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What is the Best Credit Card for Aeroplan Members?

Aeroplan is one of the most popular loyalty reward programs in Canada.  The program, run by publicly traded Aimia (AIM.TO), is free to join and allows members to collect points towards flights on Air Canada and other participating airlines, hotels, gifts and gift cards.

Members can earn points in a number of ways, such as through credit card rewards, purchasing Air Canada (and affiliated airlines) flights, and through affiliated merchants such as Esso.  Points are relatively easy to pick up here and there, but the real accumulation of points comes when costs are funneled through an Aeroplan credit card.  Most Aeroplan cards offer 1 to 1.5 pts on every $1 spent plus bonus points for signing up.  The downside being that most Aeroplan cards charge a hefty annual fee.  More on this below.

Members can redeem points through the Aeroplan website or via phone, but return on spending varies depending on your redemption.  Flights will give members the best bang for your buck, specifically, first class flights.  Economy class flights to/from anywhere in North America typically requires 25,000 points, and with this, return on spending can vary depending on the cost of the flight from your location.

An economy flight from NL to Orlando (MCO) will typically cost $400 plus $150 in fees.  Using points for an economy seat in this case would result in a 1.6% return on spending assuming that you earned 1 point per $1 spent (400/25000).  Booking a business class flight on the same trip would cost $1450 plus fees but would use 50,000 points resulting in a 2.9% return (1450/50000).  As you can see, the huge first class markup in price  only requires 2 times the points.

As another example, a flight from NL to Vancouver will cost about $800 before fees, but using economy points (25,000) would result in a juicy 3.2% return.  Even better still, a business class ticket on the same flight would cost $2,900 before fees and using points would result in a 5.8% return.

As you can see, Aeroplan rewards and return on spending are all over the map.  The more expensive the flight, the higher the return.  I’m not a big Aeroplan collector (I have some saved from my SPG days), but I personally aim for a minimum of 2% return, which means a minimum of a $500 flight before taxes and fees on an economy North American flight.  Note that these returns do not count the annual fees that Aeroplan credit cards typically charge and bonus points offered for gas/grocery spending.

But for the readers that are avid Aeroplan collectors (I know you are out there), which are the best credit cards out there today?  Here are my picks:

Best Aeroplan Credit Cards

1. TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card (link)

  • The Rewards
    • Earn 1.5 miles for every $1 spent on eligible gas, grocery, drugstore and aircanada.com Purchases made with your Card.
    • Earn 1 mile for every $1 you spend on all other Purchases on your Card.
    • Earn miles twice when you pay with your TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card and present your Aeroplan Membership Card at over 150 Aeroplan partner brands and with 100 online retailers.
    • Your Aeroplan miles will not expire as long as you are a TD Aeroplan Credit Cardholder.
  • Bonuses
    • Receive a Welcome Bonus of 15,000 Aeroplan Miles with your first Purchase.
    • In addition, you could receive 5,000 Aeroplan Miles when you add an Authorized User to your Account by September 2nd (Authorized User must call and activate their Card by Jan. 16, 2017.
    • 50% Annual Fee Rebate for the first year(Primary Cardholder only) – that’s $60 in savings!
    • Offer Valid until Dec. 2, 2016.
  • Insurance
    • Travel Medical;
    • Trip Cancellation;
    • Trip Interruption;
    • Delayed and Lost Baggage Insurance;
    • Flight/Trip Delay Insurance;
    • Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance;
    • Car Rental Insurance; and,
    • Purchase Security and Extended Warranty.
  • Other Perks
    • Complimentary first checked bag on Aeroplan reward flights;
    • Priority check-in and priority boarding on Aeroplan reward flights; and,
    • One annual guest pass to Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounge.
  • Requirements: $60k personal income, $100k household income.
  • Annual Fee: $120, $50 for secondary users.

2. CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite Card (link)

  • The Rewards
    • 1.5 Aeroplan points for every $1 spent on gas/groceries/drug stores/aircanada.com; and,
    • 1 point for every $1 spent on everything else.
  • Bonuses
    • 15k points on first purchase.
  • Insurance
    • Travel medical;
    • Trip Cancellation;
    • Trip Interruption;
    • Delayed and Lost Baggage Insurance;
    • Flight/Trip Delay Insurance;
    • Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance;
    • Car Rental Insurance; and,
    • Purchase Security and Extended Warranty.
  • Other Perks
    • Complimentary first checked bag on Aeroplan reward flights;
    • Priority check-in and priority boarding on Aeroplan reward flights; and,
    • One annual guest pass to Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounge.
  • Requirements: $60k personal income, $100k household income.
  • Annual Fee: $120, $50 for secondary users.

