Highly versatile transferrable points
The standard offer on this card (available on the RBC website) has historically been 15,000 Avion points upon your first purchase. The annual fee of $120 is not waived for the first year.
However, the $120 annual fee could potentially be waived by taking advantage of one of RBC’s ongoing promotions – the unadvertised Visa Infinite “customer war” deal.
Basically, many data points indicate that 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 success of this “customer war” trick seems to be mixed, and you might need to call in a few times to get an agent who knows about it.
A bonus of 15,000 Avion points on this card is okay, but not great. Since we’ve seen much better offers on this card (as high as 35,000 Avion points) until recently, I’d recommend waiting a while to see if any better offers come around on the RBC Avion if you aren’t in a hurry.
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 Business Platinum Card for everything else.
What can you do with Avion points? The most compelling option is 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, you’d get a 50% bonus on any Avion points you transfer over to British Airways Avios.
These can be some of highest value uses of RBC Avion points. If you signed up via the current 15,000 Avion points offer, for example, and transferred the points over to Avios during a 50% promotion, you’d get 22,500 Avios – good for five one-way short-haul flights or a one-way transatlantic flight between Toronto and Dublin. That’s an incredible 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 roughly 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 in the market, making it a solid option for any big purchases.
As a Visa Infinite product, this card requires a minimum annual personal income of $60,000 or a household income of $100,000. Note that longstanding RBC clients may have success visiting their branch to see if these requirements can be waived.
You can follow the below link (not an affiliate link) to the RBC website to learn more about the card and apply.