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[READER QUESTION] What to do with RBC Avion Points?

I cannot believe that it has been almost 6 years since I last wrote a post about RBC Avion points program. The reason I am writing about it today is because many people were able to snag the 25,000 or 35,000 Avion points sign up bonus (first year fee waived) promotion with the RBC Avion Visa Infinite just under a year ago (offer expired February 28, 2020). For the churners out there who do not want to pay the annual fee, they will need to decide what to do with their points, but there has yet to be a transfer bonus to frequent flyer programs.

I’ll give a rundown of the RBC Avion program (a transferable points program) and then I will explain what I did with my 55,000 points along the way, as I explain the program in more depth.

List of Credit Cards

Below is the list of cards that allow you to earn RBC Reward points, ranked by their annual fees, from highest to lowest:

  • RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege ($399 annual fee)
  • RBC Avion Visa Infinite Business ($175 annual fee)
  • RBC Avion Visa Business ($175 annual fee)
  • RBC Avion Visa Infinite ($120 annual fee)
  • RBC Avion Visa Platinum ($120 annual fee)
  • RBC Rewards Visa Preferred ($110 annual fee)
  • RBC U.S. Dollar Visa Gold ($65 USD annual fee)
  • RBC Signature Rewards Visa ($39 annual fee)
  • RBC Visa CreditLine for Small Business (no annual fee)
  • RBC Rewards+ Visa (no annual fee)

Merchandise Rewards / Financial Rewards

With the RBC points, there are several different reward options including redeeming for merchandise, gift cards, or even cash that is deposited into an RBC investment account or used to pay for transaction fees. In most cases, you will be earning 1 cent per point or less (more often less). There are times when they offer promotions or discounts so that we can get more value out of every point.

Our Points Index suggests to target earning closer to 2 cents per point, which is double the standard value. As you probably already know, to ensure that you get more value, you will need to do more research and work. It may not be worth the time for everyone, so the good part about RBC is that you can expect to get a 1 cent per point return as a base.

Keep in mind that most RBC cards that allow you to earn RBC points have an earning ratio of 1 cent per point (give or take). That means that you are essentially earning 1% cash back when redeeming at 1 cent per point. So how do we get closer to the 2 cents per point in value?

Travel Rewards

When it comes to travel rewards, the standard offer is to redeem 100 points for $1 of travel purchases. But that just equates to the 1 cent per point and we are looking for 2 cents per point.

When redeeming RBC points for flights, we can get much closer to 2 cents per point. Below is the flights reward options:

  • 15,000 points (maximum ticket price of $350) for flights within or to an adjacent province/territory, as well as within or to an adjacent U.S. state
  • 35,000 points (maximum ticket price of $750) for flights anywhere in Canada/U.S. except Hawaii and Alaska
  • 45,000 points (maximum ticket price of $900) for flights from Western Canada/U.S. to Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska, or from Eastern Canada to Bermuda, Central America, Caribbean
  • 55,000 points (maximum ticket price of $1,100) for flights from Eastern Canada/U.S. to Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska or from Western Canada to Bermuda, Central America, Caribbean
  • 65,000 points (maximum ticket price of $1,300) for flight from Canada/U.S. to destinations in Europe
  • 100,000 points (maximum ticket price of $2,000) for flights from Canada/U.S. to destinations in Asia, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, Middle East, Africa, South America

The reason I said close to 2 cents per point is because it is rare to purchase a flight ticket at exactly those prices. The closer you get to the maximum ticket price, the closer it is to 2 cents per point in value.

Convert Points

Alternatively, it is possible to get more than 2 cents per point by having one of the Avion cards (see list of cards mentioned above). Avion cardholders have the option to convert points to one of the frequent flyer partners. There is also a double dipping method to go above 2 cents per point by converting during bonus promotional periods (will be explained more below) to increase the value of each point. Secondly, by leveraging the converted points for even more value with frequent flyer programs (this requires a greater understanding of the frequent flyer program).

American Airlines, AAdvantage

RBC Avion points convert at a 1:0.7 ratio, with a minimum conversion requirement of 5,000 RBC points for 3,500 AAdvantage miles. In recent years, we have seen annual 20% transfer bonuses, which increased the ratio to 1:0.84. But we have yet to see one in the last 12 months.

Now back to what I did personally with my 55,000 Avion points. I ended up transfer 27,000 Avion points to top up my AAdvantage account. This was probably not the best value for my points, but since I earned most of those points by combining a Business and Personal card sign up bonus (first year fee waived promotions), I did not mind as much. I may not have transferred to AAdvantage had I earned my points from every day spending.

Cathay Pacific, Asia Miles

If you are looking at this program, good timing, because Asia Miles is currently running a promotion. Effective today (December 28, 2020 to January 31, 2021), members can register to convert their credit card points into Asia Miles with a 10% or 15% bonus. During registration, members will find out which bonus offer they qualify for.

The standard conversion is a 1:1 ratio, with a minimum requirement of 10,000 RBC points for 10,000 Asia Miles. With a 15% bonus, that means you can convert 10,000 RBC points to earn 11,500 Asia Miles, while 10% gets you 11,000 Asia Miles.

Since I already cancelled my Avion card, I was not able to take advantage of this offer. But this would have been a better offer to go for than what I did with American Airlines.

Conversely, because I already have heavy usage with American Airlines and British Airways (already Oneworld alliance members), I have historically held off heavy usage of an Asia Miles account, but that may change in the future since they improved their expiry policy. It used to be a 3 year hard expiry, but now we just have to keep it active once every 18 months.

British Airways, Executive Club

The British Airways option is usually the most lucrative one when there are transfer bonuses. Normally, there is a 1:1 transfer ratio, with a minimum requiremennt of 10,000 RBC points for 10,000 Avios. In some years, there can be 30% or 50% transfer bonus twice a year. At 50% transfer bonus, 10,000 RBC points would have been worth 15,000 Avios.

However, we have yet to see any transfer bonuses in 2020. As a result, I transferred the minimum 10,000 RBC points to Executive Club for 10,000 Avios. That left me with 18,000 points (55,000 – 27,000 – 10,000).

Transfer Points

For the remaining 18,000 points, I ended up transferring them to a non-Avion card to hold them there for the time being for future flexibility. I have been a RBC client since I was born, so naturally, my older credit card is with them. I maintain a RBC Rewards+ Visa card used only for Petro-Canada purchases because of the 3 cent off and earning 1 point per dollar.

Unfortunately, with the non-Avion cards, the above 3 mentioned frequent flyer programs are not available for transfer. However, WestJet is an option.

WestJet, WestJet Rewards

RBC Rewards points can be converted at a 100:1 ratio, with a minimum of 1,000 RBC points for 10 WestJet dollars. There have been up to 20% transfer bonuses in the past, which means 1,000 points gives us 12 WestJet dollars.

Closing Thoughts

All in all, I really like the RBC/Avion points program because there are so many redemption options.

Hopefully this post gives you some ideas on what you can do with your Avion points.

More importantly, what did you end up doing with your points? Please let us know in the comment section below!

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Pointshogger aims to provide analysis and updates on earning loyalty reward points and maximizing the value of your points. We hope to inspire our readers to experience the joy of travel and make the most out of what they've already got!

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