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The RBC British Airways Visa Infinite offers a suite of attractive benefits for high-spending travellers who fly frequently to London, England, are loyal to British Airways, and travel with a companion at least once a year. But it misses the mark if you only find yourself in the United Kingdom periodically, if you tend to fly via a variety of airlines, or if you’re typically a solo traveller.
Pros and cons
- Earn a Companion Award eVoucher when you spend $30,000 CAD annually˜
- Comprehensive Insurances including 31-day out of country/province emergency medical insurance1, flight delay insurance2, hotel burglary3 and rental car4 insurance
- Generous welcome bonus
- Can use Avios with British Airways and oneworld partner airlines
- Companion award comes with stringent requirements and expensive additional fees
- Only one accelerated earn category
- Can’t transfer Avios to other loyalty programs
- Higher-than-average annual fee
If welcome bonuses are a big factor in your decision to apply for a new credit card and you’ve been eyeing the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite, then now’s the time to go for it. The card is presently offering up to 60,000 Avios^ points for new sign-ups, one of the largest bonuses in the card’s history (typically a max 50,000 points are offered). Minimum spend and conditions apply.
New applicants can receive:
- 15,000 Avios once your application is approved
- 35,000 Avios when you charge a total of at least $6,000 to the card in the first three months
- 10,000 Avios on the one-year anniversary of opening your accountˆ
If you’re wondering where 60K Avios can take you, note that the base fare for an economy British Airways flight from Toronto to London, England, usually requires between 26,000 to 40,000 Avios. It’s important to be aware that Avios points only cover a flight’s base fare, and you must pay cash for taxes, fees and carrier charges on top of your Avios redemption.
Related: Best credit card sign-up bonuses
Companion award eVoucher
The RBC British Airways Visa Infinite comes with a coveted annual companion award eVoucher˜, which allows you to bring someone along on your flight for a $0 base fare. There are relatively few Canadian credit cards that come with companion vouchers of any kind, and most of them either charge a minimum amount of money for the companion ticket or they award their voucher as a one-time perk, rather than a renewing annual card feature.
On the surface this makes the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite stand out from the pack, but there are a few important hoops you must jump through to benefit from this card’s voucher, which may be dealbreakers for many prospective applicants.
You get an annual companion voucher for a flight in either economy or business class (both you and your travel companion must fly in the same class) only if you spend a minimum of $30,000 in a calendar year˜. That’s a lot of dough, even if you concentrate most or all of your spending onto the card.
The voucher can only be used for flights redeemed with Avios rewards—you can’t use the companion voucher for flights you purchased in cash. Keep in mind that the card has only one accelerated earn category (see more details below under ‘Earning Rewards’). If you choose to make it your sole credit card, which you might need to do in order to meet the $30K annual spending threshold, the number of rewards points you can earn back from everyday spending will be limited compared to what you could earn with other travel rewards cards.
The flight you redeem the voucher for must be operated by British Airways—flights on oneworld alliance airlines are not eligible—and all travel must originate in and return to Canada. British Airways only flies out of three Canadian cities: Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. And BA flights from those cities only go to London, England.
Finally, reward flights and companion tickets are subject to taxes, fees, and carrier charges, which can easily exceed $600 per economy fare and $1,000 per business class fare on a Toronto-London itinerary.
Given all the restrictions, and the very expensive and unavoidable surplus fees, it makes the additional requirement of spending $30,000 on your card a rather big ask.
As a British Airways branded card, the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite Card earns Avios, which is British Airways’ in-house rewards program. The card’s earn rates are as follows:
- Two Avios for every $1 you spend on British Airways and British Airways Holidays purchases*
- One Avios per $1 spent on all other qualifying purchases*
Note that the card only has one accelerated earn rate, which is odd for a premium rewards card, especially given its slightly elevated annual fee of $165—most comparable Canadian travel rewards cards charge annual fees of about $120–$140. While your opportunity to earn more than one Avios per dollar is very limited, you could still earn a solid number of points each year if you’re a British Airways frequent flier.
For example, if you charge about $30,000 in general spending to your card (the minimum needed to get the companion voucher), as well as spend an additional $3,000 total a year on a couple of round-trip flights to London booked via British Airways, you’d earn a minimum of 36,000 Avios points per year. If each Avios point is worth 1.5 to 1.75 cents, that means you’re getting a return of $540 to $630 yearly. Even when you deduct the cost of the $165 annual fee, you’re definitely coming out ahead in that spending scenario.Apply for the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite
How much are Avios worth?
