Aeroplan’s Wildly Popular Points Promotion

Filed Under: Air Canada

As of today Air Canada’s Aeroplan program got into the business of selling miles directly to consumers, and that started with them selling miles for as little as $0.01 USD each, in very limited quantities, as follows:

  • For the first 10 million Aeroplan miles sold, members received a 115% bonus (equivalent to $0.014 CAD per mile plus sales tax, $0.01 USD per mile)
  • For the next 100 million Aeroplan miles sold, members received a 90% bonus (equivalent to $0.016 CAD per mile plus sales tax, $0.011 USD per mile)
  • All Aeroplan miles sold after that receive a 65% bonus (equivalent to $0.018 CAD per mile plus sales tax, $0.013 USD per mile)

Well, suffice to say that I’m very surprised by the results of this promotion.

This Aeroplan promo was shockingly popular

Buying Aeroplan miles for just $0.01 USD is an incredible value, though I wasn’t expecting this to actually be that popular. Travel isn’t really a thing right now, and who knows when it will be again.

Admittedly this was a really good price, but there’s still a lot of risk — we don’t know when we’ll realistically be able to travel again, and there’s always the chance of an award chart devaluation. Believe it or not, I actually made the decision to sit this promotion out, given the pile of points I’m already sitting on.

As it turns out, the promotion was so overwhelmingly popular that most people had trouble even logging in during the promo. This is in spite of (which facilitated the promo) having added systems capacity in advance of the sale. Apparently this was some of the highest traffic that has ever seen.

This should be a big lesson to lots of loyalty programs — members are still willing to engage with programs if the value proposition is right.

Aeroplan’s promo on purchased miles was wildly popular

What Aeroplan is doing for members

Aeroplan is apologizing for those who weren’t able to take advantage of this promotion, and is making things right for many.

All miles purchased between 11-12PM ET (when there were system issues) at the 65% bonus rate will automatically be increased to a 90% bonus. This means that if a customer was trying to purchase at the 90% bonus and was unable to, they are making sure they get even more miles — those who paid $0.013 USD per mile will only end up paying $0.011 USD.

That’s nice, though I also suspect that many people were going to buy miles with a 90% bonus but then decided against buying miles with a 65% bonus, and they’d be losing out here.

On top of that, Aeroplan and will donate an additional million miles to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Foundation (CAMH).

Aeroplan is improving the deal for some who bought with a 65% bonus

Bottom line

I’m happy to see Aeroplan responding so quickly to make things right for many. Admittedly this doesn’t help those who were looking for the 115% bonus (or those who wanted a 90% bonus but didn’t pull the trigger because the site wasn’t working properly), but then again, I was expecting that to be a bit of a lottery as well.

Take note, other loyalty programs — if the value proposition is right, members will buy points in huge quantities.

In general Aeroplan should be commended for all the ways they’ve been engaging with members during this time, even making it possible to earn status from home.

Are you surprised by how popular this Aeroplan promo was? Did you try to buy miles?

  1. “Take note, other loyalty programs — if the value proposition is right, members will buy points in huge quantities.” – I would call what was essentially a give-away a value proposition. But ok, peddling credit cards and loyality programs is your business.

  2. @ Chris — You’re suggesting selling Aeroplan miles at $0.014 CAD is the equivalent of a giveaway? I’m curious at what cost you’d think it’s not a giveaway then?

    I’d be willing to get almost anything they’ll make money even on those who bought miles with a 115% bonus.

    And I’m not peddling anything here, I have no skin in the game/don’t get a commission on the points sale.

  3. I tried to buy right at opening time but kept getting errors so after about 30 minutes I gave up. I wanted 115% but would have settled for 90%; not interested at 65%!

  4. Prediction (or more of a given since Aeroplan said themselves they will be doing this) for blog posts 2 months from now: Aeroplan massively devalues award chart

  5. I managed to get the 115% and got to a confirmation page after payment and my credit card was charged but I haven’t got any emails and the miles have not posted yet. Did anyone who bought miles see their miles post instantly?

  6. Are you worried that programs will sell miles for cheap and then immediately turn around and devalue them, or possibly even switch to dynamic pricing?

    I’m sure the accountants know that this is a good way to get cash quickly, but especially given that gets a cut and there’s a referral cut, Air Canada can’t be getting that much for these miles (maybe 0.8 cents each)?

  7. @James
    Not sure what is happening.
    The action on your credit card might be just the first step, basically getting a promise from your credit card issuer that they approve the charge even if it happens in the next few days. I consider it like reserving credit.

  8. I see 537,500 miles in my account. Did not check right after purchase. Now, we will see how fast the Fixed Mileage space dries out. 🙂

  9. @bob Aeroplan Relaunch Delayed Until Q4, so doubt a devaluation, if applicable, till then.

  10. @ VFR — Duh, of course that is what will happen. It always has, and it always will.

