At the end of the day behindthecockpit.com is here to help you maximize your travel experience value. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by using points you accumulate for free tickets, upgrades, car rentals, hotel stays or even toasters. The usual ways to accrue points is by either flying or buying.
Over the last few decades credit card companies have started offering tempting bonuses to sign up for their card. While I don’t suggest you get 12 different credit cards because this will screw with your credit rating but having an AMEX or two and a VISA/MC is fine.
Living in the great white north we don’t have the same amount of banks as in the USA and as a result we have very few good bonus point credit card offers compared to our neighbours. I will touch on other credit and cheqing account offers in the future but will start with the Grand Dame first so those of you who want to get a nice cushion right away will be able to do so.
Our friends at American Express have a card called the Aeroplan Platinum Plus. At certain times throughout the year they offer 50,000 Aeroplan bonus points structured in this way, 25,000 for signing up, 20,000 after your first purchase and the remaining 5,000 when you spend between $1,000-$3,000 total in the first 3 months after activation.
Now let me start with the bad news, $499 annual fee. I’m sure most of you have headed back to facebook by now but those who are still with me there is an easy chance even with the fee you will be well ahead of the game.
So besides the miles what will you get with this card? Air Canada Priority check in and Maple Leaf Lounge access any time you’re flying on a Star Alliance flight, which includes Air Canada and 25 other major airlines. Air Canada charges $399 for these benefits alone. You will get access to Priority lounges with any airline ticket. Also once a year, you will get one free companion short haul ticket when you redeem 15,000 aeroplan miles for a flight.
If you happen to stay 5 nights at a Fairmont hotel you receive Platinum status (Normally you need 30 nights or 10 stays minimum) which entitles you to one free night, 2 confirmed suite upgrades, room upgrades, welcome amenities, early/late check in and out, $100 dining credit and many other benefits that can be worth $250 such as a round of golf. The free night can be used at hotels such as; The Plaza in NYC, Savoy in London, Monte Carlo, Banff Springs, Pacific Rim Vancouver and any of the other 50 Fairmont hotels worldwide. A night at some of these hotels can start at $700!
With Fairmont Platinum status you can also choose one free local food experience yearly with your Passions Choices. Here we each enjoyed a local Maui raised Rib Eye steak on one side with local fresh fish on the other, excellent meal.
Lastly you also receive the 50,000 bonus aeroplan miles which is enough for two tickets to anywhere in the continental USA/Canada. So for example I’m long overdue to visit my buddy in Chicago. Since there are only a few direct flights fares usually are in the $750 range per person. So I could use my sign up bonus and head to Chicago with my girl and save $1500 on plane tickets right there. Truthfully though I save my miles for longer trips in premium cabins because that’s where I personally see the best value for points.
So in total even with the $500 fee I can easily get over $2000 of value with this card. If you don’t see yourself needing any of the additional benefits in a future post I will touch on the AMEX Gold cards which are also an excellent option and have no annual fee for the first year.
If you do decide to sign up for this card make sure it’s when they offer the 50,000 bonus. You can usually find this deal at the aeroplan.ca website