How to Maximize Aeroplan’s Priority Rewards [2021]

Our guide to Aeroplan’s Priority Rewards has been refreshed for 2021 with the latest earning opportunities thanks to the newly launched Chase Aeroplan Card.

One of Aeroplan’s most rewarding features is, as the name suggests, Priority Rewards. 

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.

Earning Priority Rewards is tied to the number of Status Qualifying Dollars (SQD) that an Aeroplan member racks up in a calendar year, while the redemption side of Priority Rewards is associated with your Aeroplan Elite Status.

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, while the US-issued Chase Aeroplan Card offers a secondary pathway to earning Priority Rewards.

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.

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 spend thresholds of US$100,000, US$250,000, US$500,000 and US$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, as below:

For example, an Aeroplan 50K member is eligible to redeem Priority Reward vouchers on flights within North America (which, in this case, refers to Canada, US, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean) in economy class or premium economy.

How does this work in practice? Whenever you search for flights on the Aeroplan search engine as a member with Priority Rewards in your account, you’ll see the option to deploy Priority Rewards at the top of the search engine:

If your chosen origin–destination pair falls within the set of flights for which your Priority Rewards are eligible, then you’ll be able to select them and restart the search, resulting in half-priced search results on the eligible flights – and a symbol to denote them as such.

You can then click through and book the half-priced reward straight away.

(Note that, due to technical limitations, the full range of Points + Cash options is not available when you apply a Priority Reward, nor is the option to pay for the taxes and fees with an Air Canada gift card.)

Vouchers must be used to book a flight within one year from the date you earn them, or else they will expire.

How to Maximize Priority Rewards

Now that we’ve gone over how the Priority Rewards work, let’s talk about how to maximize them.

The most straightforward way is obviously to look at the eligible flights on which you can redeem Priority Reward vouchers, and redeem them on the highest-value redemption that falls within the eligible set.

For example, if you’ve earned Priority Reward vouchers as an Aeroplan 25K or Aeroplan 35K member, you’d be looking at flights within Canada and the US in economy class. You could apply these vouchers on a flight to, say, Hawaii in order to maximize the total value.

Here, one very compelling use-case for Priority Rewards would be to combine them with eUpgrades earned from your Aeroplan Elite Status – and in particular the “Latitude Attitude” trick for instantly upgrading into business class.

For example, you could use a Priority Reward voucher to halve the price of an economy class booking in the Latitude fare category, and then use eUpgrades to confirm an upgrade into premium economy or business class long before your departure date.

Similarly, if you’ve earned Priority Reward vouchers as an Aeroplan 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 rungs of Aeroplan Elite Status society.

However, flights to Sun destinations typically do not 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).

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 or Asia, combined with an eUpgrade into business class, might be the optimal play here.

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: 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, costs 180,000 Aeroplan points (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 be able to book this whole trip for only 90,000 Aeroplan points – that’s a spectacular deal!

Of course, until the advanced multi-city tool is rolled out online next year, you’d need to call Aeroplan to apply the Priority Reward voucher in this way, since the stopovers currently cannot be booked online. And that brings us to…

Advanced: Use One Priority Reward Voucher for Three Trips

Important note: While it’s still theoretically possible to book these types of trips through the call centre, Aeroplan agents have been instructed not to do so since this article’s original publication. The below section is left intact for the purposes of academic interest. 

Before the new Aeroplan’s launch in November, I had written about a few theoretical ways to apply Priority Rewards for maximum effect.

As I wrote in “Aeroplan Mini-RTW: A New Generation of Complex Trips”, we knew that it’d be possible to book six one-way bounds (and potentially each with a stopover for 5,000 points) on the same itinerary; you’d just have to pay the individual price for each one-way bound.

In theory, therefore, you could apply a single Priority Reward to the whole thing and slash the price of the entire thing by 50%.

Furthermore, as I wrote in “4 Creative New Aeroplan Sweet Spots!”, we also knew that revisiting your point of origin would end your itinerary – but there were no rules against backtracking very close to your point of origin, as long as each backtrack was a separate one-way bound.

Since we can combine up to six one-way bounds on the same ticket, this meant that even an Aeroplan 25K or 35K member could book effectively three round-trip flights within North America over the upcoming year and redeem a single Priority Reward voucher, thus essentially applying it towards three upcoming trips instead of one.

Until the new program launched, however, both of these examples were only theoretical.

