Air Canada’s new Aeroplan loyalty program will be launching on November 8, 2020. To coincide with the launch, Aeroplan’s trio of financial partners – TD, CIBC, and American Express – will all be refreshing their existing lineup of Aeroplan co-branded credit cards, and we will also be seeing a brand-new Aeroplan credit card being introduced to the market as well.
While not all details are confirmed – and in particular, we will have to wait to see the signup bonuses that these credit cards are sure to offer up – let’s delve into everything we know about the new Aeroplan credit cards and how they’ll help us rack up the Aeroplan miles and elevate our experience when travelling on Air Canada.
In This Post
- Meet the New Aeroplan Credit Cards
- Transition for Current Cardholders
- New Benefits Summary
- Earning Rates
- Preferred Pricing
- Free First Checked Bag
- Maple Leaf Lounge Access & Priority Airport Services
- Priority Pass
- Shared Benefits with Supplementary Cards
- Aeroplan Elite Status Benefits
- Annual Worldwide Companion Fare
- TD & CIBC NEXUS Rebate
- Annual Fees
Meet the New Aeroplan Credit Cards
With the launch of the new Aeroplan, all current co-branded credit cards will undergo a visual rebranding. Let’s begin by taking a look at the snazzy new card designs, shall we?
TD’s new Aeroplan credit cards will incorporate an eye-catching lattice design along the lower-left edges…
CIBC’s new Aeroplan credit cards draw upon the geometric design of the new Aeroplan symbol, forming a striking pattern across the middle of the card…
And American Express’s new Aeroplan credit cards will layer the new Aeroplan symbol across the card, resembling the contrails of an airplane taking off to the right-hand side…
Across all three issuers, the cards’ colour scheme will be uniform across their positioning in each market segments: entry-level cards will be light-coloured, core cards will be slate-coloured, premium cards will be black, and small business cards will take on each issuer’s respective colour identities.
This reflects Air Canada’s intention to differentiate the new Aeroplan credit cards primarily by market segment, rather than by issuer. The idea is for customers to think of their “Aeroplan slate card”, “Aeroplan black card”, etc. rather than focusing on choosing from one particular card issuer over the others.
The current status quo among Aeroplan’s co-branded credit cards sees TD acting as the primary issuer of the TD Aeroplan series of cards, with CIBC and American Express taking up secondary roles as issuers of the “Aerogold” and “AeroplanPlus” series of cards.
That will change with the introduction of the new program: all three issuers will take on key roles in the issuance of Aeroplan credit cards in all customer segments: entry-level, core, premium, and small business. All products will be branded as “Aeroplan” going forward.
TD’s four Aeroplan co-branded products will continue under their current identities:
- The TD Aeroplan Visa Platinum will continue to be the entry-level card
- The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite will continue to be the core card
- The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege will continue to be the premium card
- The TD Aeroplan Visa Business will continue to be the small business card
CIBC’s four Aeroplan co-branded products will rebrand as follows:
- The CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card will be the entry-level card, succeeding the CIBC Aero Platinum Visa Card
- The CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite will be the core card, succeeding the CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite
- The CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege will be the premium card, succeeding the CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite Privilege
- The CIBC Aeroplan Visa Business will be the small business card, succeeding the CIBC Aerogold Visa Card for Business
American Express’s two Aeroplan co-branded products will rebrand as we follows:
- The American Express Aeroplan Card will be the core card, succeeding the American Express AeroplanPlus Gold Card
- The American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card will be the premium card, succeeding the American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum Card
- Finally, the American Express Aeroplan Business Reserve Card will launch as an all-new product, with details to be announced later this month
The positioning of all 11 co-branded products in each consumer segment is summarized in the below chart:
In addition, American Express will also issue Aeroplan-branded corporate cards in both the core and premium markets.
Transition for Current Cardholders
As of today, TD, CIBC, and American Express have all announced details of the upcoming changes to their respective Aeroplan co-branded products, with further details to be communicated to cardholders over the upcoming weeks.
Cardholders can continue using their cards as normal, earning miles within the current Aeroplan program with each monthly statement that posts to their account before November 8.
