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Why Aeroplan deserves this year's TPG Award for investment in airline loyalty

Nov. 03, 2021
5 min read
Air Canada Boeing 777
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The pandemic upended the airline industry. Airlines sent planes to the desert, axed unprofitable routes and trimmed their operations.

As carriers began charting the road to recovery, one thing became clear: their loyalty programs were a big lifeline.

While customers may not have been flying, they were still engaging with the loyalty programs, whether it was through spending on a co-branded credit card or booking speculative awards. These programs were so valuable that American, Delta and United all mortgaged theirs to back more than $15 billion in debt.

Despite the sky-high valuations, these airlines haven't generally invested in making improvements to their frequent flyer programs. Some devalued award charts and others made status harder to earn, often with little advance notice.

But one program continues to outshine the competition. Since its rebrand in November 2020, Air Canada has continued to invest in its Aeroplan loyalty program.

So much so that, as part of Airlines Week at the 2021 TPG Awards, it has won this year’s award for investment in airline loyalty — and here’s why.

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8 new partners make redemptions easier

Ultimately, a loyalty program is only as good as its redemption options. If you can’t use your points, then what’s the value in collecting them?

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Well, with Aeroplan, you now have more redemption options than ever before. Throughout the pandemic, the airline has inked partnerships with a host of airlines, including Etihad, Gulf Air, Azul, Vistara, Air Serbia, Virgin Australia, Eurowings Discover and Air Dolomiti.

An Etihad business class seat on an Airbus A380. (Photo by Dmitry Birin/Shutterstock)

Despite being a member of the Star Alliance, the airline isn't confining itself to its closest alliance partners. Many of the aforementioned airlines aren't members of a global alliance, which provides even more value for members with expanded redemption opportunities.

And earning points are easier, too

For most U.S.-based travelers, accumulating Aeroplan points isn’t necessarily top of mind. Sure, you could credit your United and Star Alliance flights to the program, but that might not make sense if you’re chasing United's Premier status.

Fortunately, Aeroplan has long been a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, and it was also added to Capital One's list of partners back in 2018.

But if that wasn’t enough — the airline recently launched a tie-up with Chase that allows you to transfer your Ultimate Rewards instantly to Aeroplan at a 1:1 rate, and Capital One recently shifted the program into its new 1:1 transfer tier.

More (and enhanced) earning opportunities deliver more utility for members.

Read more: The 8 best credit cards for earning Aeroplan points

A new valuable cobranded card is coming

Aeroplan's new partnership with Chase isn't just about point transfers. The two companies are joining forces to launch a cobranded credit card for U.S.-based travelers.

While the exact card details are still under wraps, Aeroplan is offering a 10,000-point bonus (in addition to the initial sign-up bonus) for reserving a spot on the card's waitlist.

It'll be interesting to see how the card stacks up against its competitors from the U.S. airlines — but again, it's another investment in the carrier's loyalty program.

The promise to keep award charts

This one is big. When you’re ready to book an award, knowing how many points you’ll need is one of the most important considerations.

Both Delta and United no longer publish award charts — the latter even removed them overnight during the pandemic. American is seemingly gearing up to pull its charts, too.

Meanwhile, up north, Mark Nasr, senior vice president of marketing, e-commerce and products, and the Aeroplan entire team are committed to keeping charts. When the program rebranded last year, it promised to be honest and upfront about pricing with its award charts.

This helps build trust with members and leads to more engagement in the program. Plus, without any fuel surcharges, booking through Aeroplan remains a top option for many redemptions.

A lucrative status match offer

In September, Aeroplan launched a lucrative status match offer to grant status to existing elites of U.S. airlines.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

After uploading your credentials, you'll be matched to the equivalent tier of Aeroplan status through the end of the year. To keep the status for the 2022 program year, you just need to book and complete one roundtrip flight with Air Canada, Air Canada Express or Rouge by Jan. 15, 2022.

The fact that Air Canada is trying to position itself as a useful program for Americans is noteworthy and deserves recognition.

Bottom line

Air Canada's Aeroplan program is this year's winner of the TPG Award for investment in airline loyalty.

With a slew of new airline partners, a new transfer option with Chase, an improved transfer ratio with Capital One and a cobranded card for U.S. customers launching soon, Aeroplan has done more than any other major frequent flyer program to improve this year.

And that comes despite the pandemic which closed borders and grounded much of Air Canada's operation. For that, it's kudos to the Aeroplan team for the continued innovation — and here's hoping this investment continues in 2022 (and beyond).

Featured image by Air Canada Boeing 777 (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
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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TPG featured card

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
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Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
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.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • 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.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023