How US-based travelers can get big value from the new Chase Aeroplan Credit Card
With the launch of the Aeroplan Credit Card from Chase, U.S.-based travelers have a new opportunity to earn and redeem Aeroplan points. While many Americans might not be familiar with Aeroplan, Air Canada's loyalty program has a lot of attractive redemption options and partner airlines that offer significant value.
Here's everything U.S.-based travelers need to know about Chase's new Aeroplan Credit Card and how to maximize its features.
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What benefits does the Air Canada Aeroplan card include?
When you are approved for the Aeroplan Credit Card, you'll receive numerous benefits that can offer tremendous value. These include:
- Two flight reward certificates worth up to 100,000 points: As a new cardholder bonus, you'll earn two flight reward certificates worth up to 50,000 Aeroplan points each (for a total of up to 100,000 points) after you spend $4,000 during the first three months.
- Aeroplan 25K status: Cardholders receive automatic Aeroplan 25K elite status, along with benefits include priority check-in and boarding, a 50% discount on Preferred Seats, and 20 eUpgrade credits each year. Status is good in the calendar year in which you open the card and the following one, though folks who apply in December 2021 will enjoy status through 2023.
- Earn up to 3x points on spending: You'll accrue 3 points per dollar at grocery stores, dining at restaurants and on purchases made directly with Air Canada. All other transactions earn 1 point per dollar.
- Bonus points on spending: For every $2,000 you spend, you'll earn an additional 500 points. You can earn up to 1,500 bonus points per month, with the potential of earning up to 18,000 bonus points annually.
- Free checked bags: You and up to eight companions on the same itinerary receive the first checked bag for free when flying on Air Canada. With checked bag fees of $30 each way, a family of four can save $240 on a round-trip flight.
- Pay Yourself Back: This benefit isn't available yet, but it is coming soon. You'll be able to use your Aeroplan points to cover travel purchases from airlines, hotels, car rentals and more with Chase's Pay Yourself Back feature. Each Aeroplan point is worth 1.25 cents towards these purchases and you can redeem up to 50,000 points each year to cover those transactions. Although we value Aeroplan points at 1.5 cents each, some cardholders can find value in this benefit.
- Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS membership: Receive up to $100 back on the application fee for one of these three programs once every four years.
- No foreign transaction fees.
- Trip cancellation and interruption insurance.
- Baggage delay insurance.
- Trip delay reimbursement.
- Auto rental collision damage waiver.
- Roadside assistance.
- World Elite Mastercard benefits.
- Annual fee: $95.
How U.S. travelers can maximize the Air Canada Aeroplan card
If you're considering applying for the Aeroplan card, here's how to maximize the card's value by using all of its benefits.
Take advantage of those Flight Rewards certificates
As a new cardholder, you can earn two Welcome Flight Rewards worth up to 100,000 points after spending $4,000 during the first three months. Each certificate is valued at up to 50,000 points each. They can be used for flight redemptions and you can "top them up" by using extra Aeroplan points from your account.
For example, if your flight award costs 65,000 points, you can use one of your 50,000 Welcome Flight Rewards certificates plus 15,000 points from your Aeroplan account to pay for the flight in full. However, if you redeem a certificate for a flight that costs fewer than 50,000 points, you will not receive a refund for the difference. For example, if you redeem for a ticket that only requires 35,000 points, you won't retain the unused 15,000 points of potential value from the certificate.
The unique thing about these Flight Rewards certificates is that, unlike the flight certificates and vouchers offered by many other airline credit cards, you can use these for awards not just on the issuing airline (Air Canada in this case), but also on its 40-plus partners. There are a few conditions to be aware of, though:
- Each certificate can only be applied toward a single passenger's Aeroplan redemption, but as mentioned, these can be on Air Canada or its Star Alliance and other airline partners.
- You cannot stack the certificates -- you can only use one per award ticket.
- They are redeemable for seats in any cabin and in any redemption amount.
- You can top them up with extra points from your Aeroplan account.
- The unused portion of a certificate (i.e. if you book an award for fewer than 50,000 points) will not be refunded.
- The certificates don't expire as long as you have the credit card.
Despite some limitations, these certificates are extremely versatile since you can top them up with more Aeroplan points and redeem them for flights on dozens of airlines. For U.S. flyers, specifically, they can help put awards on United within reach.
Leverage 25K elite status with Air Canada
New cardholders automatically receive Aeroplan 25K elite status as a cardholder. You'll enjoy this status for the remainder of the current calendar year and the following year. However, travelers applying in 2021 will receive elite status for all of 2022 and 2023.