  11. I think lots of people also took advantage of this because of the current promotion for earning elite status through buying points etc

  12. I have trouble predicting my plans in normal rimes and these are not normal times.
    Don’t Aeroplan miles expire in 12 months?

  13. I was able to snag the miles with the 90% bonus and the posted almost immediately. There is an interview with Air Canada VP of Loyalty and E-Commerce saying they will be keeping the award chart and not devalue the program, for what’s that worth.

  14. @Donato: miles don’t expire. Your account expires after 12 months of inactivity, but as long as you do at least one transaction (earning or redeeming), you get another 12 months. Even if one doesn’t fly often, it’s not hard to keep an account active with a small purchase through a retail partner or donating a small number of miles.

  15. Topped up at 90%, hit account, redeemed within 5 minutes and ticketed… no more buying to save for future use.

  16. I would hold short of calling it ‘Wildly Popular’ or ‘Take note, other loyalty programs’ or ‘members will buy points in huge quantities.’

    It might be popular here, and among deal hunters but I’m sure they won’t make massive amount of miles for sale that more people can take advantage of.
    Nor people buy in huge quantities, if you read the comments most people didn’t even max out the 250k limit.
    The bonus of more than 90% is limited to 110M miles, a very small fraction of miles is sold. Few benchmarks, average AC ASM for 2019 per day is 310M, or Delta Seahawks program gave 276 million miles over the last three seasons. A better indicator is how many total miles was sold, not just the first 110M.
    If people were to max out 250k, that means only 40 people got the 115% bonus and 400 got 90%. That is very small.
    So I kinda understand what @Chris is saying this is like giving it away. And no I don’t think this sale is the reason for devaluation (not that it won’t happen).

    “All miles purchased between 11-12PM ET (when there were system issues) at the 65% bonus rate will automatically be increased to a 90% bonus.”
    This compensation could imply that it doesn’t eat up much cost to compensate, and probably a lot of people backed off at 65%. Strategically, this doesn’t make sense since you see the deal before you buy so those who bought at 65% were already happy to pay at that price. If they really want to compensate they should also add those who didn’t buy at 65% an extra chance to buy at 90% or a flat 5000 miles for everyone who logged in and didn’t buy at 115%.

    Again nothing unusual here to take note. A better than average deal with very limited quantities, no different than a good Daily Getaways deal. Most people don’t even know about it but enough people will fight over it to make it sold out in a short time. I don’t recall doing any rush sale recently, so they are probably unprepared that’s all.

    I am actually surprised I got 90% (not part of compensation group) even after few crashes.

  17. Unlike SQ which seems to play dirty tricks
    I had to rebook an SQ award booking due to a blizzard. SQ told me that they would do everything for me overnight, that they would cancel, redeposit and rebook a day later for me as I slept.
    The next day I had no booking and no miles redeposited. Thet brusquely explained that when they redeposited the miles they died because they were over the time limit and expired, even as I was rebooking. they are eminently polite but totally inflexible, even when they admit that you are right.
    For the record, I previously took SQ several days after a blizzard and had a multi hour delay despite the aircraft landing 10 hours prior to flight time and little congestion at the airport.

    I am convinced that they take an interest in situations like this to make a profit through thievery.

  18. Not surprised at all. If I had the funds available I would have tried for it myself. I know I would use them with good value, even with no specific plans currently. Getting status in addition would only add to the value proposition.

  19. There’s going to be a massive devaluation, which is why Aeroplan is selling at these prices. The program change in Q4 is the perfect opportunity.

  20. @David
    As I mentioned before there are articles indicating that no significant changes will be made. The award charts will remain and so will the sweet spots.

  21. @Alex Z

    If the articles say so, it must be true! Airlines have never lied and called devaluations “program enhancements” ever 😉

  22. Thanks for all of the great info in this post. First time I’ve ever purchased miles, but just felt it was too good to pass up. I was able to get the 115% bonus and the miles posted instantly. Took about 5 minutes to get in, but it was well worth it.

  23. I was lucky enough to get the 115% bonus. But here’s what happened:

    I, like almost everyone else, was essentially blocked from paying. I made it to the payment screen (WOO!) and got there in time for the 115% availability. Upon completion, the page took a lot of time to load and I knew it was coming…and sure enough….the feared error message.

    I kept trying and trying and now saw it drop to 90%. However, I noticed that my points balance showed the substantial amount of points I attempted to purchase. And, like clockwork, I got my notification that my credit card was charged.

    Sure enough, I got the 115% bonus in and around 10:10 AM this morning.

  24. Better than United, who puts through a huge devaluation then immediately sells at an overly inflated price. Because they want to kick us in the collective gonads.

  25. I was up at 6:00am (PT) and anxiously waited for this. I got in at 115% and bought 70k miles…a few minutes later I decided to buy more…system error for the next 15 minutes. Finally got in again but only got 90%. Within 30 minutes, it dropped to 65%.