And even now, given that the full-fledged multi-city tool has not yet arrived, we can only book these six-bound itineraries over the phone… and based on our experiences, it’ll take a lot of hanging up and calling again to find an agent who is willing and able to piece together a trip like this.

(Out of the first five agents we tried, no less than three of them wouldn’t even entertain the idea of booking six one-way bounds on a single ticket, instead simply saying that it cannot be done.)

Thankfully, the sixth agent was able to make it happen!

Here’s three round-trips on the same ticket in all its glory:

As you can see, this itinerary is broken into six one-way bounds – effectively creating three round-trips – as follows:

  1. Toronto–Vancouver
  2. Vancouver–Montreal
  3. Montreal–Vancouver–San Francisco
  4. San Francisco–Calgary–Ottawa
  5. Ottawa–Toronto–Los Angeles
  6. Los Angeles–Toronto

For each of the six one-way bounds, we searched on the Aeroplan website for a flight in the lower end of the published range, clocking in at around 10,000 Aeroplan points one-way (for an Aeroplan 50K member with a core credit card).

In total, everything should add up to something in the region of 60,000 Aeroplan points… but with the North America Priority Reward applied out of my account, it only came to 30,800 Aeroplan points!

The idea here is that a traveller based in the Quebec–Windsor corridor who might be flexible with departing out of any of Toronto, Montreal, or Ottawa could effectively leverage this strategy to apply a single Priority Reward voucher to three separate trips to three different places: Vancouver, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

Now, I wanted to take this experiment a step further and find out whether we’d be able to return to the same city twice on the same ticket (as long as it wasn’t the origin city).

So I used my one free change on an Aeroplan ticket to change this ticket to the following:

The new itinerary is broken into six one-way bounds as follows:

  1. Toronto–Vancouver
  2. Vancouver–Montreal
  3. Montreal–Vancouver–San Francisco
  4. San Francisco–Montreal
  5. Montreal–Los Angeles
  6. Los Angeles–Toronto

Because the underlying award costs got a little cheaper here, this whole thing priced out at 30,550 Aeroplan points!

The answer to our question is a resounding yes: as long as you don’t return to your origin (in this case, Toronto), you can revisit any other city as many times as you’d like on the same ticket.

(And what’s more, you’ll notice from the first example that you can even connect through your origin without any issues; you simply cannot end your one-way bound at your origin.)

What are the implications of this? Well, as long as you have Priority Rewards in your account, the true means of optimization is to use a single voucher to book up to three trips that you’ve planned over the upcoming year, as long as they all fall within your eligible set of flights for redeeming Priority Rewards.

Let’s take the example of a Vancouver-based Aeroplan 25K member who has racked up 4,000 SQD and earned a single Priority Reward voucher. This member could apply their solitary voucher to three upcoming trips to three different places in Canada and the US:

  1. Victoria–Toronto
  2. Toronto–Vancouver
  3. Vancouver–Toronto–St. John’s
  4. St. John’s–Toronto–Vancouver
  5. Vancouver–Toronto–Miami
  6. Miami–Toronto–Vancouver

(You’ll notice that the Vancouver-based traveller might opt to originate in Victoria instead. This saves them the trouble of having to end the other one-way bounds somewhere other than Vancouver; they can simply go back to Vancouver every other time without revisiting the origin and breaking the ticket.)

Alternatively, let’s imagine it’s a small business owner who simply needs to make Vancouver–Toronto round-trips throughout the year. Such a traveller could book the following:

  1. Victoria–Toronto
  2. Toronto–Vancouver
  3. Vancouver–Toronto
  4. Toronto–Vancouver
  5. Vancouver–Toronto
  6. Toronto–Vancouver

If the traveller chose the Standard fare category for all six one-way bounds, then this would price out in the region of 30,000 Aeroplan points with a Priority Reward voucher attached – a pretty tremendous deal for three transcontinental round-trips.

But there’s also a strong argument for booking these trips in the Latitude fare category, even if it’ll cost more: outside of Aeroplan’s current generous cancellation policy, you’d enjoy unlimited free changes on this ticket, which would be very useful if you’re planning three separate upcoming trips on a one-year time horizon.

Moreover, as mentioned above, you’d be able to instantly confirm upgrades into business class using your eUpgrades as well; an Aeroplan 25K member’s allotment of 20 eUpgrade credits would be enough to secure business class seats on five out of the six one-way flights on the itinerary.

