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Are the Visa Infinite Privilege Cards Worth It? Ricky May 26, 2020

Are the Visa Infinite Privilege Cards Worth It?

Visa credit cards in Canada are divided into the Visa Platinum, Visa Infinite, and Visa Infinite Privilege labels, corresponding to the entry-level, mid-range, and premium customer segments respectively. 

Three of our Big 5 banks – RBC, CIBC, and TD – issue Visa Infinite Privilege credit cards, which are popular products among high income earners who are able to justify the higher annual fee through a combination of the signup bonuses, points earning rate, and ongoing perks. 

Here at Prince of Travel, I’ve been guilty of largely overlooking the Visa Infinite Privilege products in favour of the American Express Platinum Card and Business Platinum Card due to their superior value propositions. But with the signup bonuses on the Platinum series laid low at the moment, the Visa Infinite Privilege credit cards are now largely comparable products, so I think it’d be valuable to take a closer look at them.

Keep in mind that Visa Infinite Privilege cards are geared towards higher income earners, and thus require a minimum personal or household annual income of $200,000 to be eligible. One can perhaps rely on a loose definition of “household income” in their application, even if these premium products strike me as more likely, though not 100% certain, to ask for income verification during the approval process.

In This Post

RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege

The first product we’ll discuss is a credit card that we’ve already mentioned in discussing RBC Avion redemptions for premium cabins at 2 cents per point (cpp): the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege

The welcome bonus on this card is 25,000 Avion points upon first purchase, which is relatively low compared to many of its peers with bonuses in the range of 40,000–50,000 points.

The annual fee is $399 (a price point that can be reduced by $120 by maintaining an RBC VIP Banking chequing account), while the card earns a flat 1.25 Avion points per dollar spent on all purchases, meaning that it lacks the bonus categories that many of its peers offer. 

On top of that, the card offers a Priority Pass membership with six annual visits included, which is a standard feature across the Visa Infinite Privilege family of cards, including all of the cards we’ll cover below.

The overall product is arguably very basic at first glance – in fact, we might even be a little disappointed by it, considering that the regular RBC Visa Infinite Avion currently offers 20,000 Avion points with a first-year fee waiver (and has recently gone as high as 35,000 Avion points too).

However, the card’s unique strength is that it allows cardholders to redeem Avion points for premium cabins at a flat rate of 2cpp – a very powerful benefit in a landscape where the line between cash and points is ever-blurring.

Indeed, while we’d normally value the signup bonus of 25,000 Avion points at 1.9 cents apiece for a total of $475, the 2cpp redemption option bumps that valuation up to a cool $500. 

And recall that this 2cpp redemption option can even be extended to Avion points earned from other RBC Avion products as long as you hold the Visa Infinite Privilege (or alternatively the Visa Infinite Business). 

CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Privilege

The most recent addition to the Visa Infinite Privilege lineup is the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Privilege.

Despite being far from the most useful points currency in Canada, Aventura points are nevertheless heavily marketed by CIBC and therefore very popular among CIBC clients, and the Aventura Visa Infinite Privilege is geared towards the high rollers in that audience. 

To its credit, the card’s value proposition isn’t too shabby: you’ll earn 50,000 Aventura points upon spending $3,000 in the first three months, which we’d value at $600. 

I’ve written before about some of the best ways to redeem Aventura points: generally, the best usage is through the fixed-value award chart for round-trip flights departing from Canada. And while most Aventura cardholders can only use this chart to book economy class flights, Visa Infinite Privilege cardholders have access to a “hidden” chart for business class redemptions, as displayed below:

As you can see, you can attain a very respectable value of up to 2.5cpp for your business class redemption depending on the geographic zone. However, unlike the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege’s 2cpp redemption path, the Aventura chart does not cover your taxes and fees for your flight – you’ll still have to either pay those out-of-pocket, or redeem points at a poorer value of 1cpp.

The annual fee for this card is higher than its peers at $499, but that can be offset to as low as $179 by two factors: a $120 rebate if you hold CIBC’s Smart Plus Account (which itself requires a minimum balance of $6,000 to waive the monthly maintenance fees of $29.95), as well as a $200 annual travel credit that must be redeemed through the CIBC Rewards travel agency, but is nonetheless quite versatile in that it can be used to book anything that’s otherwise bookable on major travel booking sites like Expedia.

