Review: Amex Aeroplan Reserve Card

by | Published Jun 9, 2022 | Edited Jun 23, 2022


Aeroplan is the most well-known frequent flyer program in Canada. With it being easy to travel the world through Aeroplan points on both Air Canada and Star Alliance partner airlines, it is no coincidence that any serious travel hacker will look to accrue Aeroplan points to make their next vacation a reality.

Many credit card issuers in Canada, including TD Canada Trust, CIBC, and American Express all offer Aeroplan co-branded credit cards. These Aeroplan credit cards have varying welcome bonuses, benefits, and annual fees resulting in there being a card for every Aeroplan member’s needs. Today, we will be specifically looking at the American Express Aeroplan Reserve card, which is the top-tier Aeroplan credit card offered by American Express.

Let’s dive into our Amex Aeroplan Reserve review.

Aeroplan Reserve Overview

Welcome Bonus

As of June 2022, the American Express Aeroplan Reserve offers a welcome bonus of 85,000 Aeroplan points. The bonus is structured as follows:

  • Earn 25,000 Aeroplan points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 5,000 Aeroplan points after spending $1,000 per monthly billing period (up to 60,000 Aeroplan points during the first calendar year).

To earn the full bonus, you would need to do $1,000 of spend per month, for a total of $12,000 in spend during your first cardholder year. If you aren’t able to reach this with your organic spending, consider doing some research on easier ways to meet your minimum spending requirements.

American Express Aeroplan Reserve

The Amex Aeroplan Reserve card earns Aeroplan points on all purchases and is available to individuals in Canada.

This card offers many Air Canada perks in addition to a $100 NEXUS credit.

Read our full review here.

BONUS
85,000 Aeroplan
MINSPEND
$12,000
NET VALUE
$1,186+
ANNUAL FEE
$599
FOREX FEES
Yes

If we value Aeroplan points at 2 cents per point, this bonus would be worth $1700. While the card has a larger spend requirement, the fact that it is spread out over a year makes this bonus worth the effort.

Bonus Spending Categories

The Amex Aeroplan Reserve card earns bonus Aeroplan points in the following categories:

  • 3 Aeroplan points per dollar spent on eligible Air Canada purchases and Air Canada Vacations purchases.
  • 2 Aeroplan points per dollar spent on eligible dining and food delivery purchases in Canada.
  • 1.25 Aeroplan points per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.

$599 Annual Fee

Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way early on; as the American Express Aeroplan Reserve card is a premium card, it comes with a premium annual fee. 

A $599 annual fee is on par with other premium Aeroplan cards, such as the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege and CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege. With that in mind, it would be worth comparing against these other options before applying to ensure you are getting the best welcome bonus and benefits for yourself.

High annual fees, while initially daunting for those newer to the travel hacking scene, can be worth it depending on what the card offers. I always recommend looking at the total value proposition of the card (welcome bonus + benefits + insurance coverages) to determine if you can extract significant value from the card above what you would be paying for an annual fee.

Now that we have touched on the value of the Aeroplan points welcome bonus and the annual fee, let’s take a look at the benefits to see what other value you can get out of the American Express Aeroplan Reserve card.

Air Canada & Aeroplan Benefits

The American Express Aeroplan Reserve card offers many Aeroplan and Air Canada Travel benefits.

Free Checked Bag

Cardholders, in addition to up to eight guests on the same reservation, are eligible to receive their first checked bag for free when the travel originates on an Air Canada flight. This is a saving of $30 per bag which can add up if you are traveling with friends or family on any Air Canada flights.

Priority Perks

Cardholders can expect to receive priority check-in, zone 2 priority boarding, and priority baggage handling when flying on an Air Canada flight. They will also have access to priority airport standby and a higher priority when it comes to eUpgrade requests for premium cabins (available when flying on a same-day ticket that allows for airport standby and upgrades).

These priority perks can be applied to up to eight other passengers traveling on the same reservation as the cardholder.

