With less travel this year there are going to be fewer elites flying. Airlines are extending current elite status through next year, but that alone isn’t going to make up for it. There will be fewer flights, so the elites-to-seats ratio may even be proportional. But airlines are going to need their most engaged customers to come out of the current crisis.
Frequent flyer programs have done an amazing job of turning marketing from an expense into a profit center. But without travel, members are less engaged in the programs. And that means less spend with credit card partners, too.
It takes creative effort to get members continuing to earn in the program when they aren’t likely to redeem right away. But that earning means cash now – and is even more valuable than ever both because of the premium on cash for struggling businesses and because the redemption expenses won’t come until later.
That’s why it makes so much sense to sell miles at a discount, to bonus credit card spending even more, and to bonus transfers of points into the program (because the program gets paid for their points by the partner a member is transferring out of).
- Earn 50,000 miles between now and May 31, and you’ll receive the first tier of elite status. (This will not be counted as credit towards higher levels of status.)
- Or if you are already elite, here’s the bonuses you can earn:
If you’re an Altitude Elite 50K member and you earn 250,000 Aeroplan Miles during this offer, you’ll receive a total of 4,500 (1,500 + 3,000) Bonus [qualifying miles], 20 eUpgrade Credits, $1,000 Bonus Altitude Qualifying Dollars (AQD) and a one-time status upgrade to Elite 75K.
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Here’s what existing Aeroplan elite members can earn:
This is all in addition to the offer through April 30, 2020 where every five Aeroplan miles donated to a charity fighting the COVID-19 cwill earn one Bonus Altitude Qualifying Mile (AQM) – up to a maximum of 25,000 qualifying miles.
What’s cool about the new offer running through the end of May is that all points count including points from credit card initial bonus offers, credit card spend, and points transferred into the program (as well as points from other partners like online shopping).
Transfers from American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One, Barclays, Diners Club, CIBC, ICBC, Cathay United Bank, and more count, as do hotel and points.com transfers.
Bonus elite qualifying miles from this promotion will be credited by August . Bonus qualifying dollars will be credited by December 15, 2020. For 100K and 75K elite tier members, earning 250,000 miles during this period will generate 25,000 bonus miles towards million mile status.
The Aeroplan team are no dummies with this promotion though – if you cancel a new credit card before the end of 2020, return merchandise or have other reversed transactions they may remove the bonus qualifying miles or dollars from your accounts and any other benefits you’ve received. This is their “anti-gaming” provision.
I like what American has done (earn million mile status from credit card spend) and Hyatt (with extra elite nights for card spend and new card acquisition, plus those nights count towards built-in benefits every 10 nights in the program). However this may be the most aggressive promotion for broad-based activity in a travel loyalty program we’ve seen so far.
Anyone who expects to fly Air Canada a reasonable amount in the future should take advantage of this. I expect that points transferred into Air Canada’s Aeroplan will retain strong value. In the current crisis it’ll be difficult to devalue redemption opportunities (at least right away) and especially so for Air Canada which received the cash to buy back its loyalty program from its card issuing partners, who will want to ensure the program remains attractive enough to encourage spend.