This card is also more rewarding than its peers in terms of everyday spend. You’ll earn a base level of 1.25 Aventura points per dollar spent on every purchase, but also 3 Aventura points per dollar spent on travel purchased through CIBC Rewards and 2 Aventura points per dollar spent on dining, entertainment, transportation, gas, and groceries. 

Finally, in addition to the standard six Priority Pass visits, the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Privilege also offers two Nexus rebates (valued at $50 each) every four years, and also comes in a sleek metal design for those of you who care about the vanity factor. 

CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite Privilege

CIBC’s second and more seasoned VIP product is the CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite Privilege, which earns miles in the Aeroplan loyalty program.

The signup bonus is 50,000 Aeroplan miles: 25,000 miles upon first purchase and 25,000 miles upon spending $3,000 in the first four months, all in exchange for a $399 annual fee that may be reduced to $279 via the aforementioned CIBC Smart Plus chequing account. 

We’re all very well-versed with the strengths of the Aeroplan loyalty program, as it’s easily the most valuable program for any Canadian traveller who’s willing to put in a bit of time to understand how it works.

Earning 50,000 miles as a signup bonus – which we’d value at $1,050 – for a $279 net annual fee can be a very good value proposition, provided that you then redeem those miles for maximum value. 

The card earns 1.5 Aeroplan miles per dollar spent on gas, groceries, drugstores, and flight purchases from aircanada.com, and 1.25 Aeroplan miles per dollar spent on everything else. The lounge benefits are quite strong, building upon the standard six Priority Pass visits with a further four Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge access passes.

On top of that, there are a host of benefits when flying with Air Canada, including priority check-in and boarding, a complimentary first checked bag, and a 50% off companion voucher for a full-fare Air Canada business class ticket.

While the savings from that companion voucher can be significant for a high-rolling couple, I don’t imagine that many readers will be in the position to shell out for full-fare business class tickets in the first place.

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege

The final major Visa Infinite Privilege travel card in Canada is the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege, which mirrors its CIBC counterpart in many ways.

The card offers a signup bonus of 40,000 Aeroplan miles: 25,000 miles upon first purchase, followed by 5,000 miles in each of the first three months that you complete $1,000 in spending (for a total effective minimum spend of $3,000). We’d value the signup bonus at $840.

Like most of its peers, the card is also priced at the $399 level. Although TD also runs a promotion with its All-Inclusive Banking Plan that reduces the annual fee of select credit cards by $120, the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege is excluded from the list of eligible cards.

The earning rate on everyday purchases is identical to its CIBC Aerogold counterpart: 1.5x on gas, groceries, drugstores, and aircanada.com, and 1.25x on everything else; meanwhile, further identical benefits include the six Priority Pass visits, four Maple Leaf Lounge visits, Air Canada priority check-in, priority boarding, free checked bag, and the 50% off companion voucher on business class tickets as well.

The lower signup bonus and the inability to reduce the annual fee by holding an accompanying checking product, however, makes the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege strictly weaker than its CIBC counterpart in my books – perhaps a surprising state of affairs when you consider it’s TD that holds the bulk of the co-branded credit card contract with Aeroplan, not CIBC.

Comparing the Visa Infinite Privilege Credit Cards

Here’s a chart to compare all the essential elements of the Visa Infinite Privilege lineup of credit cards:


RBC Avion VIP

CIBC Aventura VIP

CIBC Aerogold VIP

TD Aeroplan VIP

Signup bonus

25,000 Avion points

50,000 Aventura points

50,000 Aeroplan miles

40,000 Aeroplan miles

Minimum spending

$0 

$3,000

$3,000

$3,000

Annual fee

$399

$499

$399

$399

Annual fee reduction?

$120 via RBC VIP Banking

$120 via CIBC Smart Plus chequing; $200 annual travel credit

$120 via CIBC Smart Plus chequing

None

Earning rate

1.25x on all purchases

3x on travel purchased through CIBC Rewards;
2x on dining, entertainment, transportation, gas, and groceries;
1.25x on everything else

1.5x on gas, groceries, drugstores, and Air Canada flights;
1.25x on everything else

1.5x on gas, groceries, drugstores, and Air Canada flights;
1.25x on everything else

Business class redemptions?

