Taking advantage of those “too-good-to-be-true” flights for a pittance requires a decent cache of Aeroplan miles. Whether it’s for an adventurous “mini-RTW” (mini-Round-The-World) or a string of business class flights with lounge access, a healthy Aeroplan account is your ticket. How’s it done? It’s easier than you think. Read on for the best ways to earn Aeroplan miles fast.
1) Use credit cards for all purchases
First up on this list of the best ways to earn Aeroplan points is to ensure you are collecting on every purchase possible by using an appropriate credit card. If not, you’re leaving travel rewards on the table. Even expenses such as utilities, rent, tuition and taxes can be paid with a credit card. Using credit cards takes discipline, organization and a little bit of financial know-how, but if you value travel, the rewards are worth it.
My recommendation is to carry a selection of cards in your wallet. Earning power differs, and they vary in perks and benefits. Regular promotions offer fee waivers, rebates and other enticements. Try a card, and if it’s not worth keeping, cancel before the annual fee comes due.
Aeroplan Partner Credit Cards
If you’d prefer to carry just one card, my suggestion is to make it an Aeroplan-branded one from either CIBC or TD. The Visa Infinite cards are similar in features and benefits. Both have an annual fee of $120 and earn 1 point per dollar of spending. Earning power increases to 1.5 miles per $ on purchases at grocery stores, drug stores, gas stations and aircanada.com. They come with a few perks when flying on an Aeroplan Flight Reward (on Air Canada) such as priority boarding, lounge access and a free checked bag. If you use your card to pay for your trip, each one comes with a decent amount of cancellation/interruption insurance, even if you’re flying on Aeroplan miles. For the TD version, you can get an annual fee rebate with the TD All-Inclusive Banking Plan.
However, you’ll accumulate Aeroplan miles much faster if you carry more than one credit card. You’ll have a choice of Visa and American Express (AMEX) cards. AMEX has a few “Aeroplan cards,” but a better option is to consider the AMEX cards earning Membership Rewards (MR). They’re a valuable rewards currency and are transferrable to Aeroplan at 1:1. Look for cards with enhanced earning power on everyday spend. For example, the very popular AMEX Gold Rewards Card earns 2 points per $ at grocery stores, drug stores and gas stations in Canada, and for travel purchases worldwide.
2) Sign up for credit card sign-up bonuses
If you fancy receiving a 20,000-mile boost (or better) to your Aeroplan account, this next tip on the best ways to earn Aeroplan miles fast is for you.
The single most lucrative way to earn Aeroplan miles is through credit card sign-up bonuses. The above notification is for the CIBC Aerogold Visa Business Card. What did it cost to get those 20,000 Aeroplan miles? The price of a cup of coffee. I signed up during a promotion that waived the annual fee for the first year and earned an additional 10,000 miles on a minimum spend of $1,000 in the first three months. I was spending $1,000 on groceries, gas and other stuff, so why not earn 30,000 miles in the process?
Business or Not
“Yes, but I don’t have a business,” I hear you say. Do you engage in business-like activities? Do you blog, coach, drive occasionally for Uber, sell stuff on Kijiji, or research and book travel for friends and family? These and lots of other business-like activities likely qualify you for “business credit cards.” In fact, the Canada Revenue Agency makes it easy to apply for a business number as a sole proprietor.
With access to the rich range of both personal and business credit cards, a handful of sign-up bonuses could easily earn enough Aeroplan miles to fly business class anywhere in the world.
Add a few supplementary cards to your account for family members (with their permission of course), and depending on the offer, you’ll earn extra miles for doing so.
3) Tap into the power of gift cards
Those gift card racks in stores are gold waiting to be mined.
(i) Use a points-multiplier credit card
When you have a credit card that earns a “points multiplier” for “category spending,” buying a gift card earns additional points. “Points multiplier” refers to the extra points you’ll receive. It might be x1.5, x2, x4 or x5 points per dollar depending on the card. “Category spending” refers to where you buy the card. In this context, it refers to grocery stores, drug stores and gas stations.
