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In Canada, some bank rewards currencies are transferable points: points can be transferred to other programs, such as airline programs (which offer the highest value). So it can give you more value. Sometimes, there are even transfer bonuses that can be very attractive because you receive bonus points.

Transferable points and transfer bonuses can give you 50% more value so easily — or even 100% or 200%!!!

Here are the basics on transferable points and transfer bonuses.

Important: if you haven’t already done so, you need to understand the value of rewards first. It’s really not complicated, but you need to take the time to learn.

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Overview of transferable points

I’ll start with the basics of transferable points.

 

How transferable points work

It’s normal to be completely unfamiliar with transferable points, as most people have never used them (and have missed out on loads and loads of potential value). But if you want to maximize the value of your rewards, it’s very important to understand how it works.

Of course, you can always keep it simpler and ignore points transfers altogether. It’s still a lot of free travel, and that’s great — but it gives you less free travel. Like EVERYTHING in life, you have the choice between more simple or more lucrative!

Here are the basics of transferable points:

  • Bank points are transferable to other programs
    • The other programs are called transfer partners
  • Points are then governed by the transfer partner rules
    • Once transferred, bank points no longer exist
    • And the banking program has nothing to do with anything
  • Transfers are one-way
    • Completely irreversible
  • Speculative transfers (with no specific use) are rarely recommended
    • Except sometimes during transfer bonuses (next section)
    • Or in certain cases of card closure
  • Airline and hotel points can be worth more
    • They often have unlimited value even
    • But the value is VARIABLE
    • Some uses are good, others are NOT
  • Transfer rates are not all good
    • It depends on each partner

Here we focus on transferable bank points, the best ones.

There are airline and hotel points that are transferable too, but it’s almost never a good idea. The main exceptions are Avios points, airline points that are transferable between several programs (transfers often recommended) and Marriott Bonvoy points, hotel points that are transferable to airline points (transfers very rarely recommended, but sometimes).

 

What points are transferable in Canada

There are only 2 currencies from Canadian bank reward programs that are transferable points (with a 3rd that has announced it will become so later in 2024, allegedly).

So obviously, these bank points have the highest value. And so obviously, these are points that are of the more lucrative type, like all points that have the highest value.

Here are the transferable bank points:

  • American Express Membership Rewards points
  • RBC Avion Rewards points
  • MBNA Rewards points (2024)

NO other Canadian bank reward currency is transferable, it’s that simple.

American Express Membership Rewards points are often referred to as Amex Membership Rewards points, American Express points, Amex MR points, or Amex points. It’s by far the best bank rewards program in Canada, with no debate possible — for those who want to MAXIMIZE the value they get!

RBC Avion Rewards points are often referred to as RBC Avion points, Avion points, or RBC points. It’s the 2nd-best bank program in Canada. Not to be confused with Avios points, because even though they sound similar, it’s a different word and therefore a different program!

MBNA Rewards points are often referred to as MBNA points. In terms of value, it’s going to be the 3rd-best bank program in Canada if they really start offering a transfer partner like they said they would.

 

What are the transferable points partners and transfer rates

Transfer partners and rates vary, of course.

Here are the details of the Amex partners:

  • Air Canada Aeroplan (1 to 1)
  • British Airways Avios (1 to 1)
  • Air France / KLM Flying Blue (1 to 0.75)
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles (1 to 0.75)
  • Delta SkyMiles (1 to 0.75)
  • Etihad Guest (1 to 0.75)
  • Marriott Bonvoy (1 to 1.2)
  • Hilton Honors (1 to 1)

Amex has the most partners. Amex is also the only one with the best partner, Aeroplan. Avios and Flying Blue are the only other 2 that are interesting. Amex is also the only one with hotel partners (Marriott and Hilton), but another basic thing to know is that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Hotel points are worth a lot less; you have to look at the value of the points too, not just the transfer rate alone. It makes sense sometimes for Marriott during transfer bonuses, but almost never for Hilton.

Here are the details of the RBC partners:

  • British Airways Avios (1 to 1)
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles (1 to 1)
  • American Airlines AAdvantage (1 to 0.7)
  • WestJet Rewards (100 to 1)

So strategically, it’s better to transfer RBC Avion points to Avios, and not Amex points (to keep Amex for Aeroplan). And if you ever find one of the few good uses with other programs (excluding WestJet because it doesn’t exist), RBC Avion is better (better rate for Asia Miles and Amex is not an AAdvantage partner).

