Why Aeroplan’s generous stopover option adds even more value to Amex cards

Aug 11, 2020

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When planning out their adventures, many travelers focus on simple round-trip itineraries — New York to Paris and back, for example, perhaps with a side trip via a cheap flight or train ride mixed in. But award travel enthusiasts know that you can really make the most of an international trip by working in multiple destinations, often by adding in stopovers or extended stays in a city on the way.

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United Airlines recently brought this little-known option to light through its free Excursionist Perk. Now Air Canada’s relaunched Aeroplan program is making stopovers a key feature, with the ability to add in a side trip on the way to your final destination – and on the way back as well. While Aeroplan had previously allowed stopovers in certain cases, this is undoubtedly an upgrade, even though the perk is no longer free.

“That’s great, but I don’t have Aeroplan points,” you might be thinking. Fortunately, Aeroplan partners with several key transferrable-points programs, so there’s a good chance there’s an easy fix. Membership Rewards points transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio — once you find an itinerary you’d like to book, you can send your points over and lock in your award. You can also transfer miles from Capital One, at a 2:1.5 ratio, and Marriott Bonvoy at 3:1, but with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 points transferred.

Related: How Aeroplan’s Family Sharing prevents ‘gaming’ while letting you rack up rewards faster

Aeroplan allows you to work in flights operated by all Star Alliance carriers, plus a handful of partners, like Etihad. Photo by Nicky Kelvin/TPG UK.
Aeroplan allows you to work in flights operated by all Star Alliance carriers, plus a handful of partners, like Etihad. Photo by Nicky Kelvin/TPG UK.

Once the new Aeroplan program launches on Nov. 8, members will be able to add stopovers for 5,000 points each — two for each round-trip itinerary, and one for each one-way trip. With a separate one-way flight added in, you can even piece together an incredible round-the-world adventure, for just 10,000 points more than you’d pay for a round-trip.

Using use my home in New York City as an example, I can book the below itinerary, traveling from Newark (EWR) to Los Angeles (LAX) to Sydney (SYD) on United, with a week or two in Australia, then on to Bangkok (BKK) via Thai Airways, which we’ll consider my destination.

From there, I could book a cheap paid flight to Delhi (DEL), stop in India for as long as I’d like, then fly Air India to Paris (CDG), with another extended stop in Europe before flying United, Lufthansa, Swiss or other Star Alliance carriers back home.

Screenshot courtesy of Great Circle Mapper.

With this itinerary, I’d be able to visit Australia, Asia, India and Europe, all for the cost of a round-trip award, plus just 10,000 points. That’s unbelievable and far more affordable than many round-the-world award options. There’s one disappointing component to note, though — stopovers are not permitted within North America, so if you want to see an extra city in the U.S. or Canada, you’ll need to add on an extra one-way.

And, thanks to instant transfers with Membership Rewards, you can boost your Aeroplan balance quickly with a handful of top Amex cards, including The Platinum Card® from American Express, the American Express® Gold Card and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express.

Related: 19 things you need to know about redeeming with the new Aeroplan

Bottom line

Aeroplan certainly doesn’t have the only stopover option, but given the number of airlines you can book — more than 35 individual carriers — plus the routing flexibility and transfer partners, it’s definitely one of the most appealing.

Personally, I’ve been a big fan of Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan stopover option, though it’s a bit challenging to piece together a flexible itinerary, as we explain here. Besides, the program recently became even more restrictive. Meanwhile, if you’re looking to book Star Alliance airlines, United’s Excursionist Perk is also worth a look. Especially if you’re hoping to transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Featured photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.

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
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • 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.
  • 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
Intro APR on Purchases
0% on purchases for 12 months
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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

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