For example, instead of buying a $100 wheelbarrow at Home Hardware on a credit card that likely earns 100 points, pick up a $100 Home Hardware gift card at a grocery store using your “points multiplier” credit card. Then, use the gift card to get the wheelbarrow. As Home Hardware is an Aeroplan merchant, present your Aeroplan card or membership number at the checkout for additional miles (1 per $2 before taxes).
(ii) Meet a Minimum Spend Requirement (MSR)
An MSR is the spending threshold you need to reach to earn a welcome or sign-up bonus on a credit card. It can be awarded after the first purchase, or after spending a certain amount (e.g., $1000) in a fixed period of time (usually three months). Buy a few gift cards for gas or groceries to push you over the threshold, and use them as currency against future spending. You’re not spending more; you’re simply front-loading it to achieve a benefit.
(iii) Use a Visa card at Costco
Using a credit card for in-store shopping at Costco is limited to MasterCard. But what if you have a Visa card earning Aeroplan miles and you’d rather use that? One of the best ways to earn Aeroplan miles is to purchase a Costco Cash Card online with your Visa, and then use the cash card for in-store shopping.
4) Get a little help from your friends
Look around for opportunities for family and friends to reimburse you for purchases. Not everyone is interested in the miles-and-points scene, and some of them will be more than happy to support your efforts.
Group dinners, office parties, and lottery pools cry out for someone to make the arrangements and collect contributions from participants. Travel bookings are another opportunity. What about supplying family members with gift cards for gas and groceries?
Put these types of costs on a credit card, especially one with a points multiplier, and watch your rewards account grow. In fact, the better you can predict and plan your expenses, the more effective you’ll be at staggering credit card applications to meet sign-up-bonus minimum spends.
5) Shop online via the Aeroplan eStore
Last up on this list of the best ways to earn Aeroplan miles fast is by being selective with where you shop online. The Aeroplan eStore portal is your gateway to major points earning opportunities with over 170 merchants. Why shop directly with a merchant when a quick path through the eStore earns you at least double the points? Before shopping, either online or at brick-and-mortar locations, always check to see which merchants are eStore partners. The list changes on a regular basis.
Here’s how it works.
- Earn one Aeroplan mile for every dollar spent (excluding taxes, shipping fees or other surcharges).
- Earn a status bonus if you have Silver, Black or Diamond status. Diamond earns 2 bonus miles, and Silver and Black each earn 1 bonus mile. You achieve status based on how many eligible Aeroplan miles you earn in a calendar year.
- Earn a promotional bonus such as x2, x5 or x10 according to the promotion in effect. Carefully read the terms and conditions, and take a screenshot for your records. If you’re shopping at amazon.ca (or any merchant for that matter), it’s a good idea to clear your cart before entering the eStore portal.
- Earn points on your credit card. Watch for occasional promotions from credit card issuers for additional points.
Here’s an example. You’re interested in a new iPhone. At the brick-and-mortar Apple store you can get it for $1529 plus tax.
- The in-store purchase comes to $1758. This earns 1758 Aeroplan miles on your Aeroplan-branded credit card.
- Purchasing through the Aeroplan eStore with the same credit card earns an additional 1529 miles on the pre-tax amount. However, you know that promotions such as Back to School, Black Friday/Cyber Monday and Boxing Day come around on a regular basis. Instead of 1529 miles, a x5 promotion earns 7645 miles.
- eStore Aeroplan status earns additional miles. Silver or Black earns 1529 miles, and Diamond earns 3058 miles.
- With Black status, the iPhone purchase in this example earned a total of 10,932 Aeroplan miles.
More ways to earn Aeroplan miles?
As you can see, there are several great ways to earn Aeroplan miles. From gift card tricks to simply buying gum, collecting points truly is a daily activity that is both easy and rewarding. The truth is, guest author Anne Betts has barely scratched the surface. Stay tuned for a follow up post on 5 MORE ways to earn Aeroplan miles fast!
About the Author
Anne Betts blogs at Packing Light Travel. She is as passionate about carry-on travel as she is about travelling on miles and points. Aeroplan is one of her favourite reward programs. Check out some of her posts: 25 Tips on earning Aeroplan miles, Minimizing Aeroplan taxes, fees and surcharges, and Finding Aeroplan flights: A step-by-step guide.
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