Sunday Reader Question: Should I convert my Aeroplan points to USDM/AA?

As I’ve posted before, you can convert your Aeroplan points into US Airways points at a 1:0.84 ratio through Points.com. When converting points, you’re allowed to transfer a maximum of 100,000 points in a year. Today’s Sunday Reader Question (asked by a reader who recognized me on a flight!) is: Should I convert my Aeroplan points to USDM/AA?


US Airways Dividend Miles (USDM) has a pretty fantastic program, one that has a pretty generous award chart, and even more generous routing rules. Further, as a result of gross incompetency in the training of USDM agents and manual-pricing of award tickets, one could often ticket an itinerary that broke all published rules. This allowed for some really interesting itineraries.

With US Airways merging with American Airlines, at some point in the near future, USDM points will convert at a 1:1 ratio to AA Points. AA Points can be very generous as well: they don’t charge YQ on most of their partner airlines, and they have a very reasonable award chart and routing rules. However, unlike with USDM, the computer prices their tickets, and rules are more strictly enforced. This means that it’s very difficult to use AA Points for complex itineraries.

If you’re looking at converting your Aeroplan points to USDM, you should consider two things: are you going to be using them as USDM points, or will you be waiting to use your points under the AA regime? Take a look at the USDM award chart and the AA award chart, also noting that USDM and AA have different non-alliance partners. Also note that USDM points can only be used on a round-trip itinerary when booking on partner airlines, whereas AA points can be redeemed for one-way tickets. Remember that the maximum number of points you’re able to transfer through Points.com to USDM is 100,000 (which creates 84,000 USDM).

So, should you transfer your Aeroplan points? As with most things in life, it depends. What are your travel goals? Where you want to visit and how you get there will really matter in making this decision. USDM is very good for booking complex and long itineraries, whereas AA and Aeroplan are better for more direct routings. Further, are you travelling by yourself or with others? The maximum transfer of 100,000 points into a fresh account with no other means of accrual could mediate your decision.

Note that if you’re set on transferring them to USDM and want to use the points as USDM, be prepared to book your itinerary ASAP before the conversion to AA occurs.

Unusually, my personal preference would be to keep it simple and stupid. Although I’m all for points diversification, I typically travel with other people, so the 100,000 points limit is just too restrictive for me. Further, I have a far more profound understanding of Aeroplan than AA/USDM, points that are much harder for Canadians to earn. Last, with the AA/USDM merger, I’m uncertain and uncomfortable with changes that are coming, so I’d rather keep my points with Aeroplan – they’ve recently devalued the program, so we’ll (hopefully) have a break for a while. Of course, if you’ve identified an itinerary that would be better suited to USDM/AA than with Aeroplan, and you’d have enough points to do it, you should absolutely transfer your points over.

Comments

  1. You can also transfer your points to BA/CX/WestJet if you hold the RBC Avion Visa. Exchange rate is about 1:0.7 for BA and CX.

    By the way, where did you meet your reader?

    • Yeah, there’s some neat transfer opportunities with RBC!

      At a boarding gate heading to YYZ from EWR. It was a really neat experience.

  2. Thanks for your thoughts Avery.

    Nice chatting with you yesterday. Very insightful.

    Remember to check out Serenity when your done Firefly.

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