By Patrick Sojka - CEO Rewards Canada | Posted October 26, 2011
of the first travel rewards cards to offer any flight anytime potential,
the RBC Visa Avion has been a mainstay in the travel credit card market
for many years. It is definitely one of the most popular cards in Canada
and as such we give it the "Rewards Canada review" treatment
as we expand our review process beyond newly released cards to include
existing cards on the market.
The Infinite version of the RBC Visa Avion came a few years after the release of the original Visa Platinum Avion card from RBC. Adding extra insurance coverage, slightly better earning on travel purchases and some other benefits typically associated with the Infinite brand this card is the flagship of RBC's credit card portfolio. The card falls into our "Hybrid Card" category which means it gives you the best of both worlds in the sense of travel rewards credit cards in that it offers points that can be used towards any travel or you can covert those points into a frequent flyer program.
The RBC Visa Infinite Avion comes with a $120 primary card annual fee which is the same as most cards that offer a similar level of rewards and benefits. The card offers a 15,000 welcome point bonus which is enough for a short haul flight with a maximum value of $350. Supplementary cards run $50 which is the same for almost all of the Infinite/Platinum/Gold travel credit card offerings from other banks. The interest rate on the card is 19.99% which is also inline with most of the cards at this level.
The RBC Visa Infinite Avion earns 1 point for every dollar spent on the card for all purchases except travel. On travel purchases the card earns 1.25 points per dollar spent.
Being a 'Hybrid Card', the RBC Visa Infinite Avion has two primary forms of redemption, the first is redeeming the RBC Rewards points via RBC for travel, merchandise and more and the second is transferring those RBC Rewards Points to one of three frequent flyer programs. While you can redeem your points for virtually any travel via RBC Rewards travel the card provides the best return when you redeem for flights via the Avion Air Travel Redemption Schedule. The schedule which is similar to a Frequent Flyer redemption chart sets point limits for flights to various regions such as Short Haul (neighbouring province/state), Long Haul, Europe, Asia etc. Unlike a frequent flyer program howvever the rewards are not tied to one airline, you can pretty much book any airline or seat in economy class via RBC Rewards Travel as long as the actual cost of the flight falls under the dollar limit for each region. For example, a short haul flight will cost 15,000 RBC Reward Points for a ticket with a maximum dollar amount of $350. If the ticket costs less then $350 you still have to redeem 15,000 points, if it goes over then you have to redeem the 15,000 points and then you can redeem 100 points per dollar for every dollar over the region dollar limit. The dollar limitation per region is based on the base ticket price and does not include taxes and fees. Those taxes and fees can either be paid for with RBC Rewards points at the 100 points per dollar rate or with your credit card. In addition to be able to take advantage of the Avion Air Travel Redemption Schedule rates you have to book your flights at 14 days in advance otherwise you have to redeem at the 100 points per dollar rate. In general if you do use the Air Travel Redemption Schedule you can get a rate of return anywhere from 2 to 2.33% if your ticket comes out at the maximum price level, anything below or
above the maximum price level your rate of return diminishes. It does appear that sometime in the near future you will be able to redeem your RBC Rewards Points for any travel via Travelocity.ca. This appears to be RBC's answer to cards like the American Express Gold Rewards Card, Capital One® Aspire Travel World MasterCard ® , TD Infinite First Class and Diners Club which offer the ability to book any travel how you like,when you like and from whom you like. Without knowing more, at this time it is hard to determine
this will be a good option or not as you will still be forced to either
book via RBC Rewards Travel or Travelocity, so still not as wide ranging
as the other cards plus in my personal experience I have Travelocity.ca
to be more expensive on occastion for hotels and vacation package then
The other main option for redemption with the RBC Visa Infinite Avion is converting your RBC Rewards points to a frequent flyer program. To convert you have to be an Avion cardholder (non-Avion RBC cardholders cannot convert their RBC Rewards points) and a member in either the American Airlines AAdvantage, British Airways Executive Club (soon to be Avios) or Cathay Pacific Asia Miles program. All three programs are free to join and once you are a member you can transfer your RBC Rewards points on a 1:1 basis with a minimum of 10,000 points per transfer for BA or CX, 5,000 for AA. One of the features that has made this card stand out with frequent flyers and in our credit card rankings is the semi-annual 50% transfer bonus to British Airways. This recurring offer which has been around for many years can make really good use of your points if you are willing to abide the rules of a frequent flyer program. Why is the bonus offer so good? Take for example a redemption of 100,000 RBC Reward Points, you would recieve 150,000 Avios Points which is enough for three economy class tickets from Canada to Europe on British Airways. The same three tickers would require at least 195,000 RBC Reward points if you redeemed via RBC Rewards.
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