Aeroplan members received an email notification this week New General Terms and Conditions for the program. These changes will take effect on December 19, 2022.
These changes are primarily directed to earning points on your own and not on behalf of others, prohibited activities, and Aeroplan’s remedies for members deemed to have engaged in the above activities.
Most of these changes clearly affect credit card usage, so it’s wise to review. Let’s take a look at what’s going on and what this might mean for Canadians with Aeroplan co-branded credit cards.
New Aeroplan Terms and Conditions
With these upcoming changes, the key areas to focus on are Sections 6, 10 and 11 Aeroplan’s Terms and Conditions.
Section 6 Amended to clarify that Aeroplan Points earned through Partners will only be credited to the Aeroplan Account of Aeroplan Members who transact with the Partner.
For Aeroplan Credit Cards, Aeroplan Points will only be credited to the account of the Member who is the primary cardholder of that Aeroplan Credit Card. Aeroplan Points will not be credited to any other Member’s membership number or account.
This means, among other things, that you cannot put your own Aeroplan account number on your partner’s Aeroplan credit card. It’s always been frowned upon if someone does slip through the cracks, but now it’s explicitly banned.
member’s account with [a] The switching program must be in the member’s name so that the name on the Aeroplan account and the account under such switching program are the same person. Under the Aeroplan Program, conversion from the Conversion Program to Aeroplan Points is permitted for the purpose that the Aeroplan Points generated under any such conversion arrangement are subsequently used by the Member for redemption within the Aeroplan Program, and Aeroplan reserves the right, at any time, to make changes to the Member from the Conversion Program at any time. Limits are imposed on the ability to convert to Aeroplan Points and to use such Aeroplan Points after conversion.
Again, this paragraph means that you cannot transfer Membership Rewards points from your own American Express credit card to a friend’s Aeroplan account. Again, this was not condoned before, but it is now clearer that it is not allowed.
Section 10 Here’s where things get tricky, with a whole new set of rules for credit card welcome bonuses.
[a] The Welcome Bonus is designed to incentivize a member to become the holder of an Aeroplan credit card, but the member is not a holder of a specific type of Aeroplan credit card at the time
Aeroplan may, in its sole discretion, limit the number of Welcome Bonuses or similar bonuses or incentives a Member may receive during any period and, in addition to other remedies set forth in these Terms and Conditions, reserves the right to suspend, revoke or terminate any conduct engaged in excessive use of Welcome Bonus offers person’s account. Such conduct includes, but is not limited to: (i) applying for multiple Aeroplan Credit Cards across one or more product types or across one or more financial institutions that issue Aeroplan Credit Cards; (ii) upon receipt of a welcome bonus or similar bonus or incentive cancel or cancel the model using the Aeroplan Credit Card shortly thereafter; (iii) purchase and cancel or return the model for any product or service for which Aeroplan points are issued.
Previously, the terms governing duplicate welcome bonuses on the same card or multiple welcome bonuses for different products (eg, Visa Infinite Card and Visa Infinite Privilege Card) were entirely developed and enforced by the bank. Now, Aeroplan will be watching this too, and they may take sweeping measures to crack down on members who get new cards just for the welcome bonus.
at last, Section 11 The prohibited activity and remedies for it are spelled out in more detail.
In other words, Aeroplan emphasizes that members may suspend, revoke or terminate their membership if they exhibit: behavioral patterns.
Aeroplan reiterates its call for the following actions:
(i) apply for multiple credit cards of different product types (e.g., entry, core, premium) across multiple financial institutions that issue Aeroplan credit cards to circumvent these terms and conditions or the terms and conditions of any such financial institution issuance Aeroplan Credit Cards to receive multiple Welcome Bonuses; (ii) cancel or cancel the use of Aeroplan Credit Cards shortly after receiving the Welcome Bonus
What does this mean for cardholders?
Aeroplan makes it clear that they don’t like cardholders opening multiple cards of the same tier from different banks in rapid succession, or multiple cards of different tiers from the same bank.
With so many credit cards on the market, this has always been a great way to earn bonuses fast because it’s never been banned. Right now, though, if Aeroplan is going to start banning this behavior and enforcing it, it’s most important to focus on the biggest and best bonuses, rather than a rambling approach on many cards.
Additionally, Aeroplan apparently encourages cardholders to continue spending on the card in the long term, rather than taking a welcome bonus and hiding the card.
As members want to continue to earn Aeroplan’s favor, it’s important to commit a healthy ongoing spend on any card they open, beyond the initial minimum spend requirement.
While we understand that terms and conditions may not always be strictly enforced, the prospect of pushing the boundaries in this environment is not all that enticing given that the downside risk to your travel rewards account may be irreversible.
For most cardholders, your behavior probably won’t change. More than likely, if your actions as an Aeroplan member would get anyone’s attention, you may have realized that you should call it back.
Fortunately, there are still plenty of ways to accumulate travel rewards quickly. American Express continues to offer industry-leading incentives. Plus, Aeroplan Family Sharing makes it easy to earn and redeem with your loved ones while using the Aeroplan number on your own credit card.
There is still value in participating in the program; Aeroplan simply wants its members to play the game by Their rules, and laws were enacted for this purpose.
What does this mean for Aeroplan?
This is the first time Canadian Loyalty Partners has restricted the behavior of its members across multiple financial partners. The only similar example that comes to mind is the Marriott Bonvoy US credit card, where American Express and Chase share data to limit the number of welcome bonuses each member can receive.
However, in the US, these agencies have clear terms outlining if and when you are eligible for another welcome bonus. These are strictly enforced, they just govern the points you can and cannot earn; there is no penalty factor for misconduct.
If Aeroplan is moving in the direction of enforcing these exclusions, it would be ideal if they had the vision to provide the same clarity as Marriott Bonvoy in the US. Clear guardrails go a long way toward member engagement and goodwill, as opposed to opaque boundaries that loom over every nook and cranny.
Currently, Aeroplan only offers threats with no clear rules in updated terms and conditions, which is somewhat frustrating, making it difficult for customers to know how they can and cannot use the program.
For example, the following types of conduct are all quite reasonable on the surface, but technically meet the definition of prohibited conduct when the terms are read carefully:
- Possess an American Express and Visa Aeroplan card, as the acceptance of American Express is limited across the board
- Hold multiple Aeroplan credit cards, but make meaningful purchases on each card for different purposes (eg, personal and business expenses)
- Apply for an Aeroplan card issued in Canada and the United States to maximize the card’s unique benefits as a connected member in both countries
- Change from one Aeroplan credit card to a different tier (eg, from Core to Premium) and then to another (eg, Back to Core) due to changing travel needs
Based on Aeroplan’s recent trajectory, it’s clear that the program’s leadership trusts their members to do the right thing.
Since updating the program in late 2020, they have been more than willing to strike a balance between limiting liability and keeping members engaged. In fact, despite some necessary negative changes, they have demonstrated an effort to add value.
With that in mind, a draconian crackdown by Aeroplan is unlikely. Instead, these new terms and conditions are broad and vague in scope and simply allow Aeroplan to handle unique and extreme situations while preventing repeated steps to earn a credit card welcome bonus without further credit card usage.
For anyone who may be concerned about whether their past actions have crossed the line, please remember that these terms are only effective on December 19, 2022, and Aeroplan retroactively reprimands members for actions taken before these actions were expressly warned against.
Aeroplan New General Terms and Conditionseffective December 19, 2022, will expressly prohibit certain conduct and institute remedies for members deemed to have violated these policies.
The terms are quite loosely worded to cover almost any degree of remedies for any situation, which is bound to cause some fear among its members. That said, Aeroplan should be savvy enough not to deploy these broadly worded rules on members in an unnecessarily hostile manner.
Make no mistake: Aeroplan knows its most valuable customers are its frequent flyers and organic spending long-term cardholders, and they are sending a clear message that they want to reward these groups the most.
If you want to be in the program long-term, it’s important to find ways to continue to extract value from the environment that Aeroplan lays out.