AIR MILES reward program is one of Canada’s largest loyalty program. It has over 11 million accounts and a coalition of sponsors including more than 200 retailer brands, hundreds of online retailers, and two credit card partners. AIR MILES Shops is an online platform that allows you to make the best of this network and boost your savings without going to the store, which will help you save a lot of money in the coming age of e-commerce. We’ll show you how to make the best of it using the AIR MILES Shops website.
Many expected the COVID-19 crisis to bring important changes to the world economy. One of the most important changes that have already taken place and will continue to do so in the coming years is the exponential growth of e-commerce.
Many retailers had already been investing in their online business, and the growing popularity of online discount sites such as Rakuten shows that discounts and loyalty programs are an important competitive tool for your business.
Approximately two-thirds of Canadian households already participate in the AIR MILES loyalty program through over eleven million user accounts. You or someone you know is probably collecting AIR MILES on purchases at participating merchants as we speak. However, although you might be aware that these points can be redeemed against flights with specific airlines, you should also know that you can get rewards in many other products and benefits, including apparel, books, electronics, supplies, and even financial services through AIR MILES Shops.
Keep reading and we’ll explain to you how to get the best online value from your AIR MILES using airmilesshops.ca
AIR MILES, The Loyalty Program
Canadian rewards program AIR MILES is operated by LoyaltyOne, which in turn belongs to Alliance Data. However, the intellectual property associated with the AIR MILES name and logo belongs to Aimia, which also owns Air Mile’s MAIN competitor, Aeroplan.
AIR MILES has a complete and diverse roster of partners for your everyday expenses. Here’s the full Sponsor Directory, but here are some of the stores where you can collect AIR MILES from:
- Apparel: Adidas, Aldo, Amazon.ca, Footlocker, Gap, Hudson’s Bay, J. Crew, Nike, Sport Chek, Roots
- Auto: Alamo, Budget, Jiffy Lube, National, Shell
- Grocery, Drugstore, Beverage: Foodland, IGA, Metro, Sobeys, Rexall, Pharmasave, LCBO
- Tech: Apple, Canon, Dell, Dyson, Microsoft, Staples, Telus
- Travel: Booking.com, Best Western, Expedia.ca, FlightHub.com, Holiday Inn, priceline.com
Note that some of them only participate in certain provinces or territories. The Directory is a useful tool to sort through categories and this kind of geographical differences.
What are AIR MILES?
AIR MILES are points that consumers can collect to redeem more than 1,200 reward choices. They can get the best value for their AIR MILES when using them for travel, but the options include entertainment, home electronics, gift cards and discounts at stores.
One important point to clear up is that AIR MILES don’t expire, but accounts can go dormant and their balance lost if the user doesn’t earn or spend any points in 24 consecutive months.
How Do You Collect AIR MILES?
You can collect AIR MILES from sponsors:
- Buying AIR MILES directly from airmiles.ca.
- Using an AIR MILES credit card.
- Spending at AIR MILES participating partner stores.
Some of these partner stores have their online platforms where you can also earn AIRMILES. To do this, you’ll need to access them through airmilesshops.ca
Dream Miles vs. Cash Miles
Since 2012, members can choose to collect one of two types of AIR MILES, Dream Miles (which are the default setting), Cash Miles, or a combination of both.
Dream Miles are the original AIR MILES, which can be redeemed for experiences, including everything related to travel, such as flights, hotels, car rentals and even travel insurance, as well as special events like concerts and some electronic products. On the other hand, Cash Miles can be used to get discounts on everyday in-store purchases, mostly in grocery stores and pharmacies.
Members can access their airmiles.ca account by logging in and then decide the Dreams-Cash Miles combination they wish to earn. Their Cash and Dream Miles will be displayed at the top of the page when logged into their accounts. It's worth noting that, once earned, Dream and Cash Miles can’t be exchanged one for the other.
AIR MILES Shops Canada
Airmilesshops.ca is an online shopping portal that allows AIR MILES collectors to get AIR Miles at hundreds of popular, major brand name online stores in Canada and the U.S.
All stores ship to Canada and many stores offer a special Canadian checkout section where purchases are priced in CAD. Customers will earn 1 Mile for every $20 spent, before exclusions, at the majority of AIR MILES Shops participating sites (not applicable at eBay).
Needless to say, in order to collect MILES at AIR MILES Shops, you’ll have to be a registered collector.
Shopping with airmilesshops.ca
- Sign in to airmilesshops.ca with the Collector Number on your AIR MILES Collectors Card.
- Browse through the participating online stores and special offers on airmilesshops.ca.
- Click “Shop Now” and you’ll be directed to the online store’s website when you are ready to shop.
- Complete your purchase on the online store’s website.
The number of miles that you can earn from shopping typically depends on the partner, but in most cases, you’ll get 1 reward mile for every $20 spent. If you use an AIR MILES credit card, you’ll rack up even more points when with an AIR MILES credit card.
Keep in mind that you’ll earn AIR MILES only on the base price of your purchase, excluding shipping, handling, duties, and taxes and that the AIR MILES you’ll earn may vary depending on each of the participant stores’ conditions.
Multiply Your Miles with a Credit Card
AIR MILES credit cards allow you to earn points whenever you swipe, insert or tap your card. If you buy at airmilesshops.ca participating stores, you’ll be earning at least x2 the points, so your AIR MILES will begin to add up pretty quickly.
