The American Express AeroplanPlus Card: A Review

This post is about the Regular American Express® Aeroplanplus® Card. You can read our separate posts on the other three members of this card family: the AeroplanPlus Gold Card, the AeroplanPlus Platinum Card and the AeroplanPlus Reserve Card. You can also read our post on the comparison of all four Aeroplan cards here, where you’ll find all the information you need to choose the one that’s right for you.

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The American Express Aeroplan Card, also known as the AeroplanPlus Card, is a loyalty rewards card that earns miles per every dollar of card purchase, and adds them directly to your Aeroplan balance, without the need to convert your reward points.

It’s a great and easy way for you, as a Canadian or a resident of Canada, to build up your Aeroplan balance, and take advantage of Air Canada’s loyalty program to gain access to the more than 1,300 destinations that the mentioned airline and the Star Alliance offer, at a fraction of the price. Simply put, it’s a great way to save money, fly cheaper and enjoy life abroad without any hassle.

Read on to learn all you need to know about the regular AeroplanPlus card, what its most important features and benefits are, and how these benefits counterweight the annual fee. To help you navigate through this post, I’ve broken it down in the following sections:

Basic Features & Benefits

The “Regular” American Express Aeroplan card is the most basic of all four members of the family. Consequently, you would expect things like not-too-great benefits but at a low annual fee, and that’s pretty much what it offers.

Here are the main features and benefits you’ll find with the Amex AeroplanPlus card:

Welcome Bonus5,000 miles (after charging $500 in purchases to the card)
Annual Fee$60
Additional card$20
Miles Earned Per $1 Spent On Partner Brands2+  miles (1 for the card purchase and 1 or more for the partner brand)
Miles Earned Per $1 Spent On All Other Purchases1 mile
American Express Invites
Travel Coverage$250,000 Travel Accidents Insurance
Travel Emergency Medical Assistance
Purchase CoverageBuyer’s Assurance Protection PlanPurchase Protection Plan
EligibilityCanadian residents with an account in good standing
Type of CardCharge card (not a credit card)
APR30% purchases30% cash withdrawals

Let’s break it all down:

Welcome Bonus

When you think about signing up for an American Express card for the first time, you immediately look at the welcome bonus because American Express has always been generous in that department. This bonus alone is usually enough to offset the annual fee, and this is not the exception, as you’ll soon discover (read on). The only downside is that you’ll only get it once, for obvious reasons.

If you look at the welcome bonus on the American Express Aeroplan card, which is 5,000 miles, you could think that it’s not so bad. However, when you consider that the best way to spend your miles is in flights, and that the minimum any flight will cost is 12,500 miles, you’ll quickly realize that you won’t be able to do much with the welcome bonus until you use your card a lot.

To give you an idea, in the best of cases you would need to charge a minimum of $3,750 worth of purchases at one of the 150 partner brands, or $7,500 in any other purchases to earn the extra 7,500 miles needed to be able to afford the cheapest fixed-mileage flight reward.

Even so, the bonus does give you a good head start to be able to redeem your first flight reward so, as always, a bonus is still a bonus.

Annual Fee

Annual fee is another big issue when you consider signing up to a credit card, especially if you’re considering it for the long term. The $60 fee on the American Express Aeroplan card is accessible for most Canadians, and, at least for the first year, is a good deal. This is because the welcome bonus, along with the other benefits, will outweigh the $60 and let you come out winning in the end (keep reading for more details).

This happens to be the second lowest annual fee of any Aeroplan miles rewards card, anywhere,

So, if you’re looking for the lowest fee on an Aeroplan card that’ll give you some of the great benefits that come with American Express credit cards, the AeroplanPlus card is the one for you.

Want to give it a try?

Miles Earning Rate

As we mentioned above, with the Amex AeroplanPlus card you’ll earn miles per every $1 in purchases, that’ll go directly to your Aeroplan balance. When signing up to the AeroplanPlus card, you’ll also sign up (if you’re not already a member) for an Aeroplan account, and you’ll receive your own Aeroplan number (which is not the same as the AeroplanPlus card number). If you give your Aeroplan number when shopping at any one of the 150 Aeroplan partner brands, you’ll immediately earn additional miles per every $1 in that purchase.

