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How to Get the Most Out of Your AIR MILES Points – Your Guide to 2019

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Last updated on April 2, 2019 Views: 547 Comments: 8
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AIR MILES is one of the most popular loyalty programs in Canada. With over ten million active collector accounts across the country, the chances are you or someone you know is already collecting points. But if you’re new to this or just aren’t getting anything out of your points yet, we’ve got you covered. Let’s get on with living your best life and find out how to get the most out of your AIR MILES points.

What Are AIR MILES?

AIR MILES are points that you can collect to redeem for some sweet rewards, like travel, merchandise, and discounts at stores. To earn AIR MILES points, you can:

  • Earn miles from spending at participating stores
  • Use an AIR MILES credit card
  • Buy them directly from airmiles.ca (useful if you’re a few points shy of redeeming a reward you have your eye on)

The number of miles that you can earn from shopping typically depends on the retail partner, but in most cases it works out to 1 reward mile for every $20 spent. When using an AIR MILES credit card, you can double dip at participating merchants.

You can choose to collect your points as either Cash Miles, Dream Miles, or a combination of both. You have complete control over how your miles are split and you can change your preference at any time online.

How Can You Earn AIR MILES?

The best way to rack up AIR MILES is to make purchases with an AIR MILES credit card, and to shop at special AIR MILES partner stores. Here are some of the most lucrative cards for earning AIR MILES:

bmo air miles world eliteBMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard

Eligibility Criteria:
– Credit score required: 
good_excellent
– Min personal income required: $80000
– Annual fees: $120 

You can earn the most points per dollar – 2 reward mile for every $10 spent anywhere – with the BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard. The welcome bonus of 3000 points is the most you’ll get from any AIR MILES credit card and the annual fee of $120 is waived for the first year. Other benefits include a 15% discount on all AIR MILES flights in North America, two annual airport lounge passes, and a comprehensive travel insurance package.

Click here to apply for the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard


American Express Air Miles Platinum Credit CardAmerican Express Air Miles Platinum

Eligibility Criteria:
– Credit score required: 
– Min personal income required: $0
– Annual fees: $65 

Although the American Express AIR MILES Platinum card comes with a less attractive welcome bonus of 2000 AIR MILES, the annual fee is relatively low, at just $65 (not waived for the first year). You’ll earn 1 AIR MILE for every $10 in purchases made with AIR MILES sponsors, as well as at eligible grocery stores, gas stations and drug stores. However, all other purchases earn you 1 AIR MILE for every $15 spent. You also get car rental theft and damage insurance as well as travel accident insurance, but you miss out on all the other additional travel insurance that comes with the BMO AIR MILES World Elite card.

Click here to learn more on American Express’s Air Miles Platinum card


BMO Rewards World Elite MastercardBMO World Elite Mastercard

Eligibility Criteria:
– Credit score required: 
good_excellent
– Min personal income required: $80000
– Annual fees: $150

Due to all the restrictions with AIR MILES, you might be wondering if it’s easier to collect a different type of travel rewards points. With the BMO World Elite Mastercard, you earn BMO Rewards points, which are fully flexible since you can use them to redeem any type of travel. When you sign up, you get a welcome bonus of 35000 points which has a value of $250. The annual fee of $150 is waived for the first year so you’re getting a total value of $540 right off the top. The card also comes with 4 annual airport lounge passes and a great travel insurance package.

Click here to apply for the BMO World Elite Mastercard

Where Can You Earn Double AIR MILES?

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AIR MILES has a diverse partnership roster, from groceries to gas and everything in between. Check out the full Sponsor Directory, but for a quick idea, you can collect extra points from:

  • Apparel: Adidas, Aldo, Amazon.ca, Footlocker, Gap, Hudson’s Bay, J. Crew, Nike, Sport Chek, Roots
  • Auto: Alamo, Budget, Jiffy Lube, National, Shell
  • Grocery, Drugstore, Beverage: Foodland, IGA, Metro, Sobeys, Rexall, Pharmasave, LCBO
  • Tech: Apple, Canon, Dell, Dyson, Microsoft, Staples, Telus
  • Travel: Booking.com, Best Western, Expedia.ca, FlightHub.com, Holiday Inn, priceline.com

It should be noted that although some sponsors allow you to collect AIR MILES nationally, some of them may only participate in certain provinces or territories. Make sure you check the directory to see where you can earn AIR MILES points near your home.

