TD’s longstanding goal to become the primary issuer of Aeroplan rewards became a reality on January 1st, as their deal with CIBC finalized and a brand new travel rewards credit card hit the market.
The lender has wasted no time launching the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite, a doozy of a travel card featuring plush VIP perks and comprehensive travel insurance. The new card will be followed with additional Aeroplan options in the months to come, as TD develops its new rewards suite and completes the transfer of roughly 550,000 CIBC Aeroplan cardholders.
The End Of A Dramatic Deal
The completed transaction comes after terse negotiations with former provider CIBC, who dominated the Aeroplan reward space for decades. Change arose when Aeroplan owner Aimia announced they would not renew their contract with the lender, and would join forces with TD in the new year.
CIBC initially cried foul, citing breach of contract and their first right of refusal. A three-way settlement was eventually reached, with half of CIBC’s Aeroplan clients sold to TD in a $162.5 million-deal. The transferred clients represent $3.3 billion in credit card balances, and $19 billion in annual retail spend. Cardholders remaining with CIBC are mainly those with mortgages and other accounts with the lender.
While it has been confirmed these cardholders will be fully transitioned by mid 2014, it is not yet certain which card they will be initially offered, or whether they will be presented with a slew of options when it comes time to make the switch.
The First TD Aeroplan Credit Card
The dust has since settled, and consumers can now access the first card in TD’s Aeroplan arsenal. Let’s take a look at how this credit card holds up against its travel reward peers.
Annual Purchase Rate: 19.99
Annual Fee: $120 ($50 for each additional card under the same cardholder)
Cash Advance and Balance Transfer: 22.99
The travel rewards space has been heating up lately, with lenders offering massive point bonuses and instant vacations for new signups – and this card is no exception. Newcomer clients will receive 15,000 welcome bonus Miles on their first purchase, as well as a two for one reward on short haul flights.
It’s also a heavy hitter when daily rewards, earning 1.5 Aeroplan Miles per dollar on gas and grocery purchases, one Mile on all other purchases and double the Miles when used at Aeroplan participating retailers.
TD is also holding a points contest until March 31, with a grand prize of 500,000 Miles, and five runner up prizes of 15,000 points each.
The VIP Treatment
TD’s new offering is making an aggressive foray into the space with some pretty high end perks. Cardholders get instant VIP treatment when flying with Air Canada, such as priority boarding and check in, a free checked bag, and access to Maple Leaf Lounges. Cardholders can also call a 24-hour personal concierge for help with everything from travel booking to finding local attractions.
The card also offers a very comprehensive range of insurance coverage, including:
– $1 million in travel medical for the cardholder, spouse and kids for up to 15 days (4 days if the cardholder is over 65).
– Trip cancellation (due to emergency, illness or death of the cardholder or family member) of up to $5,000, for travel that was booked on the card.
– $500 for expenses due to flights delayed more than four hours, such as restaurant meals and hotel accommodations.
– A 24-hour emergency hotline.
Is This The Card For You?
Great perks: TD’s first Aeroplan card is indeed a plush option, and could prove to be of great value for the family that enjoys regular vacations. The ability to earn Aeroplan Miles quickly with daily purchases like gas and groceries is ideal, and the priority boarding, baggage, lounge and check in perks will take some of the stress out travel for families on the go.
Airline restrictions: However, travellers should note that Aeroplan miles can only be redeemed with Air Canada – the option to compare airline fares to get the best deal on sites like Expedia or Hotwire is out the window here. Aeroplan has also been the subject of criticism in the past for offering only limited seat selection for rewards flyers. In comparison, other travel rewards programs now offer the flexibility to book any seat on any airline, as long as said card is used for the transaction.
Pricey fee: This card also packs a hefty annual fee of $120, meaning your rewards earnings will be offset to a certain extent. With cash advance and balance transfer features at a steep 22.99 per cent, this isn’t an ideal card for someone requiring support with debt repayment, or prone to carrying a balance.
To sum up – if your card use outweighs the fee, don’t carry a balance, fly frequently and don’t mind the airline restrictions, this card is sure to pay off with many a vacation.