretty good when a Prem. Econ. flight to the UK ( YYZ>LHR ) comes to only .0249 and $40.14, based on $1,868 + $370. tax, but not as good an ROI for the same dates & flights in Business at .04029 and $24.81, based on $4,432 + $370. tax, which seems to uphold my previous conception of "go big or stay home".

However, are the numbers still not skewed a bit by the fact that AP will shift the "Carrier Surcharge" ($380. on the London run in either class) from the Air Canada base fare over to their Taxes & Fees section to be paid additionally?
(this explains why the buy-a-ticket-or-get-a-ticket comparisons look scary)

Appears that by paying more in T&F, it turns the AP Business valuation into .0368 and $27.14 and the higher the Surcharge goes on any flight the worse the differential becomes.
But funny how the above US example, if you'll pardon the expression, flies in the face of that concept.

Besides that, I have found that by the math on the "pay your taxes with miles" option, it is for people with a gazillion miles, or suckers.

Thanks and best regards.

January 31, 2017 @ 3:30 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

You're right on all counts. The carrier surchage is very high for Europe which is why Europe flights tend to be the worst value. The impact is less on Business tickets, but it is still significant.

There is no excessive carrier surchage for North American flights, so it causes value to increase substantially.

January 31, 2017 @ 3:42 pm
L.Scott
L.Scott's picture

One last kick at the carbon fibre can here... (I like the 787's)

Realizing that I did not complete the due diligence by also including (ugh!) Economy in the mix, I went back and came up with some surprising data.

Same date / cheapest flight choice on AC.com gives me $681. + $246.52 t&f which computes to .0172 and $57.85, aka an ROI akin to having BreX stock.

However, this is based on AP coughing up a matching flight Market Fare for 39,400 miles, which surprisingly is much less than the Fixed rate of 60,000 miles which computes to .01135 and $88.10! Oy Vey!

The Carrier Surcharge cost on the Market was only $350. while the Fixed was the going rate of $380, resulting in a final T&F charge of $596.56 vs $626.56.

The major takeaway is that Business is still seems to be the best bang-for-the-buck (airport fast-trak security lines makes that worth it alone, not to mention all the other posh perqs) and Aeroplan can unexpectedly throw you a juicy bone if you are flying to right place at the right time.

In conclusion, being driven by your sage advice along with my compulsive-anal-retentive-OCD-cheap-SOB complex, I shall never accept less than 4 cents ever again!

And for that, I humbly thank you.

January 31, 2017 @ 7:13 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I like a man who has standards - haha :)

February 01, 2017 @ 4:17 pm
Sumi
Sumi's picture

Hi,
I had collected a lot of aeroplan miles until they came up with a policy that if there had been no activity in the account for a year, then we lose all that we have collected. I had been very sick and so was not able to maintain the minimum requirement a particular year. They told me I had lost all of my miles. When I explained I had been sick, I was told I could buy back my lost miles at one cent per mile. I had collected over 51,000 miles. I have to spend quite a lot of money to get them back along with tax on the cent. Do you know of a way for me to get back my miles without spending any money at all? Thank you.

February 06, 2017 @ 6:11 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

They are pretty strict with this. You'd have to make quite a stink and try to speak to superiours up the chain to make an exception. There's a good chance they just won't do it though. Setting a calendar reminder to pump a few litres of Esso gas every year is a good way to keep active.

February 12, 2017 @ 8:59 pm
Marpy
Marpy's picture

Home hardware also issues aero plan miles. show you card when you buy anything and you have your activity.

July 25, 2017 @ 7:43 pm
Travel28
Travel28's picture

Need some advice...
Is it worth to use my points to fly from Vancouver to Copenhagen - premium economy May 2017?
Is premium economy worth using the points?
It will be 90,000 points to fly & the trip is not premium economy for the entire journey.
From Vancouver to Toronto - Economy> Toronto to Copenhagen - Premium Economy
From Copenhagen to Toronto - Premium Economy>Toronto to Vancouver - Economy
I don't understand why it is partial as it is already redeeming the points for the tickets.
The taxes are comparable to redeeming 58,000 (market value) for Economy.
I actually called Air Canada for assistance - unfortunately rep was not able to assist in trying other airlines, etc.

