Air Miles vs Aeroplan: Choosing the Right Loyalty Program

The main difference between Air Miles and Aeroplan is that Air Miles is a more generic rewards program owned by BMO and focused on earning at retail stores, while Aeroplan is Air Canada’s loyalty program, partnered primarily with TD in addition to CIBC and Amex.

Air Miles and Aeroplan are two of Canada’s most popular loyalty programs, boasting millions of members nationwide.

Both offer an excellent mix of rewards and perks to save you money on your day-to-day spending – and help make your vacations easier on your wallet.

Still, there are some crucial differences between the two loyalty programs, some of which may sway you to opt for one over the other. 

For this reason, we’ve assembled the following guide highlighting how each program works and its strengths and weaknesses.

That way, you can make an informed decision when choosing the one that’s best for your lifestyle and needs.

Air Miles

  • Wide range of retail partner brands
  • Numerous special promotional offers available that increase earn rates
  • Large selection of merchandise reward options
  • Ability to purchase directly with miles at select retail partners
  • Cash mile redemption rates are transparent and straightforward
  • Small selection of co-branded credit cards
  • Air Miles are not transferable to other loyalty programs
  • Cash miles are not convertible to Dream miles and vice versa
  • Lose your Air Miles if your account remains inactive for 24 months
  • Need to make a lot of purchases to collect enough miles for redemption
  • Miles are redeemable only for flights that originate in Canada or the United States


  • Large selection of co-branded credit cards
  • Ability to pool Aeroplan points with your family and friends (up to eight people under one sharing plan)
  • Extensive range of flight options both domestic and international
  • No fuel surcharges added to reward flights
  • Ability to redeem points for flight perks like Wi-Fi, checked bags, and seat upgrades
  • Extensive range of retail partners
  • Ability to pay for rewards using a combination of cash and points
  • Fewer benefits if you don’t typically books flights with Air Canada
  • Lose your points after 18 months of inactivity
  • There is a $39 booking fee when flying with Star Alliance carriers
  • High redemption rates on long-distance flights
  • Offers less value for those who travel less and primarily want deals on retail spending

What is Air Miles?

Air Miles is a general-purpose loyalty program that was owned and operated by Loyalty One.

In March 2023, it was announced that BMO would be acquiring the Air Miles program.

The program launched in Canada in 1992 and is also available in the Netherlands and the Middle East.

As a member, you earn miles on purchases you make at participating partner stores (of which there are over 250), including online through

Using your Air Miles Collector Card, you can collect miles on everyday purchases like pharmacy, gas, groceries, and home improvement.

In addition, several Air Miles co-branded credit cards are available, which enable you to accumulate miles faster.

Under the Air Miles program, you can choose between collecting Cash Rewards or Dream Rewards based on the proportion of your choice (50/50, 70/30, etc.).

While you cannot transfer miles between the two categories, you can modify your split anytime.

Cash Rewards allow you to redeem your miles in-person at partner stores or online for retail items and gift cards.

Participating retailers include Apple, Spotify, DoorDash, Rona, Shell, and Rexall.

Dream Rewards are convertible to travel-related purchases, such as flights, car rentals, and accommodation.

You can also apply them toward merchandise and tickets to various events and attractions or donate them to charity.

One of Air Miles’ most notable features is that you can use your miles directly when shopping at certain partner retailers.

The loyalty program also provides an abundance of special offers year-round, which you can use to boost your miles earning power.

Did You Know?

If you collect 5,000 or more Air Miles within one year, you qualify for Onyx status, which will provide you with extra perks, such better deals on flight and merchandise rewards.

Earn Rates

The number of miles you can earn varies depending on which Air Miles partners you shop at.

Generally, you receive 1 mile for every $20 you spend.

However, some partners will reward you with 1 mile for just $5 worth of purchases.

Some retailers offer additional ways to earn more.

For example, if you regularly fill gas at Shell and have their app you’ll receive a unique offer to earn bonus miles whenever you make a purchase at one of their locations.

