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

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Air Canada and SriLankan Airlines to start codeshare service

At the end of this month Air Canada and SriLankan airlines will begin codesharing on services between Canada and SriLanka via Europe.With this announcement we have now launched a page on Rewards Canada covering bonus offers for the SriLankan FlySmiles frequent flyer program. You can visit that page here.

Air Canada operated by SriLankan Airlines
Colombo – Frankfurt
Colombo – London Heathrow
Colombo – Paris CDG

SriLankan Airlines operated by Air Canada
Frankfurt – Calgary
Frankfurt – Montreal
Frankfurt – Ottawa
London Heathrow – Calgary
London Heathrow – Edmonton
London Heathrow – Halifax
London Heathrow – Montreal
London Heathrow – Toronto
London Heathrow – Vancouver
Paris CDG – Montreal

Source: Airline Route Updates

Friday, October 21, 2011

British Airways adds new Elite level: Bronze

Not too long ago BA announced that it will be changing and updating their Executive Club program which also includes the integration of the U.K. Air Miles program and Spain's Iberia Plus program into one program called Avios. Some of the changes, most notably some reward ticket redemption levels have already been released that have not been well received by the frequent flyer community in North America because of the increases doled out for mileage redemption.

That being said, the latest news to be released about the program is the addition of a new elite tier from British Airways. This new tier fills a large gap between Blue (non-status) members and the old first tier level called Silver. Qualification for the new Bronze tier will require half the number of points and/or flights then is required for Silver, namely to reach Bronze you will require 300 tier points or 25 single flights.

The benefits included with the new Bronze tier are:
Business class check-in
Seat selection seven days before departure
Earning 1.25 Avios (formerly Air Miles) for every mile flown
Dedicated telephone number (UK & US)
Bronze tier luggage tags

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Air Algerie to increase Montreal service for winter season

According to Airline Route Updates, Air Algerie will be adding a third weekly flight between Montreal and Algiers. The new flight will operate on Saturdays with an Airbus A330.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

1.5 million Etihad Guest Miles to be won with Hilton Worldwide

Another contest from Etihad Airways to celebrate the 5th anniversary of their Guest Rewards program. This time they have teamed up with Hilton where members will be entered into the contest each time they complete a stay at any Hilton hotel. Every stay between 1 October and 21 December 2011 gives you an entry into the prize draw to win one of the following prizes
• 1st Prize =  750,000 miles
• 2nd Prize = 300,000 miles
• 3rd Prize =  200,000 miles
• 4th Prize =  150,000 miles
• 5th Prize =  100,000 miles

Full details can be found on the Etihad website

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The American Express Gold Rewards Card: How does it stack up?

Over the last five to seven years, there has been an emerging trend in the travel loyalty industry when it comes to credit card rewards. It used to be that credit cards were strictly tied into another provider’s loyalty program – or what they call in the industry a co-brand card. These cards, such as those tied into a frequent flyer program, meant you had to keep your loyalty in one program and had no flexibility in choosing how you would like to be rewarded.

With the advent of travel anywhere credit cards, flexibility is the new rewards reality. You’ve seen the ads – “any airline, anytime.” The explosive emergence of these cards would make you think that they all offer the same value. This, however, is not the case. When you look at all the cards in the Travel Points and Hybrid* categories of our latest rankings and how you can be rewarded with each one, you’d be surprised at how different the cards can be.

The primary difference lies in the flexibility the cards offer in terms of redeeming the points or miles you have earned. The American Express Gold Rewards Card is among the most flexible cards in its category, and one of my favourites. Why do I consider the American Express Gold Rewards to be one of the most flexible in its class? Here’s a re-cap:

1. With the TripFlex option, you do not need the full amount of points to redeem for a flight or other travel – you can start at as little as $10 all the way up to the entire amount, right down to the cents.

2. You can book your travel with who you want, when you want, where you want. You can even be on your vacation, put a tour on your card and redeem your points for that charge when you get back from your vacation. The good news for mileage hounds and points junkies is that your bookings are your standard revenue tickets and hotel stays – which means you can still earn frequent flyer miles and frequent guest points while continuing to build up your elite status qualification

3. You have up to 12 months after the charge posts to your account to redeem your points towards it.

4. There is no set reward chart that you have to follow when redeeming for flights, which allows you to redeem the least amount of points possible. Programs that have set reward charts have a maximum ticket price level, and if your ticket does not reach it, you still have to redeem the set amount of points.

5. You are not limited to flights. You can book any travel to redeem your points against whether it is air travel, hotels, car rentals, rail, cruises and more.

See how the Gold Rewards stacks up against the competition:

RBC Avion Visa: You have to book 14 days out to get the best redemption rate and the travel has to be booked through RBC.

Capital One Aspire World MasterCard: You have to the have the full amount of points to redeem against the charge on your card

BMO World Elite MasterCard: To redeem you have to book travel via BMO Elite Rewards and if you book over the phone you are charged a booking fee.

MBNA Travel Platinum MasterCard: You have a set reward chart and only 22 cities in Canada that you can depart from for flights.

CIBC Aventura Visa/MasterCard: You have to book via CIBC’s travel agency and there are only a select amount of redemptions available at their lowest redemption levels

Most other travel points credit cards force you to redeem via their own travel agency and do not allow you to book travel anywhere which typically means you have to redeem before you travel with no option of redeeming afterwards.

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, October 6, 2011

Turkish Airlines: Married Couples get a companion ticket for only 1 Euro or 1 Miles&Smiles miles

Turkish Airlines has launched an interesting companion ticket promotion for their Miles&Smiles members that are married. For the month of October, members who book a revenue ticket can buy a second ticket for only 1 Euro or for those who book a Miles&Smiles award ticket a companion ticket can be had for only 1 Miles&Smiles mile. The offer is good for both Economy and Business Class tickets to the following Turkish destinations:

Europe 1: Chisinau, Tirana, Podgorica, Pristine, Skopje, Belgrade, Sofia, Bosnia, Zagreb
Europe 2:Baku, Bucharest, Odessa, Dnepropetvosk, Athens,Kiev, Donetsk,Tbilisi, Budapest, Lviv,Simferopol, Prague, Thesaloniki,Batumi
Europe 3: Milan, Rome, Ljublajana, Venice, Bologna, Naples, Turin, Cenova, Nice, Toulouse, Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, Valencia, Paris, Lyon
Lisbon, Brussels
North Africa: Cairo, Alexandriaelnohza, Dakar, Khartum, Tunis, Casablanca, Algeria, Nairobi, Darusselam, Lagos, Accra, Tripoli, Benghazi, Adisababa, Entebbe
Near East: Amman
Middle East: Muscat
Central Asia: Askabat,Bombay
Far East: Beıjıng, Osaka
South Africa: Johannesburg, Cape Town

Full details of this promotion can be found here.

Terms and Conditions

  • Member with award ticket may get an another award ticket which will be 1 mile, will be redeemed for the passenger accompanying miles&smiles member.
  • Promotin is valid only for married couples. Document (Marriage Certificate) will be checked during check-in . Marriage date will be disregarded.
  • Promotional award tickets shall be issued for travels between 1 October- 31 October 2011 and travel must be completed between these dates.
  • A member can only benefit once from this promotion.
  • Promotion is valid for seat limited Economy, Comfort and Business reservation classes .
  • Promotion will be applied for only Miles&Smiles members howewer membership obligation for second passenger in the reservation will not be needed.
  • The member and accompanying passenger must travel together on all sectors.
  • The member and accompanying passenger must be on the same reservation.
  • Promotion will be applied on condition that 2 passengers exist in the same reservation. If there are more than 2 passengers in the reservation, regular mileage value will be redeemed.
  • The promotional award ticket will only be issued by Turkish Airlines Sales Offices and Call Center, it will not be available through the web site.
  • Refund: refund is not allowed .
  • Rebooking/rerouting:Rebooking/Rerouting is allowed on condition that the reservation is made within promotion dates and promotional destinations for two award tickets at the same time.
  • The validity of the award tickets will be restricted as 31 october.
  • Member is also responsible for all taxes and other charges of one mileage ticket.
  • This promotion will be applied only for Turkish Airlines scheduled flight. Promotion is not permitted on Codeshare flights and Star Alliance member airlines flights.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

4th Quarter Hotel Promotion Round Up

Taking a page from Ric Garrido's Loyalty Traveler blog, we thought it best to also do a round up for our readers of all the fourth quarter hotel loyalty promos that are currently underway 

Best Western Rewards
Earn up to Triple Rewards Points after your 2nd qualified stay at any Best Western branded hotel worldwide. Earn double points for your 2nd qualified stay* or triple points if you stay at 2 different types of Best Western® branded hotels (BEST WESTERN®, BEST WESTERN PLUS® or BEST WESTERN PREMIER®).
Full details, Online Registration and Booking (Registration is required) Until Nov 20, 11
* For residents of North America, Asia, Afica, and South America
* Bonus can be earned twice for regular members, four times for elite members

Carlson Hotels Club Carlson
Earn a Free Night when you stay two or more consecutive nights, Sunday-Thursday, at participating Country Inns & Suites By Carlson hotels in the U.S. and Canada. Use promo code 'FALLSTAY' when you book online at Country Inns & Suites  Until Dec 1, 11
To get the free night, members must register their 2 nights stay on or before December 22, 2011, and Club Carlson will send you a Free Night Reward Certificate that you can use for a free night between December 15, 2011 and February 15, 2012.

Coast Hotels Coast Rewards
Triple Aeroplan Miles on all qualifying Coast Hotels stays in the U.S. and Canada. Full details. Until Nov 30, 11

Hilton HHonors
Double HHonors Points or Free Night Stays when you stay at participating Hilton locations Worldwide. If you select double points, the bonus will be earned on each night you stay. If you select free night, you will earn a free night certificate after every 4 stays or 10 nights. The free night certificate is valid at participating hotels in the Hilton Worldwide portfolio for 6 months after the date of issuance, as noted on the certificate.
Register online (Registration is required) then book online at Until Dec 31, 11
For a list of excluded properties please see here

Hyatt Gold Passport
5,000 Bonus Gold Passport Points after every 3 eligible nights at Hyatt hotels Worldwide. Maximum bonus is 30,000 points. Full details and online registration. Until Nov 15, 11

InterContinental Hotels Group Priority Club
500 Bonus Priority Club points PER NIGHT+ Double, Triple or Quadruple Points for stays at participating InterContinental® , Crowne Plaza®, Hotel Indigo®, Holiday Inn®, Express by Holiday Inn™, Holiday Inn Express® and Holiday Inn Club Vacations® hotels, Staybridge Suites® and Candlewood Suites® worldwide. You will earn 500 points per night and at the end of the promotion the total points will be
doubled if you stay at any 2 IHG brands
tripled if you stay at any 3 IHG brands
quadrupled if you stay at 4 or more IHG brands
up to a maximum of 80,000 points.
Full Details, Registration and Online Booking (Registration is required) Until Dec 31, 11

Marriott Rewards
Marriott Rewards MegaBonus - Bonus Points or Free nights for stays at Marriott locations Worldwide during the promotion period that are paid for with a VISA card. Bonus offers depends on each member and will be revealed once you log in and register. You can log in and book your stays at Register by Oct 31 for stays Sep 15, 11- Jan 15, 12
Here are some of the offer members are getting:
- 1 free night after 2 paid stays (up ot 2 free Categaory 1-4 nights awarded)
- Earn 5,000 points for each 2nd paid stay—up to 20,000 points
- Earn 25,000 points after 15 paid nights + an additional 15,000 points after 20 paid nights- up to 40,000 points
- Earn 35,000 points after 20 paid nights + an additional 15,000 points after 25 paid nights - up to 50,000 points

Melia International Mas Rewards
1,500 Bonus Mas Points per stay a Melia Hotels Worldwide. Bonus can be earned a maximum of 4 times. Full details and Online Booking. Book by Oct 31 for stays until Dec 15, 11

Starwood Preferred Guest
Earn up to Triple Starpoints for stays at more than 875 participating hotels and resorts worldwide.
* Earn triple Starpoints on stays including a Thursday or Sunday night
* Earn double Starpoints on all other stays
There is no limit to number of bonus Starpoints you can earn.
Full Details, Registration & Online Booking. Register by Nov 15, 11 for stays Sep 6 - Dec 18, 11

Voila Hotel Rewards
1.Double Voila Rewards Points for every stay at all VOILÀ hotels Worldwide when you Donate 1,000 Points to World Reader. Register Online (Registration is required) Until Dec 30, 11
2.Double Elite Qualification Credit for every night you stay at all VOILÀ hotels Worldwide. Register Online (Registration is required) Until Dec 31, 11

Wyndham Rewards
Double Wyndham Rewards Points for 3 separate qualified stays at Wyndham locations Worldwide. Valid for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd qualified stays. Plus receive a $20 (USD) VISA gift card after 2nd qualifying stay, 4th qualifying stay, and a 6th qualifying stay. Register Online (Registration is required) Until Nov 18, 11
Valid for residents of the U.S. Canada and Mexico only

WestJet and Emirates sign interline agreement

This news came out last week and brought a touch more fan fare then the El Al announcement. This time it was announced that an interline agreement has been set up between WestJet and Emirates. Passengers will now be able to travel on one itinerary when flying WestJet and connecting to/from Emirates flights in Toronto.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

American Express Doubles the Sign Up Bonus for Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card

 For a limited time, American Express is doubling the sign up bonus for one of the top Canadian Travel Rewards cards, the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card. Normally the sign up bonus is 10,000 Starpoints but if you apply by December 15th and spend $1,000 within the first three months of cardmembership you will receive 20,000 Starpoints. This is enough Starpoints for 5 free nights at a Category 1 Starwood property. For more details and/or to apply for the card please visit

American Express Canada

Other features and benefits of the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express
- Earn 1 Starpoint for every $1 in purchases charged to the Card
- Enjoy a Free Weekend Night Award when you reach $40,000 in purchases each year
- Experience Starwood Gold Preferred Guest status when you reach $30,000 in purchases each year
- $120 annual fee (annual interest rate 19.99%)