RBC’s Avion Rewards program is one of the most popular travel rewards programs in Canada. With this program, you can use your rewards credit card to earn RBC Rewards points, which can be redeemed for travel-related expenses such as flights, hotels and car rentals. There are also no blackout dates or seat restrictions on flights on any airline, which isn’t true of some of the other programs out there. To find out more about how the RBC Avion program works, keep reading.
How to Earn RBC Rewards Points
RBC offers three travel rewards credit cards that are affiliated with the RBC Avion program:
- The RBC Visa Platinum Avion ($120 annual fee) lets you earn 1 RBC Rewards point per $1 spent on the card and comes with a 15,000-point credit card sign-up bonus.
- The RBC Visa Infinite Avion ($120 annual fee) also lets you earn 1 RBC Rewards point per $1 spent and comes with a 15,000-point sign-up bonus. The difference between this card and the first is that it also gives you access to the Visa Infinite program.
- The RBC Avion Infinite Privilege ($399 annual fee) lets you earn 1.25 RBC Rewards points per $1 spent on the card and comes with a 25,000-point sign-up bonus. This card also gives you access to a personal concierge, and a number of other first class privileges.
RBC also offers 3 additional cards that let you earn RBC Rewards points, but which are not attached to the Avion program. The major difference between regular RBC Rewards credit cards and RBC Avion credit cards is the Avion cards come with larger sign-up bonuses and greater travel rewards (insurance policies, perks, etc.). If you want a travel rewards credit card with RBC, get an Avion card.
How to Redeem RBC Rewards Points
To redeem your RBC Rewards points, login to your RBC online banking using your credit card number and password. Once logged in, you can go to the travel rewards section to redeem points. For flights, you can search by entering your departing airport, arrival airport and travel dates. The RBC flight system is powered by Orbitz, which gives you lots of options to choose from. Flights typically have a “required points amount” that you need to have, in order to book. You can also use points to pay any additional taxes, fees and surcharges (at a rate of $100 = 10,000 points). For example, a flight could require a minimum of 15,000 points + cost you $200 in taxes and fees (or another 20,000 points).
The RBC Rewards program uses six flight zones. Here are their fixed points requirements (Click on the chart to make it bigger):
The Value of RBC Rewards Points
Now, the big question: how much is 1 RBC Rewards point worth? Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question, as the value of your points is determined by which flights you redeem them for. Our research reveals that, on average, 1 RBC Rewards point is worth $0.0114 when redeeming for flights. However, there is a large discrepancy in the value of your points when redeeming for flights in different flight regions.
For example, on average, you receive $0.0095/point when redeeming for a flight to Europe, and $0.0131/point for a long-haul flight in Canada/US. The example below will demonstrate how to determine the value of your RBC Rewards points, and will show you the difference in value when redeeming for a flight from Toronto to Vancouver compared with a flight from Toronto to Paris.
Example: Flying from Toronto to Vancouver in September 2014 (35,000 RBC Rewards points)
Flight price = $657.20 (35,000 RBC Rewards points, as outlined in chart above)
Taxes, fees and surcharges = $176.87 ($176.87 x 100 = 17,687 points, or 20,000 points)
Total RBC Rewards points required = 35,000 + 20,000 = 55,000
Value of 1 RBC rewards point = ($657.20 + $176.87)/55,000 points = $0.0152/point
When redeeming your points for this flight from Toronto to Vancouver, your RBC Rewards points will be worth $0.0152 each. Your other option would’ve been to only redeem 35,000 points for the flight and then pay the $176.87 with cash. If you redeemed at a rate of $657.20/35,000 points, your RBC Rewards points would’ve been worth $0.0188 each.
Example: Flying from Toronto to Paris in September 2014 (55,000 RBC Rewards points)
Flight price = $1,096.00 (55,000 RBC Rewards points, as outlined in chart above)
Taxes, fees and surcharges = $598.34 ($598.34 x 100 = 59,834 points, or 60,000 points)
Total RBC Rewards points required = 55,000 + 60,000 = 115,000
Value of 1 RBC Rewards point = ($1,096.00 + $598.34)/115,000 = $0.0147/point
When redeeming your points for this flight from Toronto to Paris, your RBC Rewards points will be worth $0.0147 each. Your other option would’ve been to only redeem 55,000 points for the flight and then pay $598.34 with cash. If you redeemed at a rate of $1,096.00/55,000 points, your RBC Rewards points would’ve been worth $0.0199 each.
If you want to start earning RBC Rewards points, the RBC Visa Infinite Avion is one of the best credit cards in Canada. Here’s why:
- Get a sign-up bonus of 15,000 RBC Rewards points.
- Earn 1 RBC Rewards point for every $1 spent on the card.
- Earn 1.25 RBC Rewards points on all travel-related purchases (rental cars, hotels, etc.).
- Earn bonus points when you shop online at the RBC Rewards eMall.
- Earn bonus points when you book travel with Carlson Wagonlit Travelor rent a vehicle at any participating Thrifty Car Rentallocations in Canada.
- $120 annual fee.
- Annual interest rate 19.99% on purchases and 21.99% on cash advances.
If you’re looking for an alternative to the RBC Visa Infinite Avion card, Ratehub.ca recommends, the Scotia Rewards program using the Scotiabank Gold American Express card. To learn more about the program, see this post.
Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card
Earn 5x the points on groceries & restaurants + earn up to 40,000 bonus points within your first year.
- Recieve 30,000 Scotia Rewards ($300 value) when you spend $750 in the first 3 months
- Earn 4 Scotia Rewards points per dollar on gas, groceries, entertainment, and restaurant purchases; 1 point per dollar on everything else
- No blackout dates; points can be used to cover taxes/fees
- $99 annual fee – first year free
One of our favourite alternatives to RBC Visa Infinite Avion is the Scotiabank Gold American Express. It currently has the highest earn rate on the market, giving you four points per dollar (that’s 4% back in travel rewards) spent on gas, groceries, entertainment, and restaurants, and one point per dollar on all other purchases.
There’s no minimum income requirement, and the $99 annual fee is slightly lower than other travel credit cards and waived for the first year. However, you still get a suite of benefits, including access to VIP airport lounges worldwide with a Priority Pass membership (renewed annually), complimentary concierge services, extensive travel insurance, and access to American Express Invites. This card’s flexibility makes it a win: You can book your trip yourself or use Scotia’s full-service travel agency, travel on any carrier with no blackout dates, and use points to cover all taxes and fees.