Shop Canada's Best Air Miles Credit Cards
The Air Miles Rewards Program
You’ve seen their blue rewards cards and are probably aware of the partnerships with several major credit cards. And if you’ve flown somewhere exotic, you might have used their ever-popular miles to pay for part of or the entire value of your trip. For over 30 years, Air Miles has been synonymous with air travel rewards, and the company boasts thousands of collectors worldwide.
History of the Air Miles program
Although commonly associated with Canadian credit cards and financial institutions, Air Miles is actually British in origin. Created by entrepreneur Sir Keith Mills, the loyalty program official launched in the UK back in November of 1988. It was initially managed by the England-based Loyalty Management Group (LMG), who was responsible for licencing Air Miles to international operators.
Groupe Aeroplan, now known as Aimia, eventually acquired Air Miles and still retains the intellectual property associated with it. Aimia also serves as Air Miles’ majority partner for the program’s Middle Eastern presence; the Canadian arm of the company is managed by Toronto-based LoyaltyOne, a division of Alliance Data.
Air Miles comes to Canada
Air Miles made its Canadian debut back in 1992. Over the years, it gained a loyal following amongst its Canadian collectors and is presently the largest coalition loyalty program in the country with over 10 million active members. In 1998, it was acquired by Alliance Data Systems, which was renamed LoyaltyOne in 2008. Air Miles Canada has partnerships with over 100 sponsors, ranging from prominent retailers to financial institutions. They include:
- American Express
- Bank of Montreal
- Cineplex Entertainment
- Hudson’s Bay
- National Car Rental
- Via Rail
Miles can earned by shopping at these and other retailers, or every time an Air Miles credit or rewards card is used.
Proposed cancellation of miles
Air Miles Canada continued on without incident until 2011, when a major change to the program was proposed. The company announced that it would implement a five-year expiration on all miles earned from the beginning of the program until the end of 2011 would official expire on January 1, 2017 at midnight. Unlike a similar move made by competitor Aeroplan, Air Miles Canada’s expiration announcement went virtually unnoticed at first. However, as the expiration date drew closer, there were suddenly reports of Canadian Air Miles members experiencing a multitude of issues.
Some clients complained that Air Miles Canada’s customer service department was unresponsive, others were having problems redeeming their miles, and others accused the company of manipulating certain offers and purposely limiting the availability of certain merchandise products.
Realizing that the backlash from consumers could be devastating, Air Miles Canada decided to reverse course on December 1, 2016, exactly one month before the scheduled expiration date. On that date, the company announced that all collected Air Miles would not expire and would continue to be honoured. The reason for the sudden change was due to the proposal of a new bill in Ontario’s legislature that would outlaw the expiration of all rewards points in the province.
BMO Air Miles MasterCard
When it comes to earning Air Miles, collectors have various options available to them. Miles can be earned with a standard Air Miles rewards card, or with one of many Air Miles credit cards. Among the most popular options are the BMO Air Miles MasterCard and the American Express Air Miles credit card.
Through its partnership with Bank of Montreal, Air Miles offers a variety of credit cards to suit the needs of its consumers. The table below explains the details for each card, along with their Air Miles earning potential.
|Card||Annual fee||Earning potential||Special offer(s)|
|BMO Air Miles MasterCard||$0||- 2x Miles for every $20 spent at participating Air Miles partners
- 1 Mile for every $20 in card purchases everywhere else
interest rate on balance transfers for 9 months
Discount on car rentals
|BMO Air MilesNo-Fee Business MasterCard||$0|| - 1 Reward Mile for every $20 spent at Air Miles partners
- 1.25 x the Miles for every $20 spent at Shell stations
|1,000 bonus Air Miles|
|BMO SPC Air Miles MasterCard||$0||- 2x Miles for every purchase at participating
- Air Miles partners
|800 bonus Air Miles|
|Shell Air Miles MasterCard from BMO||$0||- 2x Miles for every purchase at participating Air Miles partners
- 1 mile for every $20 in card purchases everywhere else
|800 bonus Air Miles|
|BMO Air Miles
|$99||- 1 Mile for every $15 in credit card purchases||–|
|BMO Air MilesWorld Elite MasterCard||$120||- 1 Mile for every $10 in credit card purchases||3,000 bonus Air Miles
$120 fee waived for the first year
Companion flight rebate
American Express Air Miles Credit Cards
For those who are not Bank of Montreal clients but still want to collect and redeem Air Miles, American Express provides an alternative. Below is some information about what American Express has to offer.
