Image source: RBC.com

RBC Rewards Guide

Advertiser Disclosure This article/post contains references to products or services from one or more of our advertisers or partners. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products or services.
Last updated on December 26, 2021

RBC Rewards, overseen by the biggest of the Big Five banks, is one of the most popular loyalty programs in Canada. Though it offers an impressive variety of redemption options overall, the program is particularly appealing to frequent fliers who covet the bank’s Avion credit cards. Whether you’re a more casual rewards earner or a seasoned jet setter, our RBC Rewards guide will help you decide if RBC Rewards is the loyalty program you’ve been looking for, or if you should keep up the hunt for the perfect spending and travel companion.

Pros and Cons of RBC Rewards

Pros

  • Flexible program with lots of redemption options 
  • Points can be earned with your debit card if you have a qualifying bank account
  • You can convert points to several other participating loyalty programs

Cons

  • Non-Avion credit cards have weak to non-existent welcome bonuses and ho-hum earn rates
  • Must have an Avion credit card to get maximum point value when redeeming for travel
  • Relatively low value for points when redeeming for statement credits

How Do You Earn RBC Rewards Points?

The best way to earn RBC Rewards points is via credit card purchases, and the below chart shows all the RBC credit cards you can use to rack up points.

 Annual FeeWelcome BonusEarn RatesAvion or Regular Card
RBC Rewards+ Visa$0 CADNone1 point per $1 spent on gas, grocery and drug store purchases; 1 point per $2 on all other purchasesRegular
Signature RBC Rewards Visa$39 CADNone1 point per $1 on all purchasesRegular
RBC U.S. Dollar Visa Gold$65 USDNone1 point per $1 USD spentRegular
RBC Rewards Visa Preferred$110 CAD2,500 welcome points1 point per $1 on all purchasesRegular
RBC Avion Visa Infinite$120 CAD55,000 points1.25 points per $1 on eligible travel and 1 point on all other purchasesAvion
RBC Avion Visa Platinum$120 CAD35,000 points1 point per $1 on all purchasesAvion
RBC Avion Visa Business$120 CAD20,000 points1 point per $1 on all purchasesAvion
RBC Avion Visa Infinite Business$175 CAD25,000 points1.25 points per $1 on all purchasesAvion
RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege$399 CAD35,000 points1.25 points per $1 on all purchasesAvion

You may wonder if there’s a distinction between the points earned from a standard RBC card, like the Signature RBC Rewards Visa, vs. an Avion card, like the RBC Avion Visa Infinite. It’s important to understand that both cards earn RBC Rewards points—there’s no such thing as ‘Avion points’, though some Avion cardholders may mistakenly refer to their points as such. The difference between an Avion card and a standard RBC rewards card is that Avion cards are intended to appeal to those looking specifically for travel rewards cards. Avion cards have higher annual fees, better welcome offers, and feature additional travel-friendly perks (like good travel insurance packages and exclusive experiences). Finally, though both Avion and non-Avion cardholders use the same travel portal to redeem points, Avion cardholders get better value for their points when redeemed for travel.

If you don’t feel comfortable using credit, keep in mind that you can still earn RBC Rewards points with a debit card. If you enrol an eligible RBC bank account (such as the RBC Day to Day Banking or Advantage Banking accounts) in the Value Program you can earn RBC points every time you use your debit card.

What Can RBC Points Be Used For?

An RBC Rewards point’s value varies substantially depending on how it’s redeemed, and points can be redeemed for a wide variety of purposes, including travel, merchandise, charitable donations, and gift cards.

Redeeming Travel Points For Avion and Non-Avion Cardholders

When you want to redeem your RBC Rewards for travel, you’ll notice that there’s a different redemption option based on whether you have an RBC Avion card or not.

If you don’t have an Avion card, then your redemption options for travel are very straightforward: 100 points = $1 travel value. To redeem your points for travel you simply sign in to the RBC Rewards Travel page and select a travel purchase. There is no minimum number of points required to redeem for travel, and if you don’t have enough points to cover a full travel redemption you can pay the remaining balance with your credit card.

