American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card Review | Get up to 90,000 points

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In my American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card Review, I’m going to go over all the details about why this card has quickly become one of the best travel credit cards in Canada. Not only does this card typically come with a generous welcome bonus, but the included benefits will make you feel like a VIP whenever you travel. Keep reading my American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card review for all the details.

American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card

  • $599 annual fee
  • Earn 7,500 points per month when spending $2,000 each month for 6 months
  • Earn 5,000 points each when adding additional users at the time of sign up (up to 10,000 points)
  • Earn 35,000 points per month when spending $6,000 between months 13 and 16
  • Earn 3 Aeroplan points per $1 spent on Air Canada, 2 points on dining and food delivery, and 1.25 points on all other purchases
  • Unlimited free access to Maple Leaf Lounges in North America for you and a guest
  • Free first checked bag, priority check-in and boarding on Air Canada

Welcome bonus and earn rate

Potential cardholders expect a generous welcome bonus whenever a card has a high annual fee. Fortunately, the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card does not disappoint. The welcome bonus is typically worth between 90,000 to 120,000 Aeroplan points. When you use a friend’s referral link, you may get some additional points.

That said, the current welcome bonus is the worst it’s ever been. Technically speaking, you’re still getting a lot of points, but the steps required to get the full bonus are a bit ridiculous. You likely want to wait until there’s an easier or better offer.

I personally value one Aeroplan point at roughly 2 cents. That means the welcome bonus could be worth at least $1,800. That’s clearly more than the annual fee of $599. That’s great for a metal credit card.

Now let’s look at the earn rate. You get 3 Aeroplan points per dollar spent on Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations. 2 Aeroplan points per dollar spent on eligible dining and food delivery. All other purchases earn you 1.25 Aeroplan points per dollar spent. The earn rate for dining and food delivery is the highest of any Aeroplan card, but all other purchases earn you the same points as the Visa Infinite Privilege cards from TD and CIBC.

Benefits and perks

If you’re still reading my American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card Review, you’ll want to know about the benefits and perks. For a card with an annual fee of $599, it’s natural to expect it to come with a ton of benefits. Fortunately, the card does not disappoint.

Air Canada benefits

  • Free first checked bag – You and up to eight travelling companions on the same itinerary get your first checked bag free.
  • Priority airport check-in, boarding and baggage handling on Air Canada flights – This is good for you and up to eight companions travelling on the same itinerary.
  • Priority treatment – You get priority when on standby and upgrade lists.
  • Reach Aeroplan status more easily – For every $5,000 you charge to your card, you’ll earn 1,000 Status Qualifying Miles and one Status Qualifying Segment. Plus, you can roll over up to 200,000 unused Status Qualifying Miles for the following year.

Airport/Maple Leaf Lounge access

When flying on Air Canada or one of its partners, you and a guest get access to all Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges and Air Canada Cafés in North America. It doesn’t matter what class you’re flying to or where you’re flying to; you’ll get access to the lounge.

In addition, with this card, you get a free Priority Pass membership. This gives you access to more than 1,200 airport lounges around the world. However, you don’t get any free passes, so you need to pay for each visit.

Roll over eUpgrade credits

As long as you have this card, you can roll over up to 50 unused eUpgrade Credits to the next status year. This feature can be incredibly valuable for those that have earned Aeroplan status.

$100 NEXUS rebate

When applying or renewing your NEXUS membership, you’ll get up to $100 back in a statement credit as long as you pay the fee with your American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card. This credit can be applied once every four years.

Annual worldwide companion pass

An annual worldwide companion pass is awarded when you spend $25,000 on this card in a year. This perk allows the primary cardholder to purchase another ticket with a fixed base fare. This can be highly lucrative since it can save you a fair amount. 

Pearson International Airport benefits

  • Priority security lane – You can generate single-use QR codes that allow you and your guests to access the priority lines at both terminals in Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. Just go to go.amex/yyz.
  • Complimentary valet – Valet car service is free at Terminal 1, but note that the regular parking fees still apply.
  • Discounts on parking – You’ll get 15% off parking rates at Express Park and Daily Park lots at Toronto Pearson International Airport. Just pay with your credit card and a statement credit will be applied a few days later.

