Aeroplan is the most popular loyalty program in Canada for a variety of reasons, including the fact that it’s tied to Air Canada – the largest airline in the country.  Many Elite and Super Elite Aeroplan collectors vouch for the program, swearing that it offers the best value on flights, particularly on long-haul business class trips.

But for the rest of us, Aeroplan is a bit of a mixed bag. Easy to earn and collect points, yet difficult to redeem them due to seat restrictions and ever-changing mileage requirements for flight rewards. Not only that, a bigger gripe is that fees and taxes are charged on top of any flight redemption, which doesn’t make it seem like a reward at all.

Some Aeroplan members suggest that those fees and taxes are often higher than booking directly through Air Canada or another airline. So are Aeroplan rewards more expensive than buying a flight directly?

Related: One Aeroplan member’s somewhat satisfying update

Consider this email that I received from a reader named Anthony:

Currently WestJet is offering flights for $180 from Pearson International (YYZ) to LaGuardia (LGA), return.

Aeroplan reward tickets on the same itinerary are coming in at $185.41, plus miles of course.

I’ve attached a sample itinerary of both (direct flights, leaving almost at identical times).

Aeroplan rewards more expensive than cash fare

WestJet Flight

In other words the fees and taxes on the Aeroplan flights, not even including the points, are more expensive than a cash fare. This would seem to point out in a very clear manner the ridiculousness of the Aeroplan fees and surcharges.

Final thoughts

When I last wrote about Aeroplan members and their frustration with the loyalty program, many readers weighed in with helpful suggestions to help maximize your flight rewards.  Tips such as crossing the border and using another Star Alliance member to avoid Air Canada’s fuel surcharges, or adding another leg to your long-haul trip to avoid the airports that charge higher taxes.

But at some point, Aeroplan collectors need to consider the time, money, and effort spent trying to redeem their rewards and realize that a better option is a more flexible travel rewards program that allows you to book any flight and on any airline without restriction.

Related: So you’re ready to dump Aeroplan: Now what?

Because no matter how valuable you think your rewards are, you’re not actually saving money if it costs you more to redeem your points than it would to book on another airline and pay cash.

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