What does all this mean?

You’ll earn miles twice if you use your AeroplanPlus card at a partner brand.

That’s once for the AeroplanPlus Card purchase at the card’s normal earning rate of 1x, and once for the partner brand, at Aeroplan’s earning rate (which is usually more than 1 mile per $1 in purchase). In the end, you’ll get 2+ miles per $1 in purchases at a partner brand, which is a fantastic earnings rate.

You’ll find the complete list of Aeroplan’s partners in the following table. For details regarding miles earning rates, promotions and more visit Aeroplan’s partners list here.

Airlines
AIR CANADAADRIA AIRWAYSAEGEAN AIRLINESAIR CHINAAIR CREEBECAIR INDIAAIR NEW ZEALANDANAASIANA AIRLINESAUSTRIAN AIRLINESAVIANCAAVIANCA BRAZILBEARSKIN AIRLINESBRUSSELS AIRLINES

CANADIAN NORTHCATHAY DRAGONCATHAY PACIFICCOPA AIRLINESCROATIA AIRLINESEGYPTAIRETHIOPIAN AIRLINESEUROWINGSEVA AIRFIRST AIRGOLJUNEYAO AIRLINESLOT POLISH AIRLINESLUFTHANSA

OLYMPIC AIRSCANDINAVIAN AIRLINESSHENZHEN AIRLINESSINGAPORE AIRLINESSOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYSSTAR ALLIANCESWISSTAP AIR PORTUGALTHAI AIRWAYSTURKISH AIRLINESUNITED AIRLINES
Hotels and Lodgings
LE CLUB ACCORHOTELSAC HOTELS BY MARRIOTT®ADAGIOADAGIO ACCESSALOFT HOTELSAMERICINN® BY WYNDHAMANGSANAASCEND COLLECTION®BANYAN TREEBaymont® by WyndhamBEST WESTERN INTERNATIONALCAMBRIA SUITES®CANDLEWOOD SUITES®CASSIACHELSEA HOTEL, TORONTOCHOICE HOTELS®CLARIONCOAST HOTELSCOMFORT INN®COMFORT SUITES®CORDIS HOTELS AND RESORTSCONRAD HOTELS AND RESORTS™COUNTRY INN & SUITES BY RADISSONCOURTYARD BY MARRIOTT®CROWNE PLAZA®Days Inn® by WyndhamDELTA HOTELS AND RESORTSDAZZLER® BY WYNDHAMDOLCE HOTELS AND RESORTS® BY WYNDHAMDOUBLETREE BY HILTON(TM)EATON HKEcono Lodge®ELEMENT HOTELSEMBASSY SUITES HOTELS®ESPLENDOR® BOUTIQUE HOTELS BY WYNDHAMEVEN® HOTELSFAIRFIELD INN & SUITES BY MARRIOTT®FAIRMONT HOTELS & RESORTSFOUR POINTS BY SHERATONGAYLORD HOTELS®GOUVERNEUR HOTELSGRAND MERCUREHAMPTON BY HILTON™HAWTHORN SUITES® BY WYNDHAM

HILTON HOTELS & RESORTS®CANOPY BY HILTON™CURIO – A COLLECTION BY HILTON™HILTON GARDEN INN™HILTON GRAND VACATIONS™HILTON HONORS™HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS®HOLIDAY INN® HOTELS AND RESORTSHOME2 SUITES BY HILTON™HOMEWOOD SUITES BY HILTON™HOTEL INDIGO™HOWARD JOHNSONHUALUXE® HOTELS & RESORTSIBISIBIS STYLESINTERCONTINENTAL®HOTELS AND RESORTSJW Marriott®KERRY HOTELSKIMPTON® HOTELS AND RESTAURANTSTHE LANGHAM HOTELS AND RESORTSLA QUINTA® BY WYNDHAMLE MERIDIENMAINSTAY SUITES®MAMA SHELTERMARRIOTT AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION®MARRIOTT EDITION®Marriott Executive Apartments®MARRIOTT HOTELS®MARRIOTT BONVOY™MARRIOTT VACATION CLUB®MERCUREMGALLERYMICROTEL® BY WYNDHAM21C MUSEUM HOTELNOVOTELPAN PACIFIC HOTELS & RESORTSPARK INN® BY RADISSONPARK PLAZA® HOTELS & RESORTSPARKROYAL HOTELS & RESORTSPULLMANQUALITY®RADISSON®