Travel insurance 

  • Travel medical – $5,000,000 for 15 days if you’re under 65
  • Trip cancellation/trip interruption – Up to $1,500 per person / $3,000 total for trip cancellation. Up to $1,500 per person / $6,000 total for trip interruption.
  • Flight delay – up to $1,000 / 4 hours
  • Delayed baggage insurance – up to $1,000 / 6 hours
  • Lost or stolen bags – $1,000
  • Auto rental collision / loss damage – 48 consecutive days / $85,000 total
  • Hotel/motel burglary – $1,000
  • Travel accident – $500,000

While the travel insurance package is impressive, there are a few things worth noting. You’re only covered for 15 days, and anyone aged 65 or older gets no coverage at all. The delayed baggage allowance kicks in at 6 hours, and the $1,000 maximum is an aggregate with your flight delay insurance.

Purchase insurance 

  • Buyer’s assurance – Double, up to one additional year
  • Purchase protection – 90 days / Up to $1,000 per occurrence

In case you’re not familiar with buyer’s assurance, it’s what American Express calls extended warranty. Purchase protection covers you from theft and damage for up to $1,000 within 90 days of your purchase. As long as you charge the full amount of the purchase to your American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card, you’ll get double the manufacturer’s warranty, up to one extra year.

American Express Experiences

As an American Express cardholder, you get access to American Express Experiences, which include:

  • Front of the line presales – Get access to tickets to concerts, theatre productions, restaurants and more before the general public.
  • Front of the line reserved tickets – American Express has exclusive agreements where cardholders get access to reserved tickets.
  • Entertainment experiences – You can purchase special entertainment experiences such as screenings of movies to theatre packages.
  • Dining experiences – Get special access to food festivals, prepared meals, and chefs tables.

How to redeem your points

Aeroplan is one of the best travel rewards programs and I have an entire post dedicated to it. For the purpose of this American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card review, I’ll quickly outline how Aeroplan works.

With Aeroplan, you can use your points on any available seat on Air Canada. In addition, you can redeem flights with Aeroplan’s 40+ partners. This is highly appealing since Air Canada and it’s partners services most of the world.

The number of points required for a redemption depends on where you’re flying from, where you’re flying to and the miles you’re flown. These distance bands are all outlined in its Flight Reward Chart. That said, Aeroplan uses dynamic pricing, so the number of points required can fluctuate quite a bit. On a positive note, Aeroplan does have partners that have a fixed price. The only issue is that there’s limited seat availability. For both Air Canada and partner flights, surcharges, fees, and taxes are charged.

Another feature of Aeroplan worth mentioning is family sharing. That’s where up to eight family members can pool their Aeroplan points. This allows the group to make redemptions quicker.

American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card eligibility

You can only apply for the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card if you’re a Canadian resident and are at least the age of majority in your province or territory.

Although American Express does not disclose what credit score is required for this card, you can assume you’ll need a good credit score since this is a premium credit card. Think 680+

Even though this is a higher tier credit card, American Express doesn’t have a formal income requirement for you to be approved.

Finally, you can link your existing Aeroplan number to your card by inputting your membership number during the application process. If you leave it blank, a new Aeroplan number will be generated for you.

How the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card compares to others

Usually, I would compare the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card to other similar Aeroplan cards such as the CIBC and TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card, but they’re too similar. They only have minor differences in the earn rate and insurance, so just choose what’s better for you.

American Express Aeroplan Reserve vs. American Express Platinum

A better comparison might be the American Express Platinum Card since they’re similar but different. The American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card earns you Aeroplan points, whereas you get Membership Rewards (MR) points with the Platinum Card. Since you can transfer your MR points to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio and other loyalty programs, the Platinum Card is much more flexible. Also, the welcome bonus is typically higher with the Platinum Card. The Platinum Card does have an annual fee of $699, but you get an annual travel credit of $200. That effectively makes your annual fee $499, which is lower than the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card.

What makes the Aeroplan card stand out are the Aeroplan benefits. Not only do you get free checked bags and access to Maple Leaf lounges in North America, but you also get preferred pricing for Aeroplan redemptions. The Platinum Card does give you unlimited access to Priority Pass and American Express Centurion lounges worldwide and the American Express Fixed Points Travel Program. Although Maple Leaf Lounges are better, you get access to more lounges overall with the Platinum Card.

When it comes to the earn rate, they’re a touch different. The American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card gives you 3 points per dollar spent on Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations. 2 points on dining & food delivery, and 1.25 points per $1 spent on everything else. The platinum card gives you 3 points on dining, 2 points on travel, and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else. If you spend a lot on the categories with multipliers, you may favour the Platinum Card.

