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Your Guide to Air Miles Rewards

Your Guide to Air Miles Rewards

Air Miles is one of those reward programs that have the potential to be very beneficial for you, but just like any other reward program, you have to know the “right way” to take advantage of the program.

First, here are the two types of rewards you can claim:

  • Air Miles Cash – This one is pretty straightforward. Redeem your Air Miles for cash when paying for your purchases in store (Stores Included: Jean Coutu, Metro, Rexall / Pharma Plus, Rona, Shell Retail).
  • Dream Rewards – Redeem your Air Miles for gift cards, merchandise, flights and more (see a complete list of rewards here).

You can choose to set-up your Air Miles account to receive miles towards your Dream Rewards, Air Miles Cash or both.

Air Miles Offers

“Print an Offer” allows you to print the offer right from the site to take shopping with you. Simply print off the coupon, and then take it with you to the Sponsor location to receive the Bonus Offer.

The offers found in “Click an Offer” can be redeemed only online. From within “”Click an Offer””, you can click through to a Sponsor’s Web site to learn about the Bonus Offer’s details, and then take advantage of the Offer on their site.

“In-Store Offer” shows you what offers are currently available by visiting a Sponsor’s location. It is not necessary to take in the offer – just visit your local Sponsor and receive the Bonus outlined.

“Contest” offers show you the Sponsor or Program-related contests available to you. From a ‘Contest’ offer, you can click through to a Web site to learn about how you can enter for a chance to win!

Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty about how to earn Air Miles.

There are over 100 sponsors that offer Air Miles with your purchase (see them all here), including in-store sponsors and online sponsors, so it’s easy to accumulate miles if you shop at these stores often.

Here are a few tips for earning Air Miles:

Buy Your Gas at Shell

Shell is the only gas station that offers Air Miles to their customers, so if you have a location nearby, try to always purchase your gas from Shell, just to get the Air Miles (the price will likely be the same as a competitor, anyway). You earn 1 Air Mile for the first $20 and 1 Air Mile for every $30 after that. Shell also offers special 10x points promotions – this is the best time to buy gas.

Shell Gas Air Miles

Buy Gift Cards in Store

Whenever Shell has special 10x points promotions for in store purchases, buy gift cards, because these are included in the promotion and you will earn bonus Air Miles. You can buy gift cards for Shell, as well as many other stores.

Shop During Customer Appreciation Days

The first Tuesday of every month is “customer appreciation day” at all Safeway stores. You will earn 10x the Air Miles when you spend $35 or more, so this is a great time to do some grocery shopping.

Use Bonus Couons

When you’re an Air Miles member, you will often receive coupons in the mail that you can use to get bonus Air Miles on your purchases. Use these whenever possible, since they really help to boost the amount of miles that you have. They also have online coupons that you can use to earn bonus miles.

Buy a Home Through Century 21

If you’re in the market to purchase a new home, and can do so through Century 21, don’t forget to use your Air Miles card! You will earn 2 Air Miles for every $1,000 in property value.

Shop During Bonus Events

You can often find bonus events at stores (especially Metro, Rexall and Safeway) to earn Air Miles faster. Look for events such as:

  • 100 Air Miles when you spend $100 or more
  • 25 Air Miles when you spend $25 or more on select products
  • 50 Air Miles when you buy 4-5 select products

Safeway Air Miles

Use Manufacturer Coupons

You can use manufacturer coupons to lower your bill at stores that accept them, and you will receive Air Miles. You can even use FREE, B1G1 and B2G1 (for example) coupons and you will still receive Air Miles. This is a great way to earn Air Miles fast.

Tip: Wait for promotions such as “spend $100, earn 100 Air Miles”, and redeem all of your FREE coupons (if you have enough to get you to $100). This means you will spend nothing out of pocket (except all applicable taxes) and you will still earn a bunch of Air Miles!

Air Miles Credit Cards

There are two credit cards for Air Miles:

  • American Express Platinum – Earn up to 1,000 bonus miles when you sign up, your first year is free and then $65 per year.
  • American Express – Earn 150 bonus miles when you sign up and use the card for the first time, no annual fee.

I don’t recommend signing up for Air Miles credit cards just to get miles, unless you travel often.

