RBC Rewards is Royal Bank’s credit card rewards program and is quite popular in Canada. To be honest, the program is likely popular since RBC is one of the big banks in Canada, but the good thing is that RBC Rewards is a decent rewards programs that travellers and RBC clients will want to know about.

In this RBC Rewards review, I’ll go over how to earn and redeem RBC Rewards points and everything else you’ll need to know about the program.

RBC Rewards review

How to earn RBC Rewards points

To earn RBC Rewards, you must have a credit card that earns you RBC Rewards. As you can imagine, the easiest ways to earn points are via credit card sign up bonuses and everyday purchases you make on your RBC Rewards credit card. Currently, there are 6 personal credit cards and 2 business credit cards that will earn you RBC Rewards points. To make things a bit complicated, RBC Rewards has 2 tiers of RBC Rewards points: regular and Avion RBC Rewards points. Points from an Avion account have more redemption options and these options are the most valuable ones. With this in mind, the RBC Visa Infinite Avion card is arguably the best card to earn Avion points.

RBC Visa Infinite Avion Credit Card

  • $120 annual fee
  • 15,000 signup bonus
  • Earn 1.25 RBC Rewards points for every $1 spent on travel purchases
  • Earn 1 RBC Rewards point for every $1 spent on everywhere else
  • Save $0.03/L at Petro-Canada when the credit card is linked to your PetroPoints account
  • Earn 20% more RBC Rewards points and 20% more PetroPoints on Petro-Canada purchases
  • Comprehensive travel insurance package included

Although the signup bonus of 15,000 points isn’t much compared to some of the best travel credit cards in Canada, it’s worth noting that the RBC Visa Infinite Avion Card often has promotions where the welcome bonus is 25,000 points and the annual fee for the first year is waived. Whenever a promo like that comes around, it’s totally worth signing up for the card.

The earn rate of 1.25 points per $1 spent on travel is decent while the 1 RBC Reward point earned per dollar spent on all other purchases is pretty common.

RBC Rewards points value

RBC Rewards value varies depending on what you redeem. Here’s a list of all the redemptions you can make and how many points it would cost to redeem for $100 in value:

  • Booking travel through the RBC Rewards travel portal – 10,000 points
  • Gift cards for travel related merchants such as hotels.com, Air Canada, WestJet, and Fairmont – 10,000 points
  • Gift cards for non-travel merchants – varies but usually 14,000 points
  • Points for cash (statement credit) – 17,200 points
  • Bill payments – 17,241 points
  • RBC Financial Rewards (mortgage, loan, investments) – 12,000 points
  • Merchandise or Apple and Best Buy redemptions – varies per item, usually not a good value

Travel redemptions and travel gift cards are clearly the ones that give you the most value for your points. However, there are two other features from the RBC Rewards program that can get you even better value for your points: converting your points and the Air Travel Redemption Schedule.

Converting RBC Rewards points

I love programs that let you convert points to other loyalty programs since it adds flexibility and value. RBC Rewards has by far the most extensive and valuable list of conversion partners when it comes to Canada’s bank travel reward programs. American Express Membership Rewards is better in my opinion but RBC Rewards isn’t far behind.

Here is the list of programs you can convert RBC Rewards points to:

  • WestJet: 1,000 RBC points = $10 WestJet dollars
  • HBC Rewards: 1,000 RBC points = 2,000 HBC Rewards points (worth $10 at Hudson’s Bay)

If you are an Avion cardholder you can also benefit from these conversion options:

  • American Airlines: 10,000 RBC points = 7,000 AAdvantage miles
  • Asia Miles: 10,000 RBC Points = 10,000 Asia Miles
  • British Airways: 10,000 RBC points = 10,000 Avios miles

It’s hard to put an exact value on airline miles since there are so many variables, but generally speaking, their value is around a minimum of 1.5¢ per mile and that’s with a conservative valuation. Of particular interest is how you can transfer your points to WestJet dollars. There’s nothing stopping you from holding an RBC Avion card and the RBC WestJet World Elite Mastercard. Both of these cards come with good sign up bonuses so you could easily rack of those WestJet dollars quickly. In case you didn’t know, WestJet Rewards is one of the best travel rewards programs out there.