RADISSON BLU®RADISSON RED®RAFFLESRAMADA® BY WYNDHAMREGENT HOTELS®Renaissance® HotelsRESIDENCE INN BY MARRIOTT®RIXOSROCKETMILESRODEWAY INN®THE SEBELSHANGRI-LA HOTELS AND RESORTSSHERATON HOTELS AND RESORTSSLEEP INN®SOFITEL HOTELS & RESORTSSOFITEL LEGENDSPLASH BEACH RESORT, MAI KHAO, PHUKETSpringHill Suites by Marriott®STAYBRIDGE SUITES® BY HOLIDAY INNST. REGIS HOTELS & RESORTSSUBURBAN EXTENDED STAY HOTEL®SUPER 8® BY WYNDHAMSWISSOTELTHALASSA SEA & SPATHE LUXURY COLLECTIONTownePlace Suites by Marriott®TRADEMARK COLLECTION® BY WYNDHAMTRADERS HOTELSTRAVELODGE® BY WYNDHAMTRYP® BY WYNDHAMWALDORF ASTORIA HOTELS & RESORTS™WESTIN HOTELS & RESORTSW HOTELSWINGATE® BY WYNDHAMWYNDHAM HOTELS AND RESORTS
Car Rental
AVISBUDGETPAYLESS® CAR RENTAL


Parking
AÉROPORTS DE MONTRÉALPARK & JET CALGARYPARK’N FLYVANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT PARKING


Other Partners and Online Retailers

Aircanada.comHOME HARDWARECOSTCOMagellan’s



Partner Online retailers Accessed exclusively through the online Aeroplan e-store
AEROPLAN ESTOREALDOAMAZON.CAAPPLE STORE CANADABANANA REPUBLICBASS PRO SHOPSBLOOMINGDALE’SBOGSCHAPTERS.INDIGO.CACLEARLYCLUB MONACOCROCSDELL CANADAEBAY.CAFOOTLOCKERGAP CANADAHUDSON’S BAYINDOCHINO

LANDS’ ENDL.L.BEANLUISAVIAROMAMACY’SMICROSOFT STORENATIONAL GEOGRAPHICNORTON BY SYMANTECOLD NAVYRAKUTEN KOBOREVOLVECLOTHING.COMROOTSROSETTA STONESAKS.COMSEPHORASHOES.COMSHOP DISNEYSIERRA TRADING POSTSTRAWBERRYNET

THE BODY SHOPTOMS CANADATSCUNDER ARMOURWEIGHTWATCHERS.CAWELL.CAYVES ROCHERNORDSTROM

Above: A complete list of Aeroplan’s partner brands

Since you are limited to a specific set of travel related partner brands, it may be difficult to achieve the highest miles earning rate with this card unless you’re traveling, and unless you carefully plan your itinerary. This may become cumbersome, to say the least, so it’s much more probable that you’ll end up accessing the 1x earning rate, most of the time.

Also, if you consider the fact that you can give your Aeroplan number at a partner brand and earn extra miles, regardless of what payment method you use (whether you pay with an AeroplanPlus card or not), it’s definitely wiser to use a card that offers more flexibility at the same 1x rate.

There are a couple of options listed at the end of this post, but if miles earning rate is what you value the most, we recommend the American Express Gold Rewards card that earns you MR points, which you can transfer later to Aeroplan miles at a 1:1 rate. This card gives you the same 1x earning rate on any purchase, but it will give you 2x MR points per $1 on eligible travel purchases, which include most of Aeroplan’s partners. In that case, you could be getting 3+ miles per $1, which is an almost unrivaled earning rate.

Travel, Purchase & Insurance Coverage

There is no way to travel absolutely risk-free, so having an insurance policy to back you up definitely helps take your mind off any unexpected dangers. Choosing the right travel insurance policy can be a daunting task, with so many options out there. However, if you’re looking for the cheapest travel insurance, you’ll discover that it’ll be difficult to find even the most basic one, for less than $30 per trip! (This is only a rough estimate, as the actual price depends on coverage, insurance company, age, gender, origin, destination, carrier and duration).

The AeroplanPlus Card comes with the standard American Express travel and purchase coverage, as do all of its cards. This includes a $250,000 travel accident insurance policy (an AD&D policy) underwritten by the Chubb life insurance company, which covers you, your spouse and your children under the age of 23, as well as any additional cardmember, his or her spouse and children. The only condition is that you are all traveling in the same carrier (plane, ship, train or bus), and that all the tickets where paid for, in full, with the AeroplanPlus card.

This card also comes with 24/7 Travel Emergency Assistance, which gives you access to legal and medical assessment over the phone during your trip.

All this is could be a good deal, for $60 a year, particularly if you travel more than once in that period of time. The downside is that it will only cover you during the actual trip (while you’re on the road, in the air or on the sea) but not while you’re at your destination (for example, if you’re at your hotel and have an accident, this policy won’t cover it).

Of course, if you’re a young and bold Canadian planning a to go backpacking around Europe on a budget next summer, chances are you’ll do without any extra insurance, so having this coverage is more than a plus.

Regarding purchase coverage, you’ll get the Buyer’s Assurance Protection Plan, which doubles the manufacturer’s warranty on any purchase paid in full with the AeroplanPlus card. You’ll also get the Purchase Protection Plan that insures your purchases against accidental damage and theft. All this adds up simply for being a part of the American Express cardholders family.

Read our dedicated post on American Express Travel Insurance to learn everything you need to know about all the coverage options Amex offers, the coverage that comes embedded with each card, everything you need to know about claims and more.

Eligibility

We’re talking about American Express cards for Canadians here, so the first condition to be eligible is to be a Canadian resident.

The American Express Aeroplan Card is a charge card, not a credit card. This translates into two things:

  1. You’re meant to pay your balance in full every month, or else get a 30% APR on any unpaid balance.
  2. American Express doesn’t impose a minimum income to become eligible, only that you have a Canadian credit file and that your account is in good standing.

This makes it easier for you to take advantage of the benefits of Aeroplan, even if you don’t make a lot of money. Couple that with the low annual fee and this card becomes a great choice of a rewards card on a budget.

Overall Pros and Cons

We analyzed all the card’s features and benefits and came up with the following list of pros and cons for the American Express Aeroplan Card:

Pros

  • One of the lowest annual fees of any Aeroplan miles rewards card
  • No cap on earnable miles. Use it all you want and you’ll never stop earning miles.
  • No minimum income requirements to become eligible

Cons

  • Small welcome bonus (5,000 miles)
  • Not the best miles earning rate when compared with other options
  • No other travel benefits like airport lounge access or priority check-ins

These pros and cons are really self-explanatory, but I will elaborate a bit on the second item in the pros list. Some cards actually give you a great points earning rate, but put a cap on the maximum amount of points you can earn. This means you’ll earn points faster and get more for your buck, but you won’t be able to earn all the points you want. You won’t have this limitation with the AeroplanPlus Card.

Of course, if you did have the income to cap out another rewards card, you’d probably still choose that card because, chances are, it’ll give you a lot more benefits than this one.

Do the benefits justify the annual fee?

For the first year, definitely.

It sound silly to ask this about such a low annual fee, but we’re here to help you save money, not lose it (not even a little), so we’ll be as thorough as ever.

