[Starts 10 a.m. Eastern] Best Miles Purchase Deal Ever? Air Canada Sells Miles For Just 1 Cent Apiece

Air Canada only just started selling miles for the first time six weeks ago. They’ve also been been among the most creative engaging loyalty program members while they aren’t traveling.

Now they’re launching something really special – what may be the best mileage purchase sale ever. Between May 7 at 10:00 a.m. Eastern through May 13 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern, they will sell miles for as little as 1 cent apiece.

  • 1 cent tranche: The first 10 million miles sold receive a 115% bonus ($0.014 CAD/mile + sales tax or $0.01 USD/mile without tax)

  • 1.1 cent tranche: The next 100 million miles sold receive a 90% bonus ($0.016 CAD/mile + sales tax or $0.011 USD/mile without tax)

  • 1.3 cent tranche: After the first 110 million miles sold they’ll offer a 65% bonus ($0.018 CAD/mile + sales tax or $0.013 USD/mile without tax)

Air Canada Aeroplan is a Star Alliance frequent flyer program. They offer access to Star partner awards across the alliance, and far greater functionality and better customer service (telephone hold times back in winter notwithstanding) than LifeMiles which offers incredible deals when selling miles for around 1.35 cents apiece (and there’s currently consternation because of the precarious position of Avianca).

While Aeroplan adds fuel surcharges to redemptions on some carriers, you’ll primarily just want to avoid Asiana, Austrian, Lufthansa and Thai.

As long as you’re betting on Air Canada’s survival through the pandemic, this is a fantastic offer and not just in the ‘first tranche’ of 10 million miles at 1 cent apiece. I’m a buyer at 1.1 cents as well.

One you hit 1.3 cents I think you want to have a clear near-term use for the miles. Aeroplan hasn’t yet revealed what its new program is going to look like, though we have some information like that international partner awards will still be based on an award chart. My primary reluctance to load up at 1.3 cents apiece is that I already have several hundred thousand Aeroplan miles, so wouldn’t use these right away, and of course I can top off transferring from American Express Membership Rewards if I need to.

Key things to know:

  • No taxes on mileage sales for “transactions made with US based cards with a US billing address”

  • They allow you to buy 250,000 miles per transaction and 500,000 miles per year – but that limit is on the base purchase, excluding the bonus. If you were able to make two transactions in the first tranche you could buy up to 1,075,000 miles at 1 cent each.

  • If you don’t already have an Aeroplan account, enroll now to be ready to take advantage of the purchase offer. There’s apparently no waiting period on new accounts to be able to jump on this – which is unusual. A waiting period for new accounts is often an anti-fraud measure (but also a cost reduction measure as new accounts under normal circumstances are also most likely to redeem miles right away).

  • Aeroplan and Points.com will make a donation to The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Foundation for each miles purchase

  • Transactions are processed by Points.com so do not earn air travel category credit card bonuses

  • This offer overlaps with Air Canada’s offer to let you earn elite status by earning miles from home so you can earn elite status buying miles and existing elites can upgrade their status or earn other benefits as well. Fifty per cent of the total miles purchased through this Buy Miles promotion will count towards our Travel at Home status offers.

Business class to Europe is 55,000 to 57,500 miles each way; Asia 75k or 77.5k each way. The elite status double dip makes 1 cent, or 1.1 cent, mileage purchases even more exceptionally rewarding.

Set your alarms or Outlook calendar reminders for 10 a.m. Thursday. I plan to.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. 10m miles is nothing if you can buy in chunks of 500k. That’s like the first 20 buyers it seems. I’d plan on 1.3 cents each and then look for the devalue down the road mixed with a lack of available awards as well for anything to Europe in 2021. Still a good value but I’m worried they’ll devalue.

