Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Air Miles adds expiry rule and instant redemption option

It was inevitable, one of the longest hold outs from the expiring miles/points camp has joined the party. Canada's largest loyalty program, Air Miles, has enacted an expiry rule of 5 years on their Reward Miles loyalty currency. Much like Aeroplan's expiry rule of 7 years, Air Miles members will have 5 years from the month they earn a Reward Mile to redeem it otherwise it will expire. This expiry rule is different than inactivity rules where you don't use your account at all (earn or burn miles) which is 24 months with Air Miles.

This change is really unfortunate as this was a key strength of the program but according to Air Miles, the majority of Reward Miles earned by its members are redeemed within that 5 year limit. The ones who may lose out here are the collectors looking to earn enough miles so their family can take a dream trip. Ultimately the landscape has changed for loyalty programs in Canada (and the world) and that has necessitated or accelerated the need for expiring miles. Loyalty programs need to show worth and profitability to their shareholders and carrying unused miles is a liability for the program. The term for having these miles removed without them being redeemed is called breakage and all programs count on a certain percentage of breakage. Knowing this, a loyalty program like Air Miles wants to create a healthy balance of breakage and keeping their customers engaged and happy. How can expiring miles keep a customer engaged? By having them redeem for rewards to use up miles that might otherwise expire. So while the member may not be getting the reward they initially wanted to get out of the program they are getting something. Typically these redemptions will be on merchandise or gift cards instead of travel and those catalog items tend to be have higher profit margins than travel so it is a win-win for the Loyalty company by keeping the customer engaged and making a healthy profit.

One question that does need an answer as I see it as a bit of a contradiction is that if the majority of miles that are earned are burned within the 5 year period than the amount of miles left on the books can't be worth that much. Is the value of writing off those miles more than the potential loss of profit  from collectors who are aspiring for a dream vacation that may switch to a program like Aeroplan because they will have 2 more years to earn miles? There will be other questions as well from our readers as I can guarantee most of you will not be happy with this rule based on the experiences with Aeroplan's announcement of their expiry rules back in 2006.

For more on Air Miles Expiry please see here

Also in today's announcement from Air Miles on the changes of their program is the new Instant Redemption option called Cash Rewards. This option will effectively create a second account or an account within an account for Air Miles members to redeem instantly at Air Miles sponsors. This is key, you will only be able to instantly redeem at Air Miles sponsors and its makes total sense. Up to now, Air Miles members could collect at many sponsors but than redeem for items like Gift Cards for stores, restaurants etc that were not sponsors, so basically the non-sponsoring companies earned money from miles paid for by Air Miles sponsors and this practice had to be curbed by Air Miles to keep its sponsors happy (it may also explain the shrinking of the gift card rewards you can redeem for) Anyways, enough on that and more on how it works:

Essentially when the program launches, Air Miles members will have the option to run a 'cash account' in conjunction with their Air Miles Reward Miles account. When they open up this 'cash account' they will be able to choose what percentage of the Reward Miles earned will go into their 'Mileage Account' and what percentage will go into to their 'Cash Account'. The 'Mileage Account' will be the legacy account that is used to redeem for travel, merchandise, gift cards and more via the Air Miles program while the 'Cash Account' will allow the Air Miles members to instantly redeem against a charge at a participating Air Miles sponsor. So if you have $10 in your Air Miles cash account you can redeem that against any purchase of $10 or more at the participating sponsor.

Some things to note, you will not be able to transfer miles between the 'Mileage Account' and the 'Cash Account' nor will you be able to initially fund your 'Cash Account' with your existing miles. Instant redemption will not be available until March of 2012 but the accounts can be set up right away so that you can start building up a cash balance to use when participating sponsors begin accepting the instant redemption. You will be able to modify your percentages as you go along and learn what amounts to each account work for you and of course you have the choice of only sticking with one. Personally, I don't earn very many Air Miles to redeem for many things so I may move all my future earning to a 'cash account' for the instant redemption savings even though my rate of return will be lower than redeeming for travel, but like I said I don't earn very many Reward Miles so I would rather get something than nothing.

For more on Air Miles Cash Rewards please see here.

Please comment below to tell us what you think of today's announcement of the expiry rules and instant redemption options in the Air Miles program.

Comparison of Canada's Three Main Travel Loyalty Programs Expiry & Inactivity Rules
Air Miles:
5 Years Expiry
2 Years Inactivity

7 Years Expiry
1 Year Inactivity

5 Years Expiry
No Inactivity rule (although WestJet does state that it can be 12 months at their discretion)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Air Canada 2013 Top Tier Program Announced

Just a few days after the release of the changes/benefit packages for the people who qualified for 2012 Top Tier Status, Air Canada has announced the 2013 Top Tier Program, primarily the qualifying criteria and key benefits for each tier. Speaking of tiers, Air Canada is moving to a 5 tier model from the everlasting 3 tier model (Prestige, Elite, Super Elite) and the qualifying criteria for the 5 levels are as follows:
25,000 Status Miles or 25 Segments
35,000 Status Miles or 35 Segments
50,000 Status Miles or 50 Segments
75,000 Status Miles or 75 Segments
100,000 Status Miles or 95 Segments

Some other key changes include the loss of Star Alliance Gold Status at 35,000 Status Miles, that now requires 50,000 Status Miles. Instead you will receive Star Alliance Silver Status at 35,000.

For complete details on the 2013 Top Tier Program  please visit this page on Air Canada

They have also set up an FAQ for the new program

Clarification on earning rewards with the WestJet Frequent Guest program

Recently one of our readers commented on the WestJet Frequent Guest Program as follows:
"WestJet rewards stops when you reach the $ 7,500 milestone. No more rewards! I reached this in 6 months and I need to wait until my membership year is over to start over again!"
So I went to the WestJet website to check this out for myself, and the site does not state this nor does it state the opposite. The lead me to send an email to one of my contacts at WestJet to clarify what I believed was the case in that the bonuses stop at $7,500 but you will continue to earn your 2.5% WestJet dollars on each dollar spent no matter how much you spend with them. He confirmed this is the case, so to reiterate, the spend level bonuses and JetAway bonuses stop at $7,500 but your base earning does not.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Air Canada 2012 Top Tier Program

Air Canada recently announced the 2012 Top Tier program for those who have or will qualify for it.  The following is taken from the Air Canada site:

Enhanced Select Privilege: 2012 Top Tier Bonus

New this year, Top Tier members who choose the Top Tier Bonus as one of their Select Privileges will enjoy a 25% Aeroplan Mile Bonus on eligible flights operated by TAM. This complements the current range of airlines participating in the Top Tier Bonus, including Air Canada, Air Canada Express, Austrian Airlines, bmi, Continental Airlines, Lufthansa, SWISS and United. Unlike in previous years, note that this year ANA will no longer participate in the Top Tier Bonus.

Super Elite Threshold Gift

New this year, Air Canada Super Elite members who achieve the 150,000 Air Canada Status Mile threshold before December 31 will be rewarded automatically with 15,000 Bonus Aeroplan Miles. Members achieving the 200,000, 250,000, 300,000 or 350,000 Air Canada Status Mile threshold will continue to be able to choose from a range of exclusive gifts, including Bonus Aeroplan Miles, gift certificates and electronics.

Expanded upgrade eligibility for Prestige members

Air Canada Prestige members will now enjoy access to upgrades from all Tango Plus fares on flights within North America, including Sun destinations. This change will be effective for upgrade requests made as of January 1, 2012.

eUpgrades for the 2012 Air Canada Top Tier Program

eUpgrade Credits earned as part of the 2012 Air Canada Top Tier Program will be valid until February 28, 2013. Additionally, note that this year, an Aeroplan Member, regardless of their Air Canada Top Tier status, can only be identified as an eUpgrade Nominee by one Air Canada Top Tier member.

Not in the notice of change but on Air Canada's upgrade page:
Change to the ability for sharing eUpgrade Credits
Additionally, note that this year, an Aeroplan Member, regardless of their Air Canada Top Tier status, can only be identified as an eUpgrade Nominee by one Air Canada Top Tier member.

To view all  the details on the  2012 Top Tier program visit Air Canada

To learn even more on the 2012 program and some insight into some changes not listed above I recommend reading this FlyerTalk post

My first year with the American Express Gold Rewards Card

This is the fifth and final installment in my series on the American Express Gold Rewards Card. In this post, I will look at my experience with the Card over the past year.

Years ago, I got my first American Express Card (Blue Sky) simply because I wanted to be rewarded for my spending at Costco. Now with my new Gold Rewards Card, my usage of American Express has expanded greatly partly due to the double points per dollar earned on eligible gas, grocery, drug store and travel purchases. I do not pull out any other card when I am at these locations as I want to ensure I earn the most points on every purchase I make. The card also makes its way out for other purchases as I see fit. In the first year of having the card, I earned nearly 90,000 Membership Rewards points (including the sign up bonus). As of late, my use of the card has expanded due to a bonus offer I received from American Express.

Bonus Offer
In September, I received a mail out from American Express that offered me 5,000 bonus Membership Rewards points if I spent $5,000 on my card by January 15th, 2012. Well, suffice to say I hit that $5,000 mark by the beginning of November, so I should see that nice little bonus in the new year. A nice perk from American Express I must say! I would love to hear if anyone else received this or some other targeted bonus for using their American Express Gold Rewards card. If you did not receive this bonus, don't fret as I am sure this was not the last targeted offer American Express will offer on this card.

In the first year of cardmembership, I made one redemption with the Membership Rewards points I had earned on the Gold Rewards Card. That redemption utilized the TripFlex option of Membership Rewards (see this post for a detailed account of TripFlex) and I must say that it was totally painless. Essentially I had booked flights to Maui for my family using an existing credit I had with Air Canada, but the value of the tickets exceeded the credit by just over $600.00 and I paid that difference with my American Express Gold Rewards Card. As soon as I saw the amount from Air Canada on my online statement, I called up Membership Rewards and within two minutes had them redeem a little over 60,000 points against that charge. Now they say it can take up to one billing cycle to see that credit on your account, but it showed up on my online statement within three days. This is a feature I will definitely make use of again. In fact, in the New Year I will be paying for my hotel for my next trip to Maui on the card and redeeming the points against that charge once it shows up on my account.

In addition to an accelerated earn rate and flexible redemption options, a great perk offered on the Gold Rewards Card is Front of the Line, which grants Cardmembers early access to concerts and events across Canada. I utilized this feature to get four tickets to the Selena Gomez show in Toronto this past August and was able to treat my daughters to their first ever concert. When we got to the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, we discovered another perk of being an American Express Cardmember - an exclusive entrance for that allowed us to bypass the much longer general admission line!

All in all, my first year with this card has been wonderful, it came free (all new approvals have the first year free) and I have happily paid the annual fee for the next year as I will continue to use this card frequently.

Click here to learn more about the American Express Gold Rewards Card

Friday, December 16, 2011

IHG Priority Club Stay X Get Y Targeted promos are back!

Noticeably absent for the last quarter of 2011, the ever popular Stay X Get Y bonus promos have made a return for Q1 2012. Although these are supposed to be targeted it seems that most if not everyone can qualify for at least one version of these offers.

Earn up to 15,000 Bonus Priority Club Points for a certain amount of nights at participating InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza®, Hotel Indigo™, Holiday Inn®, Express by Holiday Inn™ and Holiday Inn Express® hotels worldwide, Do not sign up until the previous quarter is over. Use the following codes to Register Online (use the smallest amount first or the promo that best matches your anticipated stays and then go on to the next if you do not qualify, however once you do qualify for one you cannot sign up for any others):
Stay 3, Get 5,000 - Code 2174
Stay 4, Get 5,000 - Code 2183
Stay 7, Get 10,000 - Code 3164
Stay 8, Get 10,000 - Code 3190
Stay 10, Get 10,000 - Code 5148
Stay 12, Get 10,000 - Code 5157
Stay 15, Get 15,000 - Code 2190
Stay 18, Get 15,000 - Code 3182

Be sure to check out our Priority Club Bonus Point Opportunities page for even more bonus point offers that can be stacked up with this promo.

Earn Double A|Club Points for stays in Thailand that will help rebuild homes

Accor Hotels has taken the Double Points offer to a new level (a good one at that) with this new promo. Until the end of January when you stay at any participating Accor Hotel or Resort in Thailand you will earn double A|Club points but that is where this promo stops at being the same as all other promos. How so? Well only earn the base points for your stay will be credited to your account, the double points or the bonus as they call it will be converted into cash and donated to a special flood relief fund established by the Yim Kids Thailand Foundation. I think this is a great initiative by Accor and makes good use of their loyalty program for a good cause and those who have stays or are planning stays in Thailand can feel good knowing they helped out during this time of need in Thailand. For the complete offer details please visit

Friday, December 9, 2011

LifeMiles: 100% Bonus on buying miles (translates to $1800 for Business Class to Europe)

Avianca TACA LifeMiles seems to be following in the footsteps of US Airways and Delta in offering 100% Bonuses on buying miles multiple times a year. The last time we saw this offer was back in September.

LifeMiles is the FFP of Latin America's joint venture airline Avianca TACA and until December 30th they are offering double miles (ie 100% bonus) on miles purchased in the program. The program allows you to purchase up to 75,000 miles for a total of 150,000 miles if you include the bonus. Now, here is where we get to the business class for $1,800: LifeMiles is partnered with Lufthansa and to redeem for a business class from North America to Europe on LH you need 120,000 LifeMiles, which means you need to buy 60,000 (+60,000 bonus) at $30 per 1,000 plus tax or $1,800+tax for the total amount.

For complete details or to partake in this offer please visit LifeMiles (Use promo code LMAZ03 if they ask for it)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Discounted Aeroplan Business & First Class Rewards - Limited Time Offer

Late last week news starting breaking in the Frequent Flyer Blogosphere that there were mistakes in the pricing some of Business Class and First Class award tickets from Aeroplan. Learning from previous potential mistake fares and reward tickets many people starting jumping on the bandwagon and booking this lower priced tickets. A day or so after this broke Aeroplan confirmed to one of the bloggers that this was not a mistake, rather an unadvertised reward sale that could end at anytime. I have to apologize to my readers for not posting this sooner as it seems no one has really covered this in Canada for a Canadian loyalty program! All the bloggers who covered it were from the U.S. with predominantly U.S. audiences. Well, fret no more here is my post for the Canadian market.

Essentially the sale sees Business Class award tickets going for the price of Economy Class Award tickets and First Class tickets going for the price of Business Class tickets. For example some select routes to Asia in business class are 75,000 Miles instead of the usual 100,000, to Europe it is 60,000 instead of 90,000 and Australia is 80,000 instead of 100,000. For fun I checked Calgary to Hong Kong in mid January and there it was 75,000 Miles for business class.

If you were planning on booking any Business Class or First Class rewards your best bet is to do it sooner then later so that you can save yourself some miles (kind of makes up for the increased fees due to the fuel surcharges now charged Star Alliance rewards)

Hat tip to Lucky @ One Mile at a time

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Get free Gold status with Accor A|Club and Best Western Rewards

So while last weeks free Platinum offer has come and gone there is another from European based Accor Hotels for free Gold Status with their A|Club program. I have to thank one of our Twitter followers @Forest412 for alerting me to this offer. Unlike the Platinum offer, this one has a known deadline date of January 31, 2012 and is meant for new members, so if you are already an A|Club member you may have to join with a different email address (assuming you don't already have some status or points with A|Club).

To join via this offer please visit this page on the A|Club website.

And taking a hint from my platinum post last week you can leverage your Accor status to get the equivalent status with Best Western Rewards. For more details on the Best Western status offer please see Best Western Status Match No Catch

Friday, December 2, 2011

Making the most of your American Express Gold Rewards Card this holiday season

Making the most of your American Express Gold Rewards Card this holiday season This is the 4th installment of my series on the American Express Gold Rewards Card, and with the holiday shopping season in full swing, we look at how to maximize the use of your Gold Rewards Card. Whether it is maximized on the earn or on the burn, using this card for your Christmas shopping can be very advantageous.

For those of you who have not followed my series on this card, I'll revisit the earning basics of the American Express Gold Rewards Card. The card earns 1 Membership Rewards point for every eligible dollar spent on the card, but where the card shines is on eligible gas, grocery, drugstore and travel purchases as Cardmembers earn 2 points per dollar spent at these locations. It is the strategic use of this point multiplier that will ensure you maximize your earning potential this festive season.

Speaking of festive, what is one of the first things that come to mind for the holidays? Food. And lots of it! Since the card earns double points on grocery purchases all the food for your festivities should be bought on the card. Of course, if you need other items for your holiday celebrations, put all of your spend on the card, as you will still earn 1 point per dollar for all of your purchases outside of gas, grocery, drugstore and travel outlets.

It wouldn't be Christmas without all the shopping for gifts. By putting all your gift purchases on your American Express Gold Rewards Card, you will see your points balance grow by leaps and bounds. But the question to ask here is: How can I earn even more points on those gifts? While it can't be done on all purchases, here are two tips on how to bring in the point multiplier on some of your non gas, grocery, drugstore or travel purchases:

1) Some people (like me) are hard to buy for, so gift cards make a great present. If you want to buy a gift card to give to someone as a gift, buy it at your local grocery store and earn 2 points per dollar versus 1.

2) If you have your gifts (and the stores they come from) planned out, go buy gift cards for your purchases at the grocery store first and then use them to purchase the gifts. For example, say you want to buy a shirt at The Gap as a gift. If you went to The Gap to buy it, you would earn only 1 point per dollar, but if you bought a gift card at Sobeys or Safeway for The Gap, you would earn 2 points per dollar. Then you could simply use the gift card for the actual purchase of the shirt.

By following these tips, you can ensure that you're maximizing your points earning for the Christmas season.

Another way you can maximize the use of your American Express Gold Rewards Card this winter is to look at how you can use the points you have already earned to help you in your gift shopping. How do you do this? Via the Membership Rewards catalogue! With an option to redeem online or by phone, the catalogue is quite extensive - with items ranging from $25 Keg Gift Cards to 46" Toshiba LED TVs and hundreds of items in between. There are even some online-only discounted redemptions that include such items as a Canon Pixma printer for only 13,500 points (regular 29,000) until December 8. But your points don't have to be used only on merchandise or gift cards. How about concert tickets for your significant other or even utilizing TripFlex (see our TripFlex post here) to get your family a vacation to somewhere warm?

No matter how you look at it, there are many ways you can maximize your earn and burn potential this holiday season with the American Express Gold Rewards Card. I know I have and I would love to hear from our readers who also have the card on how they have used it to its fullest for their Christmas shopping and gift giving.

Click here to learn more about the American Express Gold Rewards Card

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Get Free Platinum status with Accor A|Club and Best Western Rewards

December 2nd Update:  Almost as fast as I put this offer up it died, hopefully some of you were able to take advantage of it!

There is time limited offer from Accor Hotels A|Club that gives members of Air France KLM's Flying Blue program instant Platinum status in the A|Club program. Normally, it takes 60 nights or accumulating 25,000 A|Club points in a calendar year to earn Platinum status, so as you can see this is quite the fast track to this elite level. Now, that being said this promo is meant for Flying Blue members, (which is free to join, just visit or but the actual registration form does not ask for your Flying Blue number, just A|Club membership # and email address. I did so and within 15 minutes had emails from Accor confirming my Platinum status without inputting my Flying Blue number or as the registration page suggests selecting the auto-convert option to Flying Blue. So there you have, that is how you can get free Platinum Status with Accor Hotels.

The next question may be what can I do with this status (which could be combined with "Who the heck is Accor Hotels) as here in Canada there are only a few Accor Hotel locations in Toronto and Montreal and they are not called Accor, as that is the parent company's name. The locations in those two cities are Novotel and Sofitels. Worldwide the Accor family has 10 hotel brands with most locations being in Europe and Asia. So you can definitely take advantage of this status for stays in those two Canadian cities and many more outside of Canada. But for those of you who primarily have stays in Canada and not in Toronto or Montreal may want to consider the next option:

Free Platinum status with Best Western! How do you get this? Best Western offers a promotion called "Status Match. No Catch" which means they will match your status in any other hotel loyalty program. So your first step will be to get your platinum status with Accor A|Club (don't worry, I have all the links at the end of this post) and once it is confirmed, complete the Best Western Status Match form and provide proof of your platinum status (just print off your online Accor Statement showing your Platinum Status) and send them off. I already took advantage of this status match offer not with Accor but used my Hyatt Platinum status to get the platinum status with Best Western. Within a couple of days of sending in the form I had my Best Western status.

There you have it, this is how you can free elite Platinum status in two major hotel chains! Here's a tip, don't wait to do this as Accor can pull this fast track offer for Flying Blue members at anytime.

Accor A|Club Platinum Status Fast Track
Best Western Status Match No Catch

Thursday, November 24, 2011

1,500 Bonus Marriott Rewards Points Per Night for stays across Canada

Marriott loves to reward Canadian's for stays at their hotels and the following is their promotion for the first quarter of 2012. Please note that this offer can be combined with any system-wide offers like Marriott's MegaBonus promotion. Depending on the hotel the bonus point rate may cost a little more then the best available or AAA/CAA rate but we have also found some nights/locations where the rate is no different, so if you are paying for the room yourself (ie not billing it out to your employer/client) make sure you check all the available rates first and see if paying a bit extra is worth the bonus points.

Earn 1,500 Bonus Rewards Points PER NIGHT for stays at 14 participating hotels across Canada. Maximum bonus per stay is 7,500 points. Full Details and Online Booking  Valid for stays Jan 1 - Apr 16, 12
Participating Hotels
Calgary Marriott Downtown Hotel
Montreal Airport Marriott Hotel
Edmonton Marriott at River Cree Resort
Residence Inn Gravenhurst Muskoka Wharf
Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel
Residence Inn Montreal Downtown
Ottawa Marriott Hotel
Vancouver Airport Marriott Hotel
Toronto Marriott Downtown Eaton Centre Hotel
Toronto Marriott Bloor Yorkville Hotel
Renaissance Toronto Downtown Hotel
Toronto Airport Marriott Hotel
Vancouver Marriott Pinnacle Downtown Hotel
Renaissance Vancouver Harbourside Hotel

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

RBC Avion 50% Transfer Bonus to British Airways is back

British Airways and RBC are once again offering Avion cardholders a 50% bonus on transferring RBC Rewards points to BA Avios points. The offer runs until January 31, 12 and the only difference we can see this time around is that you have to transfer a minimum of 10,000 RBC Rewards Points.

Despite the change to British Airways program (from Executive Club to Avios) this can still be  a great offer to take advantage of if you are not looking at booking travel using the set RBC Rewards chart as the new BA Avios program has seen a reduction in the number of miles required to fly from Montreal/Toronto to London and huge reductions in some short haul flights in North America. See our post on the new Avios program here.  They also offer miles for upgrades so if you do not have enough miles for a business class or first class flight you can use miles to upgrade a paid fare in economy, economy Plus, or business class. Another good use of BA miles is with their partners from the OneWorld Alliance which means you don't have to redeem for BA flights via London but go direct on airlines like Cathay Pacific to Asia or American Airlines to the U.S. One thing to watch out for however with BA is seat availability, we have heard mixed stories of people being able to get or not get reward seats on flights plus redemptions on BA to the U.K. can carry heavy taxes and fuel surcharges.

For more details on this offer please visit British Airways

Book an Award Stay with Club Carlson and receive 9,000 bonus Gold Points

The latest and greatest in the slew of promos coming out of the Club Carlson camp is this offer on award night stays called Redeem Points, Earn Points

Redeem Points, Earn Points.
Register and stay at any of our more than 1,000 Carlson℠hotels, on a Award Stay between December 1, 2011 and January 31, 2012, and earn 9,000 Gold Points, enough for a future Award Night at select hotels worldwide. Points + Cash reservations are not eligible for this offer.
Full details and registration

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Avios is now the official program for British Airways and Iberia

It had been announced awhile ago that the FFPs of British Airways (Executive Club) and Iberia (Plus) would be merged into one big loyalty program which also would bring in the Air Miles UK program. When the announcement came out the news hit many North American's members of BA's Executive Club hard as some of the great redemption opportunities in that program (North America to Asia and South America) were lost as the new redemption schedule is based on distance and not to a set reward chart. All day today I have been reading various frequent flyer blogs looking at the new Avios system and while those great offers mentioned above may be gone there are some new gems to be had within the program, in particular for flights within North America on BA's partners.

Since the Avios program now works on distance rather then the set reward chart a lot of the shorter haul redemptions have actually gone done in price. For example a one-way flight between Toronto and New York can be had for only 4,500 Avios points (9,000 round trip) and used to be 12,500 miles (25,000 round trip), compare this to 15,000 Aeroplan Miles, 25,000 AAdvantage Miles etc.. Toronto to London has also become cheaper as it used to 50,000 miles for a round-trip redemption in economy and that is now 40,000. These lower redemption rates make the semi annual RBC Avion 50% transfer bonus to BA even more attractive (that is if they keep the bonus around)

Another issue that seems to arise in addition to the redemptions that became more expensive is the fact the if you want to build an itinerary with a connection (think stopover in previous Executive Club terms) you have to price out each connection separately. So where you used to be able to get a round trip flight Calgary to Paris for 50,000 miles with a connection in London (and the option to stopover in London for a few days) now has to be priced at Calgary-London for 50,000 miles and London-Paris for 9,000 miles so in the new program it will cost you 9,000 more points.

What do you think of the changes to the program? For those of you who are BA flyers will it make you shy away from BA and take your business to another airline or will you take it as it is and continue with your loyalty to BA?

To see some more news on the good and the bad of the new Avios program here are some other blog posts made today (bear in mind all of these are U.S. based but do hold some merit for Canada):
Dan's Deals has a good run down of redemptions that have gone down, stayed the same and increased
View from the Wing - it always good to hear Gary's take on programs
One Mile at a time had numerous posts today: Post 1 | Post 2 | Post 3

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Aeroplan fuel surcharge saga continues

In our last post on the new fuel surcharge for Star Alliance award tickets from Aeroplan, we first mentioned it was going to be on few Star Alliance carriers, then Aeroplan retracted that and said it was only for Lufthansa then yesterday they release this:
With the increasing cost of fuel, many airlines have started charging fuel surcharges on redemption tickets. All fuel surcharge amounts are applied by Aeroplan on behalf of the ticketing carrier and are passed through directly to the ticketing carrier. Fuel surcharge amounts are determined by each airline and may change from time to time. Aeroplan has applied fuel surcharges for flight rewards on Air Canada since 2004. The fuel surcharge amounts to be applied by Aeroplan for flights on Star Alliance airlines will be the same as those applied by the individual airlines within their own frequent flyer programs.

Fuel surcharges to flight rewards on the following Star Alliance airlines will be effective as of the dates noted below:

November 30th, 2011: Asiana Airlines, THAI, ANA, Austrian Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, bmi

December 14th, 2011: Aegean Airlines, Adria Airways, TAM, South African Airways, TAP Portugal

These are in addition to fuel surcharges to flight rewards on Lufthansa that became effective on November 9th 2011 at 7pm.

Members making voluntary changes after the applicable effective date to existing bookings with these airlines will also be subject to the fuel surcharges.

Fuel surcharges to flight rewards on other Star Alliance member airlines not referenced in this notice will come into effect only if those airlines elect to apply them within their own frequent flyer programs.

So as you can see fuel surcharges are back on the carriers that were first mentioned and even more. Some Star Alliance carriers will still not have any fuel surcharges but the door has been left open for Aeroplan to add them in the future

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Aeroplan now charging fuel surcharges for award tickets on select Star Alliance carriers

One of the biggest complaints I always hear about Aeroplan is the fuel surcharge imposed on redemptions for flights on Air Canada metal. A way around this has always been to redeem Aeroplan miles for flights on their Star Alliance partners as members were not charged the fuel surcharge. Well that changed earlier this week when a member on the FlyerTalk forum posted that he was told by an Aeroplan call center agent that they will begin imposing fuel surcharges on Star Alliance awards as of November 9th and it does appear that this has become reality.

Apparently the fuel surcharges can now be found on Lufthansa, ANA, Asiana and Thai Airways (see update below). No word yet on the other Star Alliance partners. Now when you book an Aeroplan award for these airlines you can expect to pay a few extra dollars for short domestic flights or in excess of $500 more for trans-Atlantic or -Pacific flights. Granted if these Star Alliance carriers are charging the fuel surcharge to Aeroplan, Aeroplan must recoup those charges but the question that begs to be answered, why now? Most of these airlines have had fuel surcharges for years and have not changed or increased them. Did they not charge these to Aeroplan and unilaterally decide that they would start charging them? Another question that will probably go unanswered.

Overall another not so good year for Aeroplan news
First came the increases to select redemptions off of the Aeroplan and Star Alliance reward charts and now this. Many people, both frequent and infrequent flyers love to hate Aeroplan and Air Canada and this latest move, especially without proper communication to its members will just exemplify why people feel this way. I have said it before and so have many others, if you communicate changes properly, sure you will feel the heat but at least you will keep and/or gain the respect of your members for being truthful, honest and proactive. Now Aeroplan will have to go on the defensive, justifying the move and explaining why they did not communicate this. (I can think of one reason, there would have been an onslaught of bookings prior to the effective date and they would lose out on the fuel surcharge that with proper assumption is being paid to the carrier that the member is travelling on). In the end you would think that Aeroplan, which is part of Aimia a corporation that happens to be at the forefront of loyalty marketing not only in Canada but globally would know that customer engagement and retention is key to a loyalty program and making unannounced negative changes goes against all aspects of those two key factors.

Now, believe me, I hate putting Aeroplan in a negative perspective as overall I am a fan of the program but it is my duty as an unbiased consumer resource to let Canadians know about these changes since Aeroplan did not.

* Nov 13 Update:
Later on November 10th,  after we posted this Aeroplan posted on their website that they are charging the surcharge only on Lufthansa flights (retracting the fuel surcharges on ANA, Asiana, Thai) but stating that other Star Alliance carriers will be added as applicable. See here for more details

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Priority Club® World MasterCard® from Capital One Review

This review is taken in its entirety from the original review on the Rewards Canada website

The newest travel rewards credit to come onto the market is the Priority Club® World MasterCard® from Capital One (and it's little sister card the Priority Club® Platinum MasterCard®). The card which was announced earlier this spring and truth be told been in Priority Club's sights for at least three years was finally released today. Rewards Canada was lucky enough to receive all the details of the card at the start of summer so that we could include it in our annual Top Travel Rewards Credit Card rankings where the card tied for top spot in the small category of Hotel Points cards. With this cards introduction, Canadian's can now choose from 5 major Worldwide hotel frequent guest programs to tie a credit card into.

The Priority Club® World MasterCard® from Capital One is a hotel rewards card that earns points into InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) Priority Club program. The IHG group of hotels includes the Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Candlewood Suites and numerous other brands. Being a 'World' version of the MasterCard brand the card comes with an excellent insurance and benefits package that is the same across Capital One's suite of World MasterCards. It comes with some nice signup and ongoing bonuses, accelerated earning for stays at all the IHG brands, instant Priority Elite status and bonuses for ongoing spending.

The Priority Club® World MasterCard® from Capital One comes with an industry standard $120 primary card annual fee. The card offers a decent sized 30,000 point welcome bonus which could garner as many as 6 free nights if you take advantage of Priority Club's point break offers. Like all Capital One cards, adding an authorized user is free which gives this card a slight edge in the cost department over its biggest competitor the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express. The interest rate on the card is 19.8% placing it right in the middle of the pack of competitors.

The Priority Club® World MasterCard® from Capital One earns 2 Priority Club points for every dollar spent on the card for all purchases except those made at IHG properties. For purchase made at IHG properties, the card earns 5 Priority Club points per dollar spent. The card also offers a 5,000 Priority Club points bonus for every $10,000 spent on the card.

See Application

Features and Benefits
As stated above the Priority Club® World MasterCard® from Capital One comes with an excellent insurance and benefits package that competes with all the other high end cards. The card features Trip cancellation which is only offered as a standard feature on a few other travel rewards cards and Travel Medical insurance which only comes standard on about 50% of the cards in the market. .

The other primary benefit that the card comes with is Platinum Elite Status. What does Platinum Elite Status from Priority Club get you? It gets you a 50% bonus on your base point earnings for IHG stays, priority check-in, complimentary room upgrades and guaranteed room availability.

What is good about this card
There are a few really good things about the Priority Club® World MasterCard® from Capital One outside of the great suite of features and benefits, there has to be otherwise the card would not have split first place in our Hotel Credit card ranking for 2011. First off, is the vast number of hotels worldwide that you can earn and redeem your points at, with over 4,500 locations the InterContinental Hotels Group provides great global coverage from small towns to large cities to luxury resorts. Next, the point breaks redemption option provides an extremely high value return on your spending especially if you redeem for higher end hotels. Last but not least is Priority Club's rule that all points count towards status, not just your hotel stay points. Last but not least, the Priority Club World MasterCard from Capital One now guarantees Platinum Elite Status guaranteed for the life of the account.

What is not so good about this card
As mentioned above, one of the things that is not so good about the Priority Club® World MasterCard® from Capital One is Priority Club's conversion ratio to airline programs. If this is a feature you really look for you could be better off with another hotel loyalty program that does have a credit card in Canada. The elite status levels from Priority Club also leave a little to be desired when compared to other frequent guest programs.

This latest entry into the crowded travel rewards credit card market should do quite well because of what the card and the Priority Club program do offer. If you are looking for a hotel credit card that offers many hotel choices in Canada and Worldwide then then Priority Club® World MasterCard® from Capital One is for you because of the large number of hotels under the IHG banner. Existing Priority Club members who make IHG their number one choice when booking hotels will probably latch onto this card right away. The general public in Canada may not do so as fast until they learn about the true value of hotel frequent guest programs and their flexibility advantage over frequent flyer programs. When you look at the ease of earning points on this card and on IHG hotel stays it can and couple that with some great hotel reward redemption options you can see why this card shot to top and tied last years top pick in our Hotel Credit Card category.

Care to comment? Do you agree or disagree with us? Tell us your experiences with the Priority Club® World MasterCard® from Capital One on our blog

Related Links:
Priority Club® World MasterCard® from Capital One on the Capital One website
Priority Club® Platinum MasterCard® from Capital One on the Capital One website
Rewards Canada's Hotel Credit Card Comparison including the Priority Club® World MasterCard®

Other cards to consider if you are looking at this card:
Chase Marriott Rewards Platinum Visa
MBNA Best Western Rewards Platinum Plus MasterCard
MBNA Choice Privileges MasterCard
Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

“The interest rates, fees, rewards details, benefits and other details of the Capital One product(s) described in the article may have changed since the time of publication. Please consult the product information pages on the Capital One website for accurate product details. In the event of any conflict between the product details in this article and the Capital One website, the details on the Capital One website shall prevail.”

Monday, November 7, 2011

American Express Gold Rewards Card: TripFlex Highlight

In my third post focusing on Canada’s #1 Hybrid* credit card, we look at one of the key features that gave it top spot, TripFlex. The TripFlex feature of the American Express Gold Rewards Card gives true definition to the often-used marketing copy of “Travel anywhere at any time.” I have actually twisted that copy a bit, most cards say something to this effect: “Fly any airline at any time” but TripFlex is not limited to flight redemptions as it can be used for any eligible travel purchases. Add to this the low redemption requirements, the 12-month redemption period and the ease of use and you’ll see why this feature helped me rank this card number one in our 2011 Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards rankings.

Redemption requirements
Unlike some other hybrid and travel points cards, with TripFlex you don’t need the full amount of points to redeem; rather you can redeem as little as 1,000 points for a $10 statement credit towards any travel that has been charged to your card. This means if you find a last minute seat sale or book through a travel agent, you can pay for it on your card and call Amex to use your points for a statement credit against the charge. The beauty of not having set redemption levels with TripFlex means you only redeem the amount of points you want or need to, whether it’s the 1,000 points for $10  or 50,000 points for $500. For example, on one of my TripFlex redemptions, my flight came in at $606.93 and I was able to redeem the exact amount of points right down to the penny – and that included the taxes and fees.

Redemption Period
Unlike airline credit cards and many other travel points & hybrid cards, you don’t have to redeem your points before you book your travel with the Gold Rewards Card. In fact, you can be on vacation and put a travel-related charge such as a hotel stay on your card and then redeem your points for that charge when you get home from your trip. Technically speaking, you can redeem points before, during and/or after you travel and you have up to 12 months after the travel charge is posted to your account to redeem your points for a statement credit. Very few cards on the Canadian market offer this sort of redemption flexibility.

Ease of Redemption
Speaking from experience, the process of redeeming my Membership Reward points was extremely easy. I simply called up American Express, said I wanted to redeem my points against a travel charge on my account and after a few questions such as which charge do I want to redeem for and do I want to redeem the full amount or a partial amount of points, it was all said and done. And the statement credit was posted to my account within 3 days of calling in.

As you can see, the TripFlex feature of the Gold Rewards Card provides the utmost in flexibility for travel rewards – and when you combine this with the other features of the card including the ability to transfer points to Aeroplan, 2x points on eligible spending along with a good suite of insurance benefits you can see why I ranked this card #1 in the Hybrid category.

Click here to learn more about the American Express Gold Rewards Card

* A Hybrid card is a combination of an airline and/or hotel card and a travel points card. You can convert your points to airline or hotel frequent travel programs or use the points to book travel via the credit card's travel agency or with some cards to book travel how you want and then redeem the points against the charge on your account.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

50,000 Club Carlson Points for a single Radisson stay

Carlson Hotels sent out a press release yesterday announcing a promotion to celebrate to opening of their first luxury Radisson Blu Hotel in the United States, the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago. The promotion goes like this, the first 50,000 Club Carlson members to register for the promotion (registration starts on Nov 10), book at Radisson or Radisson Blu stay in the U.S., Canada or Caribbean after registration and complete that stay by December 30 will receive 50,000 Bonus Gold Points. If you register after the first 50,000 then you will be awarded with 15,000 Bonus Gold Points for your completed stay.

What can you get for 50,000 Club Carlson points? Five nights in a category 1 hotel or one night in a luxurious category 6 hotel and various nights inbetween for category 2-5 hotels.

Is this a good deal?
Considering you should be able to get one Radisson stay in the $100-$150 range to earn the 50K bonus, the resulting reward stays could be worth $300-$600 or even higher so this is definitely a good deal

The registration page is up although you cannot register yet at

thanks to One Mile at a Time for the insight on this offer:

Rewards Canada November Updates

In case you missed the big banner above or the banners all over the website, we launched our 10th Anniversary contest on November 1st with some huge prizes supplied by American Express Canada, Aeroplan and Etihad Airways. In total there are 10 prizes ranging from Sheraton Bath Robes to 125,000 Aeroplan Miles. For all the details and to enter the contest visit

But that was not the only news we had come out on November 1st, we actually had two more updates come out the same day. The first was a redesign of the website which is slowly being integrated into all the pages on the site as each is updated, roughly 50% of the site has the new look incorporated. Feel free to comment below on what you think of it!

Finally, the last update was the launch of our YouTube channel called Rewards Canada TV which will feature news, reviews, rants, raves, tips and tricks and much more on the travel rewards industry in Canada. You can visit the channel at and view my first video below:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Emirates: Earn 12,000 Bonus Skywards Miles in 1st Class between Toronto & Dubai

Each month Emirates releases bonus offers on select routes across their network called 'Miles Accelerator' bonuses and for the month of November, you can earn 12,000 bonus Skywards miles when you fly First Class between Toronto and Dubai.

About Miles Accelerator:
The Miles Accelerator feature allows you to search out routes, presumably the ones you need to fly on and see if any of them are offering more miles. Typically flights that are seeing less demand will see a bonus offer. For example, city pairs that have more then one flight a day may have different bonuses offered depending on the flight.  As you can see on the following Frankfurt - Dubai screen grab for November, the early morning flight to Dubai has no bonus for economy class presumably because the flight is showing enough demand:

Sometimes the bonuses are the same for the return flight but on many occasions they are not, as seen on the return Dubai to Frankfurt routing:

Here are some other routes that have bonuses for the month of November
Route First Class Business Class Economy Class
Abidjan - Dubai 16,000 bonus Miles 8,000 bonus Miles Not available
Amsterdam - Dubai 10,000 bonus Miles Not available 2,000 bonus Miles
Bangkok - Dubai 6,000 bonus Miles 4,000 bonus Miles 4,000 bonus Miles
Beijing - Dubai 6,000 bonus Miles 4,000 bonus Miles 2,000 bonus Miles
Copenhagen - Dubai 10,000 bonus Miles 4,000 bonus Miles Not available
Dar Es Salaam - Dubai 6,000 bonus Miles Not available 2,000 bonus Miles
Frankfurt - Dubai 10,000 bonus Miles 4,000 bonus Miles 2,000 bonus Miles
Geneva - Dubai 6,000 bonus Miles Not available 4,000 bonus Miles
Houston - Dubai 16,000 bonus Miles 12,000 bonus Miles 8,000 bonus Miles
Johannesburg- Dubai 10,000 bonus Miles 6,000 bonus Miles 4,000 bonus Miles
Kuala Lumpur - Dubai 10,000 bonus Miles 4,000 bonus Miles 2,000 bonus Miles
Los Angeles - Dubai 16,000 bonus Miles 12,000 bonus Miles 6,000 bonus Miles
Manchester - Dubai 10,000 bonus Miles 6,000 bonus Miles 2,000 bonus Miles
Osaka - Dubai 16,000 bonus Miles 8,000 bonus Miles Not available
Paris - Dubai 6,000 bonus Miles 4,000 bonus Miles 2,000 bonus Miles
Rome - Dubai 10,000 bonus Miles 4,000 bonus Miles Not available
San Francisco - Dubai 16,000 bonus Miles Not available Not available
Seoul - Dubai Not available Not available 6,000 bonus Miles
Toronto - Dubai 12,000 bonus Miles Not available Not available
Vienna - Dubai 10,000 bonus Miles 6,000 bonus Miles 2,000 bonus Miles

Overall the Miles Accelerator offer from Emirates is a good way to earn some extra miles on your EK flights if you do fly on one of them that is offering a bonus. The bonus miles do not cost you anything extra, all you have to do is opt-in each month into the Miles Accelerator program and see if you can take advantage of any of the routes that have bonus offers on them. It is wise to check the offers on a monthly basis or visit our Skywards page for a sampling of offers as sometimes the bonuses can get quite large as  witnessed earlier this year when you could earn 70,000 Bonus Skywards miles for flights in first class between Los Angeles and Dubai.

For more information on Miles Accelerator please visit

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

WestJet enhances their Frequent Guest Program

It was a little over 18 months ago that WestJet launched their Frequent Guest Program to so-so reviews from us and other industry analysts. Today, WestJet announced some changes to program that make the program better for its members. The biggest change comes in the removal of the $1,500 spend limit (I know I fell short in the first year by a couple hundred) which means you start earning WestJet dollars right from the onset of your first flight with WestJet. The complete changes as taken from the press release are as follows:
  • Frequent Guest Program members will now start earning with their first WestJet flight flown and vacation package taken. The $1,500 annual qualifying spend requirement has been eliminated.
  • There's no limit to the number of WestJet dollars members can redeem toward WestJet Vacations packages. The $500 maximum redemption amount for WestJet Vacations packages has been removed.
  • All WestJet RBC MasterCard members are now automatically members of the Frequent Guest Program with the ability to double-dip by earning WestJet dollars through purchases on their card and by flying with WestJet.
 According to the press release additional enhancements to program will be announced in the coming months.

Update from a WestJet Email I received:
We've removed the $1500 annual qualifying spend requirement.
You read that right. We listened to your feedback and have eliminated the requirement to spend $1500 each qualifying year before you can begin receiving WestJet dollars. Now all members can earn right away, starting with the first flight flown or WestJet Vacations package taken.

For WestJet flights, earning starts at 1% and increases to 2.5%.
Each qualifying year, you'll begin by earning 1% back in WestJet dollars on eligible spend between $1 and $1499. Once you reach $1500 in annual qualifying spend, you'll receive a bonus of $35 – for a total of $50 WestJet dollars. Even more, your earning rate will increase to 2.5% and will continue at that rate for the remainder of your qualifying year.

For WestJet Vacations® packages, earning starts at 0.5% and increases to 1%...on the entire
package price.
Each qualifying year, you'll begin by earning 0.5% back in WestJet dollars on your WestJet Vacations packages. Once you reach $1500 in annual qualifying spend on WestJet flights, your earning rate for WestJet Vacations packages will increase to 1% and will continue at that rate for the remainder of your qualifying year. Earn WestJet dollars for flights, hotel, car rentals or activities that you purchase as part
of your package.

How does this affect my account?
If your current qualifying spend is between $1 and $1499, a credit of 1% in WestJet dollars for WestJet flights will be posted to your account. Watch for your new WestJet dollars balance on the account update issued in early December. You'll then continue to earn and receive WestJet dollars at the rates provided above.

If you are currently over $1500 in qualifying spend you will not see any immediate change. You will continue to earn at 2.5% for WestJet flights and 1% for WestJet Vacations for the rest of your current qualifying year, with WestJet dollars posted to your account within 30 days of completion of travel.

Redeem as little as $25 WestJet dollars or as many as you like.
You'll need to use a minimum of $25 WestJet dollars at one time when redeeming for WestJet flights or WestJet Vacations packages. However you can now use as many as you like towards the purchase of a WestJet Vacations package – we've removed the maximum redemption amount!

Source: WestJet

Friday, October 28, 2011

Amex sweetens the pot on the AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card

American Express Canada -Plat Air MilesIn what appears to be a game of playing catch up, American Express Canada recently made some changes to their AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card. To me the changes made are to make the card a little more enticing as for the last few years the card lost some traction against it competitors in terms of sign up bonus and earning ability.

The changes to the card as follows
1. The sign up bonus has been increased to 500 AIR MILES Reward Miles

2. The mileage earning for the card now is as follows:
- Earn 1 AIR MILES reward mile for every $10 in Card purchases at AIR MILES Sponsors
- Earn 1 reward mile for every $10 in Card purchases at other eligible gas, grocery, and drugstores
- Earn 1 reward mile for every $15 in Card purchases everywhere else
To the best of my knowledge, this is the first AIR MILES co-brand to offer accelerated earning on eligible gas, grocery and drugstore purchases, a feature we have seen on other cards like Amex's Gold Rewards Card and the CIBC Aerogold and Aventura Visas to name a few.

3. The first year's annual fee is waived, again matching many of the other credit card offers out there however the annual fee after the first year has now been increased to $65 from $50.

Other then that the card retains the same benefits and insurances as before.

For more details on this card or to apply for it please visit

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

RBC Visa Infinite Avion Review

Below you will find the complete review of the card as seen on the main Rewards Canada site.

One of the first travel rewards cards to offer any flight anytime potential, the RBC Visa Avion has been a mainstay in the travel credit card market for many years. It is definitely one of the most popular cards in Canada and as such we give it the "Rewards Canada review" treatment as we expand our review process beyond newly released cards to include existing cards on the market.

The Infinite version of the RBC Visa Avion came a few years after the release of the original Visa Platinum Avion card from RBC. Adding extra insurance coverage, slightly better earning on travel purchases and some other benefits typically associated with the Infinite brand this card is the flagship of RBC's credit card portfolio. The card falls into our "Hybrid Card" category which means it gives you the best of both worlds in the sense of travel rewards credit cards in that it offers points that can be used towards any travel or you can covert those points into a frequent flyer program.

The RBC Visa Infinite Avion comes with a $120 primary card annual fee which is the same as most cards that offer a similar level of rewards and benefits. The card offers a 15,000 welcome point bonus which is enough for a short haul flight with a maximum value of $350. Supplementary cards run $50 which is the same for almost all of the Infinite/Platinum/Gold travel credit card offerings from other banks. The interest rate on the card is 19.99% which is also inline with most of the cards at this level.

The RBC Visa Infinite Avion earns 1 point for every dollar spent on the card for all purchases except travel. On travel purchases the card earns 1.25 points per dollar spent.

Being a 'Hybrid Card', the RBC Visa Infinite Avion has two primary forms of redemption, the first is redeeming the RBC Rewards points via RBC for travel, merchandise and more and the second is transferring those RBC Rewards Points to one of three frequent flyer programs. While you can redeem your points for virtually any travel via RBC Rewards travel the card provides the best return when you redeem for flights via the Avion Air Travel Redemption Schedule. The schedule which is similar to a Frequent Flyer redemption chart sets point limits for flights to various regions such as Short Haul (neighbouring province/state), Long Haul, Europe, Asia etc. Unlike a frequent flyer program howvever the rewards are not tied to one airline, you can pretty much book any airline or seat in economy class via RBC Rewards Travel as long as the actual cost of the flight falls under the dollar limit for each region. For example, a short haul flight will cost 15,000 RBC Reward Points for a ticket with a maximum dollar amount of $350. If the ticket costs less then $350 you still have to redeem 15,000 points, if it goes over then you have to redeem the 15,000 points and then you can redeem 100 points per dollar for every dollar over the region dollar limit. The dollar limitation per region is based on the base ticket price and does not include taxes and fees. Those taxes and fees can either be paid for with RBC Rewards points at the 100 points per dollar rate or with your credit card. In addition to be able to take advantage of the Avion Air Travel Redemption Schedule rates you have to book your flights at 14 days in advance otherwise you have to redeem at the 100 points per dollar rate. In general if you do use the Air Travel Redemption Schedule you can get a rate of return anywhere from 2 to 2.33% if your ticket comes out at the maximum price level, anything below or above the maximum price level your rate of return diminishes. It does appear that sometime in the near future you will be able to redeem your RBC Rewards Points for any travel via This appears to be RBC's answer to cards like the American Express Gold Rewards Card, Capital One Aspire, TD Infinite First Class and Diners Club which offer the ability to book any travel how you like,when you like and from whom you like. Without knowing more, at this time it is hard to determine whether this will be a good option or not as you will still be forced to either book via RBC Rewards Travel or Travelocity, so still not as wide ranging as the other cards plus in my personal experience I have to be more expensive on occastion for hotels and vacation package then say

The other main option for redemption with the RBC Visa Infinite Avion is converting your RBC Rewards points to a frequent flyer program. To convert you have to be an Avion cardholder (non-Avion RBC cardholders cannot convert their RBC Rewards points) and a member in either the American Airlines AAdvantage, British Airways Executive Club (soon to be Avios) or Cathay Pacific Asia Miles program. All three programs are free to join and once you are a member you can transfer your RBC Rewards points on a 1:1 basis with a minimum of 10,000 points per transfer for BA or CX, 5,000 for AA. One of the features that has made this card stand out with frequent flyers and in our credit card rankings is the semi-annual 50% transfer bonus to British Airways. This recurring offer which has been around for many years can make really good use of your points if you are willing to abide the rules of a frequent flyer program. Why is the bonus offer so good? Take for example a redemption of 100,000 RBC Reward Points, you would recieve 150,000 Avios Points which is enough for three economy class tickets from Canada to Europe on British Airways. The same three tickers would require at least 195,000 RBC Reward points if you redeemed via RBC Rewards.

Features and Benefits
The RBC Visa Infinite Avion comes with a whole host of features and benefits, the majority of which are standard for the Infinite brand of Visa cards. It has the standard Travel Accident, Flight Delay, Lost Baggage and Car Rental insurance, however it is miissing one that a few of the card's competitors have: Trip Cancellation. While I am not a huge fan of Trip Cancellation Insurance due to the heavy restrictions that is usually carries, it can be the tipping point for some people in choosing a card. The card does include out-of-province/country medical insurance which is nice to have. A question that does come up a lot in the emails I receive is medical coverage for those over the age of 65, the Visa Infinite Avion offers 3 days coverage for those over 65. It's not the most offered in the market but it also not the least as some cards do not provide coverage over 65. One insurance benefit it does have is Hotel Burglary insurance, in fact only RBC and American Express offer this benefit on their premium cards.

What is good about this card
The Avion Air Travel Redemption Schedule is generally a good feature of this card particularily when you can book tickets at or near the maximum dollar levels in each category which can translate into a 2 to 2.33% rate of return on your spending but it does have some limitations (see below). Also see our Travel Anywhere card chart for an idea of how much you have to spend to redeem for tickets. The 1.25 points on all travel purchases is also nice bonus although not a deal breaker when compared to some other cards. By far, the best thing about this card is the semi-annual transfer bonus to British Airways, if taken advantage of properly, Visa Infinite Avion cardholders can see returns well in excess of 10% on their spending if they redeem for Business or First Class flights via British Airways.

What is not so good about this card
The limited flexibility of the Air Travel Redemption schedule is probably the biggest drawback with this card. While you can virtually book any flight, you can lose on your rate of return if the price goes over or is well under the maximum limit plus add in the fact you have to book at least 14 days out the get the good redemption rates makes the card less flexible then cards like the American Express Gold Rewards Card or TD First Class Infinite Visa. The issue of taxes and fees also comes up as you can only redeem points at a 100 to $1 ratio (a 1% return) versus 1.5% on the TD First Class, 1.7% on Diners Club or up to 2% on American Express Gold Rewards card. You are also limited in your booking options as you have to use the RBC Rewards Travel centre or soon, again when compared to the cards above it is a lot less flexible then them.

This mainstay in the Canadian travel rewards credit card market is a decent card and I would actually give it an above average score based primarily on the British Airways Transfer bonus. In all other regards, the card is in the middle of the pack in terms of earning and burning. There are cards that offer more flexibilty in terms of redeeming points in the 'Any Flight, Anytime" marketing category but when used properly the RBC Visa Infinite Avion card can achieve returns of 2 to 2.33% which is higher then most of the cards it competes against, but the key word is "used properly" which means redeeming for tickets at or near the maximum dollar value in each category. So if you are looking for a good hybrid card and can make the most of the Air Travel Redemption schedule, are a frequent British Airways (or oneworld alliance) flyer, or a RBC customer who wants a good card from their bank, then the RBC Visa Infinite Avion is a good choice for you.

Related Links:
RBC Visa Infinite Avion on
Rewards Canada's Canadian Travel Credit Card Comparison including the RBC Visa Infinite Avion

Other cards to consider if you are looking at this card:
American Express Gold Rewards Card
BMO World Elite Master Card
Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard
CIBC Aventura World MasterCard
CUETS Platinum Class MasterCard
Diners Club Club Rewards MasterCard
TD First Class Infinite Visa