4 things you should know about the new Air Canada credit cards
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Featured photo by JL IMAGES/Shutterstock
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