The following table shows how the card’s benefits balance the annual fee for the first year if you redeem them in the, worst and best way possible, as well as in an average way. We estimate that an Aeroplan mile is worth a little under 1 cent in the worst case, over 4 cents in the best of cases, but on average, you’ll get around 2.5 cents per mile.


Annual FeeBenefits(Welcome Bonus * other benefits)Value in the  Worst Case Scenario:1 cent/mile(balance)Value in the  Worst Case Scenario:4 cents/mile (balance)Average Value:2.5 cents/mile(balance)
First Year$605,000 miles$50 (net loss of $10)$200(net win of $140)$125(net win of $65)

As you can see, even though the welcome bonus isn’t very useful all by itself, it still helps make paying the annual fee a good deal. At an average value of 2.5 cents per mile, the 5,000 miles bonus will be worth about $125. In other words,

“The card will pay for itself twice over within the first year of cardmembership, and that’s without counting any of the other benefits.”

If you add the travel and purchase coverage and Amex Invites, you’ll have no problems keeping well within green numbers, even if you only use it to reach the minimum of $500 to get the bonus, so it turns out to be a good investment.

For the second year onward, since you won’t get the bonus any more, the fee surpasses the value of the only long lasting benefits this card has to offer. In that case, the only way to justify the annual fee would be to use it a lot to earn points and save money, but that’s true for any rewards card.

How does the AeroplanPlus card compare to other American Express cards?

This card only has the basic benefits that Amex offers its Canadian cardmembers. Amex Invites and Front of the Line are common benefits across all American Express cards, and so are its purchase coverage plans.

If we compare this card with other Amex rewards cards, it comes out short every time. Comparing it with the other AeroplanPlus cards, you would probably choose this one only if you were dead set on the lowest possible annual fee. The AeroplanPlus Gold card, for example, will more than triple your benefits at only double the annual fee. Looking at the AeroplanPlus Platinum and Reserve Cards, even though the annual fees are really high ($499 and $899 respectively) their welcome bonuses are huge compared with the Regular card, or with any other Amex card for that matter.

The lack of long lasting benefits to help offset the annual fee, even if it is small, makes the regular AeroplanPlus card a rather lame deal after the first year, unlike other options like the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card, the American Express Platinum card or the American Express Gold Rewards card.

The long lasting benefits that come with the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card, for example, surpass by far the incredibly modest fee of just $120. The yearly Free Night Award alone could be worth $300-$500, which more than doubles the annual fee, and that’s without counting all the other long-term benefits that come with it. It is hands down the best credit card option for Canadians today, in our opinion.

Three other cards for building your Aeroplan balance

Even though the AeroplanPlus card would seem like the obvious choice if you want to earn Aeroplan miles, it actually isn’t the only one, nor even the best card for the task. Other Amex card options (besides the other cards in the AeroplanPlus family) will give you much better welcome bonuses, better miles earning rates and much better long lasting benefits than this card:

The American Express Platinum Card

One of the best cards for Canadians, the American Express Platinum Card is the absolute best way to bulk up your Aeroplan miles and travel around the world in style. It comes with a heavy annual fee of $699 but also with a whopping 50,000 MR points welcome bonus you can transfer to Aeroplan miles at a 1:1 rate. Using them wisely, these miles can be worth over $1,250.

But the Platinum Card isn’t the best card for earning Aeroplan miles just for the welcome bonus. The points earning rate is also the best one around. You can get 2x points on travel purchases and even 3x at eligible dinning in Canada. Give your Aeroplan number on selected purchases on a partner brand, and you could crank it up to more than 4x.

Add in long lasting benefits like $200 in travel credit and complimentary access to more than 1,200 airport lounges across the globe (valued at almost $500 a year) and you’ll see why you definitely need this card if you like to travel.

The American Express Gold Rewards Card

This is also a better alternative to earn Aeroplan miles. This card comes with a welcome bonus of 25,000 Membership Rewards points that are transferable to Aeroplan miles at a 1:1 rate, and will only cost you $150 a year. You’ll also receive $100 in hotel credit and many other benefits that’ll make this a smart choice year after year.

