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Credit Card Showdown!
CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card vs.
RBC Visa Infinite Avion Card

 

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It has been a few years since we last had a credit card showdown but are ready to make it an ongoing feature here on Rewards Canada!

The first showdown of our newly reincarnated series sees two of the most popular premier cards in Canada go head to head! This showdown is between the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card and the RBC Visa Infinite Avion card!

Past credit card showdowns:

In the showdown we look at a half a dozen criteria to compare the cards against one another along with a head to head detailed table comparison.

Card Type

Here we have a travel points card, the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card going up against the RBC Visa Infinite Avion card, a hybrid card. The latter, as many of you may know is Rewards Canada's favourite type of card. A hybrid card, or as some call it, a flexible points card, is a combination of a travel points card and a frequent flyer/frequent guest card. This fact puts the RBC Visa Infinite Avion ahead of the CIBC card in this category since you can use the travel points feature to book any flight or travel via RBC Rewards or you can choose to convert your RBC Rewards points to British Airways, Cathay Pacific, WestJet and other loyalty programs. The Aventura card used to have this feature years ago when you could convert to Aeroplan however they lost it when TD became the primary Aeroplan co-brand card issuer.

Annual Fees / Sign Up Bonus

In the straight line comparison below you'll see that both cards have a primary card fee of $120 per year. Same goes for the additional user card of $50. So no clear leader for the fee category.

For the standard sign up bonus, there is a difference between the cards. CIBC's offer of 20,000 points can provide up to $400 in travel value whereas RBC offers 15,000 points with a value of up to $350. CIBC clearly takes this one. Both cards do run limited time offers from time to time that can drastically change the outcome in this category. From first year annual fee waivers to increased welcome bonuses to travel credits these limited time offers should be taken into consideration. For the latest offers on each card check out the card matrices towards the bottom of this feature.

Rates

Both cards charge the exact same interest rates and foreign transaction fees.

Point Earning & Redemption

Points earning on these two cards is where we find some differences. The CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card has a base earn rate of 1 point per dollar spent on eligible purchases but boosts that 1.5 points for purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and drugstores and further boosts earning to 2 points per dollar for any travel booked via the CIBC Rewards Centre. The RBC Visa Infinite Avion card has a bit of a simple earn rate, 1 point per dollar on eligible spending except for travel purchases which earn 1.25 points per dollar. Based on what the vast majority of Canadians spend their money on, the CIBC card edges ahead in the points earning category thanks to the category bonuses of 1.5 and 2 points.

On the redemption side, we'll compare redeeming points via both program's proprietary programs, CIBC Rewards and RBC Rewards. We really only need to look at the value for each of the flight categories since both programs require you to book via them, both require you to pay the taxes and fees on these tickets and both allow you to redeem 100 points for $1 credit towards ticket prices over the maximum value, towards taxes and fees and towards other travel:

  CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card RBC Visa Infinite Avion Card
Points Required Maximum Ticket Value Points Required Maximum Ticket Value
Short Haul Canada/US 10,000 - 20,000 $400 15,000 $350
Long Haul Canada/US 25,000 - 35,000 $800 35,000 $750
Hawaii, Mexico & Alaska from Western Canada 40,000 - 60,000 $1,000 45,000 $900
Hawaii, Mexico & Alaska from Eastern Canada 40,000 - 60,000 $1,000 55,000 $1,100
Bermuda, Caribbean, Central America from Western Canada 40,000 - 60,000 $1,000 55,000 $1,100
Bermuda, Caribbean, Central America from Eastern Canada 40,000 - 60,000 $1,000 45,000 $900
Europe 50,000 - 70,000 $1,300 65,000 $1,300
Rest of the World 75,000 - 125,000 $2,000 100,000 $2,000

As you can see, they are very similar and you can tell that they have modelled after each other in the redemption schedules here. Are there any clear winners? Not by a long shot but overall I would give the edge to the CIBC Aventura Visa Card. The reason why is that they don't actually have one flat rate for each category. If you are buying a short haul flight that has a cash value of only $150, you are likely only redeeming 10,000 points for it whereas the RBC Visa Infinite Avion will see you redeeming 15,000 points for it. Then you also have to take into account that the CIBC card has better earn rates overall so you have actually spent less on your credit to get the point level requirement. For example if we take the $150 ticket above and make the redemption equal between the two, that is 15,000 points for either program, you can spend as little as $7,500 (assuming all is spent on travel via CIBC) on the CIBC card to get to 15,000 points whereas the RBC Visa Infinite Avion card requires no less than $12,000 on spending (assuming all is spend on any travel).