February 22, 2017 @ 1:19 pm
Hugh
Hugh's picture

Using points for merchandise or credit card seems like a bad decision.

But if you have no use for travel, there's nothing wrong with a $500 gift card for 69000 points.

Consider it free money especially if you've accumulated the majority of your points through bonus credit card promotions.

February 22, 2017 @ 1:41 pm
Fletch
Fletch's picture

October/November of 2015 I managed to book a silly redflagdeal glitch from JFK to Milan and then from Prague to Tokyo all for 151 cad. I only wanted to go to Europe and not all the way to Japan. 1 way return flights were all in the 2800-4300 range for the return dates I wanted due to some sort of big expo. Ended up using 30k Aeroplan miles plus 280 taxes/fees to get a 3800 dollar flight back from Frankfurt. ~11.5c/mile

I regularly fly Toronto to Edmonton and do the 25k +163 tax/fee round trip. As a result of my booking last minute the flight costs are usually in the 7-900 range netting a return of 2.5-3c/mile which is acceptable when you consider earning 1.5 miles/dollar.

March 03, 2017 @ 4:46 pm
Samon
Samon's picture

Hi Stephen,

The only flight I do annually is Ottawa to Hong Kong roundtrip. I always plan my flight ahead and wait for a good price before buying it. It seems like with the market fare price - tax, my redeem rate is about 1.5 cent per mile. Should I save the miles for emergency flight to increase my value, or just redeem it anyway? Business class availability seems very scarce and I doubt I can go for that route. Any suggestion?

Thanks

March 10, 2017 @ 2:14 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Saving miles for an emergency flight is never a good idea because you may end up with no availability. Save yourself the time and hassle of finding that awesome deal on one of your trips and just use your miles for it instead.

July 26, 2017 @ 11:02 pm
Kerry
Kerry's picture

Can someone tell me what the value money wise is 31,000 miles with aeroplan?. I want to buy merchandise on their website, but do not want to over pay.

June 28, 2017 @ 2:19 pm
Tom
Tom's picture

In the London we got a decent deal using Aeroplan miles for a hotel. Two rooms in a great location (Earl's Court) in the city in a nice but not luxurious hotel for 8 nights for about 2 cents a point. All-in. We didn't pay any cash for taxes. When we checked out we owed a pound for a local phone call and that was it. It was a MUCH better deal than using the points for Airfare to Europe, because of the need to pay the taxes. It also simplified looking for a hotel in London, because there weren't many choices. Sometimes less choice is ok.

July 04, 2017 @ 11:57 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

First I've heard of a good deal on hotels with Aeroplan! I might have to look into it a bit more. I always thought the value was terrible. It's pretty hard to beat Priceline Name Your Own Price though.

July 26, 2017 @ 11:03 pm
Sunny
Sunny's picture

Awesome read....I have started collecting miles on a serious note from last couple of years. Plan to redeem them for a europe trip in 2019 (avoiding the YQ charges using BR or TK).

Question: Is it worth buying few points from aeroplan site if I am short? Is there any other site that gives a better value if you buy the miles? perhaps like: themileage club?

Your thoughts?

Thanks

July 11, 2017 @ 3:27 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I'd probably buy a big gift card to a store I shop at regularly on an Aeroplan credit card to push me over instead of buying the miles outright.

However, if you're only a few miles short then it can be worth it.

July 26, 2017 @ 11:05 pm
Bal Singh
Bal Singh's picture

I just found out that it costs 2c per point to transfer roughly 60000 aeroplan points. That's over $1200 to transfer them.

I'm trying to book a vacation and I'm only getting $600 for 60000 points. So, the cost of transferring from my wife's account is double what the points are worth for a vacation booking.

This is unfair. I'm thinking of stopping to use air canada as my primary carrier.

Am I missing something?

July 20, 2017 @ 10:47 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

You're missing nothing on the fact that Aeroplan transfers are completely bogus and you should never ever do one.