2cpp flat rate against cash fares

Up to 2.5cpp against cash fares up to a certain maximum; taxes and fees are extra

Via the Aeroplan Reward Chart

Via the Aeroplan Reward Chart

Lounge visits

6 Priority Pass visits

6 Priority Pass visits

6 Priority Pass visits; 4 Maple Leaf Lounge visits

6 Priority Pass visits; 4 Maple Leaf Lounge visits

Additional perks

Avion points may be converted to Avios, Asia Miles, AAdvantage, or WestJet

Two NEXUS credits (valued at $50 each) every four years; metal card

Air Canada priority check-in, priority boarding, free first checked bag, 50% off companion voucher for full-fare business class

Air Canada priority check-in, priority boarding, free first checked bag, 50% off companion voucher for full-fare business class

In general, I find that all of the Visa Infinite Privilege cards offer solid value for their target audiences, even if none of them are truly outstanding in the overall credit card market in any way. 

At first glance, these products all look quite uniform across the board, which may leave you to wonder why the banks aren’t doing more to spice up their high-end products with higher signup bonuses, higher bonus earning rates, and stronger benefits. 

Keep in mind, however, that the high income earners that these cards are designed for are generally less likely to occupy themselves with squeezing every drop of value out of their credit cards, and instead would be pretty happy with a competitive product that ticks most of their boxes from their favourite Big 5 bank.

Visa Infinite Privilege cardholders also get benefits at events and select Canadian airports.

Visa Infinite Privilege cardholders also get benefits at events and select Canadian airports.

With that being said, I think there’s still quite a bit of value to be found in the Visa Infinite Privilege lineup for those of us who’d like to maximize the value of our credit card points – after all, meeting that $200,000 income requirement is simply a matter of marrying a rich spouse. 😉

All four products may be incorporated into the credit card strategies for RBC, CIBC, and TD, alongside the regular Visa Infinite counterparts like the TD Aeroplan or RBC Avion.

In addition to applying as a new cardholder, you can also consider saving yourself a credit inquiry by product-switching to these cards, which generally deliver the signup bonuses quite reliably (in the case of RBC and TD, provided that you follow the appropriate timescales) or at least semi-reliably (in the case of CIBC). 

The two most interesting products to me are the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege and the CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite Privilege. The former unlocks the unique ability to book premium fares at a flat rate of 2cpp, which means that even if the signup bonus on the card itself isn’t very strong, you can combine the bonuses from other Avion cards (like the regular Visa Infinite) and take advantage of this ability using your combined pool of points.

Meanwhile, the CIBC Aerogold has a fairly attractive signup offer in itself, at 50,000 Aeroplan Miles for an annual fee that can be reduced to $279 – it certainly outperforms the Platinum Card and the Business Platinum Card at this time when both of those bonuses are suppressed from their previous highs. 

The CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Privilege is also intriguing in its own right, thanks to the hidden business class Aventura redemption chart that only these cardholders have access to. Moreover, while Aventura points may not be the most useful currency at this time, the upcoming Air Canada cancellation policy, which allows paid fares to be converted into Aeroplan miles with a 65% bonus, might have something to say about that.

For the time being, the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege is the weakest of the four, and it largely falls short of its CIBC counterpart for anyone who’s looking to get a premium Aeroplan-branded credit card. The upcoming relaunch of Aeroplan in Quarter 4 of 2020 is bound to give both of these cards a major shakeup, and I’m very excited to see what the banks come up with. 

I’d also love to see more products being launched in the Visa Infinite Privilege segment, and in particular, I feel that Scotiabank would do a great job of putting out a high-end product – a Passport Visa Infinite Privilege or something like that – given the strength of the rest of their portfolio.

Conclusion

Canadian points collectors often gloss over the top-tier Visa Infinite Privilege cards due to their high annual fees, but at a time when the strategy temporarily shifts away from the American Express Platinum Card and Business Platinum Card, these high-input, high-output cards could certainly warrant a closer look. 

The RBC Avion and CIBC Aerogold products look the most appealing to me, followed by the newly-introduced CIBC Aventura and then the TD Aeroplan, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the Big 5 banks’ premium credit card lineup continues to grow in the future. 

