Air Canada miles for Canadians

We have gone over some of the other airline cards in Canada already but have not really talked about Air Canada yet.  The reason for this is because I have found that while Air Canada is great for redemption, they have this pesky 7 year expiry rule so you must use them within 7 years or else they expire.  This makes saving up over the long term difficult (more than 7 years out).  The best way in Canada (as in the US) to earn these miles is to use American Express membership rewards points.  The reason for this is because they transfer 1 to 1 with Aéroplan but as long as you keep them with American Express… they do not expire.

If however you are set on earning AC miles the bank with the near monopoly on it is CIBC.  There are two main ways to earn them.  With the unlimited chequing account (cost of $12.95 per month) gets you 100 miles per month and a welcome bonus of 5,000 miles.  Not bad if you are using the account package anyway and are loyal to CIBC (since Royal Bank offers the exact same account without the miles for $2 less per month), but not really worth it just for the miles.

The other way CIBC can help you with with their Visa cards.

The credit card flavours are Aero Classic, Aero Gold and Aero Gold Visa Infinite.  The main difference is that the Classic earns one mile per $2 spent with an annual fee of $29 and the Gold (and Gold Infinite) earns 1 mile per $1 spent with an annual fee of $120.

Neither of these offers is particularly appetizing unless of course you have a huge loyalty to CIBC in which case you may get some sort of discounts for having multiple products with them.

American Express in Canada also has some Aéroplan cards as well.  They are Gold and Platinum.  Other than substituting AC miles for Membership Rewards points, there is really no difference in benefits or fees from the regular gold and platinum cards.  In fact, the regular gold and platinum cards can help you to earn miles too but without the pesky 7 year expiry time. 

The last AMEX option in Canada is the SPG card.  Down in the US, it is the favourite card of the Frugal Travel Guy.  It has a low fee and gets you a 5,000 mile bonus when transferring Starpoints to miles.  Not exactly the case in Canada.  While it does offer the SPG benefit of transferring with the bonus, the fee is $120 per year.  Which is more than double the US card cost.  This of course brings me to the American Express Green card.  If you do not need the extra benefits of a platinum or gold Amex card and want to gain miles without expiry, this is the best card for you.  It costs $105 per year (with Membership Rewards) which is the lowest of all cards (except the Aero Classic at CIBC) and it gives some decent benefits for the card.  All with no expiry date.


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