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Why I'm more excited than ever about Air Canada's new loyalty program

May 6 2020
5 min read
Air Canada Boeing 777
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It's no secret that now's not the best time to be devaluing loyalty programs.

With the travel industry at a standstill, people are going to remember the companies making negative changes during these times. Plus, when the industry inevitably recovers from the pandemic, it's going to be a slow process. Loyalty programs are one of the best ways to drive business to an airline or hotel. Why would anyone want to give their business to a provider that's using this downtime to make customer-unfriendly changes?

Well, this hasn't stopped American, United and IHG from making negative adjustments to their programs.

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There's one program though that's done the exact opposite, and that's Air Canada's Aeroplan. It's been introducing creative and generous promotions for the past few weeks.

Air Canada Airbus A220 (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Interestingly, the Montreal-based carrier is expected to debut a brand-new loyalty program this year. And now, in light of the current climate, I'm more excited than ever about it. Let me explain why.

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Aeroplan's amazing response to the coronavirus

As I alluded to before, Air Canada's current loyalty program, Aeroplan, has been nothing short of amazing when it comes to adjusting to the realities of the pandemic. In addition to its generous award ticket cancellation policy, it's used this time to introduce a lucrative offer to earn status without flying.

In April, Air Canada extended elite status for all its current members. If your status was already extended and you end up reaching the applicable thresholds again this year, the carrier will let you share that status with a friend or family member.

Related: Complete guide to airline elite status during the coronavirus outbreak

This response to the coronavirus is in stark contrast to that of American and United. Instead of imposing new fees and making it harder to earn status through partner flying, Aeroplan is thinking creatively and actually improving its program.

If Air Canada has the same executives working on its new loyalty program, get excited for a program that actually cares about its members.

Promise of an award chart

United has used the coronavirus as a time to remove Star Alliance partner award charts, and then immediately raised award costs across the board by about 10%.

Based on our inside look at Air Canada's new loyalty program, TPG was told that the award chart will survive the transition. Though there's no telling what the new award prices will be, I'm fairly confident that the Air Canada won't eliminate all of the sweet spots.

Air Canada Signature Suite Toronto (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

In fact, when speaking to TPG, Mark Nasr, Air Canada's Vice President, Loyalty and E-commerce acknowledged that there's value in offering "special rewards."

Related: Your guide to airline partners and award charts

Even if Air Canada does indeed raise prices like United, at least it's committed to offering an award chart. These fixed tables tell us what to expect from prices, allowing us to clearly analyze whether we're getting a good deal. With United, there's no longer a cap on award prices, making it much harder to score incredible redemptions.

Great earning opportunities

Though most of us are based in the United States, it's still really easy to earn miles with Air Canada.

For one, you can credit your Star Alliance flights to the new loyalty program. But advanced users know that you can convert American Express Membership Rewards (at a 1:1 rate) and Capital One Miles (2:1.5) to Aeroplan.

Air Canada Airbus A220 (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

By taking advantage of these transferable currencies, you can easily multiply your Aeroplan earnings by using the best Amex and Capital One cards. Though it's not yet official that the new program will be a Membership Rewards and Capital One Miles transfer partner, odds are quite high that the partnership will transfer over, since these agreements are quite lucrative.

Related: How to redeem American Express Membership Rewards for maximum value

Aside from converting transferable points, you can now buy Aeroplan (and soon-to-be Air Canada) miles. And in light of the coronavirus, we're seeing an incredible sale on Aeroplan miles. If these promotions transfer to the new program, we're in for a treat.

You can't build trust with devaluations

As they say, you only get one shot at a first impression.

When Air Canada debuts its new program, people around the world are going to be poring through the details and analyzing every last change. Though it's tempting to add in some sneaky devaluations along the way, all of Aeroplan's prior actions points to this being a fair and rewarding program.

Plus, if you start out with devaluations, how are you going to get members to trust you?

I'm sure we're going to see some of the best redemptions eliminated or some new restrictive policies, but my money is that most partner redemptions will look quite similar to where they are today.

Bottom line

Air Canada has a unique opportunity to shape the future of its loyalty program. With all of its positive changes to Aeroplan during the coronavirus, I'm optimistic about what's coming in the new program later this year.

An award chart coupled with great earning opportunities is all this points collector can ask for.

All photos by the author.

Featured photo by Air Canada Boeing 777 (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

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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

Rewards Rate

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.
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  • 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

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  • 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