AIR MILES vs. Aeroplan: Which should you choose?
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Updated: August 02, 2023
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Do you collect both Aeroplan and AIR MILES but you’re not sure which one is better? In this head-to-head battle of Aeroplan vs AIR MILES, we compare the two travel loyalty programs and breakdown everything so you can choose the program that best fits your lifestyle.
The AIR MILES vs. Aeroplan debate has been raging for years, leaving many Canadians wondering: which should you choose?
AIR MILES and Aeroplan are two of Canada’s most recognized travel rewards programs, but they couldn’t be more different from each other. Sure, both programs allow you to use your miles/points for free travel, but which credit card you use to earn those rewards and how you decide to redeem them can vary quite a bit between the two programs.
Which is the best travel rewards program in Canada?
Generally speaking, most people prefer Aeroplan since it’s the loyalty program of Air Canada, Canada’s number one airline. Since Air Canada is part of Star Alliance, you can use your Aeroplan points on any of their partner airlines which is also appealing.
That being said, AIR MILES can be attractive, too, since you can use your miles for flights, merchandise, and even cash. If you shop a lot at AIR MILES partner merchants, this loyalty program may be best for you, but it’s still worth looking at both of them to see what they offer before you decide on which rewards to collect.
To help you decide between Aeroplan and AIR MILES, we’ve come up with this guide that will show you how each program works, what the best credit cards are to earn rewards, and how you can redeem your rewards.
AIR MILES vs. Aeroplan
When comparing AIR MILES vs. Aeroplan, at face value, Aeroplan comes out ahead, but for some people, AIR MILES could give them better value if they shop regularly at AIR MILES partners. So this is where things get tricky as these are two very different programs, and it’s not fair to just look at the earn rates below to declare a winner.
With Aeroplan, you could earn more points depending on which class fare you book. It’s also worth noting that AIR MILES frequently runs promotions where you can earn additional miles, which may be a valuable opportunity for some people. The below chart is just a quick look that compares Aeroplan and AIR MILES earn rates but you should also factor in the types of redemptions you like to make when choosing a program.
Aeroplan rewards program
The Aeroplan points program is a rewards system with a focus on travel with Air Canada, a leading Canadian airline. Your accumulated points can be redeemed for travel rewards, such as flights on Air Canada and their partner airlines, hotels, car rentals, vacation packages, event tickets, and merchandise. With over 150 partner brands and over 150 online retailers, it’s super easy to earn Aeroplan points when shopping for everyday items, especially if you have an Aeroplan credit card.
When it comes to Aeroplan, people like to collect points since they can be used on flights on Air Canada and their partners. Aeroplan is pretty straightforward and easy to understand, and when you’re able to redeem a flight or other travel rewards, you can get some great value.
Aeroplan points expire if you haven’t earned, redeemed, donated, or transferred any miles in 18 consecutive months (however, they will not expire if you are a TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card cardholder in good standing). But you can easily avoid losing your hard-earned points simply by using an Aeroplan-affiliated credit card to make purchases.
AIR MILES rewards program
AIR MILES is one of the most popular loyalty programs in Canada. With an AIR MILES Collector Card, you can turn everyday purchases – like gas and groceries – into free flights, car rentals, event tickets, hotel stays, electronics, and so much more. Here’s how it works: when shopping at participating partner stores, flash your AIR MILES card at the check-out counter and automatically earn AIR MILES for your purchases. If you pay using an AIR MILES Credit Card, you can supercharge your points earnings.
With AIR MILES, you have the option to earn AIR MILES Cash Rewards or AIR MILES Dream Rewards. You select what you want within your account, and you can split it up in any way you want (e.g., 50/50, 80/20, 100/0). Once you’ve earned the miles in your selected category, you can’t transfer them. However, you can modify how you earn your miles at any time.
Like Aeroplan, AIR MILES has an online shop (AirMilesShops.ca) where you can earn points through purchases, but their retail partner list isn’t as extensive. While it’s fairly easy to collect Miles, it can take much longer to accumulate enough points to redeem them. However, what’s unique about AIR MILES is that you can directly pay at some partner retailers, which is handy for everyday purchases like groceries. Another pro: AIR MILES never expire.
TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card
Best Offer yet for the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card: Earn up to $1,600 in value† including up to 70,000 Aeroplan points†. Conditions Apply. Must apply by September 5, 2023.
The TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card has a welcome bonus that makes this card very attractive.
Earn up to $1,600 in value†, including up to 70,000 Aeroplan points† and additional travel benefits. Must apply by September 5, 2023.
• Earn a welcome bonus of 10,000 Aeroplan points when you make your first purchase with your new card†
• Earn 40,000 Aeroplan points when you spend $5,000 within 180 days of Account opening†
• Plus, earn an anniversary bonus of 20,000 Aeroplan points when you spend $7,500 within 12 months of Account opening†
• Enroll for NEXUS and once every 48 months get an application fee rebate†
• Plus, share free first checked bags with up to 8 travel companions†
Earn 1.5 points† for every $1 spent on eligible gas, grocery and direct through Air Canada® purchases (including Air Canada Vacations®) made with your card. Earn 1 Aeroplan point† for every $1 spent on all other purchases made with your card. In addition, you can earn double the points on purchases at participating partner brands and online retailers via the Aeroplan eStore†.
