Everything you should know about Chase and Air Canada’s new US credit card
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After nearly a year of teasers, Air Canada and Chase are finally teaming up for a U.S. credit card – and it’s now available.
For context, Air Canada has been on a roll of late, including a late-2020 complete relaunch of the Aeroplan frequent flyer program. There have already been plenty of updates to be excited about, from eliminating fuel surcharges to generous stopover rules.
Now, a new cobranded card is here, offering a variety of unique benefits, including automatic elite status, a sign-up bonus worth up to 100,000 points, and – coming in 2022 – the ability to use the Chase Pay Yourself Back function.
This card comes on the heels of Aeroplan becoming a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner in August. That means Ultimate Rewards points earned from cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card can be transferred to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio.
Here is everything you need to know about the Aeroplan Credit Card that senior Air Canada executives are calling an “uncobrand cobrand card.”
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A new form of sign-up bonus
The new $95-per-year Aeroplan Credit Card will offer two “Welcome Flight Rewards” worth up to 100,000 points combined when you spend $4,000 on purchases with the card in the first three months.
These will come in the form of two “Flight Reward Certificates” valued at up to 50,000 Aeroplan points each.
According to Aeroplan executives, Air Canada took inspiration from the hotel industry when deciding to create these rewards. Here’s how they work:
- Each of the two 50,000 Welcome Flight Rewards can be applied toward a single passenger Aeroplan redemption.
- This can be in any cabin and for any redemption amount.
- A top-up of extra points needed is allowed. (i.e., If you had a 65,000-point itinerary, you could apply a 50,000 Welcome Flight Reward and top up the remaining 15,000-point difference.)
- You don’t get your points back if you redeem the certificate for an itinerary of fewer than 50,000 points.
- The rewards don’t expire as long as you have the card.
While you cannot use two rewards for one redemption for a single passenger, you can use the reward for any redemption: one-way, round-trip, around-the-world, etc.
The Air Canada credit card accrues a robust 3 Aeroplan points per dollar spent on grocery store purchases, dining (including delivery services) and purchases made directly with Air Canada. It will earn 1 point per dollar spent on other purchases. Those are strong earning rates on big everyday expense categories.
Additionally, cardholders will get a 500-point bonus for every $2,000 spent on the card per month, up to 1,500 points per month.
If you were to maximize this bonus by spending $6,000 per month exclusively on the categories of dining, grocery or Air Canada purchases, you’d be earning the equivalent of 3.25 points per dollar spent, for a total of 19,500 points.
As for the card’s other benefits, chief among them is that Air Canada cardholders will receive automatic entry-level Aeroplan 25K status for the remainder of the current calendar year and the following one. However, even if you apply in December 2021, you’ll earn status through 2023 automatically (as if you applied in January 2022).
After that, to retain status, a cardholder must spend $15,000 per year.
What Aeroplan 25k status gets you
Those with this status enjoy benefits like priority airport check-in, two complimentary checked bags, priority boarding, priority seat selection, two one-time Maple Leaf Lounge passes, eUpgrade credits and more.
Cardholders as a matter of course will get their first checked bag free, along with up to eight companions, when flying on Air Canada – so you won’t have to retain 25K status to continue enjoying some elite-style perks.
More rewards with spending … up to $1 million
Air Canada is creating more incentives to spend on the card, with earning thresholds at incremental amounts up to $1 million in spend during a calendar year.
- Spend $50,000: Existing status holders earn a one-level status boost to 35K status or higher for the next year. That even includes customers who took advantage of a status match opportunity with Destination Canada.
- Spend $100,000: 50% off Priority Reward when redeeming points.
- Spend $250,000: 50% off Priority Reward when redeeming points.
- Spend $500,000: 50% off Priority Reward when redeeming points.
- Spend $750,000: 50% off Priority Reward when redeeming points.
- Spend $1 million: Free companion travel for redemption for the remainder of the year and the following year.
As the industry exhibits more eco-consciousness, Aeroplan will purchase carbon offsets to reduce the impact of greenhouse gas emissions. Cardholders and their travel companions who fly Air Canada using an Aeroplan flight reward will have their carbon emissions automatically offset.
A variety of other perks include:
- An up to $100 statement credit toward Global Entry, TSA Precheck or NEXUS every four years (as reimbursement for the application fee charged to the card).
- No foreign transaction fees.
- Trip cancellation and interruption insurance.
- Baggage delay insurance.
- Trip delay reimbursement.
- Auto rental collision damage waiver.
- Roadside assistance.
- World Elite Mastercard benefits.
