Though Aeroplan points are great, they still incur significant fuel charges (which are avoidable), and some of their redemptions aren’t the greatest. One great opportunity to use Aeroplan points is to convert them into US Airways Dividend Miles (USDM). Though USDM will soon be disappearing as the merger with AA continues, the program is still going. I suspect that any remaining points in a USDM account will convert to AA points when the programs merge.
How do you convert Aeroplan points to USDM? Points.com is a third-party points conversion site that a number of Frequent Flyer program are affiliated with. On this website you can convert points for free, or you can exchange them with another program for a fee. Typically I would say that the rates points.com offers are obscene, and not to use them. However, there is an exception, and that’s with Aeroplan -> USDM. Points.com offers a conversion ratio of 1:0.84 to USDM, with no fee. Note that the conversion isn’t instantaneous, it takes between 1-5 days for the points to be deposited into your account. To convert, register your USDM and Aeroplan accounts on Points.com. After that, click on “Trade, Exchange, & Buy,” then click on “move out of a program,” and select ‘Aeroplan.’ Scroll down to the “Exchange” table, and find USDM. Follow the instructions on Points.com to convert.
NOTE: You only get preferential conversion rates if your Points.com account is registered as an American account. So when you register, say your address is in the States. Moreover, you can only convert 100,000 Aeroplan points out of your account annually.
Why would I want to convert my Aeroplan points to USDM? I’m losing points! All points aren’t created equal. Aeroplan has some sweet spots, just like USDM has some sweet spots. For example, if you look at the USDM award chart, you’ll notice that round-trip flights with partner airlines is a much better redemption value than with Aeroplan. With USDM, for a flight to North Asia, you’ll pay 60/110/120 (economy/business/first) for a roundtrip flight from North America, while with Aeroplan you’d pay 75/150/210. You will be losing 16% of the volume of your points, but the converted points may be more valuable, making up (and exceeding) the loss of 16%.
Even better, USDM only applies fuel surcharges on BA and Iberia! Still even better, though USDM has left Star Alliance, you can still redeem points with a number of their Star Alliance partners.
Note that when booking with USDM, you must book a round-trip flight. Furthermore, you have to book partner airlines over the telephone. Some of their agents are, ahem “special.” You see, USDM agents price their awards manually, so the agent has to use their strong geographic knowledge to book your award. Some (most) USDM agents didn’t do too well in high school geography, which can be to your benefit (i.e. agent might think that Sydney AU is in Asia, not Oceania, and price it accordingly). They’ll never charge you too much (if they try, just correct their geographic knowledge), but they might well charge you less. At some point I’ll do a post about USDM, but I have to learn a bit more about it myself.
In conclusion, it can be an excellent use of your Aeroplan points to convert them into USDM, even though you’re losing 16% of the volume.