|Card||Annual Fee||Earning Potential||Special Offer(s)|
|American ExpressAir Miles Credit Card||$0||1 Reward Mile for every $15 in purchases at Air Miles partners||500 bonus Air Miles|
|American Express Air Miles Platinum Credit Card||$65||1 Reward Mile for every $10 in card purchases||2,000 bonus Air Miles
within the first 3 months
|American Express Air Miles Reserve Card||$299||1 Reward Mile for every $10 in card purchaes at Air Miles partners
1 Reward Mile for every $15 in purchases everywhere else
|Receive automatic Onyx status
2,400 bonus Air Miles when you charge a total of $3,000 to your card within the first 3 months
Increase your earning potential
Life is full of options, and Air Miles Canada is a loyalty program that has something for everyone. Aside from the credit cards, there are many other ways collectors can earn miles towards exciting vacations and valuable rewards.
Air Miles Canada has partnerships with many retailers across Canada, and they frequently provide smart shoppers with extra opportunities to increase their Air Miles balance. You might even argue that they go the extra “mile” for their customers. Some even allow miles to be converted into Air Miles cash for in-store discounts.
Supermarkets like Metro and Sobeys allow for Air Miles to be earned with every purchase made, and special deals and promotions such as multiplier days further increase further increase the earning potential. On these special days, customers can earn up to 20 times the miles with certain purchases.
Other featured promotions include additional Air Miles for purchasing a predetermined amount of items, such as 50 bonus miles for $100 worth of groceries. A long withstanding promos at Sobeys gives collectors one mile for every $20 spent in-store (doubled with a BMO Sobeys Air Miles MasterCard). Be sure to check your local supermarket’s weekly flyer for more ways to earn Air Miles and save.
If you’re in the market for a new credit card, the majority of the Air Miles cards from American Express and Bank of Montreal give new applicants welcome bonuses that can sometimes amount to several thousand points.
Cash Rewards vs. Dream Rewards
Air Miles Canada is unique among the various loyalty programs, as miles accrued by members go far beyond flight-related rewards. By registering on Air Miles’ website, collectors can convert their miles into Air Miles Cash and get instant savings and rewards.
Several of Air Miles Canada’s retail partners, including Metro, Sobeys and Rexall, have promotions where collectors can get $10 off their entire purchase in exchange for 95 miles. Other partners allow for miles to be claimed as vouchers redeemable for various discounts.
Dream Miles, the primary Air Miles balance seen in your account or on store receipts, can be exchanged for savings on travel, merchandise, events, attractions and more.
Need more miles?
If you’re a few Air Miles short of a dream vacation or that special item you’ve been saving up for, you can easily add miles to your balance. All you have to do is access your account online at airmiles.ca. Click on Get Miles, follow the Buy Miles link and order your additional miles at a cost of 30 cents per mile. You can add up to 2,500 miles to your account per transaction (in increments of 100), and a maximum of 10,000 per year.
Once you’ve entered the desired amount of miles and submitted the online form, you will subsequently be charged for them. The new miles will appear in your account instantly, getting you that much closer to valuable merchandise or the trip of a lifetime.
Earn more by shopping online
By shopping online through Air Miles Canada’s online store at airmilesshop.ca, collectors can earn even more miles when they spend money at selected retailers. Members can potentially multiply their miles and get instant savings by shopping at Air Miles Canada’s various online partners, which include:
- Addition Elle
- Banana Republic
- Bed Bath & Beyond
- Kate Spade
- Linen Chest
- Old Navy
There are also opportunities to earn bonus miles when certain criteria are met, such as spending a set amount of money on your purchases. These promotions change frequently, so be sure to check the website regularly for details.
Your travel partner
It’s often said that you shouldn’t forget your toothbrush when you travel abroad. The same can be said about your Air Miles card. Not only can it get you savings and help you earn additional miles, it can also help you find accommodations for your vacation or even provide you with travel insurance.
Air Miles Canada also offers travel insurance through Manulife Financial. A variety of plans are offered, and they include:
- Canada comprehensive plan
- Car combo plan
- Emergency medical plan
- Non-medical plan
- Rental vehicle damage
- Trip cancellation and interruption plan
- Worldwide comprehensive insurance
By visiting the Air Miles Canada Travel Hub, you can book a hotel stay at one of Air Miles Canada’s lodging partners. Simply enter your desired location, you check-in and check-out dates and the number of guests into the online form, and the site will show you several hotels with available rooms. You will be able to get addition details about each hotel, such as its exact location, TripAdvisor rating, cost per night, and the number of Air Miles you can earn with your stay.