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Canada’s 6 Best RBC Credit Cards for July 2021

RBC is one of Canada’s leading Big 5 banks, offering a variety of travel and cash back credit cards.

Here are our picks for the best RBC credit cards in Canada.

Best RBC Credit Cards

Best Overall RBC Credit Card

The RBC Avion Visa Infinite is RBC’s core travel credit card. You’ll earn 1.25 Avion points per dollar spent on travel, and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Avion points are one of the few transferable rewards currencies in Canada, making them very valuable. There are some good sweet spots with any of their transfer partners, including British Airways Avios, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, and American Airlines AAdvantage. It’s often best to wait for a transfer bonus, which could net you 10–50% more points depending on the partner program.

For straightforward round-trip flights in economy class, you can also score great value with the Air Travel Redemption Schedule. You can redeem your rewards for up to 2 cents per point for most destinations. If you book this way through the RBC Rewards centre, you can also use your points to cover taxes and fuel surcharges.

When applying via the main RBC website, new cardholders can usually get a welcome bonus of 15,000 Avion points for an annual fee of $120. If you apply with a promotional link, you can frequently find offers for more points, or an annual fee waiver for the first year.

As an added bonus, RBC has special promotions for Avion cardholders. Check the offers on your account from time to time, and you can earn discounts or additional Avion points for using your card to make purchases at merchants like Best Buy, Indigo, Apple, Rexall, or HelloFresh. There’s also an ongoing benefit of discounts and extra points at Petro-Canada.

The card also has some unique insurance benefits, like a high amount of hotel burglary coverage and mobile device insurance. A mid-tier card with a manageable annual fee, the RBC Avion card is always useful to have in your wallet for those types of purchases and bookings.

If you don’t qualify with at least $60,000 annual personal income or $100,000 annual household income, you can apply for the RBC Avion Visa Platinum. You’ll get all of the same earning and redemption opportunities (except for bonus points earned on travel purchases) and the same annual fee, just with no minimum income requirement.

Best Premium RBC Credit Card

The RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege is RBC’s top-tier card. It’s a step up from their other cards, earning 1.25 Avion points per dollar spent on all purchases, and typically a larger welcome bonus of 25,000 Avion points, although RBC’s full Avion line-up is currently offering 35,000 Avion points.

As for travel benefits, you’ll get a better insurance package, as well as a complimentary Priority Pass membership with six annual free lounge visits, as is standard on all Visa Infinite Privilege cards.

But perhaps the most intriguing advantage of this card is that you can redeem your Avion rewards at a rate of 2 cents per point for any business class flight. If you can find some cheap cash fares, you can score some flights this way for even better value than you might find with frequent flyer programs.

Best RBC Mastercard

The WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard is RBC’s go-to travel-oriented Mastercard. The card currently offers a welcome bonus of 350 WestJet Dollars for an annual fee of $119, although there are frequent elevated offers for more WestJet Dollars or a first-year annual fee waiver.

You’ll earn 1.5 WestJet Dollars per 100 dollars spent, good for 1.5% back. You can use your rewards to cover payments for WestJet flights or WestJet Vacations.

The card’s best feature is its annual companion voucher. Every year, including your first year with the card, you can book a second round-trip ticket with a reduced base fare when you pay full price for your own seat. You’d still have to pay $119 to $399 plus taxes and fees, depending on the destination, but these rates can represent steep discounts if you travel in high season.

To sweeten the deal, currently new cardholders will earn a special companion voucher for a $0 base fare with Canada or to the US, Hawaii, Mexico, the Caribbean, or Central America. That’s an incredible deal for vacation travel to Sun destination as a couple or family, so be sure to apply now if you’re interested.

Best No Fee RBC Credit Card

The RBC Rewards+ Visa is the best entry-level card offered by RBC. You can earn 1 point per dollar spent on groceries, gas, and drugstores, and 0.5 points per dollar spent everywhere else.

