Last fall, Aeroplan informed members that it would be implementing some changes to the program’s terms and conditions.
The changes took effect as of February 5, 2024, and they address some of the issues surrounding misuse, as well as eligibility for co-branded credit card welcome bonuses, amongst other issues.
As a reminder, here’s a summary of the changes that have recently taken effect, which aren’t likely to affect the vast majority of members.
Recent Changes to Aeroplan Terms and Conditions
Last fall, Aeroplan informed members of upcoming changes to the program’s terms and conditions, which took effect as of February 5, 2024.
This latest update comes just over a year since the last round, which saw the implementation of limits surrounding credit card welcome bonuses and prohibited activities, amongst other changes.
In an email sent out to members, Aeroplan provided a summary of revisions, and then linked out to the updated set of terms and conditions.
The first change makes clear that all members are only permitted to have one Aeroplan account.
We have clarified some terms with respect to Aeroplan Accounts, including that attempts to register more than one account using different email addresses or other identification methods are prohibited.
This revision applies to Section 2, which pertains to enrolment in the Aeroplan program.
You can only enroll in the Aeroplan Program once, individually, using your full legal name exactly as it appears on your passport or if you don’t have a passport, on a government-issued identification. Each Member may only have one Account. Any attempt by an individual to register more than one Account by using the same or multiple different email addresses, identities, registrations, logins, or any other method(s), may void all Aeroplan Points that have been awarded or scheduled to be awarded to that Member, and that Member maybe disqualified from participating in the Aeroplan Program or any aspect thereof.
This revision targets anyone who opens multiple Aeroplan accounts. If you’re found to have multiple accounts, Aeroplan reserves the right to void all points in your account(s), and to disqualify you from participating in the loyalty program going forward.
Family Sharing is addressed in the next revision, and the changes are summarized as follows:
We have clarified that a member may be eligible to create or join a Family Pool and have clarified that how we handle fraud in a Family Pool also applies when a Family Member has undertaken actual or suspected fraudulent or illicit activity.
This revision targets Section 7, which defines participation in the Family Sharing feature.
Aeroplan reserves the right to request that you validate your family relationship with other Family Members at any time. If we suspect any untruthful, fraudulent or illicit activity related to a Pool or a Family Member in the Pool in any way, we may, at our sole discretion, in addition to all other rights and remedies available to us, temporarily or permanently prohibit any or all Family Members from participating in a Pool or from accumulating or redeeming Aeroplan Points, or we may suspend or terminate the Pool, any or all of the associated Aeroplan Memberships and close any or all of the associated Accounts.
As a reminder, Aeroplan has temporarily paused the creation of new Family Sharing accounts since August 2023. This revision targets the misuse of the Family Sharing feature, and gives Aeroplan the option to audit the relationships of anyone in the Family Pool.
If anyone in your Family Pool is suspected of or found to be engaging in untruthful, fraudulent, or illicit activity, Aeroplan may revoke any Family Member’s privilege to participate in Family Sharing, earn or redeem points, and/or close the accounts of any and all members associated with the Family Pool.
The next revision shortens the length of time it takes for your account to be closed after a period of inactivity.
The time period after which we may close an inactive Aeroplan Account and terminate Aeroplan Membership has been shortened to three consecutive years.
This revision applies to Section 8, which sets out the terms for inactive accounts.
All Aeroplan Points in an inactive Account are forfeited. Unless otherwise permitted by Aeroplan, in its sole discretion, your Account becomes inactive if you have not accumulated or redeemed Aeroplan Points for 18 consecutive months. If an Account is inactive for 3 consecutive years, we reserve the right to terminate your Aeroplan Membership, close your Account and reassign your Aeroplan number.
This means that if you haven’t had any activity in your account for three years, Aeroplan can permanently close your account, and your Aeroplan number may be assigned to someone else. Previously, this was possible after five years of inactivity, so this update drops the period down by two years.
The next update targets the earning of new welcome bonuses on Aeroplan co-branded credit cards.
We have added some terms regarding the earning of new card bonuses on our cobrand Aeroplan credit cards.
This update pertains to Section 10 of the terms and conditions, which spells out the limits imposed on co-branded credit card welcome bonuses. We’ve bolded some of the key changes that have taken effect.
From time to time, Aeroplan and the financial institutions that issue Aeroplan co-brand credit cards (an “Aeroplan Credit Card”), together with their respective affiliates and business partners, may offer an introductory incentive or bonus of Aeroplan Points (a “Welcome Bonus”) to incentivize a Member to become a holder of an Aeroplan Credit Card; and they may also offer an incentive or bonus of Aeroplan Points for a Member to, activate, use or hold their new Aeroplan Credit Card for a minimum period of time following issuance (the Welcome Bonus and all other bonuses, incentives and accelerators relating to acquisition, activation, use or holding of a new Aeroplan Credit Card, collectively, a “New Card Bonus”). In connection with a New Card Bonus being made available for becoming a holder of an Aeroplan Credit Card, such New Card Bonus is intended as an incentive for a Member to become a holder of an Aeroplan Credit Card where that Member is neither currently, nor was previously, a holder of that type of Aeroplan Credit Card, regardless of issuer (e.g., entry, core, premium, core small business, premium small business, or any other card that has a substantially similar level of benefits) for which the New Card Bonus is being offered. This means that a Member may be granted a maximum of one New Card Bonus for each type of Aeroplan Credit Card that the Member becomes a holder of, regardless of issuer.