Pay Yourself Back is coming soon
In a unique move, the Chase Aeroplan Credit Card will offer the ability to leverage Chase’s popular Pay Yourself Back program. For any travel purchase, Aeroplan points can be redeemed at a rate of 1.25 cents per point (up to 50,000 points per year).
That creates a significant amount of flexibility should cardholders need to use their points for redemptions other than through Aeroplan, Air Canada and their partners. Chase is in the process of building out this tool, and we’ll see this launch in 2022.
Waitlist customers get an even bigger bonus
Consumers who had joined the card’s waitlist by Nov. 24 can earn an additional 10,000 Aeroplan points, in addition to the sign-up bonus, upon card approval. Applications must be received by Feb. 15, 2022.
Plus, waitlist customers get 10 eUpgrade credits for upgrades to premium cabins. These credits let you upgrade flights operated by Air Canada, Air Canada Express and Air Canada Rouge from economy class to business class, premium economy or Premium Rouge.
For instance, based on availability, 10 eUpgrade credits can get you from economy to business class on a Canadian transcontinental flight from Toronto (YYZ) to Vancouver (YVR), as long as you’re purchasing an “economy flex” ticket.
Aeroplan as a Chase transfer partner
You don’t necessarily need to sign up for Aeroplan’s new credit card in order to stock up on Aeroplan points.
In August, Aeroplan was added to the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel transfer partner roster. That means you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio (1 Ultimate Rewards point is equal to 1 Aeroplan point).
To transfer Chase points, you need to have at least one of the following three cards that earn transferable Ultimate Rewards points to take advantage of this partnership.
In addition to the transferable Ultimate Rewards-earning cards above, there are a few other Chase cards you might want to take note of. Those include:
- Chase Freedom (no longer available to new applicants)
- Chase Freedom Flex.
- Chase Freedom Unlimited.
- Ink Business Cash Credit Card.
- Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card.
While the points these cards earn can’t be transferred to Ultimate Rewards’ airline or hotel partners on their own, if you also carry one of the cards that does earn transferable Ultimate Rewards points, you can combine the points you earn across all cards into a single account and transfer from there.
Reasons to focus on Air Canada Aeroplan
The introduction of a new U.S. Aeroplan Credit Card and the addition of Air Canada’s Aeroplan to Ultimate Rewards are exciting for a number of reasons.
Aeroplan has long been a favorite among award travelers – and the program’s late-2020 revamp included several customer-friendly enhancements.
According to TPG’s latest valuations, a single Aeroplan point is worth 1.5 cents. But there are several sweet spots where you can get a lot more value than that.
This is particularly true of long-haul premium-cabin awards. For instance, it’ll cost 60,000 Aeroplan points for a business-class seat on United between New York and London. Cash fares for business class on this one-way route can easily exceed $2,000. In this one example, you can get more than 3 cents in value per point.
While United and Singapore Airlines are both Star Alliance partners with Air Canada — and existing Chase transfer partners — there are unique features to Aeroplan that are worth mentioning and reasons to transfer to Aeroplan instead of the others.
For starters, Aeroplan has a published award chart while United MileagePlus has shifted entirely to dynamic pricing. Aeroplan’s sheer quantity of partners is also outstanding, with more than 40 airline partners to choose from. Most award flights can be booked on Air Canada’s easy-to-use website, too, which takes the hassle out of redeeming your points.
Arguably the most compelling reason for award enthusiasts to opt for Aeroplan instead of other programs is the elimination of carrier-imposed surcharges along with the addition of generous stopover and open-jaw rules.
For example, awards on Lufthansa previously could incur hundreds of dollars in surcharges, which negated many of the benefits of booking an award ticket. Now, you’ll pay standard taxes and fees on all tickets booked through Aeroplan in addition to a reasonable 39 Canadian dollars ($31) partner award fee, when applicable.
When it comes to stopovers, Aeroplan is also a standout, with the ability to add a single stopover to a one-way ticket and two stopovers to a round-trip ticket, which each cost just 5,000 extra points. This functionality to build them into your itinerary without the need to call in is even possible on the Aeroplan website.
We now know what Air Canada’s U.S. cobranded credit card looks like. While this isn’t the first time an Air Canada credit card will be available in the U.S., it does mark a significant new product launch and one that will give U.S.-based customers yet another Star Alliance option for accruing frequent flyer miles.
Notably, the automatic elite status, generous earning rates on everyday spending, and ability to Pay Yourself Back at 1.25 cents per point (coming in 2022) are unique features for a cobranded card.
Featured photo by The Points Guy.
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