You can redeem your RBC Rewards for gift cards at a rate of 1 cent per point, although with frequent discounts of 30%, you can often get a rate of 1.43 cents per point. If you wait for these promotions, you can significantly increase your returns on daily spending, which you can’t do on most no-fee cards.

Aside from WestJet, you can’t transfer these points to airline partners or use the Air Travel Redemption Schedule. As a Rewards+ cardholder, you’ll miss out on the very best ways to stretch your value with the trio of Oneworld airline programs of British Airways Avios, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, and American Airlines AAdvantage.

Luckily, you can easily upgrade the card to an Avion card, and your points will convert to Avion points, which can then be transferred to frequent flyer programs. If you can’t qualify for a higher-tier card initially, the Rewards+ is a great starting point as you begin making plans for future travel with the three Oneworld programs.

Best Cash Back RBC Credit Card

The RBC Cash Back Mastercard has an interesting rewards structure. Your earn rates will vary depending on how much you spend in different categories.

You’ll earn 2% cash back on your first $6,000 of grocery purchases each year; then your rewards rate drops to 1%. You’ll also earn 0.5% on your first $6,000 of other purchases each year; then your rewards rate increases to 1%.

If most of your spending is on groceries, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a no-fee card that earns more than 2%. And if you exceed $500 per month on average, at that level you’re probably better off swallowing a modest fee for bigger rewards.

If you’re a high-volume spender in other categories and you’ll easily reach the 1% rate, that’s a great return for an entry-level cash back card that doesn’t face the same acceptance issues as American Express cards.

Best RBC Credit Card for Business Owners

The RBC Avion Visa Infinite Business is the go-to choice for business owners looking to rack up points for business travel.

You can transfer your Avion points to RBC’s Oneworld airline partners, use the RBC Air Travel Redemption Schedule for economy flights, or credit your points against any business class flight at a rate of 2 cents per point.

The card earns 1.25 Avion points per dollar spent on your first $75,000 in purchases per year, or 1 point thereafter. It also comes with a solid suite of travel insurance coverage.

You can have these unique high-value perks like extra Avion points on spending and 2 cents per point redemptions for premium class tickets, all for an annual fee of just $175.

Compared to the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege and its $399 annual fee for those same benefits, you should definitely see if you have an opportunity to get this business credit card instead.

RBC Credit Cards: What You Need to Know

When choosing an RBC credit card, you should familiarize yourself with what benefits a RBC credit card can offer, what features to look out for, and how RBC credit cards can fit into an optimized overall credit card strategy.

Why get an RBC credit card?

Overall, RBC’s credit cards have modest welcome bonuses and everyday earn rates. Instead, the biggest appeal is their unique airline partners.

RBC Avion points are transferable to frequent flyer programs with three airlines (British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and American Airlines) that are members of the Oneworld alliance. You can then book partner award space from these loyalty programs. RBC also has co-branded credit cards for British Airways and Cathay Pacific.

This gives you some new options for travel, as other Canadian banks put more of an emphasis on Air Canada’s Aeroplan program and its Star Alliance partners. Also, RBC is the only Big 5 Canadian bank with a transferable points currency, offering both flexibility and the potential for very high value redemptions.

Additionally, RBC opens the door to the SkyTeam alliance. Although WestJet isn’t a member, they have codeshare agreements with several SkyTeam airlines like Delta, Air France, and KLM, and you can use WestJet dollars on those routes. Whether with the co-branded WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard or by transferring RBC Avion points, there are quite a few ways to earn WestJet Dollars from RBC.

As the cherry on top, RBC runs promotions where you can get a 10–50% bonus for transferring points to airlines or redeeming them for gift cards. Other banks don’t do this as often, if at all, and it’s rare to be able to exchange points for gift cards at a similar value as travel redemptions.

Finally, if you bank with RBC, you can get a MultiProduct Rebate if you have an RBC credit card. Since it reduces your monthly banking fees, there’s no reason not to have a card, even if it’s just a basic one with no annual fee.

What should you look for in an RBC credit card?

