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Maximizing the Canadian RBC Avion Redemption Schedule For Travel

by on June 18, 2012 · 13 comments

in Canada, RBC Rewards, TPG Contributors

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In a previous post on RBC’s Visa Infinite Avion, TPG contributor Ola briefly described the benefits of the Avion Redemption Schedule. In this post, he elaborates on how it works and how to maximize it. The Redemption Schedule is available exclusively to RBC’s “Avion” brand card holders.

Air Travel Redemption Schedule

RBC Rewards Points Required

Redemption
Classifications

Description

Maximum
Ticket
Price
15,000 Short-haul: Canada/United States Within or to an adjacent Province/Territory/U.S. State $350
35,000 Long-haul: Canada/United States Anywhere in Canada/U.S except Hawaii and Alaska $750
45,000 Long-haul: Bermuda, Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska, Caribbean From any location in Western Canada/U.S. to Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska OR from Eastern Canada to Bermuda, Central America, Caribbean $900
55,000 Long-haul: Bermuda, Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska, Caribbean From any location in Eastern Canada/U.S. to Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska OR from Western Canada to Bermuda, Central America, Caribbean $1,100
65,000 Long-haul: Europe From a major gateway in Canada/U.S. to destinations in Europe $1,300
100,000 Long-haul: Asia, Australia, Middle East, Africa & South America From a major gateway in Canada/U.S to destinations in Asia, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, Middle East, Africa, South America $2,000

The Redemption Schedule above is taken directly from RBC Rewards, and is classified into different regions mostly based on distance.  Each region is assigned a fixed number of points required to travel to it. Flights must originate either from Canada or the US. So you can’t use this schedule to go from Europe to Asia for example. There is a maximum ticket price associated with each region and the required RBC Rewards point level. However, RBC Avion is a hybrid points program, so you can also redeem your points for a fixed value of 100 points per $1, if such a redemption makes more sense for your ticket.

Insider Tips
For the most part the chart is pretty easy to read, but there are just some points to clarify:

1. The maximum amount of value you can pull from your points in terms of the redemption schedule’s maximum ticket value amounts is 2.33 cents.

2. The maximum price in the schedule does not include taxes. Taxes can either be charged to your credit card or paid using 100 points per $1.

3. The schedule applies to roundtrip economy class flights. However, business class tickets can be booked using the maximum amount in the redemption schedule and the difference between the economy and the business class ticket fare paid by charging it to your credit card or using points at the fixed rate of 100 points per $1.

4. Travel to Bermuda, Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska, Central America, and Caribbean has two different “required points” levels depending on where the flight originates. These destinations require less points with a lower maximum price when traveling from Eastern Canada/U.S. and some require less when traveling from Western Canada/U.S. For instance, flying to the Caribbean from Eastern Canada would require 45,000 points, but getting to the same destination would require 55,000 points from Western Canada.

5. The maximum price does not mean that you cannot book a ticket that costs more than the maximum price using your points. If you find a flight that is higher in cost, you can redeem the maximum amount in the chart and pay the rest by credit card or at 100 points per $1.

6. Make sure to calculate the value of each points redemption. If you find a ticket that costs less than the maximum amount, you want to check if it’s less than the value of the required points.  The way to do this is by dividing the required point amount by 100. So 15,000 points would equal $150.  If the ticket you find costs less than $150, then you should not use the redemption schedule, instead you should redeem using RBC’s 100 points per $1 rate.

Maximizing the Redemption Schedule
If you’re an Avion card holder and want to get the best value for your points for travel using the Redemption Schedule, you should keep three things in mind:

1. Book flights as close as possible to the maximum price level. The closer you get to the maximum amount, the more value each point has. For example, if you’re redeeming 100,000 points with a maximum price limit of $2000, and you find a flight that costs $1000, each point will equal 1 cent in value. But if you find a flight that costs $2000, each point will equal 2 cents, that’s double the value, quite a difference.

2. If a ticket to your final destination costs less than the maximum amount allowed under the redemption schedule limits, you can add as many stopovers as you want to boost the price until you reach the maximum price. Mind you though that the stopovers may affect the taxes you’re paying.

3. Try to find flights with low taxes. Even though flights must be booked through RBC travel, always do your own research and call them at 1-877-636-2870 with the exact flights that you want. Look at different options on different days (if your schedule  is flexible) and try to find flights with low taxes and fuel surcharges. One of TPG’s answers to a Sunday Reader Question mentions some tips on different airlines and their surcharges. Just remember, your flights must originate from Canada or the US.