The CIBC card also wins out on what is probably the most popular redemption and that is long haul flights within Canada or to the U.S.. If you max out the redemption at 35,000 points for CIBC you can get a ticket worth up to $800, RBC with the same amount of points will only get a maximum value of $750.

Further Reading: Not all Travel Points and Hybrid Credit Cards are created equal

The only category where the RBC Avion card really has the advantage is a Rest of World flight as they only require 100,000 points versus CIBC's 125,000 for flights that approach $2,000 in value. But again, that's not taking into account CIBC's better earn rate which could make these two cards equal in this category based on your actual spending. Again, I need to reiterate to everyone reading this that when it comes to any reward program you need to look at both sides of the equation, the earn and the burn. If you only look at one side, you may be shooting yourself in the foot. I recommend reading our 2013 article Remember people it's all about the EARN and the BURN to see examples of what can happen when you don't take both earning and redeeming into account.

Further Reading: How to maximize value out of the RBC Avion Airline Award Chart

There is another travel redemption option that is available on the RBC Visa Infinite Avion card and that is its option to convert points to other loyalty programs. You can convert points from RBC Avion cards to American AAdvantage, British Airways Executive Club, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, WestJet Rewards and Hudson Bay Rewards. This added flexibility is nice to have - especially if you are a member of any of those programs or can make use of them. Although despised by many, frequent flyer programs like British Airways Executive Club can provide some huge out-sized value out of your points when you compare to using the points via the card's proprietary program. Frequent flyer programs can easily provide you with returns much higher than the 2.3% maximum provided by the RBC Rewards program when you redeem for business or first class flights. However you do have to be flexible in your travel patterns in terms of dates, flight routes and more as there are definitely more restrictions to the programs. That being said the 1:1 transfer ratio from RBC to BA is highly coveted and even more so when they run their up to 30% bonus several times per year giving you 1.3 Avios for every 1 RBC Rewards point. Consider this, during most of times of the year, you can redeem 26,000 Avios for a round trip flight on Aer Lingus between Toronto and Dublin. If you take the 30% transfer bonus that means it only takes you 20,000 RBC Rewards points to get that flight. Want to redeem for the same flight via RBC Rewards using their Avion redemption rates? You would need to redeem 65,000 points! That's 3 flights and some change with British Airways Executive Club

Insurance & Benefits

The last factor to look at when comparing these cards are the benefits and insurance that come with them. Insurance is relatively easy to compare as both cards are almost equal except for a couple small differences. The CIBC card offers slightly better flight delay insurance while the RBC Visa Infinite Avion offers slightly better baggage delay insurance however CIBC will cover damages to bags while RBC will not. The CIBC card also has a slight edge in Trip Interruption insurance but then the cards are equal in all other insurance categories.

It is the non-insurance benefits where one card stands out against the other and that card is the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card. It includes a NEXUS application credit once every four years and since NEXUS renews every five years, you won't have to pay your fee (typically US$50) for it as long as you have this card. Then it has one other huge benefit over the RBC Visa Infinite card and that is access to business class lounges. The Aventura card gives free basic membership to Priority Pass, the world's largest third party lounge access program. That annual membership typically costs US$99 per year but the benefit doesn't stop there. CIBC also throws in four annual lounge passes, which means you save the US$32 fee for accessing any of those lounges four times per year. So whether you travel alone and visit four lounges in the span of a year or only travel once but with your family of four, you can all get in for free once per year using these passes. You can clearly see the winner in this category is the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card.

Further Reading: Rewards Canada's Guide to Business Class Lounge Access

Conclusion

This is one showdown where there isn't a clear winner. Actually, let me rephrase that, there are clear winners but it depends on your redemption patterns or wants. If you have no need to convert points to programs like British Airways, WestJet and so forth, the winner in this showdown is clearly the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card thanks to its better earn rates and travel benefits like the NEXUS credit and business class lounge access.. If do you like the idea of having more flexible points and want to have as many options for your points possible - whether it's redeeming via the credit card's reward centre or converting points to other programs, the winner is the RBC Visa Infinite Avion card. The ability to convert to British Airways and WestJet primarily make RBC Rewards points very valuable and that's not even taking into account the bonuses they add in several times per year when you do convert your points!

