If you have the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card in your wallet you’ll want to read this to see how you can extract more value from Avion Rewards. For well over a decade it has been one of Canada’s most popular credit cards. There are in the neighbourhood of one million or more Canadians just like you who use an Avion as their daily driver for everyday spending.
With them being so popular you would think these cards would be the best in Canada and they used to be – but the fact of the matter is, they have become some of the most expensive when it comes to the popular any airline anytime travel rewards. By expensive we mean the amount you have to spend on your card to be rewarded in comparison to what other proprietary credit cards programs offer.
The good news is there is relatively new way that you can receive more value from the program going forward if you choose to follow what we lay out here. So, if you are heavily invested in the Avion Rewards program where you feel it would be tough to switch to a new credit card program you’ll want to check this Rewards Canada Loyalty Lesson out.
The RBC Avion Cards
If you have one of the RBC Avion cards in your wallet you’ll know that you earn 1 to 1.25 points per dollar spent on all eligible spending. Back when these cards launched this was a good earn rate as most other cards in the market offered the same. However as the years have gone by we’ve seen other card issuers come out with cards earning 3, 4, 5 and now even 6 points per dollar without taking a hit on the redemption side. In those most basic comparison those cards are offering up to a 6% return on your spending while the Avion cards are only up to 1.25% – that’s a basic minimum value but I think you may get the picture.
Back in 2021 we published an article that ended up being one of the most popular on our site that year, and it was entitled “There is one very popular travel rewards credit card in Canada that is due for a major overhaul” And that article discussed how RBC needed to update their Avion card to better compete with the cards in the market. However to date there have not been any updates to the card.
Truth be told, why should they change it when they have so many people using the card who unaware they may have better options available to them. Or as already mentioned, people are so heavily invested in the program trying to rack up enough points for their dream flights that it doesn’t make sense to shift their spending to another program. And that’s where RBC’s new ION cards come into play for these existing Avion cardholders.
The new RBC ION Cards
RBC launched two new rewards cards in September 2022 to coincide with their rebranding of the RBC Rewards program to Avion Rewards. These cards followed other banks in being more lifestyle oriented cards with new category earn rate accelerators of up to 3 points per dollar and a focus on non-travel rewards although they do have the option to be used for travel.
So there you have RBC finally playing catch up to other issuers by offering accelerated category earn rates but on new cards rather than applying them to their existing Avion cards. Thus you have new cards with better earn rates but how do they do on the redemption side of things? You know, we also tell you that you have to look at both sides of the equation!
RBC ION Visa
- 1.5X Avion points on Grocery, Rideshare, Daily Transit, Gas & EV Charging plus Streaming, Digital Gaming & Subscriptions
- Earn 1 Avion point for every $1 spent on all other qualifying purchases
RBC ION+ Visa
- Earn 3X Avion points on Grocery, Dining & Food Delivery, Rideshare, Daily Transit, Gas & EV Charging plus Streaming, Digital Gaming & Subscriptions
- Earn 1 Avion point for every $1 spent on all other qualifying purchases
The RBC ION cards on their own aren’t especially strong in terms of travel rewards save for their conversion option to WestJet Rewards. The ION cards do not receive access to the Avion Air Travel Redemption Schedule that made the RBC cards so famous, they don’t get the option to convert the points to RBC’s other airline partners nor do they get the Avion card’s option to redeem 100 points to $1 towards any travel booked via Avion Rewards.
Instead you can redeem the points earned on the ION cards for any travel booked via RBC Avion Rewards at a rate of 172 points to $1. That works out to 0.58 cents per point, which when you look at the three points per dollar earn rate that works out to a 1.74% return for travel. That’s actually a pretty decent return but then you have to take into account the 1 point per dollar on all the other spending is only worth .58% – that’s not so good, in fact it’s pretty terrible.
Why should I get an ION card in addition to my Avion Card?
What makes the RBC ION cards and their accelerated earn rates compelling is that you can transfer the points from your Avion Premium account (This is Avion Rewards level associated with the ION cards) to your Avion Elite account (the level associated with the Avion cards) on a 1 to 1 basis. By having both an ION card and an Avion card you are effectively increasing the value of the points earned on the ION card.
