Canada Credit Card Bonuses Really Are That Bad, Here’s a 400-Mile One

The new Air Canada Aeroplan card in the US has a 25,000-mile sign-up bonus. For an US consumer this does not raise an eyebrow.

Canadians see few large bonuses on their cards.

Here’s one I saw at the Taste of the Danforth street festival last summer in Toronto.

BMO Toronto FC AirMiles MasterCard

A 400-mile sign-up bonus. That got my attention! That’s the BMO FC Toronto Air Miles Mastercard no annual fee version. The $99 annual fee version has a whopping 2,000 mile sign-up bonus.

Ok, it may not be that bad. The basic card earns 1 mile per $20 spend and the $99 card earns 1 mile per $15 spend. Presumably the miles are worth something? The marketing is silent on redemptions other than “Exclusive 25% discount: Use 25% fewer reward miles when you redeem for any AIR MILES flight worldwide, with no blackout periods.”

It’s part of an independent program called AIR MILES and at that point, seeing the tedious structure and ALL-CAPS title, I lost interest to research further. Such an odd marketing strategy. 1 mile per dollar is so easy to understand. Why devise 1/20x?

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  • Jay

    While this is very true for us Canadians, and Air Miles are seen by some as a joke, there are cards which offer decent sign up bonuses. As well we seem to be able to get the Amex cards more often, hence the bonus more than once.
    Our Amex page talks about a few of them, but the Gold Rewards Card is probably the most popular. Canadians should check it out!

    http://borderfreetravel.com/big-ricks-deals/

  • Ben

    It’s actually not that bad, because these can be exchanged for travel gift cards at the rate of 1000 points:$100 dollars. The options are limited, but if you’re travelling on one of these options (which includes Via Rail) it’s a decent option. It also makes the signup bonus something like 20000 points under a US system. Not great, but not as bad as it seems at first pass.

  • AIR MILES is an interesting phenomenon in Canada. Almost every Canadian refers to Aeroplan (or other miles) as AIR MILES, as we’re exposed to AIR MILES at a number of retailers… AIR MILES redemptions are pretty terrible, yet far more Canadians focus on that program than Aeroplan.

    An interesting thing is that the LCBO, Ontario’s alcohol monopoly, offers AIR MILES on purchases. This makes no sense to me from a retailer’s perspective when you have the market cornered as a monopoly.

  • Trevor Hutcheon

    Perhaps you should look into the program a little before you shoot your mouth off and look like a fool. The Airmiles program in Canada is very popular and you can earn miles buying groceries, gas, meals and many other items on TOP of your credit card points. The points are much more valuable than regular airline points. With a BMO Gold MasterCard one can fly Calgary-Houston return for 1762 miles (+taxes and fees). With some smart bonus shops (sometimes 20, 40 or even 100 mile bonus for shampoo, toilet paper etc)at my local Safeway grocery I was able to earn enough points for 5 YYC-IAH round trips in 2012! Not bad for every day spending??

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Trevor Hutcheon – perhaps we have different senses of humor.

  • Chad

    Different sense of humor? This isn’t humor, this is you being too lazy to understand a mileage structure that doesn’t fit in with our American 1x/dollar.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Chad – all of which is noted in the post. I might add, TD is always too lazy explain any of it in their marketing materials, either. Since poking some fun here has ruffled some feathers I will eventually post something on ALL-CAPS AIR MILES.

    By the way, it is hardly American-centric, most mileage programs around the world I have seen have a base earning of 1 per unit or greater. 1/20 and 1/15 earning does seem interesting, at least from a marketing perspective, and worth pointing out as of interest to those who dabble in miles and points, whether taken seriously or lightly.

  • Andy

    The Air Miles program has a different demographic than Aeroplan in Canada. 1 mill Facebook followers vs 210k for Aeroplan, 38k Twitter vs 41k Aeroplan.

    More importantly, no Air Miles earned on flights, on any carrier. It’s a pure retail and hotel/car program, where you spend points on merchandise or flights.

    $20 CAD to earn 1 mile makes sense for what they do – it causes people to stretch to meet minimum spend for the second mile, and also makes redemptions look cheaper when you don’t need to collect 5 digits worth.

    You also cannot earn fractional miles – $19 spend at Shell/Safeway gets you nothing, which means it also reduces the cost to the provider.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Andy – that last past is dastardly!