How to use your VIA Préférence points for a free VIA Rail ticket

To the point Find out how to redeem your VIA Préférence points for a train ticket. Whether you're a Préférence, Privilège or Premier member, see how to use your points.

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How the VIA Préférence program and points work

The VIA Préférence program has changed since November 18, 2023, and it’s important to point out some important details.

Redeem VIA Préférence points

Previously, points were exchanged according to a fixed grid. Now it’s based on a dynamic rate, which varies according to the city of departure and arrival, the day of the week, the rate chosen, etc.

So if the cost of a VIA Rail ticket is high, the demand for points will be higher. If the cost is low, the number of points required will also be low.

With VIA Préférence points, you can pay :

  • A VIA Rail ticket, purchased directly from VIA Rail
  • Travel pass
  • The cost of travelling with a pet
  • Fees for unaccompanied minors
  • All eligible baggage for which fees apply
  • The cost of reserving two adjacent seats
  • Ticket for the Québec-Ste-Foy shuttle (purchased directly from VIA Rail)

The VIA Préférence program allows you to use VIA Préférence points to pay for baggage fees and seat selection.

But there’s another way to get free luggage and seats! The $150 annual travel credit on The National Bank’s World Elite Mastercard® helps reimburse these expenses.

If hassle-free travel insurance is your preference, the BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard®* is just perfect.

Even if you only pay the small portion of taxes on your VIA Rail ticket, your trip is insured in the event ofcancellation or interruption. Plus, she earns 5X the points for every dollar spent on travel expenses.

How to book a VIA Rail ticket with VIA Préférence points

First, there are a few important things to know before booking with VIA Préférence points.

  • Please note that during this transition to the new booking system, only the cost of the train ticket can be paid by points. Taxes must be paid by another method of payment. In the future, taxes will probably be paid using points. In the meantime, VIA Rail is reducing the number of points available for redemption by 30%.
  • If you do not have enough VIA Préférence points to book the ticket for the entire trip or for all passengers, you must book the ticket with points and the rest of the trip separately .
  • A train ticket cannot be partially paid for with points. So you need to have enough points to cover the entire ticket, otherwise the exchange cannot take place.
  • If the train fare is exchangeable or refundable, points will be credited to the account, less any applicable exchange or refund fees.
  • To reserve Prestige Class with VIA Préférence points, call VIA Rail Customer Service at 1 888 842-7733.

First, go to the VIA Rail Canada page and log in to your VIA Rail profile. Please note that with the new reservation system, any password created before November 18, 2023 must be reset.

Then you’ll find yourself on the Book a trip page.

Reserver un voyage via rail

Select :

  • City of departure and arrival ;
  • Desired travel dates ;
  • Number of passengers by age ;
  • If the reservation includes a pet on board ;
  • And if applicable, enter a discount code, company code or travel card code.

Then click on Search.

reservation mtl qc via rail

In the search results, choose the desired class and time, then click on Select.

Selectionner depart via rail

You will then have to choose or enter several details to reserve the ticket:

  • Passenger names and main contact name;
  • Revise the baggage allowance according to the class and fare selected in advance;
  • Add an additional piece of luggage(free for a limited time, while you transition to the new reservation system);
  • See seat availability for the whole train and choose your seat.

Finally, you’ll come to the Review & Pay tab, where you can review your trip and pay for your ticket using your VIA Préférence points.

At Payment Options, you can use 2 methods of payment to pay for the train ticket and other charges, if required.

For example, you can pay a combination of :

In the top section, click on the arrow to the right of the VIA Preference points section.

Option paiement via rail

This will show you the number of points required to purchase the train ticket, compared with the current balance.

Click on Confirm to validate the points redemption.

In this example, the cost of the train ticket is $64 and 345 points are required to obtain it for free. Total taxes($9.58) must be paid separately.

paiement taxes et billet

Enter your credit card or virtual gift card information for tax payment and, at the very bottom of the page, click on Pay Now.

Payer maintenant via rail

Congratulations! VIA Préférence points will be deducted from your account and the ticket will be sent to your e-mail address.

You can even save the ticket on your cell phone’s Wallet application (Apple Wallet and Google Wallet).

Other examples of redemptions using VIA Préférence points

In this example, 1 VIA Préférence point has a value of 18.5 cents for this Montreal-Quebec City trip in the Quebec City-Windsor corridor, in Economy Plus class.

How many VIA Préférence points do I need for a free train ticket?

We have made several simulations of trips at different fares and classes. Of course, these figures may vary depending on the dynamic fare, but it’s best to book in advance to get the best price.

Here are the values of a VIA Préférence point for :

Trip VIA Préférence points required VIA Rail ticket cost Fees Value of 1 VIA Préférence point
Montreal-Ottawa 658 points $ 94 Business Plus 14.2 cents
Montreal-Quebec 812 points $ 116 Business Plus 14.2 cents
Toronto-Quebec 1,652 points $ 236 Business 14.2 cents
Ottawa-Toronto 291 points $54 Escape 18.5 cents
Halifax-Toronto 3,539 points $ 674 Cabin for 2 on Reduced fare and Business fare 19 cents
Quebec-Halifax 714 points $ 151 Escape with shuttle 21.1 cents
Montréal-Jonquiere (Saguenay) 284 points $ 69 Escape 24.2 cents
Toronto-Vancouver 2,117 points $ 514 Escape 24.2 cents
Winnipeg-Churchill 1,038 points 252 $ Economy Plus 24.2 cents
Jasper-Prince Rupert 692 points $ 168 Economy 24.2 cents
Sudbury-White River 314 points $ 76 Escape 24.2 cents
Toronto-Vancouver 8,556 points $ 2 692 Regular Cabin for 2 31.4 cents
Edmonton-Toronto 1,940 points $610 Regular berth 31.4 cents

So it seems that the use of points in Business class is less profitable, but it can be used to provide a better quality of travel to treat yourself with points.

Can I transfer VIA Préférence points from VIA RAIL to someone else, such as a spouse or family member?

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Yes ! A VIA Préférence member can transfer points free of charge up to 5 times a year. The reverse is also true: a VIA Préférence member can receive points from another person up to 5 times per calendar year.

To transfer points to someone else, go to your VIA Rail profile and click on Transfer points. Enter the name and number of the VIA Préférence member to whom the points will be awarded.

The minimum number of points to be transferred is 100, up to a maximum of 5,000.

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How do I use VIA Préférence points to make a redemption for travel ?

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The number of VIA Préférence points required to obtain a free train ticket varies depending on the departure and arrival points, the day of the week, the fare chosen, etc.

You can see above how to book a VIA Rail ticket with VIA Préférence points.

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Do VIA Préférence points expire?

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VIA Préférence points have no expiry date. However, VIA Rail reserves the right to cancel a VIA Préférence account if the account has been inactive for three consecutive years. If applicable, the member will be notified 30 to 60 days prior to account closure.

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What is the value of a VIA Préférence point?

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According to our calculations, the value of a VIA Préférence point ranges from 14 cents to 31 cents. You can see the examples above.

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Does VIA Rail take AIR MILES miles?

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As of the end of 2023, it is unfortunately no longer possible to use AIR MILES miles to purchase a VIA Rail e-voucher. We hope this option will be back soon.

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Caroline Tremblay
I'm Caroline, a loyalty program specialist! I use my points to travel more often and at a lower price with my spouse and our two children. I'm passionate about writing about the latest rewards news and how to put more points in your pocket.

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