Aeroplan vs AIR MILES: Which Rewards Program Is Better?
Two of the most popular loyalty rewards programs in Canada are AIR MILES and Aeroplan. Both are longstanding programs that provide many different ways to earn points, including through credit card rewards. Also, both allow you to redeem your points for travel rewards, including flights, hotels, car rentals, vacation packages, etc.
If you’re interested in signing up for one of these programs, you may be wondering if one is better than the other. In this article, I’ll cover the basics of both Aeroplan and AIR MILES. I’ll explain the different ways you can earn and redeem points, and I’ll let you know what type of customer is better suited for each program.
What Is Aeroplan Rewards?
Aeroplan Rewards is Air Canada’s loyalty program. It allows you to earn Aeroplan points that can be redeemed for Air Canada flights, hotels, vacation packages, car rentals, merchandise, gift cards, and more.
You can earn points on travel purchases, such as flights, hotels, and car rentals. You can also earn points when you shop at the Aeroplan eStore, and on your everyday purchases, by using an Aeroplan-affiliated credit card from several financial institutions, including TD, CIBC, and American Express.
Each Aeroplan credit card has different benefits, reward rates, and point redemption options.
While the Aeroplan program has been around since 1984, it was re-purchased by Air Canada in 2018 in partnership with TD, CIBC, and Visa. An enhanced Aeroplan program was then relaunched in 2020.
What Is the AIR MILES Rewards Program?
The AIR MILES Rewards Program is a loyalty program that lets you earn points, known as “Air Miles,” when you shop at participating retail partners using your Air Miles Collector Card or an affiliated Air Miles credit card. These points can then be redeemed for various rewards, including travel, merchandise, and gift cards.
The AIR MILES program offers two different types of rewards. You can choose between straight Cash Rewards or Dream Miles, and you can change your rewards preference at any time. While Cash Rewards allows you to redeem 95 AIR MILES for instant rebates at AIR MILES partner stores, for the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on the AIR MILES Dream miles, which you can redeem towards travel.
AIR MILES Dream Miles
AIR MILES Dream Miles can be redeemed for non-cash rewards, including flights, rental cars, hotels, concert tickets, and merchandise.
You can earn Dream Miles in the following ways:
- Present your AIR MILES Collector card when you shop at AIR MILES partner stores, which include Sobeys, Safeway, Shell, Metro, IGA, and Budget Car Rental.
- Earn points when you make purchases with an AIR MILES credit card
- When you book travel directly with AIR MILES
- By shopping online through AIR MILES eStore
The program has a wide range of retail partners, allowing you to earn Air Miles on everyday purchases like groceries, gas, and even online shopping. Some popular Air Miles partners include Sobeys, Shell, and Rexall. By using your Air Miles card or an Air Miles credit card, such as the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard, you can take advantage of bonus offers to earn even more points.
Recommended Credit Cards
There are many different rewards credit cards affiliated with the Aeroplan and Air Miles loyalty programs, but two of the most popular cards include the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card and BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard. Here’s a closer look at the features and benefits of each card.
TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card
The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card allows cardholders to leverage the partnership between Aeroplan and one of Canada’s largest banks. The premium travel rewards credit card includes a generous welcome bonus that, at the time of writing, includes up to 50,000 bonus Aeroplan points and no annual fee for the first year.
Regarding regular point earning, you get 1.5 Aeroplan points on every dollar you spend on eligible gas, grocery, and Air Canada purchases. You’ll earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Another nice feature is that you can earn double the Aeroplan points through the Aeroplan eStore when you pay with your card at over 170 Aeroplan partner retailers, including Apple, Moores Clothing, Dyson, Amazon.ca, Lenovo, Best Buy, and Sephora.
The card includes several travel-related insurance coverages, including travel medical, trip cancellation/trip interruption, flight/trip delay, delayed and lost baggage, common carrier travel accident, and auto rental collision/loss damage insurance.
- $139 annual fee; $75 for each additional cardholder
- Welcome bonus of up to 50,000 Aeroplan points, 1st year annual fee waived (Limited-time offer)
- 20.99% purchase interest rate
- Minimum annual income requirement of $60,000 per individual or $100,000 per household
- Earn 1.5 Aeroplan points for every dollar you spend on gas, groceries, and Air Canada purchases. Earn 1 Aeroplan point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Includes Travel Medical, Trip Cancellation/Interruption, Flight/Trip Delay, Delayed and Lost Baggage, Common Carrier Travel Accident, and Auto Rental Collision/Loss Damage Insurance
- Exclusive Visa Infinite Benefits
- Avis and Budget Rental Car Discounts
- Mobile Device Insurance
- Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance
- Purchase Security and Extended Warranty Protection
- Optional TD Auto Club Membership
BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard
The BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard is a premium rewards credit card that helps you maximize your AIR MILES benefits. Like the TD Aeroplan card, it includes a welcome bonus, with new cardholders receiving 2,000 AIR MILES bonus miles, and the $120 annual fee is waived for the first year.
