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Aeroplan offers great Christmas buying/Is Canada cheaper than U.S.?

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Sure, a ticket to see Aunt Gladys next spring would be a great way to spend your Aeroplan points.

But maybe this Christmas you could try something a little sexier or exotic (no offence to Aunt Gladys). You’re in luck, because Aeroplan officials have unveiled a huge lineup of goodies that you can purchase to impress your loved ones, or those you’d like to make love you a little bit more.

From glamorous Tissot watches to Bose electronics to Roots shaving kits to one-of-a-kind gifts you simply can’t find in a store (such as a guitar autographed by members of the band Lady Antebellum), there’s a world of choices. And great ways to make charitable donations at a time of year when folks are desperately in need.

“Aeroplan is always looking for new and exciting rewards we can offer members,” said Francine Sternthal, Director, Product Management at Aeroplan. “Flights with Air Canada and the Star Alliance are still the most popular rewards that are redeemed by our members but we also have access to over 1,000 specialty, merchandise, hotel, car rental, and experimental rewards that can be enjoyed at home or on vacation.”

“We launched our Non-Air rewards in 2004 to give members a broader range of items that members could use their miles on,” Sternthal said. “Currently, we offer our members everything from the latest electronics to jewelery to kitchen accessories to theatre tickets or amusement park passes and members can even redeem for a reward through Higher Ed Points that lets you offset tuition costs for higher education.”

Aeroplan recently announced it has partnered with Higher Ed Points Inc. so that members can use Aeroplan Miles towards payments for higher education. Members can redeem their miles in $250 denominations and transfer the funds through Higher Ed Points Inc. to participating institutions in order to offset costs such as tuition, residence and meal plans fees.

Of course, many of us are more into personal gifts. Jewelry is always a popular item at this time of year, and Aeroplan has oodles of options. That aforementioned Tissot watch, a women’s Generosi-T model, is just 41,000 points. More into sensory experiences? You can buy the man in you’re a bottle of Dolce and Gabbana Light Blue for men for 12,000 points or a Gucci “Guilty” fragrance set for women for 16,000.

Golfers will want to check out the swish Nike iron set, available for 102,500 points. Hey, if Nike’s good enough for Tiger Woods it’s good enough for you and me, right? I’ve used Nike clubs several times and liked the feel.

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cuptable.jpeg.size.xxlarge.letterboxMaybe you’re more of a hockey guy (or gal), in which case you’re most definitely in luck. In fact, you can get your very own Stanley Cup for just 32,000 points. It’s an unsigned replic that stands two-feet tall and come with white gloves for proper handling, an NHL table cloth and a certificate that shows you’re the “keeper of the Cup.”

If you’re a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, it might be as close as you get to the real thing in your lifetime. Ba-da-boom.

Camera buffs have a wide array of choices, ranging all the way from a Samsung “Dual View Smart Camera” for just 21,000 points to a fabulous Nikon D600 with all the bells and even more whistles for 338,500 points. Can’t live without your morning caffeine hit? Pick up a Kitchen Aid coffee grinder for just 9,000 points. Or keep your neighbours up nights by giving your child a very cool Tycoon Djembe African drum for 20,500 points. Music fans can pick up an iPod shuffle in a variety of colours, including pink and purple, for just 8,000 points.

Christmas is a great time for charity, of course. And Aeroplan can help you out with that, too.

For 256,000 points, you can pick up a sleek guitar autographed by members of the popular band Lady Antebellum from Nashville. What’s really great, beside the guitar of course, is that the proceeds go to War Child Canada. A little too rich for your blood? For 39,000 points you can attend national WE day in Ottawa in April, 2014.

“Harnessing the energy and passion of this young community of change-makers, We Day brings youth together in an unparalleled setting to show them that they are not alone in their journey to make a difference,” according to the official Aeroplan guide. “Free the Children’s annual signature event features inspirational speeches and performances by leading activists, speakers and musicians.”

And wouldn’t that be a nice thing to leave under someone’s tree?

Of course, it’s always nice to indulge a little, too. Most folks know they can use miles to buy an airline ticket, but Aeroplan also allows you to buy a $100 Fairmont hotels gift card for 12,000 miles. Fairmont has lovely properties across the country, from Whistler to Banff to Quebec and more, so you’ve got lots of options.

Or cash in 48,500 points and get a sleek, 27 inch, Samsonite Cosmolite spinning suitcase. Just in case you can’t resist that trip to see Aunt Gladys after all.

Meanwhile, Aeroplan is going on the offensive, launching its first TV advertising in a decade as part of its biggest-ever marketing campaign.

The spot will air on conventional and specialty television stations in key markets in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary and will air for five weeks. In addition, we’ll also be featuring ‘bumpers’, or banners promoting specific Aeroplan program benefits that will be displayed during select programming. We will also be running the ad that will run in movie theatres in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

Aeroplan is bringing in a new program called Distinction that will make it easier for folks to book their tickets and provide significant savings. I did a blog on the program a month ago and you can access it here.

CHEAPEST CHRISTMAS SHOPPING DESTINATIONS

Here’s an interesting study from hotels.com, a rating of what cities are cheapest for buying your Christmas gifts.eaton_centre_shoppers.jpg.size.xxlarge.promo

The study looked at 13 popular products that are available around the world, everything from an iPad to a Barbie Dreamhouse to the complete set of Harry Potter books to Levi’s 501 jeans, and then checked out the cost in 29 countries. Pretty good idea, I must say.

And a surprising set of results. I would’ve thought the U.S. would be one of the big bargains, but America placed 13th, with a combined basket cost of $3,405.52. Canada, shockingly to me, was the 8th best spot in the survey, with a combined cost of $3,201.66. And raise your hand if you expected Canada to finish ahead of the U.S. Yeah, I thought so.

You’ll have to fly there to save, but the study found Taiwan was the best deal, with a combined basket price of just $1,781.70. That’s about half the price of the products in the U.S., so maybe that flight isn’t a bad idea.

Want to spend all your inheritance? That basket of goodies in Brazil will set you back a whopping $5,797.76. Wow. No wonder Brazilians flock to Orlando and New York for their shopping trips. Maybe they should hit Toronto or Taiwan instead?

Here’s the general list from least expensive to most expensive: 1. Taiwan, 2. Japan, 3. Argentina, 4. Korea, 5. Thailand, 6. Switzerland (really?), 7. Hong Kong, 8. Canada, 9. India, 10. Singapore, 11. Russia, 12. Sweden, 13. USA, 14. Australia, 15. Colombia, 16. The Netherlands, 17. China (another surprise), 18. France, 19. Ireland, 20. New Zealand, 21. Spain, 22. UK, 23. Germany, 24. Mexico, 25. Denmark, 26. Italy, 27. Finland, 28. Norway, 29. Brazil.

For the record, the basket in Norway would cost$4,671.80, said hotels.com. That means Brazil is about $1,100 more expensive for the same products.

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