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Air Miles Guide Featured

The Ultimate Guide to AIR MILES

To the point AIR MILES is Canada's best-known reward program and you need to know about it to save a lot of money on your travels or every day!

The distinction between CASH and DREAM rewards

The first thing to know about AIR MILES is about reward miles.

There are two kinds:

  • CASH rewards
  • DREAM Rewards
dream rewards
The Cash - Dream rewards - AIR MILES

CASH Rewards

With CASH Rewards, members earn cash rewards for everyday purchases like gas and groceries.

Air Miles Silver Rewards

The value is fixed and is the easiest currency to use in the AIR MILES program.

DREAM Rewards

DREAM miles are used to earn dream rewards such as travel, theme park tickets or merchandise.

Air Miles Rewards Dreams

Value is variable and it is the currency that can deliver the best return in the AIR MILES program.

Cash or Dream?

It’s up to you to make your choice of accumulation based on your goals. To find out what’s best for you between Cash or Dream, keep reading!

The choice of accumulation between Cash and Dream

Before earning AIR MILES reward miles you’ll need to define your type of earning. 100% cash or 100% Dream… or a combination of both.

  • If you prefer concrete and immediate rewards, it will be best to choose the CASH rewards
  • If you are more flexible with your dates, it is better for you the DREAM rewards.
Air Miles Preference Allocation

You can change the accumulation level whenever you want (the change will be taken into account at 3:00 a.m. (EST) the next day).

Earn miles

Whether you choose to use your miles for Cash or Dream rewards, you’ll need to earn them!

Let’s discover together all the possibilities of accumulation with :

With purchases from partners

AIR MILES has more than 120 partners and 100+ online sponsors.

Miles earning rate will be different for each partner. For example:

  • ACE: 1 mile / $20
  • Best Western: 20 miles per stay
  • Staples: 1 mile / $40
  • IGA: 1 mile / $20
  • Jean Coutu: 1 mile / $15
  • and much more!

Watch for flyers from each AIR MILES Sponsor. By purchasing certain products, you could earn many bonus AIR MILES Reward Miles.

air miles featured circulars
Read the flyers to earn more miles!
AIR MILES Partners

Here is a complete list of AIR MILES retailers.

With airmilesshops.ca

AIR MILES has an online shopping portal called airmilesshops.ca.

airmilesshops explanation
Comment fonctionne airmilesshops.ca

By using this portal before shopping online, you will get 1 mile / $20 of purchases. This is called “the basic offer.”

Then, during promotions, comes the “multiplier”of partner shops AND from the whole site airmilesshops.ca.

The multiplier of partner stores

Regularly, AIR MILES partner stores offer mileage earning promotions through a multiplier.

5x miles air miles
5x les milles avec ce partenaire

For example, if it is indicated that you will earn 5x the miles, it means that:

  • you will get 1 Mile for every $20 you spend (basic offer)
  • you will get 4 miles / $20 purchases (bonus offer with the multiplier)

That’s 5 miles / $20 in purchases.

That’s why AIR MILES indicates 5x the miles.

Value

Knowing that 1 mile = $0.105 then 5 miles = $0.525. This makes a cash return of 2.6% in this example ($0.525 / $20).

The multiplier on the whole airmilesshops.ca website

What’s interesting is when AIR MILES also offers a multiplier on the entire airmilesshops.ca portal.

10x the miles airmilesshops
10x the miles on airmilesshops.ca

In this case, the multiplier offered by the store and the one offered by airmilesshops add up on the basic offer:

For example, if it is indicated that you will earn :

  • 5x miles at the shop
  • and 10x miles on all airmilesshops.ca stores
Air miles multiplicateur
Achat La Baie de 120 $ avec Air miles multiplicateur

This means that for the 5x miles with the store :

  • you will get 1 Mile for every $20 you spend (basic offer)
  • you will get 4 miles / $20 purchases (bonus offer with the multiplier)

In addition :

  • you will get 1 Mile for every $20 you spend (basic offer)
  • you will get 9 miles / $20 purchases (bonus offer with airmilesshops.ca multiplier)

That’s 15 miles for every $20 you spend.

Value

With 1 mile = $0.105 then 15 miles = $1,575. This makes a cash return of 7.9% in this example ($1,575 / $20).

With credit cards welcome bonuses

AIR MILES is a partner with 2 financial institutions offering a lot of AIR MILES credit cards

  • American Express
  • BMO
air miles amex bmo

Each of these cards will have a welcome bonus when you apply for it. This is a good way to earn many AIR MILES bonus miles quickly!

