Each Priority Reward voucher entitles the holder to a 50% discount on the number of points required for an eligible itinerary for one passenger booked out of the voucher holder’s account.
Even though the concept of a 50% discount on award redemptions is pretty straightforward, there can be a surprising amount of room to optimize your usage of Aeroplan’s Priority Rewards.
How to Earn Priority Rewards
Priority Rewards can be earned in two ways. The primary earning method is based on the number of Status Qualifying Dollars (SQD) you earn as an Aeroplan member, which means paying cash for flights with Air Canada.
The US-issued Chase Aeroplan Card offers a secondary pathway to earning Priority Rewards by reaching large spending thresholds over the course of a year.
Earning Status Qualifying Dollars (SQD)
SQD is a measure of how much you spend on Air Canada-marketed flights (including the base fare and carrier-imposed surcharges, but excluding third-party taxes and fees).
Priority Reward vouchers are earned at the thresholds of 4,000, 7,000, 10,000, and 15,000 SQD, as well as every 5,000 SQD thereafter, up to a maximum of 50,000 SQD (for a total of 11 Priority Reward vouchers per calendar year).
For example, if you racked up the 20,000 SQD required to attain Aeroplan Super Elite status, that would have entitled you to a total of five Priority Reward vouchers.
You can check your progress towards earning SQD under the “Status” tab on your Aeroplan Elite Status dashboard.
As you cross each Priority Reward threshold, the vouchers will become visible under the “Benefits” tab on your Aeroplan dashboard.
Keep in mind that Priority Rewards expire one year from the date on which they were earned, but can be redeemed for travel up to the end of the schedule.
For example, if you crossed an SQD threshold on July 1, 2023, you must redeem your Priority Reward voucher by July 1, 2024 for travel up to around late June, 2025.
Spending on the Chase Aeroplan Card
In addition, the Chase Aeroplan Card allows cardholders to earn Priority Rewards as part of the card’s high-volume spending thresholds.
Priority Reward vouchers are earned at the USD spend thresholds of $100,000, $250,000, $500,000 and $750,000 every calendar year, for a maximum of four Priority Reward vouchers per calendar year.
In total, it’s possible to earn a maximum of 15 Priority Reward vouchers per year across the SQD and spend-based methods.
On Which Trips Are You Eligible to Redeem Priority Rewards?
Your Aeroplan Elite Status at the time of earning a Priority Reward voucher determines which set of flights are eligible for you to redeem that voucher and unlock a 50% discount on the award redemption, detailed as follows:
- Aeroplan 25K: Economy flights in Canada and the US
- Aeroplan 35K: Economy and premium economy flights in North America
- Aeroplan 50K: Economy and premium economy flights in North America
- Aeroplan 75: Economy and premium economy flights worldwide
- Aeroplan Super Elite: Economy, premium economy, and business class flights worldwide
For example, an Aeroplan 35K or 50K member is eligible to redeem Priority Reward vouchers on flights within North America (which, in this case, refers to Canada, the US, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean) in economy class or premium economy.
How to Redeem Priority Rewards
Once you’ve earned a Priority Reward, you can easily redeem them online or over the phone with the Aeroplan call centre.
When booking flights online, simply search for flights on the Aeroplan search engine as a member with Priority Rewards in your account.
If your chosen origin–destination pair falls within the set of flights for which your Priority Rewards are eligible, you’ll first need to click on the “Credits and discounts” button that floats at the bottom of your screen.
Next, you’ll need to select a Priority Reward to use. Simply check the box, and the click on “Apply voucher(s)”.
Your search results will then repopulate, and any eligible flights will cost 50% fewer points than searching without Priority Rewards applied. A star above the price indicates that you’re getting 50% off.
You can then click through and book the half-priced reward straight away.
It’s worth noting that due to technical limitations, the full range of Points + Cash options is not available when you apply a Priority Reward.
How to Maximize Priority Rewards
Now that we’ve gone over how the Priority Rewards work, let’s talk about how to maximize them.
Before we dive into the best ways to use Priority Rewards at each status level, it’s important to note that everyone will find value in Priority Rewards in different ways.
If you only ever fly within Canada and never fly overseas, then you might be happy with saving a handful of points on a short- or medium-haul route, even with a Super Elite Priority Reward.
On the other hand, if you’re someone who tends to maximize at all possible opportunities, you might be a bit more strategic in your approach and find exceptional value in Priority Rewards, possibly saving hundreds of thousands of points.
Another consideration is whether or not you fly with Air Canada or partner airlines.
If Air Canada is your primary airline, then Priority Rewards can be very helpful in taking the sting out of dynamic pricing.
For example, it’s common to find pricing on Air Canada flights that’s well above the upper and lower ends of the dynamic range. In exchange for having access to every available seat on Air Canada flights, you might just have to pay more for it.
Since Priority Rewards reduce the number of points required for eligible itineraries by 50%, it may result in bringing a high-priced flight with Air Canada back down to reality. In these situations, you could benefit from more direct routings, which is important for many people.
Alternatively, you can also choose to fly exclusively with partner airlines. Since these itineraries come at a predictable fixed cost, you can map out your savings accordingly.
Aeroplan 25K Priority Rewards
If you’ve earned Priority Reward vouchers as a base-level Aeroplan 25K member, you’d be looking at flights within Canada and the US in economy class only. You could apply these vouchers on a flight to, say, Hawaii in order to maximize the total value.
One very compelling use for Priority Rewards is to combine them with eUpgrades earned from your Aeroplan Elite Status – and in particular the “Latitude Attitude” approach for instantly upgrading into business class.
