Never miss an amazing deal ever again. Receive our weekly newsletter with the latest offers and deals directly to your inbox – subscribe now.

Launched in 1992, AIR MILES has become one of Canada’s largest and most popular rewards programs.

The program has over 100 retail and other partners, including Dyson, Staples, Best Western, Budget, Roots, American Express, The Bank of Montreal, Hudson’s Bay, and Intercontinental Hotels, and many others.

The only slightly confusing part about the AIR MILES program is that there are two kinds of AIR MILES you can collect: Dream Miles and Cash Miles.

Cash Miles vs Dream Miles?

Dream Miles are generally used for booking travel, like flights and hotels, similar to Aeroplan. Cash Miles are, well, more like cash, usually redeemed to cover part or all of your purchases made in partner stores.

And while you can collect both, you have to first decide what ratio of your collected miles are going to be Dream vs. Cash. The tricky part is that you can’t change a Dream Mile to a Cash Mile later on, or vice versa.

With the global pandemic having put a bit of a kibosh on travel, Cash Miles may be your best choice right now, since you can use them to save on everyday purchases like groceries and food delivery.

Let’s take a closer look.

What’s the value of a Cash Mile?

The value of an AIR MILE depends on what you redeem it for. Dream Miles, for example, can be redeemed for all kinds of things, including:

  • Flights
  • Car rentals
  • Hotels
  • Vacation packages
  • Attractions
  • Concerts
  • Merchandise

Cash Miles, since they’re being redeemed and treated like cash, have a single set value.

Here’s the rundown.

Redeemed for… Value…
Flights 17.2 cents per mile (CPM)
Car rentals 16.2 CPM
Hotels 12.3 CPM
Vacation packages 11 CPM
Attractions 13.4 CPM
Concerts 21.6 CPM
Merchandise 7.7 CPM
Cash rewards 10.5 CPM

From this chart you can see that Cash Miles are not the highest possible value you can get from the AIR MILES program. But with things being the way they are, it may be a little while before we’ll be traveling and going to concerts.

If you’re in no rush to use your AIR MILES, however, and want to get the maximum value out of them, you may want to collect Dream Miles. You can collect and save those for the future when things get back to normal.

How to get started collecting AIR MILES

Getting started with AIR MILES really couldn’t be easier.

Join AIR MILES

The first thing you have to do is sign up for the AIR MILES program. This is as simple as going to the AirMiles.ca website, clicking “Join now,” and creating an account.

Once you’re done, you’ll have your very own AIR MILES card number.

Set your Dream Miles vs Cash Miles ratio

As mentioned above, you have to decide what ratio of Dream to Cash Miles you’re going to collect, before you start collecting. You do this on the AirMiles.ca website in your Profile.

You can change your ratio any time, although changes don’t go into effect until 3am E.T. the next day.

For now, I’m leaving mine set at 100% Cash Miles.

Get an AIR MILES collector card

After you sign up you’ll have a chance to print out a temporary copy of your AIR MILES card to use while waiting for your permanent card to arrive in the mail, which can take a couple of weeks.

For shopping in store, you can also verbally give your account number at the checkout, in lieu of showing your card.

Install the AIR MILES app

Alternately, once you’ve signed up, you can install the AIR MILES app on your phone and use that when you’re out and about, fetching groceries and running errands.

Add your AIR MILES card to your digital wallet

Depending on your device, you can probably even add your AIR MILES card to your digital wallet. I have my AIR MILES card in my Apple Wallet, making it super convenient to use any time I’m shopping at an AIR MILES partner.

How do you earn Cash Miles?

Ok, so, you have an AIR MILES card. Now what?

Shop at AIR MILES partners

Any time you shop at an AIR MILES partner, simply present your AIR MILES card when checking out. You can find a full list of AIR MILES partners at airmiles.ca.

The standard base AIR MILES earn rate is 1 mile for every $20 you spend, but it can vary by partner. So if you spend $100, you’ll get 5 AIR MILES.

The best part? There are lots of ways to boost your earn rate, so you can really cash in on these rewards.

Buy online at airmilesshops.ca

If you’re the sort of person who does a lot of online shopping, you’re going to love airmilesshops.ca. There you’ll find a huge number of AIR MILES partners where you can shop and earn miles at the regular base earn rate.

There are often great AIR MILES bonuses available, as well, so be sure to keep an eye out for those.

For example, Indigo recently had a 5x offer on airmilesshops.ca, and you could earn 5 Miles for every $20 spent. I ordered a couple of things for myself and a couple of gifts for an upcoming birthday and racked up some sweet rewards.