An Avios point’s value fluctuates depending on what you’re redeeming it for and when, but it generally ranges from 1.5 to 1.75 cents each. Be aware that you’ll need to collect, spend, buy, or transfer at least one Avios every 36 months to keep your points from expiring.
How can I use avios?
Avios can be redeemed for the partial or full base fare of any British Airways flight or oneworld partner flights, but you must pay cash for taxes, fees, and carrier charges. You can also redeem Avios for flight upgrades, seat and baggage fees, or for tours and experiences. While you can’t transfer Avios to other travel rewards programs, you can transfer points to another Avios member.
Related: The best travel rewards programs in Canada
There are numerous ways to collect Avios aside from accumulating points with your credit card, including:
- Booking flights with British Airways or a British Airways partner airline. You earn points on almost every flight aside from reward flights. The amount you earn depends on which airline you fly, the distance of your flight, your class, and your British Airways Executive Club tier. You can get an idea of how many Avios you’ll earn by using British Airways’ flight calculator. Partner airlines include American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Qatar Airways, among many others.
- Booking accommodation or a rental car with eligible partners (Marriott, Best Western, Booking.com, Hotels.com, Airbnb, Avis, and Budget, among others).
- Shopping through the British Airways eStore with selected retailers, including Marks & Spencer and Apple. Be aware that most (if not all) retailers appear to be located in the United Kingdom or the United States, so it may not be a practical option for Canadian residents.
- Earning points via eligible finance and lifestyle partners, such as The Economist and eRewards.
The unlimited medical coverage1 offered by the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite is one of the most generous among all credit cards in Canada. It’s hard to beat unlimited, and 31 days is at the top end of coverage among travel credit cards. Furthermore, while seven days of coverage may not sound like much for those 65 and over, it’s actually one of the few cards that offer any coverage at all to cardholders in this age bracket. One notable shortcoming is that there is no trip interruption/cancellation insurance, which can be an important feature for those who take to the skies often.
You can check out our list of the best credit cards for travel insurance to directly compare the coverage provided by the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite to its competitors.
Other features of the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite Card include:
- 10% off British Airways flights when you pay with your card∞
- Fuel savings at Petro-Canada (Link your RBC card with a Petro-Points membership to instantly save 3₵ per litre on fuel at Petro-Canada stations and earn 20% more Petro-Points and 20% more Avion points)
- Enhanced earnings of Be Well points at Rexall
- $0 delivery fees from DoorDash for a year, terms and conditions apply
- Visa Infinite benefits5
Rates and fees
The card’s main fees are:
Annual fee: $165
Additional card: $75
Purchase interest rate: 20.50%
Cash advance rate: 22.99% (21.99% in Quebec)
Foreign transaction fee: 2.5%
Balance transfer fee: up to 3% of the transaction amount
If the $165 annual fee seems steep, you may get up to $120 of the fee waived if you bundle it with an RBC VIP chequing account, reducing the card’s carrying cost. Read our article on bundling banking products to learn more about the potential benefits.
The card has a personal income requirement of at least $60,000 or a household income of at least $100,000. You’ll also need a good credit score, probably of at least 660 or more.
How does it compare?
From the above table, it’s clear that where the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite Card shines is its generous welcome bonus and ability to earn Avios points, which are assets if you often fly to London, England, or travel frequently with oneworld travel partners. The free companion voucher˜ is also a nice perk, but the requirements and additional fees could limit your use of the voucher.
On the other hand, the companion voucher3 that comes with the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard has fewer restrictions: there is no large minimum yearly spend, usage is not limited to a reward flight, and you can depart and go to any city WestJet normally services. You normally have to pay a base fare, which you don’t with the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite Card.
With the American Express Cobalt® Card, you don’t get a companion fare deal but the card features an impressive three accelerated earn categories, which means your points will quickly add up with everyday spending. And while the American Express Membership Rewards you earn aren’t affiliated with a specific airline, you can transfer points to multiple other airlines, including both the popular Aeroplan program and Avios at a rate of 1:1.
Who should apply?
With an accelerated earn rate that only rewards British Airways purchases and a severely restrictive companion voucher, the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite Card should appeal to only a niche category of Canadians: high-income travellers who frequently fly British Airways. Globetrotters who aren’t loyal to British Airways are better off choosing a different travel rewards card that offers more flexibility and earns points more rapidly.Apply for the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite
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