RBC has a mix of cards for different purposes:

Technically, RBC’s primary travel rewards program is known as RBC Rewards. You can redeem points for travel bookings, merchandise, gift cards, or WestJet Dollars. Travel redemptions booked through RBC Rewards can be made for 1 cent per point.

Meanwhile, Avion cards are a subset of RBC Rewards with additional premium travel redemption options:

  • All Avion cardholders can use the Air Travel Redemption Schedule, a region-based chart with fixed points prices for round-trip travel between Canada and each zone. You can book any seat on any flight, up to a maximum cash fare. If you’re able to maximize the chart’s sweet spots, you should expect to be able to redeem your rewards for around 2 cents per point.
  • All Avion cardholders can transfer points to British Airways Avios, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, or American Airlines AAdvantage.
  • Visa Infinite Privilege and Visa Infinite Business cardholders can also use points for business class and First Class flights, at a fixed rate of 2 cents per point, with no limit per booking. This can be a very lucrative upgrade from the regular rewards rate of 1 cent per point for all travel bookings.

Aside from transferring your Avion points, you can earn airline miles directly on a British Airways or Cathay Pacific co-branded card, if you’d prefer. These cards have features like an annual companion fare or an anniversary bonus for second-year cardholders.

All of RBC’s cards come with the standard benefits for their card tier:

  • All Visa Infinite cards have access to Concierge services, the Luxury Hotel Collection, and the Dining Series & Wine Country program
  • In addition, Visa Infinite Privilege cards come with a Priority Pass membership which includes six annual visits to participating airport lounges and restaurants each year
  • All World Elite Mastercards come with a LoungeKey membership (although no free passes from RBC) and in-flight Boingo Wi-Fi

RBC frequently offers First Year Free promotions or larger welcome bonuses for new signups for their Avion Visa Infinite and WestJet World Elite cards. It’s generally best to wait for one of these opportunities before applying.

If your personal or household income isn’t high enough to qualify, see if you’re eligible for a lower-income variant of the same card.

Often RBC will have the same offer for both cards, or downgrade your application for the premium product if necessary, so you can still earn many of the same perks and welcome bonuses.

What’s the optimal strategy for RBC credit cards?

RBC offers the most powerful rewards and travel benefits among the Big 5 Canadian banks, and is second only to American Express credit cards among all Canadian issuers.

If you’re a dedicated traveller who wants to see as much of the world as possible by maximizing your credit cards, RBC credit cards should have a significant presence in your wallet.

For international travellers, by transferring Avion points to one of the Oneworld airline partners (often with a 10–50% transfer bonus) or by earning miles directly with the British Airways or Cathay Pacific co-branded cards, you can redeem miles for long-haul international flights for a much higher value than by redeeming Avion points for flights directly.

For domestic travellers, booking flights through the Air Travel Redemption Schedule and collecting WestJet Dollars can help you cover a fair chunk of your domestic flights, too.

While the individual welcome bonuses on each RBC credit card might not be world-beating, there are quite a few different RBC credit cards you can apply for, and you can stack all of these welcome bonuses into a concentrated points balance in either Avion or one of the partner programs (Avios, Asia Miles, or WestJet).

RBC is also known to grant the welcome bonus upon product-switching from one card to another, allowing you to pick up new welcome bonuses while preserving the same account (and all of its history) on your credit file.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some questions we frequently hear from readers about the best RBC credit cards in Canada.

Can I have more than one RBC credit card at the same time?

Yes, but you can typically only be approved for one card every 90 days. If you apply sooner, you’ll almost certainly be automatically rejected, and the 90-day waiting period will reset.

Which credit bureau does RBC check?

RBC always checks TransUnion.

Can I do a product switch with RBC?

Yes, and you can often get the same welcome bonus upon switching to a credit card as when submitting a new application, unless it’s an elevated offer that’s specific to new applicants only.

Can I get RBC business cards?

Yes, you can easily apply as a sole proprietor doing business as your own name. However, expect RBC to ask for business registration documents.

Ricky Zhang

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