Complimentary Maple Leaf Lounge Access & Air Canada Cafe Access

American Express Aeroplan Reserve cardholders are eligible to receive complimentary Maple Leaf Lounge access and Air Canada Cafe access in Canada and the United States for themselves and a guest.

air canada maple leaf lounge international montreal yul

Access will be granted as long as the cardholder and their guest are flying on a same-day itinerary operated by Air Canada or any Star Alliance member airline. Your flight ticket will denote lounge access as your credit card is tied to your Aeroplan account, which will be tied to your booking.

This benefit does not include access to the Air Canada Signature Suites.

eUpgrade Credit Rollover

Depending on your flying habits, it can be difficult to use all of your eUpgrade credits that you earned through Aeroplan elite status during a calendar year. If you requalify the following year for status, the American Express Aeroplan Reserve card will automatically roll over up to 50 unused eUpgrade credits.

available air canada eupgrade credits

If you want to learn more about eUpgrade credits, check out our Introduction to eUpgrades and Comprehensive eUpgrade FAQ articles.

Earn Aeroplan Elite Status Quickly

American Express Aeroplan Reserve cardholders will earn 1,000 status qualifying miles (SQM) and 1 status qualifying segment (SQS) for every $5,000 in eligible net purchases charged to your card. If you are looking to achieve a status higher than Aeroplan 25k, this benefit might help you along on your journey.

Cardholders are also eligible to roll over up to 200,000 unused SQMs to apply towards elite status in the following year.

Annual Worldwide Companion Pass

Upon spending $25,000 during a cardholder year, the cardholder will receive one annual worldwide companion pass for use on Air Canada flights. This companion pass entitles the cardholder to buy an accompanying economy class ticket at a fixed base fare rate for a round-trip itinerary.

The base fare can range from $99 to $599, depending on where you are flying in the world.

Other Benefits

$100 NEXUS Credit

The Aeroplan Reserve card offers a $100 NEXUS credit. This credit renews every four years.

This credit can be used towards a new membership or renewal fees and is the best way to get a NEXUS membership for free. This credit does not need to be used for the cardholder’s NEXUS membership; it can be used to apply for or renew any NEXUS membership.

While the NEXUS program is slowly ramping back up when it comes to interviews in Canada, I expect we will continue to see increased capacity in the near future.

Priority Pass Membership

The Aeroplan Reserve card comes with a complimentary membership to the Priority Pass airport lounge program. However, this membership does not grant complimentary access to airport lounges; both the cardholder and any guests will have to pay the access fee for any lounge that is entered.

In my eyes, this makes this benefit completely pointless. Any true travel hacking aficionado should not be paying for lounge access when we look at the variety of credit cards, in both Canada and the US, that offer complimentary lounge access.

If you are serious about gaining access to airport lounges, look into other credit cards that offer truly complimentary lounge access.

YYZ Expedited Security Lane

If you have been following the news as of late, Toronto Pearson International Airport is an absolute gong-show when trying to get through security in a reasonable amount of time.

toronto pearson international airport yyz security line delays

As an American Express Aeroplan Reserve card holder, you are able to access expedited security lanes at both terminals 1 and 3. Simply present your card at the priority security lanes to gain access for yourself and anyone else who is on your itinerary.

Insurance Coverages

The Amex Aeroplan Reserve comes with a comprehensive suite of insurance coverages that you would expect from a premium credit card for both travel and consumer purchases.

The travel-related insurance coverage includes emergency medical insurance, trip cancellation insurance, trip interruption insurance, flight delay insurance, baggage delay insurance, hotel burglary insurance, lost baggage insurance, travel accident insurance, and rental car theft and damage insurance.

On the other hand, the card offers the following coverages when it comes to consumer purchases: buyer’s assurance protection plan and purchase protection plan.

If you want to dig into the weeds to fully understand the insurance coverages that are offered on the American Express Aeroplan Reserve card, you can access the insurance certificate here.