Aeroplan may, in its sole discretion, choose to limit the number of New Card Bonuses or similar bonuses or incentives a Member may receive in any period, and, in addition to the other remedies set forth in these Terms and Conditions, reserves the right to suspend, revoke or terminate the Account of any person who engages in a behaviour of excessive use, abuse or misuse of the New Card Bonus offers. Such behaviours include but are not limited to: (i) applying for, transferring or switching (including upgrading or downgrading), or completing any other product changes between multiple Aeroplan Credit Cards across one or more product types, or across one or more financial institutions that issue an Aeroplan Credit Card; (ii) a pattern of cancelling, or disengaging in, an Aeroplan Credit Card shortly after receiving a New Card Bonus (or any portion of a New Card Bonus) or similar bonus or incentive; (iii) a pattern of purchasing and then cancelling or returning any product or service for which Aeroplan Points were issued; and (iv) linking your Aeroplan Credit Card to an Account that is not your own Account.
Aside from changing the term “Welcome Bonus” to “New Card Bonus”, the updated terms and conditions specify that transferring or switching, including upgrading or downgrading, between different Aeroplan cards, product types, or financial institutions may result in your account being suspended, revoked, or terminated, and that linking your Aeroplan card to an account that’s not your own is considered a prohibited activity.
However, the most significant change when it comes to welcome bonuses is that “New Card Bonuses [are] intended for those who are neither currently, nor were previously, a holder of a particular type of Aeroplan credit card, regardless of issuer, and that Aeroplan members may be granted a maximum one one New Card Bonus for each type Aeroplan co-branded credit card, regardless of issuer.”
This new language suggests that there’s a stronger “once-in-a-lifetime” limit being imposed for each card type (e.g. entry, core, premium), and even across issuers. We’ll discuss this in detail below.
Aeroplan has also added language surrounding the use of scripts, its right to audit accounts, and how it handles prohibited activity.
We have added some terms that prohibit the participation in our program via script, macro or other automated means.
We have clarified some terms regarding our handling of prohibited activity or suspected prohibited activity in the program, including that we have the right to audit Members’ Accounts at any time and without notice to verify compliance with our Terms and Conditions.
These revisions both pertain to Section 11, which spells out a range of prohibited activities. We’ve bolded the key changes.
Aeroplan Membership is a privilege that can be suspended, revoked, or terminated at any time, for any reason, and without compensation. Reasons for suspension, revocation or termination include, but are not limited to: (i) a circumstance where a Member intentionally engages in a pattern of activity or behavior that, in the reasonable opinion of Aeroplan, is intended to circumvent or work around these Terms and Conditions, or the terms and conditions of any Aeroplan partner; (ii) any abuse by a Member of any of these Terms and Conditions, any additional applicable terms and conditions or any benefit, privilege or reward associated with the Aeroplan Program; (iii) any misrepresentation by a Member to Aeroplan, its affiliates, participating partners or suppliers or to any entity associated with or participating in the Aeroplan Program; (iv) any attempt to participate in the Aeroplan Program via script, macro or other automated means; and (v) any other actions or conduct of a Member deemed by Aeroplan, in its sole discretion, to be damaging to Aeroplan, the Aeroplan Program or the interests of Aeroplan’s affiliates, participating partners or suppliers, including, but not limited to: (i) applying for multiple credit cards across different product types (e.g., entry, core, premium, core small business, premium small business, or any other card that has a substantially similar level of benefits) across multiple financial institutions that issue an Aeroplan Credit Card in order to circumnavigate these Terms and Conditions or the terms and conditions of any such financial institution issuing an Aeroplan Credit Card thereby receiving multiple New Card Bonuses; and (ii) a behaviour of cancelling, or disengaging in, an Aeroplan Credit Card shortly after receiving a New Card Bonus.
Aeroplan reserves the right to audit a Member’s Account at any time and without notice to ensure compliance with these Terms and Conditions. Where, in the reasonable opinion of Aeroplan, a Member has violated these Terms and Conditions, or Aeroplan believes that a Member may have violated these Terms and Conditions, Aeroplan may, in addition to its other rights and remedies in these Terms and Conditions, at any time and in its sole discretion, take one or more of the following actions: (i) freeze the Account of any Member while Aeroplan investigates suspected activity on the part of that Member; and (ii) refuse to credit the Account of any Member, or debit the Account of any Member, including reversal of Aeroplan Points previously credited.
In these updates, Aeroplan has added using scripts, macros, or other automated means to the list of reasons for suspension, revocation, or termination of membership.
