Avoid booking on Air Canada flights

The key to getting the most value for your miles is to understand that Air Canada charges the highest taxes, fees and surcharges of any airline you can redeem through Aeroplan. For example, flying from Toronto to London (U.K.) for the same number of miles, Air Canada charges taxes and fees of $629.16. However, United only charges $319.16 – a savings of over $300 per ticket! Flying Toronto to Paris, Air Canada charged taxes and fees of $586.46. United only charged $186.46 – a $400 savings!

The lesson? Avoid flying Air Canada when redeeming your Aeroplan miles, you’ll save a bundle. Aeroplan has a number of Star Alliance partner airlines you can book on, for the same number of miles. They will almost always charge less taxes and fees than Air Canada.

Fly out of the United States

Depending on where you live, it might pay to fly out of the United States. You’ll pay even less taxes and fees on Star Alliance partner airlines, such as United, than if you fly those some airlines from within Canada. For example, if you live in Montreal, you might consider flying out of Burlington, Vermont. If you were to fly United from Burlington to Miami, you would only be charged 25,000 miles and $14.20 in taxes and fees! Fly Air Canada out of Montreal and you’d be charged 25,000 miles and $269.49 in taxes and fees! That’s a $255 savings per ticket in taxes and fees alone!

If you plan on going down south with a family of four, that’s a $1,000 savings. If you live in Toronto and fly out of Buffalo, you can get to Miami on United Airlines, and again, you’ll only be charged $14.20 in fees. Fly out of Toronto to Miami and you’ll get charged over $200 a ticket! The other nice thing about flying United is there seems to be more seat availability, with no variation in the number of miles required for redemption depending on demand for the flight.

Stop overs

Perhaps Aeroplan offers no more value than when you book a multi-city trip. While Aeroplan does offer an Around the World Rewards trip for 200,000 miles (5 stop overs and 1 open jaw), there’s a mini around the world alternative for only 75,000 miles – but it’s not exactly advertised as such! Any international flight you take, can include up to 2 stop overs of more than 24 hours. That means you can fly Toronto-London, London-Moscow, Moscow-Rome, Rome-Toronto for 75,000 miles.

You can take as long as you’d like for each of your stop-overs. Spend a week in each of London, Moscow and Rome and then come on home for only 75,000 miles. Now you can only book one stop-over when redeeming online through Aeroplan.com. So if you’d like to take full advantage and book 2 stop-overs, you’ll have to call Aeroplan directly. We tried it ourselves and found the booking very efficient, with a very short hold time of less than 1 minute… hopefully a sign of things to come.

First class seats, have first class value

If you have the miles, Aeroplan offers tremendous value when redeeming for a business or first class ticket. As an example, flying Toronto to Beijing requires 150,000 Aeroplan miles to fly in business class. A business class ticket costs $4,763. If we subtract taxes of $581.76 it gives us a value per mile of 2.78 cents – great value!

Check out "great deals" on Market Fare Flight Rewards

Not all Market Fare flights require more miles to redeem than those from the fixed mileage chart. In fact, some flights tagged as “Great Deals” in Market Fare flights, can require half the miles! In one example, it required 75,000 Aeroplan miles to fly from Vancouver to Beijing. However, on the Market Fare tab, there was a Great Deal available for 40,300 miles!

Tips to earn more miles

a) Aeroplan Credit Card welcome bonuses: Whether you get a credit card from  TD or CIBC, or even get one from each, take advantage of the Aeroplan welcome bonus promotions they offer. Some offer thousands of bonus miles and waive the first year annual fee, enough for a free flight to anywhere in North America.

b) Aeroplan Credit Card earnings on spend: There are a bunch of Aeroplan credit cards to compare. See which ones give you the best opportunity to earn the most rewards given your spending habits. For example, do you spend more on groceries, gas, and pharmacies, or on other types of purchases?

c) Double dip with Aeroplan retail partners: Not only can you use your Aeroplan credit card to collect miles, you can also use your Aeroplan loyalty card – even on the same transaction. If you’re going to fill up at Esso, use your credit card to earn 2 miles per dollar spent, and then use you Aeroplan loyalty card to earn another 1 mile for every $3 dollars spent. You can double dip at other Aeroplan retail partners such as AirCanada.com, Home Hardware, Shop.ca, Ebay, Apple.ca, HudsonBay.ca and more…

d) Aeroplan promotions: There are a ton of Aeroplan promotions at any given time. From 5X offers at Costco.ca to $50 off your next purchase plus 3,000 Aeroplan miles from Shop.ca, to getting bonuses from Aeroplan when converting miles, keep your eyes open for some great deals to accelerate your Aeroplan earnings.

Here are some other tips to maximize value from your Aeroplan Miles

  1. Book early for peak season
  2. Be flexible with your departure days
  3. Travel in the off-season
  4. Check often (seats reserved for rewards get reserved / freed-up)
  5. Use the call center to book multi-destination trips
  6. Do not redeem your Aeroplan miles for merchandise or gift cards (horrible value)
Money.ca Money.ca Editorial Team

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