fbpx

Coming Soon: New Aeroplan Cards by American Express

As promised, cometh the end of August, cometh the details of the new Aeroplan co-branded credit cards from American Express.

While TD and CIBC had dropped the full details of their basic, core, premium, and small business Aeroplan credit cards to coincide with the release of the new program details on August 11, American Express has left us hanging just a little longer, but has today revealed what we can expect from their upcoming trio of exciting new products: the American Express Aeroplan Card, American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card, and the all-new American Express Aeroplan Business Reserve Card.

Applications for these cards will be opening closer to the new program’s launch, and you may sign up for the waitlist at the American Express website here. In the meantime, we’ll go through the details of everything we know so far.

American Express Aeroplan Card

The American Express Aeroplan Card will succeed the current American Express AeroplanPlus Gold Card as of November 8, 2020. Indeed, it’s my understanding that as of today, the AeroplanPlus Gold Card is no longer open to new applications.

 

The American Express Aeroplan Card will be the “core” product issued by American Express, slotting in alongside the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite and the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite. The card will be a charge card with no preset spending limit, although you’ll have to pay off the card’s balance in full every month to avoid accruing interest.

The welcome bonus is yet to be announced in full, but we’ve received a hint: new cardholders who apply by December 31, 2020 will receive 5,000 Aeroplan points upon approval, plus a spend-based welcome bonus that will be revealed closer to the launch date.

As a core product, its annual fees and benefits are on par with its TD and CIBC equivalents; however, it’s interesting to note that American Express has chosen to keep the card’s annual fee at a flat $120 instead of bumping it up to $139 like the other two banks.

The earning rates on this card will be as follows:

  • 2 Aeroplan points per dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations
  • 1.5 Aeroplan points per dollar spent on dining and food delivery purchases in Canada
  • 1 Aeroplan point per dollar spent on everything else

Now that the Aeroplan credit cards are offering shared benefits with supplementary cardholders as a key perk, American Express will offer two types of supplementary cards (or “additional cards” in their lingo): full additional cards, which will share in the card benefits, and No Fee additional cards, which will not share any benefits and will serve only to earn points faster.

The full Additional Card fee has also been kept consistent at $50 per card, which will share in many of the card’s benefits, such as the free first checked bag. This will also be lower than TD’s supplementary card fee of $75, but on par with CIBC’s offering.

As we know, one of the best reasons to get a core Aeroplan card is the first free checked bag benefit, which will apply for the primary cardholder and up to eight companions on the same reservation on Air Canada flights. There’s no need to flash your card, either: as long as your Aeroplan number is linked to both your credit card and the travel reservation, your benefits will apply.

Beyond that, the American Express Aeroplan Card’s benefits are more limited: you’ll enjoy “preferred pricing” on Air Canada flights under the new dynamic pricing model, as well as the ability to earn 1,000 Status Qualifying Miles (SQM) and 1 Status Qualifying Segment (SQS) for every $10,000 in net spending on the card.

Finally, it’s noteworthy that the American Express Aeroplan Card will be made of 70% reclaimed plastic, which is at the very least an innovative way for this card to differentiate itself, and may well be the perfect way to offset the environmental impact of all the flying that you’re doing. 😉

American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card

The American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card will succeed the current American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum Card as of November 8, 2020. Indeed, it’s my understanding that as of today, the AeroplanPlus Platinum Card is no longer open to new applications.

The American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card will be the premium product issued by American Express, taking its place alongside the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege and the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege.

Unlike today’s AeroplanPlus Platinum, the card will be a credit card rather than a charge card, meaning that it will have a preset credit limit as well as the ability to make minimum payments every month (although you should, of course, always be paying off your bills in full).

As a premium product, the Aeroplan Reserve Card’s annual fee rings in at $599 per year, just like its peers from TD and CIBC. Additional cards are available at $199 per card, and will share many of the primary cardholder’s key benefits; meanwhile, No Fee additional cards can also be added to accelerate the points-earning process with your trusted friends and family.

As before, the welcome bonus is yet to be announced in full, but we’ve received a hint: new cardholders who apply by December 31, 2020 will receive 10,000 Aeroplan points upon approval, plus a spend-based welcome bonus that will be revealed closer to the launch date.

The earning rates on this card will be as follows:

  • 3 Aeroplan points per dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations
  • 2 Aeroplan points per dollar spent on dining and food delivery purchases in Canada
  • 1 Aeroplan point per dollar spent on everything else

In my view, the 3x earning rate on Air Canada flights makes this card the key differentiator from its TD and CIBC counterparts (which only offer 2x points), and make it the best card in Canada for paying for any travel with Air Canada (remember, the new Aeroplan will be fully in-house, so any award taxes and fees should qualify too).

In addition to the free first checked bag and the preferred pricing on Air Canada flights under the new dynamic pricing model, the Aeroplan Reserve Card kicks up the benefits into a much higher gear. The biggest benefit is the unlimited access to Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges and Air Canada Cafes in North America with a same-day flight on Air Canada or any Star Alliance partner.

On top of that, the primary cardholder, any supplementary cardholders, and up to eight other passengers travelling on the same reservation are each entitled to priority check-in, Zone 2 priority boarding, and priority baggage handling when travelling with Air Canada.