RBC Rewards Air Travel Redemption Schedule

Avion cardholders also have access to the RBC Air Travel Redemption Schedule which allows you to book flights for fewer points. This is a fixed points for flight redemption program for which RBC points can be worth more than $0.01 each. You can redeem any seat on any flight with the program and as long as you fall under the maximum base ticket value for the redeemed flight. Here’s the redemption chart and what you’ll get:

  • 15,000 points – Up to $350 within or to an adjacent Province/Territory/U.S. State
  • 35,000 points – Up to $750 anywhere in Canada/U.S. except Hawaii and Alaska
  • 45,000 points – Up to $900 in Western Canada/U.S. to Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska Eastern Canada to Bermuda, Central America, Caribbean
  • 55,000 points – Up to $1,100 in Eastern Canada/U.S. to Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska Western Canada to Bermuda, Central America, Caribbean
  • 65,000 points- Up to $1,300 from any major gateway in Canada/U.S. to destinations in Europe
  • 100,000 points up to $2,000 – from any major gateway in Canada/U.S. to destinations in Asia, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, Middle East, Africa, South America

Yes, that chart does sound complicated, but depending on how you redeem your points, you could get a value of up to 2.33¢ per point which is more than double the regular redemption rate. Note that the points only cover the base fare which means you will have to pay for surcharges, fees and taxes separately. That said, you can use points at 100 points = $1 to pay for these fees or pay the fees with your credit card.

Between this and the option to convert your RBC Rewards points to other programs, it’s no reason that RBC Rewards ranks #2 on my list of Canada’s best bank travel rewards programs.

How to redeem RBC Rewards points for travel

RBC Rewards has a very instinctive online booking system which makes redeeming for travel really easy. You can also book by phone but RBC will charge you $30 for that privilege.

RBC Rewards is a full service travel agency and you can book any of the following:

  • Flights
  • Rental cars
  • Hotels
  • Holiday packages
  • Cruises

You can use your RBC Rewards points for any seat of any flights available and there are no blackout dates. You can use points to pay for the whole price of airfare including taxes and airport fees. 

If you don’t have enough points to pay for the whole redemption, you can use as little points as you wish since there is no minimum redemption required and put the balance on your RBC Rewards credit card. The only exception is for the Air Travel Redemption Schedule for which you need the total amount of points to be able to redeem.

It’s a good idea to log into RBC Rewards often since they have many redemption promotions throughout the year and these promotions boost your points’ value. In recent months, RBC Rewards had many conversion bonuses (10% to 30% bonus) for Westjet, Asia Miles, British Airways Avios miles and American Airlines AAdvantage Miles. They also often have gift cards redemption bonuses (10% to 30% bonus) including travel related gift cards that are already at a better redemption rate.

How RBC Rewards compares to others

RBC Rewards can be considered the best travel loyalty program of Canada’s big five banks. There are many reasons why I rank RBC Rewards high: 

  • No blackout dates
  • No minimum amount of points to redeem
  • A fixed points flight program
  • Many transfer partners to convert points to
  • Many promotions for redemptions
  • Value of points

In my opinion, RBC Rewards is only second to American Express Membership Rewards. American Express holds the first place because RBC Rewards lacks an option to book travel on your own (you can only book through their portal) and because RBC Rewards credit cards don’t really have any increased earn rates which limits how fast you can earn points. You can also read my reviews of BMO Rewards, TD Rewards and Scotia Rewards to see how RBC Rewards compares

Final thoughts

My RBC Rewards review is positive. The RBC Visa Infinite Avion credit card may not give you the best signup bonus or have the highest earn rate, but there’s no denying that once you have the points that they’re easy to use. There are no blackout dates and no minimum points required to make a redemption so you’ll never run into any issues using your points. If you’re a fan of RBC, check out my RBC InvestEase review and find out how you can reduce your investment management fees.