Another week, another exciting announcement from Aeroplan as the loyalty program seeks to continually reward its members for their loyalty even during these challenging times.
While this featured had soft-launched a few weeks ago, Aeroplan is now formally launching the ability to buy miles directly from the program, and will also be offering quite a spectacular bonus on the first 10 million miles sold.
In addition to this news, Aeroplan has also announced a few exciting additions to their ongoing Travel at Home promotion. Read on for all the details of both of today’s developments.
Aeroplan’s New Buy & Gift Miles Feature
Many loyalty programs around the world make it possible to purchase miles directly from the program. The idea is that you’d be getting a good deal by doing so, as long as you then redeemed the miles at a higher value than what you had paid.
Until now, the only way to purchase Aeroplan miles outright was to top-up your balance when redeeming miles for flights: if you had more than 50% of the miles required for a certain redemption, you could pay for the additional miles required during the booking process. However, if you weren’t planning on making an Aeroplan booking immediately, then it wasn’t possible to buy Aeroplan miles outright.
That’s where the new Buy & Gift Miles feature comes in. Aeroplan has partnered with Points.com to offer members the ability to buy miles directly, and the usual going rate is 3 Canadian cents per mile (cpp), or 3cpp. Members are limited to purchasing 250,000 miles per transaction and 500,000 miles per calendar year.
While 3cpp (CAD) is not really a competitive rate at which I’d choose to buy miles, it does open the door for Aeroplan to offer promotions to improve the value proposition, and that’s exactly what they’re doing at the time of launch.
Buy Aeroplan Miles with a 115% Bonus
From 10am Eastern Time on Thursday, May 7 until 11:59pm Eastern Time on Wednesday, May 13, Aeroplan members will be able to buy miles and receive bonus miles on their purchase:
For the first 10 million Aeroplan Miles sold, members get a 115% bonus; equivalent to $0.014 CAD/mile + sales tax OR $0.01 USD/mile;
The next 100 million miles sold, members get a bonus of 90%; equivalent to $0.016 CAD/mile + sales tax OR $0.011 USD/mile;
All miles sold after this will get a bonus of 65%; equivalent to $0.018 CAD/mile + sales tax OR OR $0.013 USD/mile
To demonstrate the math involved here, let’s consider that the usual rate is 3 cents per mile (CAD), so a 115% bonus means that you’ll now get 2.15 miles for 3 cents (CAD). That translates into an effective cost of 1.4 cpp (CAD).
The currency used will depend on the credit card and billing address that you use to process your transaction. This is where there is significant advantage to be gained by using a US credit card to buy miles, because you won’t pay any sales taxes on these transactions.
Unfortunately, because the transaction is processed by Points.com rather than directly via Air Canada, it doesn’t code as a travel purchase on most credit cards. The optimal credit card to use for buying Aeroplan miles would therefore be a US-issued card on which you need to meet a minimum spend.
It’s worth noting that the respective per-transaction and annual limits of 250,000 and 500,000 miles only applies to the base miles, not the bonus miles. Therefore, if you maxed out your purchase allowance at the 115% level, you’d earn a total of 1,075,000 Aeroplan miles for US$10,750.
Aeroplan and Points.com have also worked together to pledge some of the benefit from this promotion to a good cause. They will match a portion of the total Aeroplan miles that are purchased under this promotion and donate them to the Centre for Mental Health, a charity that’s a part of the Aeroplan Member Donation program.
Should You Buy Aeroplan Miles with This Bonus?
The most compelling value proposition is obviously on the first 10 million miles sold, which can be purchased for as low as 1cpp (USD). In my view, if you were interested in buying Aeroplan miles outright, this is an incredibly generous rate, as it’s extremely rare that we see loyalty programs selling miles at this level of a discount.
As just one example, you could purchase 150,000 miles for only US$1,500 and use them towards an Aeroplan Mini-RTW to visit up to two places around the world with up to 16 flights in business class, and that’s obviously tremendous value.
However – and this is important to emphasize – I would not recommend purchasing Aeroplan miles speculatively at the moment, and would only recommend doing so if both of the following conditions are fulfilled:
You had a particular redemption in mind where you are certain to get a higher value than the 1cpp (USD) you’re paying
You need to have these miles on hand more urgently than you can take advantage of the multitude of cheaper ways to acquire Aeroplan miles out there, such as signing up for TD, CIBC, or American Express credit cards
In ordinary circumstances, some travellers might choose to speculatively buy miles at such a low rate even if they didn’t have definite travel plans coming up.
However, we know that Aeroplan will be launching a new program later this year (even though the date has been pushed back from Q3 to Q4 2020, in light of the pandemic), and we have no way of telling how much value we’ll derive from the new program just yet.
While we’ll most likely still be able to extract more than 1cpp (USD) in value out of our miles, I do think the overall climate of uncertainty surrounding travel at the moment means that speculative mileage purchases wouldn’t necessarily be a wise move.
Now, that doesn’t change the fact that 1cpp (USD) is a terrific price at which to buy miles for anyone who does have definite travel plans that they need to book for the upcoming year, so I’m sure that the first 10 million Aeroplan miles will be sold pretty quickly.
Improvements to the Travel at Home Promotion
Also announced today were a handful of additions to the Travel at Home promotion, which has been very well-received among members as they receive rewards for their loyalty even when they aren’t travelling.
As part of the Buy Miles bonus event, 50% of the miles you purchase during the promotion period will also count towards your Travel at Home totals. This means that if a member had no Altitude status prior to the Travel at Home promotion, then purchasing 100,000 miles for US$1,000 would allow them to earn Prestige 25K status by achieving the 50,000-mile threshold required.
In addition, until May 31, members will also be rewarded more generously for any purchases made via the Aeroplan eStore.
eStore purchases will earn an additional 5 Aeroplan miles per dollar spent when you make your purchase using a Td Aeroplan-branded credit card (including the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite or the TD Aeroplan Visa Business Card), a CIBC Aeroplan-branded credit card (including the CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite or the CIBC Aerogold Visa Card for Business) or an American Express AeroplanPlus Card (including the no-fee AeroplanPlus, the AeroplanPlus Gold, the AeroplanPlus Platinum, or the AeroplanPlus Reserve).
This is in addition to the regular bonus miles you might earn on eStore purchases, whether it’s as an Aeroplan Diamond member or as part of an eStore bonus event, such as the Mother’s Day event that’s running until May 10.
If you were to add up the 7x earnings from the Mother’s Day event, the 3x earnings as a Diamond member, and the 5x earnings from using a CIBC or Amex Aeroplan-branded credit card, that’s a staggering 14x return on your purchase – all of which would count towards the Travel at Home prizes as well!
Aeroplan has launched its new Buy & Gift Miles feature in style, offering a tremendous 115% bonus on the first 10 million miles purchased starting on May 7. This can be an incredible deal for those of you who’d like to acquire miles faster than the credit card signup bonuses will allow, but also must be balanced against the fact that a new Aeroplan loyalty program will be launched in Quarter 4 of 2020 and the uncertainty that brings.
Meanwhile, Aeroplan continues to improve upon their Travel at Home promotion, giving members the opportunity to earn up to 14x miles on eStore purchases during this week’s Mother’s Day event. Be sure to check the eStore before making a purchase whenever you’re shopping online – you might just get a few free flights out of it for the future!