Air Canada did a complete update of their Aeroplan program in November of 2020, and with that came an overhaul of the Aeroplan credit card suite. The changes to the Aeroplan credit cards made the American Express Aeroplan card the clear winner kicking CIBC out of the top spot.
Today we’re going to talk about why you should seriously consider the American Express Aeroplan card if you want an Aeroplan specific credit and all the features of the card.
It is a powerhouse of a credit card, and it helps you get to your Aeroplan goals quickly.
The American Express Aeroplan credit card offers a generous sign-up bonus of up to 15,000 Aeroplan points plus a Buddy Pass for an annual fee of $120. This is the highest sign-up bonus on any of the Aeroplan specific credit cards and the lowest annual fee. The Amex Aeroplan card also features 1.5x points earning on dining and food delivery services, which is a category not seen in any other Aeroplan credit card.
The American Express Aeroplan credit card is the perfect addition to anybody’s wallet. The new Aeroplan program is very versatile, and the program is much easier to use since the upgrade.
Aeroplan is without a doubt the best travel points program in Canada, and the Amex Aeroplan helps you get to your dream trip faster than ever!
There is a lot to love about the American Express Aeroplan card. It has great points earning categories, a great sign-up bonus, and a reasonable annual fee- especially compared to the other Aeroplan credit cards on the market.
A few of the top highlights include:
- Up to 15,000 Aeroplan points as part of the sign-up bonus
- Receive a Buddy Pass after spending $1,500 in the first three months of holding the card
- 2x points on Air Canada purchases and purchases at participating Aeroplan partner retailers (like Hudson’s Bay, Chapters, Etsy, and more!)
- 1.5x points on eligible grocery, restaurant, and food delivery services in Canada
- Free first checked bag for primary card holder and up to eight companions on the same reservation
Pros and Cons of the American Express Aeroplan Card
- Excellent sign-up bonus and points earning categories
- Easy to redeem points for travel throughout the world
- No blackout dates on Air Canada flights
- Charge card, so you have to pay it off in full each month
- Not every vendor accepts American Express cards
- Can’t transfer points to another program
You earn and redeem Aeroplan points with the Amex Aeroplan card.
There isn’t the option to transfer your Aeroplan points to a partner program like with other American Express cards. It is extremely easy to earn and redeem Aeroplan points, and it is basically the same process as booking a flight and paying for it in cash.
The old Aeroplan program got a lot of hate. It was difficult to use, you had to call to book many non-Air Canada flights, and you were often hit with high taxes and fees that rendered your points basically useless.
The update to the Aeroplan program solved most of those problems, and it is a much easier and less frustrating system to use now.
There are no blackout dates on Air Canada flights, it is easier than ever to avoid paying high taxes and fees, and most partner airline flights can be booked online rather than through the phone.
It was a much needed upgrade and one that benefited the user a lot.
You earn up to 15,000 Aeroplan points and a Buddy Pass as the sign-up bonus on the Amex Aeroplan card, but it isn’t a straightforward sign-up bonus to earn.
There are multiple steps you have to take in order to receive all 15,000 Aeroplan points and the Buddy Pass.
Here is a breakdown of how the sign-up bonus on the American Express Aeroplan card works:
- Receive a Buddy Pass after spending $1,500 in the first three months of holding the card
- Earn 9,000 Aeroplan points after spending $1,500 in the first three months of holding the card. You get the Buddy Pass and 9,000 Aeroplan points at the same time.
- Earn 1,000 Aeroplan points every month you spend $500 or more on the Amex Aeroplan card in the first six months of holding the card for up to 6,000 Aeroplan points awarded.
That’s a bit confusing, but it isn’t as complicated as it sounds.
All you need to do is spend at least $500 on the American Express Aeroplan card each month for the first six months of holding the card, and you’ll receive the full sign-up bonus.
WHAT THE HECK IS A BUDDY PASS?!
The Buddy Pass is a new addition to the Aeroplan program, and it is part of the sign-up bonus on every Aeroplan credit card that has an annual fee.