What Are AIR MILES Cash Miles?

AIR MILES that you collect as Cash Miles can be used toward a discount on everyday in-store purchases. You can redeem a minimum of 95 Cash Miles as $10 at checkout, and more in $10 increments up to a maximum of $750 per account, per day. Cash Miles can be also be redeemed online in the same increments for eVouchers sent to your email.

Check out this directory for a full list of stores available in your region that accept Cash Miles. Keep in mind that they can’t be used to buy gift cards or pre-paid credit cards.

What Are AIR MILES Dream Miles?

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AIR MILES Dream Miles are points you collect that can be used toward experiences and merchandise. Dream Miles can be used for flights, hotels, car rentals and even travel insurance.

Your Dream Miles can also be used on thousands of package vacations via the Air Miles partnership with redtag.ca. Redeeming 909 Dream Miles will get you $100 off and you’ll continue to earn $1 for every $20 you spend on the booking. Coming later in 2019 you’ll be able to start using your Dream Miles toward cruise bookings.

How Many AIR MILES Points Do I Need for a Flight?

AIR MILES calculates flight redemption rates based on distance. Generally speaking, you can get the most out of your Dream Miles when you redeem them for short haul flights since they’re typically expensive but will only cost you 1,200 to 1,400 Dream Miles depending on the time of year.

Redeeming miles for roundtrip tickets on these popular routes will cost (Miles required are listed for low season / high season):

  • Toronto to New York: 1,300 / 1,600
  • Winnipeg to Regina: 1,300 / 1,500
  • Vancouver to San Francisco: 1,900 / 2,600
  • Calgary to Las Vegas: 2,700 / 3,600
  • Montreal to Paris: 5,100 / 6,700

To find out exactly how many points it’ll take to reach your destination, check out this helpful interactive map.

Airlines set aside a limited number of seats for loyalty program travellers, so your flight choices will likely be more limited than they would be if you were to buy them outright on the market. While you’re redeeming the cost of the flight in points, remember that you’re still on the hook for any taxes and fees associated with the flight.

How to Redeem AIR MILES

Once your points start adding up, you can redeem your Cash Miles in-store by simply showing your collector card or app and asking to cash in on your points at check out. Redeeming your Miles for eVouchers can be done online through the official website.

To redeem Dream Miles, you’ll also need to log in online and use their travel portal or browse their rewards catalogue for over 1,000 reward options.

How to Check AIR MILES Balances

When you want to check your AIR MILES balance, log into airmiles.ca to find your Cash and Dream Miles displayed right at the top of the page. Your points won’t expire but if you don’t earn or spend any points in 24 consecutive months your account will go dormant and you’ll lose your balance from account inactivity.

Get the Most Out of Your AIR MILES Points

You don’t have to be a jet setter to rack up frequent flyer points to travel for free. Turns out, the best way to collect points is on the ground, using credit cards to supercharge the way you earn them. If you collect AIR MILES, already do most of your shopping with participating sponsors and pay off your balance in full each month, using an AIR MILES credit card makes all kinds of sense.

Article comments

8 comments
Dee Banks says:

I’ve had both the BMO air miles and BMO world elite cards. I use my points mostly for hotel bookings and I can say that the World Elite is a far better card for that purpose. There are way more hotel options and it’s easy to book last minute. I’ve booked a hotel on points while sitting in the parking lot and walked in with everything done. Great Card!

