It’s much easier to accumulate points and miles in the states, than in Canada, unfortunately, and while we used to have the best Star Alliance FF program, it’s undeniable that Aeroplan are absolutely or even relatively worth less than they were before to other currencies.
While there are still decent redemptions to be had, the constraints are so limiting that I’ve been looking for other mile earning options in Canada other than Aeroplan, and unfortunately in Star Alliance, our earning capabilities with United MileagePlus is severely limited, which is arguably the best miles to redeem on Star Alliance metal. It remains simple to collect Aeroplan, but you should consider other currencies whenever you can. This is because diversifying against further devaluations to any program is very important. Furthermore, the values of miles have shifted so that in most cases, you receive a better value earning other stuff than earning Aeroplan.
And unfortunately (or fortunately), Aeroplan has also been one of the most accessible programs – until recently the leading credit card product in Canada from CIBC partnered exclusively with them; as well, American Express (both Canada and US) partners with Aeroplan. Here are a brief overview of several types of frequent flyer miles that you should consider in place of Aeroplan. These following posts are split into chunks (I considered doing it in one post but then my post was over 3,000 words!!) so I’ve considered their ease of earning, ease of redemption, amount of fuel surcharges, redemption levels, potential for aspirational redemptions, and deals and tricks possible for each program through a completely arbitrary 7-point scale where 1 is the worst and 7 is the best.
For example I would rate a program an arbitrary 7 for earning if there were consistent 100,000 signup bonus credit card offers and the grand slam. So generally no program I think will get a seven. On the redemptions side the program will get a 1 if they have award levels like this (from China Southern Skyteam Award Chart). Look at that chart – only 121,000 km’s for a business class award between Hong Kong and Singapore!
Obviously the programs that I will be reviewing are not going to be as extreme so most programs I think will fall somewhere between 2-5. Note that this is an arbitrary scale and your opinions may differ as we all use miles differently. These ranking are also only relevant to Canadians. The information will (on redemptions) but collecting Aeroplan in US versus in Canada two completely different situations.
Here is the baseline for all the programs:
Aeroplan (Air Canada)
Ease of earning: 5 (out of 7)
- Feasibility of purchasing miles outright: Low
- Credit and Hotel partners: High
- Other Partners: High
<sEase of redemption: 4 (out of 7)
- Fuel surcharges: Moderate
- Partner Award Space: Moderate
- Deals/Tricks: Low
- Redemption Levels: Moderate-High
- Flexibility in itineraries: Low
- Usability: High
- Cost of redeeming: Moderate