Trip Cancellation for Loyalty Program Members During COVID-19

Advertiser Disclosure This article/post contains references to products or services from one or more of our advertisers or partners. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products or services.
Last updated on May 25, 2020

As a result of COVID-19, international travel in Canada is at an indefinite standstill and domestic flights are also being significantly reduced. Meanwhile, no one, including the airlines, really has any idea of when things might return to normal.

While a lot of general information has started to come out about re-booking flights and receiving travel vouchers for canceled flights, Canadians who booked travel using their travel rewards credit card points as members of a loyalty program are left wondering whether they can recoup their rewards. To help cut the confusion, we’ve done our best to provide a roundup of what Canada’s major travel programs are doing in response to COVID-19.

Aeroplan

Aeroplan is allowing members to cancel any Flight Reward free of charge until April 30, 2020 as well as temporarily pausing the expiration of Aeroplan Miles until May 14, 2020. Note that as of May 15, the normal expiration policy will resume and Miles will expire if no eligible transaction has not been made prior to May 15. Furthermore, Altitude members will receive additional eUpgrade credits automatically to their accounts that will be valid until May 31, 2021. For more information visit their site.

RBC Rewards

For RBC Rewards travel up to April 30, 2020, clients are asked not to call, but rather to email, RBC at [email protected] and provide the following details:

  • Travel date, airline, itinerary # in the subject (Travel date must be before April 30, 2020)
  • In the email include the full name as used with your RBC Rewards account
  • Attach a copy of your RBC Travel Itinerary

RBC Rewards program will then work with your travel provider to process the cancellation in accordance with the providers’ specific policies. If you are found eligible, you may get a full refund in up to 60 days. For more information about cancellations and RBC Rewards travel, go to the website.

AIR MILES

All AIR MILES change fees are being waived until April 30, 2020 for all travel bookings with travel dates between March 13, 2020 and April 30, 2020. This one-time waiver will impact changes on existing bookings made through AIR MILES. If your cancellation is directly due to COVID-19, AIR MILES will work directly with the travel provider in accordance with their policies and process your cancellation. You’ll be eligible for either a full refund, travel credit with the airline or other. Learn more about some of the best AIR MILES credit cards in Canada here, and get the most up-to-date information here.

AMEX Membership Rewards® Points

It appears that for AMEX related Membership Rewards® points travel redemptions, the cardholder should reach out first to the respective airline regarding re-booking or canceling the flight.

In an email correspondence, a representative of American Express stated that “We understand that these are challenging times and our customer service representatives are working hard to respond to all inquiries. If the Cardmember indicates to us that they have not been able to reach a satisfactory outcome, having first approached the merchant, we will open a dispute at their request. In the event a merchant responds to the request with adequate support that confirms the cancellation process was carried out in accordance with the original T&Cs and cancellation policies we would decline the chargeback and rebill the Cardmember. This approach is consistent with guidance provided by the Canadian Transportation Agency who have noted that many airlines are offering credits for canceled flights valid up to 24 months.”

BMO Rewards

If you used your BMO Rewards to book travel, BMO is waiving the change fee and notes that the bank “will work with the travel provider to process a change or cancellation request. This could include a travel voucher with the provider or a full points refund.” Similar to RBC, send BMO an email to [email protected] and include the following:

  • Your BMO Rewards number
  • Your Name, Address & Phone Number
  • Your Travel Date & Destination

For more information, visit the bank’s website.

Scotia Rewards

Scotia Rewards Travel Service fees are being waived for travel affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Clients are advised to contact the Scotia Rewards Travel Service at 1-800-665-2582 to change or cancel their bookings. More details are available here.

Next Steps and Final Words

Be sure to call the airline or travel provider, as well as your travel insurance company if you got travel insurance for your trip, before contacting your loyalty program to ensure you are eligible for a cancellation refund. Your next call should be to your respective loyalty program to see how they can help or what form of reimbursement you could be receiving.

Being a loyalty program member pays off, especially in times like these. If you’re not already a loyalty member, but you’re wishing you were, see our comparison of travel loyalty programs to decide which program works best for you.

When so much uncertainty lingers as to when “business as usual” will resume, every penny you can save, including on a trip you were planning, makes such a difference. And when things finally do get back to normal, keep these travel hacks in mind to save for that trip we know you’ll be itching to take.

Go to Our COVID-19 Help Center.

Author Bio

Sandra MacGregor
Sandra MacGregor has been writing about finance and travel for nearly a decade. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications like the New York Times, the UK Telegraph, the Washington Post, Forbes.com and the Toronto Star. She spends her free time travelling, and has lived around the globe, including in Paris, South Korea and Cape Town. You can follow her on Twitter at @MacgregorWrites.

Article comments