- Annual Fee: $139
- Income Eligibility: $60,000 personal or $100,000 household annual income
- Credit Score Requirement: Good;Excellent
- Welcome Bonus: Best Offer yet for the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card: Earn up to $1,600 in value† including up to 70,000 Aeroplan points†. Conditions Apply. Must apply by September 5, 2023.
- Additional Perks: Travel insurance†, Auto Rental Collision/Loss Damage Insurance†, and no Aeroplan points expiry for cardholders as long as you are a cardholder in good standing
- Purchase APR: 20.99% | Cash Advance APR: 22.99%
†Terms and conditions apply.
This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For Quebec residents, please click here.
BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®*
Sign up for the BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard® and get 2,000 AIR MILES as a welcome bonus when you charge a minimum of $3,000 to your card in the first three months of card membership*. Plus, the annual fee of $120 is waived for the first year*.
With the BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®*, you will collect a great Welcome Bonus. Get 2,000 AIR MILES Bonus Miles and the $120 annual fee waived for the first year*. If you need further enticement, the card also offers a strong standard earn rate. Get 3x the Miles for every $12 spent at participating AIR MILES Reward Partners* and 2x the Miles for every $12 spent at any eligible grocery store*. Earn 1 reward mile for every $12 in credit card purchases, everywhere you spend*. You can double dip your points at AIR MILES partner merchants* by showing your loyalty card first and then paying with your BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®*.
Another huge benefit of this card is that you get an exclusive 25% discount on one worldwide AIR MILES flight redemption during the calendar year* – which is a great way to stretch out your miles. Best of all, right now, the annual fee of $120 is waived for the first year*, so it’s a great time to test out the card for free.
Note that with the BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®*, you need a Minimum $80,000 (individual) or $150,000 (household) income to qualify for the card. While the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card has the requirement of a $60,000 personal or $100,000 household annual income for applicants to be considered. If your income falls below that threshold, you could apply for one of the other best AIR MILES or Aeroplan credit cards instead.
- Annual Fee: $120 (waived for the first year)*
- Income Eligibility: Minimum $80,000 (individual) or $150,000 (household)
- Credit Score Requirement: Excellent
- Welcome Bonus: Get 2,000 AIR MILES Bonus Miles and the $120 annual fee waived for the first year*.
- Additional Perks: Travel insurance*, Complimentary membership in Mastercard Travel Pass provided by DragonPass*
- Purchase APR: 20.99% | Cash Advance APR: 23.99% (21.99% for Quebec residents)
†Terms and conditions apply.
The offer for the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card is not available for residents of Quebec. For Quebec residents, please click here.
*Terms and conditions apply.
BMO is not responsible for maintaining the content on this site. Please click on the Apply now link for the most up to date information.
AIR MILES vs. Aeroplan reward redemption
As you can imagine, how you make a redemption through AIR MILES and Aeroplan is very different. Both programs allow you to redeem for various types of travel and merchandise, but the miles required to make a redemption vary quite a bit.
With AIR MILES Cash, it’ll cost you 95 cash miles to claim $10 at participating stores. Many people find this to be of good value since you can easily make a redemption at any time as long as you have enough points. With AIR MILES Dream miles, most people try to save their points for flights. The number of points it takes to redeem a flight depends on where you’re flying and what season it is.
Generally speaking, flights offer good value for your points but using your points for events such as concert tickets can give you even more value. Most of the time, using your Dream Miles for merchandise is of low value so try to stick to travel or event redemptions.
Recently Aeroplan also adopted this variable pricing model for flight rewards. This means that the number of points you need to use for any given flight is more closely tied to the flight’s value in cash. So, while you may end up paying more for flights on popular routes at peak times, the converse is also true.
Another change to the program is that you can book any seat on any Air Canada flight—not just seats reserved for Aeroplan members. You can also book a seat on one of the partner airlines. However, the fare is based on a fixed number of points, and only a certain number of seats are available for purchase with points on each flight.
Aeroplan also allows you to use your points to redeem other types of travel, such as hotels, car rentals, and vacation packages.
With both programs, you still need to pay any taxes and fees when making a redemption. However, under the new Aeroplan program, you’re no longer charged carrier surcharges.
Which program is right for you?
If you prefer to use your rewards for travel, then Aeroplan typically comes out on top. The program has a few sweet spots, such as flights from major Canadian cities to Mexico or Hawaii, where your points can be worth a fair amount. That being said, AIR MILES is great for travellers who fly within their province on a regular basis.
For those who regularly shop at AIR MILES merchants and prefer cash-back, AIR MILES is a good choice. Keep in mind that there’s nothing wrong with collecting rewards from both programs, but when choosing a credit card, go with the program that benefits you more.