Thursday, March 7, 2013

It's Back!!! The Aeroplan Star Challenge - Up to 20,000 Miles

Mar 7: 8:00am Update: I have revised the post as the T&C'S state that retail partner transactions have to be a minimum of $10 and are limited to one per partner per day which changes the whole game this time. See below for more updates as this post will be dynamic during the promotion period

One of the best Aeroplan promotions ever that first ran last year, The Aeroplan Star Challenge is back again!! Although it is definitely not as lucrative as last year since retail partner transactions must be a minimum of $10

This time the pot has been sweetened even more with the maximum Aeroplan Bonus Miles to be 20,000 Miles versus last year's 16,500! Plus if you hold an Aeroplan Credit Card (CIBC Aerogold or Amex AeroplanPlus) you can earn 5,000 more bonus miles. Here is last year's post with some hints on how the promotion works, this year it is pretty much the same as you earn stars for eligible Aeroplan transactions. Many people took advantage of transfers after signing up for Esso Extra (there was a bonus for joining Esso Extra) or my way of buying super cheap items at Rexall and Esso. This time you can even earn up to 9 Stars for social media activity so those can be had totally free. Unfortunately I think Aeroplan caught on to the route of earning stars as they are not included in the promotion this year.

  • Members need to register on or by texting STAR and their Aeroplan Number
    to 23333.
  • Members earn Aeroplan Stars by shopping and using the services of participating Aeroplan
    Partners when they show or swipe their Aeroplan Card.
    -Financial partners – Earn 2 Stars for every $1,000 block of spend – up to10 Stars with American Express and CIBC.

-Airline partners - Earn 5 Stars per segment with Air Canada by booking travel between March 11 and April 10, 2013 and flying March 11 to April 30, 2013, or earn 3 Stars for each Star Alliance partner you fly with between March 11 and April 10, 2013.
-Retail partners such as Esso and Home Hardware– Earn 2 Stars per transaction. -Non Air Travel partners such as Avis and Starwood – Earn up to 5 Stars per transaction depending on the partner. 

How many Stars equal Aeroplan Miles?
-If a member reaches 50 stars = up to 2,500 Bonus Aeroplan Miles; 

-If a member reaches 100 stars = up to 25,000 Bonus Aeroplan Miles.

Let's get the ball rolling just like last year with tips and tricks below in the comments section!
I'll be sure to post good Rexall deals and more, please share any offers you see from around the country

March 8 Update:
Now that I have had some actual time to dissect and think about the 2013 version of the Star Challenge, I'd like to pass along my thoughts, potential options, tips and tricks and more. As always please pass along any information you may have learned or experienced with the Challenge that either worked or didn't work.

Will it be harder to get to the top this year?
This year the challenge will definitely be harder to attain to top bonus for many who are not AC Frequent Flyers or Credit Card holders but nonetheless the challenge can be met with shopping, conversion and more. Last year all four members of my family met the challenge with roughly $50 of spend each at Rexall, Esso and Sobeys (although Sobeys was just my wife and I, the kids don't have Club Sobeys accounts). So I am not envisioning all of us hitting the 100 Star level this time around. I believe my wife and I can but it may be tougher for my kids without the Sobeys link (technically they have to be the age of majority to become members...)

The challenge definitely favours Air Canada flyers and Aeroplan card holders more this year but there are even some limitations to those Star earning methods as well.

Here are more details on how you earn stars, and some potential tips or tricks and/or even barriers on getting Stars via these avenues:

Let me remind you how the challenge as whole works. You need to earn 50 Stars to earn 2,000 bonus Aeroplan miles, then when you reach 100 Stars you will get an additional 18,000 miles for a total of 20,000 Miles. Stars are earned with various Aeroplan partner transactions. Holders of a CIBC Aeroplan Credit Card or an American Express AeroplanPlus card will earn a bonus 2,500 miles at 50 Stars and another 2,500 miles at 100 Stars for a potential total of 25,000 Aeroplan Miles.

Registering for the promotion provides you with your first Star! So do this to get this easy star!