You could get the same bonus for less money and many more benefits with the Marriott Bonvoy card, but the Gold Rewards card has a much better points earning rate, if you plan on transfer the points to Aeroplan miles. You could get 2x points on travel and everyday purchases, and 1x on all other purchases, which is a much easier and more flexible way to earn points (read miles) than the Marriott Bonvoy card. This card is an Aeroplan winner at a moderate fee.

The Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card

Even though we don’t really recommend doing so, you can transfer your Marriott Bonvoy’s 50,000 points welcome bonus to Aeroplan Miles at a 3:1 rate, and even earn an extra 15,000 Bonvoy points when doing so. If you transfer those as well, you could be getting as much as 25,000 Aeroplan miles just for signing up to the Marriot Bonvoy American Express card, which are worth around $625. All this for a card that’ll only cost you $120 a year, and gives you great long lasting benefits like one free night a year at a five stars hotel.

With the Marriott Bonvoy card, you can get 5 times the welcome bonus + other great benefits, for only twice the AeroplanPlus card’s annual fee.

These miles are enough for a round trip in economy class or a one-way flight in business class.

How to Apply

If the fees on the other cards are too steep for you and you prefer the regular American Express Aeroplan card instead, applying is as simple as clicking in the button below and filling out the application form. All you need to be eligible is to be an adult Canadian resident with an account in good standing.

FAQs

How much are my Aeroplan miles worth?

You can get anything from 0.7 cents per mile to more than 4 cents per mile, depending on how you redeem them. To get the best value from your miles just follow these tips:

Tip #1: Only redeem your miles for flights

Tip #2: Use your miles for domestic flights with Air Canada

Tip #3: When flying international, choose airlines that don’t impose fuel surcharge fees

Tip #4: Fly in Business class instead of Economy class

These tips probably won’t get you the cheapest possible fares, but they’re sure to get you the highest possible value per every beloved mile.

Is my Aeroplan number the same as my American Express® Aeroplanplus® Card number?

No, it isn’t. Your Aeroplan number is the one you get when you sign up to Aeroplan itself at www.aeroplan.com. It’s the equivalent to your Aeroplan account number (where your miles are saved), and it’s the one you should give whenever you’re purchasing at a partner brand in order to earn more miles, regardless of your payment method.

Your AeroplanPlus number, as you may have already guessed, is the actual American Express Aeroplan credit card number (the one on your card).

How long do I have to wait to get my welcome bonus?

This is very important question if you’re planning to sign up for the card and use your bonus to pay for a trip. You won’t get the bonus right away after signing up for the card.

First of all, in order to get the bonus you have to reach a minimum of $500 in purchases (any purchase) charged to your new card in the first 90 days of cardmembership. This isn’t too hard to do for most Canadians, but it may still take a bit of time.

After you hit that goal, American Express can take up to 8 weeks to transfer the bonus to your Aeroplan account.

As a consequence, we estimate that the soonest you could be getting your bonus would be in about 12 weeks (or 3 months) after signing up, considering you manage to charge the $500 to your card in less than a month.

Be very careful not to sign up any later than 12 weeks prior to your planned trip!

What will happen with my unused miles after Air Canada’s takeover of Aeroplan in 2020?

It’s common knowledge that Air Canada closed a deal to buy-back Aeroplan and turn it into a brand new loyalty rewards program. This has many Aeroplan members worried about what will happen to their unused miles after the sale comes into effect next June 2020.

Air Canada is assuming the liability for all unclaimed miles, so it’s a fact that you won’t lose them. However, many experts agree that Air Canada is bound to come up with a way to devalue the miles in order to soften the blow, so it’s likely that after June 2020 your miles won’t be worth as much as they used to.

What does that mean?

There’s no better time to take advantage of this offer than now.

This post was not sponsored. The views and opinions expressed in this review are purely my own.

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