I decided to do some due diligence and crunch some numbers for the benefit of my readers.
To reiterate, I found it quite frustrating to get any straight answers out of the Aeroplan website. I will, therefore, attempt to answer a few basic questions myself. (Note: I’ve used the term “points” instead of “miles”. In my mind, using miles adds even more confusion.)
How many points do I get for my purchase?
There are many, ways to get points. They are all calculated differently. It’s terribly complicated. I’ll do a basic point calculation on a “standard” airfare purchase. So, here we go. I purchased an Air Canada ticket (Economy) for $926, which resulted in my accumulation of 8800 points. This means one dollar earns 9.5 points, or 10.5 cents per point.
How much are points worth in real dollars?
Again, there are many, many ways to redeem points. From the Aeroplan website, I purchased a $100 Esso gift card for 12500 points. Using this as a baseline currency conversion, the Aeroplan pseudo-currency is valued at 125 points per dollar, or 0.8 cents per point.
Other points valuations: Aeroplan allows you to purchase points, at a rate of 3 cents per point. Ridiculous! Why couldn’t I simply purchase points at the going rate: 0.8 cents per point? There must be a reason Aeroplan doesn’t do this, but it escapes me. Aeroplan also allows you to share your points, at a rate of 2 cents per point. Again, ridiculous! It would cost $20 to transfer $8 worth of points.
Finally, what we’ve all been waiting for, how much value do I get from being an Aeroplan member?
For a $100 reward, I’ve had to purchase $1316 worth of airplane tickets, a net redemption rate of … 7.6 %! As far as customer loyalty programs go, this is an extremely good reward rate. Most are in the range of 1% to 2%, or so.
These calculations are not really a rigorous scientific study. The mere fact that it would take a rigorous study to get at what I consider basic information every customer should already know is itself cause for concern.
In my opinion, Aeroplan treats its customers poorly (see Aeroplan drives me crazy – Part 1). Aeroplan seems to show contempt towards its customers, by being deliberately vague about how the value of points, and making it overly complicated to earn and redeem points. They have several customer-unfriendly policies like points expiration within one year, and unfavorable rates for purchasing or sharing points.
Despite this, the actual reward percentage is quite high and if you travel a lot, signing up with Aeroplan may be worth your pain.