Earning Aeroplan Points Strategy 2024

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If you’re looking to travel for less, there’s no better way than using loyalty points. For most Canadians, Aeroplan, which is Air Canada’s loyalty program, will likely be their best option. That’s because Air Canada flies to 1,300+ destinations and has 45+ airline partners. That means you can get almost anywhere in the world on points.

That said, flight costs have increased significantly, and Aeroplan has introduced new rules about credit card welcome bonuses. With these changes, consumers need to adjust how they earn Aeroplan points. The following is my suggested Aeroplan strategy for 2024. 

Set your goal

Regarding reward travel, you need to set your goal first. You need to establish where you want to go and how many points it’ll take you there. Aeroplan uses a rewards chart, so in theory, you’ll have a rough idea of how many points it’ll take you to get to your destination. The problem is that Aeroplan also uses dynamic pricing, so the number of points required for a flight often exceeds what’s listed on the chart.

The good news is that the excessive number of points required typically only applies to premium economy and business class seats. You can still find flights in economy for a reasonable number of points. For example, I took a quick look at flights to Athens and return flights were going for about 80,000 Aeroplan points. The cash value of those flights was over $2,000, so you could easily get a cost per point (CPP) of over 2, which is excellent value.

Once you know roughly how many points you need for a redemption, you can start figuring out which credit cards will help you reach your goal. This is also an excellent time to review the details of Aeroplan, so you know how the program works and what tricks there are to earn and redeem your points.

Calculating the value of your Aeroplan redemptions

Generally, I value one Aeroplan point at 1.5 – 2 cents. This value is based on me doing hundreds of searches for flight redemptions. To calculate the value of your points, you’d use the following formula

(Cash fare – addition charges) X 100 / Number of points required = Cost per point (CPP)

Let’s use a practical example of a one-way flight from Toronto to Tokyo.

Based on the above information, the CPP for each class would be as follows:

  • Economy = 2.73 CPP
  • Premium economy = 1.98 CPP
  • Business = 1.46 CPP

The economy fare offers incredible value for this specific flight since you get a CPP of 2.73. Premium economy is also good at 1.98 CPP. However, business class is 1.46 CPP, which falls below the recommended value of 1.5 – 2 CPP. In this case, using points for economy or premium economy is a no-brainer. For business, you’d likely be better off paying cash.

Remember, since Air Canada uses dynamic pricing, the cost of flights and the value of your points can change at any given time.

Now let’s use another example, but this time with a partner airline. Here’s a cash fare on Turkish Airlines from Toronto to Istanbul compared to an Aeroplan redemption.

This specific flight gives you an incredible value of 4.91 CPP. That’s because Turkish Airlines is a partner airline, and partner flights use fixed pricing with Aeroplan. The catch is that partner airlines don’t tend to release many seats, so you must book early. This flight is for October 16, 2024, which is nearly ten months from when I searched.

Understand the new rules of Aeroplan

Aeroplan has introduced new terms and conditions regarding credit card welcome bonuses. This is in addition to new rules that were established last year. Generally, the main things you need to know are as follows:

  • You can typically only get two welcome bonuses from Aeroplan credit cards in one year.
  • You can only hold one card of the same classification at any given time.
  • You can only get one welcome bonus per card type per lifetime.

Simply put, you can only get two welcome bonuses a year from Aeroplan credit cards, and you’ll only get them once per lifetime. The good news is that there are five types of Aeroplan cards:

  • Basic
  • Core
  • Premium
  • Small business basic
  • Small business premium

Even though there are five types of Aeroplan cards, you would likely only get the welcome bonus for one personal and one small business card in the same year. That doesn’t mean you’re locked out completely once you get your first bonus. If you apply for different Aeroplan cards over a few years, you’d likely still get the bonus, but it’s possible you may not.

For example, say you currently hold the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card but decide to cancel it. Two years later, when you have a lot of travel coming up, you apply for the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card. You’d probably get the welcome bonus.

These new rules may seem restrictive, but it’s more about stopping people constantly cancelling and applying for new cards to get multiple welcome bonuses in a year. Regular card activity likely won’t affect you. No one knows how strict Aeroplan will be about these rules. They’ve already clawed back points from people with too many welcome bonuses, so anything is possible.

