Buying Aeroplan Points: Is it worth it?

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For many travellers, accumulating Aeroplan points is an easy way to travel for less. Even though you can earn points through flying, using co-branded credit cards, and making eligible purchases, earning a ton of Aeroplan points isn’t always so simple.

Sometimes, travellers find themselves without enough Aeroplan points to book their desired flights. In these situations, Aeroplan allows you to buy the missing points. Additionally, Aeroplan occasionally offers promotional periods where members can purchase points at a discount. In most cases, buying points isn’t worth it. However, in the right situation, purchasing points could be advantageous.

Understanding Aeroplan rewards

Aeroplan is one of the best airline loyalty programs. Not only do you get access to Air Canada flights, but you also use your points on their partner airlines. Knowing how Aeroplan works will allow you to maximize your value.

Aeroplan Rewards basics

Aeroplan is Air Canada’s loyalty program. It went through a major overhaul in 2021 and is now considered one of the best travel rewards programs in the world. Your points can be redeemed on any Air Canada flight with no restrictions or blackout dates. In addition, Aeroplan’s 45+ airline partners make seats available to Aeroplan members at a fixed price.

Since Aeroplan uses dynamic pricing, the value of your points will vary depending on factors like travel dates, demand, and destination. Occasionally, Aeroplan offers promotions where members can buy points. The advantage here is that the discounts or additional points offered can give you good value.

Earning Aeroplan points

Members earn Aeroplan points through various methods:

  • Flying – Points can be accumulated with flights taken with Air Canada and other Star Alliance airlines. Note that if you’re purchasing a basic fare, you may not earn any points at all.
  • Partners and retail – Aeroplan partners with numerous retailers and services across Canada, such as Uber, Starbucks and LCBO. In addition, they have an e-store with hundreds of partners where you can earn Aeroplan points on everyday purchases.
  • Promotions – Aeroplan often runs promotions wherein members can earn bonus points. These don’t happen often, and you won’t get many points, but it is another option to earn points.

Aeroplan credit cards

The easiest way to earn Aeroplan points is with a co-branded Aeroplan credit card. Many people don’t realize that there are different credit cards and banks where you can earn Aeroplan points.

  • TD, CIBC, American Express – These three financial institutions have a formal deal in place to offer co-branded Aeroplan credit cards.
  • American Express – Offers credit cards that earn Membership Rewards, which can be converted to Aeroplan points at a 1:1 ratio.

Having an Aeroplan credit card is essential since cardholders earn points on regular purchases and enjoy welcome bonuses, which can be worth hundreds of dollars. Some credit cards even also offer additional travel benefits, such as free checked bags, Maple Leaf Lounge access, and priority boarding.

One of the best premium Aeroplan credit cards is the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card. Cardholders get their first checked bag free, Maple Leaf Lounge access in North America for the primary cardholder and one guest, priority check-in, zone 2 boarding and more.

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

The process of buying Aeroplan points

Purchasing Aeroplan points is straightforward and can offer good value under the right circumstances. That said, buyers should be aware of the costs involved and if any potential discounts is actually worth it

How to buy points

To buy Aeroplan points, you can go to your Aeroplan account or navigate to the Aeroplan section of points.com. Once logged in, you can choose to buy points for yourself or someone else. You’d then choose the number of points. Payment is done via credit card, and the purchased points are deposited into your/their account almost immediately.

  • Step 1: Log in to your Aeroplan account.
  • Step 2: Select the number of points.
  • Step 3: Complete the purchase with a payment method.
Is buying Aeroplan points worth it

Costs and value

The cost to buy Aeroplan points starts at CA$35 for 1,000 points. That’s a value of 3.5 cents per point (CPP). Generally speaking, one Aeroplan point has a value of 1.5 – 2 CPP, so buying points at 3.5 CPP is not a good value. In other words, you should only buy points if you’re just short for a specific redemption.

Promotional Periods: Occasionally, Aeroplan has promotional offers such as a 110% bonus. These offers can reduce the cost significantly.

Cost per point without and with promotions

Purchase MethodCost per 1,000 PointsCost per Point
Standard RateCA $35CA $0.035
With 110% bonusVariesCA $0.0167

While buying points at a value of 1.67CPP may seem good, there are a few considerations. First, if you’re Canadian, buying points is subject to HST/GST, which will lower the value of your points. In addition, since Aeroplan uses dynamic pricing, there’s no guarantee you’ll find a flight that’s worth more than what you paid for in points. Also, the 110% I’ve used as an example is the best offer I’ve seen and is rarely available. A more common promotion is where you get up to 30% off, which would reduce the CPP to 2.45.

Is it worth buying Aeroplan points?

When considering whether to buy Aeroplan points, you should weigh the cost against the value you expect to get when redeeming your points. As a quick reminder, you can determine your CPP by using the following formula:

(Cash value of redemption – taxes/fees) X 100 / points required = CPP

Generally, buying points rarely offer good value unless you’re slightly short on points for a specific redemption. For example, you’re 2,000 points short for an Aeroplan reward flight.