Other Air Miles Information

  • All Air Miles will expire in 5 years
  • You still earn Air Miles when you are redeeming Air Miles Cash
  • Redeem your Air Miles for Greyhound tickets, (this will save you up to 40%)
  • Air Miles are worth about 10-12 cents each (keep this in mind when making purchases just to get Air Miles)

The Best Value for Your Air Miles

After doing some research, I have determined that the best value for your Air Miles are the 3 following rewards:

  • Boston Pizza – $50 gift card for 475 miles
  • Pharmasave (Atlantic) – $20 gift card for 190 miles
  • Movie Night Out (Cineplex, Famous Players or Galaxy Cinemas) – 2 admission, 2 regular drinks & 1 regular popcorn for 190 miles

Though I don’t believe it is the best rewards program in Canada, there really are some great benefits to being an Air Miles rewards member.

It’s possible to spend very little money out of pocket and earn a whole bunch of miles, which you can use to reward yourself with gift cards, outings or cash.

Are you an Air Miles member? What do you think of the program?


  1. Mimi

    I disagree about Shell being the same price as others. There are 3 Shells near my house and they are always always about 4-5 cents more than other gas stations.

    But in any case, I only get my gas at Costco, which is always 5-10 cents cheaper and there’s a huge cashback at the end of the year 😉

    • Jamie

      Yup. What’s the point in only getting gas at shell, just for 2 air miles per fillup (assuming $50 in gas)? If 2 air miles are worth $0.20, you’d be better off going somewhere like Costco or Petro where you can regularly save 5 to 10 cents per litre (so, saving a few dollars per fillup instead of 20 cents!!)

  2. Amy

    I like it…. I actually just redeemed for a two day/two park pass to Universal Studios in Florida…. saves me over $12 vs. buying the actual ticket at the park…. plus I don’t have the money right now to go, and now my sister and I can go and have fun for a day without kids! 🙂

    I always look for bonus offers through Shell and Metro… when buying at Metro though, I make sure that it is products that I will actually use. So, for me, Airmiles and SDM points are my two most used rewards programs. I don’t use HBC much anymore, especially since Zellers now closed…

  3. zoey

    Those of us in manitoba are lucky to have safeway stores as you can still get 7 X air miles on all prescription purchases which can add up. Note, Safeway is having their E-Auction contest in coming weeks so you need to conserve your air miles for this promo, if you enjoyed it last year. They have lots of good merchandise and you spend air miles to bid for it, you don’t lose any miles if your bid is not accepted, but it is a way to spend the air miles if you have some.
    Also, in manitoba they have Co-op gas… you get an annual rebate each February and our families’ rebate this year was over $400. So in manitoba that (in my opinion) is the absolute best place to get your gas! Other provinces across western canada also have Co-op for gas… it’s a great deal. You get back over12% of the cost of the gas as a yearly cheque. Love it.

  4. Suzanne M

    I have been a member for quite a few years now. Although living in the NWT we only have 2-3 place that locally accept the card, luckily for me we shop on line a lot and use every time I can. I have earn tons of points on purchases I would have made anyways, just had to remember to use my card. Who doesn’t love free stuff.
    I also broke it down and with an average purchase of $55 at Boston pizza (being one of the 2 places locally who take the card, and lets face it I eat out a lot lol) it only takes appox 110 visits to earn enough points for a bps gc.

  5. Tori

    i have never been able to get airmiles on a WUS amount if im not at the actual amount. so if I have to spend $100 to get 100 my total after coupons has to be over $100. i can get all the bonus airmiles but not the WUS ones.

  6. Marnie Stretch

    Another possibility – you can now earn reward miles nationally at Staples Canada. Here’s a video:

  7. Michelle

    I LOVE Air Miles!! I live in Nova Scotia, and Sobeys does some awesome promotions with Air Miles quite often. My favorite is when they put bonus A.M.’s on the purchases of Sobey’s Gift Cards, usually like 40 miles for a $100 gift card or 95 miles for $200 in gift cards. I buy the gift cards first, then use them for a groceries. I don’t go for every promotion at Sobey’s when the put bonus air miles on purchasing a product or two or more…..I do the math and decide whether I feel it’s a good deal, and only if it’s on products my family definitely uses!
    I just paid for an 8 day Full Size car rental in Orlando with my Air Miles! And it took under 1300 air miles for the rental. And Movie Tickets are always my other redemption that I go for, if I want to redeem some miles, as I have done the math with them too many times and they are always the best bang for your miles 🙂
    The coupons that are mailed out are good too for Sobeys, but I don’t use them right after I receive them…generally if you wait a couple weeks into the coupons, I find that some of the products you have to buy to receive the bonus air miles, go on sale, so it’s the best time to use them.
    I have been using air miles since my local sobeys opened, and it opened about 11 years ago or so. I love them and I have been a Gold Member almost every year for the last 9 years I will guess. My husband and I have had many, many, many date nights at Empire Theaters on Air Miles 🙂

