Aeroplan Rewards Program: is it Worth it?

Craving a vacation? Will Aeroplan help you get there sooner?

Is the Aeroplan rewards program worth joining? It’s an interesting question. Many would say yes as Aeroplan has about 5 million active members in its rewards program. And it makes sense as many of us love to travel and most of us like to receive some sort of reward or perk for our spending. It almost seems to be an ideal program, but is it? Let’s do a little digging to find out!

Income, Income, Income

Most rewards programs have certain criteria and Aeroplan is no different. You can apply for an Aeroplan credit card currently offered through TD Bank and CIBC. At TD Bank, you have the Aeroplan Visa Infinite credit card which currently has an offer of receiving up to 30,000 bonus Aeroplan miles. The first 15,000 miles are given to you when you make your first purchase on the credit card and an additional 15,000 miles is rewarded to you when you spend $1000 within the first 90 days after opening your account.

Sounds great! Where do I sign up? However, there is a catch, as this card requires you to have either $60,000.00 in annual personal income or $100,000.00 in annual household income. Currently, I do not have either scenario so I could not apply for this card. However, at CIBC, they have multiple Aeroplan credit cards including the CIBC Aero Platinum Visa card where you only need to have $15,000.00 in household income. But with less income comes less benefits. First, you would only get 5000 Aeroplan miles when you sign up. Also, you would need to spend $1.50 to get 1 Aeroplan mile. Whereas on the Aeroplan Visa Infinite card, you only need to spend $1.00 to get 1 Aeroplan mile.

Plus, if you spend at eligible gas stations, grocery stores, drug stores, or at, you can get 1.5 miles for every dollar spent. You can even get twice the miles with the Infinite card if you shop at Aeroplan partners or online retailers. So from the comparison of two Aeroplan credit cards, this program seems to cater to people with larger incomes as you get more reward miles in the beginning and can earn more reward miles faster.

So How Does it Work?

As mentioned earlier, as you make purchases with your Aeroplan rewards credit card, you earn Aeroplan miles. The more miles you earn, the more you have to ‘spend’ – redeeming these miles for either flights or other merchandise.

How many miles do you need to redeem for Aeroplan rewards? If you go to the Aeroplan website and go to their rewards chart, it lists the miles you need to redeem your miles to go to a certain location. For example, if I wanted to travel to a province next to the one I live in, I would need to redeem 15,000 Aeroplan miles. If I wanted to travel to eastern Canada to visit my family for example, I would need to redeem 25,000 Aeroplan miles for an economy flight. If I wanted to travel to Australia, I would need to redeem 90,000 Aeroplan miles for an economy flight. You can also redeem at the Aeroplan online store for gift cards and other items. However, the selection is a bit thin as the main item for redemption for Aeroplan is flights.

How Long To Get Aeroplan Rewards?

Another interesting question. Let’s use my scenario to give you an idea. As mentioned earlier, I would qualify to get the CIBC Aero Platinum Visa card. This means I would start off with 5000 Aeroplan reward miles. Suppose I wanted to save up my reward miles to visit my family in eastern Canada, I would need 25,000 Aeroplan miles to make the trip. So that means I would need to spend enough to get another 20,000 Aeroplan miles. With the card available to me, I can only earn 1 mile for every $1.50 I spend. This means that for me to earn 20,000 Aeroplan miles, I would need to spend $30,000.00. That’s a lot of money! How long would this take based on my current spending habits?

First, I could not use the credit card to pay for my rent which is my biggest expense, as they do not allow payment by credit card. So if I used my Aeroplan rewards credit card on all my other current expenses, it would take me over 2 years to earn enough miles to go on a flight to visit my family. That’s a long time! I could speed up the process and make more purchases, which would of course see my expenses go way up. I could also go to the Aeroplan store and purchase through Aeroplan’s partners and see if I can get more miles with purchases.

If I did not want to redeem my miles for a flight, I could go to the online store and purchase items such as the $100.00 Best Western Travel card for 14,000 Aeroplan miles. As you can see, it would take a long time to receive any Aeroplan rewards and you also run the risk of increasing your spending habits which has negative consequences.

Is Aeroplan the right program for me?

In my scenario, the answer is no. It would take me a long time to earn enough Aeroplan rewards miles to redeem for any flight based on my current spending habits. If I increased my spending habits, I run the risk of spending beyond my means and having a high balance on the credit card. This could be disastrous economically as the current interest rate on the CIBC Aero Platinum Visa card is 19.99%. Also, why would I want to purchase a $100 gift card for 14,000 Aeroplan miles? This would mean I would have to spend $21,000.00 to get this reward. It makes no sense!

So, is the Aeroplan rewards program worth it? If you have a high income and you have a lot of expenditures (ie: you have a business and spend a lot for inventory) then this card can be quite beneficial to you. However, if you’re in a situation similar to mine and do not have a huge income and have modest spending habits, it is not worth it. It would be simpler and cheaper just to save up some money and find a deal on a travel site like Expedia if we wanted to travel. The Aeroplan rewards program is a popular program but it is not for everyone. It is definitely not for me.

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