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It has been about six months, but RBC is again offering a 50% bonus on Avion points transfers to British Airways starting today until December 31, 2012.
The Royal Bank of Canada Visa Infinite Avion is one of the best Canadian credit cards for earning points and miles. You can read our Canadian contributor’s full review of the card as well as tips on maximizing Avion travel redemptions.
While RBC markets the Avion cards more towards “any seat, anytime” type redemptions, they also transfer to British Airways, Cathay Pacific and American Airlines that allow 1:1 transfer. In my expert advice, you can generally get more value out of transfers like these, especially if you are redeeming for first or business class.
I spoke to an RBC phone rep and he said the only conditions were that you had to have an RBC Avion card and a British Airways account – nothing about citizenship or residency, so you don’t need a Canadian BA account for the transfer.
How to Transfer
Go to rbcrewards.com, and on the left-hand side, click on the “Convert Points” tab.
That will take you to a page with RBC Rewards’ transfer partners, including British Airways where you can log in at ba.com/theclub and convert a minimum of 10,000 RBC Rewards points into Avios by signing-in above or by calling 1-800-769-2512. Transfers take 3 business days.
While BA won’t let you hold awards (technically), they have pretty strong availability, even last-minute. Just make sure your RBC account name exactly matches your BA Executive Club account or else the transfer will get rejected. RBC is not like Amex where you can transfer to whomever you please.
However, British Airways does let you set up household accounts, so if you and a couple friends want to pool miles for awards, simply change your addresses to the same one and create a household account. NOTE: once you are in a household account, you cannot redeem your miles for anyone outside of the “household”.
I will caution that you need to make sure there is award space available before you transfer your miles and even then, there is a chance the awards can disappear by the time your Avion points transfer into your British Airways account. However, there is such a huge value to be had, it’s well worth the risk in my opinion.
Although the Avios program does have some big drawbacks, like levying huge fuel surcharges and taxes on itineraries routed to and from London, it does have some great values as well including:
-You can redeem for one-way awards
-You can redeem on all BA’s Oneworld and other partners
-There’s often great last-minute availability and no last-minute ticketing fees
-Fantastic premium onboard products with BA’s new business and first class
-Great value to be had out of short- and mid-haul redemptions thanks to BA’s distance-based award redemptions
I think it’s well worth it, and my British Airways redemptions including for Cathay Pacific First Class have been among the most valuable.
To take a quick example, if you wanted to fly from Montreal to London Heathrow in January, I found a one-way business class redemption for 40,000 Avios and $435 in taxes and fees. With this promo, you’d only be using 27,000 RBC points, though.
That same ticket would cost you $4,470 CAD. So your RBC Rewards points would be worth nearly 15 cents each on this redemption!
For a roundtrip ticket a little later in January you would pay 80,000 Avios and $1,080 in taxes and fees. With this bonus, however, it would only require you to transfer 54,000 RBC Rewards points.
That same ticket would cost $4,541 CAD on its own.
So even with the $1,080 in taxes and fees, you’d still be getting about 6.4 cents per Avios in value – very decent.
As always, before redeeming your miles or points, do the math and figure out whether you’re getting the value out of your points to make a redemption worth it. However, in the year or so since British Airways launched its new Avios program, I’ve been able to pull a lot value out of my Avios, so if you have been thinking of transferring your Avion points to BA for a while, you might as well get a 50% bonus out of it while it lasts!
For more information on British Airways Avios and how to maximize both earning and redeeming Avios, you can check out my series, which includes the following posts: Master FAQ Post on British Airways 100,000 Mile Offer, Spotlight on Taxes and Fees, Distance-Based Awards, Travel Together Companion Ticket, Household Accounts, Using Avios to Upgrade Paid Tickets, The Avios and Cash Option, Save Money on Fuel Surcharges by Transferring British Airways Avios to Iberia, Using Avios for Non-Flight Redemptions.