November 8, the date of the new program’s launch, will also be the official date that the current Aeroplan credit cards transform into their new editions.
The new cardholder benefits will take effect as of this date, while the refreshed physical cards will be mailed out over the upcoming 12-month period as cardholders renew their cards. However, cardholders can always contact their banks to ask for their replacement card at an earlier date.
Details about the welcome bonus for new cardholders should arrive closer to November 8.
Air Canada indicates that we should anticipate “something amazing” here, with the possibility of multiple different signup bonuses on the same card aimed at different segments of prospective cardholders.
And given that the consortium of Air Canada, TD, CIBC, and Visa had forked over $450 million in cash to acquire the Aeroplan program, I’d certainly expect the banks to be putting out some incredible offers that we simply can’t refuse.
New Credit Card Benefits – Summary
The most significant changes to the Aeroplan credit cards will be a renewed series of cardholder benefits, which will provide more meaningful rewards when redeeming Aeroplan points and when travelling with Air Canada on paid tickets.
Of course, this reflects the fact that the new Aeroplan is now under one roof with Air Canada, allowing the airline and the loyalty program to work more closely together to deliver reciprocal benefits for members.
Air Canada summarizes these benefits in the below charts:
Without further ado, let’s explore some of the most exciting new cardholder benefits in more detail.
New Credit Card Benefits – Earning Rates
The points-earning rates on TD’s and CIBC’s Aeroplan credit cards are undergoing slight improvements:
- The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege and CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege will now offer 2 Aeroplan points per dollar spent on Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations, increasing from 1.5x points before.
- The TD Aeroplan Visa Business Card and CIBC Aeroplan Visa Business Card will now offer 1.5 Aeroplan points per dollar spent on shipping, internet, cable, phone services and dining.
- Drugstores will no longer be treated as a bonus category on the TD and CIBC core and premium cards.
- American Express Aeroplan cards’ earning rates are subject to further confirmation; I’ll update this section when we know more.
Other than this, expect that the present-day earning rates will remain in place, even after the credit cards are relaunched.
New Credit Card Benefits – Preferred Pricing
As we know, the new Aeroplan’s flight rewards structure will include dynamic pricing on Air Canada flights. All Aeroplan co-branded credit card holders will be treated to “preferred pricing”, meaning that they are more likely to see reward prices at the lower end of the published price ranges in the Flight Reward Chart.
There are no published, predictable rules for how this preferred pricing will be reflected; rather, it’s all part of the dynamic pricing algorithm. Generally speaking, holders of the higher-tier premium credit cards will be treated to greater preferred pricing than holders of the core or entry-level cards, but this is not a hard-and-fast rule.
On this point, Air Canada emphasizes that engagement with the program via either co-branded cards or Elite Status will make a very meaningful difference to the dynamic reward prices that members see on Air Canada flights.
Indeed, cardholders who hold both a co-branded card and Aeroplan Elite Status will be treated to a double-boost in terms of preferred pricing. And as we’ll see below, one of the key themes across the new credit card benefits is a greater degree of integration and interaction between credit card benefits and Elite Status benefits.
New Credit Card Benefits – Free First Checked Bag
If you hold any of the core cards, premium cards, or small business cards, then you’ll benefit from a free first checked bag on Air Canada flights for yourself and up to eight passengers on the same reservation.
The benefit applies on all Air Canada flights, whether booked with cash or points, as long as your Aeroplan number is associated with the booking.
Air Canada normally charges $30 plus taxes for the first checked bag on domestic and transborder flights, so the value of this benefit can easily add up very quickly. If you regularly travel with your family of four within Canada, for example, and you each need to check-in a bag, then you’ll save $240 for every round-trip journey ($30 per passenger per direction of travel).
New Credit Card Benefits – Maple Leaf Lounge Access & Priority Airport Services
Holders of the premium personal and business cards will now have unlimited Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge access in North America as part of their cardholder benefits, when they are travelling on any Air Canada or Star Alliance flight in any class of service, booked with either cash or Aeroplan points.