Here are the details of the MBNA partner (if it happens):

  • Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan (1 to 1)

The Alaska program is little known, but it’s still pretty interesting! But the biggest problem is that MBNA welcome bonuses are very small.

 

Concrete example of using transferable points

It’s really more simple than it sounds, like many things in the world of travel rewards.

Here’s a concrete example:

  • You’ve got Amex points
  • You spot a good use for Aeroplan points
    • BEFORE you transfer
    • To be clear, there are great uses
    • And there are terrible uses too
    • Always do the math!
  • You transfer your Amex points into Aeroplan points
    • Amex then has nothing to do with anything
    • Aeroplan rules now apply
    • You can’t revert this transfer
  • You use your Aeroplan Points to book a flight
    • Same as with Aeroplan points from Aeroplan cards
    • They can be combined, they’re the same points

For example, I’ve personally used hundreds of thousands of Amex points, RBC Avion points and HSBC points (now gone, but they were transferable points). Almost all my uses have been by transferring them. Because it gives more value, and I like to travel more.

But even though Amex points transfer 1 to 1 to the Air Canada Aeroplan program and it’s almost always the best use of Amex points, never transfer them in advance!

Because there are other transfer partners who might be better at times. On the other hand, the transfer rate to the Delta SkyMiles program, for example, is 1 for 0.75, and it’s almost NEVER a good use. IT VARIES! Like everything else in the world of points of the more lucrative type, you just have to do the math. Always. Simple as that!

 

How to use transferable points (step-by-step)

It’s as simple as almost anything in the world of travel rewards is if you know how. And, of course, it’s all done online in just a few clicks as almost everything else in the world of travel rewards.

I’ll summarize for you each of the 2 transferable points.

Here’s how to transfer Amex points:

  • Get a card that earns Amex points
  • Create an Amex account online on the Amex site
  • Create a free account on the transfer partner site
  • Link your Amex account to your partner accounts on the Amex site
  • Transfer Amex points to partners on the Amex site
  • Use your transferred points on the partner site

You can read our detailed post on how to transfer American Express points with screenshots of all the steps.

Here’s how to transfer RBC Avion points:

  • Get a card that earns RBC Avion points
  • Create an RBC account online on the RBC site
  • Create a free account on the transfer partner site
  • Transfer RBC Avion points to partners on the RBC Avion site
  • Use your transferred points on the partner site

We’ll do the same detailed step-by-step post for RBC Avion points soon, but since there isn’t even the linking step that Amex has, it’s even simpler and faster.

 

Overview of transfer bonuses

I’ll give you a teaser of what we’ll be covering when the next great bonus comes up (there isn’t one now).

 

How transfer bonuses work

Transfer bonus promotions are the simplest way to get more value: just by transferring your points during these promotions, you easily get 25% or 30% more value!!!!

Bank programs essentially give you bonus points completely free!

Here are the basics:

  • Promotion that gives you a bonus by transferring points
    • Can be 25%, 30%, 35%, or even 40% more points
  • Not available for all transfer partners
    • Never offered for Aeroplan, for example
  • Usually offered once a year
    • Per transfer bonus partner
  • Usually lasts a few weeks
    • We’ll notify you by email

 

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Summary

Transferable points are by far the best bank points, at least if you want to get more value. Even more so during transfer bonuses! If you like to maximize your free travel, the 2 currencies of transferable points in Canada should absolutely be part of your travel rewards strategy.

 

What would you like to know about transferable points and transfer bonuses? Tell us in the comments below.

 

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Andrew D'Amours

Andrew is the co-founder of Flytrippers. He is passionate about traveling the world but also, as a former management consultant, about the travel industry itself. He shares his experiences to help you save money on travel. As a very cost-conscious traveler, he loves finding deals and getting free travel thanks to travel rewards points... to help him visit every country in the world (current count: 71/193 Countries, 47/50 US States & 9/10 Canadian Provinces).

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Evelyn

    What can I do with thousands of BA Avios points that I cannot use? Can I sell or transfer them?

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi Evelyn,
      It’s easy to extend their validity indefinitely, if you want to keep them for a later trip.
      If you’re not traveling ever, you can book flights for literally anybody. Selling points is against most programs’ terms and conditions.

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