When it comes to credit card reward programs aimed at travellers, Aeroplan is likely the first to pop into most Canadians’ minds. However, the Avion Rewards Program might be more attractive if you primarily travel within Canada. Avion points are easy to collect and redeem for travel rewards, merchandise and more. Members can even transfer their points to other airline loyalty programs.
Avion Rewards are exclusively available to RBC customers, so it’s not as well-known as Aeroplan or Air Miles. Here, we’ll break down how the Avion Rewards Program works, discuss point value, and reveal what kinds of rewards are available to point collectors.
What is the Avion Rewards Program?
The Avion Rewards Program is a reward program owned and operated by the Royal Bank of Canada. It is sometimes referred to as RBC Rewards, an RBC loyalty program previously offered to non-Avion credit cardholders but no longer exists. RBC Rewards was renamed ‘Avion Rewards’ on August 25, 2022.
Cardholders can join Avion Rewards if they hold a select RBC Avion credit card. Travel rewards, discounts at partner retail stores, and using your points to bank with RBC are just a few features that make RBC Avion credit cards a great choice for Canadians, especially those who love to travel.
The program has two tiers; Avion Premium and Avion Elite. RBC ION credit card holders are at the Premium level, while RBC Avion cardholders have access to the Elite level. For this article, we will focus on Avion Elite, which gives members the option of redeeming their points for travel rewards.
How The Avion Rewards Program Works
The major difference between the two tiers is how collectors can redeem their points. Cardholders of either tier can trade Avion Reward points in for WestJet Dollars or Hudson Bay Rewards. Avion Elite Rewards collectors, on the other hand, have access to the Avion Reward Travel Center. Here, members can cash in a set number of points for flights worldwide. Different regions require a different amount of points. For example, a quick trip to an adjacent province or state requires just 15,000 RBC Avion Reward points, while a getaway to a European destination requires 65,000 points. Holidays to far-flung destinations like Australia or the Pacific Islands cost 100,000 points.
Here’s a quick peek at RBC’s Air Travel Redemption Chart:
The number of points required to travel is set by region and covers a maximum base fare only. So, for example, if you want to travel from Alberta to British Columbia, you can cash in 15,000 points for a ticket that costs up to $350, excluding taxes and fees. If a ticket costs more than that, you’ll have to pay out of pocket or cash in more reward points. Also, taxes, surcharges, and other fees charged by the airline that are not included in the exchange rate will have to be paid either out of pocket or you can use the ‘Pay with Points’ option and cash in your Avion Rewards points at an exchange rate of 100 points = $1 CAD.
While on the surface, it may seem like the Avion program doesn’t provide good value (after all, your ticket from Alberta to B.C. costs 15,000 points even if it costs less than $350, too), one major advantage to the program is that it lets collectors travel on any airline, anytime. Unlike other reward programs that blackout peak travel times or place other limits on when you can use your travel rewards, with Avion Rewards, there are no black-out dates or seat or airline restrictions. Plus, rewards aren’t limited to airline tickets; you can use your points like cash to pay for any travel-related expenses, including hotels, car rentals, and even taxes and fees. Points are converted at a ratio of 100 points for $1 CAD. Avion points can also be converted to West Jet Dollars at the same conversion rate.
Are Avion Points Valuable?
The value of Avion Reward points depends on how you use them. If you can find a flight that falls within the sweet spot of Avion’s flight redemption schedule, points hold more value than if you were to convert them to West Jet Dollars or pay with points as cash. The flight redemption schedule can make Avion Reward points incredibly valuable – up to 2.33 cents per point if you can find a ticket that falls within the right price range – it can also have the opposite effect if you can’t find a reasonably priced ticket to where you want to go when you want to travel.
That brings us to the second, and arguably the most valuable, difference between Avion’s two tiers. Avion Elite members can also trade their Avion Reward points for points with 3 other frequent flyer programs:
This handy feature greatly expands the range of destinations collectors can visit with Avion Reward Points. That flexibility alone adds value to the program, even if transferring them gives them a lower monetary value than they have using the Avion grid.
