Earning Miles From Partner Promos
In this section, you'll learn how to earn flyer miles from other sources, whether travel or otherwise.
Let's get started!
It's ironic that flying can often be among the least-valuable methods for earning miles in airline reward programs, but if airlines are competing hard for your money, hotels and car-rental companies are fighting twice as hard to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Aeroplan partners with one or more car-rental agencies each year, offering bonus miles on rentals, as well as preferred rates for car rentals booked in conjunction with a plane ticket.
Most of the time, these aren't much to write home about; rent a car, get an extra 250 airline miles, no big deal and definitely not valuable enough to make you choose one rental company over another.
Once in a while, though, they'll push a little harder, as I found out when Hertz ran a promo that was essentially 3,000 bonus Aeroplan miles on any two-day rental. I already had several trips coming up that required a rental car, so I booked all of them through this promo, spent about $100 more than I'd planned, and racked up an extra 24,000 miles.
This won't always happen, and I rarely find that the Aeroplan promos are nearly enough to justify paying 1.5-2x more, but it's definitely worth an extra 30 seconds to check it out before you book a rental.
Many car-rental chains also allow you to accumulate airline miles, while still earning status perks in the car-rental chain's own loyalty program. So, as a frequent customer, I still receive things like car upgrades and fast check-out, all I lose out on is a free car rental once in a while.
Hotel loyalty programs are a whole other topic for a deep-dive analysis, but what's relevant here is that many major hotel chains will give you the option to earn points in the hotel's loyalty program, or instead opt to earn airline miles from your stay.
If you're like me, and spend 50+ nights a year in hotels, you're probably better off racking up the hotel points, as the perks you'll get from the hotel program - like room upgrades, late checkout, and free upgraded wi-fi - are definitely worthwhile.
If you're just staying a few nights here and there, you're probably not going to end up building enough hotel points to be worthwhile, and you may as well pad the vacation fund with a few more airline miles.
It's also possible to exchange your hotel points for airline miles in blocks of a few thousand at a time. This is sometimes a much better value than redeeming those hotel points for a free room. Marriott points are a huge stand-out here, as they're incredibly flexible, and can be transferred into dozens of different airline programs around the world, while other programs like Hilton or IHG just don't transfer very well.
As we discuss over on the "What Are My Miles Worth" page, the smart play is to look at what benefit is most valuable to you, and pursue that.
Aeroplan maintains partnerships with chains like Home Hardware, the Apple Store, and Park & Jet, and also run the occasional weird promotion like a 75,000-mile bonus when you buy a brand-new Volvo.
The best advice here is that if you have any particular retailer with whom you spend decent money on a regular basis, you should be keeping an eye out for any partnerships with a miles or points program. Done carefully, the next time you buy a $2,000 laptop you might pick up $100 worth of airline miles as a free bonus!