  2. Folks never learn. No airline can be trusted not even SQ. Going long on a specific current with no guarantees on depreciation makes no sense apart for those with an immediate need

  3. I was about to jump in on the purchase until you brought up the SQ situation. Thanks for the reminder Marcus.

  4. And I’m sure they have fantastic award availability for your investment and will never go out of business liquidate etc
    Safer than holding onto cash 😉 Personally I wouldn’t buy right now at a half a cent
    My travel days are numbered until some confidence comes our way
    And now I’m not sure a cure,vaccine or treatment is even the answer
    Don’t want to be on a flight in a mask for 15 hours.Its uncomfortable going to the grocery store in one!

  5. Really wish I hadn’t transferred 9,000 AmEx MR points yesterday to top up for an award. At least I’ve already got my flight booked now before everyone else starts fighting for availability on Thursday morning.

  6. Need help with the math, you can buy up to 75K+ with the stay at home program, I have 0 miles in this program but have some travel to the UK (maybe) over the rest of the year and AC is the cheapest carrier around here.

    So to get to 75K do I need to buy 150,001 miles at say 1.1 cent each since only 50% of purchased miles count towards status so 75K Elite for about $1650 USD ? And that includes 20 EUpgrades?

  7. When it comes to most any real person who is facing financial/economic uncertainty at this time with regard to their personal employment, small business or investment situation, locking up real cash in an airline loyalty program sounds like a big gamble that is best left to institutions with low borrowing rates and best avoided by ordinary folks at this time.

    I have no intention of becoming another unsecured “creditor” of an airline more than I may already be in ways and so won’t be putting up any money for this.

  8. I don’t recall seeing a lower price for a major airline saying their points directly. The previous low that I recall is 1.1 cents from DL.

  9. In life it is always better to owe someone than have someone owe you since the debtor doesn’t really ever have to live up to their obligations via ignoring it, bankruptcy, devaluing things, etc.

    How many gift cards that people are buying from restaurants will ever be redeemed? Many of those restaurants will never reopen. Donate if you want, but don’t think you are getting something extra.

    Lets see where the US is in 2 months with all of these states reopening.

  10. For non-Altitude member, no matter how much over 50k you buy, you only get to 25K right? I don’t understand the ‘50% counted as AQM’ statement.

  11. So you’re recommending lending to, of all sectors, an airline for an undetermined period of time, which may or may not fail in this crisis, and where a very real risk of devaluation exists, regardless of survival. Gotcha.

  12. Airline loyalty programs are a conga-line of thieving swindlers trying to sell you “miles” with one hand and take away their value with devaluations with the other hand. In some countries that sort of behaviour is rewarded by chopping off one hand.

  13. @ Gary — Track-it-back was the best mileage purchase ever. This offer is tempting. The hesitation with TIB was that US Airways was on the verge of bankruptcy, and we all see how that turned out.

  14. @Gary – Which card would you use to make this purchase? Since the AMEX Blue Plus Biz and CITI X2 Cash have foreign transaction fees involve.

  15. Web site jammed. Impossible to get through from 10am – 10:25am.

    Now sold out except for the 65% offer.

  16. Same experience. Impossible to log onto the site. By the time it freed up (around 10:30) they offered only the 65% bonus. Not that I am a cynic or something… But can anybody tell us that, from their own experience, the 115% bonus actually existed?

  17. I’m glad people like to buy these deals (especially now, when the airline can really use the cash). If you MUST (or REALLY LIKE) to fly biz class, and are willing to be extremely flexible in your travel plans to find available seats, it can be a good deal. I’m 99% sure AC isn’t going anywhere so the only real risk here is devaluation (assuming you can live with the potentially poor availability). Personally, I tend to fly AC about once a year overseas, in coach, for a couple hundred bucks on a fare that even earns me a material number of ff miles. Availability is usually easy on these deals, so I don’t have to jump through many hoops and can fly when it’s most convenient for me. That works better for me, but different strokes for different folks.

  18. I have enough miles with other programs to worry about. Bankruptcies & availability are potential problems. Devaluation seems to always be a certainty. Taking a pass in today’s market.

  19. @Gary – When does the Travel At Home offer being triggered? I have registered and bought more than enough miles to trigger this offer. I don’t know how this offer works.

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