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Why Aeroplan’s generous stopover option adds even more value to Amex cards

Aug. 11, 2020
4 min read
Why Aeroplan’s generous stopover option adds even more value to Amex cards
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When planning out their adventures, many travelers focus on simple round-trip itineraries — New York to Paris and back, for example, perhaps with a side trip via a cheap flight or train ride mixed in. But award travel enthusiasts know that you can really make the most of an international trip by working in multiple destinations, often by adding in stopovers or extended stays in a city on the way.

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United Airlines recently brought this little-known option to light through its free Excursionist Perk. Now Air Canada's relaunched Aeroplan program is making stopovers a key feature, with the ability to add in a side trip on the way to your final destination – and on the way back as well. While Aeroplan had previously allowed stopovers in certain cases, this is undoubtedly an upgrade, even though the perk is no longer free.

"That's great, but I don't have Aeroplan points," you might be thinking. Fortunately, Aeroplan partners with several key transferrable-points programs, so there's a good chance there's an easy fix. Membership Rewards points transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio — once you find an itinerary you'd like to book, you can send your points over and lock in your award. You can also transfer miles from Capital One, at a 2:1.5 ratio, and Marriott Bonvoy at 3:1, but with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 points transferred.

Related: How Aeroplan's Family Sharing prevents 'gaming' while letting you rack up rewards faster

Aeroplan allows you to work in flights operated by all Star Alliance carriers, plus a handful of partners, like Etihad. Photo by Nicky Kelvin/TPG UK.

Once the new Aeroplan program launches on Nov. 8, members will be able to add stopovers for 5,000 points each — two for each round-trip itinerary, and one for each one-way trip. With a separate one-way flight added in, you can even piece together an incredible round-the-world adventure, for just 10,000 points more than you'd pay for a round-trip.

Using use my home in New York City as an example, I can book the below itinerary, traveling from Newark (EWR) to Los Angeles (LAX) to Sydney (SYD) on United, with a week or two in Australia, then on to Bangkok (BKK) via Thai Airways, which we'll consider my destination.

From there, I could book a cheap paid flight to Delhi (DEL), stop in India for as long as I'd like, then fly Air India to Paris (CDG), with another extended stop in Europe before flying United, Lufthansa, Swiss or other Star Alliance carriers back home.

Screenshot courtesy of Great Circle Mapper.

With this itinerary, I'd be able to visit Australia, Asia, India and Europe, all for the cost of a round-trip award, plus just 10,000 points. That's unbelievable and far more affordable than many round-the-world award options. There's one disappointing component to note, though — stopovers are not permitted within North America, so if you want to see an extra city in the U.S. or Canada, you'll need to add on an extra one-way.

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And, thanks to instant transfers with Membership Rewards, you can boost your Aeroplan balance quickly with a handful of top Amex cards, including The Platinum Card® from American Express, the American Express® Gold Card and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express.

Related: 19 things you need to know about redeeming with the new Aeroplan

Bottom line

Aeroplan certainly doesn't have the only stopover option, but given the number of airlines you can book — more than 35 individual carriers — plus the routing flexibility and transfer partners, it's definitely one of the most appealing.

Personally, I've been a big fan of Alaska Airlines' Mileage Plan stopover option, though it's a bit challenging to piece together a flexible itinerary, as we explain here. Besides, the program recently became even more restrictive. Meanwhile, if you're looking to book Star Alliance airlines, United's Excursionist Perk is also worth a look. Especially if you're hoping to transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Featured image by Photo by Nicky Kelvin, TPG UK.

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TPG featured card

Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site

Rewards

3 - 4X points
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
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Intro offer

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Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

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Recommended Credit

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Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees