Maximizing the Canadian RBC Avion Redemption Schedule For Travel

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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.

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