For example, the 3 points earned per dollar with the ION+ card when transferred to your Avion Elite account can now used for any travel at the 100 points to $1 redemption rate. That equates to a 3% return instead of 1.74%. Or you can use them via the Avion Air Travel Redemption Schedule that provides up to a 2.33% return. This means those 3 points per dollar are worth as much as 4.66%.
Recommended reading: How to maximize value out of the RBC Avion Airline Award Chart
As you can see if you are an Avion cardholder it is almost nonsensical to not have an ION card! Having an Avion card alone sees returns of 1% to 2.91% (2.91 is 1.25 points times that max 2.33% return) while adding the ION+ card boosts your returns to as high as 6.99% on those accelerated categories!
All those numbers above take into account having the ION+ card. While you can consider the no fee ION card, which still earns 50% more than the Avion Cards in those select spending categories your best bet is to go for the ION+ card since it is only $4 per month!
It doesn’t take a lot of spending for this to work!
You only have to spend $134 per month on the ION+ card in those 3x point categories to cover the monthly fee. I’d say for most people who hold any of the elite Avion Cards this extremely easy to do, especially considering it doesn’t have to be additional spending. All you have to do is shift over a portion of the spending you make on the Avion card to the ION+ card.
With the average Canadian family spending around $1,600 per month on groceries alone that $4 monthly fee is easily covered. If we take that $1,600 in spending you would earn 4,800 Avion Rewards points using the ION+ card. Compare this to only 1,600 on the Infinite or Platinum or 2,000 on the Infinite Privilege.
Simple as that, if you are open to spending an additional $4 per month to carry the ION+ card in your wallet you’ll be able to earn more Avion Rewards points than you are currently earning on any of the Avion cards.
How to split the spending on your cards
Here’s how you’ll split up the spending on your cards. For this example we are using a combination of the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card and the RBC ION+ Visa card and is the same for any combination of ION and Avion cards:
- Grocery, Dining & Food Delivery: RBC ION+ Card
- Rides, Gas & EV Charging: RBC ION+ Card
- Streaming, Digital Gaming & Subscriptions: RBC ION+ Card
- Travel purchases: RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card
- All other purchases: Either card unless you have a card specific RBC Offers bonus points promotion available
As you can see, for a lot of your everyday spending you actually won’t be using your elite level Avion card as much as you are probably accustomed to!
Converting points to airlines
I’ll only touch upon this briefly here but there is also the Avion Elite level’s option to convert points to several airlines. For example, you can convert 1 to 1 British Airways Executive Club. BA are famous for 13,000 Avios one way economy class tickets to Ireland and the UK. Thus for 26,000 Avion Rewards points or as little as $8,667 in spending on the ION+ card you can have round trip ticket between Toronto and Dublin! Compare this to having to spending $20,800 or more on an Avion card alone!
If you are someone who converts to airlines other than WestJet this is once again a no-brainer as to why you need to add the ION+ card to your wallet.
No welcome bonus on the ION cards for Avion cardholders
If you are an Avion cardholder the only issue that arises when adding an ION card to your wallet is that you are not eligible for any welcome bonus. At the time of posting this Loyalty Lesson there were increased welcome bonus offers of 12,000 points on the ION+ Visa Card and 6,000 points on the ION Visa Card However they are only for those who don’t hold any RBC card or are not an authorized user on any RBC credit card.
Still, this is just a minor detail for Avion cardholders and I wouldn’t let the lack of a welcome bonus detract from getting an ION card as you need it to earn higher amounts of points.
If you don’t have either an Avion or an ION card you’ll definitely want to sign up for the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card first as it’s welcome bonus offer of 35,000 points is much better than getting 3,500 or 7,000 points.. Once you have the Avion card in hand, wait at least 90 days and then apply for an ION card to start accelerating your everyday points earning.
Wrapping it up
If this Loyalty Lesson describes your situation with the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card and you are ready to start earning more points you’ll want to apply for an RBC ION+ or ION card! Sure you won’t receive the welcome bonus but that’s not the primary reason you are getting one. You are getting one to boost your Avion Rewards points earning so that you can start redeeming sooner and extract more value from the program!
- Click here to learn more about and apply for the RBC ION+ Visa Card
- Click here to learn more about and apply for the RBC ION Visa Card