The GreedyRates Team says:

Hey Again Dee,

We’re loving the commentary – keep it coming! We agree that for hotel rewards, the World Elite line of cards is preferable. When you’re earning Air Miles or Aeroplan Miles, the purpose of these rewards is in their name: mileage travelled via airplane, with longer flights being more expensive relative to your points. While some cards allow you to flexibly use your Miles for hotel booking, it’s easier with points, and especially with a hotel-centric card like the Marriott Bonvoy card. If you’ve heard about it, we’d appreciate an opinion!

To us, there are few travel cards that can compete with the Bonvoy card simply due to its points flexibility. The Bonvoy network is so big (nearly 7,000 worldwide hotels) that it’s harder to find a hotel that doesn’t take Bonvoy points than one that does, and a big airline partner program is great for frequent fliers as well.

GreedyRates

Mitchel says:

Which would be the best card for International flights? I am a small business owner who flies to China once a year. Typically the flight, hotel and taxi’s are a tax write off, and when it comes to booking accommodations, I like the flexibility of being able to shop different websites. When it comes to international/asia perks should I go with airmiles or aeroplan?

The GreedyRates Team says:

Hey Mitchel,

Thanks for the great question. You have a few different options that we think would be highly suitable. First, since you’re on business abroad, you might like to avoid the foreign transaction fees that occur whenever you’d purchase anything in Yuan. The 2.50% fees could be pretty burdensome if you spend a lot while in China, and so you’d be smart to get a great travel card like the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite. This card gives you exemption from these fees and offers the kind of flexible travel rewards you seem to prefer. It also comes with 6 free passes to VIP airport lounges the world over.

However, if you’re not worried about these fees because your firm is paying for them anyway, then you might want to stick with a purer travel model like the Air Miles or Aeroplan programs. Of the two, Aeroplan is more popular, and there are several cards that would benefit you from the lineup. TD’s Aeroplan Visa Infinite card earns Miles that you can spend on travel with Air Canada, from everyday purchases like gas, groceries, and booking on aircanada.com at a rate of 1.5 miles per $1 spent. You’ll get 1 mile per $1 spent elsewhere and great insurance, including travel medical, and one free entry into the Maple Leaf Lounge each year.

Finally, if you’d rather earn the most points on travel and then be able to spend them on a broader range of things, the BMO World Elite Mastercard is one of the best all-around travel cards any Canadian can get. It offers a high level of luxury as well. Cardholders get up to 35,000 points as an introductory bonus, membership to LoungeKey and 4 free annual passes to lounges all over the world, and 3 BMO points per $1 spent on travel, dining, and entertainment (2 points per $1 spent elsewhere). You’ll be able to fly on any airline as well. Hope we’ve given you a lot to think about! Let us know if you have any more questions.

GreedyRates

Marilyn says:

Whom should I call to redeem my airmiles for a flight?

The GreedyRates Team says:

Hey Marilyn,

Great question! If you’ve got a card that collects Air Miles, then the issuer created a separate Air Miles account for you when they approved your application. You should have received some login information with your card explaining how to access airmiles.ca, which is the website that contains your account, Miles, and the marketplace of flights and other travel rewards. If you’d rather talk with someone who can help you personally, the same site has a live chat tool that’ll instantly connect you with someone friendly and knowledgeable. They can also help you recover your login information if necessary.

Call 1-888-AIRMILES if you’d rather hear a voice on the other line, but we’re not sure if you’ll be able to book over the phone, as Air Miles is set up primarily as an online service. Best of luck!

GreedyRates

Connie Cliffe says:

Can you transfer your points to another card holder?

The GreedyRates Team says:

Hey Connie,

Thanks for the awesome question about Air Miles. If you’re wondering about how to transfer your miles to another person, then this is absolutely possible. First, you won’t be transferring them to a credit card account or via any credit card issuer, but via the Air Miles program itself. This is possible online by logging into your Air Miles account or by calling Air Miles and doing it over the phone with the help of a representative. Whether you’re combining accounts, sending Miles to another person, or buying more Miles for yourself, the program makes it all simple. Let us know if you encounter any issues getting it done!

GreedyRates Staff