Using an Air Miles credit card when shopping is a great way to boost your earn rate.

Your earn rate will vary depending on the credit card brand you use and the spending category to which a purchase belongs. 

You can generally expect to collect 1 mile for every $10 to $12 you spend using an Air Miles-branded credit card.

However, if the purchase is at an Air Miles partner store, you’ll earn 2 to 3 miles. 

Redemption Rates

Air Miles utilizes a dynamic pricing model, meaning the number of miles needed for redemption will vary based on your desired reward. 

The dynamic pricing feature primarily impacts Dream Rewards.

For example, if you’re looking to book a flight using your miles, the number you’ll need to redeem will depend on your destination and departure date.

Under the Air Miles Cash Rewards program, the redemption rate is 95 cash miles to $10 at participating stores.

As with most loyalty programs, travel-related purchase offers the best deals in terms of conversion rates with Air Miles.

Merchandise and gift cards usually provide less bang for your buck.

Are you primarily garnering Air Miles to redeem for flights? If so, Air Miles provides this handy calculator that estimates how many miles you’ll need for your destination.

Air Miles Credit Cards

Two financial institutions offer an Air Miles co-branded card: BMO and AMEX.

Here are three credit cards that can help elevate your Air Miles earning power:

BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard

The BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard is the card to get if you’re goal is to maximize your miles earn rate.

Using this card, you’ll earn 3 miles for every $12 you spend at Air Miles partners, 2 miles for every $12 you spend on groceries, and 1 mile for $12 on all other purchases. 

In addition to the stellar earn rates, you also receive exceptional perks, such as discounted airport lounge access, concierge service, car rental discounts, and extensive insurance coverage.

American Express Air Miles Platinum Credit Card

The American Express Air Miles Platinum card allows you to collect 1 mile for every $5 you spend on essentials like gas, groceries, and transit and 1 mile for every $10 you spend on all other purchases.

The card also provides you with access to various benefits, including exclusive offers related to dining, shopping, and entertainment through American Express Experiences.

You also get travel and purchase insurance and the chance to earn plenty of bonus miles courtesy of the card’s Annual Travel Redemption Benefit.

What is Aeroplan?

Aeroplan is a loyalty program created and owned by Air Canada, Canada’s premier airline.

It operated briefly as a subsidiary of the airline before being reacquired in January 2019.

As a member, you earn Aeroplan points when you spend on Air Canada flights (and its 50+ partner airlines) and other travel-related purchases, like car rentals, hotels, and vacation packages.

You also garner points when you shop with Aeroplan retail partners, of which there are over 200.

A convenient way to access many of these retailers is through Aeroplan’s eStore.

Like most loyalty programs, using a credit card is the best way to rack up Aeroplan points quickly.

Over a dozen Aeroplan-branded credit cards are available that will allow you to do exactly that.

Aeroplan is a flexible loyalty program with many redemption options.

You can apply your Aeroplan points toward a diverse range of domestic and international flights with Air Canada and any of its partner airlines. 

You can also use them to cover a wide range of travel expenses, like accommodation and car rentals, and even flight upgrades, such as in-flight Wi-fi and premium seats. 

Other redemption options include merchandise, gift cards, concert tickets, and charitable donations.

The new, refreshed Aeroplan is revered in Canada for providing excellent rewards, especially travel-related ones.

It’s also straightforward to understand and allows members to collect points in various ways through a wide range of partner brands.

You can even pool your points with family members and friends.

Earn Rates

The number of Aeroplan points you can expect to earn depends on the type of purchase you make and where you make it. 

Regarding flights, you’ll earn points based on the flying distance – the further your destination, the more points you’ll collect.

The earn rate also depends on the class fare you book.

For example, you’ll receive 150% of the miles flown if you purchase a business fare.

The same earning model applies to Air Canada’s partner airlines. 

For accommodation, you collect points based on a flat or set rate per dollar spent.

Typically, the earning rate is 250 to 500 points per eligible stay or 2 points per dollar spent at a partner brand.