Overall, I would choose the card that best suits your travel style. If you fly Air Canada and their partners regularly, then go for the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card since the benefits are built for frequent Air Canada flyers. If you’re the type that prefers flexibility, the American Express Platinum Card is likely better for you.

Final thoughts

My American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card Review is positive. The card is a great choice for the following situations:

  • You frequently fly with Air Canada – With this card you get your first checked bag free, priority check-in, priority boarding on Air Canada flights and Maple Leaf Lounge Access in North American.
  • You have Aeroplan status – Cardholders that have Aeroplan status can rollover up to 50 eUpgrade credits each year.
  • You want to earn Aeroplan points fast – This card typically comes with a welcome bonus of 90,000 to 100,000 Aeroplan points. You might get more when using a referral link.

This card is designed for people that fly Air Canada frequently within North America. The benefits you get are easily worth more than the annual fee. Even if you don’t fly Air Canada often, signing up for the first year can often be worth it since it comes with a generous welcome bonus.

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

7 Comments

  1. JG on August 6, 2021 at 5:39 PM

    Maple leaf lounge access isn’t free for guests: “Guests of Basic Cardmembers or Supplementary Cardmembers may enter upon paying an applicable fee”

    • Barry Choi on August 6, 2021 at 9:03 PM

      Hey JG,

      I know that’s what it says on the website, but there have been many reports of cardholders being allowed to bring in a guest without paying a fee.

  2. Chris pryce on August 28, 2021 at 12:06 AM

    For the Air Canada Lounge in Vancouver (Toronto was closed during that leg of Travel) and there were like no lounges in Hawaii (only some 1st class or business class lounge for Delta?), but at the Maple Leaf Lounge last week, I was allowed to bring 2 guests by presenting my boarding passes. The 4 flights were redeemed on points…with perhaps a seat upgrade (but not a business class upgrade – too expensive). This allowed 3 of 4 to enter the lounge…which, without a buffet and alcohol was no big deal!!!

  3. Peter Brown on October 13, 2021 at 6:50 PM

    Horrible experience using new Amex reserve card for 1st trip since the pandemic. Traveled Air Canada return from YYZ to YVR.
    The following challenges:

    Departure YYZ (A/C #127 YYZ-YVR)
    * MY YYZ departure with A/C Priority check- in, I had to remind the agent that my bags (& passengers) should be booked/tagged “Priority”
    * No Priority was recognized thru YYZ security, I asked several agents/security personnel & was sent to the regular line (I traveled with an addition 3 passengers plus myself)

    Return YVR (A/C #116 YVR-YYZ)
    * Also NO priority recognized thru security, in fact when I asked security personnel they suggested getting either Visa or Mastercard, they also said you’d need a “green sticker”, whatever that is to be priority to the line-up…
    * The A/C lounge had a 20-25min line-up for entrance…

    An experience/disappointment for my 1st flight/vacation since the pandemic! The very reason for justifying/paying $599 annual membership was to enjoy these very benefits!! There appears to be a total disconnect from Amex marketing & the partners/personnel (A/C & Security) executing the benefits offered with the “Reserve Card”

    I complained to Amex & the so called manager acknowledged that he had experienced the same complaints numerable times…they offered reimbursement of $100, with a take it or leave it!! Very sad & lack of customer services offered by Amex & staff!! btw, Amex customer/member since 1998 !!

    • Kurtis on February 4, 2023 at 1:03 PM

      The priority security benefit does not apply to YVR.

  4. Joe on July 5, 2022 at 8:34 PM

    Does priority boarding work with AC out of Toronto
    Do you travel economy and check in AC business class to get priority check in with priority tags for bags and priority 2 for boarding as advertised . Our AC employees familiar with this benefit or do you get a lot of push back
    Can this benefit be used for AC flights out of Cancun as well

    • Barry Choi on July 6, 2022 at 6:34 AM

      Hey Joe,

      As long as you have the credit card, you get Zone 2 boarding on all Air Canada operated flights regardless of where you’re flying from. When flying economy, you get the priority lane for check in found in the general area (not the business check in). The credit card gets tied to your Aeroplan number so the employees will clearly be able to see your benefits. For example, if you want to use the Maple Leaf Lounge, you just scan your boarding pass, there’s no need to show your credit card.

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