You will face four different ways to book an award ticket, with varying proportions of Aeroplan points + cash.
When you search for an Aeroplan award, a cost in Aeroplan points + cash is displayed on the search results. This cost equals the lowest fare in points + airport taxes.
You will then be taken to the purchase confirmation page once you have selected the flight you want. This is where you will have to choose between four different payment methods.
The different options of Aeroplan + cash points
The payment options are :
- The regular number of Aeroplan points + cash (taxes and fees) required
- All Aeroplan points + $0
- 80% of regular points + 20% of required points converted to cash + cash (taxes and fees)
- 60% of regular points + 40% of required points converted to cash + cash (taxes and fees)
For example, here is what the search for a flight to Los Angeles yields:
We can see that the cost displayed in Aeroplan points + money is 11,500 points + $74.94 on the results.
Then, on the confirmation page, the following four options are proposed:
I Granted, these options are not well positioned on the website for easy explanation.
First, we need to locate the cost that was displayed on the search result page, which was 11,500 points and $74.94; this rate is the regular number of points Aeroplan + cash required, which will be called the “true cost” of the airfare, and the cash amount to be paid is only the cash taxes.
If you click on the link “View price breakdown”, you can see that you only pay the actual airport fees.
The two options on the left are 60% and 80% of the regular number of points. In these cases, you are buying some of the Aeroplan points deliberately or because you lack the points to choose the “true cost” of Aeroplan points + cash. You can see the different amounts that are added to your bill when you look at the details of your selection.
Then on the right, we find the price entirely in points. Air Canada will redeem points to pay the taxes and fees in this situation.
If you do not have enough points, you will be unable to select these options. You must have a minimum of 60% of the standard cost of the flight to use the Aeroplan + Cash points feature.
In the jargon of the travel hacker, we always say that you should take the third option; it is the “true cost” and the most optimal Aeroplan points + cash. In the application, the “true cost” is displayed second on the list to mix you up.
Understand the implication of each option
So, here is a quick summary of the different Aeroplan points + cashoptions for this flight from Montreal to Los Angeles:
- 60% of the standard cost in Aeroplan points: you pay 4,600 fewer points and make up for it by paying $117.06 more (purchase value 1 point = 2.54¢)
- 80% of the standard cost in Aeroplan points: you pay 2,300 points less and make up for it by paying $71.26 more (purchase value 1 point = 3.10¢)
- Standard cost of Aeroplan points + cash: 11,500 points and $74.94 in taxes and fees
- Points only: Air Canada will convert $74.94 in taxes into 7,494 points (sales value 1 point = 1¢)
Calculate the value of Aeroplan points
Milesopedia estimates the value of an Aeroplan point at 2¢. So, by purchasing your ticket entirely with points, you must use an additional 7,494 Aeroplan points to cover the $74.94 in taxes and fees.
However, these points are valued at $149.88; this is a less than optimal use of the points, as you could use the excess points for many other situations where they will be worth more than $74.94.
On the other hand, if you are short on points or choose the 60% or 80% Aeroplan points + cash options, you will pay more to get those points than their actual value. In fact, 4,600 points equals $92, but Air Canada charges you $117 to make up that number of points.
Just like currency exchanges where the bank sets the rates, the general rule of thumb for the Aeroplan points + cash exchange rate is :
- 1¢ per point if you sell the points
- 2¢ per point if you buy the points
It’s a marketing strategy to make you feel good about not having to pay a single dollar out of pocket or part with fewer points. Do the math! (or follow our advice and always select the famous 3rd option).
Should we use the Aeroplan points + cash function?
As we have just demonstrated, the best way to pay for a flight is with the actual cost in Aeroplan points + cash; that is to say the 3rd option.
The disadvantageous situations of Aeroplan + cash points
Aeroplan points are straightforward to collect, especially with the many generous welcome bonuses. A credit card like the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card can give you enough points to go on a long weekend in New York with your family, and then the annual fee is waived for the first year.
Free points are better than points charged at 2¢ per point with the Aeroplan points + cash option.
Then, if you don’t want to apply for a new credit card, there are often discounted point purchase promotions. The opportunity to purchase points at 1.75¢ comes a few times a year!
Finally, if you choose to pay only with points, you cannot take advantage of the coverages of some credit cards that require you to charge “a certain amount” on the card. For example, you are eligible for travel insurance from National Bank’s World Elite Mastercard® and BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard travel insurance with a simple charge such as taxes(minimal for the 3rd option).
So it’s a huge incentive to use the 3rd Aeroplan points + cash option to get coverage at a low price!
The advantageous situations of Aeroplan + cash points
However, if you don’t have enough points right away, the 60% or 80% Aeroplan points + cash option may be an excellent way to purchase your airfare and secure your seat.
Indeed, prices for Air Canada flights are dynamic. So, it may be best to buy a few 2¢ points to guarantee this rate as it may jump by the time your welcome bonus arrives or your points transfer on the statement date.
Then, flights with partners are available in minimal quantities; these flights may not be available in the future. It would be a shame to let one of those rare First Class seats on Etihad slip away, for example.
See an excellent first-class flight to the Maldives for 130,000 points when you only have 105,000 in the bank? Paying $525 with the Aeroplan points + cash option to get your hands on this $20,000 seat may be worth it. It all depends on your goals, but it can be a small price to pay to ensure you’re on a First Class flight, a superior product to Business Class, for 13 hours in a 787!
Similarly, it depends on how you look at it, but paying $500 or $900 for the opportunity to fly to Japan in First Class on All Nippon Airways is a suitable way to treat yourself when the equivalent airfare is worth over $20,000.
Personally, it’s not a dilemma for me if I don’t have enough points; I would have paid that cost to get to Tokyo since it’s a lesser amount than a class economy flight segment purchased! It’s all relative.
And even if it was only business class, it already retails for over $8,000.
So, it’s up to you to consider all the different elements of whether or not the combination of Aeroplan points + cash can be advantageous to you; indeed, with time on your hands, it’s better to accumulate points through a bonus or on your organic spending.
In fact, your organic spending (everyday expenses) can be enough to quickly accumulate a large number of points with a card like the American Express Cobalt® Card which gives 5X Privilege points per dollar on groceries and anything else purchased at the grocery store, such as gas or Amazon gift cards.
These privilege points transfer to the Aeroplan program at parity, which translates into 5 Aeroplan points per dollar.
The Aeroplan points + cash feature is essential to understand, as you can save valuable points or dollars for your next adventure!
On the other hand, the combination of Aeroplan points + cash can give us a small and reasonable financial boost for particular situations such as securing a fare or a seat.
I repeat the golden rule: always choose the 3rd option when available (or the 2nd option if you book through the application).
Is it better to pay only with Aeroplan points?
No, because when you pay airport taxes with points, you use Aeroplan points at a disadvantageous rate.
Is it better to pay with Aeroplan points + cash?
There are several combinations to pay with Aeroplan points + cash. The third option (when booking on the website) is the best; in this case, you pay the real fare in points and the right amount of money that covers the airport taxes.
What is the best Aeroplan points + cash option?
The third option on the website (or the second menu option on the app) is the best way to pay with your Aeroplan points.
Why are there several options to pay with Aeroplan?
Air Canada allows you to use less of your points or cover airport taxes with your points. Like a bank, the exchange options are always more favourable for the company than for you. The fair price is the regular cost + airport taxes.