The forerunner to the Amex product, the American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum Card, already comes with this perk. However, the TD and CIBC Visa Infinite Privilege cards will be receiving carte-blanche access to Maple Leaf Lounge as a brand-new benefit.
In addition to lounge access, these premium cards will also grant cardholders the standard set of priority airport services: priority check-in, boarding, and standby, as well as a higher priority on the upgrade list.
These benefits is certain to prove popular among premium-level cardholders, and will likely tempt many new cardholders into signing up in spite of the higher annual fee.
In addition, core small business cards will now offer the ability to earn one Maple Leaf Lounge pass per $10,000 of eligible spending, up to a maximum of four passes per year.
New Credit Card Benefits – Priority Pass
To broaden your airport lounge options even further, holders of the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege and the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege will receive a complimentary Priority Pass membership with six annual visits as part of their Visa Infinite Privilege benefits. However, the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card is excluded from this benefit.
New Credit Card Benefits – Shared Benefits with Supplementary Cards
For the core, premium, and small business cards, all of the above benefits (preferred pricing, first free checked bag, lounge access, priority airport services) will be shared with supplementary cardholders in addition to the primary cardholder.
This has already been the case with a few of these cards’ forerunners, but has now been formalized into an official perk that allows cardholders to share their Aeroplan credit card benefits with their loved ones.
When registering a supplementary card, the primary cardholder will need to input the supplementary cardholder’s Aeroplan number in order for all of the card benefits to be shared across the account. This function will be enabled on the Air Canada website as of the new program’s launch.
New Credit Card Benefits – Aeroplan Elite Status Benefits
The new Aeroplan credit cards will offer a series of benefits that allow cardholders to maximize their Aeroplan Elite Status, both in terms of earning status and getting more out of their status benefits.
Core, premium, and small business cardholders will be able to earn additional Status Qualifying Miles (SQM) and Status Qualifying Segments (SQS) based on their annual spending on the credit card:
- Personal core cardholders and all small business cardholders will earn 1,000 SQM and 1 SQS for every $10,000 in annual spending
- Personal premium cardholders will earn 1,000 SQM and 1 SQS for every $5,000 in annual spending
As a reminder, qualification for Aeroplan Elite Status will require:
- Aeroplan 25K: 25,000 SQM or 25 SQS, along with $3,000 Status Qualifying Dollars (SQD)
- Aeroplan 35K: 35,000 SQM or 35 SQS, along with $4,000 SQD
- Aeroplan 50K: 50,000 SQM or 50 SQS, along with $6,000 SQD
- Aeroplan 75K: 75,000 SQM or 75 SQS, along with $9,000 SQD
- Aeroplan Super Elite: 100,000 SQM or 100 SQS, along with $20,000 SQD
The fact that Aeroplan credit card spending can only earn SQM and SQS, but does not help you towards the SQD requirement, means that the usefulness of this benefit will likely be limited to those who genuinely travel frequently with Air Canada, rather than offering a meaningful shortcut to Elite Status in any way.
Nevertheless, I’m sure that Air Canada frequent flyers will appreciate the ability to bump themselves up with extra SQM or SQS to get closer to renewing our upgrading their status – especially since most current Altitude status members report that they usually have no trouble meeting the legacy AQD requirement, but often struggle to rack up enough AQM or AQS without going out of their way to do so.
In addition, premium personal and small business cardholders will receive two rollover benefits:
- Any excess SQM you earned in a given calendar year, which did not help you achieve a higher status level that year, will rollover to the following qualifying year. For example, if you earned 70,000 SQM in 2021 as an Aeroplan 50K member, an extra 20,000 SQM would rollover into your 2022 qualifying year, since you had only “needed” 50,000 SQM to renew 50K status.
- Up to 50 excess eUpgrade credits that are left over at the end of the year will rollover into the following benefit year.
The first rollover benefit makes it easier for Aeroplan Elite members to renew or upgrade their status every year, whereas the second benefit prevents eUpgrades from going to waste at the end of the year and ensures that you can maximize them for complimentary Air Canada upgrades to greatest effect.