AIR MILES and American Express

For individuals

American Express has 2 AIR MILES credit cards for individuals:

For the self-employed, professionals and small businesses

And 2 AIR MILES credit cards for self-employed / professional / small businesses:

AIR MILES and BMO

For individuals

BMO has many AIR MILES credit cards

For the self-employed, professionals and small businesses

BMO also offers two AIR MILES credit cards for self-employed individuals, professionals and small businesses. View their presentation here.

With purchases made on credit cards

To collect AIR MILES Reward Miles faster, the best way is to use your AIR MILES credit card as often as possible!

The miles earning rate will often depend on the issuer and the type of card:

Double-dip!

Be sure to double-dip by paying with your AIR MILES credit card and showing your AIR MILES loyalty card at the checkout.

With promotional events

Throughout the year, AIR MILES runs promotional events during which you can earn many miles.

Apart from the credit cards welcome bonuses, events are one of the best opportunities to earn hundreds of miles.

Méli Mélo Air miles
Méli Mélo Air miles

Redeem Cash reward miles

Let’s discover together all the redemption possibilities with CASH miles:

  • For in-store discounts
  • For electronic certificates

For in-store discounts

AIR MILES CASH rewards can be redeemed directly in-store (IGA, Jean Coutu, Shell…) for an instant discount at the checkout.

95 miles = $10, or 10.5 cents / mile.

This is the easiest way to redeem CASH rewards.

Gift cards

Throughout the year, brands like Jean Coutu run promotions to encourage you to redeem your CASH reward miles.

So you can use only 75 or even 85 miles for $10.

Like 85 miles = $10 or a value of 11.8 cents / mile

air miles jean coutu 85
Disney World

To learn more about using miles to save at Disney World, check out this article!

For electronic certificates

As we have seen above, with some stores you can redeem your CASH rewards miles DIRECTLY at the checkout.

For others, it will be necessary to use an electronic exchange voucher to be retrieved online.

95 miles = $10, or 10.5 cents / mile

Air Miles Silver Awards
Air Miles Silver Awards

Redeem DREAM miles

A little more complex to use than CASH rewards, Dream Miles can however get you a better return on your miles.

Here are all the possibilities of using the DREAM miles for the :

  • flights
  • Car rentals
  • vacation packages and cruises
  • Hotels
  • events and attractions
  • Products

Free flights

With Dream Miles, it is possible to obtain airline tickets directly on the AIR MILES website.

Short-haul flights: the best deal

The best use of AIR MILES Dream Miles is on short-haul flights.

That is to say, local flights (generally destinations less than 2 hours away) such as Montreal to New York, Boston, Toronto, Halifax, St John, etc.

The number of miles required depends on membership status (Blue, Gold or Onyx). In addition, the cost in miles now varies according to market fare prices.

15% discount on flight

Only one AIR MILES credit card in Canada offers a 15% discount on all AIR MILES reward tickets (in North America), the BMO® AIR MILES® World Elite®* Mastercard®*.

Beginning July 04, 2022, this discount will change to a one-time, annual 25% discount, up to a maximum of 750 miles.

This card also offers excellent travel insurance.

It allows you to accumulate 1 AIR MILES mile / $12 in purchases, everywhere, including Costco.

In addition, for a limited time, it is offered the first year .

Credit Card Review

To learn more about this excellent AIR MILES credit card check out this article!

For car rentals

AIR MILES reward miles can be redeemed for car rentals.

Here is an example of a compact size car rental for a week in Orlando.

Orlando MCO car rental Airmiles
Orlando MCO car rental Airmiles

On the AIR MILES website, a compact car rental in Orlando costs 2,970 DREAM miles and $10.33 CAD ($10 AIR MILES reservation fee + taxes).

On the Costco Travel website, this same compact car rental in Orlando costs US$ 571 at Budget (or $733 CAD)

To find out the value of an AIR MILES mile, here is the calculation.

Thus:

  1. CA$733.88 (cost of the car if paid in $) – CA$ 10.33 (AIR MILES reservation fee) = CA$ 723.55 net
  2. CA$ 723.55/ 2,970 miles requested = $0.24/ mile
Value

This is a very good use of the Dream Miles. At more than 20 cents per mile, you double the valuation compared to Cash rewards (10.5 cents/mile).