Avion points can be traded for British Airways and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles at a ratio of 1:1. The exchange rate for Avion Rewards to AAdvantage points is 10:7. Still, being able to transfer points to a different rewards system is a major advantage of the Avion Rewards Program, especially for Canadian travel hackers looking to stretch the value of a point as far as it can go.
The bottom line is that Avion points can be very valuable when leveraged correctly. However, their value changes depending on where you’re travelling. Long-haul flights within Canada typically yield the greatest return. For shorter flights, the value is almost on par with Avion’s travel purchase exchange rate of 1 cent per point. Collectors must do a little research before booking to get the highest value from their points.
How To Transfer Points
The flexibility to transfer points to other reward programs is one of the best features of the Avion Rewards Program. To complete a transfer, you’ll need to sign in to your RBC Online account. Underneath your account information, click ‘Avion Rewards’, and you’ll be taken to the Avion Rewards page.
At the top of the screen, you’ll see a row of options. Click ‘Transfer,’ and you’ll be shown a list of all of Avion’s available transfer partners. Simply click the program you want to transfer your points to and allow 4 weeks for the transfer to complete.
Ways to Collect Avion Points
The only way to accumulate Avion Reward points is with an RBC Avion credit card. For every $1 charged to your card, you’ll get between 1 and 1.25 Avion Reward points. Qualifying purchases earn extra points, and new cardholders will get bonus points just for being approved. There are 6 Avion Rewards cards available through RBC to choose from, but we’ve compared their best credit cards in the next section. All 3 are currently offering a welcome bonus of 35,000 welcome Avion Reward points.
Top 3 RBC Avion Credit Cards
RBC Avion Visa Infinite
The RBC Avion Visa Infinite card earns you 1.25 Avion points per dollar spent on all travel-related purchases and 1 point per dollar spent on everything else. This card is by far the best travel credit card on the list. Although the annual fee of $120 is steep, the features (like 12 types of comprehensive insurance, including travel and mobile phone coverage) are well worth the cost, and it has reasonable income requirements.
RBC Avion Visa Platinum
The RBC Avion Visa Platinum credit card is very similar to the Avion Visa Infinite, but if you don’t make a lot of travel purchases, this one might be a better fit. It also doesn’t have any income requirements, so it’s a good option for part-time or freelance workers. With this card, you’ll earn 1 Avion point for every dollar spent on all purchases.
RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege
The RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege card has the highest earning potential of the 3, with 1.25 points on all purchases. However, at $400 per year and a minimum income requirement of $100,000, it’s also the most expensive RBC Avion credit card on this list and slightly out of reach for the average Canadian. However, by shelling out for this card, you’ll be rewarded with some lofty perks like a free Priority Pass membership and 6 free airport lounge passes, dedicated parking at Canadian airports, priority service at airport security, and extensive insurance across a range of categories. You’ll also be able to redeem your Avion Reward points for travel expenses at a rate of 100 points = $2 CAD.
Ways to Redeem Avion Reward Points
There are a number of ways to redeem your Avion Reward points, including travel rewards, credits for travel-related expenses, banking, and shopping.
To redeem your points for travel, you’ll first need to sign into your RBC account. Navigate to the Avion Rewards tab to be taken to the Avion Rewards homepage, where you can redeem points for flights, hotels, vacation packages and more. You can also book travel through the Avion Rewards Travel call centre, but a $30 fee applies to all bookings.
If you want to convert your points and redeem them through a different reward program, you’ll need to navigate to the ‘transfer points’ section of the Avion Rewards home page. Follow the prompts to make the transfer to your selected airline program. After the conversion is complete (which can take up to 4 weeks), you’ll redeem points through the airline program’s website.
