For a very long time, I have always told my friends that you should NEVER use your credit card points, such as American Express points (Membership Reward points), RBC Avion, or CIBC Aventura because the value you are getting from each point is usually around one cent or less. As a few bloggers and friends have reported at Canadian Kilometres, Pointshogger and Rewards Canada, American Express (Amex ) has rolled out an official and permanent Fixed Points Travel program. It will change EVERYTHING that we used to do. I will just use a perspective of how the general public, who do not have MILLION of MR points in their Amex account, and how they would benefit the most from this program.
As you can see the Amex Award Chart, has both Economy and Business redemption options, and you can check all the information regarding this program here. In this post, I will just talk about the most basic scenario: why you should DITCH Aeroplan or any other programs in Canada for your short haul flight. I believe most of the people may have somewhere between 15K to 75K MR points banking in their account, and they would regularly fly economy with the spouse or family member. So we will be addressing this demographic in this post. We will go through each and compare these two programs to see why you should use Amex’s program rather than Aeroplan.
Say if you want to fly to Toronto from Ottawa or Montreal in December for family gathering or whatever reason, and if you would use Aeroplan for this redemption, you will get following results:
For two people flying, Aeroplan would cost you 30,000 miles and $339.9 in fees and taxes (a.k.a. scam charges), and you only have limited flight options for your departure time. Either super early in the morning, or super late at night, which I may not compromise for a short-haul flight. Now let’s take a look at what Amex has to offer:
For the same departure and return date, you will also spend 30,000 miles but only $203.64 in tax and fees (this is real charges). Plus, you can still earn Aeroplan Miles, because technically this is a paid ticket. So if you book with your American Express card, you will be charged for $583.64 first, and then you will get a credit of 379.99.
Note, the above example did not even take account of the value of each point you spent. Just by switching to American Express, you will SAVE $136 without doing anything, PLUS you can still earn miles, and it is way more flexible regarding the choice of the flights. You can choose any airlines and any unsold seats.In the case, if your flight is super last-minute, and your base fare is more than $300, you will only need to pay additional part of the $300.
Also, as Canadian Kilometre mentioned in this post, for flying business class from Canada to Europe, you will need 140K MR points, which is only 30K more than Aeroplan, but you can choose any flights from any alliances, airlines and dates. PLUS, again, you do not pay as much levy fees as Aeroplan/Air Canada charges you, and you could quickly earn tonnes of miles back. Eventually, it will count towards your elites status qualifications!
The only downside at the moment is that I found the AMEX travel booking site is not very intuitive and seems a little bit buggy time to time. It is not easy to build up a flight search engine, which I understand. So hopefully they will beget their site to work better soon.