Sweet Spot Sunday: Booking low-cost flights to and around Canada with Aeroplan

Oct 3, 2021

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Canada has reopened its borders to fully vaccinated American citizens, once again giving travelers access to the country’s various cities, natural parks and ski destinations. Experience the vibes of Europe closer to home in spots like Quebec City or Montreal, or head to Banff National Park to experience Canada’s beautiful wilderness near the U.S. border.

However, despite being so close to home, flights to Canada can be expensive. Even short-haul trips like New York (LGA) to Montreal (YUL) can top $300 in economy during peak business- and leisure-travel dates. Further, flights within Canada can be expensive too, adding cost to a multi-stop tour of the country.

One of my favorite ways to save on flights to (and around) Canada is booking with Air Canada Aeroplan points. Under the recently revamped program, you can book flights for well under 10,000 points one-way — depending on when you fly. Here, I’ll show you how to book these flight deals and how to earn the points you need to book.

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In This Post

Why it’s special

Air Canada 737 MAX at ORD
(Photo by Andrew Kunesh / The Points Guy)

Air Canada Aeroplan prices trans-border flights from the U.S. to Canada as low as 6,000 points on some routes and dates, according to its award chart. The program stuck to a standard award chart for partner awards but prices its own flights dynamically. In turn, the price you’ll pay varies based on the route you book, when you fly and the date you book if you’re flying with Air Canada.

There are plenty of excellent deals to be had though. On the low-end, you can book flights under 500 miles for 6,000 Aeroplan points and $37.10 in taxes and fees one-way. This includes popular routes like Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) to Toronto (YYZ) and Newark (EWR) to Montreal (YUL).

ORD to YYZ Aeroplan award ticket
(Screenshot courtesy of aircanada.com)

Flights between 501 and 1,500 miles cost 10,000 Aeroplan points plus taxes and fees in economy on partner airlines, which is still a solid deal compared to the cost of cash flights during peak times. Better yet, unlike British Airways Avios awards, you won’t pay more points for connecting tickets. Sometimes these tickets actually price slightly below the award chart price, too.

MSP to YUL Aeroplan award ticket
(Screenshot courtesy of aircanada.com)

Aeroplan can also be a great way to book intra-Canada award tickets on Air Canada. These often book well under 5,000 points one-way, like this Toronto (YYZ) to Montreal (YUL) ticket that costs 3,100 miles and $33.15 in taxes and fees one-way.

YYZ to YUL Aeroplan award ticket
(Screenshot courtesy of aircanada.com)

This same ticket costs $168, giving you 4.35 cents per point in value. This is an excellent deal considering TPG values Aeroplan points at 1.5 cents per point.

Air Canada flight in Google Flights
(Screenshot courtesy of google.com/flights)

Generally speaking, you can consistently find these prices on many trans-border and domestic Canadian flights — which can save you notable money on your next vacation. You may pay slightly less on some routes when you book with Etihad Guest — one of Air Canada’s new partners — but booking with Aeroplan gives you access to United-operated awards from the U.S. along with cheap, dynamically-priced awards on Air Canada flights.

Related: Book This, Not That: Star Alliance award tickets

How to book this award

You can book these award tickets right on the Air Canada website. Look toward the center of the page, and input your desired itinerary. Make sure to select the “points” option at the upper right-hand corner of the booking box to search for award flights.

Searching for a flight on Air Canada's website
(Screenshot courtesy of aircanada.com)

All available flights will appear at the center of the screen. You can also view the lowest award price for the days surrounding your search at the top of the screen, which is helpful if you have flexible plans.

When you find a flight you like, click on its price and follow the on-screen prompts to book your award ticket.

Viewing award prices on Air Canada's website
(Screenshot courtesy of aircanada.com)

Related: Traveling to Canada during the pandemic — what’s it like?

How to earn points for this award

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Air Canada points have become far easier to earn for U.S.-based readers over the last couple of years. You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Aeroplan at a 1:1 transfer ratio, and transfers process instantly.

Further, you can transfer Capital One Rewards points to Aeroplan at a 2:1.5 ratio, meaning that 1,000 Capital One points transfers to 750 Aeroplan points. Marriott Bonvoy points also transfer to Aeroplan at a 3:1 ratio, with transfers of 60,000 points earning a 5,000-mile bonus.

If you’re under 5/24 and are eligible to open a Chase credit card, you may consider one of these cards:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card – Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • Ink Business Preferred Credit Card – Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve – Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Alternatively, consider opening one of these American Express cards to boost your Membership Rewards balance:

  • American Express® Green Card: 30,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Earn 3x points on dining at restaurants, travel and transit (including flights, hotels, transit, taxis, tours, and ridesharing services), 1x points on all other purchases ($150 annual fee; see rates and fees).
  • American Express® Gold Card: 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 points on dining at restaurants; 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year; then 1x points); 3x points on airfare purchased directly from airlines; 1x points on all other purchases, ($250 annual fee; see rates and fees).
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the card in your first six months of card membership. Earn 5x points on airfare purchased directly from airlines with American Express Travel (earn 5x points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), 5x on prepaid hotel bookings with American Express Travel Travel, and Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts; 1x on all other purchases, ($695 annual fee; see rates and fees).

The information for the Amex Green Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

As a general rule of thumb, you should only transfer points once you’ve found the flight you want to book. Otherwise you could be stuck with points you can’t use.

Related: A guide to earning transferable points and why they’re so valuable

Bottom line

Flights to, from and around Canada can be expensive, but using Aeroplan points to book them can equal big savings on your next trip. Bookmark this guide and refer to it the next time you need to book a trans-border or Canadian domestic flight. Oftentimes, you’ll save points over booking with another loyalty program — plus keep cash in your pocket for other expenses on your trip.

Feature photo by Kay Liesenfeld/EyeEm/Getty Images

For rates and fees of the Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, please click here.  
For rates and fees of the Amex Green Card, please click here.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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