  8. Amanda

    You can also get Air Miles credit cards through BMO. As well, in AB, at the Safeway pharmacy, you get 7 Air Miles for every $20 for the cost of your drugs regardless if you or your insurance pays…

  9. Rhonda

    We get our meds at Safeway and get 7x the airmailed. Really adds up.
    And because we have a private plan we still get them whereas some others don’t.

  10. jo

    It is a free program so guess can’t complain too much about it. 🙂 That being said it sure takes a looonng time to save up a significant amount of points. Thanks for the summary as the plan is no longer as straightforward as it used to be.

  11. pnk3035

    I know that you can convert HBC points to Airmiles, but how can you convert Airmiles to HBC points ? Thanks

    • Olivia

      I know for sure that it’s a NO. I do believe you can convert Air miles into a Bay/ Home Outfitters gift card.

      • pnk3035

        Thank you Olivia

  12. Julia

    As was mentioned already, at BMO you can get an Air Miles credit card. The miles rack up really quickly on this and it is a no fee card. You can also get an Air Miles bank account plan, but it has a hefty bank fee per month so may not be worthwhile.

    Also, I started buying Esso gift cards at CardSwap to earn CS points on things I already buy (i.e. Gas). I got an Esso Extra card and found out that you can convert the Esso Extra Points to HBC Points, which can then be converted to Air Miles. You won’t get the special promotions like you do at Shell, but it is an alternative when choosing a gas station and wanting to get Air Miles.

    • Olivia

      Just a note…. you no longer get HBC Rewards (now known as Hudson’s Bay Rewards) at the gas station as of this month.

  13. Sarah

    I also earn miles by completing the air miles opinion surveys! It’s nice to not have to spend $$ and get miles every once in a while when I have time 🙂

  14. Jason

    I disagree with the Shell Airmiles amounts. It should read you get 1 Airmile for the first $20 and 1 each additional $30 there after.

    One of the best places to go to is Rona because the add up the total for the week and credit you for every $20 total. Great for summer reno’s and such.

    Also if you are buying anything online check out before to see if the store is part of it. You can earn Airmiles at places like Sears, Chapters-indigo, Apple Store, EBay,, Old Navy,, and many many more. And they have double ups and such on there also.

  15. Amy

    I haven’t check the whole rewards, but I thought it is a good deal to spend 715miles for a Whistler ski lift ticket if you live in west. (Depends on the date you use, but it costs about $100 to purchase.)

  16. Liliane

    I collect airmiles with BMO (account and credit card), pharmacy, stores – wherever I can get my hands on them.
    Every 2 years we have enough for part of a vacation (hotel or car).
    I love it!

  17. Lydia

    I have found the fastest way for me to collect airmiles is by shopping at Metro. Every week, the store offers bonus points. For example, last week I bought 2 jugs of Tropicana orange juice for $10.00 and 20 bonus airmiles coupled with the other deal: buy 5 boxes of Quaker granola bars for $10.00 and 20 bonus airmiles. That was 40 airmiles plus the others I received for shopping there. Another good idea is to sign up for the surveys. I received 20 airmiles for doing a survey that took about 15-20 min and all I had to do was tell them what I ate for supper with my family the night before! Easy!!

  18. michell hudson

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention Bank of Montreal at all in your post.You receive air milea with you regular banking activities, plus they also have an air miles reward credit card and if you have the Gold card, not only do you receive 1 airmile for every $10 but you recieve 25% off the amount of miles required to travel.

  19. LisaM

    Airmiles is my least favourite. We use it when there isn’t any other option especially now that aeroplan has an online shopping portal like the airmiles one.

