On November 18, 2023, VIA Rail is making some changes to its Préférence loyalty program. The changes were initially set to take effect earlier this year; however, the date has been pushed back twice.
On the same date, VIA Rail is amending its baggage policies, which includes changing fees for some carry-on and checked bags.
Let’s take stock of what’s about to change, as there’s still a bit of time to redeem under the existing program if you stand to benefit from lower redemption costs.
Upcoming Changes to VIA Préférence
As of November 18, 2023, VIA Rail is making a number of changes to the VIA Préférence loyalty program. A full list of the changes, as well as the corresponding terms and conditions, can be found on the VIA Rail website.
As it pertains to earning, you’ll accrue points for every dollar spent on eligible fees paid for tickets and travel passes, as well as for optional products and services.
Currently, you earn points for tickets, upgrades to business class, and travel passes, but you don’t earn points on service charges, food and beverage purchases, baggage fees, and other categories. With the revamped program, you’ll earn points on charges that you used to not earn points on, which can be seen as a positive change.
The rate at which you earn points is based on your status tier, and the fare you purchase. Base-level Préférence members earn 1 point per dollar spent, Privilège members earn 2 points per dollar spent, and Premier members earn 3 points per dollar spent, as well as points based on the fare you purchase.
The earning rates under the new program will remain the same, including the bonus points per dollar spent for Privilège and Premier members.
On the redemption side, VIA Préférence is switching to a dynamic pricing model, which is a change from the fixed pricing model it currently uses.
As is the case with all programs that use dynamic pricing, you could potentially pay less than what’s currently charged with fixed pricing as long as the cash price is low; however, you’ll also pay more points if the cash fare is high.
We don’t quite yet know what the redemption rates will be with VIA Préférence’s dynamic pricing, in terms of a value in cents per point.
You’ll be able to redeem points for tickets and travel passes, as well as optional products and services, such as baggage and pet fees, with the revised program….