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. Name recognition only gets you so far when it comes to rewards, fortunately, RBC Rewards is a decent rewards programs that travellers and RBC clients will want to know about.

Like any loyalty program, RBC Rewards has different ways to earn and redeem points. What you use your points for can make a big difference when it comes to value which is why you’ll want to know everything there is about RBC Rewards.

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 sign up 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. Here’s something that many people don’t realize. You only need to make one purchase to get the standard bonus. You could but a pack of gum or a loaf of bread and get the bonus without ever having to use the card ever again.

RBC Rewards points value

The value of RBC Rewards varies depending on what you redeem your points for. 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. Some would argue that using your RBX points for RBC financial rewards is actually the best value.

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 one of 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:

Points RequiredDestinationMax. Ticket price
15,000Within or to an adjacent Province/Territory/U.S. State$350
35,000Anywhere in Canada/U.S. except Hawaii and Alaska$750
45,000In western Canada/U.S. to Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska Eastern Canada to Bermuda, Central America, Caribbean$900
55,000In eastern Canada/U.S. to Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska Western Canada to Bermuda, Central America, Caribbean$1,100
65,000From any major gateway in Canada/U.S. to destinations in Europe$1'300
100,000From any major gateway in Canada/U.S. to destinations in Asia, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, Middle East, Africa, South America$2,000

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 to redeem RBC Rewards points for gift cards

RBC Rewards has a wide variety of merchants where you can use your RBC  points for gift cards. Unfortunately, there are different values depending on the gift card you redeem so you need to decide what’s best for you. To be clear, travel redemptions are a much better value than gift cards. That said, if you do want a gift card, here are some of the redemptions and merchants available.

  • 1,400 RBC Rewards points = $10 Amazon gift card
  • 3,500 RBC Rewards points = $25 Bath & Body Works gift card
  • 3,500 RBC Rewards points = $25 Beer Store gift card
  • 7,000 RBC Rewards points = $50 Best Buy gift card
  • 14,000 RBC Rewards points = $100 Food Basics gift card
  • 35,000 RBC Rewards points = $250 Golf Town gift card

How to redeem RBC Rewards points for financial rewards

When logged into RBC Rewards, if you look under the Shop & Redeem menu, you’ll see there’s an option to use your points for financial rewards. Assuming you have financial products with RBC, you can use your points for the following:

  • Add to your existing investments
  • Mortgage payments
  • Repayment to your line of credit.

It takes 12,000 RBC points to get $100 in financial products which gives you a value of .83 cents per point. At first glance that may seem like a lot, but think about the long term. With mortgage and line of credit payments, you’re basically paying off your loan earlier which you immediately save on the interest. If you’re adding to your investments, you can take advantage of compound interest which could make your redemption very valuable in the long run.

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 limit how fast you can earn points. You can also read my reviews of CIBC Rewards, BMO Rewards, TD Rewards and Scotia Rewards to see how RBC Rewards compares

Final thoughts

RBC Rewards is one of the best bank travel rewards programs. 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.

RBC Rewards | How to get the most out of your points

57 Comments

  1. Wendy yuen on June 13, 2019 at 10:50 am

    Can you explain more on the comprehensive cancellation insurance for traveling? For flight

  2. Lucia Hope-Johnstone on June 20, 2019 at 3:54 pm

    Barry choi,
    What about outright flight cancellation by company with no booking possibility ? this happened to me 5 years ago and Avion card could not do anything!

    When saying trip cancellation … talking from whom??

    • Barry Choi on June 20, 2019 at 8:14 pm

      Lucia,

      What do you mean by company with no booking possibility? With fight cancellation, it only applies to reasons that are outlined in your insurance policy.

  3. Lawrence on October 1, 2019 at 11:24 pm

    When should I pay for a flight as opposed to redeeming points. I want to go to Vancouver – Honolulu -L.A. – Vancouver.
    Points 45000 plus $266
    Cash $960
    Plse advise and thx,Lawrence

    • Barry Choi on October 2, 2019 at 7:53 am

      Lawrence,

      45,000 Rewards points would be worth $450 + $266 for taxes = $716. Since the value of your redemption via the fixed travel program is $960, you come out ahead using the fixed program.

  4. Sarah on October 7, 2019 at 2:20 pm

    How much is 28906 rbcrewards point please

    • Barry Choi on October 7, 2019 at 2:25 pm

      Sarah,

      10,000 points = $100 so you have $289 at the base value. Your points are worth more if you use the RBC Rewards Air Travel Redemption Schedule

  5. Masoud Basiri on October 8, 2019 at 3:48 am

    Hi. I have 10500 pts and I purchased my ticket for $2000 whose base fair is $1400. What’s the best way to go with the schedule?

    • Barry Choi on October 8, 2019 at 8:06 am

      You need 15,000 points to make a claim within or to an adjacent Province/Territory/U.S. State. That fare has a maximum base price of $350 so you can’t use the fixed redemption schedule.

      you could just 10,000 points to redeem $100.

      • Masoud Basiri on October 9, 2019 at 4:08 am

        Sorry Barry. I have 105000 points. I missed a zero. Can you please update your response?

        • Barry Choi on October 9, 2019 at 7:43 am

          Masoud,

          If you’ve already paid for your ticket, you can’t use the air redemption schedule. Assuming you didn’t 100K points gets you a flight from any major gateway in Canada/U.S. to destinations in Asia, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, Middle East, Africa, South America

  6. Greig on October 9, 2019 at 12:45 pm

    Hi Barry, thanks for the article and for all the Q&A work as well !!

    I’m looking at making the switch to Amex. I have 160k reward points I’ve saved up over the years. Looking to cash out or use these points up somehow with the best value. Appears as tho 10,000 points for $100 value is about the best offer from RBC rewards?
    Also, do you know if these points expire if I got rid of my RBC Avion card?

    Thanks!

    • Barry Choi on October 9, 2019 at 12:54 pm

      Hey Greig,

      Yup, 10K points for $100 is indeed the best value. You lose all your points if you cancel your card. Your best bet would be to transfer your points to WestJet Dollars or hotels.com giftcards as they have good value.

  7. Sam on October 19, 2019 at 7:47 am

    Hi Barry,

    I product switched to the RBC British Airways Visa almost 4 months ago. My account has remained in good standing however, I haven’t received the welcome bonus of 15k points yet. I have called RBC multiple times and each time I have been told that BA awards the points but when I speak to BA, they say that RBC needs to award the points. Do you have any idea who should be awarding the points? Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.

    Sam

    • Barry Choi on October 19, 2019 at 8:13 am

      Hi Sam,

      In theory, it should be BA that actually issues the points but RBC would have to authorize it.

      I would advise escalating the case with RBC first to see if that resolves anything.

  8. Julie on October 29, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    If I wish to use my Avion Rewards points to pay off my credit card bill, is it straight 100 points/per every $1?

    • Barry Choi on October 29, 2019 at 1:34 pm

      Julie,

      No, it takes 172 points to claim $1 in statement credit so you’re devaluing your points quite a bit if you were to go that route.

  9. isa on October 30, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    Is this card best to earn miles to book a points first class flight from Vancouver to Tokyo?

  10. Carl on November 17, 2019 at 7:39 pm

    I just noticed RBC is offering 50% more points if converted to Avios, does the same offer ever happen with AA points?

    • Barry Choi on November 17, 2019 at 9:14 pm

      Carl,

      The 50% bonus is quite rare. I’ve never seen it with AA.

  11. Bradley on November 18, 2019 at 10:16 pm

    Is it worth it to convert your Avion points to BA Avios given the 50% bonus on until Dec 15th? I live in Vancouver and typically fly to Hawaii in Winter and Europe in summer. Your insight is much appreciated.

    • Barry Choi on November 19, 2019 at 6:51 am

      Bradley,

      If you plan on using those BA points, then yes, it’s a great deal. That said, I’m not sure which airlines you can use BA Avios points to get you from Vancouver to Hawaii.

  12. Laurie Anne on December 2, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    Hi, is it worth buying the air Canada gift cards at a 10% discount? Are they easy to use and are there any hidden charges / rules to these we should know about?

