When Canadians think about airline rewards British Airways Avios is probably not top of mind for most people, but Avios can be a great supplement to your other airline rewards. Because BA is a member of One World, the Avios program offers Canadians the ability to book flights on One World partner airlines, like American Airlines for U.S. travel and Cathay Pacific for Asian travel.
How do I earn Avios in Canada?
The most obvious way to earn Avios is through the RBC co-branded British Airways Visa card. The RBC BA Visa earns 1 Avios per dollar spent on all purchases and 2 Avios on purchases made through British Airways.
However, the better (and in fact best) way to earn Avios in Canada is actually through the HSBC World Elite Mastercard.
The HSBC Mastercard earns HSBC reward points but because HSBC is a transfer partner with British Airways, and you can effectively earn Avios through purchases made on your HSBC Mastercard. The HSBC Mastercard has two tiers of earning rates as follows:
|Travel purchases||6 HSBC points per $1 spent||3% return||If redeemed as a statement credit against eligible purchases|
|All other purchases||3 HSBC points per $1 spent||1.5% return|
HSBC rewards points are transferable in increments of 25,000, which will net you 10,000 Avios, effectively making 1 rewards point worth 0.4 Avios, as follows:
|Travel purchases||2.4 Avios per $1 spent|
|All other purchases||1.2 Avios per $1 spent|
We’ve also recently seen HSBC offer a 35% transfer bonus when moving reward points to Avios. When compared to the RBC British Airways Visa card its easy to see that the HSBC card does a much better job of earning Avios.
|RBC British Airways Visa||HSBC Mastercard|
|Avios earned per $1 spent||1||1.2 – 2.4|
Since its introduction, HSBC has been offering a fee waiver for the first year, a two-tiered welcome bonus of 20,000 points on your first purchase, and additional points based on spending. Most recently, the welcome bonus was double points on travel purchases up to a max additional 40,000 points. The current offer is not as generous so you might want to wait for a better time to apply.
What if I don’t want Avios?
HSBC Rewards Points are very flexible and redeemable directly as statement credits against eligible travel purchases made on your card. 25,000 HSBC Rewards Points will net you a $125 statement credit making the effective return on your spend 3% and 1.5% for travel and all other purchases, respectively. We consider this the baseline rate of return, with much better returns possible when redeeming points for flight rewards through a travel partner.
About the Author: Jacob is a long time supporter of DCTA and new contributor. He got into miles and points while planning for an exchange in Southeast Asia and looking for ways to stretch his student dollars. When he isn’t travelling or helping people find creative ways to save money with miles and points he works as an international trade lawyer in Toronto.