  26. I got through 2 times at 115% but the transaction failed during purchase (credit card error).
    Eventually got through at 90% and after 3 tries the CIBC AEROPLAN GOLD finally posted.
    Obviously they should reward the 90% with an upgrade to 115% to be “fair”.

  27. @ Adam
    Regarding accounts or miles expiring. I have dealt with those that expire miles, as in use them or lose them and those that reset with activity.
    Remember, airlines have many rights and can change their rules. While some maintain old rules for old miles, not all do.

  28. I’m holding out for discounted electronic travel vouchers with a two-year expiration from date of issue. Buy now, fly later! Spend $100, get a <em$110 voucher. Spend $1000, get a $1200 voucher. Spend $10,000, get a $13,000 voucher.

  29. @ glenn t – yeah, I’m sure of it. I also thought I would be clever and take $8,000 I had planned to spend on United airfare later in 2020 and instead buy United stock at $33 per share. Then, when the share price bounces back to, say, $82.50 I’ve made a cool $12,000 that I can set aside for future paid upgrades and higher ticket prices. Well…at now less than $23 per share, that hasn’t really panned out yet. Maybe I’ll see a return on investment by 2030. Probably not, they’ll just file for bankruptcy before then.

  30. I wouldn’t buy Aeroplan points for any money – if you want to buy business class seats with them, I have found them to be nearly useless. For the last 20 years I have been virtually unable to find any decent ticket anywhere in business – despite having between 1 and 2M miles all along. Complete waste. The search engine is hopeless, and mostly finds tickets with one short leg in business and others in coach, and always puts you on routes with more stops and indirect routes.
    This is a horrible rewards programme. You can find coach seats, no problem, but for business class it has gotten worse and worse. There are many flight segments that I have never once seen appear for points – Vancouver Melbourne, for example -searched for it 100x, never once seen it available – even when searching the max days out.
    To me, Aeroplan is awfully close to fraud.
    Add this with to passenger service AC is famous for lacking, and their cynical management, and I will not shed one tear over their financial plight.

    Every other airline I fly on is better by a significant amount. Westjet, Alaska, Delta, American, JAL, Aeromexico, KLM, LOT, Hawaiian, BA, Virgin, Lufthansa, Condor – all WAY better. (maybe not so enthusiastic about UAL or Aeroflot 🙁 )…..

    And, one of the nicest things about the last 2 months is I haven’t had to look at the “food” you find in every AC lounge….. most times in the past few years in AC lounge, I eat at a restaurant in the airport first, then go to the lounge just for a quiet place to sit and maybe a drink. There used to be half decent snacks 10+ years ago, but the soup, lettuce and sludge on offer nowadays is the same everywhere and basically a wa
    ste. This is true at some competitors, but most have at least something edible.

    I will sell you ALL my Aeroplan points GLADLY. Cheap!

  31. I’ve had great success with Aeroplan. Lots of flights to Vegas and Vancouver on points in business (Vancouver usually a 787). I also have an epic Toronto to Bali via Taipei (EVA business), Bali to Melbourne via Singapore (Singapore Business) and Sydney to Toronto via Vancouver (Air Canada business) all for a steal at 320,000 points for 2 of us, and only about $1000 in taxes and surcharges total. I consider that a win! Granted, I had to book it very far in advance (currently scheduled for September…hoping we can travel by then), but I always think about major travel far in advance. And with Aeroplan, the cancellation is like $30 for me, so I don’t mind booking far out.

  32. How does the Travel At Home deal triggered? I have registered and bought miles from the deal yesterday, but nothing has been triggered fro the Travel At Home offer has been triggered yet. Is there a wait period or something?

  33. The thrust of what @John ( surely this is not the same ‘John’ who constantly posts inflammatory rubbish?) says is something that everyone should consider before rushing headlong into buying cheap miles.
    If you can’t redeem those miles for seats you want, on routes you want, then they are next to useless. I suspect many buyers of those cheap Aeroplan miles did not do an iota of research to determine what they could buy with their enormous stash of new miles. Is it still looking like the bargain of the year?
    Caveat emptor!

  34. I bought 250k with 90% confirmed and credited instantly. Tried to buy another 250k but this time the order was received and tp be processed in 48 hours. Received email saying order was cancelled. No idea what has gone wrong.

  35. @John,
    If you feel that your aeroplan miles are useless and are worth less then penny a mile, I would be happy to take your miles for half a penny per mile. I have no issue finding flights in biz to where I want to go.

  36. @anthony I believe Aeroplan allows a maximum of 250k purchased miles per calendar year, which may explain why your second batch was cancelled.

  37. Hi Takhliq
    What airport do you fly out of? I am moaning about how hard it is to find short duration direct flights from the Vancouver area to Europe and Australia in business. Over the last 10 years I have only bothered with a couple, and almost never on the direct route I would actually have paid for. Maybe it is easier elsewhere…..

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