Aeroplan is the official frequent flyer program of Air Canada (a member of Star Alliance) until June 30, 2020, when Air Canada will again launch its own frequent flyer program. The AutoSlash team uses Aeroplan miles from time-to-time, primarily to avoid the $75 last-minute award redemption fee on United Airlines. As we consistently focus on saving money on all of our travel, it would appear that an offer to earn up to 3,250 Aeroplan miles on an Avis rental as short as two days is a great deal. In practice, the deal can fall anywhere on the spectrum from horrible to fantastic.
The recently-extended deal, valid through May 31, 2018, promises up to 3,250 frequent flyer miles but has a number of conditions. For instance, 250 miles are based on having Aeroplan silver status or higher, while 500 miles are only possible if one prepays for a reservation (and prepayment means accepting Avis' cancellation penalties). So for most renters, the greatest number of miles available would be 2,500 if renting from an airport, 2,250 if renting from a neighborhood location. Not too shabby on the face.
In order to earn those totals of 2,250 - 2,500 miles, one would have to have a weekend rental of 2+ days or a weekday rental of 3+ days plus book outside the traditional vehicle classifications(specialty, luxury, standard or larger SUVs, vans, and convertibles). Renters who accept the frequent flyer miles instead of Avis Preferred credit also pay a $0.75 CAD federal excise tax on the miles and have to book under a specific discount code, AWD C682300.
The Curse of Mandatory Discount Codes
Unlike Canadian-based The Curse of Oak Island, the curse of mandatory discount codes has a quick storyline (and a point). Promotions that require specific codes are where the value of an offer is really on a case-by-case basis. Assume a trip to Orlando International Airport, where one needs a minivan on a Monday through Friday trip in mid-May (after spring break and Easter, before Memorial Day and the summer rush). The minivan would be eligible for the Avis promotion and could be acquired for $359.46 (U.S. dollars) plus the frequent flyer excise tax at the time of our searches; the vehicle has to be booked under a specific code for the bonus miles, so there's one price.
However, the Aeroplan rate code is not the cheapest rate code available with Avis. Far from it. A traveler could (and should) book the same minivan from Avis for $302.44, saving $57.02, simply by forgoing the extra Aeroplan miles. It's a common refrain with rental car promotions when locked into booking a specific rate code in order to receive an incentive, whether points, miles, gift cards, or even benefits like additional drivers or child safety seat waivers. Any requirement to book under a certain code means there's almost always a cheaper rate available. A consumer simply has to make an informed decision as to whether the offer is worth pursuing!
Can we foresee examples where the Avis Aeroplan offer would be worthwhile? Of course! Two-day weekend rentals of specialty cars at airports would tend to have the smallest differential between the required code AWD C682300 and the lowest possible rates. And if it costs just a little bit more to get the Aeroplan miles needed for a flight redemption, even our team would jump on the offer!
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