Signing up for the air miles rewards program is free in Canada. It doesn’t cost you anything. But is it worth signing up for? Now that’s the question here.
If you only shop at Sobeys and often spend less than $20 a week, sure, but there are several merchants that participate in the program.
Several hotels give 1 mile for every $5 spent and there are a few merchants that give 1 mile for every $10 or $15 spent. Many merchants frequently have bonuses as well. For example, spending $35 at The Children’s Place right now will get you 11 miles.
On top of that, you can earn additional miles by making your online purchases through airmilesshops.ca which occasionally runs 20x promos.
I bought an Xbox One on Black Friday from the Microsoft Store and received ~$35 worth of miles on a $350 purchase. That alone is a 10% return. And if I wait for a redemption promotion, those miles will be worth even more.
Oh, and don’t forget the miles you can earn from an Air Miles credit card.
But, wait for a second, how much is each Air Mile worth? Don’t you want to know that? Let’s dive deep into all the answers. The final decision is yours. Let’s get started.
Air Miles Canada
Air Miles In Canada is currently owned and operated by Loyalty One. It was launched in 1992 and is Canada’s largest coalition loyalty program.
Now for those of you who don’t know Loyalty One, its parent company is Alliance Data.
In 1998, Air Miles Canada was acquired by Alliance Data Systems and In the year 2008, Alliance Data Loyalty Services became known as Loyalty One.
Did you know that Air Miles Canada has more than 100 sponsors?
Yes, that’s right, some of the Air Miles sponsors include – Bank of Montreal, American Express, retail partners such as Rona, Inc., Staples, Shell Canada, Safeway, Metro, Sobeys and Sobeys Liquor, the Lawtons, Rexall/Pharma Plus and Jean Coutu pharmacy chains, the Eastlink cable company, and online partners such as Amazon and eBay.
How Do You Earn Air Miles?
Air Miles Canada has received awards for marketing, customer care/call centres, human resources, training and leadership.
You can collect miles from sponsors, which can then be redeemed for around 1,200 reward choices.
The reward choices can be such as travel, entertainment, home electronics and gift cards.
Like I said before, you’ll get the best value for Air Miles earned when you use them for travel.
Here’s a fun fact – There are more than ten million active collector accounts across Canada: approximately two-thirds of Canadian households participate in Air Miles.
In April 2009, Air Miles Canada launched My Planet, an initiative to help people trade in their miles for environmentally conscious products and services.
Initially, My Planet offered collectors over 140 “green” redemption items, including public transit passes, organic cotton linens, and electric scooters.
Can I Convert Air Miles Dream To Cash?
Air Miles Cash lets you instantly use the Miles from your Cash Account in-store on everyday purchases when you shop at participating Partners.
To start using AIR MILES Cash, setup the preference slider by clicking the Get Miles tab and selecting Set your preference. Doing this will allow you to begin collecting Miles into your Cash Account.
Miles cannot be transferred between Cash and Dream Accounts.
However, you can change your preference as many times as you like.
AIR MILES Cash transactions must exclude gift cards and near-cash products (i.e. pre-paid credit cards).
You can also use your Cash Miles towards Online Cash Rewards, available with participating Partners up to $750/per Collector Cash Account, per day.
What Are Cash and Dream Miles?
You can change the preference of Air Miles deposited in your Cash and Dream Accounts.
Here’s how you can do it – Click on the Get Miles tab and select Set your preference.
By using the preference slider, you can set up or change the deposit preference for your Miles by moving the slider from 0% – 100% toward either your Cash or Dream Accounts.
Once set, future Miles will be added to your accounts the way you want.
Your preference can be changed as many times as you like and the change will take effect at 3:00 am EST the following day.
Not setting your preference means that all Miles you get will automatically go into your Dream Account and you won’t be able to take advantage of the offers and promotions available with AIR MILES Cash.
Is Air Miles Free?
Absolutely. Signing up for the Air Miles program is completely FREE.
There’s no hidden cost or any sort of charge to join the program.
What Are Air Miles Worth?