    • Barry Choi on December 2, 2019 at 2:44 pm

      Laurie,

      Buying the gift cards gives you a guaranteed discount of 10%, but you might get better value if you used your points on the fixed travel program. It’s honestly a personal choice but I imagine you wouldn’t have any issues with using the gift cards. As far as I know there are no additional charges or rules, but read the fine print before you commit.

  13. Bette Clark on December 3, 2019 at 1:14 pm

    Do my RBC rewards expire at any point

    • Barry Choi on December 3, 2019 at 1:57 pm

      Bette,

      Not as long as you have a credit card account that earns you RBC Rewards active with them that’s in good standing.

  14. Mark on December 7, 2019 at 5:54 pm

    I just logged into my RBC Rewards and I see that I have a – 69K point balance. How is it possible to end up with a negative reward points balance?? I have never even used my rewards and forgot that it was even available. Any help would be appreciated.

    • Barry Choi on December 7, 2019 at 8:35 pm

      Mark,

      You’d have to check with RBC about that

  15. Viviene on December 8, 2019 at 9:57 pm

    Do you think it is worth keeping the RBC Infinite Avion card beyond the first year? Is it worth the $120 per annum annual fee considering that I am also paying fees for amex gold card and BMO cash back card?

    Thanks for your insight

    • Barry Choi on December 9, 2019 at 12:09 pm

      Hi Viviene,

      I personally wouldn’t keep three credit cards with annual fees. Of the three cards you mentioned, I’d probably drop the BMO cash back card but that’s because I prefer travel points. Who do you bank with? Do they waive the fee for any cards?

      • Viviene on December 11, 2019 at 11:17 am

        I bank with BMO but it’s a joint account and the waiver goes towards my partner’s BMO MC world elite card. I figure the cashback we get each year more than pays for the annual fee.

        What does RBC Avion offer that justifies its fee? It seems as if it would take a long time to build up any significant number of points.

        • Barry Choi on December 11, 2019 at 11:27 am

          Viviene,

          Well it’s really for you to decide based on your spending. E.g. if you moved all the spending from your cash back card to the RBC card, you could more in points for flights than what the annual fee would cost you. I think the RBC Rewards fixed flight travel chart offers good value especially if you’re looking at short haul flights. However, that may be redundant since you have the Amex Gold which also has a fixed points program.

          • Viviene on December 11, 2019 at 11:44 am

            How would you compared the two fixed points program? I tend to focus on transferring my Amex points to Avios and haven’t really looked at the Amex fixed points program. I also feel that the Amex Gold has more to offer than the RBC card in terms of travel insurance and flexibility on how to use points. But I may be wrong….



          • Barry Choi on December 11, 2019 at 11:51 am

            Viviene,

            Both programs have their sweet spots. Amex is arguably better since you have more transfer partners. The Amex Gold has a slightly higher earn rate on travel. but RBC Rewards has occasional promos where if you transfer your points to BA, you get 25 or 50% more points.

            I do agree that the Gold Amex is a better overall card.



  16. MARCEL CHALOUX on January 3, 2020 at 8:44 pm

    Is there anyway I can browse through options for say a vacation package, that would be qualified for if I had 150000 points? For example my 150000 points would allow me to go to Cayo Largo Cuba, or Puerto Plata Dominican Republic or Cozumel Mexico…you get the idea.

    • Barry Choi on January 4, 2020 at 12:11 pm

      Marcel,

      It doesn’t give you an option to search for results based on X points. All really allows you to do is search by price from low to high after you’ve selected a country.

  17. Kathlyn Campbell on January 6, 2020 at 10:10 pm

    I have always been a fan of the RBC Avion program until today when I tried to change a departing flight and was told that all the flights I chose were “not available” although there were clearly seats for sale on both the airline website AND Expedia. RBC only offered a few very poor flight options. I thought “any flight” meant “any flight”. I have never encountered this before. We ended up buying new flights from the airline after spending over 30 minutes on hold, suffering through a painfully frustrating conversation with an agent and draining the battery on my phone.

  18. MooMoo on January 11, 2020 at 3:23 pm

    I’m going to bail on Avion after learning that they recognize an Air Canada fuel surcharge of 570$ per ticket to europe in a time of extended, sustained low fuel prices. It was going to cost me 1100$= in fees when flights can be purchased outright for just over 1600$.

