Which Airline Fees Does Your Travel Rewards Program Cover?

Alyssa Furtado
by Alyssa Furtado February 16, 2015 / No Comments

Many Canadians are disappointed when they book a flight on travel points, then see that, in addition to redeeming points, they still have to pay for taxes and other fees with cash. Most fixed-point level travel rewards programs don’t include taxes, but some of them do – and if that’s important to you, it’s worth doing the research now before you apply for a travel rewards credit card. Which fees are covered by Aeroplan, AIR MILES, Aventura, Avion and WestJet? See below:

Airline Program Cover Base Fare? Cover Fuel Surcharges, Taxes and Other Fees? How to Pay for What’s Not Covered
Aeroplan Yes No Cash or Points
AIR MILES Yes No* Cash
CIBC Aventura Yes No Cash or Points
RBC Avion Yes No Cash or Points
WestJet Rewards Yes No Cash

aeroplan-logoAeroplan

If you use an Aeroplan credit card:

  • Fixed miles amount (e.g. short haul = 15,000 miles) only covers the base ticket price
  • The miles amount does not cover fuel surcharges, taxes and other fees
  • Fuel surcharges, taxes and other fees can either be paid with cash or with points

air-miles-logoAIR MILES

If you use an AIR MILES credit card:

  • Fixed miles amount covers the base ticket price and fuel surcharges for flights within North America*
  • For flights outside of North America, the miles amount does not cover fuel surcharges, taxes and other fees
  • No matter which flights you choose, the miles amount does not cover taxes and other fees
  • Fuel surcharges, taxes and other fees, if applicable, have to be paid with cash (you cannot redeem more miles)

cibc-aventura-logoCIBC Aventura

If you use a CIBC Aventura credit card:

  • Fixed-point amount only covers the base ticket price
  • The points amount does not cover fuel surcharges, taxes and other fees
  • Fuel surcharges, taxes and other fees can either be paid with cash or with points (at a rate of 10,000 points = $100)

rbc-avion-logoRBC Avion (RBC Rewards)

If you use an RBC Avion credit card:

  • Fixed-point amount only covers the base ticket price
  • The points amount does not cover fuel surcharges, taxes and other fees
  • Fuel surcharges, taxes and other fees can either be paid with cash or with points (at a rate of 10,000 points = $100)

westjet-logoWestJet Rewards

If you use a WestJet Rewards credit card:

  • Your WestJet Dollars only cover the base ticket price
  • You cannot use your WestJet Dollars to pay for fuel surcharges, taxes and other fees
  • Fuel surcharges, taxes and other fees must be paid for with cash

As you can see, AIR MILES is the only travel rewards program (of Aeroplan and AIR MILES) that includes fuel surcharges in their fixed-mile amount for certain flights. However, AIR MILES did increase the miles required for all flights within North America, when they started to include the fuel surcharge, so having that included may not be as good of a deal as you think.

No fixed-point level program (of Avion or Aventura) covers the taxes and fees in the fixed-point amount. However, both the Avion and Aventura programs allow you to use points to cover the entire price of a ticket (including all taxes and fees) by redeeming more points.

And finally, WestJet Dollars can be redeemed at a 1:1 conversion ratio, meaning $1 WestJet Dollar = $1 Canadian, but you can only redeem them on the base fare. You cannot pay for your fuel surcharges, taxes or other fees with more WestJet Dollars; these must be paid for with cash.

The key point to remember with all of these programs is that, no matter which credit card you decide to use, you will never really get a full free flight, as there will always be taxes and other fees on top of it. That doesn’t mean these aren’t some of the best credit cards in Canada – it just means you should do your research before you sign-up.

Flickr: asherisbrucker