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Quick overview: RBC ION+ Visa
There are some great travel cards and there are some cards that focus on other benefits. The RBC ION+ Visa Card isn’t quite sure what it wants to be — its relatively meagre signup bonus, recurrent monthly fee and bonus points for daily spending position it squarely alongside a card like the American Express Cobalt (where it is beaten in almost every category).
For those shy of big fees, the RBC ION+ Visa might make sense for its decent rewards rate in popular spending categories and a comparatively modest fee. This card offers three Avion points per $1 spent in dining, groceries and transportation categories, and one point per $1 on all other purchases.
This is where reading (or rather, not reading) the fine print is going to burn some Avion point chasers. The RBC ION+ Visa card's reward structure is slightly complex, with Avion points in the ION tier being 50% less valuable than traditional Avion points.
In the terms and conditions, you can redeem Avion points at a rate of 100 points per $1.00 (minimum 1,000 points), whereas 100 ION points are worth $0.58 (and you must redeem a minimum of 2,500 points). This means you’re effectively getting half the bang for your buck, and with the modest (and that’s putting it lightly) welcome bonus, it’s going to take a long while to save for your dream trip on the back of this card.
The monthly fee of $4 is low compared to other similar cards, especially for students or those with an RBC banking account, where the fee might be waived. However, unlike other entry-level cards, the first year isn’t free. This may deter some who don’t want to commit to making this card their primary spender over the several years it would take to surpass an annual fee card in value.
Who’s the RBC ION+ Visa for?
Frankly, this card is only for those scared of a high annual fee and students with an RBC account, who pay no fee at all. With no income requirements, the RBC ION+ makes a decent student card for those looking for an entry into the RBC Avion program, or maybe to test out point collecting for the first time. Even without an income requirement, this card still requires you to have a “good” credit score — above 650.
Pros and cons
RBC ION+ Visa welcome bonus
- Initial bonus of 3,500 Avion points upon approval.
- Additional 3,500 points after spending $500 in the first three months.
How to earn points
- Earn three Avion points per $1 on groceries, dining, food delivery, rides, gas, EV charging, streaming, digital gaming and subscriptions.
- Earn one Avion point per $1 on all other purchases.
- You can receive bonus points with regular offers found in RBC’s online banking portal. Many offers come from popular brands like Pet Valu, Indigo.ca and The Keg to name a few.
- Note: Avion points are calculated at 100 points for $1 in savings. With ION cards, you’ll need 172 points for $1 (a point value of $0.58 cents per point). No maximum limit mentioned for earning points.
How to redeem points
You can redeem points for gift cards, merchandise from popular stores like Apple and Best Buy through avionrewards.com. You can also pay your credit card balance or send an Interac e-transfer with points.
Key benefits of the RBC ION+ Visa
- Decent rewards rate in everyday spending categories.
- Low monthly fee of $4, which comes to $48 annually
- Mobile device insurance: Up to $1,000 coverage for damage, theft and loss.
- Purchase security: Protection against loss, theft, and damage for 90 days.
- Extended warranty: Doubles the manufacturer's warranty, up to an additional year.
- Earn 50 Be Well points per dollar at Rexall with linked RBC ION+ Card.
- Complimentary three-month DashPass subscription from DoorDash.
- Save $0.03 per litre on fuel and earn 20% more Petro-Points and Avion Points
How the RBC ION+ Visa Card compares
RBC ION+ Visa Card vs. American Express Gold Card
If you’re familiar with Amex cards, you’re familiar with their higher annual fees. The American Express Gold Card is no exception (with a $250 fee), and if you’re deterred by an upfront expense, there’s no comparing these two cards. But with that cost comes a slew of benefits surpassing anything offered by the RBC ION+ Visa. For instance, the Amex fee is offset by a pretty sweet $100 travel credit, good for hotels, car rentals and other necessary expenses you might incur on a trip.
And while both cards reward your spending on everyday purchases like groceries and gas, the Amex welcome bonus of 60,000 rewards points (valued at $600) is absolutely going to be more appealing to would-be travellers than the paltry ION+ points offered by the Avion card. And let’s not forget the extended travel insurance on the Amex that is notably missing on RBC’s Ion+ card. Neither card has income requirements. So, despite the high cost of the Amex gold card, there are far more rewards to be had with it. If you’re a traveller, the ability to transfer Amex points 1-1 for Aeroplan or 1.5-1 for Marriott Bonvoy points is going to make your rewards far more flexible.
