RBC has made a positive change to its Air Travel Redemption Schedule, which makes RBC Avion points slightly more useful when redeeming directly for flights rather than converting to airline partners.
RBC Avion Fixed-Price Chart: Now Applicable to One-Way Flights
RBC’s Air Travel Redemption Schedule can be used by RBC Avion cardholders, and reads as follows:
The chart specifies a fixed number of Avion points required to book any given flight from Canada to one of the six geographic regions. The Avion points required will cover the base fare that you’d otherwise pay when purchasing airfare, up to a certain maximum ticket price.
Any amounts beyond the maximum ticket price, as well as the taxes and fees on the ticket, would be payable separately from the Avion points stated on the chart – either as a cash supplement, or by redeeming additional Avion points at a ratio of 100 points = $1.
Until now, this redemption option was available for round-trip flights departing from Canada only.
This meant that its overall utility was fairly limited, especially for Avion points collectors who prefer to redeem points for business class whenever possible, rather than a full round-trip in economy class.
The good news is that RBC has now relaxed this requirement and is offering the ability to redeem Avion points for one-way flights at exactly half the Avion points required, with exactly half the maximum ticket price:
Note that both the one-way and round-trip redemption avenues are only available to RBC Avion cardholders, and not to lower-tier RBC Rewards cardholders.
|Credit Card||Best Offer||Value|
|55,000 RBC Rewards points||$1,080||Apply Now|
|55,000 RBC Rewards points||$1,080||Apply Now|
|55,000 RBC Rewards points||$826||Apply Now|
|35,000 RBC Avion points||$525||Apply Now|
|20,000 RBC Rewards points||$280||Apply Now|
Use RBC Avion One-Way Redemptions for Positioning Flights
The flexibility of a one-way flight is often a lot more practical, especially since it’s priced at exactly half of the round-trip redemption.
In particular, Avion points can now be redeemed rather attractively for “positioning flights”, which refers to short one-way flights that you take for the purpose of tagging onto a more valuable long-haul flight departing out of a different city.
Generally speaking, there tends to be a lot more premium cabin availability and routing opportunities for First Class and business class flights out of major US gateway cities: New York, Boston, Chicago, Washington, San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Seattle.
Therefore, the ability to redeem just 7,500–17,500 Avion points for a one-way flight from Canada down to one of these major US gateways makes Avion points a little more valuable compared to before.
You’d then need a separate flight to get yourself down to New York, on which you’d most likely be happy with economy class due to the short duration. This could be booked using cash, Aeroplan points, Air Miles – or now with only 7,500 Avion points to cover up to $175 in base fare for the one-way ticket.
The same idea applies to booking, say, Qatar Airways Qsuites out of Seattle if you live in Vancouver. Unless you wanted to take the bus, you’d need a short flight down to Seattle to begin the journey, and 7,500 Avion points could help take care of that.
Now, you wouldn’t necessarily redeem Avion points every time; instead, it’s simply a useful option to have if, say, you were sitting on a larger stash of Avion points than other programs, or you preferred to save your Aeroplan points for a higher-value redemption in the future.
Plus, the short-haul “Quick Getaways” redemption option under the RBC chart actually delivers quite an impressive redemption value of 2.33 cents per point (cpp) if fully maximized, so it isn’t a bad use of your Avion points at all.
Besides the “Quick Getaways” at 7,500 Avion points one-way, the “Explore North America” pricing of 17,500 Avion points one-way also look pretty attractive to me, since it’ll take you anywhere within Canada or the continental US.
If you’re happy to travel in economy class within North America (keeping in mind that the major US airlines’ domestic “First Class” products aren’t much to write home about anyway), then 17,500 Avion points for $375 in maximum base fare results in a respectable redemption value of 2.14cpp.
When it comes to the more expensive redemption options to places beyond North America, however, I’d shy away from the one-way redemptions with Avion points.
That’s because one-way airfare pricing beyond North America tends to cost more than half the round-trip pricing, so you might overshoot the maximum ticket price and have to pay extra cash for a so-so redemption in the first place.
With competition heating up among Canadian bank and loyalty programs, RBC Avion is making a favourable change to its Air Travel Redemption Schedule, now allowing one-way redemptions for half the cost (and associated maximum ticket price) as a round-trip.
The 7,500 Avion points required to book short-haul one-way flights can be earned fairly easily, a few multiples at a time. RBC is offering welcome bonuses of up to 55,000 Avion points on three of their RBC Avion credit cards through mid-September, and product-switching a credit card also results in earning 15,000+ Avion points.
With this change, RBC’s chart has now become more useful for booking positioning flights using Avion points and paying less out-of-pocket as you seek out an aspirational flight departing out of a different city.