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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

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)

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Earn 100,000 points
    75,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • 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

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees