4 Factors to Consider Before Diving In

In my previous post, I briefly introduced to you how to determine the value of a point/mile for a certain loyalty program. However, there may be other factors that need to be considered.

  1. Explore all possible rewards and find the ones that are most valuable to you. Everything is priced differently. Let me give you two examples again comparing Aeroplan and Air Miles, this time I will try using some of the higher value redemptions – flights! If you haven’t caught onto the name of my blog yet, this will be the focus of my blog.

Air Miles can only be redeemed for economy tickets, and they are based on high and low seasons.

Flight   (Return)

Average   Cost ($)

Air   Miles Required

Value   Per Air Mile

Calgary – Vancouver (low   season)


1,025 (plus $184.76 taxes)


Calgary – Vancouver (high   season)


1,200 (plus $184.76 taxes)


Vancouver – New York City (low season)


4,075 (plus $228.39 taxes)


Vancouver – New York City (high season)


5,250 (plus $228.39 taxes)


Toronto – Los Angeles (low season)


3,700 (plus $197.82 taxes)


Toronto – Los Angeles (high season)


4,775 (plus $197.90 taxes)


Edmonton – Winnipeg (low season)


1,475 (plus $184.76 taxes)


Edmonton – Winnipeg (high season)


1,900 (plus $184.76 taxes)


Most of the return nets you more than 10 cents per mile, so this is definitely better than getting a $20 store credit for 10.5 cents per mile.

Keep in mind Air Miles will charge you fuel surcharge in addition to all the airport charges, though for Aeroplan, only some airlines will charge you fuel surcharge. Therefore if you know how to play the game, you can save tons going with Aeroplan.

My favourite redemption for Aeroplan is business class ticket to Asia, in addition to your destination, it allows two additional stopovers at no extra charge! So, for 150,000 miles, you could get:


Above is a quick search I did for flights from Toronto, to Shanghai, and having a stopover at Taipei on the way. You can actually add another stopover as well, but the online engine does not handle it, you will need to call in to book.

Similar flights going revenue fare is close to $5000!


Doing some quick math here, ($4987 – $122 in taxes/fees) / 150,000 miles = 3.2 cents per mile.

So it looks like by trying around the options and tweak around, we can boost the return from miles by about 400%!

  1. Consider reward availability. It is a well-known fact that redeeming for merchandises usually does not give you a good return, it’s always the flights that hit the jackpot. However, the former have the advantage that it is almost always available when you want it. That iTunes gift card can be redeemed at any time, with no restrictions from Aeroplan, but this is not the case for flights. A lot of the times reward inventory for flights are quite limited, so you will need to be flexible with your schedule. This may not be a viable option for everyone.
  1. Consider ease of amassing the points. That is to say, if you were to collect AirMiles, how easy would it be for you to amass enough points to get your desired rewards? Credit cards often give out juicy sign up bonuses when you open the card, this would make a particular points program to be easier to amass, than say, cash.
  1. Consider thresholds. What is your end target for a certain program? Are you looking to fly around the world in style? Or just get some gift cards for your parents? If what you are looking for requires a high number of points, can you reach it in a reasonable amount of time? Or might you give up half way?

In summary, find the reward that suits you. If it’s flights you are going after, make sure you are flexible with your schedule. It’s always good to be loyal to a few programs and stick to them. Otherwise you will not be able to accumulate points and get the rewards you wanted.

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