Finally, if we think about the very powerful Priority Rewards held by Aeroplan Super Elite members… well, the potential to optimize here can be downright insane.

Going back to our discussion of the new Aeroplan Mini-RTW, a 16-segment round-the-world journey in business class with extended stops in 15 different places (i.e., six one-way bounds, each with a stopover for 5,000 Aeroplan points, plus three open-jaws) would cost something crazy – around the region of 360,000 Aeroplan points once everything is tallied together.

Applying a single Priority Reward voucher, though, and the cost is slashed to 180,000 Aeroplan points. Now that’s starting to look like a killer deal for a 15-stop round-the-world trip!

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 and earn Status Qualifying Dollars (SQD) or spend US$100,000+ on the Chase Aeroplan Card in order to gain access to Priority Rewards?

I don’t think you should be proactively throwing money at Air Canada purely for the opportunity to book three round-trips at half price using a single voucher, but 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 Rewards 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, I don’t think it’s worth going too far out of your way to chase SQD or spend US$100,000+ 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.)

Instead, think about maximizing Priority Rewards by building your network and getting to know other Aeroplan members with elite status – and especially Super Elite status.

Let me tell you this: there are a lot of Aeroplan Super Elite members out there, and only a fraction of them are going to even care about maximizing their supremely powerful Priority Rewards. And among these Super Elites who care, yet another mere fraction of them will be savvy enough with their Aeroplan points to actually make it happen.

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.

And I have a feeling that 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 their Priority Reward vouchers in exchange for a round of oysters or an afternoon of lawn work.


Aeroplan’s Priority Rewards 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.

When married with Air Canada’s eUpgrades, stopovers for 5,000 points, and the ability to combine multiple one-way bounds on a single ticket, the value of Priority Rewards for high-status Aeroplan members only grows more attractive.

And if you don’t find it worthwhile to pursue the flying or spending thresholds required to earn Priority Rewards, then I wish you good luck as you sell your soul to those around you who may not value their Priority Rewards quite as highly. 😉

  1. Nathan

    So here I was Dec 14, 2021 and I noticed that my recent Air Canada excursion had taken me to $6,903 SQD, a mere $97 short of my next 50% bonus. I should have done the math and bought the next tier up on AC to squeeze out those last few bucks , but noooo…

    Now I was faced with a dilemma as I had nowhere I needed or wanted to go in the last 2 weeks before my Aeroplan program cycles again. Using a couple of online flight search tools I used the ‘fly to anywhere’ with an AC filter to determine that the cheapest (and happened to be shortest) flight was a one way flight for $156 to Nanaimo from my home base of YVR, with an additional $30 or so take it to the required Flex fare for full 100% SQD. Should I take a quick jaunt, simply to qualify for the next bonus pass? I’d still have to find a way home. Thankfully I still had a complimentary flight voucher with Harbour Air to get me back to Coal Harbour.

    So I weighed the costs / benefits here, wondering if it would be worth it to acquire another 50% off bonus, this time a premium economy within North America. I decided to go for it. What else was there to do before 10 am on a Friday before work?

    Living within a few mins of the downtown skytrain, I was able get to the airport pretty quick. Interestingly, my AX Aeroplan Reserve card is currently giving me a $5 refund on a number of skytrain trips, so the 24 min ride was pretty much free. As I had already checked in online, it was a quick trip through the VIP security line because of my same AX card – so worth it to skip the congestion! Then of course, pretty much as many free pancakes and cappuccinos in the Maple Leaf lounge as I wanted due to the same card’s perks. Although I am pretty darned tired of eating those same egg wraps AC had the last 5 times I was in the Maple leaf lounge.

    My flight to Nanaimo was 35 mins late which stressed me out as I thought I’d miss my Harbour Air connection which was scheduled to take off just 1 hour after me landing. Now I had just 25 mins to get there and I still had to take a cab to the waterfront. The great thing about Harbour Air is a quick phone call to them explaining your reason for tardiness always get’s them to stay open for you. They were ready for me at check-in and I was the last person on the plane. 23 mins later I was in downtown Vancouver and another 12 min walk to arrive home just after 10 am. Total cost – not including the Harbour Air gift cert (value, $120): $223 all in.

