The American Express® Aeroplan®* Business Reserve Card was revamped and relaunched when the new Aeroplan program came out in November 2020. It is the only Ultra Premium Small Business Aeroplan card available in Canada and being at that top level the card provides a plethora of benefits for travelling with Air Canada and for earning a lot of Aeroplan points. Even though it is a Small Business card, American Express does allow individuals to apply for it by simply using your Social Insurance Number as your business number (Just as any sole proprietors would need to do)
The review of the American Express Aeroplan Business Reserve Card is broken down into the following sections:
The American Express Aeroplan Business Reserve Card is a card targeted towards Canadian Small Business owners who love to travel with Air Canada and want to avail of benefits that can make that travel better. From providing the airport lounge access including Maple Leaf Lounges in North America to Priority Boarding and the ability to earn an annual companion pass, this card was developed with the Air Canada traveller in mind. That being said you don’t have to be a frequent Air Canada traveller to have this card – if you do fly Air Canada even just several times per year the card could make sense for earning Aeroplan points and taking advantage of the travel benefits for those flights.
Costs & Sign up Features
The American Express Aeroplan Business Reserve Card has an annual fee of $599. This may seem high however it is more than made up for with all the benefits and earning potential the card provides. For additional cards there are two options. You can add additional Reserve cardmembers for $199 annually and those supplementary cardholders will avail of all the same benefits as the primary cardmember like lounge access etc. If you don’t require that for the additional cardholders you can add no fee American Express Reserve Cards that only earn points.
Right now the American Express Aeroplan Business Reserve Card offering a welcome bonus of up to 85,000 Aeroplan points. The bonus is awarded as 25,000 points when spend $3,000 on the card in the first three months of card membership and then 5,000 Aeroplan points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $2,000 in purchases on your Card for the first twelve months of Cardmembership.
The card earns Membership Rewards points like other proprietary American Express cards and has category multipliers on the types of purchases:
- 3 Points per dollar spent on Air Canada Purchases (includes Air Canada Vacations)
- 2 Points per dollar spent on eligible Hotels & Car rental purchases
- 1.25 Points per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases
The card also provides the ability to earn status points and segments that help you qualify for Air Canada Elite Status. You’ll earn 1,000 Status Qualifying Points and 1 Status Qualifying Segment for every $5,000 spent on the card.
Point Valuation Chart
|Spending Category||Points earned per dollar spent||Effective Rate of return (Travel) *|
|Air Canada||3||4.5% to 15+%|
|Hotels & Car rentals||2||3% to 10+%|
|All other spending||1.25||1.88% to 6.25+%|
|* This is a very low minimum valuation. In most cases you should be able to easily pull more value than this especially if you redeem for business class or first class flights.|
This is where the strength of the Air Canada Aeroplan program comes through and makes the American Express Aeroplan Business Reserve Card shine. Aeroplan offers numerous redemption options but being a frequent flyer program the primary redemption option is reward flights on Air Canada and Aeroplan’s 40+ partner airlines. Overall you can redeem Aeroplan points to well over 13,000 destinations Worldwide which is one of the reasons Aeroplan is so popular.
The new Aeroplan program has done away with their standard award charts (Classic Flights) that were the norm with the program since its inception in the 1980s. That being said, for travel on Air Canada, they do provide a range of points you could expect to redeem for flights on Air Canada with the claim that approximately 80% of redemptions will fall in that range but 20% could end up being less or more than what is published. Essentially what Air Canada has done is made the old Market Fare awards (any available seat at any time for a dynamic range of points) as their standard redemption model now for Air Canada flights. Flights on partner airlines will still follow a fixed price reward chart model. You can see all the redemption values in this PDF here.
What hasn’t changed in the Aeroplan program is the ability to redeem for Economy, Premium Economy, Business and First Class flights. With the latter three tending to provide outsized value when you compare them to any other loyalty program in the market. Speaking of premium flights, just in case you didn’t know you can redeem Aeroplan points to fly in Etihad’s ultra luxurious Apartment first class seats. And the great news with the American Express Aeroplan Business Reserve Card is that you receive preferred award pricing when you redeem points for flights. This discount varies by route, date, time etc. but we have seen it in the 10 to 30% range. The discount gets slightly bigger if you have Air Canada elite status but that only adds a few percentage points to the overall discount – the biggest portion does come from having the credit card.