Financial Stars (CIBC Aerogold or American Express AeroplanPlus cards)
- Holders of CIBC Aerogold Visa's can earn up to 40 Stars alone.
- The easiest is the automatic 5 Star for being a cardholder.
- Some of the other Stars are harder especially if you have the Infinite card (as you can't upgrade it like the other cards to earn 5 Stars) or if you add supplementary cards (up to 6 stars for 2) as some of you may already have supp. cards or you may not want to pay the additional $50 per year per card.
- If you can spend $5,000 on your card over the promotion period this will give an easy 10 Stars (2 Stars awarded for every $1,000)
- 5 Stars can be easily obtained by dining at CIBC Bonus Rewards Restaurants (1 Star per transaction, max 5)
- Setting up Preauthorized payments on your CIBC card can be an easy way to earn 5 more stars (1 per payment, max 5) although if you've had you cards for awhile chances are you have already done this.
- 3 more stars are up for grabs if you open an Aeroplan Unlimited Chequing account and complete a qualifying transaction. Personally I think this one is kind of a pain in the a** and may end up costing you in bank fees.

- Holders of American Express AeroplanPlus cards can earn up to 26 stars
- The easiest is the automatic 5 Star for being a cardholder.
- Some of the other Stars are harder especially if you have the Platinum card (as you can't upgrade it like the other cards to earn 5 Stars) or if you add supplementary cards (up to 6 stars for 2) as some of you may already have supp. cards or you may not want to pay the additional annual fees.
- If you can spend $5,000 on your card over the promotion period this will give an easy 10 Stars (2 Stars awarded for every $1,000)

If you hold both a CIBC and an Amex Aeroplan card then this challenge definitely becomes easier for you!

Travel Stars
Now I said the challenge is easier for AC Frequent Flyers but there is a caveat to this. If you already have a booked flight or book one before March 11 it won't count! This year you must book your flight between March 11 and April 10 for travel between March 11 and April 30 to earn stars. The good news is you earn 5 Star per segment flown on Air Canada so if you are willing to take a lot of connections or have lots of flights planned you can earn a lot of stars easily. It appears there is no limit to the number of flights/segments that can earn stars

For Star Aliiance partners, the booking rule does not apply so if you flights already booked on Star Alliance partners but you can only earn 3 Star per Star Alliance member you fly on (excluding Air Canada) regardless of how many segments are flown.

Hotel stays also earn 5 Stars per transaction (check in and one check out must occur during the promotion period) and there is no limit to the number of stays. Participating hotel chains are as follows:

Car Rental and Parking partners earn 3Stars per transaction and there is no limit to the number of transactions. Participating car rental and parking partners are as follows:

Vacation Packages and Cruise Stars
You will earn 5 stars if you book a cruise via Expedia CruiseshipCenters during the promotion period and if you book an Air Canada vacation package with Air Canada flights the same terms as flying Air Canada apply, 5 stars per segment awarded for packages booked between March 11 and April 10 that are completed between March 11 and April 30

Conversion Partner Stars
This is where lots of stars were earned in the 2012 version of the challenge, in particualy with but as I mentioned is not participating this year nor is American Express Membership Rewards which sucks for me. Plus on all the partners that are participating (as this would be an easy way to meet the challenge by doing many conversion) you are limited to a maximum of 9 stars from conversion partners, that is 3 conversions at 3 stars each.

Retail Partner Stars
This is where the big hit comes in this 2013 version! My family pretty much got all our stars this way last year as did the majority of Aeroplan members participating in the challenge. Now faced with a one transaction per partner per day limit and a minimum $10 spend for each transaction, the value of the bonus miles quickly diminishes as you would have to spend a lot more money this year to achieve all 100 stars via the shopping route (well 91 since you could earn 9 via the registration and social media methods). This means that you would have to do 46 transactions in the 35 days of the challenge and spending $460. Granted if you spent the $460 on things you actually need than this is a no brainer other than the time and effort exhausted in earning the stars. You earn 2 Stars per eligible $10 transaction and this includes the eStore. The eStore falls under the same rules 1 transaction per vendor per day at $10, so I guess you could sit at your computer and hopefully buy $10 items from mulitple vendors each day to get the stars. Not the greatest way to do this however!