Take advantage of AIR MILES bonus offers anywhere you shop

AIR MILES often has bonus offers for purchasing particular products, or for shopping at specific stores.

At Sobeys, for example, you’ll often see bonus AIR MILES offers in store or in the weekly flyer. Paying attention and taking advantage of these offers when they come up is a great way to boost your earn rate.

AIR MILES MyOffers

If you have the AIR MILES app or sign into the AIR MILES website, you can view and load even more bonus offers.

It’s worth taking some time to do this — not only will you be aware of any special offers that are coming up, they’ll get loaded on your account so you’ll automatically take advantage of them when you’re out shopping.

AIR MILES credit cards

You can also earn AIR MILES by using an AIR MILES credit card.

Most of these let you earn AIR MILES at the base earn rate of 1 mile per $20 BUT with the added bonus that it’s for any purchases you make with your card, not just at AIR MILES partners.

Some AIR MILES cards even boost the earn rate, with the card giving you an incredible earn rate of 1 mile per $10 for all purchases you make with the card.

Double up your rewards at AIR MILES partners

The major benefit of using an AIR MILES credit card is that you can double your rewards at AIR MILES partners by presenting your AIR MILES collector card AND using your AIR MILES credit card.

If you do this you’ll earn the base AIR MILES earn rate PLUS your AIR MILES credit card earn rate, and any other bonus offers that might be available.

Some of our top AIR MILES credit cards

Here’s a run down of some of the top AIR MILES credit cards, with links for more information.

Credit Card AIR MILES earn rate Welcome bonus Annual fee Apply now
Earn 1 Mile for every $10 spent on ALL credit card purchases 2,000 bonus AIR MILES (terms) $120 Apply now
* Earn 1 Mile for every $5 spent on food and drinks, and eligible gas and transit (up to $30,000 spent annually)
* 1 Mile for every $10 spent everywhere else
2,000 bonus AIR MILES (terms) $120 Apply now
* Earn 1 Mile for every $20 spent
* 2x Miles for purchases at AIR MILES partners
800 bonus AIR MILES (terms) $0 Apply now
* Earn 1 Mile for every $20 spent
* 2x Miles for purchases at AIR MILES partners
800 bonus AIR MILES (terms) $0 Apply now
* Earn 1 Mile for every $20 spent
* 2x Miles for purchases at AIR MILES partners
800 bonus AIR MILES (terms) $0 Apply now
* Earn 1 Mile for every $20 spent
* 2x Miles for purchases at AIR MILES partners
800 bonus AIR MILES (terms) $0 Apply now
* Earn 1 Mile for every $15 spent
* 1.25x Miles for purchases at Shell
None $99 Apply now
* Earn 1 Mile for every $10 spent at AIR MILES partners
* Earn 1 Mile for every $15 spent everywhere else
2,400 AIR MILES (terms) $299 Apply now

How do you redeem Cash Miles?

AIR MILES Cash Miles are worth $10 for every 95 Miles redeemed, which works out to 10.5 cents per mile.

And as soon as you have collected 95 AIR MILES, you can redeem them for $10 when making purchases at AIR MILES partners.

In-store redemption

If you present your AIR MILES card when paying for your purchase, the cashier will often just ask if you would like to redeem your miles if you have at least 95 AIR MILES collected.

It’s really just as simple as that. Just note that you have to scan your collector card to redeem miles. You won’t be able to redeem if you just verbally give your number.

Online redemption (evouchers)

You can also use your AIR MILES Cash Miles to purchase evouchers at airmiles.ca.

For example, you could use your AIR MILES to purchase an evoucher for UberEats, and just use that the next time you order a batch of that amazing sushi.

AIR MILES cash redemption partners

Want to know where you can redeem Cash Miles? Head to this site, select your province and you’ll be able to see where you can redeem your cash miles.

FAQ

What’s the value of an AIR MILES Cash Mile?

AIR MILES Cash Miles can be redeemed at a rate of $10 for 95 points. This works out to a value of 10.5 cents per point.

What’s the fastest way to earn AIR MILES?

The fastest way to earn AIR MILES is by using an AIR MILES credit card along with your AIR MILES collector card. This way you’ll be able to earn AIR MILES on all purchases made with the credit card, and you’ll get double points when shopping at AIR MILES partners.

Where can I redeem my AIR MILES Cash Miles?

You can use your AIR MILES Cash Miles at any AIR MILES redemption partner. You can view the full list here.

Bottom line

So there you have it, a quick guide to AIR MILES Cash Miles and how to make the most of them.

Do you prefer to collect Dream Miles or Cash Miles?

Have you recently changed which you collect?

What other tips do you have for maxing out your AIR MILES rewards?

Let us know in the comments.