How My Stupid Mistake Almost Cost Me Half a Million Aeroplan Points

A week ago I wrote about my problem transferring points from Starwood to Aeroplan. I had transferred 1 Starpoint in order to keep my Aeroplan account active. You need some account activity every 12 months, and I had about half a million Aeroplan points at stake.

  • As a Starwood Platinum I can transfer as little as 1 point from Starwood to many airline frequent flyer programs. That’s a fantastic benefit for keeping points from expiring.

  • I moved 1 point from Starwood to Aeroplan. The points didn’t post to my account.

  • When I asked Starwood about this, I was told that — despite what it says on the website — the minimum transfer to Aeroplan is 500 miles. Since the amount was less than that, it didn’t post. No one told me about it, and the points didn’t end up back in my account.

  • A Starwood executive, though, told me that their customer service agent gave me bad information. There is not a 500 point minimum for transfers to Aeroplan. They showed the transfer as going through successfully.

  • I reached out to an Aeroplan executive and sorted it out…

It turns out that I’m an idiot and I was unfair to Starwood here (although it doesn’t help that I was basing my understanding on what Starwood had told me).

I keyed in an incorrect Aeroplan number, so the points didn’t post to my Aeroplan account. Now, Aeroplan moved the 1 point in manually but I wasn’t really interested in that. I already took advantage of 250 free Aeroplan points that would extend the expiration of my account.

And I was really interested in seeing that just transferring 1 point to Aeroplan really would work. And it did:

The lesson is that you always need to track your points. I used to be better about this than I am today, keeping a spreadsheet of every points-earning transaction and tracking each until they post to an account. Now my miles post properly most of the time and I’ve become far more lax.

It matters most of course when the points amounts are large or the transfer is necessary to book an award or keep an account balance from expiring.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. I am quite capable of being an idiot, but I feel it’s unfair for airlines to not warn you you’re about to lose all of your points.

  2. Just curious, do you or did you used to credit flights to Aeroplan a lot? Given how much you preach the gospel of keeping points in transferrable currencies, it surprised me that you’d have that big a balance in a single airline’s currency.

  3. Can you post contact info of Starwood and Aeroplan executives you know so that us too commoners can contact them if there is an issue ?

  4. The moral of the story is that loyalty programs shouldn’t have rules that even allow the points or miles to expire in the first place.

  5. @Jordan I needed a place to park a 7 figure balance of transferrable points at one point and one chunk went to aeroplan, there was no choice but to move them sadly. fortunately (or unfortunately) i still have 7 figure balances in more than one transferrable currency!

    I do preach earn and burn, and diversifying across transferrable currencies, and I do those things to the extent that I can. Sometime situations intervene. And I wind up earning more points than I can spend.

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