Use points or keep saving? What Canadians should know about the Aeroplan-Porter deal

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Aeroplan strikes deal with Porter
WATCH: Aeroplan has named Toronto-based Porter Airlines as it's preferred Canadian carrier as of 2020. As Seán O'Shea reports,the loyalty rewards program says it plans to offer members the chance use their miles on any airline, eventually. – Aug 3, 2018

Canadians with Aeroplan miles collected may be feeling pressure to spend points before several promised changes to the loyalty program kick in July 2020.

But rewards programs rules often change without much warning and Canadians shouldn’t act in haste, chief editor of website Pointshogger, Matthew Lau, explained to Global News.

READ MORE: Aimia and Porter Airlines partner up on Aeroplan program

“There’s no way to predict it — what if the program becomes better in your favour or what if it becomes worse?” he asked.

“As you can see, loyalty companies can change their minds every two weeks, every day they can change their minds.”

WATCH: Aeroplan signs partnership with Porter Airlines

Click to play video: 'Aeroplan signs partnership with Porter Airlines'
Aeroplan signs partnership with Porter Airlines

Lau added that his advice is to redeem points based on personal needs.

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“If you see a reward that fits your need or your goal, just redeem it. I wouldn’t put that much effort trying to keep up with changes.”

WATCH: Aeroplan withdraws survey amid criticism

Click to play video: 'Aeroplan withdraws survey amid criticism'
Aeroplan withdraws survey amid criticism

Aimia Inc., which runs Aeroplan Miles, announced Friday that Toronto-based Porter Airlines will become its preferred Canadian airline.

This follows the company’s rejection of an offer for Air Canada and its partners to buy the Aeroplan program and assume the responsibility for honouring about $2 billion worth of points that consumers have accumulated.

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The switch will happen July 2020, as its current arrangement with Air Canada comes to an end.

Aeroplan used for any airline by July 2020

Friday’s announcement comes just after Aimia announced its plans to make Aeroplan points redeemable on any airline.

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The company’s CEO, Jeremy Rabe, said in a press release Friday that plan is still in place.

READ MORE: Do loyalty programs make you spend more?

“We’ve committed to our five million members that they will be able to choose any seat on any airline, anywhere, any time, with the new Aeroplan program,” Rabe said.

The company’s website explained that includes any airline accredited by the International Air Transport Association.

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Canada’s best cash back credit cards

After the 2020 changes, round-trip flights in North America that are short-haul will be offered beginning at 15,000 aeroplan miles, while long-haul ones will begin at 25,000 miles.

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Flights to Mexico and the Caribbean will be offered starting at 40,000 points. European flights will begin at 60,000 and Asia flights at 75,000.

What makes a preferred airline different?

What makes Porter different is that preferred airlines “will offer Aeroplan members even greater value on fares on the routes,” the company explained to Global News in an email.

Aimia has also been in discussions with the Oneworld airline alliance, whose members include British Airways, American Airlines and Cathay Pacific, for similar preferred agreements.

READ MORE: Aeroplan apologizes, withdraws survey after criticism

In an email to Global News, Aimia said it is also in talks with other potential preferred partners and expects to make announcements soon.

What happens to Porter’s existing VIPorter loyalty program?

Porter’s existing VIPorter loyalty points will be converted into Aeroplan miles once the deal becomes effective in 2020.

Porter passengers will then earn and redeem Aeroplan miles instead, then be able to use them with Aeroplan travel partners.

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Lau explained this agreement is great news for frequent flyers of the airline.

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“The problem with Porter before was the [points] were only for Porter — you earned and used on Porter. You had no access to any partners,” he said.

“Now, even if you only fly on Porter, when you collect the points you can redeem on other airlines.”

How does this affect Air Canada flyers?

In an email to Global News, Aimica explained that miles will still be redeemable for Air Canada after 2020.

“Come July 2020, members will be able to redeem miles for Air Canada flights as well — similar to other travel loyalty programs today,” the email read.

READ MORE: Air Canada offers to buy back Aeroplan, part of a $2.25 billion bid

But its preferred relationship will be over.

“Aeroplan will not receive the same discounts from Air Canada as we do today once that contract expires,” the statement added.

WATCH: Air Canada teams up with banks to buy back Aeroplan

Click to play video: 'Air Canada teams up with banks to buy back Aeroplan'
Air Canada teams up with banks to buy back Aeroplan

What happens to your credit card?

Aeroplan-affiliated cards from TD, CIBC and American Express will not need to be changed, Aeroplan explained on its website.

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It noted that the cards remain “extremely popular.”

Shortly before announcing the Porter agreement, Aimia reported that spending on Aeroplan credit cards remained strong in the second quarter and the company is “making solid progress” on streamlining its business.

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