The new CIBC Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card offer is 10,000 Bonus Aeroplan Points and a buddy pass for travel in North America including Hawaii & Mexico

The last set of cards we look at early this morning (or late at night for those out West like us) are the CIBC Aeroplan cards. We start with their mainstay card – the CIBC Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card which is CIBC’s equivalent card to the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card and replaces the venerable CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite Card. 

 Recommended reading:

And links to the other consumer card offers revealed today:

The Welcome Bonus

limited time welcome bonus revealed today for the new CIBC Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card is the virtually the same as the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card although CIBC goes a touch further on the annual fee rebate. There are three parts to this card’s welcome offer: bonus points, a companion pass and an annual fee rebate. All of which are awarded for new applications and approvals made from today through to January 31, 2021. Like I mentioned in the post for the TD card this offer took us a bit by surprise. Why so?
Well we thought they would come out guns a-blazing with an explosive
amazing offer that would blow our minds and the competition away! Really
you are launching your new highly touted program and it should be
something over the top. Have they done that? Not really. Yes there is
potential to have this welcome bonus provide some amazing value but it
is limited to those who don’t travel alone and for those who know they
will travel by January 2022 and will want to do so in economy class with
a companion. To explain this better let’s look at the welcome offer:

  1. Welcome bonus of 10,000 points after your first purchase
  2. Earn
    an Air Canada Buddy Pass to bring anyone along to anywhere Air Canada
    flies in North America, including Hawaii and Mexico. ​
  3. Annual fee rebate for Primary and up to 3 Authorized Users

you see your standard welcome bonus points offer which is the lowest we
have seen on the primary Aeroplan card for as long as we can remember –
prior to this the lowest bonus was usually 15,000 miles but without any
other extras like buddy passes or annual fee waivers. I’m going to jump
over number two and come back to that. The third part of the bonus is
the rebate for the first year annual fee on the primary and up to 3 additional cards. This is the part where this card goes beyond TD’s as TD only offers it on the primary card and the first additional however the TD does get the new year long Starbucks bonus.

Air Canada Buddy Pass is a companion pass that you can use to get a $0
base fare on any Air Canada, Air Canada Express or Air Canada Rouge
flight in North America including Hawaii and Mexico. You receive the
pass once you spend $1,000 on the card within 90 days of opening your
account. The buddy pass is good for travel in economy class (in any economy class – Standard, Flex, Comfort, or Latitude​)
so when you buy a ticket you can redeem the pass to have someone fly
with you and you only have to pay the taxes and fees on that second
ticket. The pass is valid for 12 months from date of issuance. This is
where the potential big value comes in, if you are planning on traveling
in North America, to Hawaii or Mexico and will be traveling with at
least one companion you can enjoy some big savings, especially so if you
buy the higher end economy class fare levels and as the buddy pass has
no black out date it can be used during peak season albeit peak season
in 2021 won’t be anything like pre-COVID times. 

Here are a few examples of using the Buddy Pass for travel in early 2021:

Vancouver-Toronto  February 2021

base fare is $840 per adult for the highest Economy Fare Class
(Comfort) which means the buddy pass will save you $840! Combine this
with our minimum valuation of Aeroplan points at 1.2 cents each and the
welcome bonus for this card becomes $960 in value. If you chose to go
with the lowest Economy Class fare (Standard) the base fare is $290 per
adult so the value of the buddy pass but is still a
really good valuation of $410 for the welcome bonus in this card.

Toronto-Honolulu March 2021


base fare is $949 per adult for the highest Economy Fare Class
(Comfort) which means the buddy pass will save you $949! Combine this

with our minimum valuation of Aeroplan points at 1.2 cents each and the
welcome bonus for this card becomes $1069 in value. If you chose to go
even higher and purchase a Latitude fare on this same flight the base
fare is $1633 per
adult so the value of the buddy pass is huge at $1633!!

is a huge value for those who do buy Latitude fares but for most
Canadians I think the buddy pass will be mostly used on those Standard
to Comfort fares.

