Air Canada Rejoins the U.S. Market With New Credit Card

A photograph shows an Air Canada airliner taxiing an airport runway.
Photo:

Air Canada

Chase and Air Canada launched a new co-branded rewards credit card Thursday, marking the Canada-based airline’s return to the U.S. credit card market after an absence of several years. 

The Chase Aeroplan World Elite Mastercard Credit Card is a mid-tier ($95 annual fee) airline rewards card designed to provide Air Canada loyalists another way to earn miles in Aeroplan, Air Canada’s loyalty program, plus travel perks such as free checked baggage. Chase began accepting applications for the card on its website on Thursday.

At launch, the card offers a welcome bonus potentially worth 100,000 points. It comes in the form of two flight certificates, worth up to 50,000 points each, awarded after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card ownership. This is in line with other big welcome offers from co-branded airline credit cards, although the Aeroplan card’s bonus is slightly more restrictive. 

The Chase Aeroplan credit card offers its best earning rates in common purchase categories. Cardholders will earn 3 points per $1 spent on Air Canada, dining (including takeout), and grocery stores. And although the card only earns 1 point per $1 spent on all other categories, big spenders can earn up to 1,500 additional bonus points each month: 500 points are awarded for every $2,000 spent, up to $6,000 per month. 

New cardholders will also receive Aeroplan’s “25K” elite status for at least a year, which includes benefits such as priority check-in, early boarding, and complimentary upgrades. Thereafter, 25K status may be earned by spending $15,000 on the card each calendar year. Existing Aeroplan elite members can snag a one-level boost after spending $50,000 in a year, while those who charge over $100,000 will see benefits such as discounted flight rewards and companion perks. 

The card also offers a one free checked bag perk, a $100 TSA PreCheck/Global Entry credit, and trip insurance. A plan to offer Chase’s Pay Yourself Back program is in the works, which would allow cardholders to redeem Aeroplan points for statement credits toward certain purchases. 

The Chase Aeroplan credit card leads other mid-tier airline credit cards that charge a similar $95 annual fee—both for its elevated earning rates and its suite of benefits. Competitors such as the United Explorer Card (also issued by Chase) only offer 2 points per $1 spent on dining, hotels, and United purchases. While the free checked bag benefit is there, as is the $100 credit, missing is the ability to earn elite status via spending on the card. 

Co-branded credit cards from both Delta and American Airlines will allow you to earn status from card spending, but it’s costly. For example, earning enough points for the lowest-level Delta status requires at least $60,000 spent on a Delta credit card each year, while lower-level status with American requires you to spend $30,000 on one of its credit cards. In contrast, the relatively low $15,000 threshold needed to reach Aeroplan’s 25K status seems easy.

Cardholders can also reduce the carbon footprints of their Air Canada award flights. Aeroplan will purchase carbon offsets to reduce the impact of greenhouse gas emissions associated with cardmember travel when they fly Air Canada using an Aeroplan flight reward.

Consumers will need to decide if investing in an Air Canada credit card makes sense for them, particularly if their travel rarely takes them north. Because Air Canada is part of Star Alliance, you can redeem Aeroplan points with United Airlines. But travelers whose nearby airline hubs are not served by United may want to consider the usefulness of this card before signing up.

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  1. Chase. "Ready for Takeoff: Air Canada and Chase Officially Launch New U.S. Chase Aeroplan Credit Card."

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