Air Miles is a form of rewards points. You’ll earn Air Miles by showing your membership card in participating in online stores.
After you’ve collected enough Miles you can redeem them for cash, movie tickets, flights, or other items.
Approximately, each Air Mile is worth something between $0.12 and $0.194. You cannot have a finite answer to this.
Points are earned on purchases at participating merchants and can be redeemed for flights with specific airlines. Flight redemptions usually offer better cash value while converting reward points you’ve accumulated over time.
How Can I Redeem My Air Miles?
During checkout, show the cashier your AIR MILES Card and let them know you would like to use Cash Miles towards your purchase.
You’ll need to spend a minimum of $10 before tax; then every 95 Cash Miles will get you $10 off your purchase; these Miles can be used in $10 increments up to $750/per Collector Cash Account, per day.
As a matter of caution, Air Miles collectors are encouraged to “lock” their Cash Account.
While Cash Accounts are locked, no Cash redemptions are possible, but collecting Miles can still go on like ever before.
Collectors that choose to lock their Cash Account can unlock it in seconds prior to conducting an in-store Cash redemption by using the PIN associated with their Account via www.airmiles.ca/cashlock, AIR MILES App or by using the Customer Care automated phone system.
To protect your Cash Account visit the Self-Serve Tools page and select Lock Cash account.
What Is Air Miles Gold Collector?
The Air Miles Gold collector program is designed to reward collectors who’ll accumulate 1,000-5,999 miles from January 1 to December 31 each year.
As a Gold Collector, you can enjoy great benefits and offers for travel and merchandise.
Benefits include up to 30% off required miles for select flights, and 10% off the miles required for selected merchandise.
Also, you can also enjoy unforgettable events like being invited to gatherings and getting free movie passes to select films. There are also exciting contests and giveaways for the lucky ones.
How Much Is One Air Mile Worth In 2021?
Now, this is a million-dollar question isn’t it and definitely, the one everyone wants to know.
Ok, jokes apart.
Central to any discussion about Air Miles, the question of how much they’re actually worth.
To answer, this depends on many factors, still, let’s look at the CPM and Rate of Return to understand this better.
What Are Air Miles Cents Per Mile CPM?
For instance, the average value of an Air mile spent on air travel is $0.25 cents whereas the purchase of a common electronic item like a TV can yield a much lower value of about $0.0655 per mile.
CPM stands for cents per mile.
It’s an easy way to compare the value of different rewards.
You can calculate Cents Per Mile or CPM by dividing the cash value equivalent by the number of Air Miles points required to purchase it. Then just multiply the times by 100 to get the cents per mile, not dollar per mile.
So if you redeem 8,000 miles for the Vacuum cleaner, which retails for around $800, this is your CPM:
800/8000 = 0.10 x 100 = 10.0 is your CPM.
Air Miles Rate Of Return (ROR)
This is calculated by determining how much you spend earning miles versus the overall value you get for those miles.
With this number, you can easily make comparisons between the different Air Miles promotions and bonus miles earning opportunities.
Air Mile – Example
Let’s take a look at the real world scenario here –
While shopping at say, Safeway you see a product that costs $10 and has a 20 Air Miles bonus reward attached to it. You decide to buy 2 of them. Assuming Safeway has the regular rate of 1 mile per $20 spent, here’s what your calculations look like:
40 (bonus) + 1 (regular) mile earned x 14.2 average CPM = $5.82 / $20 spent = 0.29 = 29%
So participating in this bonus effectively gives you a pretty decent 29% discount, since that’s what you’re getting in terms of air miles rewards.
Pros and Cons Of The Air Miles Loyalty Program
Pros: High average value for Miles; plentiful merchandise rewards options; pay with Air Miles directly at some partner retailers.
Cons: Taxes and fees aren’t covered; fuel surcharges covered only within North America; it takes a long time to earn rewards; fewer partners and bonus offers compared to others.
How Much Does It Cost To Transfer Miles?
You can always transfer air miles to your loved ones and get that flexibility here. However, there are certain online-only – exclusive deals to transfer your Miles.
So here’s how you can transfer Air Miles –
1. Send Miles
Price: $0.15 CAD / Mile
This feature is only offered online
Transfer Dream Miles to family & friends:
Send Miles as a gift
Help out a friend who’s short on Miles
You’ll need the exact first and last name and Collector Number from the recipient’s Profile
Any Miles you transfer won’t qualify towards Gold or Onyx status for the receiving Collector Number
All transfers are final and no refunds are permitted
You can’t transfer your Miles between your Dream and Cash Accounts
Dream Miles can only move into a Dream Account
2. Collect Miles Together
Price: $0.15 CAD / Mile
You’ll need the Collector Number and the full name on the profile that you’re combining with
Transfer Miles into a joint Collector Number:
provided you want to collect Miles as a couple or as a family
Dream miles can only move into a Dream Account
Cash miles can only move into a Cash Account
All transfers are final and no refunds are permitted
3. Merge Duplicate Profiles
You’ll need the Collector Number, full name and address on both Collector Profiles.
You Can technically transfer Air Miles from two profiles of yours into one:
Say you have two Collector Numbers in your name and want to consolidate them.
Dream miles can only move into a Dream Account.
Cash miles can only move into a Cash Account.
All transfers are final and no refunds are permitted.
Which Credit Card Is Best For Earning Air Miles?
I don’t want to go into a store and calculate how many air miles I will accumulate; or make purchases based purely upon their air mile value.
You receive points for your purchases that is true; but how many purchases have you made in order to receive additional air mile points? I use my credit card for everything and I receive cashback.
However, there is no annual fee nor is there a limit by which I have to use the points or spend my money.
Air Miles specifically designed their program this way so it entices people to spend more money; if they don’t all their hard-earned points will be lost.
Recently they even reduced the value of their points, yet the value of the rewards remained constant.
The way I perceive it; my credit card requires passive management, and air miles card requires active management. Constantly checking how many pointed you have accumulated on the card; always checking to see if you’ll be able to use the points before they “disappear” at the end of the week.
1. BMO AIR MILES Mastercard
BMO Air Miles Mastercard is one of the leading credit cards in Canada at the moment.
It is good to note here is that this credit card comes with a $0 annual fee and great benefits.
I have listed down the benefits below for your reference:
Features & Benefits Of The BMO Air Miles Mastercard
- Annual fee $0
Limited Time Bonus Offer – You can get up to 800 Air Miles as a one time bonus! That is up to $80 in AIR MILES Cash redemption value
Also, you will get a 1.99% introductory interest rate on Balance Transfers for the first 9 months once you sign up, however, there is a flat 1% fee applies to balance amounts transferred.
You will also be eligible to get 2x the Miles for every $20 spent at participating AIR MILES Partners.
Another thing to note here is that you can get 1 Mile for every $20 spent everywhere else
Standard credit card charges apply which is – 19.99% for Purchases, 22.99% for Cash Advances
Free Additional Spouse Card – You don’t pay additional fees when you add cardholders to your Mastercard account
Extended Warranty – With this feature, you can save the cost of buying optional extended warranty insurance on your next purchase by paying with your BMO Mastercard credit card. This coverage doubles the original manufacturer’s warranty period up to a maximum of one additional year
Get added protection – items bought with your card are automatically insured against theft or damage for 90 days from the date of purchase
Get up to 25% off at participating National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car locations
2. BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard
Now, this is another Air Miles exclusive credit card from BMO.
What really makes it different from the BMO Mastercard is that it comes with an annual fee of $120, but is packed with loaded advantages compared to the one we just saw.
Features & Benefits Of The BMO AIR MILES WORLD ELITE Mastercard
- Annual Fee of $120 CAD
Welcome Offer: Get up to 3,000 AIR MILES Bonus Miles and first-year annual fees of $120 is waived off.
You’ll earn 1 reward mile for every $10 in credit card purchases
Also, the exclusive 15% Flight Discount on all flights in North America with no blackout periods.
