How Would You Spend 52,436 Aeroplan Miles?

What’s the best way to spend 52,436 Aeroplan miles? This oddly specific question from an Aeroplan collector found its way into my inbox recently.

There are several ways to spend that many Aeroplan miles depending on where you live, if you’re single or married with kids, and what kind of travel experience you’re looking for.

I reached out to seven Canadian travel experts to get their take on how to spend 52,436 Aeroplan miles. Each replied back with some amazing advice on how to get the most out of your Aeroplan miles. Here’s what they had to say:

How would you spend 52,436 Aeroplan Miles?

How to spend 52,436 Aeroplan miles

Stephen Weyman, founder of How To Save Money

To maximize reward value, the only thing you should do with Aeroplan miles is redeem them for flights. 52,436 miles is almost exactly the right amount of miles you need to redeem for two Classic economy class tickets anywhere in North America – 25,000 miles each.

North America flights typically give some of the best value for economy so it’s a great use of miles. I would suggest booking a trip for two people to a destination in North America on Air Canada that is about as far away from the city you live in as possible.

You can expect to get about $1,400 – $1,500 worth of value for your miles that way.

If you want to increase value further, I would consider finding a city that is somewhere roughly in between your home city and your final destination to have a free stopover. That way you can visit two places instead of just one. Try to form a triangle on the map with the three cities.

Calling the Aeroplan contact centre will help you easily determine which cities are eligible for a stopover.

Patrick Sojka, founder of Rewards Canada

Definitely lots of options like you mentioned!

Say it’s a family of four. The best bet is taking advantage of the relatively new one-way awards that price out at half the cost of a round trip. So you can get four one-way tickets to almost anywhere in North America. Of course, you have to buy tickets for the way back, but still an option to save some money.

On the other hand, for one person you are looking at two round trips in North America (or one round trip for two people), one round trip to Northern South America (Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Venezuela) Caribbean, Mexico or Hawaii. All in economy class.

Honestly I would probably look at flights within Canada as some of those can get really expensive! A trip to the Yukon to experience the Klondike or winter flights to Yellowknife to see the Northern Lights.

Cross country as well, it is usually pretty expensive to fly Vancouver/Calgary/Edmonton to the Maritimes so that is great option for redeeming Aeroplan miles. All of these flights tend to be more expensive than flying to the U.S., even Hawaii!

Barry Choi, budget travel expert at Money We Have

With that many Aeroplan points, I’d look at value. 50,000 points are enough to get you two return flights to anywhere within the continental U.S. You could also get a single ticket to Hawaii for 45,000 points, Northern South America for 50,000 points.

Alternatively, if you immediately churn the American Express Gold Rewards card, you can get another 25,000 points upon meeting the minimum spend. That would give you 75,000 points which would get you to Asia 1 – where destinations include China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Korea.

Marc Felgar, founder of Greedy Rates

From Montreal, I’d fly United Airlines out of Burlington, Vermont and take a trip to Los Angeles with my wife.

Each return ticket is 25,000 Aeroplan miles, and flying United out of Burlington means taxes and fees are only $14.60!

Frugal Trader, founder of Million Dollar Journey

We are a family of four, so for all of us to go on a trip on points, we were require 100,000 Aeroplan miles. However, in this case, I would ideally use the 50,000 points for me and my better half to travel to a place that we’ve never been before, but as far as possible on the points available (hopefully grandparents would help out with the kids!).

Since we live in Newfoundland, we would look for a trip across the continent to maximize value, places like Vancouver, somewhere in California, and/or Las Vegas!

Matthew Lau, chief editor at Pointshogger

I would book two rounds trips to anywhere in North America, preferably on United Airlines with a companion. I say United because they have lower taxes and fuel surcharges than Air Canada. In which case I would use 50,000 Aeroplan miles on one booking (25,000 miles each for anywhere in continental North America).

If it’s a single person that is two round-trips. Or the single person can stretch it to 4 one-way long haul trips across North America at 12,500 miles each way. Another option is 6 one-way short haul at 7,500 miles one way (total 45,000 miles). Just 64 miles short of a 7th one-way short haul. Or a mix and match of one-way short and long haul flights. This way you don’t just have to visit one place and do a round trip. You can visit multiple places on one trip.

If the person were to fly across any ocean, he or she can also wait to accumulate 60,000 miles so that they could get a round-trip to parts of Europe or South America. Hawaii (45,000) or Mexico (40,000) are also possible but the person would only have enough miles for one round-trip.

Steve Zussino, founder of Canadian Travel Hacking

One of the major benefits of Aeroplan is that it allows free stopovers on any ClassicFlight reward ticket redemption (i.e. so you can stop in Toronto for your flight from Vancouver to St. Johns, Newfoundland). This lets you increase your return of each Aeroplan mile.

