Wow: Air Canada Will Become Chase Transfer Partner, Introduce Chase Mastercard In The U.S.

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Air Canada Aeroplan which launched its new program last month just announced that:

  • They will issue a U.S. credit card with Chase in “late 2021”
  • It will be a Mastercard
  • And also in late 2021 they will become a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner

We’ve know Aeroplan planned to issue a U.S. card. They promise it’ll be “innovative and rewarding.” But there aren’t any details yet, so that’s not really the big news. I have to trust they’ll do more than offer a “3-2-1” value proposition and modest travel benefits like free checked bags when flying Air Canada.

What’s a really big deal on the business side about this announcement is that it will be a Mastercard. Chase issues almost exclusively Visa products (they lease Visa’s network for a flat fee) and Visa helped fund Air Canada’s reacquisition of the program from Aimia. Air Canada co-brands are Amex and Visa cards in Canada.

Mastercard must be offering a lot to break in with Air Canada and further with Chase, whose only current Mastercards you can apply for that I’m aware of are the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card and Chase Freedom FlexSM.

And what’s huge for consumers is becoming an Ultimate Rewards transfer partner. They currently partner with American Express Membership Rewards, and are the easiest Amex partner to book Star Alliance awards with since transfers are instant and nearly all bookings can be made online. We can assume that transfers from Chase will be instant, too, since this has been a requirement for new programs onboarded with Ultimate Rewards for the last several years.

This makes Chase Sapphire Reserve®, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card more valuable, along with no annual fee Chase cards that earn in various categories at al accelerated rate and whose points can be combined into the accounts of these three cards.

Once Air Canada Aeroplan is onboarded, Chase’s transfer partners will include:

  • Star Alliance: United, Air Canada, Singapore
  • oneworld: British Airways, Iberia
  • SkyTeam: Air France KLM
  • Non-alliance: Emirates; Aer Lingus, JetBlue, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic
  • Hotels: Hyatt, IHG, Marriott

Air Canada Aeroplan has eliminated fuel surcharges on award tickets, and they’ve been adding partner airlines that can be combined with Star Alliance airlines (like United, Lufthansa, Turkish and others) in the same award itinerary. With this announcement Aeroplan further promises “more partners and additional features” in “the coming months.”

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, 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. Any reason to think the Chase-Aeroplan relationship will be exclusive?

    I worry that the Chase deal may limit a relationship with AMEX.

  2. @Daniel Why? There are plenty of airlines that issue a card and still partner with multiple programs (Air France, Virgin Atlantic, JetBlue, Emirates, BA/Iberia, etc.)

    Aeroplan currently partners with Amex, CapitalOne, and Barclays (via the legacy Arrival Premier) – hard to believe they’ll cut all those ties.

  3. @Morris – Of course. But when you sign a new deal, it’s all on the table. And if Air Canada wants something more, it’s something they can offer Chase.

    It happened after the United-Continental merger. Remember CO was an AMEX transfer partner.

  4. @Gary – As you note, Chase can use a Visa card for literally free. Any idea what type of enticements MasterCard could offer Chase that would be better than that?

  5. Given the DOJ’s recent anti-trust lawsuit against Visa over its planned acquisition of Plaid, maybe Chase wants to broaden its offerings a little bit to show it’s not completely joined with Visa at the hip.

  6. Damn it, Aeroplan just devalued their redemption. Still nice to have Chase as a transfer partner though.

  7. Oh boy. An airline credit card. Get ready for something else you won’t want to put spend on after the signing bonus.

    Airline credit cards are like having a Macy’s card. Waste of space in most wallets.

  8. Well now I will have the option of going back to Montreal direct if I choose to. I guess that’s good news though to be honest I’m aiming in the other direction for Singapore for my Chase transfer.

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