  20. TallNFunny

    Very helpful post, especially the work you did figuring out the best rewards. Thanks Cassie!

  21. Shanna

    Shell has changed the way they give the miles too. It used to be 1 for the first $20 and 1 for every $10 after that. Now it is ridiculous. I also disagree with the price of gas being the same, here Shell is always the most expensive by at least 3-4cents. Not worth it for one measly air mile. I also find often that if Metro has a buy 5 get 20 air miles promotion it is often cheaper to buy the 5 items at other stores!! By far the worst program I’ve come across for accumulating miles. The only thing being in Ontario is that you can’t get miles on prescriptions either! So we often cash in the miles for small things like the movie night out. And, not everyone can qualify for a credit card making it that much harder to rack up the miles.

  22. Shanna

    Shell has changed the way they give the miles too. It used to be 1 for the first $20 and 1 for every $10 after that. Now it is ridiculous. I also disagree with the price of gas being the same, here Shell is always the most expensive by at least 3-4cents. Not worth it for one measly air mile. I also find often that if Metro has a buy 5 get 20 air miles promotion it is often cheaper to buy the 5 items at other stores!! By far the worst program I’ve come across for accumulating miles. The only thing being in Ontario is that you can’t get miles on prescriptions either! So we often cash in the miles for small things like the movie night out. And, not everyone can qualify for a credit card making it that much harder to rack up the miles.

    For gas we go to Pioneer where you get money back on your card and you can use it pay for gas. Much better rewards.

  23. Jamie

    What’s the point in only getting gas at shell, just for 2 air miles per fillup (assuming $50 in gas)? If 2 air miles are worth $0.20, you’d be better off going somewhere like Costco or Petro where you can regularly save 5 to 10 cents per litre (so, saving a few dollars per fillup instead of 20 cents!!)

  24. Brianne

    REally appreciate you taking the time to figure this out. Ive tried several times and just got frustrated and forgot about it. Now that I have 10,000 airmiles, I thought I would book a holiday. It will only cover $1200 of the trip. I really thought it would have paid for all of it. So this year will be the last years I work so hard on getting airmiles. What credit Card do you suggest using to get the best bag for your buck?

    • Jamie

      In Canada, the highest rewards cards are currently:

      MBNA Smart Cash World Mastercard (highest % rewards for GAS and GROCERIES… 5% for the first 6 months and then 2% thereafter)

      For all other purchases, the Capital One Aspire Cash Platinum Mastercard is the highest (only because they do a 25% bonus at the end of the year for cashback). If you are patient, Capital One will sometimes offer incentive to sign up; when I signed up for this particular card, I received a $100 sign up bonus in the form of cash back!!

    • Jason

      Check on the Airmiles site for what your 10,000 miles will get you. Right now from Alberta you can get 2 round trip tickets to Las Vegas for about 6000 Airmiles. And if you collect 1000 Airmiles in 1 year and visit at least 5 different sponsors you get gold level. They give you discounts on certain airfare at different times.

      The 10-12 cents value only works out for purchases not for trips. But remember with whatever points program you use you still have to pay for the taxes out of pocket.

      • Jamie

        For fun, I decided to check flights to Vegas on Expedia. They ranged in price from $500 to $700 round trip. If we base it on the high end of $700, and requiring 6000 miles as you’ve mentioned, that works out to $0.12 per mile. So, the 10 to 12 cents estimate still holds true for travel as well.

  25. Miss Molly

    Shell is not cheap so I never buy gas there. I am curious about the gift cards, though, I would be interested in buying gift cards from them on bonus days depending on what cards they sell. Can anyone tell me what they have seen at Shell?

  26. Linda

    Air Miles was the first rewards I signed up for. When I buy anything online, I go through the Air Miles shops. Mainly I get them through Metro. Staples has just started as a new store that has Air Miles (March 6). I don’t travel, but I got tons of items for free with my points. Now I can get $10 free food when I use my points at Metro. (95 points equals $10 and you can spend it then or wait.) I really like Air Miles.

  27. Joanne Kyvetos

    Hi, I’m the one that always bugs you about Quebec City. Am I your only member in this city? Here I go again.

    I’ve just read your article about Airmiles, very helpful and resourful, but I do have a couple of questions.