That said, Aeorplan miles are extremely flexible on who you can redeem them for. There are absolutely on restrictions. Don't transfer them, just have the person with the miles book the flight for whatever person needs it. The only downside is if you are trying to pool miles from multiple accounts to make one large redemption.

July 26, 2017 @ 11:07 pm
Rick Raynsford
Rick Raynsford's picture

Hi,

I recently tried to use Aeroplan points for a flight from Vancouver to Halifax. This was sort of short notice but it was still 6 weeks out. There was absolutely nothing available. I then called Aeroplan to see if I could get a routing through either Montrieal or Ottawa as everything they had online was through Toronto. I was told that there were no flights through Ottawa or Montreal to Halifax which really made think that there isn't the flexibility with Aeroplan. I have 280,000 points and have sent relatives on flights three times in the past.

Rick

July 25, 2017 @ 2:02 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Last minute availability was a thing if you were a little bit flexible until recently.

The 2020 change announcement has more people redeeming and we're also in the middle of summer when everyone is travelling for vacation. I expect it will get better in the fall and winter.

July 26, 2017 @ 11:08 pm
L.Scott
L.Scott's picture

Good day Mr. W:

Interesting update to the original thesis, wish I had a crystal ball to see what AP may conjure up.
However, did I detect a slight gramatical error in your post?
To whit: "~.... I think it's likely they will make a play for Aeroplan either."
Should that have been, "won't"?
Just asking.
Cheers.

July 25, 2017 @ 5:55 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I assure you there is more than one in my posts. I do review them several times but something usually slips through. I will correct it :)

July 26, 2017 @ 11:09 pm
linda McCallum
linda McCallum's picture

I'm not sure why Aeroplan gets such bad press. The last five international vacations my husband and I have taken (with our sister in law too) have all been paid for by Aeroplan and all were in business class. I'm a dedicated saver who buys everything with an Amex or TD card that accumulates aeroplan points. I book a minimum of 6-8 months in advance and it takes a couple of hours on the phone - but other than that it's worked really well. Also, if you have a partner like I have with a significant disability (in our case confined to a powerchair) who needs to travel with a carer they reduce the number of Aeroplan miles you need by approx. half - a huge bonus and a big help to flying business class. Within Canada - my flight is free! And we find the help we have had travelling with AC to be terrific too - they've been super helpful.

July 25, 2017 @ 7:53 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I couldn't agree more Linda, but I am concerned about the upcoming 2020 changes. I hope they work hard to keep me as a loyal user.

July 26, 2017 @ 11:15 pm
Fred
Fred's picture

I understand your contentment with Aeroplan. By reading your comments it makes sense to be happy with the program. But you seem not to pay attention to what people are saying in the press and care less it appears. You would be more sure of frustrations Aeroplan presents to most members with its service and availability to redeem if you reread the press. It takes me days upon days to formulate a trip to my destination, checking and analyzing route availability. And then hours on the phone to finally book it. If I were to rely on agents I would never fly. They have no inclination to search out the option but present the easiest path from what their terminal spits out and what is the most attractive to AC. However, I utilized the program in the past as there are few alternative in my situation. Few members get great redemption but millions are stuck with a minimum value. Aeroplan, AC and Banks mostly realize a substantial financial rewards for running this loyalty program at the expense of an average person.

July 28, 2017 @ 12:00 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Aeroplan has always had its issues for sure. I talk about them plenty. My stance has always been, all things considered, they provide some of the best travel rewards value you can get as a Canadian.

Availability, Aeroplan's biggest issue, seemed to be getting much better over the past 2-3 years. Every time I went to book long haul flights within North America there was always at least some half-decent availability.

Now that there is a rush to redeem before 2020 that will likely no longer be the case.

July 28, 2017 @ 11:50 pm
Kyle
Kyle's picture

I agree that Aeroplan can be very good value but the best values are generally obtained by planning ahead, in some cases the full 350 days ahead when the Aeroplan booking window opens. Now in my case, I travel a lot for business and have been Air Canada Super Elite for the last 5 years. That helps a lot when booking as there are extra Aeroplan reward seats available to me on Air Canada flights.

