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Today I received a bonus offer for transferring hotel points to Aeroplan, where I can earn up to 35% when transferring points from a number of hotel programs to  Air Canada’s loyalty program. Previously, we didn’t know where Aeroplan was headed, as the loyalty program was run independently from Air Canada. But Aeroplan will now be acquired by Air Canada and will remain the loyalty program of the Canadian flag carrier (SEE: 4 things you need to know about Air Canada acquiring Aeroplan).

We’ve seen hotel transfer bonus promotions for Aeroplan in the past, and the current offer is similar. The exact percentage seems targeted, as the terms state that it is “exclusive to the recipient of this email”, but here is a link to the promo. Other offers I’ve seen are for 30%, and I’m not sure if there is anything less or greater than these percentages. The terms of the promotion are pretty simple:  “once the total Aeroplan Miles are earned by exchanging points from any combination of eligible partner programs during the promotion, the bonus miles deposited will represent 35% of the total miles earned from the exchange.”

This means you can transfer hotel points to Aeroplan from a variety of sources and earn the bonus on every transfer, which is pretty cool. You also have until April 22, 2019 to make these transfer happen. The bonus miles may take 4-6 weeks to be credited, and based on my experience with Aeroplan regarding other miles (specifically miles from Choice hotel stays), don’t be surprised if they push the upper end of this range.

Details on hotel point transfer

Generally, transferring hotel points to miles represents a poor value. The ratios aren’t very good, and unless you have some points stranded in a program that you aren’t going to use and simply want to top off your Aeroplan account, it’s not a deal you can really go crazy about. There is one transfer the might make sense, though. Here is a rundown of the points transfer bonus by program:

ProgramTransfer ratioTransfer of 60,000 points to...Total w/ 35% bonus
IHG Rewards Club10,000:2,00012,000 Aeroplan miles16,200 Aeroplan miles
Marriott Bonvoy3,000:1,000 (bonus for batch of 60,000)20,000 (+5,000 bonus) Aeroplan miles33,750 Aeroplan miles
Wyndham Rewards6,000:1,20012,000 Aeroplan miles16,200 Aeroplan miles
Best Western5:112,000 Aeroplan miles16,200 Aeroplan miles
Choice Privileges5:112,000 Aeroplan miles16,200 Aeroplan miles
Radisson Rewards10,000:1,0006,000 Aeroplan miles (before extra 30% current bonus)9,900 Aeroplan miles (effectively 65% bonus)
Hilton Honors10,000:1,0006,000 Aeroplan miles8,100 Aeroplan miles

The only one here that offers relatively good value is Marriott Bonvoy. Given that you already earn a 5,000-mile bonus on transfers of 60,000 Bonvoy points to airline miles at the 3:1 ratio (earning a total of 25,000 airline miles), and that the Aeroplan bonus appears to apply to the final number of miles earned, trading 60,000 Bonvoy points for 33,750 Aeroplan miles. Based on a value of 0.8 cents per Marriott point and 1.7 cents per Aeroplan mile, Aeroplan represents greater value. But it really depends on what you want to do with the miles.

My personal value proposition

I have one, and only one, trip in mind for using any Aeroplan miles I would gain from this transfer. It might not be what you would expect. Aeroplan has a number of sweet spots (SEE: The 4 best uses of Aeroplan miles), but one that may not be well known is their partnership with Arctic partner airlines that serve remote Canadian destinations. As these flights are typically very expensive in economy, they represent a fantastic value.

I’ve been looking at making a quick trip to Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut, with a day or two in Ottawa as well, since it can easily be incorporated as a stopover. With the transfer bonus, I would receive nearly enough miles to book both an open-jaw Aeroplan award from Ottawa to Iqaluit, and then a return to SFO via YOW and YYZ. Since Ottawa to Iqaluit is a short-haul award and only 7,500 miles, this itinerary would be possible for 20,000 miles per person. With a current 4,100 Aeroplan miles plus 33,750 from the transfer, I’d only need to transfer 3,000 American Express Membership Rewards to Aeroplan to top off to 40,000 miles.

We’d need to buy the first cash leg, though, which can often be had for about 10,000 Ultimate Rewards redeemed at 1.5 cents each one-way between SFO and Ottawa. Here is the mapped itinerary:

The award tickets can only be booked on Air Canada and First Air / Canadian North; you cannot combine other Star Alliance partners, such as United, with Canadian Arctic partners on the same ticket, so I couldn’t add the flight from ACV to SFO onto the award. But it would still be worth driving to SFO to make the flight. Alternatively, I could probably fly SMF-YVR-YOW, if there was award space on that route.

The cost of the itinerary breaks down as follows:

  • 7,500 Aeroplan miles + ~$30 for Canadian North/First Air, Ottawa to Iqaluit
  • 12,500 Aeroplan miles + ~$78 for Canadian North/First Air plus Air Canada, YFB-YOW-YYZ-SFO
  • ~$150 or ~10,000 Ultimate Rewards for SFO-DTW-YOW on Delta

Total of about $220 cash out of pocket for two people, plus 40,000 Aeroplan miles and 20,000 Ultimate Rewards. Inputting a YOW-YFB, YFB-SFO open jaw itinerary into Google Flights, this is the general cash price I’m finding:

This is per person. The total cash cost of this trip would be $3,172 for two!! Subtracting out the fees for the Aeroplan awards, this is nearly 7.4 cents per Aeroplan mile, or over 4.1 cents per Bonvoy point. If that isn’t solid value, I don’t know what is.

Whether I actually will become serious about booking a trip to Nunavut remains to be seen. This trip has been an idea of mine for a while now, but with everything else we have penciled in this year, I’m not thinking it’ll happen anytime soon. It’s still a cool exercise to see how much value this transfer could provide, though!

Conclusion

So there are my thoughts on this transfer bonus and the opportunity it provides. Transferring Marriott Bonvoy points is about the only one that interests me, mainly because of the value that can be had via Aeroplan, and the fact that I’m bidding Bonvoy adieu (SEE: Bye Bye Bonvoy: my Marriott Titanium elite status is headed for the Bon-void).

What are your thoughts on the Aeroplan transfer bonus opportunity?

Map via Great Circle Mapper, copyright © 1996-2019 Karl L. Swartz. All rights reserved.


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