It’s also worth mentioning that American Express Membership Rewards points transfer to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio. Since these cards aren’t formal Aeroplan credit cards, the rules from Aeroplan don’t apply. That said, American Express has its own rules to be aware of. The good news is that American Express has excellent daily-use cards that come with great benefits such as:

Choose a credit card for daily use

Regardless of your goals and timeline, earning as many Aeroplan points as possible should be your priority. To do this, you want a credit card that earns you Aeroplan points or an American Express card that earns you Membership Rewards points since you can transfer your points to Aeroplan.

In most cases, the American Express Cobalt Card will give you the highest return.

American Express Cobalt Card

  • $12.99 Monthly fee ($155.88 yearly)
  • 1,250 monthly Membership Rewards points after charging $750 in purchases each month for a year (15,000 points total)
  • Earn 5 points per $1 spent on eats and drinks
  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent on streaming services
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on travel
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

As you can see, the American Express Cobalt Card has incredible multipliers. Simply put, there’s no other credit card out there that earns you as many points as the Amex Cobalt Card does. The one issue with this card is that it’s not accepted at Costco, No Frills, and Loblaws. So, if you do most of your grocery shopping at those stores, you obviously wouldn’t be able to use your card.

There’s also a hack you can do with this card. Most supermarkets sell gift cards to various merchants. If you were to buy them, you’d get 5 X the points, increasing the overall points you’re getting. For example, if you paid for Disney+ or Netflix with your Cobalt Card, you’d only earn 1 point per dollar spent. But if you bought gift cards at Metro, you’d earn 5 points per dollar spent.

The transfer from American Express Membership Rewards to Aeroplan is almost instant, so if you see a good price, you can move your points immediately.

Some other Aeroplan cards worth considering at the TD and CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Cards.

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card

  • $139 annual fee – Frist year free
  • 10,000 Aeroplan points after your first purchase
  • 20,000 additional Aeroplan points when you spend $5,000 in the first 180 days
  • 10,000 Aeroplan points on your anniversary when you spend $7,000 in the first 12 months
  • Earn 1.5 Aeroplan points per $1 spent on gas, groceries, and Air Canada purchases
  • Earn 1 Aeroplan point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • First bag checked free on Air Canada flights

The CIBC and TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Cards are virtually identical as they have the same earning rate. Some people prefer these cards as they give the primary cardholder and up to 8 travelling companions their first checked bag free. Aeroplan cardholders also get preferred pricing on Aeroplan flight redemptions. The travel insurance on the CIBC and TD cards is also better than the Cobalt card. While the Air Canada benefits are good with these cards, the welcome bonus has been lacking as of late.

Now let’s say you plan on doing a lot of travel in the upcoming year, and you have quite a few major expenses coming up, it may make sense to get a premium travel rewards card.

American Express Platinum Card

  • $799 annual fee
  • Earn 70,000 Membership Rewards points when spending $10,000 in the first 3 months
  • 30,000 additional points when making any purchase in months 14 – 17
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on dining and travel, and 1 point on all other purchases
  • $200 annual travel credit
  • $200 annual dining credit (per calendar year)
  • Unlimited airport lounge access
  • Hotel status upgrades

The American Express Platinum Card has an annual fee of $799, but you can reduce the fee to $199 in the first year. The $200 dining credit is per calendar year, so you could use it once now and again in 2025 (just check the list of restaurants to see if there’s one near you). You also get a $200 travel credit once per card year. That’s $600 total in credits.

The travel benefits included with the card are unlimited airport lounge access for you and a guest to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, hotel status upgrades, comprehensive travel insurance, and special perks at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.

It’s also worth noting that the welcome bonus is typically worth between 70,000 and 100,000 Membership Rewards. If you transfer those points to Aeroplan and use my valuation of 1.5 – 2 CPP, that’s a real return of up to $2,000. That said, the minimum spend requirement is often quite high at $7,500 – $10,000, so only sign up for the card if you have a lot of natural spending coming up.

Credit cards for the welcome bonus

The best way to earn Aeroplan points fast is to take advantage of welcome offers. In the past, there have been very generous bonuses where you could get 50,000 – 100,000 Aeroplan points when spending $1,000 – $5,000 in the first three months. However, credit card providers have caught onto that strategy, and now many welcome offers require you to spend a minimum monthly amount. In addition, sometimes the full bonus isn’t awarded until your card anniversary. That means you must spend more and wait longer for the full welcome bonus.

