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In the credit card world, the RBC Avion Visa Infinite card stands out in the travel rewards category, notable for its flexibility. RBC Rewards (Avion points) can be redeemed for any seat on any flight on any airline with absolutely no blackout dates. Beyond that, cardholders can transfer their points to other airline rewards programs, redeem points to shop at retailers like Best Buy and the Apple store, or cash in points to pay down their credit card balance. With all these options, cardholders can enjoy their points their way.
Of course, this kind of flexibility comes with a price, and in this case, it’s $120 per year, plus a rather high annual income threshold (Personal: $60,000 or Household: $100,000). We take a closer look at this popular credit card in Canada and ask, “Is it really as good as it looks on paper?”
At a glance
- Get 35,000 welcome Avion points on approval* – Enough to fly anywhere in Canada and the U.S (Alaska and Hawaii require more points).
- Earn 1 Avion point for every dollar you spend*.
- Earn 25% more Avion points on travel-related purchases (1.25 points per $1 spent)3
- Transfer points to other travel reward programs
- 100 Rewards points = up to a maximum travel value of $2.33
- Redeem points on a wide variety of travel options (no blackout dates or seat restrictions), merchandise, or against your statement using Pay with Points
- $0.03 p/liter4 discount on gas at Petro-Canada, and 20% more Petro-Points and 20% more Avion points when you link your Petro-Points card to your RBC card5
- Comprehensive travel insurance, including Out of Province/Country Emergency Medical Insurance8, trip interruption and cancellation insurance9, and rental car collision and damage protection7
The RBC Rewards Program: How it works
The RBC Rewards program is fairly straightforward—Earn 1 Avion point for every $1 you spend*, plus an extra 25% on eligible travel related purchases³. There aren’t many ways to accelerate your earnings, but if you link the credit card to your Petro-Points account, you can get a discount on gas⁴, plus 20% additional points in both loyalty programs⁵. RBC rewards are valued at approximately $1.14 for every 100 points (or $0.0114 per point—a fairly standard rate for this type of card). Here’s a breakdown of how you can earn points.
- Get 35,000 welcome Avion points on approval* - Enough to fly anywhere in Canada & the U.S (Alaska and Hawaii require more points)!
- Earn 1 Avion point for every $1 you spend*, plus an extra 25% on eligible travel related purchases³.
- The additional 25% on travel-related purchases³ may include airlines, accommodations, tour operators, cruise lines, travel agencies, and car rental companies. Still, the merchant must be listed in the “travel” category with Visa.
- Connect your RBC card to your Petro-Points for 20% more points⁵.
Where this program really shines is in the redemption process. RBC Rewards are primarily aimed at flights, and with no blackout dates and no seat or airline restrictions, cardholders are free to go wherever they want, when they want, on whatever airline carrier they want. Another bonus: Eligible Avion Rewards members can also convert points to other loyalty programs including WestJet dollars, British Airways Avios points and Hudson’s Bay Rewards points. Plus, unlike other rewards programs, Rewards points can be applied toward taxes, surcharges, and fees when booking a flight.
Additionally, there are other redemption options through retailers like the Apple Store, T-Fal, and Best Buy, and Avion points can be transferred to HBC Rewards. A cardholder’s points can be used to pay down their credit card balance.
Other perks of the RBC Avion Visa Infinite
The RBC Avion Visa Infinite Credit Card carries other perks as well.
- Travel insurance: Like many credit cards, this one includes a travel insurance package. But what makes it exceptional is the emergency travel medical coverage⁸ that’s included. This rare and valuable perk makes it a winner, especially when paired with the car rental collision and damage, hotel/motel burglary, and trip cancellation/interruption insurance⁹. It’s also important to note that cardholders 65 and under are medically covered for the first 15 days of an out-of-province/Canada trip, and it’s three days for those over 65 years.
- Shopping coverage: Items purchased with the card enjoy protections including 90 days of insurance and extended warranties of up to an additional year.
- Automatic and instant savings on fuel at Petro-Canada: Link the two cards and save $0.03 per litre on fuel⁴—and earn 20% more points in both loyalty programs (20% more Petro-Points and 20% more Avion points)⁵.
- Credit card lock: Temporarily lock your credit card at any time—a handy feature if you believe you’ve lost or misplaced your card but don’t want to take chances while you locate it.
- Visa Infinite: Enjoy events, hotel and dining benefits, and a complimentary concierge.
- Optional extras that may be offered: Choose to purchase enhanced travel insurance, roadside assistance, insurance on your credit card balance, or identity theft protection.
Pros and cons
Rewards program is highly flexible, transferable, and includes a slew of non-travel-related reward options
Partnerships with other retailers like HBC and Petro-Canada
Provides excellent travel insurance
New cardholders earn 35,000 welcome Avion points on approval*
Solid option for looking for a travel-centric points program
The points-to-dollars ratio is only average and there are few opportunities for accelerated earning.
The $120 annual fee isn’t cheap
High annual income requirement: Personal: $60,000 or Household: $100,000
How to get your first year free with RBC Avion Visa Infinite
Unfortunately, the RBC Avion Visa Infinite card is so great that it charges an annual fee. An annual fee of $120 per year. While many Canadians have an aversion to paying an annual fee, there’s not much you can do to sweet-talk the customer service rep into giving you another year for free.
Still, there are two ways to get your Avion card without paying an annual fee.
1. This works if you are already an RBC customer. With their banking package, if you have a number of services with them, you are eligible to receive the first year free of your RBC Avion Visa Infinite. This is called the “VIP Banking package.”
For example, if you have:
- An RBC mortgage
- An RBC banking account
- An RBC investing account (you can just even open up a TFSA with them and fund it with $100)
You will be eligible to receive an RBC Avion Visa Infinite first year free.
2. If you are not an extensive RBC customer (e.g. if you do not have a mortgage with them, if you do not bank with them, and if you do not invest with them), there may be another way to get the first year free with the RBC Avion Visa Infinite. You can potentially get the first year free if you have a premium Visa card from another credit card issuer.
I remember finding this information out when I called the cancel the card the first time and was wondering if they would be able to extend the waiver of the annual fee.
For example, if you have the:
- CIBC Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card
- TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card
- CIBC Aventura® Visa* Card
- TD First Class Travel® Visa Infinite* Card
You just need to call the RBC customer service line and tell them you are interested in getting an RBC Avion Visa Infinite credit card and that you have one of the premium Visas. The process is easy and they will just ask you to go to a Royal Bank Branch to verify your information.
However, once the year is up (bittersweet ending usually) then you have the option to pay the annual fee of $120 or to switch to a no-fee credit card.
Related: Travel hack your way to budget trips out of Canada
Of course, when you apply for so many credit cards you will have your credit report checked. So beware!
The verdict: Is the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Credit Card worth it?
As a travel rewards card, the RBC Avion Visa Infinite card is a strong choice, especially for those who want flexibility with travel rewards — and even more for members who already shop at partner retailers. We’re loving the hassle-free redemption for travel rewards, such as the no blackout dates or restrictions on flight redemptions. For those with more frugal spending habits, though, there may be better alternatives. Weigh your options and check out these other best travel rewards credit cards in Canada before taking the plunge.Apply now