Way back in 2012 we published a feature and infographic that compared how various credit and charge cards in Canada earned Aeroplan miles. The last time it was updated was 2014 and a lot has changed since then! We've seen cards that were on that list disappear, cards go through earn rate changes and most recently seeing the entire Aeroplan program revamped and relaunched in November 2020. It is only fitting that we provide a new and revised version of that feature as well since there have been so many changes in those 7 years. You can check out that ancient article here if you like!
I will approach this new version of the feature a bit differently by breaking down the spend categories and showing what each card earns in those categories. I will not provide a cumulative spend comparison like the first version of the feature as everyone's spend varies so much and with so many different possible combinations I don't feel it would be a good representation like how we do it for cash back credit cards. Instead I would recommend looking the categories that represent your personal spending the best and use those to guide you to the card or cards that will earn you the most Aeroplan points. I do want to stress though that earn is only one part of the equation when it comes to choosing a payment card for the Aeroplan program. You'll also want to look at benefits and insurance, whether you want a card that will earn Aeroplan points directly or another card that allows you to convert to Aeroplan thus giving you the flexibility in choosing from multiple programs. In the end this feature should be used as one part of your education about the program and in helping the decision making process when selecting a new card.
First off, here is a list of all the consumer cards in Canada that provide the ability to earn Aeroplan points:
For cards that are not direct Air Canada Aeroplan co-brand cards, namely American Express' Gold, Cobalt, Marriott and Platinum Cards as well as the Best Western card from MBNA the points earned on those cards are not Aeroplan points. Rather they earn points in separate programs and those programs allow you to convert to Aeroplan. In the case of the Cobalt card it has to be a double conversion from Membership Rewards Select to Marriott Bonvoy to Air Canada Aeroplan. The remainder of the cards are a direct conversion. In the tables below the earn rates displayed take into account any and all conversion ratios to show to amount of Aeroplan points you would earn on these card per dollar spent.
Now, let's get right into it! Here we look at the various categories of earning on these cards. Each tab is presented with the cards ranked from highest earn to lowest earn. Tip: Hover your cursor over the card art to see the full card name
For Drug Store Purchases all cards will match the All other spend tab except for the American Express Gold Rewards card which earns 2 points per dollar on drug store purchases.
For Transit/Taxi purchases all cards will match the All other spend tab except for the American Express Cobalt Card as it earns the equivalent of 0.8 Aeroplan points per dollar spent (which can be boosted to ??)
For Best Western Purchases all cards will match the Travel tab except the MBNA Best Western Reward Mastercard as it will earn 1 Aeroplan Point per dollar spent.
For Marriott purchases all cards will match the Travel tab except the American Express Marriott Bonvoy Card as it will earn 1.67 Aeroplan Points per dollar spent.
** The Cobalt & Marriott Boosts
You'll see in the tabs above we show that the earn rate on the American Express Cobalt Card can be boosted. Here's why. In the earn rates we take the Cobalt earn rate (1, 2 or 5 points per dollar) and multiply that rate by 1.2 to get the card's conversion ratio to Marriott points (5:6) and then divide by 3 to get the Aeroplan Miles you would earn when you convert those Marriott points to Aeroplan. The boost comes in when you convert Marriott Bonvoy points at the magic spot which is 60,000 points. At that level and every 60,000 points after they will throw in an additional 5,000 miles. This means 60,000 points actually translates to 25,000 Aeroplan Miles, a 25% boost hence you get The Cobalt Boost. For the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card it is more simple, the boost is simply that 25% increase!
It was fun to put together this piece again after so many years! Yes it is different from version 1.0 in that we don't look at a cumulative spend model but I do feel this new format should give you enough guidance simply based on your own spending habits. Back when version 1.0 came out the best card for earning Aeroplan Miles (it was still miles at that time) was the American Express Gold Rewards Card and time hasn't changed too much, it is still one of the strongest earning cards for Aeroplan. It takes or ties for top spot in three of the spend categories (plus drug stores) and fares well in all the rest. I would say that the Gold Rewards Card along with its bigger brother the Platinum Card and the American Express Aeroplan Reserve cards are the best cards for earning Aeroplan points. In general you see Amex cards topping almost every category which holds true to the brand's reputation of being some of the most rewarding. The trade off is lower acceptance rates when compared to Visa and Mastercard so ideally if you are only about earning Aeroplan points your best bet is to have one of the Amex cards and then a TD or CIBC Aeroplan Visa card in your wallet. And what about Mastercard? Might as well get the Best Western card as well even though it earns very little Aeroplan points but if you shop at Costco you know they only take Mastercard and the only MC to earn Aeroplan points is the MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard.
I also recommend checking out The New Air Canada Aeroplan Program All the resources you need to learn more about the new program.
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pts icon used with permission from Air Canada