Aeroplan Announces Partnership with Amazon

This morning, Aeroplan announced the launch of its first major partnership since the news of its separation from Air Canada first broke last year. Starting on April 24, 2018, Aeroplan members will be able to earn miles on Amazon.ca purchases, since the online retail behemoth will become part of Aeroplan’s eStore.

 
 

As per the official announcement, members will be able to earn miles on their Amazon purchases simply by doing the following:

  1. Aeroplan Members simply visit aeroplan.com/estore;
  2. Using the search function on the page, find Amazon.ca;
  3. Enter your Aeroplan Number and last name;
  4. Click on the ‘Shop Now’ button to be redirected to Amazon.ca. Happy shopping! Members will earn a minimum of 1 Aeroplan Mile per $1 spent.

The other interesting part of the announcement is the enhanced earning rates for members with Aeroplan status. While everyone will earn 1 Aeroplan mile per dollar spent at a minimum, Silver and Black members will earn “up to 2x the miles” and Diamond members will earn “up to 3x the miles”. My guess is that they’ll be implementing these enhanced earning rates on certain categories of purchases.

Leveraging shopping portals and cashback offers is a key part of earning points, and it’s always a positive change when more possibilities become available. It’ll be great to combine this opportunity to earn Aeroplan miles with other excellent ways to maximize your return on Amazon purchases, such as purchasing Amazon gift cards from grocery stores on your Cobalt Card and earning 5 MR Select points per dollar spent (equivalent to an incredible 2.5 Starpoints per dollar spent).

As always, don’t forget to do a quick comparison of cashback sites before you hit the Buy Now button. For example, eBates.ca also partners with Amazon, and when they do their 5% cashback promotions (as they’re doing now), that could definitely represent a better value.

Lastly, this could be a very positive change for those of you looking to attain Aeroplan Diamond status, if a significant portion of your purchases can be made on Amazon. This is an especially welcome development now that the AC Conversion Card soon won't be an easy way to Diamond status.


Aeroplan Putting Up a Fight...

Historically, I’ve always felt that Aeroplan could be doing much more to work with retail partners throughout Canada. Think about when you visit the grocery store or drugstore – it's always PC Points this and Air Miles that. In terms of everyday shopping, Aeroplan is pretty much an afterthought.

Sure, Aeroplan had Home Hardware and Esso (which it lost as of last week), but I felt it could’ve done a lot more to establish partnerships with bigger names in terms of consumers’ daily shopping routines. Under the prevailing status quo, the average consumer could well be forgiven for thinking that Air Miles were in fact the most valuable travel rewards points one could collect in Canada!

Nevertheless, Aeroplan always had the Air Canada partnership to fall back on, and the ability to earn and redeem miles on Star Alliance flights was always going to be a cornerstone of the program that Air Miles et al. could never hope to match. But as we all know, that’s all changing in 2020, and Aeroplan desperately needs to start reinventing itself in order to stay relevant.

That’s why it’s particularly pleasing to see them launch a partnership with Amazon. It’s no doubt a forward-thinking move, since more and more of our purchases are being completed online nowadays, and Amazon is positioned at the forefront of this industry here in Canada and indeed globally. Nowadays, anytime I need new books, gifts, electronics, or home appliances, Amazon is the first place I look, and the ability to earn Aeroplan miles on my purchases is something I’m greatly looking forward to.

I’ve seen some opinions floating around that Aeroplan miles are no longer worth collecting given the impending Air Canada breakup in 2020, but that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. If you’re earning miles, you should always have a plan for how to redeem them, and you still have plenty of time turn your miles into some incredible travel opportunities by taking full advantage of things like the Mini-RTW, the Atlantic Canada Hopper, or the various tricks and secrets embedded within the program.

I wouldn’t start worrying about your miles becoming useless until about mid-2019, and even then you have a year’s time to ensure that you get spectacular value out of your hard-earned miles. Until then, make the most of all the opportunities at your fingertips to earn and burn, including this latest development with Amazon.

The is certainly a step in the right direction and a statement of intent from Aeroplan that they’ve still got a bit of fight in them; going forward, they must look to build on this momentum and thrash out a few more key partnerships, especially in terms of redeeming miles for travel.


...But There’s Still Work to Be Done

In my opinion, however, whether any of this will eventually lead to Aeroplan’s resurgence as a loyalty program after 2020 depends entirely on one thing – whether they can sort out the horrible IT infrastructure that underpins the program.

We’re all aware of the grievances that Canadians have with Aeroplan. From partner award booking glitches – currently affecting members’ ability of book travel on Copa Airlines, Avianca, and LOT – to call centre wait times, to website downtimes. Seriously, for a company as deeply rooted in the public consciousness as Aeroplan to still have website downtimes in 2018? That’s downright unforgivable.

Resolving technical issues with the platform has to be top-of-mind over at Aimia HQ, if they want to retain any hope of making the program a success in the post-Air Canada days. I’d understand if they weren’t too keen on improving the award travel search engine, since that could well lead to more members booking high-value redemptions and costing them money – money that’s understandably precious at this moment in time.

But other things – like eStore miles not being credited correctly, and follow-up attempts taking months to complete – are a different matter. That’s one of the complaints about Aeroplan that I see far too often, and if something like that isn’t fixed, it raises the question of why even bother partnering up with Amazon in the first place if your members can’t earn the miles properly?

While the Air Canada breakup was terrible news for Aeroplan, I’m rooting for them to remain a competitive force in the travel rewards space, because more options is always a good thing for us consumers. However, a key part of their survival strategy has to be a cleanup of their ancient IT infrastructure; otherwise, whatever is left of the public’s trust in the program will surely evaporate after June 2020.


Conclusion

Linking up with Aeroplan is Amazon’s latest gambit in the global retail company’s never-ending attempt to take over the world, and time will tell how it plays out for them. As for Aeroplan, it's clear that they've kicked off the laborious process of preparing for life after Air Canada, which means we're likely to see plenty more positive improvements in the lead-up to 2020.