AIR MILES Shops Offers
Individual stores participating in AIR MILES Shops frequently launch Bonus Offers that will allow you to get additional miles. You can identify them by the purple badges on offers and store tiles throughout the site. In addition to this, a couple of times a year they also have sitewide multiplier events, which can be stacked with individual online store offers. These offers combined AIR MILES credit card benefits can give you above x10 the AIR MILES you’d get for your regular purchases!
One useful feature is the airmilesshops.ca Assistant, a Google Chrome extension that simplifies the shopping experience as the user doesn’t have to log into the AIR MILES Shops website every time he wants to go online shopping.
After downloading and installing it, airmilesshops.ca Assistant will show a blue icon on your toolbar when you are signed in and ready to get Miles. You don’t have to do anything else, or even access the stores from the AIR MILES Shops site, you can just visit the stores directly, shop and you’ll be earning MILES. It is worth noting, however, that some stores are unavailable through the Assistant.
Redeeming your AIR MILES
Redeeming Cash Miles
You can redeem your Cash Miles at participating stores. The minimum redeemable is 95 Cash Miles, which will be good for $10 at checkout. Increments must also be for the same $10, up to a maximum of $750 (7,125 Cash Miles) per day (gift cards and near-cash products are excluded and other exclusions may also apply); maximum of $60 per transaction (570 Cash Miles), up to 5 eligible transactions totaling $300 per day at Shell.
If you want to to use your AIR MILES in a brick-and-mortar store (Cash Miles only), just let the cashier know, and/or use your collector card or app, and ask to cash in on your points at checkout.
You can also go to airmiles.ca and click on the Rewards tab, where you can redeem your Cash Miles for eVouchers that will be sent to your email and can be used at both affiliated stores’ locations and internet stores.
Redeeming Dream Miles
Dream Miles are more valuable than Cash Miles but they can only be redeemed online. You must
- Log in to the program’s website.
- Browse the travel portal or the Dream Rewards Catalogue for over 1,000 reward options, including Electronics, travel, events, among others.
- Select the reward that you’d like to redeem your Dream Miles for.
- Confirm your purchase.
You can also use your Dream Miles on thousands of redtag.ca package vacations and cruise bookings. In this case, 909 Dream Miles will get you a $100 discount, and the good thing is that you’ll continue to earn $1 for every $20 spent.
However, Dream Miles collectors must be wary of saving them for too long as they expire if unused after five years.
AIR MILES’ Value
The real value of AIR MILES can be calculated by dividing the price of an article or experience by the number of AIR MILES required to redeem it as a reward. This measure is called ‘Cent Per Mile’ (CPM):
Price/Miles = CPM
How Much are Cash Miles Worth?
Cash Miles can always be redeemed for discounts of $10 per 95 miles at participating stores.
So, for Cash Miles, the CPM will always be the same: 10 / 95 = 10.52. So, if you are planning on spending your AIR MILES on anything below this CPM, the intelligent choice would be to set up your account to collect Cash Miles to get discounts in your everyday purchases.
The Value of Dream Miles
However, Dream Miles can get a little bit complicated. Depending on the product for which you want to redeem them, the participating store, the time of the year, and others, your Dream Miles could be worth more or less in real money.
Now, we’ll save you some time: In general, the best value for your DREAM MILES (above 10.5 CPM) is flights, car rentals, attractions, events, and hotels or vacation packages. In these cases, Dream Miles tend to have a higher CPM compared to the 10.5 CPM you could get for your Cash Miles. This makes sense, after all, AIR MILES was originally a loyalty program originally created for travelers.
In brief, consider carefully what’s the best Dream-Cash share for you according to your purchase or travel habits and set up your account accordingly in order to maximize your rewards.
Flying on Dream Miles
AIR MILES calculates flight redemption rates based on distance, the season, the airline and even the airport you’re using. You’ll get the best value for your Dream Miles if you redeem them for short-haul domestic flights in the low season with airlines like WestJet or Porter and from smaller airports like Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport or Abbotsford International Airport, in BC.
It is worth noting that flight choices will likely be more limited than they would be if you were to buy the tickets outright on the market. This is because airlines set aside a limited number of seats for loyalty program travelers.
Two features of the AIR MILES program are particularly inconvenient:
The first one is the two-tiered rewards structure and the fact that the different types of Miles can’t be exchanged. So, if a member has a different need or simply changes his mind, there is no way to adapt what he’s earned to this new preference.
The other problem with AIR MILES is that high-value reward options are dwindling since the program’s introduction in 2011. So, it’s getting harder to find interesting rewards to redeem your Dream Miles in case you are not a regular flyer.
The Bottom Line
AIR MILES offers an interesting combination of discounts for frequent domestic travelers' needs and everyday purchases. However, it is somewhat restrictive for other kinds of users. If that’s your case, you should consider other options, especially if you are an international traveler pondering credit card benefits.
Airmilesshops.ca, and especially its google extension, are useful resources for collecting points comfortably from your computer, tablet or mobile phone in everyday purchases. Taking into account how e-commerce is expected to grow after the COVID-19 emergency in early 2020, this kind of tools will become increasingly important for customers.
Nonetheless, changes are coming in the travel and leisure industry which will especially shake airlines and restrict this kind of loyalty program. AIR MILES will have to broaden or improve its rewards in other sectors in order to continue being relevant.