    I write this lengthy message to make you think: is it all worth it? A half morning of my time and a couple hundred bucks just to get the next tier bonus? I rolled my eyes at my use of my morning…

    Fade to today, and I wake up to this post on how to maximize your 50% off passes and I realize, wow, there’s some serious power here if you know how to play the system. Suddenly I felt a lot better about those 4.5 hours last Friday that I’ll never get back 😄. Thanks Ricky

    1. Dave Empringham TOR

      Hello Nathan, Correct me is I’m wrong, but isn’t 2021 and 2022 considered one continuous status qualifying period? meaning your SQD does not reset January 1st, so if your are at $6903, you can add to it in January to meet the $7,000 threshold?

      Maybe Ricky could chime in and advise?



      1. Nathan

        Dave, I do remember calling AC / Aeroplan on this question specifically and after talking to a Supervisor he informed that the SQD do in fact reset Dec. 31. I think its the miles that they allow you to follow through with until January 15. I don’t know anything about one big qualifying period.

        Now 2 things I have discovered: (1) AC and Aeroplan staff do make mistakes in what is and what isn’t. And (2) that an educated POT’er usually knows more than even Senior AC / Aeroplan CSR’s. Especially when it comes to detailed matters such as qualifying amounts, periods and special offers.

        So who knows? lol

        1. Dave Empringham TOR

          Thanks Nathan, It’s important to me as I’m at 72,000 SQM and $12,400 SQD. Hoping to reach Super Elite by end of 2022. If SQD resets Jan 1, I’m SOL
          Hopefully Ricky Knows

  2. Mike

    Is there a time frame all these trips can be booked in. Even if i dont have priority awards. Im sure it will still be worth it.

    Such as can i do 1 seg yyj-yyz – in
    2 seg yyz-yvr march spring
    3 seg yvr-yyz
    4 seg yyz – yvr summer break
    5 seg yvr – yyz
    6 seg yyz – yvr winter break

    Dragged over the whole year with multiple month gaps? Is this allowed.


    1. Ricky YVR

      If you don’t have Priority Rewards, there isn’t any advantage to booking this way. You’d pay the same price if you booked all six bounds on their own tickets.

      1. Mike

        I unfortunately figured that out after asking the question. I know that was a silly question. I tried deleting but wouldnt let me. I appreciate the reply

  3. JustSam

    Ricky I notice in all your examples all the bounds ‘touch’
    Do you have any data points for a 6-bound PR when at some bounds don’t ‘touch’. So something like:
    YUL – LHR
    YYZ – YVR
    YVR – YYZ
    Is this legal if a competent agent can be found?

  4. Marilyn

    I had two very unpleasant experiences, with different agents and a couple of supervisors, attempting to book multiple one way bounds on two priority rewards. I am at 50 K and a million mile member, each earned the hard way by paying travel on Air Canada. I was given multiple reasons for it not being possible starting with ‘Did you see this on some website because they didn’t actually successfully book and we’ve gotten other people unsuccessfully try the same’. Other reasons were too many segment (started with 12 then went to six), cannot cross the US border more than once, cannot have more than one open jaw, cannot transit through a city more than once etc. I was then told it was wrong to try to get more than one trip, or two one way bounds, on one priority rewards and that there would be notes placed on my file for the next call. I called back with a much simplier request and sure enought, they quoted that I had already tried getting two trips and it isn’t allowed after checking with other supervisors. Very negative experience.

  5. HP

    Does anyone know why the new priority reward vouchers issued expire Oct 25, 2021? The program launched Nov 8th which is when they were issued. Seems like such an arbitrary date to expire.
    Called AC Concierge and Aeroplan and got no explanation. Hehe

  6. John Clark

    I am a long time aeroplan international business class traveler. Take out this entire Air Canada component, and aeroplan is nothing like it used to be!

  7. Jay*

    Now we see where the time went during your quarantine period 🙂

    1. Ricky YVR

      Nothing like a quarantined Ricky to make Aeroplan call centre agents tremble.

      1. junyanboon

        I died laughing.

  8. Teresa Q

    Thanks for sharing the tips and tricks to maximize the Priority Reward ,they are so valuable

  9. Mike

    Wow. Very good news, thanks for researching!

  10. L Lau

    In your example of a family of 4 traveling to Asia, can one Aeroplan account claim the SQD for 4 different travellers on the same PNR?

    1. Ricky YVR

      The answer is no: “Qualification for Elite Status is earned by the member who travels, not the member who purchases a ticket.” This was my oversight, thanks L. I’ve modified the discussion to be more accurate.

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