Sunday Reader Question: Should I Transfer RBC Avion Points to British Airways?

by on January 22, 2012 · 8 comments

in British Airways, Delta, Elite Status, RBC Rewards

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TPG reader Jonathan writes:

“I have 50,000 RBC Avion points to use and I wondering if you think it makes sense to transfer them to British Airways Avios? There is currently a transfer bonus of 50% .

I live near Atlanta and don’t get to travel too much, so I usually try to fly Delta whenever possible to retain my silver status.  50,000 RBC points would let me fly anywhere in the US/Canada (as long as it is under $750) and a short haul flight to Florida (must be under $350). If used the RBC points to book Delta flights I would be on my way to achieving elite status again next year.  So in you opinion is better for me to get 75,000 Avios and get no frequent flyer credit, or to use the 50,000 RBC points to help me achieve elite status next year?”

First off, for those of you who don’t know, RBC (Royal Bank of Canada) Avion program is similar to Amex Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards – you can use points for “anytime” flights or transfer them to partners like American, British Airways and Cathay Pacific, often at lucrative transfer bonuses.

So to answer Jonathan’s question: Do I think 75,000 British Airways Avios points are worth more than ~$900 in domestic flights? Short answer, yes. For your situation? It depends because you have many different factors, including how much elite status is worth and whether you will only achieve it if you use these Avion points.

Me personally, if you wanted short haul flights to Florida, you could get 8 roundtrips using (you can use the Avios Calculator to see how many points you need for a trip) Avios. Even at $200 per roundtrip, you are looking at $1,600 in value. Even if you want to redeem on an expensive Atlanta-Dallas-Vancouver American award, it would only be 29,000 Avios. So instead of one expensive trip to Canada and one to Florida, you could have multiple trips.

That being said, I think a big factor is your cash flow and time. If you will only qualify for elite status if you use your RBC points for flights, then the equation changes. However, my gut would be to transfer to British Airways and try to maximize their value as much as possible.

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  • nabeelj

    I think the more relevant question would have been, does it makes sense to transfer to BA Avios under the 1.5x promo that seems to appear twice a year, or transfer to AAdvantage under a promo that seems to appear once a year. Since RBC reintroduced Avion-to-AAdvantage transfer in 2010 – there was a 1.25x promo in 2010 and a 1.3x promo in 2011. I personally value 1.25 AAdvantage miles much more than 1.5 Avios miles for long-haul premium travel – not only are the award charts more favourable, but you can avoid fuel surcharges on most redemptions (expect BA metal). Of course, the advantages of Avios over AAdvantage are better very short non-stop redemptions (think YYZ-ORD or YYZ-JFK for 4.5K Avios one way) and no close-in fees – so may make sense for some. But I still think in general waiting for an AAdvantage promo is the better bet.

  • Ben Senise

    It’s also important to remember that the 50% bonus happens twice a year.

  • Mbwndw

    Dear Points Guy,

    Before you recommend BA Avios please run a quick check to see that there are no flights available from SF to London until October 2012 which has a few days available.

  • Jnaile

    Couldn’t you just use the Avios to book an AA flight?

  • PJ

    it costs 12.5K Avios to fly NYC SFO on AA non stop no qucik fees what else do you expect? and 2 LUGGAGES Avios rock

  • PJ


    technically, is it doable to run a “short hop airfares cheap” business on destinations AA fly non stop with Avios ?

    I buy MR rewards from those avios- frustrated AMEX members : doable as long as I am a AU on their cards. then I will have a lot of avios to book non stop AA short haul tickets to friends or even general public ( legal? not sure) at deep discount

    I meant to put a stop on Avios complaints. Life goes on AVIOS WORK WONDERS ON NON STOP AA SHORT FLIGHTS and SOUTH AMERICA Adios to this subject !!

  • PJ

    I trasnferred some out of AMEX at 30 % and certainly will be delighted to transfer moreat 50%
    What a no brainer deal : less than 10 MR to fly out non stop to west coast on AA with 2 luggages with no quick tiket fees and no elite status just enough points from amex points shower in last Summer

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