We have an upcoming trip from Victoria, BC with a stopover in Halifax on our way to Thunder Bay, Ontario! This flight would have cost over $850 dollars each ticket as opposed to 25,000 Aeroplan miles and $140 taxes each person.

I think if you were looking to see a lot of Canada or United States that using a stopover is a great idea!

So for almost 53,000 in Aeroplan miles you could get a nice trip around Canada and the U.S. for 2 people.

If you were a family and still wanted to use the miles, Aeroplan also has short-haul flight redemption. For example, a member living anywhere in Ontario can fly for just 15,000 Aeroplan miles round-trip to Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec in Canada, and to over 20 states in the U.S., including New York and Washington DC.

British Columbia residents have the options of Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon, Oregon, and Washington State for a short-haul flight.

Remember that the stopovers work here as well so if you lived in remote Ontario (i.e. Thunder Bay), you could stopover in Toronto on your way to New York City!

Finally, if you were rich in frequent flyer miles in other programs (Air Miles, Avion, Aventura), you could always use the Aeroplan to just book a one-way ticket (they now charge 50% of the round-trip miles needed).

Final thoughts

My thanks to travel experts Stephen, Patrick, Barry, Marc, Frugal Trader, Matthew, and Steve for offering such great advice on how to spend just over 50,000 Aeroplan miles.

Related: Busting Aeroplan myths 

It can be tricky to find the best value when redeeming Aeroplan miles for flights, so hopefully Aeroplan collectors can take advantage of tips such as flying United Airlines out of a nearby U.S. city to save on taxes, leveraging the new one-way fares at a 50% discount, or stretching your points (and your trip) by including a stopover location.

Your turn: What would you do with 52,436 Aeroplan miles?

Walmart Canada To Stop Accepting Visa Cards This Summer

Walmart Canada raised eyebrows this weekend when the retail giant announced it will no longer accept Visa cards after failing to reach an agreement with Visa Canada over credit card fees. Walmart, which has more than 400 locations across Canada, will begin phasing out Visa cards on July 18th, 2016, starting with its stores in Thunder Bay, ON.

Read the full statement from Walmart Canada below regarding Visa credit card purchases:

Following an evaluation of credit card transaction fees in Canada and the rest of the world, we have concluded the fees applied to Visa credit card purchases remain unacceptably high. 

 

Walmart’s purpose is to save customers money so they can live better. We are committed first and foremost to this purpose, which requires us to keep costs as low as possible. 

 

To ensure we are taking care of our customers’ best interests and delivering on our promise of saving customers money, we constantly work to reduce our operating costs, including credit card fees. Unfortunately, Visa and Walmart have been unable to agree on an acceptable fee for Visa transactions. As a result we will no longer accept Visa in our stores across Canada, starting with our stores in Thunder Bay, on July 18, 2016.  This change will then be rolled out in phases across the country.

 

To keep prices low we continuously assess opportunities to lower our operating expenses. Walmart Canada pays over $100 million in fees to accept credit cards each and every year. Lowering costs such as these is necessary for us to be able to keep our prices low and continue saving our customers money. 

 

Customers will continue to be able to use other forms of payment including cash, Interac debit, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. 

We sincerely regret any impact this will have on our customers who use Visa and remain optimistic that we will reach an agreement with Visa. 

With this announcement Walmart joins the likes of Costco and No Frills as major shopping chains that don’t accept Visa cards. It should be noted that Walmart, much like Costco and No Frills parent company Loblaws, all offer their own co-branded MasterCards.

Related: Costco and American Express officially part ways

This move could be seen as a way to steer more customers towards the Walmart Rewards MasterCard. It could also be seen as a negotiating tactic to get Visa to lower the fees it charges on credit card transactions.

With over a month before Walmart starts phasing out Visa cards at select stores, there’s still plenty of time for Visa to come back to the table with a better offer.

Visa Canada charges interchange fees between 0.98% and 2.45%, depending on the retailer, transaction volume, industry, and type of credit card. See the fee chart below:

Visa Canada interchange fees

In a terse statement issued on its corporate website, Visa Canada didn’t exactly take the high road:

We regret Walmart’s decision to no longer accept Visa at its Canadian stores and the negative impact their decision will have on loyal shoppers across Canada. Walmart made this business decision despite Visa offering one of the lowest rates available to any merchant in the country. We are disappointed that Walmart chose to put their own financial interests ahead of their own consumers’ choice. 

Final thoughts

It’s hard to sympathize with a company like Walmart that has been at the centre of controversy for decades over its labour practices and environmental record. But early consumer sentiment seems to favour Walmart over Visa – that this decision will hurt Visa more than Walmart because people are more loyal to their shopping centre than their credit card.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few months.

Has Walmart made the right move by dropping Visa over credit card fees? Or will this decision backfire and send loyal Visa cardholders to shop elsewhere?

 

Pin It on Pinterest