Avion Elite members can make credit card payments, pay back purchases with points, and use points to pay other eligible bills like the Internet and TV. Points can also be used to send Interac e-transfers, pay down loans and invest with RBC.
Using the Avion Rewards website, app, the RBC Rewards homepage, or the RBC Launch app, you can use your points to purchase products from brands such as Apple, Best Buy, Dyson, and more, either in-person or online. There is also a browser extension called Avion Rewards ShopPlus that automatically searches the web and finds deals suitable for you.
Additionally, you can use your points to purchase gift cards from partner retailers like Amazon, Petro-Canada and Lululemon or donate them for cash value to charities like Ronald McDonald House or the Canadian Olympic Foundation.
FAQs about the Avion Rewards Program
Avion Rewards, sometimes referred to as RBC Avion Rewards or RBC Rewards, is a reward program offered by the Royal Bank of Canada. It is available through RBC’s line of Avion credit cards.
Questions about Avion Travel Rewards can be resolved by phone at the Avion Rewards Travel Centre at 1-877-636-2870. For other inquiries related to the program, call Royal Bank Visa Avion at 1-800 ROYAL 1-2 (1-800-769-2512).
Avion Reward points are accumulated through purchases made with an RBC Avion credit card. Points can then be redeemed for travel rewards through the Avion Travel Centre, transferred to other frequent flyer programs, or traded in for West Jet Dollars or Hudson Bay Rewards. You can also use Avion Rewards to pay for merchandise or gift cards, pay bills or investment in RBC financial products.
No, Avion Rewards don’t expire.
Cardholders can manage their points online by logging into their RBC account and clicking on the ‘Avion Rewards’ icon to redeem points for travel purchases, gift cards, and merchandise or use points to make credit card or bill payments. Avion points can also be managed with the easy-to-use Avion mobile app.
Avion Rewards are incredibly valuable if you can find a flight that falls within Avion’s travel redemption grid. Not only do Avion points have a high cash value when leveraged correctly, but with Avion, you can fly on any airline, anytime and in any seat. Avion Rewards can be transferred to other frequent flyer programs, which further extends their value.
The number of points needed for a flight depends entirely on where you want to go. If you’re travelling through the Avion Travel Centre, one-way tickets within Canada and the continental United States start at 7,500 points. Travel to further-away destinations requires more points. Between 35,000 – 55,000 are needed to travel in North America and the Caribbean, and 65,000 points will get you to Europe. For 100,000 points, you can travel to Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, South America or the South Pacific islands.
Avion Reward points are worth between 2 – 2.5 cents on the Avion grid. If you transfer them to Cathay Pacific Asia or British Airways, their value sinks to around 1.75 – 2 cents. Points transferred to the American Airlines AAdvantage program retain a value of around 1.25 – 1.5 cents. Avion points can be converted to West Jet dollars at a ratio of 100:1.
You can transfer Avion Reward points to British Airways, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, or American Airlines AAdvantage programs. Avion points can also be converted into WestJet Dollars or to Hudson Bay Rewards.
You’ll need 65,000 Avion points to fly to Europe using the Avion grid.
An Avion Rewards member can transfer Avion points to any account that’s in their name, and secondary cardholders can use the points. You can also transfer points to another person if that person has an Avion Rewards account.
Avion points cannot be transferred to Aeroplan.
To convert Avion points to WestJet Dollars, sign in to your RBC online banking account and navigate to the Avion Rewards tab, which will bring you to the Avion Rewards home page. Click ‘Transfers’ at the toolbar at the top of the screen and scroll to the list of Avion partner programs. Select ‘WestJet’ to convert your points to WestJet Dollars, and allow up to 4 weeks for the transfer to be complete.
Yes, you can use Avion points for flights, hotels and vacation packages, including all-inclusive packages, through the Avion Rewards travel portal.
You can use Avion points for a wide range of travel rewards, including hotel stays.
You’ll need between 45,000 and 55,000 Avion points to fly to Mexico.
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