Here are some potential retail options that may offset the cost of transactions or make your transactional costs lower ( I have not tested these yet of course, only time will tell if they work)
- At Esso you apparently earn Aeroplan Miles on purchases of Gift Cards and Lottery Tickets, so if you need your lotto tickets buy them at Esso and if you can make use of the Gift Cards they sell then I guess you are not buying worhtless items (I still have loads of Rexall Bandages and Make Up Remover pads from last year that were bought at $1.09 each)
- Also, we are not sure yet if the retail partners will be reporting the transaction value ($10) to Aeroplan. Aeroplan may just have their system set up based on the number of Aeroplan Miles earned. For example, I know shopping at Sobeys you get 1 Sobeys point for your first transaction of the day, which would mean you only have to buy something for $9 rather than $10 as those 10 total Club Sobeys Points would equal 5 Aeroplan Miles (which I hope Aeroplan would assume meant a $10 spend)
- (Space reserved for future tips/tricks)
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- (Space reserved for future tips/tricks)

Social Media Stars
You can earn nine stars easily for various Social Media activities however for some of us who already follow Aeroplan on Twitter you may lose the ability to earn one of them
You earn one star for each of the followiing activities:
- registering for the promotion by SMS or on the Facebook App (not sure if this is canceled out by the 1 star earned for registering for the promo on
- for watching the video and answering three trivia questions (this should be easy)
- for sharing the video (super easy)
- for getting a friend to register for the Star Challenge (should be super easy unless you have no Facebook friends...)
- for responding to the weekly trivia questions (up to 4 Stars) (should be super easy too)
- for following us on Twitter via the Star Challenge Facebook App (like I said above, you may miss out on this one but you can circumvent it easily by creating a new Twitter account if you already follow Aeroplan with your main account)

March 8 2:32pm Update:
I have clarification from Aeroplan that this following method will not work, as this "No Purchase Necessary" rule is strictly complying with federal laws for the "PLUS, EVERY STAR YOU COLLECT IS A CHANCE TO WIN 1 OF 10 PRIZES OF 500,000 BONUS MILES**" portion of the Star Challenge. The Star or Stars awarded through the submission of essays do not count towards the accumulated total of Stars. Just wanted to mention that I found this method on FlyerTalk BTW.

No Purchase Necessary Entry Stars
This is taken straight from the Challenge rules and does not state a limit to the number of 'essays' you can write, so presumably you could write 100 of them (sent all separately, which will cost you about ~$65 all in):

To earn stars without purchase, please handwrite your name, home address, including your postal
code, Aeroplan Number, daytime and evening telephone numbers and include an original handwritten
essay of at least 100 and no more than 250 words as to what you would do with 500,000 Aeroplan
Miles and mail it to:
2 of10

Star Challenge Contest
c/o Amélie Amyot
5100 boul. De Maisonneuve West, ZIP 1154
Montreal, Quebec H4A 3T2

Limit of one (1) essay per stamped envelope. To be eligible for a star (see clause 6), your envelope
must be postmarked no later than April 10, 2013, after
which you will not receive a star and will not get
an additional chance to win. Aeroplan will not be responsible for lost, misdirected, stolen, ineligible or
delayed entries, or those with insufficient postage.
March 12 Update:
A reader of ours posed this question on our Facebook page:
I have two questions about the Aeroplan Star Challenge: For Sobeys, is the $10 minimum before coupons or does it have to be $10 after all coupons? Hilton Honors point conversion- their website says that point conversion could take 60 days. How do you ensure that the conversions fall within the promotional period?

This is the response from Aeroplan
For Sobeys, it just has to be a $10 spend, regardless of coupons (cause it’s based on earning and it will only capture that the member spent $10).
For Hilton, it is logged as the date that the member makes the request so as long as they do it before Apr 10th, it will count.

So if you have coupons and Sobeys does award points based on your spend prior to the application of coupons (have to confirm this) than you should be able to lower your spend below that $10 threshold. For Hilton as long as you make the request prior to the end of the promotion it should count

March 13 Update:
Some more tips and/or tricks for the Star Challenge (some of these are pulled from the thread over on FlyerTalk )

- Like mentioned above Purchase Gift Cards/Lottery Tickets at Esso. Apparently Gift Cards other than Esso cards will earn Aeroplan Miles when bought at Esso. Selection may not be great but it is an option.

