Travel

RBC Avion fuel surcharge sticker shock

  • Last Updated:
  • Jan 4th, 2016 12:41 pm
[OP]
Newbie
Feb 2, 2015
2 posts
Vancouver, BC

RBC Avion fuel surcharge sticker shock

I'm looking for input on how fuel surcharges are accounted for on credit card/airline travel points cards. For years (decades?) we used our Air Miles MasterCard as our priority credit card. We always took advantage of the "free" travel, but became frustrated by the limited seat and flight selection.

Along came RBC Infinite Avion, which gave access to every seat on every flight on every airline. For years after that we enjoyed booking flights with the RBC Avion card. Last night was a different story. We did our research on Expedia and found flights to Prague, with a 3-day stopover in Amsterdam for $1,165, of which $1,011 was the base fare and $154 was taxes. We went to the RBC Avion site to book the flights anticipating using 65,000 points and paying $154 for the taxes for each flight. We were shocked to see RBC designating $561 as the base fare (which they will pay for), $450 as a "fuel surcharge" and $154 as the taxes. As a result, our "free" flights were actually going to cost $604 each, with the points only paying for their $561 base fare. This means that we were having to pay 52% of the cost in cash and the points were only covering 48% of the total fare.

I went back to both Expedia and the airline's website and in neither case did the detailed price breakdown identify a fuel surcharge. There was no way to verify the RBC-designated "fuel surcharge". Is this a total rip-off? Does this happen all the time? Is there a better card that provides the same type of broad spectrum access to flights (i.e., not limited to a single carrier or carrier "alliance") but that doesn't use this "fuel surcharge" tactic?

I appreciate that there are other cards that offer cash back and other goods and services, but we have taken dozens of (relatively) free flights (including to Europe and Australia) and have never encountered the fuel surcharge issue we did last night. We love the idea of earning free-ish travel. Ultimately we just bought the tickets for cash on Expedia rather than use the Avion points, which I'm sure will have the RBC people dancing, since it means they don't have to pay for it. We did some research on some flights to other destinations and it does appear that the fuel surcharge is hit-and-miss, so it made more sense to pay for this one now, and then get the next one free-ish. But it also means I'm annoyed enough to take my business elsewhere if there is a better travel card deal out there.
8 replies
Newbie
Jan 24, 2008
21 posts
TAdvisorKing wrote: I'm looking for input on how fuel surcharges are accounted for on credit card/airline travel points cards. For years (decades?) we used our Air Miles MasterCard as our priority credit card. We always took advantage of the "free" travel, but became frustrated by the limited seat and flight selection.

Along came RBC Infinite Avion, which gave access to every seat on every flight on every airline. For years after that we enjoyed booking flights with the RBC Avion card. Last night was a different story. We did our research on Expedia and found flights to Prague, with a 3-day stopover in Amsterdam for $1,165, of which $1,011 was the base fare and $154 was taxes. We went to the RBC Avion site to book the flights anticipating using 65,000 points and paying $154 for the taxes for each flight. We were shocked to see RBC designating $561 as the base fare (which they will pay for), $450 as a "fuel surcharge" and $154 as the taxes. As a result, our "free" flights were actually going to cost $604 each, with the points only paying for their $561 base fare. This means that we were having to pay 52% of the cost in cash and the points were only covering 48% of the total fare.

I went back to both Expedia and the airline's website and in neither case did the detailed price breakdown identify a fuel surcharge. There was no way to verify the RBC-designated "fuel surcharge". Is this a total rip-off? Does this happen all the time? Is there a better card that provides the same type of broad spectrum access to flights (i.e., not limited to a single carrier or carrier "alliance") but that doesn't use this "fuel surcharge" tactic?

I appreciate that there are other cards that offer cash back and other goods and services, but we have taken dozens of (relatively) free flights (including to Europe and Australia) and have never encountered the fuel surcharge issue we did last night. We love the idea of earning free-ish travel. Ultimately we just bought the tickets for cash on Expedia rather than use the Avion points, which I'm sure will have the RBC people dancing, since it means they don't have to pay for it. We did some research on some flights to other destinations and it does appear that the fuel surcharge is hit-and-miss, so it made more sense to pay for this one now, and then get the next one free-ish. But it also means I'm annoyed enough to take my business elsewhere if there is a better travel card deal out there.
Same here....just saved up 130,000 and want to purchase a trip to Budapest and Vienna and realized we have to pay $600 out of the $1000 total fare.....
i think im ready to switch to Capital Aspire now...this is such a disappointment..
Newbie
Jun 29, 2010
46 posts
7 upvotes
Vancouver
Transfer the point to BA or AA

Avoid the high surcharge airlines,such as BA.
Deal Expert
User avatar
Sep 19, 2004
23243 posts
5015 upvotes
where I belong
Use ita matrix to find the real base fare, which excludes carrier/fuel surcharge

For example, yyz-cdg r/t would be like $150 base fare + $450 surcharge/tax on AC

Yep, Aeroplan has this issue too
Which Credit Cards to sign up? >> Jerry's List of Credit Cards with $200+ Welcome bonus/Aeroplan & AMEX Churning FAQ
AMEX Personal 60K || Business Platinum 75K || Biz Gold 40K
Sr. Member
May 7, 2015
528 posts
179 upvotes
Toronto, ON
In general, $500-$600 is a normal amount of taxes and surchargres for flights to Europe, they're known for having lower than expected base fares and higher than expected taxes. Without seeing your exact flights or the Expedia/airline website breakdown, I can't tell for sure, but I expect that Avion is accurate. Europe flights are one of the worst values for point redemptions for this reason.

In regards to your credit card issue, look into the TD Visa Infinite card (NOT the Aeroplan one) or one of several Amex cards (I personally use the Blue Sky card). They all allow you to use your points towards any part of the airfare, including the taxes.
Sr. Member
Oct 20, 2004
635 posts
151 upvotes
Ottawa
BaconBaron wrote: In regards to your credit card issue, look into the TD Visa Infinite card (NOT the Aeroplan one) or one of several Amex cards (I personally use the Blue Sky card). They all allow you to use your points towards any part of the airfare, including the taxes.
The TD infinite has been recently "enhanced" and is not as good as it used to be. The Capital One Aspire is the way to go even though you do miss out on the 10K anniversary bonus if you sign up now. Be sure to use GCR for an extra $75 if you do apply for that one.
Sr. Member
May 7, 2015
528 posts
179 upvotes
Toronto, ON
yaldaren wrote: The TD infinite has been recently "enhanced" and is not as good as it used to be. The Capital One Aspire is the way to go even though you do miss out on the 10K anniversary bonus if you sign up now. Be sure to use GCR for an extra $75 if you do apply for that one.
Hmmm, just curious, what did they change about the TD Infinite Visa?
Sr. Member
May 7, 2015
528 posts
179 upvotes
Toronto, ON
yaldaren wrote: Here is a summary - http://blog.rewardscanada.ca/2015/06/td ... value.html. The Expedia for TD stuff remained the same but I can't be bothered going through that anymore.
Thanks, good to know. I was actually thinking of getting that card since I normally bank with TD, and the amount I spend annually on travel insurance would nearly cover the annual fee, but yeah if the points have been devalued that much, not worth it anymore. I'll stick with Blue Sky in the no-annual-fee realm.

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