The Best RBC Credit Cards in Canada

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

The Royal Bank of Canada, more commonly known as RBC, is arguably the most popular bank in the country. As a result, they have a huge market share and a diverse portfolio of credit cards. Despite the fact that they’re a name that’s recognized across the country, the cards they offer are quite conservative and often lag behind their competitors. 

Even though there may be better credit cards available, many people who bank with RBC will likely prefer to keep their credit business with their home bank. Since RBC has more than 20 credit cards, some people will have a hard time deciding which card is best for them. Here’s a list of the best RBC credit cards in Canada.

The best RBC credit cards in Canada

Credit cardBest for
RBC Visa Infinite Avion CardTravel
RBC Cash Back Preferred World Elite MastercardCash back
RBC ION+ VisaEveryday spending
WestJet RBC World Elite MastercardWestJet dollars
RBC ION VisaNo annual fee
RBC Visa Classic Low Rate OptionLow interest

Best RBC credit card for travel

RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card

  • $120 annual fee
  • 35,000 Avion points on approval
  • 20,000 Bonus 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 RBC Visa Infinite Avion card is the best RBC credit card in Canada for travel rewards. The earning rate of 1.25 Avion Rewards points per dollar spent on travel and 1 point for all other purchases is a bit underwhelming, it’s still RBC’s best card for travel.

What makes this card appealing is that you’ll earn Avion Rewards. This rewards program is highly flexible and is often rated as the second best bank rewards program in Canada. That’s because you can use your points through the RBC travel portal, transfer your points to partners such as British Airways Avios and WestJet, or redeem flights via the fixed travel program.

The benefits you get with this card include mobile device insurance up to $1,500 and a comprehensive travel insurance package. You also get standard RBC perks such as extra points earned at Petro-Canada and Rexall. This card has an annual fee of $120.

Eligibility: A personal income of $60,000 or a household income of $100,000 is required. A credit score of at least 700 is recommended.
Welcome bonus: Typically worth 35,000 – 55,000 Avion Rewards points.

Best RBC credit card for cash back

RBC Cash Back Preferred World Elite Mastercard

  • $99 annual fee
  • 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • Save 3¢/L on fuel and earn 20% more Petro-Points at Petro-Canada
  • 50 Be Well points per $1 spent at Rexall
  • $0 DoorDash delivery fees for 12 months
  • Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by DragonPass

Those looking to earn cash back rewards should consider the RBC Cash Back Preferred World Elite Mastercard. Instead of offering an increased earning rate on specific categories, you’ll get 1.5% cash back on all purchases. This is ideal for people who are looking to earn a high rate of return regardless of where they spend. However, the 1.5% cash back only applies to the first $25,000 in purchases annually. Once you reach that limit, you earn 1% cash back on all purchases.

Since this is a World Elite Mastercard, you get some included travel benefits just for being a cardholder. The free Boingo Wireless account gives you access to more than 1 million free Wi-Fi spots worldwide, including on many airplanes. Although the Mastercard Travel Pass Program provided by DragonPass doesn’t come with any free lounge passes, the membership allows you to buy access for US$32 for each visit. There’s also car rental insurance that covers cars with an MSRP of up to $65,000 for 48 days.

Another thing worth mentioning is that your cash back is paid out automatically every January. However, you can request it earlier if you’ve earned at least $25 in cash back. All you need to do is call in to get your rewards redeemed. The annual fee for this card is $99.

Eligibility: A personal income of $80,000 or a household income of $150,000 is required. A credit score of at least 700 is recommended.
Welcome bonus: This card rarely comes with a welcome bonus

Best RBC credit card for everyday spending

RBC ION+ Visa Card

  • $48 annual fee ($4 charged monthly)
  • 3,500 Avion points on approval
  • 3,500 additional Avion points when spending $500 in the first 3 months.
  • Earn 3 Avion points for every $1 spent on groceries, dining, food delivery, rideshares, gas, daily public transit, 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 points when you pay with a linked RBC card
  • Free 3-month DashPass subscription
  • Mobile device insurance

If you find the RBC Visa Infinite Avion card and RBC Cash Back Preferred World Elite Mastercard to be a bit underwhelming, you’re not alone. To address this, the RBC ION+ Visa card was introduced with a higher earning rate. You’ll get 3 Avion rewards points per dollar spent on groceries, dining, food delivery, rideshares, gas, daily public transit, EV charging, streaming, digital gaming and subscriptions. All other purchases earn you 1 point per dollar spent.

While this earning rate sounds great, the Avion Rewards points you earn with the RBC ION+ Visa card have a lower value than those earned with the RBC Visa Infinite Avion Card. In this case, 140 points will get you $1 in gift cards, while 172 points will give you $1 in travel. That’s a value of.71 cents per point (CPP) and .58, respectively. For regular Avion Rewards, it takes 100 points for $1 in travel. That’s a CPP of 1.

