Aeroplan, the rewards program of Air Canada, is offering up to 55,000 bonus miles when you transfer points from select hotel partners between July 11 and August 14. This works out to a potential 27.5% bonus and could be worthwhile for some travelers. I generally prefer to redeem miles through United Airlines for more flexible award routing rules and lower fees, but Aeroplan tends to have lower award redemption rates on some routes, particularly long-haul flights in first class. Because they’re both Star Alliance partners they generally have access to the same award availability.
For example, a one-way first class award on Lufthansa between the U.S. and Europe would cost 110,000 United miles and few fees. The same award booked through Aeroplan will see the addition of a couple hundred dollars for the carrier surcharge, but it’s only 70,000 miles.
(Avianca LifeMiles is another good option for Star Alliance awards with cheap awards and no carrier surcharges. However, it’s much more difficult to acquire LifeMiles without buying them from the airline. Aeroplan represents a compromise for those people trying to redeem miles and points they already have.)
This is a tiered promotion, so the bonuses will increase as you transfer more points and will not always match the maximum offer. Your best bet will be to transfer an amount just over a certain threshold.
For example, you can get 2,000 bonus miles when you transfer between 10,000 and 19,999 miles into Aeroplan. If you transfer exactly 10,000 miles you’ll receive a 20% bonus. If you transfer 19,999 miles you get a bonus of roughly 10%.
Although the very best bonus of 27.5% is available when you transfer 200,000 miles, I wouldn’t worry about trying to maximize the offer if you don’t need so many miles. You can do quite well by transferring just 100,00 miles and getting 25,000 bonus miles — a 25% bonus.
You can make more than one transfer from the same or different partners during the promotional period. The combined transfer amount will be considered when determining your bonus. Also note that transfers from American Express Membership Rewards — my favorite way to transfer points to Aeroplan — are excluded from this promotion. Only the following transfer partners are eligible; I’ve also provided their transfer rates:
- Starwood Preferred Guest (1-to-1)
- Marriott Rewards (5-to-1)
- Hilton HHonors (10-to-1)
- Club Carlson (10-to-1)
- Best Western (5-to-1)
- Wyndham Rewards (5-to-1)
- Coast Rewards (1-to-1)
- Choice Privileges (5-to-1)
- Le Club Accor Hotels (2-to-1)
- Shangri-La Golden Circle (1-to-1)
Although I would normally shy away from transferring SPG Starpoints because they’re so valuable for other purposes, in this case they do offer one of the better transfer ratios. For example, I value Starpoints at about 2.5 cents each, so I’m essentially paying 2.5 cents per Aeroplan mile and then discounting that by the appropriate bonus. If I were to transfer Hilton HHonors points, which I value at about 0.4 cents each, I’d be paying 4 cents per mile.
You should also consider transferring from programs like Marriott and SPG that offer a combination of award nights and airline miles. These can be especially attractive because you don’t give up the chance to use your points for free nights, but you still get some miles that count toward a transfer bonus.
Starwood portrays this as a discount on the free nights. However, in my analysis of SPG Nights and Flights awards, I described how — if you keep the cost of the free nights the same as a normal redemption — it is equivalent to getting a discount on the miles. Stack that discount with Aeroplan’s transfer bonus and you end up with a very good deal.