To learn more about renting a car with AIR MILES, check out this article!

For holiday packages and cruises

You can redeem Dream Miles on AIR MILES’ travel portal, powered by Redtag.

With your miles, you can purchase all-inclusive vacations, cruises or theme park tickets (such as the popular Disney and Universal Studios parks).

The Dream Miles redemption rate will always be the same: 909 miles = $100

red tag disney home page en
red tag disney home page en

Here is an example of an all-inclusive week in Mexico.

All Inclusive Mexico Air Miles Red Tage
All Inclusive Mexico Air Miles Red Tage

It is possible to apply 8,181 miles to save $900.

Total Final Red Tag

Here, 1 Dream mile = 11 cents

Value

This is the use case for Dream Miles that comes closest to the value of Cash Miles. It’s still interesting to be able to put your toes in the hot sand!

To learn more about booking an all-inclusive with AIR MILES Reward Miles, read this article.

For hotels

It is also possible to redeem Dream Miles to book hotel nights.

The value is not always optimal, but these miles can help you have a relaxing, inexpensive vacation.

Air Miles Hotels

For events and attractions

In its awards catalogue, AIR MILES has a “Events and Attractions” section. The rewards available vary with the seasons.

Air Miles Entertainment

For merchandise

Finally, it is possible to redeem Dream Miles on AIR MILES’ rewards catalogue to buy products.

Merchandise Am

On the Dream Rewards catalogue , there are discounts based on status:

  • up to 5% fewer miles for Gold members
  • and up to 10% fewer miles for Onyx members

The mileage rate will vary depending on the items and your status.

Let’s take the example of an easily comparable item, for someone with an Onyx status. All taxes and shipping are included.

Air Miles Air Fryer
Air Miles Air Fryer

To compare the price, let’s take the same product on amazon.ca. The price is $535.27, including taxes:

Amazon Air Fryer
Amazon Air Fryer

To find out the valuation of the AIR MILES mile, here is the calculation:

Cash Price / Number of miles used

535 / 5,158 miles = 10.4 cents / mile
for Onyx members

535 / 5,742 miles = 9.3 cents / mile
for members without status

This purchase by an Onyx member is close to our 10.5 cent/mile valuation. However, an AIR MILES member without status would lose out.

But if you have a goal in mind or a gift to give to please, why not!

Value

A basic tip: you don’t buy products with miles. However, depending on the status, some members may find it OK!

Managing your miles

Now you know how to earn and use your AIR MILES reward miles.

Now let’s see how to manage them… every day!

The value of miles

As you saw above, there are 2 types of miles… but several valuations!

So, we agree to say:

  • 1 Cash mile = between 10.5 cents and 11.8 cents
  • 1 Dream mile = between 9 cents and 25 cents

That means the BMO® AIR MILES® World Elite®* Mastercard®* or BMO® AIR MILES® Business Mastercard®* Welcome Bonus is worth between $270 and $750!

Cash or Dream?

You understand this: if you want to play it safe, you will earn CASH reward miles. If you are more flexible you will earn in DREAM reward miles.

Transfer miles

It is impossible to transfer miles from a Cash account to a Dream account and vice versa.

It is possible – but very expensive – to transfer miles from one AIR MILES member to another AIR MILES member: 15 cents/mile!

Tip

When you sign up for an AIR MILES credit card, you can give any account number you like. It’s convenient for earning welcome bonuses and miles from credit card spending on the SAME account.

The expiration of miles

AIR MILES miles no longer expire.

Status

AIR MILES has 3 levels of status:

  • Blue
  • Gold
  • Onyx

Each of these status will offer its own benefits:

Air Miles status
Air Miles status

The most interesting status to get is the Onyx status which offers:

  • a personal assistant service to use Dream Miles

Simply call a personal assistant and use your Dream Miles to treat yourself to almost anything! Even what is not in the award catalog.

Tip

Welcome bonuses from credit cards count towards earning top status! This made it very easy to get GOLD or even Onyx status very quickly!

Conclusion

AIR MILES is the must-have loyalty program in Canada due to its footprint in many partner stores.

It appeals to all audiences:

  • those who prefer cashbacks will get Cash rewards
  • those who want to afford travel or activities will get Dream rewards

Finally, to ease the accumulation process,there are about ten credit cards affiliated to the AIR MILES program , enough to get thousands of miles!

This post was not sponsored. The views and opinions expressed in this review are purely my own.

Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!

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