4 things you should know about the new Air Canada credit cards
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Earlier this 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.
However, buried amidst a transformed Aeroplan is the relaunch of the airline’s new co-branded credit cards. Come Nov. 8, 2020, we’ll see a suite of redesigned cards with new perks and benefits. That is also the same date that we’ll begin to see Aeroplan roll out the red carpet on a whole new loyalty program.
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Here are four things to know about Aeroplan’s upcoming co-branded card strategy – and what that means for you.
A U.S. credit card is in the works
The first thing that you should know is that currently, 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 this fall.
An Air Canada spokesperson told TPG that all “cards will be live on November 8th” and 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 co-branded airline card available to U.S. residents from an international carrier is nothing new. There are a slew of co-branded airline cards issued in the U.S. from carriers like British Airways, Iberia, Cathay Pacific and more.
Related reading: The top credit cards from international airlines
There will be Air Canada travel benefits
Starting Nov. 8, 2020, 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 and a premium American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card.
Annual Worldwide Companion Pass
With this perk, select cardholders 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 reading: What it’s like to fly Air Canada economy from Toronto to Dubai
Maple Leaf lounge access
Select Aeroplan cardholders 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.
Related reading: 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 reading: Expanded award availability for United cardholders
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 reading: Pros and cons of the new Air Canada Aeroplan loyalty program
Free first checked bag
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 reading: 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.
In the coming weeks, each issuer will unveil further details about how the card products and earning rates will change. For all existing Aeroplan cardmembers, Aeroplan mileage balances will be automatically transferred into the new Aeroplan Points system on a one-to-one basis on Nov. 8, 2020.
Credit card spend counts towards 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 like online shopping portals.
After meeting the requirements, members will receive perks like priority check-in, security and boarding, two Maple Leaf Lounge passes, eUpgrade credits, Star Alliance Silver benefits and more.
While we don’t yet have the full details on co-branded Aeroplan cards, expect to see some strong benefits added, including preferred award pricing, lounge access and more.
A U.S. flavor of an Air Canada card is also likely in the works – an exciting proposition for those that fly Star Alliance and reside in the U.S. We’ll know more in the coming months, but for the time being, Air Canada looks to be keeping the loyalty community engaged with new cards, new perks and a whole new program.
Featured photo courtesy of Air Canada.
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