Air Miles are a great way to save money on future trips, airplane tickets, and more.
But just how much is one Air Mile worth?
On average, an Air Mile is worth $0.12. Depending on the rewards program or the promotional offer you’re looking at, though, an Air Mile could be worth up to $0.19.
The Air Miles Reward Program has been around since 1992, and many people who actively participate in the program still aren’t 100% sure how it works. If you’re among these individuals, then you’re in the right place.
Below, I’ll explain a bit more about how Air Miles works, how to redeem them, and give you some tips on how to earn more!
When I signed up for my first American Express card, I was told that I would be able to use my card for purchases and earn Air Miles as part of the credit card company’s partnership with the Air Miles Rewards Program.
At first, I assumed that the “miles” I was earning would convert into real miles that I could put towards a flight. For example, if I accumulated 5,000 Air Miles, then I’d be entitled to a free plane ride up to 5,000 miles away.
Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed to find out that Air Miles are not actual miles.
Rather, Air Miles are representative of points that you earn from certain purchases. These points can be used towards flights, vacations, and to earn other cashback rewards. However, your Air Miles don’t convert into actual geographic miles.
It’s similar to the way that a survey site like Survey Junkie would award you 500 points (worth $5) for completing a consumer research poll. Each point is representative of a fractional percentage, rather than a whole dollar amount.
This allows companies to adjust their points and rewards system for inflation over the years. Plus, there’s the sheer marketing component of it – 5,000 points sounds a lot better than $600.
The Air Miles Loyalty program was created in 1992 with the goal of furthering partnerships between retailers and major airlines. Customers who participate in the rewards program earn Air Miles (points) for shopping with various retailers or using their credit cards for certain purchases.
These points can later be redeemed and used towards travel-related expenses.
Above, I mentioned that the average value of an Air Mile in Canada is around $0.12. However, this can vary, depending on the merchant, current promotions, and other factors. In some cases, your Air Miles may be worth up to 20 cents a piece!
How are Air Miles calculated, though?
The answer is, it depends.
The simplest way to earn Air Miles is to pay for airline tickets through the airline rewards program that you’re enrolled in. You’ll typically earn a set amount of points based on the price of your ticket and how far away your destination is.
However, airlines aren’t the only companies that allow you to earn Air Miles.
For example, many American Express credit cards offer Air Mile rewards when you use the card to purchase hotels, cabs, or pay for room service.
Your best bet is to read through the documentation for the specific Air Miles rewards program that you’re participating in. Each credit card company and airline has slightly different rules and promotions.
If you have a travel rewards card like the American Express Air Miles Reserve card, then you’ll be able to earn Air Miles just by using your card for everyday expenses.
This particular card offers 1 Air Mile for every $10 spent, with promotions that allow you to earn more points by shopping with specific retailers.
These travel credit cards can be particularly helpful if you’re a digital nomad or if you frequently travel for business. Plane tickets can be quite expensive, so any amount of cashback or extra Air Miles you can earn for your purchase are helpful.
If you’re enrolled in an Air Miles rewards program, then you’re probably wondering how to get more points. Here are a few helpful tips:
- Book flights directly through your airline rewards program
- Book flights through your credit card’s booking company
- Use your travel rewards card to pay for travel expenses
- Take advantage of sign-up bonuses and promotional offers
- Transfer points from your loyalty program to your card
The best way to maximize your Air Miles is to book your flights directly from the airline that you’re enrolled with.
For example, if you’re enrolled in Air Canada’s Air Miles rewards program, you should book your flights directly through Air Canada, rather than using a third-party travel agency. When you use a third-party service, you may not be awarded points, which defeats the purpose.
That being said, some travel rewards cards may offer you the opportunity to earn Air Miles when you book through their card’s platform.
For example, if you have an American Express Air Miles rewards card, you’ll be able to earn additional Air Miles if you book your flight and hotel through the American Express travel booking platform.
It might be tempting to withdraw some money from your bank and start spending foreign currency. While you should keep some foreign currency on you for cash-only transactions or tips, you should try to use your travel rewards card to pay for the majority of your travel expenses.
Whenever you pay for room service, book hotels, pay for spa treatments, rideshare rides, tour guides, meals at restaurants, and more – use your Air Miles rewards card. This will allow you to maximize your Air Miles, and you may be able to earn even more, depending on promotions.
This brings me to my next point – take advantage of your card’s promotional offers.
For example, some AMEX cards may offer new customers an additional several thousand Air Miles when you charge a certain amount of money to the card within a given period of time.
Credit card companies are always partnering with new merchants and retailers as well. When these new partnerships arise, cardholders may be given the opportunity to cash in on a promotional offer and earn additional Air Miles by using their card at various merchants.
Some travel rewards cards and airlines allow you to combine or transfer points between your card and your frequent flyer rewards program. This can be particularly helpful if you’re trying to save money when booking an expensive flight.
This depends on your airline or the credit card company you’re working with. Many airlines allow you to keep your miles indefinitely, while others may give you a certain period of time in which to use your Air Miles before they expire.
Air Miles are similar to cashback rewards. The basic idea is the same – you receive rewards based on a point system for spending your money with specific merchants and airlines.
The main difference is that Air Miles can typically only be applied towards travel-related expenses, such as:
- Plane tickets
- Hotels and resorts
- Services and food purchased at hotels
Cashback rewards, on the other hand, can be applied to any purchase that’s recently been posted to your credit card statement.
Some pre-paid debit cards, such as the KOHO cashback rewards card, also allow you to earn cashback rewards. This is a great alternative if you want to earn cashback without having to apply for a credit card.
Air Miles are a good way to earn credit toward future trips. If you’re a frequent traveller, whether it’s for personal or business, then joining an Air Miles rewards program through your favourite airline or signing up for an Air Miles rewards credit card can definitely help you save a bit.
On the other hand, if you don’t travel or fly frequently, then I’d say a traditional cashback rewards card will allow you to earn more rewards.
The AMEX Cobalt card is one of the best travel cards in Canada and offers generous bonuses when you spend your money on dining, rideshares, and other travel-related expenses.
Keep on reading to see my full review of the AMEX Cobalt card!