When using the card, you’ll earn 3X the Miles when you spend at AIR MILES partners and 2X the Miles at eligible grocery stores. You can also double up your Shell Go+ Miles on eligible fuel and in-store purchases. The card also includes a 25% discount on one worldwide AIR MILES flight per calendar year.
One nice thing about AIR MILES Cash Miles is their flexibility. If you don’t want to redeem your Miles for flights, you can spend them online or in-store through AIR MILES Cash Reward Partners. The card does have an annual fee of $120 and a minimum annual income requirement of $80,000 per individual or $150,000 per household.
- $120 annual fee
- Welcome Bonus of 2,000 AIR MILES and the first year’s annual fee waived ($120 value)
- 20.99% Cash Purchase Rate
- Minimum annual income requirement of $80,000 per individual or $150,000 per household
- Earn 3X MILES on spending through AIR MILES partners
- Earn 2X MILES at eligible grocery stores
- Double up your miles with Shell Go+
- BMO AIR MILES World Elite Travel Medical Protection
- Free access to over 1 million Boingo Wi-Fi hotspots worldwide
- Extended Warranty and Purchase Protection.
Aeroplan vs. Air Miles: A Quick Comparison
For a quick comparison, here’s a list of key features of each rewards program:
- Owned by Air Canada in partnership with TD, CIBC, and Visa Canada
- Offer more ways to earn points
- Earn points on travel purchases through the Air Canada eStore, and with a rewards credit card
- Redeem your points for travel, merchandise, and gift cards
- Many additional perks are specific to Air Canada
- Higher point value for most flight redemptions
- Owned by BMO, more focused on retail partners
- Potentially better value for those who frequent partner stores like Sobeys and Safeway, Shell
- Choose between Dream Miles and Cash Rewards
- Cash Rewards allow you to convert points for cash rebates
- Dream Miles can be redeemed for flights, hotels, car rentals, concert tickets, and merchandise
- A more generic loyalty program (not tied to a specific airline)
Remember, your choice between Aeroplan and Air Miles should be based on your personal preferences and travel patterns. Consider these differences to help you make the best decision for your loyalty rewards program needs.
AIR MILES vs. Aeroplan: Which Program Is Better?
The bottom line is that both the AIR MILES and Aeroplan programs can help you earn valuable travel rewards. Which program is better really depends on your personal preferences and your spending habits.
If you’re a loyal Air Canada customer and are already a regular Aeroplan member, you can maximize your earning capability by getting an Aeroplan rewards credit card. Because Aeroplan is affiliated with a specific airline, it tends to offer more airline perks that frequent flyers will enjoy, such as free checked bags and airport lounge access. On the other hand, if you do most of your shopping at AIR MILES partner stores, like Sobeys, Safeway, or Shell, then you may earn faster with an AIR MILES branded credit card.
Ultimately, you need to review the earning and redemption options of both programs before deciding. Also, remember that it doesn’t have to be an either/or scenario. You might find it beneficial to hold membership in both Aeroplan and Air Miles, so you can take advantage of the rewards each program offers.
Which credit card offers the best rewards for Aeroplan and Air Miles?
Aeroplan is partnered primarily with TD, CIBC, and Amex, while Air Miles has a partnership with BMO. Two standout cards are the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite card and the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard, but they aren’t the only cards available. Before you apply for any rewards credit card, I recommend reviewing the reward earning rates, sign-up bonuses, and other perks to determine the best fit for your spending habits and travel preferences.
How do Aeroplan’s and Air Miles’ partner networks compare?
Aeroplan is Air Canada’s loyalty program, while Air Miles is a more generic rewards program focused on earning at retail stores. Their partner networks differ significantly: while Aeroplan has an extensive network of global airline partnerships through Air Canada, Air Miles’ partnerships are primarily with retail businesses. This means that you may have more options for redeeming your points with Aeroplan, especially on international flights.
What is the value of Aeroplan points versus Air Miles?
It can be challenging to compare the value of Aeroplan points and Air Miles directly, as it depends on multiple factors, such as your preferred redemption method and the specific rewards you are after. While redemption values vary, Aeroplan is generally the more valuable rewards program.
Are there unique benefits with Aeroplan compared to Air Miles?
Aeroplan’s affiliation with Air Canada offers several unique benefits compared to Air Miles. The program’s partnership with Canada’s largest airline gives you an advantage regarding flight options, in addition to perks such as priority boarding, access to airport lounges, and more when flying with Air Canada. While Air Miles offers a variety of rewards, including flights, its focus on retail partners and the recent loss of some partnerships may limit your options.