RBC ION Visa Review

**This post may contain affiliate links. I may be compensated if you use them.

In this RBC ION Visa review, I’ll go over the earn rate, benefits, and why this card is ideal for students and those looking for a no fee credit card.

The RBC ION Visa is a new credit card from the Royal Bank of Canada. Most of the cards on my list of the best student credit cards in Canada are basic entry-level cards. Sure, some have a few perks that may appeal to students, but none of them really stood out. RBC appears to be looking to capture this market with their ION Visa cred card, as they’re clearly designed with students in mind. Read my RBC ION Visa review now for my full thoughts.

RBC ION Visa Card

  • No annual fee
  • 6,000 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

New cardholders can get a welcome bonus of 6,000 Avion points upon approval. As for the earn rate, the RBC ION Visa card has taken a hard look at how many students and young adults spend their money and are rewarding them for it. The earn rate is 1.5 Avion points per $1 spent on groceries, rideshares, daily public transit, gas, EV charging, streaming, digital gaming and subscriptions. 

For the rides category, it includes rideshares – such as Uber and Lyft – daily public transportation, and electric vehicle charging. As for streaming, digital gaming and subscriptions, it would include Netflix, Disney+, paid movie downloads, downloaded games and even in-game purchases.

All other purchases would earn you 1 Avion Reward point per $1 spent. 

In addition, when using this card at Petro Canada gas stations, you’ll save 3¢ per litre on fuel and earn 20% more Petro-points. You also get 50 Be Well points for every $1 spent on eligible purchases at Rexall when paying with your card and scanning your Be Well card.

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.

RBC ION Visa insurance

Now that I’ve gone over the earn rate in my RBC Ion Visa review, I can go over the insurance coverage. With this card, you get the following:

  • Purchase security
  • Extended warranty

Purchase security covers purchases charged to your card from loss, theft, and damage for 90 days. While no one wants to damage or loss 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.

Admittedly, these insurance benefits are pretty standard, but they’re not included with every entry-level or student credit card. 

How Avion Rewards works

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 compared to 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 are earning 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.

You can transfer your points to WestJet Rewards and Avion at a 1:1 ratio. This is an interesting value play as both programs have a higher value. It takes 100 Avion points for 1 WestJet dollar. As long as you have an Avion credit card, your points can transfer at a 1:1 ratio. This is relevant since 100 Avion points are worth $1 in travel.

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. Truth be told, the RBC ION Visa credit card is pretty unique in the sense that it has a high earn rate and no annual fee.

You could compare the card to the 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, but the minimum income requirement will be problematic for some people.

Another card worth comparing is the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card for Students. This card is specifically for students, so there’s no income requirement. The earn rate is 1 Aeroplan point per $1 spent on grocery stores, gas, and Air Canada purchases. All other purchases earn you 1 point per $1.50 spent. I personally value 1 Aeroplan point at 2 cents, so there’s definitely some value here. The only issue is your points are restricted to Air Canada and its partners, where as the Avion points you earn with the RBC Ion Visa card can be used with any travel purchase.

If you prefer to stick to RBC cards, there’s an ION+ card, which is simply an enhanced version of this card.

Final thoughts

My RBC ION Visa review is positive. Canadians finally have a credit card that’s designed for students. The card has a decent earn rate and welcome points compared to other student credit cards. More importantly, it has no annual income requirement, which is vital for many students. I’ll be adding the RBC ION Visa 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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