In Canada, we are fortunate enough to have 3 credit card companies who have partnered up with Air Canada to offer co-branded credit cards. Since Air Canada has bought out Aeroplan, the plan, at the moment, is for all 3 companies to continue offering such cards, with some changes. The expectation is that the launch of these changes will occur on November 8, 2020, along with a host of other changes to the revamped Air Canada frequent flyer program.
Today’s post will preview some of the changes that we can expect to see. Some details still need to worked out, so we will be watching closely.
List of Co-Branded Credit Cards
Let’s start with listing all the current co-branded Aeroplan cards offered in Canada alphabetically. I put the expected changes in brackets (if any).
- American Express AeroplanPlus Corporate Card
- American Express AeroplanPlus Corporate Platinum Card
- American Express AeroplanPlus Gold Card (to be converted to American Express Aeroplan Card)
- American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum Card (to be converted to American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card)
- CIBC Aerogold Visa Business Card (to be converted to CIBC Aeroplan Visa Business Card)
- CIBC Aerogold Visa Business Plus Card
- CIBC Aero Platinum Visa Card (to be converted to CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card)
- CIBC Aero Platinum Visa Card for Students
- CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite Card (to be converted to CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card)
- CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite Privilege Card (to be converted to CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card)
- TD Aeroplan Business Card
- TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card
- TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card
- TD Aeroplan Visa Platinum Card
We should also look out for the new American Express Aeroplan Reserve Business Card.
Next, we will discuss some of the changes to the features and benefits of these cards mentioned above.
Annual Worldwide Companion Pass
Certain cards will be offering an Annual Worldwide Companion Pass (the “Pass”) after spending $25,000 every anniversary year of the card. The Pass entitles the cardholders to purchase an accompanying Air Canada economy class ticket at a fixed base fare from $99 to $599, broken down as follows:
- $99 base fare for travel within Canada and continental United States (excluding Hawaii)
- $299 base fare for travel to/from Hawaii, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean
- $499 base fare for travel to/from South America, Europe, Middle East, and Africa
- $599 base fare for travel to/from Asia, Australia, and New Zealand
- Plus taxes, fees, charges, and surcharges
This gets worthwhile on the more expensive flights, not so much on the less expensive flights.
Some current cards already offer lounge access, but we are expecting to see enhanced access to Maple Leaf Lounges in North America and the Air Canada Café.
The reason I say enhanced is because many of the existing cards give lounge access to Aeroplan reward flights operated by Air Canada only. So the current access is very restrictive, so expecting to see a more expanded definition, such as lounge access for same day tickets on a departing Air Canada or Star Alliance flight.
Furthermore, watch out for some added Priority Pass passes on some of the cards.
Status Qualification Boost
Earning elite status with Air Canada is always nice. So cardholders will be able to bank their spending towards qualifying for Air Canada elite status. Below are the two options:
- Earn 1,000 SQM and 1 SQS for every $10,000 in annual spending (personal and small business cardholders)
- Earn 1,000 SQM and 1 SQS for every $5,000 in annual spending (personal premium cardholders)
Earning 1,000 SQM is not a lot for $10,000 of spending when you see the requirements for elite status (see below).
- Aeroplan 25K: 25,000 SQM or 25 SQS, along with $3,000 Status Qualifying Dollars (SQD)
- Aeroplan 35K: 35,000 SQM or 35 SQS, along with $4,000 SQD
- Aeroplan 50K: 50,000 SQM or 50 SQS, along with $6,000 SQD
- Aeroplan 75K: 75,000 SQM or 75 SQS, along with $9,000 SQD
- Aeroplan Super Elite: 100,000 SQM or 100 SQS, along with $20,000 SQD
It would be difficult to earn elite status just with credit card spending, because if someone did not fly all year, they would need to spend $250,000 to achieve Aeroplan 25k. But it can really help a member who needed less than 1,000 SQM or short 1 SQS for the next level, since $10,000 in spending per year is more doable than $250,000.
Free First Checked Bag
Expect to see an enhancement to the free checked bag benefit (up to 8 passengers on the same itinerary). Currently, several cards offer free checked bags for Aeroplan reward flights operated by Air Canada only. This restrictive definition should be expanded to include all Air Canada flights, regardless of reward or not.
Earning Rate Changes
Expect to see some earning rate changes, such as increasing the multiplier bonus for Air Canada purchases (e.g. increase from earning 1.5 mile to 2 mile per dollar spent), but we may see some decreases on the multiplier bonus for other categories such as drug store purchases (e.g. decrease from earning 1.5 mile to 1 mile per dollar spent).
Cardholders can expect to benefit from preferred pricing, meaning they can redeem a reward flight for a lower cost. So watch out for more details as they release them as this becomes even more valuable as family members can also benefit from the preferred pricing.
There should be some annual fee changes (increase or decrease). For me, the most noteworthy one is that we should finally expect to see a no annual fee co-branded card, which has been missing in Canada.
I tried my best to keep the post concise as there are so many changes coming into effect on November 8, 2020 onward. We will look into more in-depth posts as more details become clearer.
Either way, this is very exciting to see!