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

October 3 2021
9 min read
Montreal in the fall
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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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Why it’s special

(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).

(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.

(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.

(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.

(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.

(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.

(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 60,000 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: 45,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first six months of card membership. 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.

Featured photo by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Best Marriott card for Business Owners
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

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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.

    Limited Time Offer: 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