In the second paragraph, it also added language clarifying its right to audit accounts at any time for compliance. During the audit, it may freeze the account while the investigation happens, and it may then debit/reverse any Aeroplan points that were awarded from any prohibited activities.
In particular, these last updates appear to target third-party award search websites and activities from points brokers, which we’ll discuss in detail below.
How Do These Changes Affect Aeroplan Members?
It’s worth noting that the upcoming revisions won’t directly affect the vast majority of Aeroplan members, who participate in the program without engaging in any sort of questionable activity.
However, some of the measures target fraud and misuse of the program, which has had a material impact on the Aeroplan user experience.
The creation of new Family Sharing accounts has been temporarily disabled since August 2023. Anyone with existing Family Sharing accounts has been able to use them; however, it’s currently not possible to create a new Family Pool.
The exact reasons for the pause weren’t given, beyond that there was a spike in misuse of the program. We can surmise that some members found ways to abuse Family Sharing, and that Aeroplan is looking to close the loopholes before it opens up the feature to members again.
There’s still no timeline for the feature to become available for new accounts, but with the revisions to the terms and conditions, it’s likely that we’ll hear more about Family Sharing in the near future.
When it comes to the addition of using scripts, macros, or other automated means to the list of prohibited activities, this clearly targets third-party websites and individuals that scrape the Aeroplan website for award availability.
Last fall, Air Canada filed a lawsuit against Seats.Aero, which is an award search tool based in the United States.
As part of the fallout, other award search tools, such as ExpertFlyer, stopped supporting Star Alliance airlines, either temporarily or permanently.
For websites like ExpertFlyer, which have operated for years without issue, to suddenly drop Star Alliance airlines from their platform was a drastic step that must have been prompted by some serious concern.
Award search tools can help casual users find award availability quickly, and losing access to Star Alliance airlines has made finding awards slightly more challenging.
However, Aeroplan is more likely setting its sights on points brokers with the specific prohibition of automated access to the website, rather than individuals who use award search tools to find good seats.
Briefly, points brokers use bots to scrape award websites for premium cabin award availability, book it, and then sell the seats at a profit.
It’s unlikely that points brokers are using commercial third-party award search websites; however, it appears that Aeroplan wants to block all automated tools from accessing its data, rather than allowing some use and forbidding others.
Adding this language to the program’s terms and conditions gives Aeroplan the right to shut down any accounts it finds to be using automated scripts, which could dissuade some, due to the risk of accounts being suspended or closed.
It remains to be seen if this will have a material impact on points brokers’ ability to snatch up award seats, which would certainly be a positive development. The lawsuit against Seats.Aero is ongoing, and it’s unclear what the result will be for both Seats.Aero, and other award search tools, going forward.
How Do These Changes Affect Aeroplan Cardholders?
In this latest update, Aeroplan has certainly beefed up the language surrounding credit card welcome bonuses.
The changes to the terms and conditions in 2022 made it clear that Aeroplan wanted to impose a limit on anyone’s ability to get repeat welcome bonuses, and the latest revisions make that even more explicit.
Again, the vast majority of Aeroplan members and cardholders won’t be affected by these changes; however, if you’ve obtained repeat welcome bonuses on Aeroplan credit cards by any means in the past, your ability to do so going forward may be even more limited.
On the other hand, precisely what is and isn’t permitted, and what’s considered excessive behaviour or misuse, isn’t directly spelled out in the new terms.
With the way the new terms and conditions are phrased, it could mean that Aeroplan will enforce a “once-in-a-lifetime” welcome bonus policy going forward, in tandem with card issuers.
However, it’s not entirely clear if this policy will apply to someone who cancels a card and then reapplies a few years later, or if it’s just intended for anyone who has repeatedly earned welcome bonuses multiple times in a short duration.
It’s likely that it applies more so to the latter group, but with the way it’s worded, it could also apply to the former group.
In the US, some issuers and programs make it very clear whether or not you’re eligible for a welcome bonus more than once.
For example, American Express US and Chase both issue Marriott Bonvoy co-branded credit cards, in a similar way that American Express Canada, TD, and CIBC all issue Aeroplan co-branded cards.
Amex US and Chase, and likely Marriott Bonvoy, share data with each other, and make it very clear that you’re not eligible to receive a welcome bonus from either issuer if you’ve opened a card from either bank in the last 90 days, or if you’ve received a welcome bonus on the card in the last 24 months, amongst other criteria.
These rules make it clear what’s allowed and what’s not, and the issuers enforce them. As a prospective cardholder, you know the rules, and you can make decisions around applications with them in mind.
Aeroplan has made some changes to its terms and conditions, which took effect as of February 5, 2024.
Some of the changes are relatively minor, such as reducing the length of time to shutdown inactive accounts, while others are broad-reaching, and target program misuse and credit card welcome bonuses.
It remains to be seen if some of the efforts will address issues surrounding partner award availability that have come to a head in recent months, and how it will affect anyone’s ability to earn a welcome bonus more than once, if at all.