For the most part I would value the
Buddy Pass at no less than $100 based on redeeming it for some shorter
competitive routes like Toronto-Montreal or Vancouver-Calgary. For
example here’s a really cheap fare between YYZ and YUL where the Buddy
Pass would only be worth $112:

Basics of the new card

changes to the card are very similar to the TD card. Like it’s TD
counterpart the primary card annual fee is being increased to $139 from
$120 however this card’s additional card fees will remain at $50 each. I
suspect the main reason this card doesn’t see the additional card
increase is that it doesn’t get the NEXUS benefit and doesn’t see as
many insurance benefit enhancements like the TD card.

The earn rates change slightly on the card,
the card will now earn 1.5 Aeroplan points per dollar spent with Air
Canada (any Air Canada purchase, prior to this it was only for purchases) It will continue to earn 1.5 Aeroplan points
for grocery and gas station purchases but it does lose the 1.5 points
for drug store purchases which will now categorize as all other
purchases which all continue to earn 1 Aeroplan point per dollar spent
on the card. 

Here are some of the new benefits for this card:

  • Preferred Pricing – Holders of these cards will receive discounts when redeeming miles for Aeroplan reward flights
  • First Checked Bag Free
    – Cardholders will receive their first checked bag free for themselves
    and up to 8 other travellers on the same reservation. This benefit works
    on both paid and award flights on Air Canada.
  • Elite Status Earning
    – These cards earn 1,000 SQM (Status Qualifying Miles) and 1 SQS
    (Status Qualifying Segment) for every $10,000 spent on the card(s)
  • New Mobile Device (up to $1,000)
  • Hotel Burglary (up to $2,500) 
  • enhanced Trip Cancellation (up to $1,500) insurance

Why a buddy pass instead of more points?

are several reasons why Air Canada is doing this and I do get why they
have chosen to go this route. The first is breakage – this is a term
loyalty programs love and it is where miles, points, vouchers, bonus
gift cards or in this case buddy passes go unused and they expire. Hotel
chains like Best Western are famous for this – they rather award
limited time gift cards over points since the latter never expire. It
allows loyalty companies an easy way to get rid of that debt. And here
in Air Canada Aeroplan’s case they know travel is severely curtailed
right now and by not offering as many points as the welcome bonus and
instead providing a buddy pass that has a concrete end date Air Canada
is truly hoping a lot of them go unused. Even if the customer at the
time of application has full intentions of travelling there is no
guarantee they will be able to if more travel restrictions are put in
place, the traveller becomes sick themselves and so on. So that’s the
first reason Air Canada has done this – it will cost them a lot less
than issuing tons of points that people will hold onto for a couple of
years. The second reason is to boost revenue. There are people who will
travel who may not have before if they didn’t have this buddy pass. So
for Air Canada this means a boost in revenue – sure you are giving up
two seats for the price of one but that’s better than none. Planes
aren’t flying anywhere near capacity right now so if this buddy pass can
entice someone to get out of their house to take a trip then they will
do so on Air Canada instead of WestJet or any other airlines and that’s a
win for Air Canada. The third reason they have gone the buddy pass
route is they want the cardholders to be able to experience the benefits
that come with card such as the first bag free benefit.

Final thoughts

I don’t think the buddy pass is an ideal promotion to launch in the middle of a pandemic – case numbers are on the rise again, provinces and countries are starting to lock down again – it’s just not ideal timing for something like this. Perhaps, and just perhaps Air Canada will provide extensions on these buddy passes should the pandemic situation not ease up in 6-8 months.  It’s definitely a narrow group of people that this offer will appeal to.

if you do you think you’ll travel in the next 12-14 months and be doing that with someone else and know you will be heading to a
destination covered by the Buddy Pass then this is a good welcome bonus
that can provide some really good value seeing that you aren’t paying
an annual fee in the first year. 

Learn more about and apply for the new CIBC Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card here