RBC ION+ Visa Review

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The RBC ION+ Visa Card is a highly underrated credit card that doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it should. You earn a high rate on popular categories like dining, food delivery, and groceries. You also get mobile device insurance. This is quite good for a credit card with a monthly fee of just $4.

The one thing that holds this card back is the reward structure. Although you earn Avion points, Avion has three tiers, and points earned with ION cards are the least valuable. That said, your points still have flexibility, and there’s a way to upgrade your points to the higher tiers. Read my RBC Ion+ Visa review now.

RBC ION+ Visa Card

  • $48 annual fee ($4 charged monthly)
  • 12,000 Avion points on approval
  • Earn 3 Avion points for every $1 spent on groceries, dining, food delivery, rideshares, gas, daily public transit, EV charging, streaming, digital gaming and subscriptions
  • Earn 1 Avion point per $1 on all other purchases
  • Save 3¢/L on fuel at Petro Canada and earn 20% more points when you pay with a linked RBC card
  • Free 3-month DashPass subscription
  • Mobile device insurance

Welcome bonus and earn rate

The RBC ION+ Visa credit card typically offers a bonus of up to 7,000 – 12,000 Avion points (a $50 – $80 gift card value).

The earning rate for the RBC ION+ Visa Vard is generous. You’ll get 3 Avion points per $1 spent on groceries, dining, food delivery, rideshares, daily transit, gas, EV charging, streaming, digital gaming and subscriptions. All other purchases earn you 1 Avion point per dollar spent.

The card does charge a monthly fee of $4 ($48 annually). While most student credit cards have a no or low annual fee, $4 a month is pretty reasonable. That said, if you have an RBC Signature No Limit Banking or RBC Advantage Banking for students account, the fee is waived.

Benefits and perks

As you read this RBC ION+ Visa review, you’ll quickly realize that most of the benefits included with the card are standard RBC benefits. That said, one perk stands out and will likely appeal to many people.

Mobile device insurance

When you purchase a mobile device (cellphone and tablet) and pay for it in full with your RBC ION+ Visa Card, you get mobile device insurance that covers up to $1,000 for two years. This insurance covers things such as damage, theft, and even loss. If you’re on a subsidized plan, you must pay your bill in full with your RBC ION+ Visa Card. Note that depreciation is factored into your payout if you ever need to make a claim.

Save at Petro-Canada

Anyone that fills up at Petro-Canada may be interested to learn that you’ll save 3¢ per litre on fuel and earn 20% more Petro points when paying with your linked RBC ION+ Visa Card. This may not seem like a big deal, but not only are you saving on gas, but you also get an increased earning rate on gas purchases, and you’re earning Petro points.

Earn Be Well points at Rexall

Although Be Well points isn’t the best loyalty program. If you regularly shop at Rexall, you can earn 50 Be Well points per dollar spent when you scan your Be Well card and pay with your linked RBC ION+ Card.

Save on delivery fees with DoorDash

RBC ION Visa Plus cardholders get a 3-month complimentary DashDash Pass subscription. With DashPass, you won’t pay any delivery fees if you spend at least $15 or more with DoorDash and pay with your RBC ION+ Visa Card. There is no limit to this $0 delivery fee benefit.

Purchase insurance

  • Purchase security – 90 days
  • Extended warranty – Up to one additional year

Purchase security is a benefit you hope never to use, but you’ll be glad you have it if you ever need it. Charging purchases to your RBC ION+ Visa card protects them from loss, theft, and damage for 90 days. As for the extended warranty, purchases charged to your card get the manufacturer’s warranty doubled, up to one additional year, to a maximum of five years.

