Canada’s number one loyalty program, Aeroplan, ain’t what it used to be.
Last year, the program’s award chart underwent significant modifications, resulting in higher prices for many of the more desirable award flights. And more recently, the program has begun imposing fuel surcharges on many partner awards, further eroding the value of an Aeroplan mile.
For those with miles in the program, however, there’s a new redemption option that may take some of the sting out of the recent setbacks.
Aeroplan members may now redeem their miles for music, e-books, Facebook credits, games, and other apps through the Media Store.
It’s a two-step process:
- Redeem miles for credits in blocks of 25, 50, or 100.
- Redeem credits for digital downloads at the Media Store.
Prices: 3,000 miles for 25 credits; 5,500 miles for 50 credits; 11,000 miles for 100 credits. So each credit costs either 120 or 110 miles, depending on the quantity purchased. If a mile is worth around 1.2 cents (my valuation), each credit is worth around $1.32.
The Media Store isn’t exactly iTunes, but that was clearly the model. There’s a fast and robust search function, and individual tracks may be previewed before buying.
Deal or No Deal
The key question, of course, is value. How much are your miles worth when redeemed for music and e-books?
For context, most albums fall into the nine-to-15 credit range. Adele’s “21” is available for 10 credits, for example, as is Joni Mitchell’s “Blue.” So those albums cost $13.20, if the credits are valued according to the value of the miles required to acquire them.
That’s a bit more than you’d spend elsewhere—Adele’s album is $11.12 at Amazon.com—but not so much more that the deal is a no-go.
Most individual tracks are priced at one credit apiece, or about $1.32 worth of miles. Tracks on iTunes cost $0.99 each. Again, you’re paying a premium for the convenience of using miles, but a modest enough premium that the price is not a deal-breaker.
For Now: Canadians Only
For Aeroplan members who are U.S. residents, there’s bad news: “The Service may be accessed and used only by natural persons located in Canada and is not available in any other location. If you are not located in Canada you may not access or use the Service.”
The longer-term prospects are better. Now that the system has been developed and is in place—the technology is provided by Hip Digital Media—my best guess is that we’ll see similar offerings from the major U.S. programs in the near future, perhaps also using Hip Media’s back end if its agreement with Aeroplan isn’t exclusive.
Reader Reality Check
Is this a compelling use of frequent flyer miles?
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.