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It may sound like an odd recommendation to get an Air Canada–branded credit card if you live in the United States or have zero plans to visit Canada. But hear us out.
The current introductory bonus on Air Canada’s Aeroplan® Credit Card is a big one—especially for a card with a $95 annual fee. Right now, new cardholders can earn 70,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months. Air Canada’s frequent flier program, Aeroplan, has more award partners than any other loyalty program in the world—currently 45 and counting—serving more than 1,300 global destinations. For an idea of the lucrative redemption opportunities this gives you, the 70,000-point welcome bonus is enough for a round-trip ticket in economy class from New York City to Lisbon, Portugal, on partner TAP Portugal or one-way in business class. Not bad!
In addition, the card gives triple points in popular spending categories like groceries and dining, offers a Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or Nexus statement credit (every four years), and provides a number of complimentary travel insurances. When you fly Air Canada, you’ll get a free checked bag and Aeroplan 25K Elite Status courtesy of the credit card.
Here’s everything you need to know about the benefit-rich Chase Aeroplan credit card and why it’s worth getting now—whether or not you have plans to visit or reside in Canada anytime soon.
A valuable welcome offer
The current introductory bonus on Air Canada’s Aeroplan credit card allows new cardholders to earn 70,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months.
If used wisely, 70,000 Aeroplan points can go far. As a Star Alliance founding member, Aeroplan has access to award inventory of 26 alliance members, including Austrian Airlines, Avianca, Copa Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss, Turkish Airlines, United Airlines, and more. Add independent partnerships with almost another 20 carriers, including Etihad Airways and Oman Air, and you have the most comprehensive search engine of any airline program in the world—sourcing award seats on over 45 airlines.
To give some simple best-case scenario examples, short-haul flights (under 500 miles) within North America—such as Boston to Montreal or New York City to Toronto—can cost just 6,000 Aeroplan points each way in economy on Air Canada. A one-way ticket from Boston to Zurich, Switzerland, on Swiss can cost 35,000 points in economy or 60,000 points in business class. And a round-trip ticket in business class on COPA Airlines from Miami, Florida, to San Jose, Costa Rica, runs 40,000 Aeroplan points and only 20,000 in economy.
Points nerds will appreciate Aeroplan’s stopover feature that allows an extended stopover en route to a final destination, depending on award availability. When flying from Miami to San Jose, Costa Rica, on COPA, for example, it’s possible to add an extended stopover in Panama City for an additional 5,000 points. This can be achieved using Aeroplan’s new Multi-City/Beta search tool launched in September 2022, found right on the homepage.
In other good news, the number of points required for an Aeroplan redemption is often far lower than those on the MileagePlus loyalty program through United Airlines. On top of that, cardholders may receive preferred pricing on flight rewards (read: fewer points). On the flip side, it’s not always easy to know exactly how many Aeroplan points you’ll need for your flight: Aeroplan’s somewhat complicated award chart is based on geography, distance flown, and dynamic pricing. It’s worth getting to know the Aeroplan search engine and fiddling around with dates to find the best award prices.
Ease in topping-up your Aeroplan balance
Those with Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Capital One Points can transfer credit card points to the Aeroplan program at 1:1 ratio. This makes it easy to combine points from spending on your Aeroplan card with points accrued on other general travel credit cards, collectively amassing enough for coveted business-class tickets to far-flung places, if you fall short from the Aeroplan card alone.
Moreover, Aeroplan allows members to pool and share points among eight family members, making it even simpler to gather sufficient mileage for your dream award tickets.
Earn lots of points
Aside from the introductory bonus, the Aeroplan card is replete with opportunities to rack up extra points on everyday spending. The card’s earning rates are as follows:
- Earn three points per dollar spent at grocery stores
- Earn three points per dollar on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services
- Earn three points per dollar spent directly with Air Canada
- Earn one point per dollar on all other purchases
But the earnings don’t end there. Another standout feature of this credit card is the chance to earn bonus points when reaching spending thresholds each month. Earn 500 bonus points for every $2,000 spent in a calendar month (up to a maximum of 1,500 points per calendar month, or a total of $18,000 per year).
Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or Nexus statement credit
A Global Entry or TSA PreCheck statement credit (every four years) is common among credit cards with high annual fees but is atypical for a card with a $95 annual fee. However, the Aeroplan credit card goes beyond a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck $100 credit by allowing cardholders to also use the credit toward Nexus, an expedited screening program for car travel between Canada and the United States (and which allows members to use Global Entry kiosks and get TSA PreCheck—yes, that’s a three for one).
Some credit cards provide complimentary travel insurance to cardholders that kicks in when charging travel to the card. These perks are more typical of high annual fee credit cards, but, surprisingly, the $95 annual fee Aeroplan card comes with travel insurances aplenty. These include:
- Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance
- Baggage Delay Insurance
- Trip Delay Reimbursement
- Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver
As with all matters of insurance, there are plenty of stipulations as to what’s covered, how much is covered, and when coverage applies.
Air Canada has committed to a net zero emissions goal from all global operations by 2050. In this vein, carbon offsets will be purchased (and paid for by Air Canada) when Aeroplan cardholders (and their companions on the same reservation) fly Air Canada, Air Canada Express, and Air Canada Rouge on an Aeroplan flight reward. This will help reduce the impact of greenhouse gas emissions associated with flying. There’s no cap on the number of carbon offsets Air Canada will provide through this program.
Benefits on Air Canada
We’ve discussed the reasons why this card makes sense for those who don’t even fly Air Canada, but for those who do, the card is an even smarter choice. On Air Canada flights, the primary cardholder can expect one free checked bag for him- or herself and up to eight travel companions on the same itinerary.
Cardholders also get automatic elite status, Aeroplan 25K Elite Status, during the calendar year in which card membership is obtained plus the entire following calendar year. This provides such benefits as priority check-in, early boarding, and upgrades on Air Canada flights. After the initial period, cardholders can maintain Aeroplan 25K Status with $15,000 in account spending during a calendar year. Those who spend $50,000 during a calendar year can earn an Elite Status Level Up of one tier to 35K Status or higher depending on their current elite status.
With a welcome bonus of 70,000 points, a great points’ earning structure, incredible redemption opportunities, a Global Entry credit, and its suite of travel insurances, the Aeroplan Credit Card is a smart choice for all travelers, even those who have no plans to set foot in Canada or on an Air Canada aircraft.
While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they are subject to change at any time, and may have changed or may no longer be available.