While the decreased value of these points is not ideal, there are a few ways to increase what your points are worth. You can transfer your points to WestJet Rewards at a ratio of 100 Avion points to $1 WestJet dollar. That’s a CPP of 1. Alternatively, if you upgrade your card to the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card, your points will convert to the higher tier at a 1:1 ratio. Instead of an annual fee, you’re charged $4 monthly for this card.

Eligibility: Must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. A credit score of at least 700 is recommended.
Welcome bonus: Typically 3,500 – 10,000 Avion Rewards points.

Best RBC credit card for WestJet Rewards

WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard

  • $119 annual fee
  • 300 WestJet dollars on your first purchase
  • 300 WestJet dollars when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months
  • 100 WestJet dollar one-time anniversary bonus
  • Earn 2% back in WestJet dollars on WestJet flights or WestJet Vacations packages
  • Earn 1.5% back on all other purchases
  • Receive a round-trip companion voucher – every year – for any WestJet destination starting from $119 (plus taxes, fees, charges and other ATC)
  • Get free first checked bags for the primary cardholder and up to 8 guests on the same reservation

One of the best RBC credit cards is the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard. As the name implies, this is a co-branded WestJet card. Instead of earning points, you earn WestJet dollars. The earning rate is 2% back in WestJet dollars on WestJet purchases and 1.5% back on all other purchases.

Besides the earning rate, the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard is appealing because you get WestJet benefits. The primary cardholder and up to 8 guests on the same itinerary get their first checked bag free. You’ll also get a free annual companion voucher that can save you a fair amount. One trick for families with two children is to have each parent get the credit card. By doing this, you’ll have two companion vouchers each year, which makes travelling cheaper.

The included travel insurance is very comprehensive as it covers travel medical, trip interruption, lost baggage, auto rental car collision/loss damage and more. You also get the World Elite Mastercard benefits, such as Boingo Wi-Fi and the Mastercard Travel Pass Program provided by DragonPass (no free entry passes). The annual fee for the card is $119.

Eligibility: Minimum personal income of $80,000 or a household income of $150,000.
Welcome bonus: Usually up to 4450 WestJet dollars. You’re given 250 WestJet dollars after your first purchase and another 200 WestJet dollars when you spend $5,000 in the first three months. There have been occasional offers of up to 700 WestJet dollars.

Best RBC credit card with no annual fee

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

The RBC ION Visa is my choice for the best RBC credit with no annual fee, but it’s also a good fit for students and newcomers to Canada. Admittedly, the card is very basic, but since it has no annual fee, cardholders shouldn’t complain too much.

With this card, your earning rate is 1.5 Avion Rewards 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 Rewards point per dollar spent. If you’ve linked your card, you can earn additional Be Well points at Rexall, and Petro points at Petro-Canada.

Since this is an ION card, your Avion Rewards points fall under the lower tier. The best value for your points is for gift cards, but travel is also an option. In an ideal world, you’ll use this card to earn points and then upgrade to a regular Avion card, where your points get converted to regular Avion Rewards points. 

Eligibility: Must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. A credit score of at least 660 is recommended.
Welcome bonus: Typically 3,500 – 6,000 Avion Rewards points.

Best RBC credit card for low interest

RBC Visa Classic Low Rate Option

  • $20 annual fee
  • 12.99% purchase rate
  • Purchase security
  • Extended warranty
  • Zero liability protection

Rounding out my list of the best RBC credit cards is the RBC Visa Classic Low Rate Option. Instead of earning rewards, this card gives you a low interest rate of 12.99% for purchases. This will likely appeal to people who typically carry a balance since the interest rate is significantly lower than other credit cards. 

On a positive note, the RBC Visa Classic Low Rate Option Card still gives you some additional benefits. You can save 3¢/L on fuel and earn 20% more Petro-Points at Petro-Canada when you link your card. Similar to other RBC credit cards, purchase security protects your purchases from loss, theft, and damage for 90 days, while the extended warranty doubles your manufacturer’s warranty for up to an additional year.

It’s worth mentioning that this card occasionally comes with a balance transfer option with a promotional interest rate. When this is available, it can be a solid card for those who are looking to reduce their debt.

Eligibility: Must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. A credit score of at least 660 is recommended.
Welcome bonus: Sometimes, there’s a balance transfer option with a promotional interest rate.

How RBC credit cards work

RBC offers different types of cards that work in different ways. Here’s a breakdown of the main categories and how they work.

RBC cash back cards

RBC cash back cards pay out annually. Every January, you will be provided with a statement of your cash back for the previous calendar year, and the amount will be credited to your account on your February statement. If you prefer, you can all have the cashback credited to your account at any time throughout the year as long as you have a minimum of $25 cash back earned. 