You’ll earn 2X the reward miles at National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car locations
Complimentary membership in Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey, with exclusive VIP access, plus two annual complimentary passes
- Standard credit card charges apply which is – 19.99% for Purchases, 22.99% for Cash Advances
BMO Mastercard Vs. BMO World Elite Mastercard – Real World Scenario
For example, I just set it as I’ll be spending say $1000 every month on purchases using the BMO AIR MILES credit card, now look for yourself from the above screenshot on how many points I’ll accumulate at the end of the cycle.
Now isn’t that too good to be true?
With the regular $0 annual fee BMO Mastercard, I’ll end up making 1,520 MILES in the first year with a welcome bonus of 800 points whereas, with the BMO AIR MILES WORLD ELITE Mastercard, I’ll end up making 4,200 Miles in the first year alone. Now, this includes a welcome bonus of 3,000 reward points.
You can definitely do the math here.
To conclude BMO World Elite Mastercard is way better than the BMO Mastercard. Also, the first year fees of $120 are waived off for you.
Air Miles vs. Aeroplan
Aeroplan is the frequent flyer reward program for Air Canada. Air Miles is a generic consumer loyalty rewards program. They have nothing to do with each other. Some shops or other services will give points for one or the other, but no one will give you points for both at the same time.
Aeroplan is probably better overall because of the fixed-mile redemptions it offers on the Star Alliance network with a generous stopover and open-jaw policies.
The value of the points depends on how you redeem them, and generally, you get the highest value by redeeming for flights in luxury cabins (business or first) on routes that either has many stops or that stop in “unusual” locations.
|AIR MILES (World MasterCard)||1/$20|
Aeroplan is only good for certain flights because of the fixed-mileage policy.
On some routes, they’ll have the only direct flight (which tends to be expensive), so it’s great value for that flight but not great value relative to flights with a stopover.
Aeroplan is also really good for booking last-minute flights within North America. For those two it usually works out to about 2 cents per mile.
Cost for a round trip flight from BC to Toronto, ON:
|Program||Points required||Amount needed to spend|
|AIR MILES (World MasterCard)||4500||$48375|
The best way to earn Air Miles, depending on your location and shopping habits, is through some of the various bonuses offered.
Aeroplan offers you 2 free stopovers on round trip redemptions. If you put in some work, you can create round-the-world itineraries with the base level of points.
Moreover, if you have any interest in experiencing/flying business class, Aeroplan is one of the best value redemptions of any program. I’ve heard of people getting >10% returns on some redemptions. Aeroplan has some major drawbacks.
The Aeroplan and AIR MILES programs offer double-dipping. At their respective sponsors, in addition to the credit card you’re using, you can use your program card to double the points you’re receiving.
As we all know, air travel can be an expensive affair. However, you can reduce the cost involved with the help of the reward points once in a while.
Air Miles is really only good for North American flights but you can get some amazing deals on those routes. They’re also only really worth it if you participate in the bonus events.
I would like to repeat again, signing up for the Air Miles rewards program is free and doesn’t cost a penny out of your pocket. Certain credit cards that are exclusive for Air Miles can help you accelerate earning your points faster.
Please let me know your thoughts and comments below. Share this article if you like the content and find it helpful.
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Air Miles Rewards Review
- After you’ve collected enough Miles you can redeem them for cash, movie tickets, flights, or other items
- You can always transfer air miles to your loved ones. Air Miles gives you that flexibility.
- The average value of an Air mile spent on air travel is $0.21 cents
- Earning reward points is less compared to the likes of PC Optimum
- While Cash Accounts are locked, no Cash redemptions are possible
- Bonus offers can be more!
Sagar Sridhar is a personal finance blogger from Canada. His genuine passion for personal finance coupled with his unique style of writing is what stands out. Professionally, he is a computer engineer, agile certified and has a master’s degree in Project Management. His writing has been featured or quoted in the leading Canadian publications such as Credit Canada and many other personal finance publications. While he is juggling between his day job and blogging, he is the main author on this blog and has miles to go before making the final pit stop.