On top of all this the new Aeroplan program no longer has to those dreaded carrier surcharges that could run into hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars. While the surcharges have been done away with on all airline partners, Aeroplan does charge a reasonable $39 fee for booking flights on those partner airlines. The removal of the surcharges does however translate into an average higher cost in points for a lot of the redemption options albeit in many of our searches the increase in points is much less than what you used to have to pay for those surcharges.
We didn’t want to make this review go on forever so we have kept the redemption section to a very top level description however it you want to learn more about redeeming for flights with the Aeroplan program we recommend reading the following articles:
- The New Air Canada Aeroplan program is now live
- A guide to the new Air Canada Aeroplan program flight reward redemption process
- The new Air Canada Aeroplan reward flight pricing compared: no status no credit card pricing versus elite status + credit card Preferred pricing
Finally you are also able to redeem Aeroplan points for non-flight rewards including hotels, car rentals, Air Canada Vacations packages, gift cards, merchandise, Starbucks Stars, Uber Rides and more.
Features and Benefits
The American Express® Aeroplan®* Business Reserve Card is full of benefits and additional features that complement and go beyond the Aeroplan program. Some have already been mentioned – the preferred pricing on Aeroplan reward flights is one such benefit. As well as the elite status earning portion of the card and now will take a look at more of the benefits.
First Checked Bag Free on Air Canada flights
Probably the most popular benefit that has been added to all Aeroplan co-brand cards is the first checked bag free benefit. It is provided for the cardholder and up to 8 companions on the same reservation and it waives the fee associated with basic and standard economy class fares. This saves the cardholder $30 per bag on flights in Canada, to the U.S., Mexico & Caribbean. It will also save $70 per bag if you buy the cheapest economy basic fares to Europe. (Pricing was current as of November 2, 2022)
Share Air Canada Travel Benefits with additional cardholders
If you choose to add the fee based additional cards at $199 each those cardmembers will receive all the same Air Canada Travel Benefits as the primary cardholder. Note: the Priority Pass benefit is not extend to additional cardholders.
Airport Lounge Access
The card provides access to over 1,300 business class lounges in over 130 countries around the world. The lounge access benefits are as follows
- Maple Leaf Lounges: Cardmembers have complimentary access for themselves and one guest to Maple Leaf Lounges (including the Air Canada Cafe) in North America. Access is available with a same day ticket on a departing Air Canada or Star AllianceTM flight.
- Priority Pass Standard Membership – Cardmembers must pay US$32 to access lounges
Priority check in / boarding / baggage
The card provides Priority Check In for the cardmember and up to 8 guests on the same reservation. Priority Boarding falls into the Zone 2 Category for Air Canada flights and Priority Baggage will see your luggage come out first at your destination.
Priority airport standby
By having the American Express Aeroplan Business Reserve Card should a seat becomes available on a full-capacity flight, you’ll have priority access over other travelers with the same Aeroplan status and fare type
Priority airport upgrades
Elite or Super Elite status Cardmembers will receive higher priority when requesting eUpgrades by holding the American Express Aeroplan Business Reserve Card.
Annual worldwide companion pass
An Annual Worldwide Companion Pass is awarded after the primary cardmember spends more than $25,000 on net purchases in the 12 months prior to their Card anniversary date.
The pass can be used for travel to anywhere Air Canada flies with companion paying only $99 for flights in Canada & Continental U.S., $299 for Hawaii, Caribbean, Central America and Mexico, $499 for Africa, Europe, Middle East and South America, $599 for Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Taxes and fees are extra on top of those amounts
Rollover status qualifying miles
Primary Cardmembers who also hold Aeroplan Elite Status can roll over up to 200,000 Status Qualifying Miles (SQMs) beyond the status level for which they’ve qualified, from the prior qualification year to qualify for status the next year.
Rollover eUpgrade credits
Primary Cardmembers who also hold Aeroplan Elite Status and re-qualify for the next year, can roll over up to 50 unused eUpgrade credits, to be used during the following status year.
Toronto Pearson International Airport Benefits
If you depart from Toronto Pearson International Airport the Platinum Card from American Express provides benefits such as a waived fee for Valet parking, a 15% discount on parking and the major benefit here: access to the Pearson Priority Security Lane in Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 so that you can bypass the long security lines!