Aeroplan-affiliated car rental agencies offer between 50 and 500 points per rental.

Retail partner brands generally provide between 1 and 5 points per dollar spent.

There are also opportunities to nab extra points through various promotional offers.

With an Aeroplan credit card, you can accelerate your points earning rate.

Aeroplan co-branded cards will net you up to 1.5 for every $1 you spend on select categories, such as gas and groceries.

Some also offer 2 to 3 points per dollar for any eligible purchases you make through Air Canada.

Redemption Rates

Aeroplan is primarily an airline loyalty program, so it’s worth focusing on flight redemption rates. 

Aeroplan employs a dynamic pricing model under four zones: North America, Atlantic, Pacific, and South America.

Every seat on every Air Canada flight is eligible for redemption.

There are no restrictions or blackout dates, and you can also apply your points on any of Air Canada’s partner airlines. 

The number of points you’ll need to gather for your desired flight is based on several factors, such as your departure city, destination, seat class, and miles flown.

For example, the more miles your flight covers, the more points you need to redeem.

One way to get acquainted with the flight redemption rates is to browse the Aeroplan Flight Reward Chart.

You can use these details to determine the most cost-effective flight destination, route, and class fare.

You’ll need to collect between 6,000 and 250,000 points depending on your travel plans.

Alternatively, you can use Aeroplan’s flight redemption calculator to get a more accurate estimate.

When booking a flight, you must still pay any taxes and applicable third-party fees, but you can also use your points to cover these costs.

However, no surcharges apply when you purchase a flight using your points.

Redemption rates for other rewards also vary widely.

Aeroplan Credit Cards

Currently, three financial institutions offer an Aeroplan co-branded card: TD, CIBC, and AMEX.

Here are three Aeroplan credit cards to consider if you’re looking to earn points fast:

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card

TD’s Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card is the ideal credit card if you’re looking to garner plenty of points from gas and grocery spending. 

As a cardholder, you earn 1.5 points on gas, groceries, and eligible Air Canada purchases and 1 point on all other purchases.

In addition, you’ll benefit from an assortment of lavish perks through Visa’s Infinite program.

American Express Cobalt Card

The American Express Cobalt Card earns you Membership Rewards (MR) rather than Aeroplan points.

Using this card, you receive 3 points per $1 spent on streaming services, 2 points per $1 spent on travel, and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.

What’s so appealing about this card is that you can transfer any MR points you collect to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio.

As a result, the Aeroplan earn rate on AMEX’s Cobalt card eclipses many of the top Aeroplan-branded cards.

Did You Know

Aeroplan accepts points transfers from several loyalty programs, including Best Western Rewards, Wyndham Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy.

How to Choose Between Air Miles and Aeroplan

It may seem daunting to select between the two loyalty programs as each offers excellent value in different ways. 

However, the choice largely comes down to your lifestyle and shopping habits.

What you intend to do with your reward points should ultimately dictate your decision.

Air Miles would be a good match for you if you regularly shop at Air Miles retail partners and value a diverse range of redemption options.

Enticing promotional deals are readily available in-store and online to help you collect miles on your everyday spending. 

Air Miles is also well-suited if you travel primarily in North America rather than far corners of the world and fly with airlines other than Air Canada.

Aeroplan is a good fit if you’re an avid traveller who flies routinely with Air Canada and wants to snag the best deals on a wide range of flights and other travel-related purchases.

Still, it’s always vital to consider the credit cards that each program offers.

Explore the co-branded cards affiliated with each loyalty program and compare their earn rates and perks.

Lady waiting for flight booked with Aeroplan

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is Aeroplan and Air Miles the same thing?
  • Can I convert Air Miles to Aeroplan miles?
  • Can I use Air Miles with Air Canada?
Mark Gregorski

Mark is passionate about educating people on how the financial markets work and providing tips to help them better manage their money. Mark holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and has more than a decade of experience as an accountant.

Outside of writing and finance, he enjoys playing poker, going to the gym, composing music, and learning about digital marketing.