Avion Rewards is Royal Bank of Canada’s loyalty program. The program used to be known as RBC Rewards, but a name change was introduced to simplify things.
To be honest, the program is likely popular since RBC is one of the big banks in Canada and has an insane number of clients. That’s not to say the program isn’t any good. Heck, I think it’s one of the better bank programs available since it’s easy to earn points, and you have multiple redemption options.
That said, 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. Way too many people burn their points on basic travel redemptions or statement credits when they could easily get more value for their points. Here’s how to maximize your RBC Rewards points.
Avion Rewards points value
Since it costs 1,000 points to redeem $10 in travel, the base value of one RBC point is 1 cent. That’s similar to other bank travel loyalty programs. That said, if you have an RBC ION Visa card, it costs 172 Avion points for $1 in travel, so that’s a value of .71 cents per point.
|Redemption type||Redemption value|
|Travel||1 cent per point|
|Travel Redemption Schedule||Up to 2.33 cents per point|
|Gift cards||.71 - 1 cent per point|
|Financial rewards||.83 cents per point|
|Merchandise||.60 - .75 cents per point|
|Statement credit||.58 cents per point|
As you can see, travel redemptions and travel gift cards are clearly the ones that give you the most value for your points. The Air Travel Redemption Schedule is especially worth noting since you can more than double the value of your points. Although financial rewards may have a lower initial value, you could come out ahead in the long term.
One thing to note is that RBC Rewards and RBC Avion are slightly different. Even though many RBC credit cards allow you to earn RBC Rewards, you may not get the full benefits thatcpme with RBC Avion credit cards.
With standard RBC Rewards points, you don’t get as many travel benefits/options. Since RBC Avion points are more valuable, you’ll want to hold one of the three RBC Avion cards, which are as follows:
- RBC Avion Visa Platinum
- RBC Avion Visa Infinite
- RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege
How to redeem RBC Avion points for travel
With RBC Rewards, you must book through their travel portal or via the phone, but RBC will charge you $30 for that privilege. While this will annoy many people since you may have specific travel sites you prefer, RBC Rewards is a full-service travel agency, and you can book any of the following:
- Car rentals
- Vacation packages
You can use your RBC Avion Rewards points for any seat on any flight available and there are no blackout periods or seat restrictions. Points can be used to pay for the whole price of airfare including taxes. If you don’t have enough points to pay for the whole redemption, you can use as few points as you wish since no minimum redemption is required. The remaining balance would be charged to your RBC Rewards credit card. Unfortunately, RBC Rewards
RBC Avion Air Travel Redemption Schedule
If you have an RBC Avion card (not a RBC Rewards card), you can use your points on the RBC Air Travel Redemption Schedule, which allows you to book flights for fewer points. The catch is, that the redemption has a maximum ticket price and you can’t do a partial redemption. You must have all the points required to make a redemption. Even with the limit in place, you can get a greater value than 1 cent per point via the redemption schedule, which is why it’s appealing. Additionally, you book business or economy class tickets. Here’s the redemption chart and what you’ll get:
|Points Required||Destination||Max. Ticket price|
|15,000||Within or to an adjacent Province/Territory/U.S. State||$350|
|35,000||Anywhere in Canada/U.S. except Hawaii and Alaska||$750|
|45,000||In western Canada/U.S. to Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska Eastern Canada to Bermuda, Central America, Caribbean||$900|
|55,000||In eastern Canada/U.S. to Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska Western Canada to Bermuda, Central America, Caribbean||$1,100|
|65,000||From any major gateway in Canada/U.S. to destinations in Europe||$1,300|
|100,000||From any major gateway in Canada/U.S. to destinations in Asia, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, Middle East, Africa, South America||$2,000|
The chart may appear complicated but look strictly at the value. Depending on how you redeem your points, you could get a value of up to 2.33 cents per point which is more than double the regular redemption rate. Using the redemption schedule is handy whenever you need to book an expensive flight such as a long-haul. There has been more than one occasion where I’ve had to fly from Toronto to Ottawa at the last minute. Instead of paying the insane $500-600 that Air Canada and WestJet were charging, I redeemed RBC points to help offset my short-haul flight costs.
There are no blackout dates, and every seat is available on every carrier with the Redemption Schedule, so it can be easy to value. Quite often, I’ll compare the cost of a flight on Aeroplan to RBC before deciding which points I should use.
The RBC Air Travel Redemption Schedule and the ability to convert your RBC Rewards points to other loyalty programs is why I rank RBC Rewards ranks #2 on my list of Canada’s best bank travel rewards programs.
How to redeem Avion 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. 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
- 10,000 RBC Rewards points = $100 Air Canada gift card
- 10,000 RBC Rewards points = $100 Fairmont Hotels & Resorts card
- 14,000 RBC Rewards points = $100 Food Basics gift card
- 35,000 RBC Rewards points = $250 Golf Town gift card
Since the value of each gift card is different, you need to calculate the value of one point so you know what you’re getting. To do that, you take the dollar value of the redemption and multiply it by 100. You then take that number and divide it by the points required. For example, with Food Basics, it would be $100 X 100 / 14,000 = .71 cents per point.