It allows you to bring a companion on any North American Air Canada flight for free. You just have to pay the taxes and fees but don’t have to pay the base fare.
The Buddy Pass can only be used on round-trip flights within North America, so you’re quite limited on how you can use the pass.
You also have to be booked on the reservation as well.
Essentially, you pay full price for your airfare, and you only pay the taxes and fees on the second person’s airfare.
This is a pretty good deal as long as you use it properly!
Best Use of your buddy pass
I suggest using it for a flight from Canada to the United States. Flights are often expensive, and American airports have significantly lower taxes and fees than Canadian airports.
This is the best way to use your Buddy Pass because you get the most value out of it.
There is no sense using your Buddy Pass on a flight where you’re paying hundred of dollars on taxes and fees. It takes the perk out of the Buddy Pass and costs you nearly the same out-of-pocket as if you paid for the full airfare.
For example, I used a Westjet companion fare to fly from Edmonton to Orlando. The taxes and fees were less than $50, so it was a great use of my companion pass.
The next time I went to use my companion fare, I looked at flying from Edmonton to Ottawa. The taxes and fees on that flight came to over $500! That is pretty close to the price of a full-price ticket, and I decided not to book it because it was essentially a waste of the companion fare.
A companion pass is very similar to the Buddy Pass but is provided by Westjet and has a base fare you have to pay.
There are ways to strategically use your Buddy Pass to squeeze every single dollar possible out of it and keep as much money in your pocket as possible.
If you’re going on multiple trips in a year, play around with the Buddy Pass and use it on the trip where you pay the least in taxes and fees!
There are multiple different points earning categories, so you need to be strategic on when you use your American Express Aeroplan.
You can really rack up the points quickly when you use the Amex Aeroplan card to its full potential!
Here are the points earning categories:
- 2x points on purchases through the Air Canada website
- 2x points on purchases at Aeroplan partner retailers. The most common way to earn these points is making your online purchases at partner retailers through the Aeroplan portal. You have to be logged in and access the retailer through the Aeroplan website in order to earn your bonus points!
- 1.5x points on eligible grocery, restaurant, and food delivery services in Canada. You won’t receive bonus points for food purchases outside of Canada. You will only earn 1 point per $1 spent on food outside of Canada.
- 1x points on every other purchase including travel and other purchases made outside of Canada.
Of all the Aeroplan credit cards on the market, the American Express Aeroplan card has the best points earning categories.
CIBC and TD have 1.5x points on gas and transportation, and American Express has 1.5x on groceries, restaurants, and food delivery services.
Most people spend more money on food than transportation, so it is easier to earn more points with the American Express Aeroplan card than any other Aeroplan card on the market.
It is so easy to redeem your Aeroplan points!
You simply log into your Aeroplan account via the Air Canada website. After that, you go to the book a flight box on the homepage and toggle the red button from $CAD to points. You search your flight just as you normally would, and the prices shown are in points rather than Canadian dollars.
Most of Air Canada’s partner airlines will show up in your search, so you can easily book a ticket on a non-Air Canada flight.
There are some partner airlines that, unfortunately, don’t show up on the Air Canada website.
In this case, you have to do a little more work. Find the flight you want to take on a different website (like the partner airline’s website or Google Flights) and then call the Aeroplan booking phone number and book your flight with a customer service agent.
There is a small $30 fee for booking your flight over the phone.
It is a shame that they charge you when it is the only option, but it is a small price to pay to get the flight you want to book!
More and more partner airlines are added to the Air Canada website, so (fingers crossed) it won’t be long until we can book every flight online and never have to call a customer service agent again!
You can use the Aeroplan price predictor tool to help figure out how many points you need for any given flight!
Best Ways to Redeem Aeroplan Points
Aeroplan breaks down the number of points you need to redeem into travel zones and distance travelled within each travel zone.
There are also different points required depending on whether you’re flying Air Canada or a partner airline.
It can be a little bit complicated to wrap your head around, but the redemption chart is a huge help.
