CIBC's "New" Aventura Travel Rewards Visa Card. Where's The Beef?

Annual Fee
Sign Up Bonus Points
Sign Up Cash Value
Min Personal Income Required
Recommended Credit Score
740 850 670 739 580 669 0 579
15,000 welcome bonus points. Earn 1 point per $1 spent. 1.5 points per $1 spent at gas, grocery & drug stores. Any airline, no blackouts.

CIBC 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. Don’t settle, compare travel credit cards to find the best fit for you.

Article comments

Flyfisher19 says:

I have had the Aventura card for a few years and just redeemed some points to travel to Europe. I was a little surprised to find out that the return flights would cost 70,000 points each plus taxes of about $650. Seemed high but I had nothing to compare with and not much choice. The over phone service was good and efficient and the rep found me flights on the days needed with one stop there and direct coming home. Overall I was satisfied.

The second part of my story is, we invited some friends to join us. We booked first and they are trying to use Aeroplan points about ten days later than us. So far they cannot get a flight on the same day as us, they are leaving 3 days later and have two stops??

As far as Aventura, I believe they have a wider option of airlines to travel as we are flying KLM and Air France (both affiliated with Delta) whereas Aeroplan is Star Alliance. I believe Delta provides a larger range of flight options which likely accounts for me being able to book flights to Europe within five weeks of my required departure.

I guess the long and short of it is, you get what you pay for. You may burn off more points for a flight but if I can get the dates and times on short notice, I don’t mind it. I have Aeroplan and find that if I am planning far in advance I can get my flights but rarely without at least one stop over. I have also found that booking flights to popular destination, it is better to pay for them rather than burn up those hard earned points.

T. Clark says:

Yep, not happy with this card either. POOR service. They say that there are discounts for car rentals. However, it is impossible to find information about it on their website. I searched high and low and ended up spending 24 minutes on the phone with a rep who also could not find any details about it on online where they say you can find info. So frustrating. Eventually the rep gave me a supposed code for AVIS car rentals and another supposed code for Budget car rentals. When I went to book with AVIS on the phone and provided the code they said it gave no discount. Some fraudulent advertising. Cancelling the card.

Anna Nash says:

As a CIBC customer and previous employee, I signed up for the Adventura card when it was first made available, after listing to the sales pitch and also out of loyality. I had worked for CIBC for 15 years in NL, Ont. and B.C. and now receive a pension from them.

Then I decided to book a flight to eastern Canada to visit relatives a few months ago. I was very surprised to find that Adventura program would charge me 35,000 points, while with Aeroplan I could book a reservation for 25,000 points. I called the Adventura representative and was told that they were unable to discuss the reason for the differrence in points required. The representative’s attitude was rude and dismissive and I was thoroughly offended.

I will be following up to find out how quickly I can transfer my remaining points to Aeroplan, no matter what the loss. To charge me 30% more in points is totally outrageous, but to refuse to answer my question is not the way we treated customers during my 15 years with CIBC.

Candace says:

Signed up for this card in Feb 2015. We still have not received the 15,000 bonus points. We inquired about it a 6 weeks ago and still nothing! Gonna use up the points we have and get a new card. Beware of this card

S T says:

I am finding that the points required are creeping. If there is a dollar cap then why drain me 30000 points on certain flights and 50000 on an other?

The experts always cite the Amex card as a geleeat value. The one thing they forget though is that Amex is sworn off by many retailers because of the extortion like charges they charge the merchants. Thus on paper it may look like a good travel card… In reality it won’t cut it unless you can consolidate ALL of your spending onto it.

Andrea Lorenz says:

Aventura points are very frustrating; They only pay up to 500$ of the cost of a ticket, they will take your 20 thousand points and you have to pay the difference of the cost of the ticket. In northern Canada “short haul” flights do not cost lower than 500$. The frustrating part of the point system is you can’t increase your points to cover the remaining cost of the flight. So 20 thousand points only gives you a credit of 500 dollars maximum and you can’t “top up”. And I was told Aventura doesn’t cover one-way tickets. however the other day I inquired about a one way ticket and I was told it would be 96000. thousand points plus an additional 328 dollars! The short haul was from Edmonton AB to Fort Nelson BC. I’ll be switching back to Aeroplan this way I know my “short haul” will be 15000 points and all I pay are the taxes!