An Update On Aeroplan: Business As Usual

If you are a CIBC Aerogold credit card holder, you'll be notified this month as to whether you will remain with CIBC or be transferred to TD, the new primary issuer of the Aeroplan rewards program. Have no fear; it's business as usual. Whether you remain with CIBC or transition to TD, you can continue using your card as you have been all along. You will first receive a notification from CIBC, followed by a welcome note from TD explaining some of the upcoming changes.

The transition is designed to be as seamless as possible and all interest rates, credit limits and other features will remain unchanged at this time. Your insurance coverage and scheduled payment dates will also remain the same. TD has repeatedly emphasized that cardholders will know "well in advance" of any changes—but again, there are no changes at this time.

This is in part because the full transition is actually scheduled to occur a little later this year in mid-2014. As well, not all details are available at this time.

Now that people have had some time to reflect on the changes—which occurred when TD acquired approximately half of CIBC's existing Aerogold Visa credit card portfolio back in September—there is one major question that needs to be addressed. Will your credit card itself actually be the same?

"Our new suite of TD Aeroplan Credit Cards will provide great value and convenience," TD writes on its website. "To ensure your new TD Credit Card continues to meet your needs, we plan to transition you to a Card that most closely matches the features and benefits you have today. With your TD Credit Card, you’ll continue to earn Aeroplan Miles at the same rate and enjoy the Aeroplan Program associated with your card."

This may sound cryptic, but that is because the details of their respective new lines of Aeroplan credit cards have only just been announced. As of January 1, four new cards have been added to TD's portfolio, including the TD Aeroplan Visa Platinum Card, the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card, the TD Aeroplan Visa Business Card and the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card.

Additional announcements are expected to roll out soon and cardholders will be notified by mail, but in the meantime we asked Aimia, the company that owns Aeroplan, about some of the new features cardholders can expect in the coming months including "the most significant changes we’ve made in Aeroplan’s history," said Christa Poole, managed of external communications at Aeroplan.

Among the changes comes the launch of Distinction, "a new tiered recognition program that rewards top accumulating members, based on total Aeroplan Miles earned across all coalition partners, with preferential mileage levels for redemption, bonus mile offers and exclusive privileges," Poole said.

Distinction members now have access to Distinction Flights "to popular destinations during peak periods with 100 per cent of the seats reserved for Distinction members and offered at ClassicFlight reward mileage levels and including a dedicated check-in, complimentary bar and snack service on board and two free bags in Economy."

The changes are a result of a competitive travel rewards market. Companies including Aeroplan are bulking up their offerings to maintain current clients and attract new ones. The good news for cardholders is never before have there been so many options. Aeroplan now offers additional bonuses to cardholders including discounted mileage levels and bonus offers through Aeroplan's eStore (on Air Canada flights and hotel stays at places such as Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Marriott and Starwood Hotels, and many more).

But perhaps most noteworthy is the cancelation of the seven-year mileage redemption policy. Whether you remain with CIBC or TD your points will no longer expire after seven years, instead remaining active so long as you make one purchase with your Aeroplan card each year.

Additional information will be announced and mailed to cardholders in the coming weeks. Until then, you can read up on additional changes here.