Looking at the redemption chart, the very best value for your points is flying a partner airline between North American and the Pacific zone or North American and South America.
You get the most bang for your points when you travel between these zones. This goes for whether you’re flying economy all the way up to business class!
That being said, I’m going to give you some really unpopular advice that most people in the travel hacking space won’t tell you.
You should spend your points on whatever fits your travel schedule the best.
It is always better to use your points for any travel then let your points sit there collecting dust or (even worse) expire and go to waste!
Most people tell you to get the absolute best value for your points no matter what. This ends up creating analysis paralysis, and many people don’t use their points for anything.
Don’t be that person!
I personally am planning to use my Aeroplan points for a flight from the Atlantic zone to North America even though technically it isn’t the best value for my points.
But it works for my travel plans, and that’s all that matters!
Worst Ways to Redeem Aeroplan Points
While there isn’t a best way to use your Aeroplan points, there is certainly a worst way to use them!
You should try at all costs to avoid using your Aeroplan points for merchandise or gift cards.
It gives you the lowest value for your points, and basically anything else is better than redeeming your points for merchandise or gift cards.
If your points are able to expire, then, of course, use them for merchandise or gift cards, but it should be a last resort!
In terms of flights, the worst point redemption values is flying between North America and the Atlantic zone.
The points required are higher than in other categories, and it isn’t the best value for your points.
I chalk it up to Europe being the most popular travel destination and people being willing to pay a premium to travel there.
That being said, if you want to redeem your points for a trip to Europe, redeem your points for a trip to Europe! You earned them, and you can use your points however you want!
The points required to fly within South America are outrageous as well! I highly recommend you not use your points for travel on a partner airline within South America.
It is a rip off!
The annual fee on the American Express Aeroplan card is $120. There is, unfortunately, no first year fee waiver, so you’ll be shelling out $120 every year you hold the card.
This is a very fair annual fee!
The comparable CIBC and TD Aeroplan cards have a $139 annual fee and a lower sign-up bonus!
I love that American Express gave us more for less! There is a reason they are known to have the best travel credit cards in Canada!
American Express makes it really easy to get one of their credit cards!
They don’t have a minimum income requirement, so their credit cards are accessible to most Canadians assuming you have a decent credit score.
Here are the listed American Express requirements for the Amex Aeroplan card:
- Be a Canadian resident
- Have a Canadian credit file
- Be the age of majority in the province you live in
It is as easy as that!
American Express doesn’t post a required credit score, but you do need a decent credit score in order to be approved for the American Express Aeroplan card.
I suggest having a credit score of at least 650 before applying for the Amex Aeroplan card.
Who Should Get the American Express Aeroplan Card
I honestly think anybody can benefit from having the American Express Aeroplan card in their wallet.
It is one of the best travel credit cards in Canada, and it suits pretty much any travel style.
I love how versatile the Amex Aeroplan card is. You can use it to travel anywhere in the world and in any class of service.
The points are super easy to redeem, and the Aeroplan program is perfect for beginner travel hackers and more experienced travel hackers.
The American Express Aeroplan card is one of those rare credit cards where it suits everybody’s needs, and you can’t go wrong applying for it!
Who Should NOT Get the American Express Aeroplan Card
I can’t really think of a situation where the Amex Aeroplan card isn’t a good fit.
There are the obvious scenarios where you can’t meet the minimum spend or don’t have the restraint to not go into credit card debt.
Outside of those obvious situations that are universal, I think everybody will love the American Express Aeroplan card!
There you have it! A complete analysis of the American Express Aeroplan card and why it is the best Aeroplan credit card on the market.
I truly think it is the a great addition to every wallet, and everybody can benefit from holding the Amex Aeroplan card.
You can use Aeroplan points to travel anywhere in the world on a myriad of different airlines.
With the updates to the Aeroplan program, the elimination of blackout dates, and the reduction of fees and taxes, there are very few downsides to the Aeroplan program and the American Express Aeroplan card.
I highly recommend you look into the American Express Aeroplan card next time you’re in the market for a new Canadian travel credit card!