The winner is:

CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card (if you don't need point conversion options)

RBC Visa Infinite Avion Card (if you like point conversion options)

The Cards Head to Head:

Yellow background indicates the clear winner for that category. For rows that do not have yellow in either column it is a tie between the cards.

Feature

CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card

RBC Visa Infinite Avion

Card Type Travel Points Hybrid / Flexible Points
Annual Fee
$120
$120
Supp. Card Fee
$50
$50
Interest Rate
19.99%
Purchase †

22.99%
Cash Advance †
19.99%
Purchase

22.99%
Cash Advance
Foreign Exchange Transaction Fee
2.5%
2.5%
Minimum Income
$60,000 Personal or $100,000 Household
$60,000 Personal or $100,000 Household
Minimum Credit Limit
N/A
N/A

Reward Miles/Points Earning

CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card

RBC Visa Infinite Avion

Welcome Bonus
20,000 Points

15,000 Points

Renewal Bonus
0
0
Earning Ratio
2 points per dollar on travel purchased through the CIBC Rewards Centre†

1.5 points per dollar at gas stations, grocery stores and drugstores†

1 point per dollar on all other purchases†
1.25 Points per dollar on travel

1 Points per dollar
Bonus Features
$120 travel credit Limited Time Offer†

NEXUS application credit once every 4 years
N/A

Redemption/Exchange Options

CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card

RBC Visa Infinite Avion

Miles/Points deposited to
CIBC Rewards
RBC Rewards
Travel Agency Redemption Value
up to 2.28% on flights per the Aventura Flight Rewards Chart (e.g. 10,000 to 20,000 pts = short-haul flight worth up to $400)
or
1,000 Points = $10 for other travel
up to 2.3% on flights as per the Avion Air Travel Redemption Schedule (e.g. 15,000 pts = short-haul flight worth up to $350)
or
1,000 Points = $10 for other travel
Exchange Options
N/A
1 Point = 1 Mile on British Airways or Cathay Pacific

1 Point = 0.7 American AAdvantage Miles

100 Points = 1 WestJet Dollar
Redemption Centre
CIBC Rewards
RBC Rewards

Benefits

CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card

RBC Visa Infinite Avion

Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance
$500,000
$500,000
Flight Delay Insurance
4 hours
$500 per person
4 hours
$250 per person
Delayed Baggage Insurance
6 hours
$500 per person
4 hours
$500 per person
Lost / Stolen Baggage Insurance Yes
up to $500
Yes
up to $500
Damaged Baggage Insurance Yes
up to $500
No
Trip Cancellation Insurance
Yes
$1,500 per person up to $5,000 maximum per account
Yes
$1,500 per person up to $5,000 maximum per account
Trip Interruption Insurance
Yes
$2,000 per person
Yes
$1,500 per person up to $5,000 maximum per account
Travel Medical Insurance up to 64 years old 15 Days 15 Days
Travel Medical Insurance 65+
3 Days
3 Days
Auto Rental/Loss Damage Insurance
Up to $65,000 MSRP
Up to $65,000 MSRP
Hotel / Motel Burglary Insurance Yes

Up to $2,500
Yes

Up to $2,500
Purchase Protection
Yes
90 Days
Yes
90 Days
Price Protection
No
No
Extended Warranty Plan
Yes
Yes
Free Companion Air Ticket
No
No
Business Class Lounge Access
Yes

Priority Pass Membership + 4 Free Lounge Visit Passes
No
Priority Check In
No
No
Link to Apply
Apply Now
Apply Now
Notes:
N/A
N/A

Related: RBC Visa Infinite Avion Review / RBC Visa Infinite Avion Resources on Rewards Canada

Below are latest and most up to date offers and details for these cards:


Talk to us!

What do you think of this showdown? Do you agree with it? Do you hold either card and are thinking of switching now that you see them head to head? What cards would like to see go head to head next? Tell us in the comments section below or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter!

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