American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card Review | Get up to 120,000 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. To simply put it, there’s no other Aeroplan credit card. 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.

Currently, the welcome bonus is worth up to 90,000 Aeroplan points and a Buddy Pass. This is not the best offer ever, but it’s pretty close. Granted, welcome offers change all the time, but the perks don’t. With this card, you get priority services with Air Canada, free checked bags, lounge access, preferred pricing on Aeroplan, a comprehensive travel insurance suite, and more. Keep reading my American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card review for all the details.

American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card benefits

  • $599 annual fee
  • Earn up to 90,000 Aeroplan points as your welcome offer
    • Earn 30,000 Aeroplan points and a Buddy Pass after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of cardmembership
    • Earn 5,000 Aeroplan points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $1,000 in purchases on your card for the first twelve months of cardmembership (60,000 points total)
  • Earn 3 Aeroplan points per $1 spent on eligible Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations
  • Earn 2 Aeroplan points per $1 spent on dining and food delivery in Canada
  • Earn 1.25 Aeroplan points for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Unlimited free access to Maple Leaf Lounges in North America for you and a guest
  • Complimentary Priority Pass membership (no free entries)
  • Free first checked bag, priority check-in and boarding for the primary cardholder and up to 8 companions on the same reservation
  • Preferred pricing on Aeroplan redemptions
  • Annual Worldwide Companion Pass when you spend $25,000 in net purchases prior to your card anniversary date
  • American Express offers and experiences

Okay, let’s address what is usually the biggest concern for people who are considering the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card, the annual fee of $599. While there’s no denying that’s a healthy amount, you need to look at the value of what you’re getting. The welcome bonus is worth up to 90,000 Aeroplan points. However, you can convert your Buddy Pass to 30,000 Aeroplan points. That means your welcome offer is worth up 120,000 points. You also need to factor in the minimum spend to get your points. Assuming you’re only spending at the base rate of 1.25 points per dollar spent, you’d have at least 135,000 Aeroplan points. I conservatively value 1 Aeroplan point at 1.5 cents, so that’s a value of $2,025, but you could easily get double that value.

Okay, that’s great, but the welcome bonus is only good for the first year. What about the regular benefits? How you gauge value here is up to you, but consider the following. You get unlimited access to Maple Leaf Lounges in North America for you and a guest. You also get free checked bags. There’s also a comprehensive travel insurance package included (details below). Those benefits alone are easily worth $600 a year if you take 2-3 flights a year. 

Now let’s look at the earn rate. You get 3 Aeroplan points per $1 spent on  Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations. 2 Aeroplan points per $1 spent on dining and food delivery. And, 1.25 Aeroplan points per dollar spent on all other purchases. Clearly, this card is good if you make a lot of Air Canada purchases. 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.

A few other benefits worth highlighting include the ability to earn 1,000 Status Qualifying Miles (SQM) and 1 Status Qualifying Segment (SQS) for every $5,000 in eligible net purchases charged to your card. This is handy for anyone who’s trying to chase Aeroplan status. You can also roll over up to 200,000 SQM to help qualify for Aeroplan status the following year.

If you happen to fly out of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, you get access to the priority security lanes, complimentary valet service, and 15% off parking rates. Overall, it’s clear that this card is great for frequent flyers or for anyone looking to earn a lot of Aeroplan points fast. 

If you’re a friend of Money We Have and have enjoyed this review, please consider using my American Express Aeroplan Reserve Referral link.

American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card insurance

If you’re still reading my American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card Review, you’ll want to know about the insurance. The included insurance is good, but the catch is, you need to charge the full amount of your travel expenses to your card to get full coverage. If you’re booking a flight with points, then the taxes and fees must be charged to your card. Note that you get travel medical no matter what, but you need to charge your travel expenses to your card if you want the expanded insurance. You also get buyer’s assurance and purchase protection plans.

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 – up to $1,000 / 6 hours 
  • 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, Buyer’s assurance is 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 Aeroplan Reserve Card pros and cons

While the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card is one of the best Aeroplan credit cards, that doesn’t mean you should sign up right away. You need to look at the pros and cons and then decide if applying for the card is right for you.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome bonus – The sign up bonus has always been incredibly valuable.
  • Free Air Canada benefits – You’ll get Maple Leaf Lounge access, free checked bags, and priority services.
  • Great for frequent flyers – A high earn rate and the ability to earn SQS and SQM will earn you status quicker.
  • Flexible redemptions – There are no blackout dates, and every seat is available in Air Canada flights with Aeroplan.

Cons

  • High annual fee – $599 will be too much for some people.
  • Limited to Aeroplan – You can only use your points through Aeroplan.
  • No travel insurance for seniors – You’re only covered if you’re under the age of 65.

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 TD and CIBC Aeroplan Visa 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.

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. 

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. Admittedly, I held off applying for this card since I already had the American Express Platinum Card, but the welcome bonus was too good to pass up. As a frequent Air Canada flyer, I’ll be able to reap the benefits that come with the card. Hopefully, the preferred pricing on Aeroplan redemptions will make signing up worth it. If you’re a friend of Money We Have, please use my referral link below as it’ll help me maintain free content on my site.

American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card Review | Get up to 120,000 points

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

3 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!!!

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