Top Offers

American Express Business Platinum Card

75,000 American Express Membership Rewards points
upon spending $7,000 in the first three months

  • 1.25x MR points on all purchases
  • Points transfer to Aeroplan and British Airways Avios at a 1:1 ratio
  • Unlimited Priority Pass access
  • Marriott Gold Elite status
Signup bonus
75,000 MR points
Annual fee
$499
20 Comments
  1. Avatar
    Robert

    Hey Ricky. Great post. I have the Desjardins version and all things considered think it’s very competitive: $100 off if a Desjardins account holder, free supplementary card, fantastic insurance, and 2.4% cash back on first $25k spend and 2% thereafter. One question: Dave mentioned supp card can be used to get another Priority Pass membership (6 passes). Is this correct?

    1. Avatar
      John

      I can confirm that it is indeed the case, one of my family members is an authorized user and was able to use their card for a PP membership. Although, I am not aware of the 2.4% Cashback rate.

  2. Avatar
    BigG

    The only benefit I find on the RBC version is the extra .25 points per dollar but the amex pat is superior in every way. I use t for business spend and manage Touareg a few hundred k per year on it . With avios BA transfer bonus I can get 500k avios out of it. Coupled with the RBC BA card I put the minimum 30k spend on for the 2 for 1 pass and it’s quite a handy combo. I would definitely prefer the Amex business plat but suppliers avoid it like the plague especially for large purchases so I’m mostly stuck with Visa. RBC in my case definitely did an in branch income verification.

  3. Avatar
    Jane

    A few comments on RFD suggest TD and CIBC VIP Aeroplan cardholders are given Altitude 25k status just for holding the card. Do you know if this is the case? Might be an alternative to transferring 50k miles.

  4. Avatar
    Hao

    Ricky, there is a VIP card that issued by Desjardins

    1. Avatar
      Ricky

      And one by Vancity as well. Can I be forgiven for overlooking these, which don’t really offer compelling travel rewards? I don’t know, I suppose they’re worth at least mentioning in the article, which I’ll do right now.

      1. Avatar
        Dave

        Desjardins offers the best insurance policies in Canada ,free additional cards which could be used to register another PP

        1. Avatar
          John

          You forgot to mention that the free additional card is only available for members, which means only people in Ontario and Quebec can take advantage of it.

  5. Avatar
    Mike

    I hold both the RBC and CIBC versions. IIRC The MLL passes are only valid if travelling on an Aeroplan booking. A cash Y fare would not allow you to use the passes. Although I have been "mistakenly" granted access on occasion.

    1. Avatar
      Mike

      The fast track security at YYZ, YOW, and YVR are also great perks along with 20% off airport parking

      1. Avatar
        BG

        Do both offer fast track at YVR? are there other cards that do? I think amex only offers YYZ fast track.

        Curious as to why you hold both and what value you find in them?

        1. Avatar
          Mike

          I use the RBC as primary non bonused spend to due transferrable Avion pts, CIBC hads a decent 50k signup and the 4 lounge passes, plus best earning for non bonused Aeroplan earnings should i need to. Tried cancelling the CIBC after 1st yr but they gave me 10k AP and reduced annual fee to keep it.

  6. Avatar
    Jack

    The RBC Avion VIP fee can actually be reduced by $165 (at minimum) with an RBC VIP chequing account (also free for medical professionals, dentists, lawyers, etc).

    1. Avatar
      BG

      It’s $120 rebate for the VIP account.

      1. Avatar
        Ricky

        Thanks for the correction guys.

  7. Avatar
    EH

    Ricky, if I purchase an Air Canada ticket by redeeming Aventura points before June 30 (say, 20,000 points for a YYZ↔YQB ticket), cancel the ticket afterwards, will the full fare be refunded as voucher or Aeroplan miles + 65% bonus?

    1. Avatar
      Ricky

      You’ll be able to choose between the two options.

      1. Avatar
        Sarah Ramkissoon

        Hi Ricky. Do you have any confirmation of this working ? Think I’d like yo try it

      2. Avatar
        EH

        I assume the same holds true when I book thru Amex Travel, right? Thanks for the thoughtful suggestion.

        1. Avatar
          Ricky

          We’ll find out for sure soon enough!

Ricky

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