You can retain 25K elite status each year that you spend at least $15,000 in a calendar year. Benefits for 25K members include two free checked bags, priority check-in and boarding, a 50% discount on Preferred Seats, 20 eUpgrade credits and a 250-point minimum on flights. Plus, you get to pick three benefits out of five choices to personalize your elite status.
For Aeroplan members who already have elite status, you can receive a one-level boost in status each year that you spend $50,000. So if you regularly achieve elite status on your own, you can use your spending to hit a higher rung.
Air Canada charges $30 per checked bag, so the 25K free checked bags benefit can save you $120 on a single round-trip flight. The value of the eUpgrade credits depends on what class of ticket that you buy, whether you're flying on a paid or award ticket and the distance of your flight. For example, it would take 20 credits to upgrade two cash or award Flex tickets to business class for a flight over 1,500 miles. Preferred Seat upgrades range from $17 to $299, so the 50% discount can provide substantial savings on higher-priced upgrades.
Even if you only fly Air Canada once or twice a year or only fly with its partner airlines (like United), Aeroplan 25K elite status can save you hundreds of dollars while significantly improving your flight experience.
Benefits while flying with Star Alliance partners
With the included Aeroplan 25K status from the Aeroplan Credit Card, you qualify for Star Alliance Silver status. This status provides priority reservations waitlist and airport standby with Air Canada's Star Alliance partners, potentially saving you time and money throughout the year.
While these benefits may not seem like much, they can be a lifesaver when your flight gets delayed or canceled, especially during the winter months when the weather can wreak havoc on flights. For U.S.-based travelers flying on United or other Star Alliance partners, these Aeroplan 25K benefits can be really useful if you don't already have status with another airline.
Apply for NEXUS or Global Entry
The Air Canada credit card includes reimbursement for either NEXUS, Global Entry or TSA PreCheck up to once every four years.
While most U.S. travelers are familiar with Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, they may not know about NEXUS. This membership program is designed to expedite travel between the U.S. and Canada on land, sea or air. NEXUS application fees are only $50, but it also includes Global Entry and TSA PreCheck benefits. For U.S. travelers who plan on visiting Canada frequently, this is the best membership.
Take advantage of Pay Yourself Back on travel purchases
Chase introduced Pay Yourself Back for Ultimate Rewards in 2020. This redemption option proved popular with cardholders, so they're adding a unique twist to the Air Canada credit card.
When Pay Yourself Back is opened up to Air Canada cardholders, they will be able to redeem their Aeroplan points for any airline, hotel, car rental or other eligible travel purchases. Aeroplan points will be worth 1.25 cents towards Pay Yourself Back redemptions, which is less than the 1.5 cents that we value them, but could still be a good value for some. You'll be able to redeem up to 50,000 points per year, which is equivalent to $625.
Points pooling with friends and family
When you and your spouse both have Aeroplan points, you can pool your points together for no fees. If you both apply for the Air Canada card, you'll earn additional points more quickly.
This benefit extends beyond your spouse. Up to eight family members can join together to share points. Each person keeps their own Aeroplan account, but all points are combined into a shared balance that anyone in the pool can use. The "family lead" can change redemption permissions for anyone in the pool at any time to prevent unwanted redemptions. What makes pooling even more attractive is that everyone benefits from preferred pricing if someone in the pool has Aeroplan elite status or the Aeroplan credit card.
Use transfer partners to boost Aeroplan points balance
While the Aeroplan Card earns bonus points on grocery and dining purchases, many of us may have other credit cards that maximize the points we earn on other types of transactions.
However, several flexible points programs partner with Air Canada to allow their users to transfer points to Aeroplan. These partners include American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy. With these programs, you can earn rewards through the cards below and then transfer your points to Aeroplan to top off your balance and redeem for an award flight.
So if you already have a card that participates in one of these programs, getting the Aeroplan Card might be an excellent next step if you focus your rewards strategy on this program in the near term for imminent trips you'd like to book. As a reminder, here are the details on these transferable points programs and some of the main credit cards that participate in them.
|Transfer partner||Transfer ratio||Minimum transfer||Examples of cards that earn it|
|American Express Membership Rewards||1:1||1,000||The Platinum Card® from American Express|
|Capital One Miles||1:1||1,000||Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card|
|Chase Ultimate Rewards||1:1||1,000||Chase Sapphire Preferred Card|
|Marriott Bonvoy||3:1*||3,000||Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card|
*Marriott Bonvoy includes 5,000 bonus points when converting 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points into 20,000 Air Canada Aeroplan points. Marriott also offers "Hotel + Air Packages" that convert Marriott points into airline miles and include a one-week Marriott stay.