3. American Express Gold Rewards Card (link)

  • The Rewards
    • 2 Aeroplan points for every $1 spent on gas/groceries/drug stores/travel; and,
    • 1 point for every $1 spent on everything else.
  • Bonuses
    • 25k points after you spend $500 in first three months of card membership; and,
    • First year annual fee waived.
  • Insurance
    • Travel medical;
    • Trip Interruption;
    • Delayed and Lost Baggage Insurance;
    • Flight/Trip Delay Insurance;
    • Hotel Burglary Insurance;
    • Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance;
    • Car Rental Insurance; and,
    • Purchase Security and Extended Warranty.
  • Other Perks
    • None identified on website.
  • Requirements: $20k personal/household income.
  • Annual Fee: $150, $0 for secondary users.

4. American Express AeroplanPlus Gold Card (link)

  • The Rewards
    • 1 Aeroplan point for every $1 spent up to $10,000; and,
    • 1.25 points for every $1 spent over $10,000 annually.
  • Bonuses
    • 25k points after you spend $500 in first three months of card membership.
  • Insurance
    • Delayed and Lost Baggage Insurance;
    • Flight/Trip Delay Insurance;
    • Purchase Security and Extended Warranty.
  • Other Perks
    • None identified on website.
  • Requirements: $60k personal income, $100k household income.
  • Annual Fee: $120, $0 for secondary users.

5. Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card (SPG) from American Express (link)

  • The Rewards
    • 1 Starpoint for every $1 spent.
    • 20,000 Starpoints can be converted to 25,000 Aeroplan points (equivalent to 1.25 Aeroplan points for every $1 spent).
  • Bonuses
    • 10k points after you spend $500 in first three months of card membership.
  • Insurance
    • Travel medical;
    • Delayed and Lost Baggage Insurance;
    • Flight/Trip Delay Insurance;
    • Hotel Burglary Insurance;
    • Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance;
    • Car Rental Insurance; and,
    • Purchase Security and Extended Warranty.
  • Other Perks
    • Upgrade to SPG Gold after $30k spending, free weekend night when you reach $40k spending.
  • Requirements: $15k personal income.
  • Annual Fee: $120, $50 for secondary users.

Conclusion

There are a few options for Aeroplan collectors and all of the cards have one thing in common, they are pricey (my list of the best no annual fee cards)!  Besides the annual fee though, the cards listed above have similar features and rewards but also some major differences between them.  To sum it up though,  I think the best offerings are with TD and CIBC.  Why?  Because Visa’s acceptance is much greater than American Express.  In order to truly get the best bang for your buck, most of your expenses need to funnel through the card, and it most likely will not happen with an AMEX.

Between the battle of the Visa’s, the TD and CIBC cards are pretty much identical.  The only difference is that TD currently offers extra welcome points and will waive the annual fee for the first year (limited time).  Overall though, the cards are strong with 50% more points for gas/groceries/drug stores, as-good-as-it-gets insurance package, and some bonuses offered for Aeroplan reward flights (for the price, I think these bonuses should be offered on all Air Canada flights, not just Aeroplan reward flights).  

If you are dead-set on going with an AMEX for Aeroplan points, I would go with the AMEX Gold card.  While the fee is hefty ($150 but waived for the first year), there is no charge for a secondary card, and they offer a generous sign up bonus (25K).  As well, they offer 100% more points (compared to 50% on the Visa) for spending on gas/groceries/drug stores/travel, which can really add up.  The SPG AMEX is an attractive option due to the SPG program, but not the best choice if Aeroplan is your priority.

Are you an Aeroplan collector?  If so, which credit card do you use?

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FT About the author: FT is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Marios December 9, 2014, 3:42 pm

    Heads up that if you call TD about the promotion mentioned above (I had a special reason to do so), they may tell you that the offer is targeted and refuse you the extra 10,000 points and the fee waiver.

  • balduc December 14, 2014, 3:43 am

    “Visa’s acceptance is much greater than American Express. In order to truly get the best bang for your buck, most of your expenses need to funnel through the card, and it most likely will not happen with an AMEX.”

    You may be technically correct about acceptance rates.

    But, personally, I find I can charge at least $999 of every $1000 to my Amex. It is incredibly rare that I have to pull out my Visa. When I do, it is almost always for small purchases made at small stores.

  • FT FrugalTrader December 14, 2014, 1:58 pm

    @balduc, yes it really depends on where you shop. For us, most of our spending is at Loblaws/No Frills, Costco, and Walmart. The first two does not accept AMEX.

  • AK522 February 23, 2015, 1:01 pm

    Any update on this review based on the fact that Costco not accepting AMEX anymore? Bulk of our Aeroplan points were coming from AMEX, is there any Mastercard out there that can help collect Aeroplan, directly or conversion?

  • FT FrugalTrader February 23, 2015, 1:11 pm

    If you are a big Costco shopper, it looks like you are out of luck. I do not know of any MasterCards that offer Aeroplan. There may be some options out there where you can convert the points to Aeroplan, but none that are obvious to me.

    But as a pure Aeroplan card, I like the TD Visa (esp with the bonus).

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