New Credit Card Benefits – Annual Worldwide Companion Fare
TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege, CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege, American Express Aeroplan Reserve, and American Express Aeroplan Business Reserve cardholders will earn an Annual Worldwide Companion Pass upon spending $25,000 on the card annually.
This companion pass applies to paid flights with Air Canada, and cannot be combined with an Aeroplan reward.
With the companion pass, Aeroplan members will be able to make a reservation for travel on Air Canada while paying full fare for the first passenger and only a fixed reduced amount of the second passenger, depending on the geographic zone:
- $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
- Taxes, fees, charges, and surcharges extra
New Credit Card Benefits – TD & CIBC NEXUS Rebate
Independently of Air Canada and Aeroplan, TD and CIBC will also be implementing an additional $100 NEXUS rebate to many of their core, premium, and small business products when they are refreshed on November 8. This benefit will cover your NEXUS application or renewal fee of US$50 once every four years.
On TD’s side, the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege, TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite, and TD Aeroplan Visa Business Card will all come with this benefit. On CIBC’s side, only the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege will offer this benefit.
Annual Fees on the New Aeroplan Credit Cards
The annual fees on the new Aeroplan credit cards will look as follows:
- Entry-level cards:
- CIBC’s entry-level card will be priced at $0 going forward. If you’re a current cardholder or you apply before November 8 and get charged the $39 annual fee, it will be refunded within three or four statement cycles.
- TD’s entry-level card will be priced at $89, with supplementary cards available for $39 – the same as now.
- Core cards:
- TD and CIBC’s core cards will be priced at $139, an increase from today’s $120. TD’s supplementary card fee will be increasing from $50 to $75, while CIBC’s will remain level at $50.
- American Express’s core card will remain level at $120, with a supplementary card fee of $50.
- The three premium cards will be priced at $599, with supplementary card fees at $199 – an increase from today’s $399–499 and $99, respectively.
- The two core small business cards will be priced as they are today: $180 (CIBC) and $149 (TD), with supplementary card fees at $50 and $49 respectively, as they are today.
- The American Express Aeroplan Business Reserve Card will be priced at $599, with supplementary card fees at $199.
For the core and premium personal cards, the new annual fees represent an increase upon the current price points, and in the case of the premium cards, the $200 hike in annual fees is quite significant.
However, both of these annual fee increases are accompanied by significant improvements to the card benefits, as we’ve discussed above. Depending on the signup bonuses that we see on these cards, I can see even the steeply-priced premium cards justifying a place in frequent flyers’ wallets, similar to other premium credit cards in the Canadian market like the American Express Platinum Card.
Meanwhile, you might also wish to consider the strategy of signing up for one of the future cards’ predecessors prior to the official launch on November 8 – especially for the premium cards, which are significantly less likely to see a first-year fee waiver compared to the core cards.
For example, by signing up for the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege before November 8, you’ll only pay the current lower annual fee of $399 on your first statement, but that’ll allow you to sample almost a full year’s worth of new cardholder benefits after November 8 until you renew your card at the higher $599 annual fee one year later.
The downside to this strategy, however, is that you wouldn’t be eligible for the new-cardholder signup bonus after November 8 if you’re already holding onto the card. But hey, since there are three issuers offering 11 new Aeroplan products in total, it’s not like the signup bonuses will be in short supply.
The launch of the new Aeroplan program brings with it one of the biggest seismic shifts in the Canadian credit card market in recent years. 10 existing Aeroplan co-branded products from TD, CIBC, and American Express will be revamped and refreshed, while an all-new premium small business card from American Express will be arriving soon as well.
The focus of the credit card portfolio will be on the $139/year core Aeroplan cards, as well as the $599/year premium Aeroplan cards, both of which will deliver improved cardholder benefits for Aeroplan members as they fly with Air Canada, redeem Aeroplan points, and aim for Aeroplan Elite Status.
Even though what we know so far is already very exciting, I’m sure we’ll all be eagerly anticipating what kind of new signup bonuses we’ll see from the transformed Aeroplan credit cards. I have a feeling it’ll be worth the wait!