Earn extra Aeroplan points on everyday purchases
As an Aeroplan cardmember, you can earn up to 3 points per dollar on purchases, even if you don't spend a lot on airfare. You'll earn 3 points per dollar on groceries, dining (including delivery services) and Air Canada purchases. All other charges earn one point per dollar. There is no cap to the number of Aeroplan points that you can earn with this card. While Aeroplan points expire after 18 months with no activity, using the card regularly keeps your account active and prevents points from expiring.
In addition to the normal points earned from the card, this card offers bonus points based on your spending. You'll receive 500 bonus points for every $2,000 you spend each month, up to a maximum of 1,500 points per month.
If you're spending $2,000 per month on dining and groceries, you'll receive 6,500 Aeroplan points from the Air Canada credit card. With Aeroplan points worth an average of 1.5 cents each according to our valuations, you're earning an incredible 4.875 cents per dollar spent.
More than that, the card's earning rates represent an opportunity to bulk up your balance of points and miles within the Star Alliance, even if you already have a cobranded card with another alliance airline, like the United Explorer Card or the United Quest Card.
The Explorer earns 2 miles per dollar on United purchases, dining, and on hotel accommodations purchased directly with hotels, then 1 mile per dollar on other purchases. The Quest earns 3 miles per dollar on United purchases (after earning your $125 annual United flight credit) and 2 miles per dollar on other travel, select streaming services, and dining, then 1 per dollar on other purchases. By adding the Aeroplan Card into the mix, you can ramp up your dining and groceries earnings, adding even more potential points to your portfolio that will help you book flights on Air Canada, United and other carriers.
Redeem Aeroplan points for partner flights
In addition to booking flights on Air Canada, your Aeroplan points can be used to book flights with Star Alliance and other partners, such as Lufthansa, SWISS and Singapore Airlines. In some cases, redeeming Aeroplan points with partner airlines offers the best bang for your buck.
For example, you can book flights to Asia on ANA or Europe on Lufthansa for a tremendous value, especially now that Aeroplan has eliminated fuel surcharges. The number of points required is based on the distance, so it is better to fly to Europe from the East Coast and to Asia from the West Coast. A sample of the ideal flight redemptions from the U.S. includes:
- Lufthansa first class from the East Coast to Europe starting at 90,000 points each way.
- ANA business class from the West Coast to Japan starting at 55,000 points each way.
- United economy within North America starting at 6,000 points each way.
Which credit card should you get, the Aeroplan Card or United Explorer?
For U.S.-based travelers loyal to United, you may be wondering if you should get the Aeroplan Credit Card or the United Explorer Card. While both cards offer good value for their annual fees, it depends on which categories you spend the most in, and how you plan to use either card's benefits.
The United Explorer Card offers a welcome bonus of 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open. This offers flexibility for redemptions but pales compared to the Air Canada Card's two award certificates valued at up to a combined 100,000 points. That said, the United Explorer is currently offering an intro annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $95, while the Aeroplan Card charges a $95 annual fee right off the bat.
Explorer cardholders can earn 2 miles per dollar spent with United and at restaurants and hotel reservations. By comparison, you'll earn 3 points per dollar with the Aeroplan Card with purchases made directly with Air Canada and on dining and at grocery stores. So, it earns 50% more on dining and three times the points on groceries as the Explorer.
They both offer a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit, but only the Air Canada Card includes reimbursement for NEXUS, which is important if you plan on traveling to Canada frequently.
Both cards offer free checked bags with their respective airline, but not with their Star Alliance partners. If you plan on checking bags when you fly, this might be the benefit that makes the choice among cards easy for you.
Travelers who apply for the Aeroplan Credit Card will receive numerous benefits that they can maximize. The two Welcome Flight Rewards worth up to 100,000 points represent a generous introductory bonus. They can be combined with additional points for higher-cost redemptions, which is a unique feature that most other airlines don't match.
In addition to the welcome bonus, receiving Aeroplan 25K elite status for two years (which confers Star Alliance Silver status), getting free checked bags and earning up to 3 points per dollar make this card a keeper for years to come.
Official application link: Aeroplan Credit Card with two “Welcome Flight Rewards” worth up to 100,000 points combined when you spend $4,000 on purchases with the card in the first three months.