Air Canada changes their tune…

2 July, 2013

Back in 2006, Air Canada announced that they would have a seven year expiry policy on Aeroplan miles.  It was explained as the miles having a “shelf life”.  I never really liked this idea and there was quite a bit of complaining about it.  It seems now that the complaining has had an effect.  Today I received this mail from Aeroplan… Aeroplan

It says that after listening to Aeroplan members the seven year expiry policy has been revoked.  I do not know how typical this is for member feedback to have an effect like this but if this is a precedent, it may be worth giving comments and suggestions to other programmes and seeing what the results are.  In the meantime, I am quite happy that I do not need to figure out how to use up all my Aeroplan miles by the end of the year as I originally thought I did.

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Air Canada miles for Canadians

29 December, 2010

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.


More Points for Canadians

22 December, 2010

So, if you are living in Canada and you want to earn miles to go places what are the options you have?  As mentioned earlier, there is the AirMiles programme and I have gone over some of the good and bad of it.  There is also Air Canada’s Aéroplan which we will talk about later on (or write and read about later on as the case may be).  American Express has its Membership Rewards for transferring as well.  Royal Bank has its Avion cards which allows transfers of RBC points to American Airlines, Cathay Pacific or British Airways miles at 1 to 1, but the annual fees are not cheap.  TD has it’s travel cards which earn TD points which you can transfer to American Airlines but 1 AA mile costs 4 TD points.  TD also offers the AAdvantage Visa card which earns one mile per dollar spent but this also has a fee which is quite steep.  The Royal Bank has the Cathay Pacific and British Airways Visa cards but they have small bonuses and high fees.  So what is one to do?

For the most miles, you would want the RBC Avion Visa Infinite because it comes with 15,000 bonus points upon enrolling and you can transfer them 1 to 1 to AA, CX or BA.  The $120 fee is not cheap though.  On the plus side, it includes just about any type of insurance you can imagine (except lost baggage insurance).  If you do not meet the income requirements for the Infinite, there is also a platinum version which offers the same bonus and most of the same benefits except fewer insurances.  If you want to add even more points, you can enrol in Rewards Network RBC points dining.  While you get fewer points than with Delta, AA or US dining, the RBC version does allow you to choose more than one airline.

For the lowest cost, I would suggest the TD Travel classic.  It is $29 and at 2 TD points dollar spent and redeeming them at 4 TD points per AA mile it is certainly not the fastest way to earn… but it does allow the possibility.

Tomorrow we will examine the Air Canada options…


Air Miles in Canada

14 December, 2010

This is not a programme which receives very much attention in the blogs from what I see.  For my Canadian readers who may not know much about Air Miles, the general idea is that you earn miles which you can use for travelling.  At first glance this seems to be just like any other.  However, after looking closer, you will notice it is nothing like a regular frequent flyer programme.  First of all… it is not associated with an airline, also it is focused on spending with partners rather than flying.

So if it is not based on flying, how do you earn these things?  Well it is both simple and complicated…  The simple part is this, you sign up for the programme (for free) and you get a little blue card in the mail with your member number.  This card is then used when you go to shops which participate and you are awarded miles based on how much you spend.  It is not as simple as most programmes in this regard though.  It is not 1 mile per dollar, each store is different, some are 1 mile per 20 CAD spent, some are 1 mile per 5 and others are one mile per 100 spent.  Of course the key here is to remember to bring the card with you.  As with most other programmes, you can also earn through credit card spending.  Bank of Montréal offers credit and debit cards which earn Air Miles.  BMO has a regular and a gold MasterCard which earn miles.  The main difference is that the gold card earns 1 mile per 15 CAD for a 99 CAD fee as opposed to the free one which earns 1 mile per 20 CAD spent.  Like AAdvantage, there is also a toolbar which earns miles for searching and when shopping with online partners.  Earning the most miles per transaction would likely be the same as with a purely airline based programme which is using the miles earning credit card while shopping at participating shops.  The toolbar can also help with that online so that you do not have to use the special links all the time.

So why would anyone care about this complicated system to earn miles to travel with?  The short answer is that if they are primarily motivated to travel, they would not care to use this system.  Air Miles has already thought of that though.  Which is why they offer many other options for redeeming your miles.  In fact, I am not sure why it even retains the name Air Miles since travelling is not the main focus of redemption either.  Aéroplan may find this a threat to their programme which is why they have been offering rewards other than travel as well.  The Air Miles programme would appeal to those who do not earn loads of points and do not plan to use then quickly.  The reason for for this thought it that unlike Aéroplan miles which disappear after 7 years, Air Miles never expire.  This gives the ability to save over a long period of time.


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