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4 things you should know about the new Air Canada credit cards

Nov. 08, 2020
6 min read
Air Canada Plane
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Editor's Note

/strong> This story has been updated with the latest information. 

Editor's note: This story has been updated with the latest information.

This past summer, Air Canada announced a complete revamp of its loyalty program, Aeroplan. TPG has covered the news from nearly every angle – including the incredible new stopover rules, the most innovative changes, family points sharing and much more.

The most exciting part? The first major phase of the new Aeroplan program is launching Monday -- and that includes new cobranded credit cards. Let's take a look at the suite of redesigned cards with new perks and benefits. Unfortunately, as of this writing, Air Canada has not announced a date for when U.S. residents will be able to apply for an Aeroplan card.

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Here are four things to know about Aeroplan's upcoming co-branded card strategy – and what that means for you.

Exciting Air Canada travel benefits

New and existing eligible Aeroplan cardmembers will gain access to improved Air Canada travel benefits. For the Amex lineup of consumer Air Canada cards, this includes the mid-tier American Express Aeroplan Card, a premium American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card and an American Express Aeroplan Business Reserve Card.

Note that these cards are only available to Canadian residents at this time. You can find the full details of the Amex cards' welcome bonus here. As part of the welcome offer on select cards, you'll also earn a buy-one-get-one "Buddy Pass." Eligible cardholders only pay the taxes and third-party charges on a second ticket anywhere Air Canada flies in North America – including Mexico and Hawaii.

Annual Worldwide Companion Pass

With this perk, select cardholders (such as the Amex Aeroplan Reserve Card and Amex Aeroplan Business Reserve Card) can receive one Annual Worldwide Companion Pass after spending $25,000 on eligible purchases prior to their card anniversary date. It entitles them to buy an accompanying Air Canada economy class ticket at a fixed base fare from $99-$599 (plus taxes, fees, surcharges, and charges). Note that this is not a free companion pass that you might see with other airlines.

Related: What it's like to fly Air Canada economy from Toronto to Dubai

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Maple Leaf lounge access

Select Aeroplan cardholders (such as the Amex Aeroplan Reserve Card and Amex Aeroplan Business Reserve Card) will get access to Maple Leaf Lounges in North America and the Air Canada Café, with a same-day ticket on a departing Air Canada or Star Alliance flight.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge at LaGuardia (Photo by Brendan Dorsey/The Points Guy)
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge at LaGuardia (Photo by Brendan Dorsey/The Points Guy)

Related: Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounge in LGA’s new Terminal B

Preferred award pricing

Cobranded credit cardholders (as well as elites) will have access to Preferred Pricing for Air Canada awards. Details are still slim, but what's interesting is that if you have status and have a cobranded card, you can double-dip. That is, you'll get more Preferred Pricing options than if you just had status or a cobranded card.

Related: Expanded award availability for United cardholders

Status qualification boost

Cobranded credit cardholders will get a status qualification boost. With this status boost, you can earn 1,000 Status Qualifying Miles and 1 Status Qualifying Segment for every $5,000 or $10,000 (depending on the specific card) in eligible net purchases.

Related: Pros and cons of the new Air Canada Aeroplan loyalty program

Free first checked bag

Cobranded credit cardholders can enjoy a free first checked bag (up to 23kg/50lb) for the person flying and up to eight companions traveling on the same reservation with Air Canada.

Related: Credit cards that offer free checked bags

Card issuers will remain the same

Currently, Canadian residents have a number of credit card choices between American Express, TD Bank and CIBC. That won't change moving forward.

For all existing Aeroplan cardmembers, Aeroplan mileage balances have been automatically transferred into the new Aeroplan Points system on a one-to-one basis as of Nov. 8, 2020.

Credit card spend counts toward status

Finally, as noted in our guide to earning Air Canada status without flying, cobranded cardholders can spend their way to be an elite.

Business class in an Air Canada Boeing 777-300. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Business class in an Air Canada Boeing 777-300. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

In January 2021, the carrier will be adding an option called “Everyday Status,” similar to the airline’s limited-time offering from earlier this year. With Everyday Status, members will earn entry-level Aeroplan 25K status after accruing 100,000 Aeroplan points from any eligible transactions, including base and some bonus points earned from travel, credit card spending and partnerships such as online shopping portals.

After meeting the requirements, members will receive perks including priority check-in, security and boarding, two Maple Leaf Lounge passes, eUpgrade credits, Star Alliance Silver benefits and more.

A U.S. credit card may be in the works

As mentioned, there are no Aeroplan credit cards offered to U.S. residents. Several years ago, a TD Bank card was offered to those in the U.S. but that has since been closed to new cardholders. However, all of that may change in the coming months.

An Air Canada spokesperson told TPG to "stay tuned for more details on cards available to U.S. residents."

(Screen cap courtesy of Air Canada)
(Image courtesy of Air Canada)

Why this makes sense

A card for U.S. residents makes a lot of sense, especially since Air Canada intends to create a program that's more rewarding than its competitors.

While Canada is closed off from the U.S. now, there is a huge share of travelers that typically cross between borders. According to a 2019 U.S. travel government report, 15% of all international travel by U.S. citizens is to and from Canada.

A cobranded airline card available to U.S. residents from an international carrier is nothing new. There are a slew of cobranded airline cards issued in the U.S. from carriers such as British Airways, Iberia, Cathay Pacific and more.

Related: The top credit cards from international airlines

Featured image by (Photo by JL IMAGES/Shutterstock)

TPG featured card

Best luxury travel rewards card
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

5X points
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 Points
Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$695

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
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

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for The Platinum Card® from American Express
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best luxury travel rewards card
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

5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 80,000 Points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • 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

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees