Until September 24, 2021, RBC Avion will be offering a 30% transfer bonus when converting your points to Avios. This isn’t as good as the record-high 50% bonus we saw in late 2019, but it’s a welcome opportunity after two years with no bonuses at all.
The 30% Transfer Bonus
The usual conversion ratio from Avion to Avios is 1:1, so this bonus makes it an effective ratio of 1:1.3.
You need to transfer a minimum of 10,000 Avion points (which would equal 13,000 Avios), but you can transfer in increments of 1 point thereafter.
Remember that if you want to earn additional RBC Avion points to take advantage of this bonus, there’s currently record-high offers of 35,000 Avion points on all of the personal RBC Avion cards, which would translate into 45,500 Avios under this bonus.
If you opened both the RBC Avion Visa Infinite and the RBC Avion Visa Platinum for 35,000 points each, that would earn you a total of 91,000 Avios with no minimum spend.
Supercharging the Avios Sweet Spots
Naturally, one of the best ways to leverage this 30% bonus is to take advantage of existing sweet spots within the British Airways Avios program (i.e., redemption opportunities that would’ve been a good deal even without the 30% bonus in place).
Avios are generally best redeemed on direct flights instead of itineraries with connections. Within the pool of direct flights, the value is typically better when redeeming on short-haul flights rather than long-haul flights.
Let’s remind ourselves of the best Avios sweet spots for Canadian travellers and how they can be supercharged to even greater value by the current 30% bonus from RBC Avion.
1. Toronto to Dublin
Since Avios imposes significant surcharges on British Airways flights, one of the best alternatives to British Airways if you want to redeem Avios to Europe is to fly with Aer Lingus instead.
The Irish airline’s East Coast routes tend to fall within 4,000 miles in distance flown, which means that the price for a one-way flight during off-peak periods is 13,000 Avios in economy class or 50,000 Avios in business class.
With the 30% transfer bonus from RBC Avion, that’s equivalent to 10,000 Avion points in economy class or 38,462 Avion points in business class, respectively.
That economy class price, in particular, is pretty jaw-dropping. Even with paid economy fares as low as they are these days, it’s still quite an incredible deal to redeem 10,000 points for a one-way transatlantic flight – especially when you consider that a single new application for the RBC Visa Infinite Avion would already earn you more than enough for a round-trip flight with no out-of-pocket fees.
One-way flights in business class are also very attractive at just 38,462 Avion points one-way.
Aer Lingus used to be fairly generous in releasing up to five award seats on the Toronto–Dublin route, although they’ve largely only been releasing one seat since the pandemic started, so hopefully we’ll see more seats being released in the future.
You’ll want to consult the Aer Lingus peak/off-peak calendar to see whether your date of travel is designated as off-peak; if it’s peak, then you’ll pay higher rates of 20,000 Avios (equivalent to 15,385 Avion points with the 30% boost) in economy class, or 60,000 Avios (equivalent to 46,154 Avion points) in business class, which aren’t much worse in terms of value either.
Keep in mind that Aer Lingus flights do not show up on the online Avios search engine. As we covered in our refresher on searching for Avios awards, you’ll want to use either Avios.com or ExpertFlyer to locate Aer Lingus availability before calling British Airways to book.
2. Seattle to Dublin
The Toronto–Dublin sweet spot is hugely beneficial for East Coast folks, but Western Canadians shouldn’t feel left out either.
You’ll just have to make your way down to Seattle before continuing onto Dublin on Aer Lingus for 16,250 Avios in economy or 62,500 Avios in business, which correspond to 12,500 Avion points or 48,077 Avion points under the 30% bonus, respectively.
As before, these prices are valid on off-peak dates; travelling on a peak date would see the Avios price points shoot up a bit higher, but could still be worth the convenience of flying direct from the West Coast to the British Isles without having to connect via the eastern seaboard.
3. North America Short-Haul, Starting at 6,000 Avion Points
American Airlines short-haul flights can be a great use of your Avios, providing that you can find availability (which isn’t always easy). Routes like Vancouver–Los Angeles, Toronto–Charlotte, or Montreal–New York usually cost 9,000 Avios one-way in economy class.
But with the 30% conversion bonus from RBC Avion, those rates get slashed as low as 6,923 Avion points one-way, which is an extremely compelling price for a quick weekend getaway.
Looking beyond North America, I’ve found American Airlines redemptions to present good value when travelling to the Caribbean and Latin America as well, particularly around popular travel periods like Reading Week or March Break.
During these periods, the cost of cash flights tend to inflate, but it’s not uncommon to still see up to seven award seats on American’s flights from Miami to the various Caribbean islands.
Transferring your RBC Avion points over to Avios prior to September 24 can therefore give you a huge boost towards planning your southbound getaway for early 2022.
4. Oneworld Short-Haul Flights
The North American short-haul sweet spot can be generalized to Oneworld short-haul flights all over the world because of Avios’s distance-based nature, with one important difference.
Whereas flights within North America cost at least 9,000 Avios in economy class, Oneworld flights elsewhere in the world begin at 6,000 Avios for the lowest distance band (fewer than 650 flown miles), and that equates to 4,615 Avion points under the 30% bonus.
The possibilities for cheap side-trips all over the world are endless: you could use this supercharged sweet spot to hop around the Middle East on Qatar Airways and Royal Jordanian, Australia on Qantas, or South East Asia on Malaysia Airlines, just to name a few.
(However, note that Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines short-haul awards were recently devalued, and those awards now begin at 7,500 Avios, equivalent to 5,769 Avion points.)
Meanwhile, flights operated by British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, and Vueling are subject to an even more favourable award chart that begins at only 4,000 Avios in economy class or 7,750 Avios in business class (and therefore a staggeringly low 3,077 or 5,962 Avion points, respectively) for off-peak flights in the lowest distance band!
5. Oneworld Multi-Carrier Awards
For more extensive round-the-world, the British Airways multi-carrier award chart is a powerful way to stretch the value of your Avios to the extreme. Each ticket can include up to eight flights, one open-jaw, and long stopovers in each city.
You could build a fairly comprehensive round-the-world award in “economy class” for 100,000 Avios all-in.
Under the 30% transfer bonus from Avion points, that would be equivalent to 76,923 Avion points – a fantastic deal for a round-the-world trip, especially if you can squeeze some extra-long segments in there.
Is It a Good Deal to Transfer Avion Points to Avios?
Although you can certainly extract value from the Avios program, it’s worth reminding ourselves that British Airways has recently shown a ruthless streak in implementing overnight devaluations to the program.
These devaluations may not make a major impact on their own, but they do add up over time. Furthermore, with a program like Avios under its current management, you never know when the next surprise devaluation might come.
If some of the Avios sweet spots we’ve discussed sound appealing to you, then it’s a great time to take advantage of the 30% transfer bonus and book an Avios sweet spot for your upcoming travel.
In previous years, I might’ve also recommended transferring Avion points to Avios speculatively, even if you didn’t have immediate plans to book. But with the way the program has been behaving in recent months, I no longer think it’s wise to build up a big Avios balance to spend it “someday”.
For me, Avios is very much an “earn and burn” program now, and I’d only recommend transferring points based on your redemption needs over, say, an upcoming one-year period.
Personally, since I’m sitting on a large balance of points at the moment, I’ll be looking to spend them over time before taking advantage of a transfer bonus like this in the future.
Even though the 30% transfer bonus from RBC Avion to British Airways Avios doesn’t quite reach the same heights as previous 50% bonuses we’ve seen, I’m happy to see some kind of transfer bonus along this axis making a return after a two-year absence.
Despite recent devaluations, Avios still offers its fair share of sweet spots on Oneworld and its associated airlines around the world, and it remains the primary diversification option for Canadians who are largely tied to Air Canada and Star Alliance.
If you plan to book one of these sweet spots over the foreseeable future, then the 30% transfer bonus from RBC Avion is a great opportunity, especially when paired with record-high welcome bonuses on the Avion credit cards.