RBC ION+ Card vs. Neo Secured Credit Card
If you’re a student or trying to limit your expenses and build credit, you may check out the Neo Secured Credit Card. A secured card means you put money down as a deposit which is typically the amount of money you can borrow.
The bonus with Neo is their fantastic app to better manage your money and up to 15% cash back with new first-time purchases with Neo partners. On average, you can earn 5% from their partners on an ongoing basis and 1% cash back on gas and groceries—all with no annual fee.
If your priority is a little extra spending money and working on growing your credit score, the Neo is a good option. But with no fee for students with RBC accounts, the ION+ Visa is worth considering as a starter card, particularly for students looking to start collecting points for a future travel opportunity, or dip a toe into the Avion program.
RBC ION+ Visa Card vs. TD Rewards Visa Cards
The TD Rewards Visa is another starter card that doesn’t offer much in the way of interest to serious point collectors, but might be a decent option for students or folks with fee-phobia.
Unlike the RBC ION+ Visa, you won’t have to pay a dime in fees on the TD Rewards Visa. There’s a modest welcome bonus (worth $65 in value) for keeping your account open and active for 90 days, which in my opinion falls short of the Avion ION points offered by the RBC card.
The real value might be for students looking to open a TD account for the first time – TD currently offers a promotion where students opening a TD chequing account automatically receive a TD Rewards Visa, as well as six months free to Uber One, boosting the value of this card up to $250, all without any fee (Until May 4, 2024).
RBC ION+ Visa Card vs. CIBC Aeroplan Visa for Students
If the ION+ Visa is a bit confused about what kind of card it is and who it appeals to, the CIBC Visa Aeroplan for Students knows exactly who it appeals to. This card offers a no-fuss, no-muss (no fee!) 10k Aeroplan deal (enough for a one-way short haul flight) as soon as you make your first purchase. Boom.
You also collect one point per 1$ on purchase of select categories, and one point per $1.50 on everything else. In truth, this is a card you get for the welcome bonus, if at all. The RBC ION+ Visa might be for people who want a card they keep for a long time and slowly build up points on.
RBC Ion Card vs. RBC ION+ Card
The RBC ION and its + kin are (as you probably guessed) cut from the same cloth. The big difference comes down to the fee and the welcome bonus – while the ION+ requires $4 per month in order to qualify for the 7000 Avion point bonus, the RBC ION has no fee, and gives you half as many points for it (3500, good for a $25 gift card according to the RBC promotional material).
Where the ION+ really earns that plus distinction is in its spending categories. For the stock ION, you’ll only be pulling in 1.5 points per $1 spent on categories like groceries, rides, subscriptions, etc. In the same categories the ION+ offers three points per dollar spent. If you’re spending a lot of money in the designated categories, the ION+ is going to offer more down the road, in addition to the substantially larger welcome bonus.
Unless you’re absolutely unable to stomach the $4 fee per month, the ION+ is better in most ways.
What a Reddit user had to say about the ION+ Visa
This ION+ is probably the best points card for anyone who can't qualify for the AMEX Cobalt, Scotia Gold AMEX, the MBNA [Rewards World Elite] card or the National Bank World Elite MasterCard or don't care for premium card features and want to save on the annual fee.Reddit user @deltatux
Is the RBC ION+ Visa Card worth it?
It’s hard to put it better than @deltatux above. If you can’t qualify for better cards, the RBC ION+ Visa Card is worth considering. Otherwise, there are better cards.
But if you’re working on developing your credit score, or intent on keeping your fees low, the RBC ION+ Visa may be a fit for those looking for a low-fee card with a high rewards rate in everyday spending categories.
In particular, it’s a good option for students or those with an RBC banking account. But for big travellers and point collectors, you might want to explore other options. The card's value increases if you frequently shop at Rexall or fill up at Petro-Canada, leveraging its unique perks.
Is the RBC ION+ Visa Card good?+
It’s not too bad, especially for everyday spending in categories like groceries and transportation. There are better options available for those who qualify for them.
What is RBC ION+ Visa?+
A rewards credit card offering high points on everyday purchases with a low monthly fee.
How do I get points with RBC ION+ Visa?+
Earn points by spending on groceries, dining, transportation and more, with three points per $1 in these categories.