The new Aeroplan program has launched this week, and that has included the introduction of refreshed co-branded credit cards. In this post I want to focus on what’s perhaps the most intriguing card of the collection, the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card.
The good folks at Amex sent me a sample welcome package for the new American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card, and it’s very well done. Those fancy metal cards (13g, according to Amex) always remind me of the first time I was handed one when working retail and was so startled by the unexpected weight that I dropped it.
Aeroplan’s new, sleeker branding works well in a matte, black-on-black format in a way that the previous cute logo – even without the orange – never did.
But enough about the aesthetics, we all know it’s what’s inside that counts.
First, the breaking news: the welcome bonus offering for the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card is certainly more generous than what Aeroplan’s other credit card partners are offering.
New cardholders can earn up to 75,000 bonus Aeroplan points, which break down as follows:
- Earn 35,000 bonus Aeroplan points after spending $3,000 within the first three months
- Earn 5,000 bonus Aeroplan points per month when you spend $1,000 monthly in the first six months
- Earn 10,000 bonus Aeroplan points if you have already registered on the Amex waitlist for the new Aeroplan cards
You can also earn a $100 statement credit when you spend $3,000 within the first three months.
By comparison, the TD prestige-level welcome bonus is 20,000 points at first purchase, plus another 30,000 points and a BOGO economy flight buddy pass for a trip within North America if you spend $1,000 in the first three months.
CIBC is lowballing its welcome offer of just 20,000 points at first purchase, and a buddy pass if you spend $3,000 in the first four months.
Earn up to 75,000 Aeroplan points with the Aeroplan Reserve Card bonus
A little something for existing cardholders
If you already hold an American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum or Reserve Card, you haven’t been forgotten either. For the first year, you get:
- 1,000 Aeroplan bonus points for every $1,000 in purchases, up to 10,000 bonus points
- 2x points on eligible grocery purchases in Canada, up to $5,000
- $100 credit towards the annual fee for the card
While it’s nice that Amex isn’t completely ignoring its existing customers, this isn’t a really big perk in light of the annual fee being raised from $399 to $599. Existing cardholders may want to consider making the jump to TD for its welcome bonus, while TD holders may do well to switch to the Reserve Card.
The American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card offers the following spend multipliers:
- 3x points per dollar on eligible purchases from Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations
- 2x points per dollar on eligible dining and food delivery (but not groceries)
- 1x points per dollar on all other eligible purchases
Earn 3x points on Air Canada purchases with the Aeroplan Reserve Card
Like the prestige-level cards offered by TD and CIBC, which I covered previously, the Reserve Card has SQM rollover benefits, front-of-the-line service for upgrades and standby, and can earn you an Annual Worldwide Companion Pass, among other perks.
The Reserve Card offers a greater ability to share benefits with your travel companions than its competitors, allowing up to nine people traveling on the same reservation with the primary cardholder to access priority check-in, boarding, and baggage handling.
It also carries some parking, valet, and check-in benefits specific to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.
Get priority for upgrades with the Aeroplan Reserve Card
Travel cards in a COVID-19 world
Missing from any of the materials I reviewed on this card, from the glossy welcome package to the press release, was any acknowledgment of the unprecedented times that we are living in, and the omission seemed a bit glaring.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t envy the marketing team tasked with launching a suite of cards whose benefits are extremely focused on travel experiences and purchases in the midst of a global pandemic, in a country where international travel has ceased to be even a realistic aspiration for the foreseeable future.
The main quote in the release is about how travel has “become a big part of so many people’s lives,” when for many of us, including the vast majority of people who might be interested in a prestige Aeroplan credit card, the role of travel in our lives has never been so small.
It’s worth giving the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card a serious look for the welcome bonus, if nothing else.
That said, the base earn rate is lower than the prestige cards offered by the other partners, and increased earn rates apply more narrowly to travel, dining out, and ordering in. While many of us are doing a fair amount of the latter these days, more of my budget still goes to gas and groceries than to Skip the Dishes.
If I had traveled more than twice this year, I might see some real value in that 3x multiplier for Air Canada purchases. But unless and until the borders reopen and travel normalizes again, it’s difficult to recommend that anyone fork over this kind of annual fee for a suite of benefits that don’t do you much good in your own hometown.