AIR MILES parent company set to file for bankruptcy

BMO announces agreement to buy AIR MILES! Click here to read more about this latest update

Update #1 4:40pm MT: Looks like AIR MILES has disabled merchandise redemptions to keep from having a run on miles happen….

Update #2 5:25pm MT: Cash Miles eVouchers etc. are no longer available. Flight, Hotel, car rental vacation bookings are all working still. For the most part travel bookings should be safe as AIR MILES is a registered travel agent and agencies like TICO will protect travellers*. If you do book flights just be sure you receive an actual ticket # (for example Air Canada’s start with 014). * Just learned the TICO compensation fund doesn’t cover tickets paid with points or miles.

Update #3 7:42pm MT: Merchandise and other rewards are now available again. I just redeemed 4,878 miles (this is with a Gold collector 5% discount) for a product that is $499+tax. That’s 10.7 cents per mile (better than our average valuation of 9.5 to 10.5 cents for flights!)

Update #4 8:44pm MT: And most redemption options are gone again. Merchandise et al showing down for maintenance.

Update #5 March 10 7:17am MT:  BMO Bank of Montreal has agreed to purchase AIR MILES from Loyalty Ventures. We’ll have coverage of that shortly!

Loyalty Ventures, the parent company and operator of AIR MILES is preparing to file for bankruptcy protection. AIR MILES is one of Canada’s largest and best known loyalty programs. It helped shape the coalition program landscape in Canada and Worldwide.  However, after a tumultuous 2016 with their expiring miles debacle, the program struggled to regain the spotlight as one of the leading loyalty rewards program in Canada.

This was followed by a mass exodus of their major nationwide partners over the last few years. Lowes, Rona, Staples, Old Navy, and more all left the program. However, the big loss that accounted for a big chunk of Loyalty Ventures revenue was the Empire Company Ltd. grocery stores (Sobeys, Safeway etc.) leaving AIR MILES for the Scene+ program.

AIR MILES has tried hard to make things work out better. They revamped the program during the pandemic to make their AIR MILES Flights more flexible but that in turn made the miles less valuable, they introduced their card linked offers but those were limited to Mastercard cards and so on. However, without adding any significant new partners all those changes were for naught.

What should members do now?

Honestly, I would hate to see a repeat of 2016 where thousands of members redeemed miles for things they didn’t want but were afraid they would lose their miles at the end of year. AIR MILES reversed course on the expiring miles but in December of 2016 – way after so many members did use up their miles.

However, bankruptcy is whole different ball game and while companies do emerge from bankruptcy to keep going, we just don’t know if that will happen here. Loyalty Ventures as a company is not doing well financially. And, if they do emerge from bankruptcy will the already beaten up AIR MILES program be revamped and made much less valuable so the company can recover? If that’s the case, will that make the miles worth even less than they are now? Anything is a possibility.

So the decision is up to each individual member whether they should redeem their miles now or if they want to gamble and wait it out to see if the program survives. I know what I am going to do. I am sitting on over 15,000 AIR MILES Dream Miles and I just sent links to the merchandise catalog to my entire family and told them to go shopping! I am not going to wait it out and take a chance to lose out. I would rather get 5, 6, 7 or so cents per mile than 0. Do let me know in the comments what you yourself are planning to do!

Thanks to Joshua for alerting us to this news via Bloomberg News

Want to learn more? Have a question? Join our Facebook group to ask the Rewards Canada community!

Be sure to subscribe to the Rewards Canada News email newsletter so that you don’t miss out on any loyalty program news and offers! You can subscribe to the newsletter here