On a positive note, a few cards still give you a generous welcome offer with a reasonable amount of spending.

Amex Business Gold Rewards Card

Welcome bonus: 75,000 points when spending $5,000 in the first 3 months

Annual fee: $199

Without a doubt, the best card to get right now if you want a lot of Aeroplan points is the American Express Business Gold Rewards Card. When you sign up with a referral link, you’ll earn 75,000 Membership Rewards points when spending $5,000 in the first three months. As you saw in the example above, 75,000 points can fly you one-way in business class to Istanbul. 

Although you don’t get any travel benefits like the personal Platinum Card, you get a similar welcome bonus with a lower minimum spending requirement. Plus, the annual fee is just $199, so this is a must have card for anyone who wants to earn Aeroplan points fast. As I’ll explain below, you may not even need a business to qualify for the card.

Now, if you’re afraid to apply for a business credit card, there is one option where you can earn a lot of points with a minimal amount of work.

CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card

Welcome bonus: 10,000 Aeroplan points after your first purchase

Annual fee: $0

The CIBC Aeroplan Visa is an entry-level card, but it gives you 10,000 Aeroplan points after your first purchase. Admittedly, 10,000 points isn’t a lot, but it’s still enough for a one-way short-haul flight. Plus, you only need to make a single purchase to get your bonus, so applying for the card could still be worth it.

That said, when you compare 10,000 points to the 75,000 points offered by the American Express Business Gold Rewards Card, there’s a significant difference. When collecting Aeroplan points, you want to minimize your credit applications, spending requirements, and annual fees. You also want to ensure you’re getting the best welcome bonus. Right now, the American Express Business Gold Rewards Card is the way to go.

Getting a business credit card without a business

Many people will naturally assume you can’t get a business credit card unless you have a formal business. That’s not necessarily true. While American Express will ask for your business information when you apply, they rarely verify things. Some people put in their own name or something related to what they do as the business name. For example, Barry Choi Media or Barry Choi Marketing. With so many people with a side hustle, it’s not unreasonable for people to have a business credit card.

As long as you’re not making any fraudulent purchases on your new business credit card, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be flagged. For example, if you applied for the American Express Business Gold Rewards Card and just charged your regular spending, you probably won’t go through a financial review. However, American Express would likely only audit you if there are some weird transactions, like if you charged $10,000 to your card immediately after getting it.

Even if you’re audited, it’s not a big deal. American Express would just want you to prove who you say you are. You could immediately register your “business” online through the government of Canada. You could submit that business information and any other details to American Express, and you’d likely pass the review.

Since welcome bonuses for personal cards have significantly decreased in the last year, people are looking for the best offers possible. Right now, American Express business cards are the answer. Since things could change anytime, getting a card like the American Express Business Gold Rewards Card is the way to go since it guarantees you a large sum of points for a reasonable minimum spend requirement.

For more details on getting a business credit card without a business, check out this detailed guide.

Final thoughts

Whether you travel multiple times a year or only once with your family, earning Aeroplan points is worthwhile since it’ll allow you to save money on future travel. However, since welcome bonuses have become less lucrative with many personal credit cards, you need to adjust your strategy. Having one primary card that earns you points on all your daily spending is essential. However, applying for some business credit cards may be the way to go.

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

2 Comments

  1. Leah on January 17, 2024 at 1:35 AM

    I haven’t been very clear on the limits on cards and bonuses, so thanks for laying that out so clearly. So if I product switch an existing non-AP card to a lower tier of AP card and get that bonus, then applied for a new card in the next tier up, it sounds like I could still get the second bonus, although I would then hit the 2-bonus limit.

    • Barry Choi on January 17, 2024 at 8:58 AM

      Hi Leah,

      Yes, based on your scenario and how I read the terms and conditions, you should still get both bonuses. The 2-bonus limit is based on reports from Reddit. Keep in mind that American Express cards that earn you Membership REwards points don’t apply to this limit since you can transfer your points from American Express to Aeroplan at a 1:1 basis.

      Always go after the big bonuses where you can meet the minimumn spend requirement first.

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