RBC ION Visa Review

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The RBC ION Visa is a decent no fee credit card that has a respectable earning rate but limited benefits. Although you earn Avion points with this card, since this is a lower tier RBC card, your points are worth less compared to regular Avion Rewards. While some people may not like the lower value, you still get flexibility with your points, and you can potentially convert any points you’ve earned to regular Avion Rewards points. Read my RBC ION Visa review now for all the details.

RBC ION Visa Card

  • No annual fee
  • 3,500 Avion points on approval
  • Earn 1.5 Avion points for every $1 spent on groceries, rideshares, daily public transit, gas, 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 Petro & Avion points when you pay with a linked RBC card
  • Free 3-month DashPass subscription

Welcome bonus and earn rate

When signing up for the RBC Ion Visa Card, the bonus has typically been between 3,500 – 6,000 Avion points. That’s a real value of $25 – $42.86 when redeeming your points for a gift card. While that may not seem like a lot, this is a no fee card, and there’s no minimum spending requirement to get the bonus.

As for the earning rate, you’ll get 1.5 Avion points per dollar spent on groceries, rideshares, daily public transit, gas, EV charging, streaming, digital gaming and subscriptions. All other purchases earn you 1 Avion point per dollar spent.

Benefits and perks

It’s time to govern the benefits in this RBC Ion Visa review. Since this is a no fee, entry-level card, there aren’t many benefits. In fact, most of the perks included are ones you get with just about every RBC credit card.

Save at Petro-Canada

When using your RBC ION Visa at Petro Canada gas stations, you’ll save 3¢ per litre on fuel and earn 20% more Petro points. While this may not seem like a lot, that’s still money you save on every gas purchase, and you’re double dipping on points earned.

Earn Be Well points at Rexall

You’ll get 50 Be Well points for every dollar spent on eligible purchases at Rexall when scanning your Be Well card and paying with your linked RBC ION Card. This is an easy way to earn additional Be Well points

Save on delivery fees with DoorDash

The other benefit of being a cardholder is getting a 3-month complimentary DashDash Pass subscription. With DashPass, you get unlimited deliveries with $0 delivery fees on qualifying orders of $15 or more with DoorDash, as long as you pay with your RBC ION Visa card.

Purchase insurance

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

Purchase security covers purchases charged to your card from loss, theft, and damage for 90 days. While no one wants to damage or lose their new purchases, having purchase security gives you an extra layer of protection.

As for the extended warranty insurance, when you charge your purchases to your RBC ION Visa card, the manufacturer’s warranty is doubled, up to one additional year, to a maximum of five years.

How to redeem your points

Avion recently merged with RBC Rewards to become Avion Rewards. This change was mostly cosmetic, but it created three different cardholder tiers. 

ION cards have a slightly different redemption value than Avion credit card holders. With the ION card, you get the following redemptions:

  • 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.

That means the 1.5X points categories earn you a real return of 1.07 cents when redeeming your points for gift cards. If you want a statement credit, the value drops to .87 cents. This is one of the rare cards where using your points for a gift card gives you a better value than travel redemptions. Alternatively, you can convert 100 Avion points to 1 WestJet dollar. This instantly increases the value of your points to 1 cent each.

What’s interesting is that there’s a way to increase the value of your points. If you have a regular Avion card, you can transfer your ION Avion points to regular Avion at a 1:1 ratio. This is relevant since 100 Avion points can be redeemed for $1 in travel when booked through the RBC travel portal. This is a good option for people who eventually want a better credit card, such as the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card.

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 you’ll notice is that this card has no minimum income requirement. This makes it an ideal choice for students and new immigrants. Also, there’s no formal minimum credit score requirement. That said, I recommend yours be at least 660 before applying since that will put you in good standing.

How the RBC ION Visa compares to others

The last thing to go over in my RBC ION Visa review is how it compares to other cards on the market. Admittedly, comparing the card to others can be tricky since it has a unique reward structure. That said, here are some other cards I recommend you look at.

RBC ION Visa vs. Tangerine Money-Back Card

With the Tangerine Money-Back Card, you can choose up to three categories where you earn 2% cash back. However, all other categories earn you just 0.5% back. In addition, the Tangerine card has a minimum income requirement of $12,000 to qualify. While there’s no denying that the Tangerine card is attractive, the minimum income requirement will be problematic for some people.

RBC ION Visa vs. CIBC Aeropla Visa Card

Another card worth comparing is the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card for Students. Although the regular version of this card has a minimum personal income requirement of $15,000, the student version has none. The earn rate is 1 Aeroplan point per dollar spent on grocery stores, gas, and Air Canada purchases. All other purchases earn you 1 point per $1.50 spent. I value 1 Aeroplan point at 1.5 – 2 cents, so there’s some value here. The only issue is your points are restricted to Air Canada and its partners, whereas the Avion points you earn with the RBC Ion Visa card can be used on any travel purchase. To get the student version of this card, you’d have to apply in person at a CIBC branch.

RBC ION Visa vs. RBC ION+ Visa

If you prefer to stick to RBC cards, there’s an enhanced version of this card in the RBC ION+ Card. Although this card has a monthly fee of $4, the earning rate is 3 Avion points per dollar spent on groceries, dining, food delivery, rideshares, daily transit, gas, EV charging, streaming, digital gaming and subscriptions. All other purchases earn you 1 Avion Reward point per dollar spent. You also get mobile device insurance.

Final thoughts

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

  • You’re a student – The RBC ION Visa Card gives an enhanced earning rate for many categories students would be interested in.
  • You don’t want to pay an annual fee – There’s no monthly or yearly fee to worry about with this card.
  • You want flexibility with your points – You can use your Avion points for gift cards, a statement credit, or travel redemptions. Alternatively, if you upgrade your card later, you have even more options for your points.

Although the card doesn’t have an impressive welcome bonus, the earning rate is decent. More importantly, it has no annual income requirement, which is vital for many students and new immigrants. I’ll be adding the RBC ION Visa Card to my list of the best student credit cards in Canada

*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

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