    When you speak of Metro, is that the grocery store? Because here it’s IGA that accepts Airmiles, not Metro and they have their own point system.

    Also, Shell is always minimum 0.01c higher per liter in price than all other gas stations in Quebec City.

    Last but not least, “All Airmiles will expire in 5 years” meaning what exactly? If I don’t use the miles, they are automatically deducted from the total depending on the date I received them.
    EX: June 1 2008, I received 10 points, so June 1 2013, these 10 points disapear if I haven’t claimed!?!?!

    On a more positive note, I have claimed several items with my Airmiles, Lagostina utensils, small oven, tickets, food scale, etc etc.
    I do like my Airmiles.


    • Cassie Howard

      Yes, I mean Metro the grocery store, and yes, your miles will expire in 5 years.

  28. Catherine

    The value of the airmiles program really depends on how you use it. For me, this is the hands-down best travel rewards program and I have the BMO Gold MasterCard ($100 year, provides 1 mile per $20). The reason why it is so good for me is that I travel within Atlantic Canada to visit family, on a route that is very expensive (from NB to central NL) but doesn’t require a lot of miles (712 miles with my 25% discount because I have the gold MasterCard). With my credit card alone, I will get enough for 4 flights for my family, easily a value of $2000. I would never save my airmiles to go other places, as the airmile ratio for some locations are just not worth it. So I understand why this would not be a good travel rewards system for most people, but for me it is the best. Like all reward programs, you have to be smart on how you use your rewards and find out the reward system that works best for your lifestyle.

  29. René Beaudry

    4 months ago I discovered that when using my Amex Air Miles card at Rona Canada they would only credit my account 1 Air Mile per 20$ instead of 1 per 15$ like all they do for the other Air Mile sponsors.
    Called 3 times to correct the problem, they always say that they will take care of it and nothing changes.
    Does anyone else have this problem with Amex. there’s a summary of your Air Miles sponsor purchases on the last pages of you Amex statement. If you purchase from Rona and Rona does not appear on this list then you are not getting what you are entitled to. Maybe more if you consider the other bonuses contests etc..
    300$ spent at Rona with Amex gets you only 15 air miles instead of 20 and they do not seem to want to fix it.

  30. Robert

    Hi, one of the best value for your Air Miles is to get tickets for local shows (like the park, exposition, etc). But oddly enough, every year they get ‘lost’ in the mail. Must be the 3rd year in a row – and I order regularly from the internet and it’s never happened to me except with tickets from Air Miles.

    Anyone else had the same thing happen to them? What can be the scam behind it?

  31. Steven

    I use airmiles a lot and yes shell is more expensive than Costco but they have some good promos that are mailed to me. Currently purchase $30.00 gas and get 10 airmiles, however if you do that in a
    certain period of time you get a bonus 60 airmiles to make it 100 airmiles for purchasing $ 120.00 gas you get 100 airmiles. I don’t always use Shell if they don’t have a decent promotion usually use Costo or Petro which is usually .05 cheaper that Shell. On the redemption side instead of directly booking with National car Rentals through airmiles we redeem airmiles for certificates for national that are worth up to $100.00 each and you can use 3 certificates on one rental. We have booked the rental then get 300.00 off and have a vehicle for 7-10 days and have sometimes done
    7,000 km in 10 days. Love the unlimited km with National. The national location we rent from have nicked named us the highmilers.
    Much rather put those miles on a rental than my own vehicle.

  32. Dianne V Heilman

    I believe I have been a member for some years, only that I missplaced it after receiving and a new card. could you please check your references.
    Thank you

  33. eva

    I can tell you my direct experience with using Air Miles cash at Shell and it is not positive. I went to two different Shell gas stations on two different occasions, one week a part, both times the attendant gave me excuse that the machine is not working and therefore I cannot use my Air Miles cash… …I am beginning to think this is a scam on Shell’s part. I wrote in to Air Miles but got no reply instead I got an e-mail saying I have $xx that I use at Shell.

  34. Jackie Dean

    I have just booked a trip for two to Palm Springs in March 2015.
    I was unable to get the dates I wanted . I am an onxy card holder which
    is suppose to be a higher level then a gold MasterCard and give me more seat choices and also a 25% discount on flights. I did not receive either of these. I have been collecting airmiles for many years but plan to not pay much to there value anymore

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