Even though you can’t apply your Priority Rewards for business class redemptions, you can still wind up in Air Canada business class via this “backdoor” method.
For example, you could use a Priority Reward voucher to halve the price of an economy class booking in the Economy (Latitude) fare category, and then use eUpgrades to confirm an upgrade into premium economy or business class long before your departure date.
Of course, this assumes that you’ve done your due diligence of looking for eUpgrade availability on your flight. However, even if there isn’t eUpgrade availability at the outset, you could still wind up in business class through the eUpgrade waitlist.
Aeroplan 35K & 50K Priority Rewards
Similarly, if you’ve earned Priority Reward vouchers as an Aeroplan 35K or 50K member, you’d ideally be aiming to use them on flights to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, since those flights are off-limits to the lower rung of Aeroplan Elite Status society.
However, flights to many Sun destinations typically don’t offer premium economy, so another way to maximize your voucher would be to book premium economy seats on widebody flights within Canada and the US (with the option to eUpgrade into business class as well).
Aeroplan 75K Priority Rewards
If you’ve earned Priority Reward vouchers as an Aeroplan 75K member, you have access to worldwide flights up to premium economy.
You could book on Star Alliance partners, but then you’d be limited to economy class, since Air Canada is currently the only airline offering premium economy awards on Aeroplan points.
Therefore, a premium economy redemption on an Air Canada international flight to Europe, the Middle East, Oceania, or Asia, combined with an eUpgrade into business class, might be the optimal play here.
Aeroplan Super Elite Priority Rewards
Finally, if you’ve earned Priority Reward vouchers as an Aeroplan Super Elite member, you have access to the most powerful use of Priority Rewards: 50% off international flights in business class, including on Star Alliance and other partner airlines.
In this case, you can construct your ideal business class itinerary around the world on any mix of Air Canada and Aeroplan’s partner airlines, and then apply a Priority Reward voucher to slash the cost of the award by a half.
For example, a round-trip flight from Toronto to South East Asia, with a stopover in Europe and another one in East Asia, typically costs 190,000 Aeroplan points, assuming you’ve booked with partner airlines or scored flights at the lower end of the dynamic range for Air Canada.
This takes advantage of the “Asia 3” sweet spot in the Flight Reward Chart, which represents one of the best distance-to-price ratios in the whole chart.
Applying a Priority Reward voucher to this redemption as a Super Elite member, you’d theoretically be able to book this whole trip for only 95,000 Aeroplan points – that’s a spectacular deal!
On the other hand, Priority Rewards can be a great way to take the sting out of Aeroplan’s most expensive redemptions.
For example, if you’re planning a long-haul itinerary that pushes the total distance flown to the fourth distance band on any section of the Aeroplan Flight Reward Chart, you can benefit immensely from Priority Rewards.
Any business class routing above 8,001 miles between North America and the Atlantic zones will cost at least 110,000 points per direction. A Super Elite Priority Reward would turn this into 110,000 points for a round-trip booking in business class.
Similarly, recall that Emirates is subject to its own pricing chart, which is often much higher than a similar itinerary booked with any other partner airline.
Since Priority Rewards can be applied to any partner airline, you can soon find yourself indulging on the Emirates A380 bar at a 50% discount to what it would typically cost.
There are countless more examples of how Priority Rewards can be utilized to their full potential. If you’ve made an excellent redemption, feel free to share the details below.
Is It Worth Pursuing Priority Rewards?
Now that we’ve explored the true power of Aeroplan’s Priority Rewards, the question remains: is it worthwhile to go out of your way to earn Status Qualifying Dollars (SQD) or spend $100,000+ (USD) on the Chase Aeroplan Card in order to gain access to Priority Rewards?
Generally speaking, you shouldn’t be proactively throwing money at Air Canada purely for the opportunity to earn Priority Rewards. However, it might be worth fine-tuning your strategy if you already spend some money every year on Air Canada flights.
For example, if your organic travel activities earn you enough SQD to get close to the next Priority Reward threshold, then it might well be worth booking into a higher fare category so that you can reach the next threshold and earn an additional Priority Reward voucher.
For most folks, however, it’s probably not worth going too far out of your way to chase SQD or spend $100,000+ (USD) per year if your organic flying or spending patterns don’t come close to those amounts.
Indeed, if you mostly travel the world on points, your SQD is likely to be very low every year, and you might struggle to reach even that first threshold of 4,000 SQD for a solitary Priority Reward voucher.
Another approach to thinking about maximizing Priority Rewards is by building your network and getting to know other Aeroplan members with elite status – and especially Super Elite status.
Remember, Priority Rewards simply have to be redeemed out of the holder’s account using their Aeroplan points… but the ticket itself can be in anyone’s name.
There might be many Super Elite members out there – perhaps that one friend of yours who constantly travels for work, but is ever-so-clueless as to what to do with the Aeroplan points they rack up – might be easily convinced to part ways with a Priority Reward voucher in exchange for a round of oysters or an afternoon of lawn work.
Aeroplan’s Priority Rewards can offer outstanding value for the most engaged members of the program. In exchange for a high volume of flying activity or spending on the US-issued co-branded card, Priority Rewards offer members a powerful 50% discount on eligible Aeroplan redemptions.
There are many opportunities to be handsomely rewarded for your loyalty to Air Canada, and Priority Rewards are one such measure. Whether it’s scoring a cheap economy flight within North America or fully maximizing the vouchers on a round-the-world trip, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find value in your Priority Rewards.