Considered in totality with the lounge access, I’m certain that these priority benefits on Air Canada will go a long way towards justifying the $599 annual fee for many of Air Canada’s frequent travellers.

Then we have the Annual Worldwide Companion Pass: upon spending $25,000 in net purchases, you’ll earn a companion pass that entitles you to buy an accompanying Air Canada economy class ticket for a companion at a fixed base fare:

  • $99 base fare for travel within Canada and continental United States (excluding Hawaii)
  • $299 base fare for travel to/from Hawaii, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean
  • $499 base fare for travel to/from South America, Europe, Middle East, and Africa
  • $599 base fare for travel to/from Asia, Australia, and New Zealand

While the companion fare may not appear very interesting at first glance due to its limitation to economy class flights only, the smart play here would be to combine this perk with eUpgrades to access cheaper business class tickets as a couple. We’ll explore this angle in greater detail when we know more about the refreshed eUpgrade offering in the coming weeks.

Don’t forget about the Aeroplan Elite Status benefits, too: with the Aeroplan Reserve Card, you’ll earn 1,000 Status Qualifying Miles (SQM) and 1 Status Qualifying Segment (SQS) for every $5,000 in net spending on the card, which is double the earning rate compared to the core Aeroplan Card.

You’ll also be able to rollover unused SQM (up to 200,000) or eUpgrades (up to 50) at the end of the year, which is a benefit that those who regularly aim for Elite Status will certainly value.

Finally, and perhaps most excitingly for some of you, the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card will be “made from precision-cut and engraved 13g metal” – that’s lighter than the Platinum Card, but certainly beefier than the average piece of plastic, and always a guaranteed spine-tingling clang-clang-clang when you whip it out.

American Express Aeroplan Business Reserve Card

Finally, let’s talk about the brand-new product from American Express: the American Express Aeroplan Business Reserve Card.

This is a new card in the “premium small business” segment of the market, which is uncharted territory for Aeroplan co-branded credit cards in Canada. Previously, small business owners were restricted to the TD Aeroplan Visa Business Card and the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Business Card, but as of November 8, they’ll have the option to level-up to a higher-end offering that’s still geared towards their business needs.

The Aeroplan Business Reserve Card will be a credit card rather than a charge card, meaning that it will have a preset credit limit as well as the ability to make minimum payments every month (although you should, of course, always be paying off your bills in full).

Like its personal counterpart, the Aeroplan Business Reserve Card will be priced at an annual fee of $599, along with additional cards at $199 and the option for No Fee additional cards as well. Personally, I had expected the annual fee (and corresponding benefits) to go even higher on this card, but I suppose a level price point makes sense as well.

And just like the other cards, the welcome bonus is yet to be announced in full, but we’ve received a hint: new cardholders who apply by December 31, 2020 will receive 10,000 Aeroplan points upon approval, plus a spend-based welcome bonus that will be revealed closer to the launch date.

The earning rates on this card will be as follows:

  • 3 Aeroplan points per dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations
  • 2 Aeroplan points per dollar spent on hotels and car rentals
  • 1 Aeroplan point per dollar spent on everything else

I’m somewhat surprised that these earning rates aren’t more differentiated from the personal side, and would’ve thought that the Aeroplan Business Reserve might want to make more of a splash on the market as an all-new product.

In my view, while the 3x earning on Air Canada remains very powerful, the 2x earning rate ought to have encompassed a wider range of categories of regular business spending as well, while the 1x base earning rate is not comparable to the 1.25x earning rate on the American Express Business Platinum Card or indeed many other competing products on the market (like RBC’s premium business product, for example).

Beyond that, the vast majority of the Aeroplan Business Reserve Card’s benefits are exactly on par with the personal version: the free first checked bag, preferred pricing, lounge access, priority airport services, Annual Worldwide Companion Pass, SQM and SQS earning based on spending, rollover SQM and eUpgrades, and indeed the precision-cut 13g metal physical makeup of the card are all exactly the same.

Personally, I think it’s a bit of a missed opportunity for the Aeroplan Business Reserve Card to make real waves in the market with more of a “wow factor”, in order to tempt business owners into switching into the Aeroplan Business Reserve Card as opposed to their current preferred choices.

At the same time, the conservative approach is also quite understandable in the current environment, and I’d certainly love to see more differentiated perks and benefits from the Aeroplan Business Reserve Card as the product evolves in the years to come.

Conclusion

The American Express Aeroplan Card, American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card, and American Express Aeroplan Business Reserve Card will be landing in Canada soon.

Existing cardholders can expect to be transitioned over as of November 8, while new applicants will be treated to what promises to be “something amazing” as a welcome bonus – which will at the very least consist of 5,000–10,000 Aeroplan points upon signing up, followed by another spend-based component.

While I would’ve personally liked to see American Express’s new Aeroplan co-branded products being even more transformative upon launch, I can understand the limited appetite for large-scale travel-related offerings at the moment, and would certainly hope to see these products grow in prominence over the course of the 10-year card issuance contract between American Express and Air Canada.

For now, I’ve updated our guide to the new Aeroplan credit cards by TD, CIBC, and American Express with today’s details, and we can await to find out more about all 11 products on the market closer to November 8.