If you are an Avion cardholder, you can select round-trip flights on any airline based on the Air Travel Redemption Schedule. The number of points you need to redeem depends on your destination, and each destination has a maximum ticket price (not including fees and taxes). If you exceed the maximum ticket price, RBC lets you charge the additional cost to your credit card or pay the difference at a rate of 100 points = $1. 

Points NeededRegionMax Ticket PriceMax Value Per Point
15,000Within or to an adjacent province, territory, or U.S. state$350$0.0233
35,000From/to anywhere in Canada or U.S. except Hawaii and Alaska$750$0.0214
45,000Western Canada or U.S. to Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska /Eastern Canada to Bermuda, Central America, Caribbean$900$0.02
55,000Eastern Canada or U.S. to Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska /Western Canada to Bermuda, Central America, Caribbean $1,100$0.02
65,000Canada or U.S. to Europe$1,300$0.02
100,000Canada or U.S. to Asia, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, Middle East, Africa, South America$2,000$0.02

It’s clear from the travel redemption schedule that Avioners get more value for their points when they redeem them for travel compared to non-Avioners. Whereas the value of one point for non-Avioners is locked in at 1 point = 1 cent, Avioner point values range from 2 cents to as high as 2.33 cents per point. 

Note that while there are redemption differences between Avion and non-Avion cardholders, there are some important benefits that both cardholders share. Both can redeem their points for a number of different travel-related purchases, such as flights, cruises, vacation packages, hotels, and car rentals. Furthermore, both enjoy no blackouts or seat restrictions when they book their travel. Plus, both can use RBC Rewards points to cover air travel fees and taxes at a rate of 100 points per $1. 

RBC Rewards Points Conversion

Another appealing feature of the RBC Rewards program is that you can transfer your RBC points to a few other participating loyalty programs. 

All RBC Rewards cardholders can convert their RBC Rewards points into WestJet dollars and Hudson’s Bay Rewards points. For every 100 RBC Rewards points converted, you receive 1 WestJet dollar (minimum 1,000 pts needed to convert). For every 500 RBC Rewards points converted, you receive 1,000 Hudson’s Bay Rewards points (minimum 500 pts needed).

RBC Avion cardholders have even more conversion options. They can transfer points to the aforementioned programs, but they can also convert RBC Rewards points to other participating travel rewards programs:

  • American Airlines (10,000 RBC Rewards points = 7,000 AAdvantage miles)
  • Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles (10,000 RBC Rewards points = 10,000 Asia Miles)
  • British Airways (10,000 RBC Rewards points = 10,000 Avios)

Note that all cardholders can also transfer RBC Rewards points to a second RBC Rewards account held in their name. You can also transfer RBC Rewards points to a family member or friend if they have an RBC Rewards account. 

Other Redemption Options

The RBC Rewards program is incredibly flexible and points can be redeemed for an impressive variety of pursuits outside travel, including merchandise, charitable donations, and gift cards. You can also put points toward an RBC Financial Reward, by transferring them to accounts like an RBC investment portfolio or RESP. Finally, you can take advantage of a relatively new feature called Pay With Points that lets you pay bills, pay down your credit card statement, or even make purchases in-store with an eligible digital wallet app like Google Pay.

Here’s a look at what your RBC Rewards points are worth: 

  • Merchandise: $0.006–$0.0085 per point. Point value varies because there’s a wide range of items you can redeem points for, including Bose stereos, Fitbit smartwatches, Cuisinart kitchen appliances, and more. RBC Rewards also has an impressive range of Apple products like MacBook Pro and iPhones. 
  • Gift Cards: $0.0071–$0.01 per point. When redeeming points for gift cards, points usually have a value of $0.0071 each. However, sometimes RBC Rewards will have special bonuses where the points needed for a redemption are reduced, which gives your points more value. For example, normally you need 1,400 points to redeem for a $10 Amazon.ca gift card but sometimes the same $10 Amazon.ca gift certificate is available for only 1,000 points, bringing your point value up to one cent per point. There is a good selection of gift cards aside from Amazon.ca, including Best Buy, Air Canada, A&W and more.
  • Charitable Donations: $0.01 per point. Redemptions can be donated to Hope Air, Own The Podium, Ronald McDonald House Charities, and The David Foster Foundation.
  • RBC Financial Reward: $0.0083 per point. You can contribute to your RBC investment portfolio, RBC personal loan, RBC mortgage, RBC line of credit, and more.
  • Pay With Points: $0.0058 per point. If you use Pay with Points to pay down your statement credit you get the worst value for your points. 

