If you’re on the market for a high quality travel rewards option, the RBC Avion has likely crossed your radar. RBC’s flagship card packs a big sign up punch, offering 15,000 bonus points upon first purchase, and extensive travel benefits and insurance.
RBC’s biggest selling point is the instant opportunity to fly, as their sign up bonus qualifies for a short-haul flight. However, its one-for-one earning potential and flexible redemption process make it a decent everyday option, long after that initial flight. Check out our breakdown of what’s great – and not so great – about this travel rewards card, and whether it’s a good fit for your wallet.
Note: This is a Visa Infinite Tier card – cardholders must have a good credit score to qualify, personal income requirements of $60,000 or a total family income of $100,000. Cardholders also have access to Visa Infinite benefits, including a 24-hour daily concierge, plus discounts and offers on dining and entertainment.
RBC Avion Card Details
Sign Up Bonus: Great
The 15,000 sign up points you’ll receive upon your first card purchase have a cash value of $350, and can be used to fly to a short-haul destination (neighbouring province or state), in an economy seat. That’s one of the highest sign up values among similar travel cards. In addition to airfare, hotels and packages, cardholders can also redeem points on merchandise, gift cards, or put them towards RBC investments, lines of credit – even your mortgage.
Earning Potential: Average
The RBC Avion earns one point on the dollar, with an additional 25 per cent earned on travel-related purchases. While not the highest earning potential on the market, points are sure to add up quickly with regular card use. But cardholders should keep in mind that redemption isn’t dollar for dollar; RBC adheres to a specific structure (click here to see the schedule) that assigns a point value to flight type. Cardholders must also have a minimum of 1000 points before they can redeem on travel.
Balance Transfer Feature: Average
This card also includes a limited-time 10-month special 1.90 per cent rate on balance transfers. While transferring your balance to a lower interest card is a great way to get a handle on paying down your principal, it’s a bit of a mismatched feature here. The caveat lies in the little-known fact that a card holding a transferred balance waives the grace period for new purchases, meaning you’ll be charged interest right away on anything else you buy, and at the full APR of 19.99 per cent.
Considering this card is designed for earning points, it doesn’t make much sense to employ a feature that will cancel out value earned with interest charges. And, if you intend to simply transfer your balance and enjoy the limited-time rate, there are better options on the market, without an annual fee.
Also note that balance transfers do not count as an eligible transaction in order to get the sign up bonus – cardholders must make a purchase to access their points.
Point Redemption: Good
Cardholders aren’t limited to black out periods or airline-specific booking with this card. Bookings are made through RBC’s Orbitz portal, by calling into their call centre, or through their partner travel agency, Carlson Wagonlit Travel.
However, RBC only allows point redemption up to a capped amount, based on the destination zone type (See above schedule). Should cardholders redeem on a ticket above the capped value, they can either pay the difference on their card, buy points at $40 per 1000, or redeem additional points at the lower return rate of 100 points per dollar. At least half of the required rewards points must have been earned in order to do so.
Travel Insurance: Great
The RBC Avion’s built-in insurance suite is extensive, designed to give travellers complete peace of mind and support. Coverage includes:
- Out of province / out of country emergency medical for first 15 consecutive days for those under 65; coverage is for first three days if over 65.
- Travel accident insurance
- Trip Cancellation and interruption
- Auto Rental Collision and Loss
- Flight Delay
- Lost Luggage
- Hotel / Motel Burglary
Remember, coverage can be voided due to pre-existing conditions, and certain conditions and requirements apply.
What features are most important to you when choosing a travel rewards card? Let us know!