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

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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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