Some routings require extra work to get. For example, my wife and I have booked a trip to New Zealand for next March. We're going for 4 weeks so the first thing I realized was that we had to book the outbound trip as a one way and the return as a another one way. If I waited until the return booking window was open and then tried to book a round trip, I'd never get the outbound flights because they'd be long gone. The other piece is that Air Canada puts their inventory into Aeroplan 350 days ahead but Air New Zealand doesn't. They seem to put theirs in about 320 days ahead. So what I did was book Calgary to Sydney, Australia the day it came available and then added the leg to Auckland on Air New Zealand about a month later. That means searching every day to see when their flights became available.

Luckily I was able to avoid change fees by canceling the Calgary to Sydney and rebooking Calgary to Auckland which for me as a Super Elite only cost $30 per ticket for the cancellation fee. The taxes I had paid on the first booking were refunded. I did the same thing for the return flights. Overall, I was out of pocket less than $400 for 2 tickets worth $7,000 each plus 320,000 points.

I am concerned about what my Aeroplan points will get me once AC launches their own program in 2020. I plan to retire at the end of 2019 and I'll have at least a million points. I had thought to use them up over the next many years but it looks like I'll want to book any overseas business class trips for no later than a year from June 2020. In thinking about it just now, we might have to take another bucket list trip before then.

Have you any other strategies for maximizing the value of a large Aeroplan balance given they may be worth less after the new Air Canada program starts?

Thanks!

July 31, 2017 @ 4:51 pm
b.lockwood
b.lockwood's picture

I have been using Aeroplan for about 15 years. I started when, as a military member I had to fly overseas about every sixth week. The government allows members flying for service reasons to collect the aeroplan points earned on those flights. Over several years my points reached a high of 750,000, but I always used them for vacation flights when the total got that high, and generally kept a running average of 400,00 points.
I have learned the following tips:
a. domestic flights give the best return on points, and the further the domestic flight, the better. I live in Ottawa, and find the best deals have always been to Hawaii, Vancouver, and San Diego/Los Angeles.
b. Seat availability is often an issue, so I always depart and return on either a Tuesday or Wednesday. Not only do you avoid red eye flights, but often the plane is only partially booked, and have had whole rows to myself to stretch out in.
c. Be realistic about your plans. Expecting to booked a free flight on the 23-24 Dec, or the weekend of Thanksgiving and you will be disappointed. Trying to book a free flight to Rome or London during the summer is a waste of time, but I booked a flight to London in mid-January with no issues - and compared to the -30C temps in Ottawa at the time, London was like a balmy spring. Late fall (i.e. early November) is a great time to visit Rome, temps are still great, hotels are cheaper, restaurants are less busy, and no crowding with all the other tourists who failed to read the memo on when best to travel.
d. Although last minute specials do exist, I usually book 6-8 months in advance.
e. Maximise your points:
i. use the Aeroplan site for purchases if possible. I had to buy an Apple computer, and bought it through the Apple site link within the Aeroplan web site. The computer wasn't any cheaper, but I got 5x times the Aeroplan points that I would have received if I had purchased online through the Apple main site, or had walked into their store;
ii. Recently bought a vehicle and asked about using my Aeroplan credit card for making a downpayment. The dealer policy was $2000 maximum. As part of the sales haggling, the finance person raised it to $3000 per person. I got the finance person to allow myself, wife, and son, all to use the $3000 maximum, all collecting points. Don't forget to double dip, by using places like Esso and Home Hardware, Park n Fly, to name a few.

July 28, 2017 @ 2:57 pm
Kenneth Cameron
Kenneth Cameron's picture

Can you recommend other cards to switch over to?

July 28, 2017 @ 3:42 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Sure, take a look at my new credit card comparison website, creditcardGenius. You should be able to find something you need there.

https://creditcardgenius.ca

If you want something that offers more flexible rewards card leave the middle Cash Back <--> Travel Rewards slider untouched in the middle.

The CIBC Aventura, RBC Avion, or the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card are all good choices for flexible travel rewards cards.

