CIBC’s “New” Aventura Travel Rewards Visa Card. Where’s The Beef?

CIBC's Aventura Travel Rewards Visa CardCIBC has re-launched its Aventura Travel Rewards Program. Unlike it’s Aeroplan card, the re-launched Aventura program offers cardholders the ability to redeem points for any airline, any time, with no seat restrictions.  The one feature the Aventura card has lost, is the ability for cardholders to transfer their Aventura points to Aeroplan1:1. That was a big draw of the program.

The Aventura card is a direct response to the growing preference Canadians have for any airline, no black-out travel rewards programs offered by programs such as RBC’s Avion, TD’s First Class Infinite, CapOne’s Aspire, BMO’s Travel World and others. Those programs have been a direct response to exploit the dissatisfaction cardholders have shown with Aeroplan’s lack of seat availability and limitation to Air Canada flights. Some new cards on the market have also started to allow cardholders to use points to pay for taxes and fees – which Aeroplan still does not permit.

The Aventura card offers the following cardholder value proposition:

·         $120 annual fee (waived in the first year)

·         Sign-up bonus of 15,000 Aventura points after your first purchase

·         1 point on all spend

·         1.5 points on spend at gas, grocery and drug stores (for the Infinite card)

To help us evaluate the true value of each Aventura point, we conducted a survey of 10 flights to 4 different destinations in Canada, and the United States. We then calculated the number of Aventura points required to redeem for the cost of each flight. Based on that study, we determined the average value of each Aventura point is equal to 1.27 cents, which is almost the exact same as the value of an Aeroplan point.

On the earn side, the Aventura credit card (Infinite not Gold) offers 1.5 points per dollar spent on gas, groceries and drug store spend, 2 points per dollar spent if you book your travel through CIBC Rewards Center and 1 point per dollar spent everywhere else. This means you’re getting between 1.27% to 1.9% on accelerator categories for each dollar spent on your credit card. In the end the Aventura card offers the similar value as the Aeroplan card for coach class flights, except it offers the flexibility of not having any black-out dates and you can choose the airline / flight of your choice.

However, the most unique feature of the previous version of the Aventura credit card was that it gave users the ability to transfer points to Aeroplan 1:1. If you value that type of flexibility, we’ve found an even better alternative for you. The Amex Gold Rewards card is now the only credit card in Canada that allows you to redeem your points for any travel you charge to your credit card (including taxes & fees) or transfer those points to Aeroplan 1:1. You can book any airline, hotel or resort whether it be through a travel agency, tour operator, airline or website, and apply your points to your card as a statement credit anytime within 12 months of purchase, or you can transfer your points and book your travel through Aeroplan. With the CIBC Aventura program, you have to book your flights through CIBC.

The Gold Rewards card also has a better earn rate  on your credit card than the Aventura or Aeroplan cards themselves, offering 2 points per dollar spent on gas, groceries, drugstore and all travel spend, compared to Aventura which offers 1.5 points per dollar spent in accelerator categories. As a result you’re getting 33% more value from Amex Gold Rewards over the Aventura card per dollar spent, while getting the flexibility to transfer those points to Aeroplan 1:1 or to book any airline or hotel. Also the Gold rewards card offer a 25,000 point sign-up bonus, which is 10,000 points more than the Aventura card. Since each point is worth the same, that’s close to a $130 difference in value.

So while the campaign theme is “so good even penguins can fly”, this program falls into the “me too” bucket of travel programs. There’s more value per dollar spent and far more flexibility in programs like the Amex Gold Rewards card.

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