What you’ll quickly notice is that travel gift cards are usually worth 1 cent per point, whereas any other merchant is .71 cents each. RBC often has gift cards redemption bonuses (10% to 30% bonus) including travel related gift cards that make them an attractive option. There was a good promo on Petro Canada gift cards one summer, so I cashed in a bunch of points and gave the gift cards to my dad.
How to redeem Avion 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 RBC 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.
If you use your points for a financial reward that’s put towards your RRSP, you could also get a tax break. Putting in your TFSA would allow you to invest with tax free gains. It’s a win-win situation, but you won’t see the reward for many many years.
Redeeming Avion Rewards points for merchandise, statement credits, and charitable donations
The final three redemption options for your RBC Rewards points are merchandise, statement credits, and charitable donations. Although the RBC Rewards merchandise catalogue is quite large and there are some quality products available, the number of additional points required for the value is not worth it at all. I would advise avoiding using your points for merchandise. That said, there are occasionally discounts on merchandise redemptions, so sometimes the transactions aren’t a terrible deal.
Using your points for a statement credit is an even lower value. It takes 17,200 points to get $100 off your statement. That means your points would be worth .58 cents per point. Unless you’re facing financial difficulties, you’re better off redeeming your points for anything else.
RBC Avion points transfer partners
I love programs that let you convert points to other loyalty programs since it adds flexibility and value. Avion Rewards has one of the most extensive and valuable lists 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 Avion points to, but note that except WestJet Rewards, only Avion cardholders can transfer their points to the following partners:
- WestJet Rewards: 1,000 RBC points = $10 WestJet dollars
- Hudson’s Bay 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
- Cathay Pacific 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 for economy tickets. Often you can get double the value if you’re booking in business class. That said, WestJet Rewards uses a dollar system, so they have a fixed value.
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. It’s been a while, but RBC Rewards had a few transfer bonuses (10% to 30% bonus points) for Westjet, Asia Miles, British Airways Avios miles and American Airlines AAdvantage Miles. That meant you got extra value when you transferred your points to a partner.
Of particular interest is how you can transfer your points to WestJet dollars. Nothing stops you from holding an RBC Avion card and the RBC WestJet World Elite Mastercard. Both cards come with good sign up bonuses so you could quickly rack up those WestJet dollars. For example, the RBC Avion card typically has a welcome bonus of 15,000 points which can be transferred to WestJet for $150 WestJet dollars. The WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard’s standard bonus is $250 and a companion voucher. When you combine the two, you’ll have $400 in WestJet dollars without having to spend much. No purchase is required to get the bonus with the Avion card, and you only need one purchase with the WestJet Card.
Do RBC Rewards points expire?
There’s a lot of conflicting information out there about when RBC Rewards points expire. I have confirmed that RBC Avion points don’t expire as long as you have an active eligible RBC Royal Bank credit card. If you cancel your card, you have 90 days to redeem them before losing them. The first-in, first-out rule you may have read about online is an old outdated article. RBC really needs to delete that page. If you’re unsure when your points expire, you could always call customer service to confirm.
How RBC Avion compares to others
RBC Avion Rewards is easily one of the best travel loyalty programs of Canada’s big five banks. There are many reasons why I rank RBC Rewards so high, including:
- No blackout dates
- No minimum number 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 Scene+ to see how RBC Rewards compares
How to earn RBC Avion Rewards
To earn RBC Rewards, you must have a credit card account 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 six personal credit cards and two business credit cards that will earn you RBC Rewards points. To make things a bit complicated, RBC Rewards has two 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 and is one of the best RBC credit cards.
RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card
- $120 annual fee
- 35,000 Avion points on approval
- 20,000 Additional points when you spend $5,000 in the first 6 months
- Earn 1.25 Avion points for every $1 spent on travel purchases
- Earn 1 Avion point per $1 on all other purchases
- Comprehensive travel insurance
- Mobile device insurance up to $1,500
The sign up bonus for new cardholders is typically 15,000 points which isn’t much compared to some of the best travel credit cards in Canada. That said, the RBC Visa Infinite Avion Card often has promotions where the welcome bonus is 25,000 – 35,000 points, and the annual fee for the first year is waived. Whenever a promo like that comes around, it’s 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, including bill payments, is pretty common. Here’s something that many people don’t realize. You don’t need to make any purchases to get the bonus. The terms and conditions say you get it after the first statement.
Another little-known trick is that you can switch from the RBC WestJet World Elite Mastercard to the RBC Visa Infinite Avion Card and vice versa. This is useful if you’re not able to maximize your points and want to try something new. That said, be sure to use up your points before you make any changes.
The RBC Visa Infinite Avion Card also provides good travel insurance when travelling outside Canada. Not only do you get travel medical, but you’ll also be covered for trip cancellation/interruption, delayed and lost baggage, hotel/motel burglary and more. Obviously, some exclusions apply, so read the certificate of insurance for complete terms.
Link to your Petro-Points card
RBC has a deal in place with Petro-Canada where you can save 3 cents per litre at Petr-Canada, 20% extra Petro-Points, and 20% extra RBC Rewards points.
To be eligible, you just need to add your Petro-Points number to your RBC online banking account. You would link your Petro-Points card to all of your eligible RBC debit or credit cards.
Avion Rewards is one of the best bank travel rewards programs. The RBC Visa Infinite Avion 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, 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.