Redeeming points is a straightforward process: Head to the Rewards portal and sign in when you’re ready to redeem. There may be minimum redemption requirements depending on what redemption option you use. For example, there are set point minimums required when you convert points to other loyalty programs, as well as a minimum of 12,000 points needed to redeem points for RBC Financial Rewards. 

Do RBC Points Expire?

RBC Rewards points never expire as long as your account remains open and in good standing. However, you’ll have limited time periods to redeem your points after closing your account: 90 days for self-serve, online point redemption and 365 days to redeem by calling in to the RBC advice centre.

Other Program Benefits

RBC has point-earning partnerships with both Rexall and Petro-Canada. With Petro-Canada, you earn 20% more RBC Rewards points when you use a linked eligible RBC Rewards credit card to make purchases. You also instantly save 3 cents per litre at Petro-Canada locations. With Rexall, RBC cardholders with a linked debit or credit card earn 50 Be Well points (Rexall’s rewards program) per $1 they spend at Rexall stores. 

RBC also has a new partnership with DoorDash that gets eligible cardholders a free DashPass subscription for up to 12 months, as well as unlimited deliveries with no delivery fees on orders over $12.

Is RBC the Best Travel Program in Canada?

So how does RBC stack up? To get a sense of how competitive the RBC program is, it’s helpful to compare it to the two other most popular travel rewards programs in Canada: Aeroplan and AIR MILES.

The new Aeroplan flight award chart features dynamic pricing, so the value you get for an Aeroplan point depends on numerous factors like flight distance, exact destination, and route popularity. Since Aeroplan recently revamped its program, point values now generally range anywhere from about 1.5 cents per point to as high as 2 cents, which is a lower range than the travel redemption values for Avion cardholders. Unlike Avion, Aeroplan points cannot be transferred to other loyalty programs, but you can transfer points from some other loyalty programs to Aeroplan. That said, there’s a larger selection of Aeroplan credit cards issued by multiple financial institutions (TD, CIBC, and Amex) and they tend to feature more travel perks than Avion cards, including the likes of free checked bags, NEXUS application rebates, and free airport lounge visits.

AIR MILES, while not strictly a travel reward program, gives you the best (if not the most consistent) value when you redeem them for travel. Value ranges anywhere between 8 to 25 cents a point, depending on when and where you fly. However, AIR MILES are slow to add up because AIR MILES credit cards typically only earn 1 MILE per $5–$25 you spend, depending on the card. It’s also worth noting that unlike with RBC, the values for Aeroplan points and AIR MILES don’t change based on which credit card they were earned with. So although an entry-level Aeroplan or AIR MILES card might earn points at a slower rate than a card with a high annual fee, the ‘class’ of the card doesn’t affect how much its points are worth when it’s time to redeem.

All told, I recommend RBC Rewards to those who meet the income and credit score requirements for an Avion card, and who are willing to pay an Avion card’s annual fee for access to its high-value point redemptions. Avion is particularly appealing for those who find themselves making a lot of short-haul flights within Canada or to nearby U.S. states, for which your points get exceptional value. It’s also a great option if you fly frequently with American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, or British Airways, and you like the flexibility of transferring your points to one of those loyalty programs in order to maximize value and get free flights.

On the other hand, if you only qualify for an entry-level, non-Avion card, there are other travel rewards programs or even cash back credit cards out there that might offer more sign-up bonus points, better regular earn rates, and better value for your points.

Related Articles

Author Bio

Sandra MacGregor
Sandra MacGregor has been writing about finance and travel for nearly a decade. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications like the New York Times, the UK Telegraph, the Washington Post, Forbes.com and the Toronto Star. She spends her free time travelling, and has lived around the globe, including in Paris, South Korea and Cape Town. You can follow her on Twitter at @MacgregorWrites.

Article comments