RBC Avion Visa’s to see increased redemption rate for Long Haul North American flights

In somewhat of a surprise move with one of Canada’s most popular travel rewards credit cards, RBC is increasing Long North American redemption levels on its Avion cards from 30,000 to 35,000 points. This change will take place on May 1, 2009.

Why is it surprising? While it is not unusual for airlines to increase mileage requirements for reward flights, it is not so with credit card issuers. In the past year many of Canada’s travel rewards credit cards have actually made their products and/or the reward rate of return more enticing to try and lure or keep their customers. Diners Club Club Rewards and Capital One’s Mile Plus MasterCard are some that come to mind.

Will the change make RBC lose customers? Probably not, while many may not be happy with the change, the card still holds a pretty good redemption value for Long Haul North American tickets that are valued around $750 and why change if you have racked up lots of points with the card.

You can see the current redemption values of this card (30,000 points) against other travel points cards in our Travel Anywhere Credit Card Comparison. As you can see the Avion does not fare too well on lower value tickets under $500, but currently it is a top 3 card above the $500 level. With the new redemption rate it fares even worse under $500 and falls to the fourth best in the $500 category.

Now some other factors can come into play, if you have the Infinite Avion Visa you do earn 25% more points for booking travel with the card. So if you exclusively use the card for travel purchases the redemption rates are a bit better, but most people will not just use this card for travel purchases.

Is this a smart move by RBC? In our opinion of course not. We never like it when redemption levels are increased by a reward program but that may change if other credit card companies follow suit.

Thanks to Zorn on CanFlyer for revealing this.