- Purchase gift cards (in particular e-cards) via select retailers on the Aeroplan eStore. Apparently Indigo and Sears GC purchases made via these retailers via the eStore earn Aeroplan miles. If you but Indigo eCard GC's use them the next day to buy more. <---- br="" have="" if="" know="" let="" me="" please="" success="" this="" with="" you="">
- Here is a new idea of mine, not sure if it will work as I haven't tried it yet but will call to see if they will do it. Go park at an Aeroplan Airport parking partner and ask them to charge you the minimum rate for the day even though you are not staying. For example Park N Jet Calgary is $8.95 for a day (you need to park for a day to earn Aeroplan miles), so ask them if they would charge you for the day even if you are only there for 5 minutes as you want to earn Aeroplan miles for it. That should post and count as 3 Stars. This is always an option for those who may need extra stars towards the end of the promo. <---- a="" br="" idea="" if="" is="" it="" just="" know="" let="" me="" not="" on="" one="" or="" terrible="" think="" this="" thoughts="" will="" work="" you="" your="">

That's it in a nutshell so far! This post will be a living document for the next month so be sure to bookmark it or change detection it so that you can see any updates and follow up on the comments below.

For myself I don't forsee any issues getting to 100 Stars and the rest of my family to get to 50 Stars each, the 100 for them will be tougher especially considering it can take a lot more 'spend' on the retail side but make take on the 'essay' challenge for them.


  1. Besides the 10.00 spend, you can only do one transaction per day at the partners... this is too much work!!

    1. Yes this is true as well, I am in meetings all day but will update the post to reflect this as well later this evening

  2. Too much work for almost a free flight? wow!

    This is a great promotion but def not as lucrative as last year's min $3 dollar at esso and sobey's .

  3. Reading last year posts it seemed like everyone was hitting this big! This year it takes a little more work, but still worth it. Great job as usual Patrick.

  4. Do you know how many stars to redeem Best Western points? I just redeemed 5000 BW points for 1000 Aeroplan. Rather than redeem all at once, I guess I'll redeem the minimum on a daily basis. Got in on the 50,000 point sign up last year, no fee. Prob should cancel it soon, and get the new one with promo(hopefully) later this year eh?
    Thanks, Jay

    1. Note that you can only earn stars on a few points transfers. Shopping & spending, a lot, will be required.
      - jerry305

    2. As Jerry305 mentioned there is a maximum of 9 stars awarded on conversion transfers

  5. I'm really new to the whole collecting rewards thingi so excuse my question if it sounds dumb ! I have an American express gold card not an aeroplan one. Does it still make sense for me to try to collect points ? Can I convert them into Amex rewards ?

    1. This time around the Star Challenge does NOT include transfers from Amex so unfortunately no stars would be earned.

  6. Is it possible to do a transaction at Sobeys, Esso and an e-store in the same day or is it one transaction per partner per day? My account says I have 17 points but I count over 30 so I am confused. I have an aeroplan card so 5 points, 6 for media, 1 for joining, 10 for Sobeys, 10 for Esso and 2 for estore purchase at Indigo. That is 34 stars so why does my account only say 17? Are some not counted yet? Is there a way to dispute the stars?

    1. Yes it is possible to have transactions from different retailers in the same day. Chances are the star count is behind, I know it was last year. Give it a few days and your balance of Stars should show higher.

  7. I purchased $10 at Esso (Supreme). I got 3X bonus with the curent Esso promo. I have not seen the stars yet but I see the transaction on Aeroplan. I think you do not get Stars if you also get a bonus. Yesterday I bought $10 regular (which has no bonus). I will see if that works.

    Also if you register via Facebook also register via SMS. I got an extra star for SMS.

  8. This challenge is hard for people in Toronto because we can't collect Aeroplan at Rexall and there aren't any Uniprixs. I'm basically doing Esso and Sobeys every day now...

  9. Will I receive stars for flying on an Aeroplan redemption?

    "Earn 5 Stars per segment with Air Canada by booking travel between March 11 and April 10, 2013 and flying March 11 to April 30, 2013." So I sure hope that "booking travel" also includes booking flight rewards.

    I'm flying YWG - YYZ - IAD - YYZ - YYC - YWG, all on AC or AC Express-Jazz.

    Am I gonna get 25 stars for that???

    - jerry305

    1. I am pretty sure Aeroplan tickets do not count towards the Star Challenge