Buying when you don’t have enough points for a redemption

Besides buying Aeroplan points via points.com, you can also do so immediately when you’re trying to book an Aeroplan flight, but you’re short on points. This option isn’t always apparent because Aeroplan essentially adds the cost of the missing points to your additional transportation charges (ATC).

For example, say you’re looking at a round-trip flight to Japan, and it’ll cost you 140,000 Aeroplan points, but you only have 100,000 Aeroplan points. Instead of being told you don’t have enough points, you’re automatically prompted with the points and cash option. You’d buy the missing 40,000 points at the standard rate of $35 for 1,000 points. In this example, that’s an additional $1,400, which clearly isn’t worth it.

Considerations before purchasing points

  1. Promotions – Wait for bonus point promotions which can offer better value per point.
  2. Shortfall – Only buy points if you are only a few points away from a high-value redemption.
  3. Fees – Be aware of additional charges such as HST/GST or additional transport charges when making a redemption.

Purchasing Aeroplan points could be worthwhile if done strategically during promotions or when topping off an account for an immediate high-value redemption. However, you need to look at the value to ensure that the cost of buying points is worth it.

Utilizing Aeroplan points

When it comes to making the most of Aeroplan Points, members have many options to choose from, ranging from flight rewards to various travel perks. Understanding the redemption process and how to maximize the value of your points can significantly enhance your travel experience with Air Canada and its partners.

Redemption options

Aeroplan members can redeem points for a variety of rewards, including:

  • Flights – Members can book flights on any available Air Canada seat and with over 45 partner airlines. Since Aeroplan uses dynamic pricing, the value of each redemption will change.
  • Stopovers – For travellers looking to explore more than one destination, stopovers can be added for 5,000 additional Aeroplan points.
  • Travel Packages You can use your Aeroplan points on vacation packages booked through Air Canada Vacations.
  • Hotels and car rentals – Aeroplan points can be used to book hotel stays and car rentals, which gives you more flexibility. If you have an Aeroplan credit card, you’ll get the 4th night free when booking 3 nights on points.
  • Travel Perks – Those with status are entitled to additional benefits such as lounge access, eUpgrade credits, priority boarding, and more.
  • Non-travel options – Points can also be redeemed for non-travel items such as gift cards and merchandise.

Maximizing your Aeroplan points

To get the greatest value from Aeroplan Points, members should consider the following:

  • Promotions and bonuses – Look out for promotions that offer bonus points or increased value. Taking advantage of such offers can increase your points value or balance.
  • First and business class rewards – Redeeming points for higher fare classes, such as business class, can offer a higher CPP, especially for international travel on partner airlines.
  • Travel off-peak – Booking during off-peak times can reduce the number of points needed for flight rewards, stretching the value of points further.
  • Strategic redemptions – Only redeem when your CPP is at least 1.5. Anything lower, and you’d be better off paying cash to save your points.

By strategically redeeming Aeroplan Points and staying aware of promotions and peak travel times, members can unlock significant value and enjoy a more rewarding travel experience.

Aeroplan program benefits

Aeroplan offers a range of benefits that enhance the travel experience, from exclusive perks for members to the flexibility of Family sharing.

Exclusive perks

Members with Aeroplan Elite Status enjoy a suite of privileges designed to improve their travel journey. These privileges include airport lounge access, priority check-in and priority boarding, ensuring a smoother and more efficient travel experience. Members can also benefit from complimentary checked bags, which can lead to significant savings.

Family Sharing and flexibility

Aeroplan Family Sharing allows members to pool points together, increasing the potential for rewards. With Aeroplan Family Sharing, up to eight family members can combine their points, thereby expediting the process of accumulating and redeeming points. This flexibility means that benefits can be accessed faster and more efficiently since you’re pooling your points with others.

Additional Aeroplan strategies

When purchasing Aeroplan points, you must consider the best strategies to earn points and whether transferring them has any value. Maximizing value requires a clear understanding of the value of your points, credit card offers, and more.

Point buying strategy

Buying Aeroplan points directly can be a good move if a member is close to having enough points for a high-value redemption, such as a business class flight on a partner airline. During promotional periods, Aeroplan sometimes offers the purchase of points with a substantial bonus—up to 100% extra points. These promotions are pivotal as it allows you to buy low. The idea is that you’re buying points at a lower cost than what they’re worth.

Credit card welcome offers

Instead of buying points, you could sign up for an Aeroplan credit card via CIBC, TD, or American Express. Each card typically has a generous welcome bonus. The annual fee you’ll pay with a new Aeroplan credit card will likely be less than the cost of buying missing points. Don’t forget, you can also transfer American Express Membership Rewards to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio.

The bottom line

In almost every scenario, buying Aeroplan points isn’t worth it. There is the odd time when a points-buying promotion will give you a low enough CPP to consider making a purchase, but the overall savings will likely be minimal. The best strategy is accumulating as many Aeroplan points as quickly as possible via one of the best Aeroplan credit cards since they come with generous welcome bonuses, and you can earn points on your daily purchases.

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

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