July 28, 2017 @ 11:47 pm
Ray Temmerman
Ray Temmerman's picture

If flying overseas, try to get a flight through the USA. It will reduce the amount Air Canada is able to charge in fuel surcharges, that sweetheart deal they negotiated with the federal government, as those costs are extra in Canada, and included in the ticket in the USA. The difference can be substantial.

July 29, 2017 @ 7:19 am
George Wu
George Wu's picture

Based on my calculation, their "market fare" price is 0.76 cent per mile, which agrees with the gift card & merchandise redemption. If you want to increase the value, you have to book popular flight using their fixed mile flight, but good luck finding a flight with the date, stops and time you want. That is why i dont like aeroplan credit card, such as TD aeroplan infinite, if $dollar spend for 1 mile, the reward is less than 1%, even worth compare to a basic cash back card.

August 02, 2017 @ 12:25 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

You have to jump through a few hoops to up the value for sure. Market fare is terrible value, but occasionally they have amazing deals where market fare is actually less than or close to a classic flight. They're rare, but I've seen them. This would be more common for people with Aeroplan Distinction status because they get market fare discounts.

August 02, 2017 @ 4:09 pm
jayYYZ
jayYYZ's picture

I have no idea where the author is getting these valuations of 1.9 to 2.5 cents per mile. In fact I think his "low end of 0.6-0.9 cents is, in fact, closer to reality

If you fly economy YYZ to LHR you get around 4 /10th of a cent! An 815 dollar flight is 50,050 plus 617 dollars versus 816 dollars to buy it directly.

If you fly PE instead you can get 1.31 cents

If you fly economy to Beijing or Shanghai on a $681 flight you pay 441 bucks plus 44150 miles so its worth 1/2 cent in good old economy ( I am being sarcastic about the good bit if any doubt)

If you up it to PE they want 118,800 plus 441 bucks against 1691 bucks directly from amex or aircanada making them worth around a penny each. So here you are parity with AMEX's own points at a penny a piece which is what you get every day all the time.

If you really max it out by going to Business that same flight is 4000 plus 71 in taxes. They want 233,000 plus 641.06 making a mile worth around 1.5 cents. Although given the taxes portion is 71 dollars on AC I am not sure where the 641 arises from but that is really moot

Frankly it seems unless you are flying business class or PE the points are virtually worthless at around a half of a cent each. Which is pretty funny considering they want 5 cents per point from you. 10 times the value --- pretty good ROI for Aeroplan

My AMEX business that gives me amex points, which convert to a/c pricing at the same as direct, I am getting 1 cent per point all the time. I dont have to look for their specials and i can fly when I want without all the BS of aeroplan. Oh and dont forget if you want to transfer them "to get what you really want" its a piffling 2 cents each. So you are getting taken on that too

I regret my personal card is actually with aeroplan now that I see what I really am getting. I think I will convert it to just amex points like the business card.

August 06, 2017 @ 3:30 pm
CambridgeCro
CambridgeCro's picture

I got here from the link in an article by Rob Carrick. My travel agent told me several years ago, and I strongly agree with her to NEVER use Aeroplan points for flights. I fly to Europe every 2-3 years, and when I look at the cost of flights I have always found my Aeroplan points are best used for hotels and car rentals. I am curious why the article never addressed those.

Examples
$649 Toronto to Munich (when we found one on sale) - 60000 points, plus nearly $400 in taxes and fees on top
$800 five-night hotel stay in Montreal at Best Western Europa downtown - 50000 with no extra costs
$800 10-day car rental at Avis -55000 points, all included

We have consistently found more bang for our points with cars and hotel rooms.

August 11, 2017 @ 12:10 pm
Rob White
Rob White's picture

Hi, the thing I've been finding most frustrating lately is you can sometimes book a flight in either the fixed rewards or market fare section. The fewer reward miles you manage to use, the more AC tacks on the surcharges. At times I have found that the final cost of miles + taxes is about the same for fixed and market given one needs more miles and the other brings more taxes and surcharges. I think tax and surcharge really should be the same regardless of how many miles are being used.

September 01, 2017 @ 5:48 pm

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