Update: This article has been refreshed with the latest promotional offer of 25,000 Avion points upon first purchase with a first-year fee waiver.
Ask a group of Canadians about their top travel rewards credit card choice and many of them will swear by the RBC Visa Infinite Avion. While I personally haven't given this card much attention, it is after all the flagship credit card of Canada's largest bank, and recently it's been throwing up quite a few decent bonus offers. So let's take a look and see what the Avion card has to offer.
The standard offer on this card (available on the RBC website) has historically been 15,000 Avion points upon your first purchase. I don't remember seeing any sort of promotional on this card for the longest time either.
But all that has changed in the recent past, and I've come across a great offer for the card that gives you a straight-up 25,000 Avion points bonus and a first year fee waiver. Click here to access this offer.
Take note that the special offer can only be access through the promotional link – if you apply through the RBC website, you'll only get the 15,000 Avion points and no fee waiver.
The card usually comes with a $120 annual fee, and if it weren't for the current fee waiver, you could take advantage of yet another promotion that's going on, which seems like it hasn't been publicized too widely.
Basically, if you call RBC and tell them you are an existing cardholder of a competing Visa Infinite product (such as the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite or the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite), RBC will waive the first year annual fee on their own Visa Infinite cards.
The other thing to keep in mind is that the special offer of 25,000 Avion points doesn't have an end date published anywhere. It could expire at any time, and the card would go back to its usual (and frankly, quite average) offer of 15,000 Avion points. So if you want to apply, it's definitely better to do it sooner rather than later.
Rewards & Benefits
With this card you'll earn 1.25 Avion points per dollar spent on travel-related purchases and 1 Avion point per dollar spent on all other purchases. (It seems like the official name is "RBC Rewards points", but everyone calls them Avion points anyway.)
In terms of everyday spending, I'd say that the Avion card is a decent option for shopping at places that don't accept American Express. Otherwise, I'd still go with a card like the American Express Gold Rewards Card for gas, groceries, and travel purchases or the SPG Card for everything else.
What can you do with Avion points? The most compelling aspect is that similar to American Express Membership Rewards, you're able to transfer Avion points to several frequent flyer programs.
The points can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to British Airways Avios and Asia Miles, at a 100:1 ratio to WestJet Dollars, and at a 10:7 ratio to American Airlines AAdvantage.
You used to be able to transfer to AAdvantage at a 1:1 ratio as well, but unfortunately this was recently devalued. Still, the Avion program can offer an avenue into earning AAdvantage points if you're keen on flying with some of American's partners that offer the world's best travel experiences, like Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways.
Best of all, RBC often puts on 30% or even 50% promotions for transferring points to their partner programs. For example, in their most recent promotion in May, you'd get a 30% bonus on any Avion points you transfer over to British Airways Avios. The last 50% promotion was offered in late 2016.
These can be some of highest value uses of RBC Avion points. If you signed up via the current 25,000 Avion points offer, for example, and transferred the points over to Avios during a 50% promotion, you'd get 37,500 Avios – enough for five one-way short-haul flights or two round-trips from the West Coast to Hawaii. That's an incredible deal, especially if you manage to get the annual fee waived through the Visa Infinite "customer war" deal.
The other way to use Avion points for travel is through their fixed value redemption program. Basically, depending on where you want to go, you can apply a certain number of points to your flight, with a maximum limit on the real-time ticket price. You don't need to worry about award availability or anything – if there's an open seat on a flight, it can be booked with Avion.
As you can see, you can sometimes get good value out of this. For example, if you redeem 15,000 Avion points for a flight that costs $350 on-the-dot (excluding taxes and fees), you'll get a value of 2.33 cents per point, which is not bad at all.
The problem is that you're limited to a value of 2 cents per point on most of these redemptions (do the math and see). Also, this chart only applies to round-trip flights in economy class, so your potential uses can be rather limited.
The RBC Visa Infinite Avion comes with pretty strong protection, as would be expected for a premium credit card:
- Emergency medical insurance for the first 15 days of any out-of-province trips
- Travel accident insurance, covering death or dismemberment, of up to $500,000
- Car rental collision/loss damage insurance, which allows you to save on the daily insurance charged by car rental companies
- Trip cancellation insurance of up to $5,000 and trip interruption insurance of up to $25,000
- Flight delay insurance of up to $500 for reasonable expenses incurred
There's also a very compelling purchase protection scheme in place that will reimburse you for accidentally lost or damaged personal property within 90 days of purchase, up to a maximum of $50,000 per year, as well as an extended warranty feature that automatically doubles the original manufacturer's warranty.
Overall, the insurance on this card is on par with other premium cards like the American Express Platinum Card. Both are solid options for making any big purchases.
This card requires a minimum annual personal income of $60,000 or a household income of $100,000. Every data point I've seen indicates that RBC are actually quite strict about enforcing the income requirement (unlike some other banks).
Remember to apply through the below link (not a referral link) in order to get the current promotional offer. And keep in mind that there's no word on when the offer will end, so applying now is best!
The RBC Visa Infinite Avion is definitely a competitive travel rewards credit card, though in the past few years its meagre signup bonus of 15,000 Avion points has never generated much excitement. That's all changed with the recent promotions, so take your pick of the two bonus offers and grab this card while they're available!