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[ANALYSIS] Air Miles

Air Miles does not have the reputation of being a very lucrative loyalty points program, but it does have some gems. You can sign up for Air Miles here.

Air Mile points can be redeem for a variety of rewards, including flight tickets. What I found most frustrating about Air Miles are the two expiration policies. First of all, accounts need to be active once every 24 months, which is easy enough because there are always opportunities for double dipping if you pay with an Air Miles credit cards at a long list of sponsors. The more difficult expiry policy is the maximum of 5 years, so points need to be redeemed before 5 years of when the Air Miles were posted to your account, which makes it more difficult to save up for a long haul flight ticket.

If I cannot accumulate enough points in time, there are so many other rewards available to redeem which actually have similar value to flight tickets anyway. Furthermore, there are additional discounts on the number of required Air Miles to redeem other rewards, which cardholders should also look out for. There is definitely great value in the discounts.

Currently, there are several lucrative sign up bonuses on Air Miles credit cards, which are listed as follows: Bank of Montreal has an Air Miles World Master Card with a limited time 2,000 sign up bonus (until October 31, 2013), but there is a $99 annual fee. The $99 annual fee is definitely very steep, so I would wait for an additional promotion before getting this card. The earning is as follows:

  • 1.25x Air Miles at Shell locations in Canada
  • 2x Air Miles at National Car Rental & Alamo Rent A Car
  • 1 Air Miles for every $15 spent everywhere else

An additional perk with the Air Mile World Master card is the 25% discounts on flights, such as taking a 1,000 reward mile flight for only 750 Air Miles. Short haul flights start as low as 1,000). The award flights will be discussed further later on. American Express has several credit cards of its own. First of all, the Air Miles Reserve Credit Card currently with a 1,450 Air Miles sign up bonus when you spend $3,000 within the first three months, but it has a $299 annual fee. The earning ratios for this card are:

  • 1x Air Miles for every $10 spent at Air Miles Sponsors
  • 1x Air Miles for every $10 spent at eligible grocery stores, gas stations, and drugstores in Canada
  • 1x Air Miles for every $15 spent everywhere else

The $299 annual fee is steep, but it does come with excellent perks that can easily pay off the fee, including:

  • Waived Air Miles flight administration fee (which is actually a high fee)
  • Access to Air Miles Business Class seats
  • Receive four complimentary visits per year to Priority Pass Worldwide Lounges.
  • Exclusive Air Miles concierge service
  • Access to Toronto Pearson Priority Security Lane, as well as Priority Limo and Taxi Lanes
  • Front of the Line Preferred Ticket Access

There is a 1,200 sign up bonus on the American Express Air Miles Platinum Credit Card until November 30, 2013 with the $65 annual fee waived the first year. This is another no-brainer card for Air Miles collectors, especially since the first year annual fee is waived. The earning ratios are the same as the Air Miles Reserve Credit Card. The business version of the American Express Air Miles credit card comes with a 1,200 sign up bonus and a $180 annual fee. There are also some no fee Air Miles credit cards, which are create to sign up for when there is a promotion: The Bank of Montreal Air Miles Master Card with no annual fee currently has no sign up bonus. A 500 Air Miles sign up bonus expired on August 31, 2013, when you spend $200 or more by October 31, 2013. The no fee American Express Air Miles credit card gives a 150 sign up bonus, which I have seen gone up to 500 Air Miles during promotion times. The business version of the American Express Air Miles Gold business credit card comes with a 150 sign up bonus and no annual fee.

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