Booking Rules
Here are the program’s rules for booking, changes and cancellations, so keep them in mind because they will affect the cost and value of any awards you book through RBC Avion.

1. Booking has to be done through RBC Rewards travel. Booking by phone costs $30 per passenger per flight. Booking online is free.

2. Booking has to be done 14 days in advance of departure date. If you wish to book less than 14 days in advance, you can only book tickets using the fixed-value rate at 100 points per $1.

3. Tickets are non-refundable, meaning that you will not get a statement credit or points back if you end up having to cancel your trip. However, you will get the monetary value back if you buy cancellation and interruption insurance, if you want to have that option.

4. You can change or cancel tickets for a fee. RBC charges $25 per alteration, per airline ticket, on top of what the actual airline charges for the alteration. If you cancel a ticket without insurance you will get a credit on the airline for what the value of the ticket would have been if you had purchased it, minus the change/alteration fees, that you must use within a year.

5. If you wish to purchase points to reach a redemption threshold, you must have at least half the required amount of points for your destination. There is a minimum of 1,000 and maximum of 15,000 for purchasing points.  Every 1,000 points cost $40 (2.5 cents each) plus applicable taxes, so I wouldn’t recommend it unless you only need a few thousand to get to a particular award.

Have any more questions about how the RBC Avion Redemption Schedule works? Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you with answers.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Bob

    You’d be better off transferring all your RBC points to British Airways. They’ve had 50% bonus transfers for probably the last 6 years 1-2 times per year. The next one is July 1 – July 31st.

  • Jorgeluis500

    I was just thinking that. For example I live in Montreal and a round trip flight to NY it’s 9.000 Avios. To Chicago it’s 12.500. There are more destinations out of Toronto. I guess this gives us a much better return.

    BTW, how do you know the next transfer date? THAT’S good news

  • Jorgeluis500

    Sorry, to Chicago it’s 15.000 Avios.
    Anyway, good post as usual. I’d love to read more about canadian oportunities, trips and tricks.

  • Bob

    It was mentioned on the RBC statement I just received. Called and confirmed. Depending on your travel it can be way better to convert to BA. Its 20k points YUL>MIA on BA. That means you need to spend $13,333 to get 20k points when there’s a transfer. That exact same AA flight using RBC rewards directly would take $35k in spending.

  • Jesse Evans

    I really appreciate this article. Something that would be a huge help would be how to derive the best value out of RBC avion points when taking into account 2 things: 1. Transfers to other partners, and 2. Crappy flight options out of Saskatoon, SK :) I’m currently just over 105,000 RBC points, and now I’m trying to maximize their value out of saskatoon. Flights out of Saskatoon on British Airways don’t seem possible from what I’ve found and I’m having a hard time figuring out the possible partner flights as well. Any help would be very appreciated.

  • Bob

    There is no One World service from Saskatoon so BA is not a good option for you. You may want to consider diversifying away from RBC for your points. Probably should still convert at the 50% bonus but use them when you’re flying AA or CX short-haul at some point from somewhere with One World service.

  • Jesse Evans

    Yeah, I was wondering about converting most of them to BA, but keeping enough in RBC points for short haul flights to Calgary or Edmonton, then using the BA points from there. I’m not sure if that would be a good strategy or not though. It also might get difficult co-ordinating the flights using two different rewards programs.

  • Ola

    Depending on where you want to go, it might be better for you to travel from Saskatoon using your RBC rewards points without the transfer; because eventhough you will be getting 50% bonus on the BA transfer, you might end up paying really high taxes on their flights. However, if you find a flight with low taxes using your RBC rewards points, it could turn out to be cheaper for you.

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  • Dan

    My interest is mainly in travel to Europe. I currently use CIBC Infinite Aerogold to accumulate points. However, now that Aeroplan is charging extremely high fuel surcharges ($700 YYC to FRA), does it make sense to change from my CIBC Aerogold to the RBC Avion program? I suppose the question is does RBC also pass on these large fuel surcharges?

  • Edna

    As an Avion card user, I was delighted to see that travel cancellation insurance has now been added to the benefits offered. However I have just read an article online from the Toronto Star describing a couple’s disappointment when they found their cancelled tickets for a European trip were not covered by CARP’s travel cancellation insurance because the tickets were purchased with Avion Points. CARP claimed they had no monetary value and could not be reimbursed. For their part, Avion would not reinstate the points. Now that travel cancellation insurance is included with the Avion card, hopefully such tickets would be covered. This is certainly a point worth confirming.

  • F

    I want to fly Toronto to Vancouver, layover in Vancouver for a day, then on to Hawaii. Could I do this on one ticket that just has a longer layover in Vancouver?

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