Earning Aeroplan Points

The most efficient way to earn large amounts of Aeroplan points is to take advantage of credit card welcome bonuses. While the Aeroplan co-branded credit cards are a great option, also consider credit cards that have a rewards currency that is transferable to Aeroplan, such as Membership Rewards from both Canadian Amex and US Amex cards.

The Aeroplan eStore is another great option to earn Aeroplan points for your everyday online shopping purchases. This online shopping portal has over 225 partner retailers. To earn, all you need to do is log into your Aeroplan account and click through the eStore before making a purchase at a partnered retailer.

Finally, Aeroplan points can be earned by flying with Air Canada on cash fares. This is the least efficient way to seriously earn Aeroplan points. Points are awarded based on the fare class that is being flown.

Redeeming Aeroplan Points

Aeroplan points can be redeemed for flights around the world on Air Canada and any of the Star Alliance partnership airlines. This is the best way to redeem Aeroplan points. The award chart for flight redemption pricing can be found here.

Aeroplan points can also be redeemed for hotels, car rentals, and merchandise. The redemption value, or cent per point, is very poor for these types of redemptions and should be avoided.

Alternatives to the Amex Aeroplan Reserve Card

American Express is not the only credit card issuer when it comes to co-branded Aeroplan cards in Canada. Before applying, I recommend looking to other co-branded Aeroplan cards and American Express cards that award Membership Rewards points to find the best value proposition for your specific situation.

Below are two cards that we recommend considering if you are interested in the American Express Aeroplan Reserve card. If you are interested in seeing what other credit cards are out there, check out our card comparison tool.

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege

As of June 2022, the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege card offers 105,000 Aeroplan points upon spending $1,000 a month for the first 10 months, for a total of $10,000 in spend. Considering the TD card also has an annual fee of $599, you would be earning an extra 20,000 Aeroplan points while spending $2,000 less than what the Amex Aeroplan Reserve requires.

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege

The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege card earns Aeroplan points on all purchases and is available to individuals in Canada.

This card comes with many Air Canada travel benefits to enhance your next vacation.

BONUS
105,000 Aeroplan
MINSPEND
$10,000
NET VALUE
$1,606+
ANNUAL FEE
$599
FOREX FEES
Yes

The other perks and benefits this card offers are very similar, if not the exact same, to the Aeroplan Reserve card. With its current offer, the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege is a better value proposition than the American Express Aeroplan Reserve card.

American Express Business Platinum

As of June 2022, the American Express Business Platinum card offers 90,000 Membership Rewards points upon spending $6,000 in the first three months. Since you can transfer Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan points at a 1:1 ratio, this means you can earn 90,000 Aeroplan points for a $499 annual fee which is a better value proposition than the American Express Aeroplan Reserve card.

American Express Business Platinum

The Amex Business Platinum earns Membership Rewards points and is available to small business owners and sole proprietors in Canada.

This card provides complimentary access to four airport lounge programs and instant Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status.

Learn how you can be approved for this business credit card as an individual.

BONUS
90,000 Membership Rewards
MINSPEND
$6,000
NET VALUE
$1,481+
ANNUAL FEE
$499
FOREX FEES
Yes

The Amex Business Platinum card also offers access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which includes complimentary access to Centurion, Plaza Premium, and more lounges for the cardholder and one guest.

Conclusion

As one of the eleven co-branded Aeroplan credit cards in Canada, the Amex Reserve card definitely makes a strong value proposition in what it offers to cardholders. Based on the welcome bonus versus the annual fee alone, this might be a great card to pick up if you can support the monthly spending requirements.

If the annual fee is a bit daunting or if you are unsure if you could meet the spending requirement, consider looking at other co-branded Aeroplan or Membership Rewards awarding cards to see if you can find one that fits your budget.

Hugh Campbell

Hugh Campbell

Senior Editor at Frugal Flyer
Hugh has been involved in the miles and points game since 2015 but has scaled up his knowledge and points-earning potential in recent years. In 2019, Hugh stepped things up when he met Reed in addition to a few other miles and points fanatics (err degenerate churners) and has since been able to capitalize on the various expertise that each member brings to the group.

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