RBC Avion Rewards cards

RBC Avion Rewards cards allow you to earn points with every purchase that you can then redeem towards a variety of rewards, including travel, gift cards, and merchandise. You can easily redeem your points online via the Avion rewards website or the app. Note that Avion points have two tiers, which can be confusing and will be discussed in more detail below.

RBC low interest cards

Low interest cards can be a helpful option for individuals who frequently carry a balance. Most credit cards have interest rates about 20% but the RBC Visa Classic Low Rate card is only 12.99%. Of course, you still want to pay off your credit card in full if possible but if you have a couple of months where you can’t, the interest payments on this card won’t be as high.

How to pick the best RBC credit card

Picking the RBC credit card can be tricky for some since you have so many choices. What you should do is figure out exactly what your needs are before you apply. Consider the following factors:

  • Type of benefits – The type of benefits you want is usually the most important choice. Are you interested in travel or cash back rewards? Don’t forget to consider a low interest credit card if you have any debt.
  • Annual fee – Will the benefits you get from your credit card be worth more than the annual fee? If not, look at no fee credit cards. Keep in mind that you may get your annual fee waived if you have a premium banking plan with RBC.
  • Welcome bonus – The welcome bonus is usually worth more than the annual fee so always take a look at what credit card deals are available when applying.
  • Additional benefits – For some people, the additional benefits such as no foreign transaction feeslounge access and travel insurance are important, so check to see what each card offers and compare it to others.

How to apply for a RBC credit card

  1. Figure out which of the above listed credit cards is the right pick for you and click the ‘apply now’ button. You will be taken to the credit card application form. Ensure that you meet the requirements (minimum personal income/household income and minimum credit scores are often requirements to be mindful of.)
  2. Gather all your required documentation and paperwork needed to fill out the form. You will have to share your personal information like full name, date of birth, address etc. You will also need details about your work and income. Finally, you may need your Social Insurance Number so be sure to have that on hand as well.
  3. Fill out the form. The online forms are quick and easy to fill out but do make sure to read the small print so you understand all the terms and conditions that come with your RBC credit card of choice. 
  4. Submit and wait for acceptance. These days, many credit cards offer instant approval, but it will likely still take a few business days to get the physical card. When you do, activate it and use it as you like. 

FAQ

Are RBC credit cards worth it?

RBC has some great credit card options that just might be the ideal pick for what you are looking for. Another perk is that RBC is a major Canadian bank and if you already use them, then getting an RBC credit card to keep everything in one place just makes things easier. An additional benefit, if you are already an RBC client, is that sometimes you get discounts on financial products when you have several with them. 

What is the best RBC credit card?

This will depend on your goals and needs. As you can see from the list of RBC credit cards above, there are several options. That being said, here are my top 3 picks.

When it comes to travel, the Avion Visa Infinite is the best RBC credit card, so if you are someone who travels a lot for work or takes a lot of vacations, this is a good one. There are some travel perks included, and it’s easy to earn points on everyday purchases.

That being said, if you are a traveller who frequently uses WestJet, then the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard might be a better pick. This co-branded credit card includes benefits like lounge access, insurance coverage, and an annual round-trip companion voucher. 

Finally, if you want a solid credit card with no annual fee, then I recommend the RBC ION Visa. It’s not as fancy as the other options, but you can still earn Avion rewards, and it’s free!

How do RBC cards compare?

Overall, RBC Credit cards a pretty solid. It’s difficult to say they are better than the credit cards offered by other big banks like TD, Scotiabank, or BMO as each one offers its own suite of credit cards targeting different needs. 

That being said, their rewards program is a step above those other big Canadian banks offer. However, the American Express Membership Rewards program is better than that of RBC thanks to its flexibility.

One thing to really be mindful of is that most RBC credit cards are issued by Visa. In most cases, there is no problem with this. Visa is accepted worldwide and certainly accepted in more places than American Express. What it really comes down to is Costco, which only accept Mastercard.

What’s the difference between Avion Premium and Avion Elite?

What often confuses people is that Avion points have two tiers (technically three if you count the ION cards).

If you hold any credit card that earns Avion points, you’re an Avion Premium member. This would allow you to use your points for travel redemptions booked through the Avion Rewards travel portal, merchandise, and gift cards. You can also transfer your points to WestJet Dollars.

Those that have an Avion-branded credit card are considered Avion Elite members. In addition to the redemptions mentioned, you also get access to the Air Travel Redemption Schedule and the ability to transfer your points to British Airways Avios, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, and American Airlines AAdvantage.

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

Leave a Comment





Get a FREE copy of Travel Hacking for Lazy People

Subscribe now to get your FREE eBook and learn how to travel in luxury for less