I used to be an avid collector of Air Miles over the years; I even had the BMO Air Miles and AMEX Air Miles Reserve Cards at different points. But are Air Miles worth it in 2024? That’s what I’ll cover in this comprehensive Air Miles review.
The Air Miles Loyalty Program took a hit during the pandemic and was worse off when grocery giant Sobeys was removed entirely from its rewards program during a transition period from 2022 to 2023.
Then came the bankruptcy filing by Air Miles US parent company, Loyaly Ventures Inc., on March 10, 2023. Luckily, BMO Financial Group, a founding member of Air Miles in 1992, acquired the Air Miles Loyalty Program on June 1, 2023.
This is worrisome and begs the question, is Air Miles worth it? In my personal opinion, it’s not worth going out of your way to collect Air Miles because the Aeroplan Loyalty Program from Air Canada offers more value.
However, since Air Miles is free to join and often offers bonus miles to compete with Aeroplan, it’s worth being a member when you can’t collect Aeroplan Points at a reasonable rate.
Related: Aeroplan vs Air Miles
Air Miles Review
I’ve been an Air Miles collector since my early 20s in the early 2000s. The two main reasons I signed up for the Air Miles Loyalty Program were that it was free, and I wanted to get a return on my spending habits.
Also, redeeming Air Miles for free flights appealed to me as a young person.
Since then, Air Miles has been more of a loyalty program for merchandise than flights.
With the introduction of Dream Miles, you can redeem 95 Air Miles for $10 off of in-store products with Air Miles partners. You can do the math. Dream Miles aren’t worth it when the base earning rate is 1 Air Mile for every $20 spent on most everyday purchases.
When Dream Miles was first introduced, that’s when I thought the Air Miles Loyalty Program was going downhill. To this date, I have never used Dream Miles. For Canadians who never fly, Dreams Miles is a good option.
How to Earn Air Miles in Canada
Though the Air Miles website claims you can earn Air Miles five different ways, it’s really three ways since some overlap.
Making purchases in-store was the original way of earning Air Miles with its partners.
The amount you earn depends on the store. Usually, you earn 1 Air Mile for every $20 spent. However, you can sometimes earn 1 Air Mile for every $5 spent.
The eligible partners and earning rate can depend on the partner and province or territory.
For example, I’m Toronto-raised but sometimes go to Mont Tremblant in Quebec to snowboard. In Ontario, Metro is an Air Miles partner; in Quebec, they’re not. I found out the hard way in person.
Popular in-store partners for earning Air Miles:
- Alamo, Budget, and National car rentals
- Shell Gas
Shop through the Air Miles Online Store
The Air Miles Shops make it easier to earn miles than in-store. Online shopping is widespread and the preferred method of shopping for many Canadians.
You can earn Air Miles through over 300 online stores, including Amazon, Apple, and LuleLemon. To earn the Air Miles, you have to log into the Air Miles Shops and visit the online retailers via its links.
The best time to shop through the Air Miles Shops is when they have bonus miles promotions, such as 10x or 20x the Air Miles. These usually happen a few times throughout the year, spontaneously and around the holidays, including Canada Day, Black Friday, and Boxing Day.
What I don’t like about the Air Miles Shops is there are several excluded products from earning miles, including usually the latest MacBook Pros or iPhones.
Air Miles Co-Branded Credit Card
The easiest and fastest way to earn Air Miles is with an Air Miles co-branded credit card.
You can earn 3 Air Miles for every $12 spent with the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard, which is better than the standard rate of 1 mile per $20 spent. You also get ONYX status with this credit card, which allows you to redeem merchandise and flights with fewer Air Miles.
At the time of writing this (December 23, 2023), the only co-branded Air Miles Cards are with BMO. In the past, it was possible to get an American Express Air Miles Card.
Air Miles Statuses: Blue, Gold, and Elite
Blue Membership Tier
The Blue tier is the entry-level of the program. There is nothing special about the Blue tier other than earning the standard 1 Air Mile for every $15 spent on travel through the Air Miles travel website.
Gold Membership Tier
The Gold tier requires members to collect 1,000 miles in a calendar year. In addition to the benefits offered by the Blue tier, Gold members get access to exclusive bonus events and promotions. They earn 1 Air Mile for every $10 spent on travel, an improved rate compared to the Blue tier.
Onyx Membership Tier
The Onyx tier is the highest Air miles membership level, requiring members to collect 5,000 miles in a calendar year. Onyx members have access to all the benefits of the Gold tier, plus some exclusive perks like priority service at call centers, exclusive events, and the ability to earn Air Miles at an even faster rate.
They earn 1 Air Mile for every $10 spent on travel.
In terms of redemption options, all tiers allow members to redeem their miles for flights, merchandise, or experiences. However, Gold and Onyx members may have access to additional options or special offers.
Related: Aeroplan Review
The Air Miles Loyalty Program offered by BMO is the second-best in Canada, behind Air Canada’s Aeroplan. If you don’t travel and prefer to redeem loyalty points for cash or merchandise, then Air Miles is a viable option for Canadians. It’s free to join and won’t hurt your wallet collecting Air Miles, if anything, you’ll save money with Air Miles.
Air Miles Canada
Is Canada's Air Miles Loyalty Program worth it? Read the complete Air Miles review to help you decide against Air Canada's Aeroplan.