A lot of money has been spent on advertising RBC’s Avion points program and its credit card. The question, is it worth it? Short answer is yes, but only for one year. Let’s explain. The highlights of the RBC Visa Infinite Avion are as follows:
- $120 annual fee
- Earn 15,000 points sign up bonus
- Earn up to 5x points for every $1 spent on RBC Rewards eMall
- Earn 1.25 point for every $1 spent on eligible travel related purchases
- Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases
- Ability to transfer your points to WestJet dollars, British Airways Avios, American Airlines Aadvantage, Cathay Pacific, Asia Miles, Shoppers Optimum Points and Esso Extra
The breakdown of the points program is as follows (all points are calculated as if you are flying out of Canada):
- 15,000 points = $350 limit for a short-haul flight within Canada/United States (adjacent province, territory, US State)
- 35,000 points = $750 limit for a long-haul flight anywhere in Canada/United States (except Hawaii and Alaska)
- 45,000 points = $900 limit for Alaska, Bermuda, Caribbean, Hawaii, Mexico
- 55,000 points = $1,100 limit for Alaska, Bermuda, Caribbean, Hawaii, Mexico
- 65,000 points = $1,300 limit for Europe
- 100,000 points = $2,000 limit for the rest of the world
Essentially, you are paying $120 for 15,000 points. 15,000 points can give you up to $350 in travel; therefore, the sign up is worth about $230 net ($350 – $120 = $230) in travel money. What I like about this program is that the reward covers taxes and fuel surcharges. So it is straight up refund on your flight ticket.
The points redemption does not include taxes, but taxes can either be charged to your credit card or use 100 points for every $1, which is an interesting feature. Furthermore, even if you go beyond the maximum price, you can use the maximum points and pay the difference or use 100 points for every $1.
The program only applies to round-trip economy class flights, but if you book a business class ticket, the maximum amount of points can be redeemed and you can pay the difference between the economy and the business class ticket fare paid by charging to your credit card or using points (100 points per $1).
The flexibility to transfer your points to different loyalty programs can be very useful. Just remember to watch for promotions that give you bonus points for transferring a minimum amount.
I wouldn’t use these points to redeem for travel if you are too far off from the maximum limit. For example, if you are booking a flight that qualifies for the 100,000 and $2,000 maximum, but only pay $1,200 for the ticket, you still have to spend the same 100,000 points to cover the ticket, which is definitely not worth it. I would only use the points on a flight ticket if you are very close or above the limit to maximize the return of your points.
The $750 limit may seem like an amazing deal for a long-haul flight, but it will cost 35,000 points. Aeroplan, which we all love to hate, only costs 25,000 points, and there is no limit on the price of the ticket, granted we have to pay for our own fuel surcharges. As I recommended in other posts, if you fly to the United States (or another country, connect through the United States), then book your flight with United Airlines (also 25,000 for long-haul flight) and your fuel surcharges will be greatly reduced. Let’s just hope they keep it that way.
Unfortunately, your booking has to be done through RBC Rewards travel. If you do book over the phone, it will cost $30 per passenger per flight. If you book online it is free. Booking also has to be done 14 days in advance of the departure date. If you book less than 14 days in advance, you book tickets using the fixed rate of 100 points per $1.
Tickets are non-refundable, but you can change or cancel tickets for $25 per alteration. If you cancel a ticket without travel insurance you will get a credit on the airline for what the value of the ticket would have been if you had purchased it, minus the change/alteration fees, that you must use within a year.
I have only listed a few of the negatives and the positives are too far and few between. The other problem is, there is a slew of other credit cards that have a better deal, especially the AMEX AeroplanPlus Gold Card and AMEX Membership Gold Rewards Card which are both giving much more substantial sign up bonuses and waiving their first year annual fees. Therefore, it is difficult to justify getting this RBC Infinite Visa at the moment, unless they make the card more attractive.