    Value lost due to poor decisions at Avion….. adios!

    • Barry Choi on January 11, 2020 at 3:24 pm

      MooMoo,

      That’s Air Canada’s fault, not Avion.

  19. Noel on January 11, 2020 at 9:34 pm

    How long does it take to convert RBC points into Asia Miles? Is it instantaneous or do you have to wait 6-8weeks?

    • Barry Choi on January 12, 2020 at 7:53 am

      Noel,

      It usually takes 4-5 days for the transfer to Asia Miles

  20. ASjoo on January 21, 2020 at 8:08 am

    I have around 200k in avion points. I am trying to figure out the best option for using them as we are moving to Europe for a year. I looked into the flights but almost 1/2 goes to the taxes, etc. I was wondering if it was best to use them while we are there for short trips. So, what would be the best value? (ie rental car, hotels, ?), anything else?

    • Barry Choi on January 21, 2020 at 12:33 pm

      ASjoo,

      Points for flights to Europe are typically of low value due to the fees. Using them within Europe is also not a good value since you wouldn’t be able to use the fixed travel program. You could use the RBC travel portal when you’re abroad and book points at 10,000 points = $100 in travel.

      Alternatively, you could convert your points to WestJet dollars at a 1:1 ratio. On occasion, there are promos where you can convert to hotels.com giftcards which can be a good value.

  21. Heather on January 22, 2020 at 7:23 am

    Hi Barry, we have ~250,000 RBC Avion points and I’m trying to maximize getting to FCO (Rome) this summer from YYZ (Toronto.) We also have 90,000 in Aeroplan.

    Traveling with a 15 month old so really wanted to optimize for lie-down seats. But they are pricey. ($8000 for two seats on AC’s direct flights.)

    Can you suggest a way to optimize our points to make it work?

    • Barry Choi on January 22, 2020 at 8:23 am

      Heather,

      Flying from Toronto to Europe is one of the worst redemptions regardless of the program due to high airport taxes. With Aeroplan, you need 110K points for a return business flight so that won’t really work.

      For RBC, I don’t think you can use your points for business so that doesn’t really help.

      The best value I can think of right now and this is honestly not the greatest solution is to consider transferring your points to WJD. If you have the WestJet World Elite Mastercard, you can use the companion voucher for premium economy. I just booked two flights from YYZ to LGW for $2400. Of course, you would still need to get a flight to Rome and you’d only be redeeming your points at a 1% value.

      IMO, you’re better off paying cash for this route and saving your points for later.

  22. Audrey Prior on January 22, 2020 at 7:43 pm

    Help. We have 175000 Avion points. Looking to use them from YVR to LHR. If I use the points for 3 fares return it looks like another $700 each on top !!!! With Aur Canada. Flights in September are approximately $700 each return.
    Can you give any advice. I have not checked if BA charges the same.

    • Barry Choi on January 22, 2020 at 9:15 pm

      Audrey,

      Flights to Europe are a terrible value due to the high taxes. You’re better off saving your points for a different redemption.

  23. Trish Haak on January 28, 2020 at 6:02 am

    Is it possible to use Avion points to pay for an upgrade on an already booked flight? Is it worth it? Looking at this for a flight from Houston to Auckland on Air New Zealand.

    • Barry Choi on January 28, 2020 at 7:50 am

      Trish,

      You’d have to call and ask. You definitely can’t do upgrades via the RBC Travel portal.

    • Velva Woodstock on May 17, 2020 at 10:23 am

      Is there a time limit to redeem accumulated points? And I wld like to purchase a gift card for electronics?

      • Barry.Choi on May 17, 2020 at 10:26 am

        Velva,

        Your points don’t expire as long as you have an active RBC credit card that’s in good standing.

  24. Kathy Koal on February 7, 2020 at 9:13 pm

    I am a bit lost with car rental points… if my rental was $800.00 how many points would I need

    • Barry Choi on February 8, 2020 at 4:52 am

      Hi Kathy,

      That falls under travel so it would cost you 80,000 points.

Leave a Comment