How to redeem your points

As mentioned, Avion Rewards has three tiers. ION cardholders get the most basic version of Avion Rewards and get the following redemption options:

  • Gift cards: 140 points = $1
  • Travel: 172 points = $1
  • Pay with Points: 172 points = $1

When you do the math, that works out to a value of .71 cents per point (CPP) for gift cards and .58 CPP for travel and statement credits. This is important since your earn rate of 3X on select categories is actually a real value of 2.13 cents per dollar spent when redeeming gift cards. If you’re redeeming for travel or a statement credit, it’s 1.74 cents.

Interestingly, you can transfer your Avion points to WestJet Rewards at the standard ratio of 100 Avion points for 1 WestJet dollar. This instantly increases the value of your points to 1CPP.

Alternatively, if you ever upgrade to a premium Avion card, such as the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card, your points are upgraded too. That gives you access to more airline transfer partners and the RBC Air Travel Redemption Schedule. The Redemption Schedule can be very valuable since you can redeem a set number of points for significant flight discounts.

RBC ION+ Visa requirements

  • You’re a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • You’re at least the age of majority in your province or territory

What’s great about the RBC ION+ Visa Card is that it has no formal minimum income requirement. This makes it a great choice for students or new immigrants who want a credit card with a reasonable earning rate without worrying about a high personal income requirement. There’s also no formal minimum credit score to be approved, but I recommend having yours be at least 660 before applying. This puts you in good standing and can help increase your approval odds.

How the RBC ION+ Visa compares

To wrap up my RBC ION+ Visa review, I want to compare it to other cards to give you some perspective. Due to the unique reward structure and low annual fee, it’s hard to find exact comparisons. Instead, I’ll mention a few different cards that have similarities.

RBC ION+ Card vs. American Express Cobalt Card

While not entirely a fair comparison, many people will compare the RBC ION+ Visa card to the American Express Cobalt Card. Both cards have a monthly fee and a high earning rate. With the Amex Cobalt card, you’ll pay $12.99 monthly ($155.88 annually). As for the earn rate, you get 5 points per $1 spent on eats and drinks (includes groceries, restaurants, and food delivery), 3 points on streaming services, and 2 points on travel (includes rideshares and transit). All other purchases earn 1 American Express Membership Rewards point per $1 spent. Even with the higher annual fee, this card is worth considering since American Express Membership Rewards points are highly valuable.

RBC ION+ Card vs. RBC ION Card

Sticking to the RBC family, you could take a look at the e RBC ION Visa Card, which is the no fee version of the ION Card. With the basic version of the ION Card, you’ll earn 1.5 Avion points per dollar spent on groceries, rideshares, daily public transit, gas, EV charging, streaming, digital gaming and subscriptions. That’s basically half of what you get with the ION+ Card. All other purchases earn you 1 Avion point per dollar spent, and you get no mobile device insurance.

RBC ION+ Card vs. WestJet RBC Mastercard

Since you know that you can convert your Avion points earned with your RBC ION+ Card to WestJet dollars at a favourable rate, you may want to compare things to the WestJet RBC Mastercard. The WestJet card has an annual fee of $39 and earns you 1.5% back in WestJet dollars on WestJet flights or WestJet vacation packages. All other purchases earn you 1% back in WestJet dollars. You could easily make the argument that the RBC ION+ Card is better, but the WestJet RBC Mastercard comes with an annual companion voucher, which can be pretty valuable.

Final thoughts

My RBC ION+ Visa review is positive. The card is good for people in the following situations:

  • You don’t have a high income – No minimum personal income requirement is needed for this card.
  • You don’t want to spend a lot on annual fees – The monthly fee of $4 is reasonable for the earning rate and benefits you get.
  • You may want to upgrade your card later – Although your points are flexible, they can be worth even more if you upgrade to a true Avion card later.

For a relatively low fee, you get a decent earning rate and mobile device insurance. While this card can’t compete with premium credit cards, it’s one of the best student credit cards in Canada and is ideal for someone looking for a low fee credit card.

*Refer to RBC page for up to date offer terms and conditions

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

1 Comment

  1. Soroosh on January 12, 2023 at 12:20 PM

    Very informative. Thanks

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