American Express Experiences
As with all American Express Cards the card comes with American Express Experiences which includes Front Of The Line® Advance Access, Front Of The Line® Reserved Tickets, Front Of The Line® E-Updates, Special Offers & Experiences for all Cardmembers and Social Access for all Cardmembers.
As with all American Express Cards the American Express Aeroplan Business Reserve Card receives Amex Offers. These exclusive limited time offers sent out to cardmembers to receive statement credits or bonus points for using their card at select merchants. Depending on your shopping habits these offers alone can provide enough savings in a year to cover the annual fee on the card if not more! You can learn more about this feature in Rewards Canada’s Guide to American Express Canada ‘Amex Offers’
NEXUS Statement Credit
One of the more recent additions to the American Express Aeroplan Business Reserve Card is a NEXUS Statement credit. You can receive up to $100 CAD in statement credits every four years when NEXUS application or renewal fees are charged to your Card.
The Business Platinum card comes with a very strong insurance package that includes the following:
- Leverage your cash flow with the option of carrying a balance or paying in full each month
- Business and expense management tools and resources
- Employee Card Misuse Protection
The Business Reserve card comes with a very strong insurance package that includes the following:
- Out of Province/Country Emergency Medical Insurance (For those under age 65)
- Trip Cancellation Insurance
- Trip Interruption Insurance
- Flight Delay Insurance
- Baggage Delay Insurance
- Lost or Stolen Baggage Insurance
- Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance
- Hotel Burglary Insurance
- $500,000 Travel Accident Insurance
- Purchase Protection Plan
- Buyer’s Assurance Protection Plan
What is good about this card
Pretty much everything that was listed above is good about the card!
On the points side, you have earn amazing earn rates for Air Canada purchases. If you buy a lot of tickets with AC this card should be in your wallet to earn those 3 points per dollar spent. The rest of the earn rates are also decent for hotels and car rentals and the 1.25 points base earn rate is higher than all other card’s base earn rates for Aeroplan (save for the consumer version of the Reserve card of course!)
The benefits, we spent a lot of time discussing them above but should point out the most popular and best are the first checked bag free and the Maple Leaf Lounge access.
The sign up bonus is another strong point, up to 85,000 Aeroplan points will be worth a minimum of $1,275 for most cardmembers if not more.
As many of you know American Express has lower acceptance than Visa or Mastercard so there will be occasions where you cannot use this card to pay for items. Depending on where you live or travel, American Express does state that they are accepted at roughly between 80 and 90% of locations that take the other two brands of cards.
The $599 annual fee is definitely something to consider – it is on the higher end of publicly available cards in Canada. If you cannot avail of the benefits this card provides it can be hard to justify that high of fee. You may want to look at the Premium level of Aeroplan cards that have annual fees under $200.
Even though the card has a strong insurance package some consumers may find the Out of Province Emergency Medical Coverage not as strong as some other cards. The coverage of 15 days to age 64 is standard for American Express however competing there are many premium and ultra premium cards offering coverage up to 31 days or longer for those up to age 64 and even provide some coverage for those 65 and over.
Who should get this card
- Businesses or individual who purchase a lot of Air Canada tickets
- Businesses who have large monthly expenditures that can be paid for with an American Express as the 1.25 points per dollar will provide a lot of value.
- Air Canada flyers / Aeroplan members who don’t have lounge access and want to visit Maple Leaf lounges in North America
- Aeroplan Elite Status members who may come up shy of reaching the next elite level from their flying alone
If Air Canada and Aeroplan are your go to airline and loyalty program and you operate a business – big or small this is the card to consider getting. With strong points earn rates, amazing benefits and a full suite of insurance coverage this card has you covered. You’ll access Maple Leaf lounges in major Canadian cities and several US cities, get priority boarding and more. Basically you are getting elite status benefits without the need for being an elite status member.
And think of the card as a nice perk if you add additional cards for your trusted employees who are also flying Air Canada. They’ll enjoy free checked bags, Maple Leaf Lounge access and Priority Air Canada services. A little can go a long way and at only $199 for each additional card it can be a very worthwhile business expense to keeping your employees happy.