This is part of a series where I answer readers questions. This question comes from reader Alex and wants to know about how to get great value from his RBC Avion points before he closes the card.
- Part 1 – How to best use RBC Rewards for upcoming trips
- Part 2 – Toronto to Dallas
- Part 3 – Toronto to Chicago
- Part 4 – Toronto to Calgary
Alex has a stash of RBC Rewards points that he received from spending on his RBC Avion card. He has 3 trips coming up for himself, his wife and 2 kids. This is how I would suggest to get the best value out of his RBC Rewards for his upcoming trips:
|Route||Suggestion||Cost (Actual)||Cost (RBC Rewards)|
|Toronto – Dallas Roundtrip||Transfer RBC Rewards to British Airways Avios||20K British Airways Avios + $55 tax / person||13.3K RBC Rewards + $55 tax / person|
|Toronto – Chicago Roundtrip||Transfer RBC Rewards to British Airways Avios||9K British Airways Avios + $55 tax / person||6K RBC Rewards + $55 tax / person|
|Toronto – Calgary Roundtrip||Pay Revenue Ticket or use the Air Travel Schedule||$675 ($485 fare + $190 taxes) / person||25K RBC Rewards + $190 tax / person|
We are a family of 4: Myself, my wife, a toddler and a 3 month old. We are making some trips this year and were hoping to get your help to maximize our points. We currently have 137,704 RBC Rewards that I earned from my Avion card. Basically, here is what we’re doing in terms of trips this year. Obviously we know that we will not be able to use our points for all of it and the priority in getting free tickets is in order of our trips. For either trip in the US we are not opposed to fly from Buffalo if need be.
- Trip 1: To Dallas (June 4 – 10)
- Trip 2: To Chicago (Oct 9 – 13)
- Trip 3: Calgary (Dec 25 – Dec 28/29 flexibility on departure date)
Thanks Alex for your interest. I’ll do my best to help. I love that you are planning out your next few trips and can strategize where to allocate your points / miles to get the best value out of them. This is something that Milenomics talks about with a Demand Schedule. I also think that we will be able to use your points for a good chunk of it, although likely not all of it. Ironically, I think your best savings on going to Buffalo will be on your trip to Calgary.
First, let me make sure I understand what your situation is:
- 135K RBC Rewards from the Avion card
- Not earning more Avion points as you use a different card
- Use your miles for the trips to Dallas, Chicago and Calgary
- Based in Toronto
- 3 passengers
- Looking to get the best value from your 140K RBC Avion points
- Open to flying from Buffalo if significant savings are there
From first glance, referring to my articles on how to travel from Toronto to US destinations and Canadian destinations, I know that using British Airways Avios is the best way to do the Toronto – Dallas route, as well as the Toronto-Chicago route. It also happens that Avios is a transfer partner of RBC (Avion) Rewards if you have an Avion card.
My suggestion would be to look at transferring your RBC Rewards to a frequent flyer program (British Airways Avios) during a transfer promotion and use those points to book your travel.
It so happens that there is currently a transfer promotion until June 30, 2014. During this promotion, customers who carry a premium RBC card, such as the Avion can transfer at the following rate:
1000 RBC Rewards points = 1500 British Airways Avios.
Toronto – Dallas: You should book using 20K British Airways Avios + $53 / person (assuming there is availability)
Toronto – Chicago: You should book using 9K British Airways Avios + $53 / person (assuming there is availability)
Toronto – Calgary: You should keep an eye out for a fare sale and book it using cash / revenue ticket. This is not a good use of your RBC rewards
RBC Rewards is the currency of many of the RBC credit cards. RBC Rewards are designed to be used for travel redemptions. There are a few ways that you can trade your RBC Rewards to pay for your travel.
If you carry one of the Avion cards, which are RBCs premium card offerings, you can transfer your RBC Rewards to a few airline rewards programs, including:
- British Airways Avios
- American Airlines AAdvantage
- Westjet Dollars
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Esso Extra Points
Air Travel Redemption Schedule
In addition to the frequent flyer transfer options, you have the ability to use your points to purchase travel according to the flight rewards schedule. In this case, you can book any flights you want. The schedule, however, limits the value you can get from your points and does NOT include the taxes. Those would need to be paid separately, either as a charge to your RBC Avion card or as a redemption of points at a rate of 1 pt = $0.01 (very poor use of points).
The flight redemption schedule can return you up to 2.3 cents / RBC Avion point, assuming the flights you redeem your points are very close to the limits of each zone in the schedule. In fact, if you are able to find flights that are above the limit, you will get the best value for your points.
To maximize the value of your points, you could flight a trip between Toronto and Vancouver at a peak travel time. Let’s say this flight cost $850 round trip. You could redeem 35,000 RBC Rewards for the first $750 of the ticket. The remaining $100 outstanding would be charged to your RBC Avion card (Redeeming more RBC Avion points for the remaining $100 only yields 1 cent per point so should only be done if you don’t mind redeeming your points for poor value). This would give you a redemption value of 2.14 cents for each RBC Avion point.
The standard cards have a slightly different use of RBC Rewards. In this case, RBC Rewards have an exact value of $0.01 each when used to redeem against a travel purchase. This is significantly less than what can be achieved from the RBC Rewards if you have an Avion card.
My Thoughts on RBC Rewards
If you have an Avion card, I think the best value comes from transferring your RBC Rewards to either British Airways Avios or American Airlines AAdvantage. There are often transfer bonuses for these 2 programs (as is the case currently). I also find that, for Canadians, there are many more opportunities to get great value from both of those programs.
I find that transferring to Westjet is generally not a good value of your premium RBC (Avion) Rewards. Westjet dollars have a fixed value of exactly $1. This means that your RBC Rewards would be worth $0.01 each when transferring them to Westjet. If you are interested in pursuing this option, I would suggest that you consult the flight schedule and simply buy the same Westjet flight using the flight schedule. You would probably use less rewards this way. I would suggest that if this is your strategy prior to earning rewards, you could do better with a high earning cash back card, such as the BMO World Elite or MBNA World Elite card seen on our Best Canadian Credit Cards article.
Alex wants to use the points he has earned from his RBC Avion card for a few upcoming flights. The best uses of RBC Rewards are transferring them to British Airways, transferring them to AAdvantage or using the flight schedule.
Check out the other articles for details on how I would suggest getting these specific trips done with RBC Rewards.