RBC Visa Infinite Avion Credit Card Review

Although my Royal Bank of Canada Visa Infinite Avion credit card is long gone (thanks to my stubborness of being unwilling to succumb to paying an annual fee for a credit card), it still has a special place in my heart, much like the MBNA American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Credit card.

First of all, this is a good card, and I understand how most people wouldn't blink at paying a $120 annual fee to get the perks that this card gives you.

Let's have a closer look at this card:

Features:

  • 1 RBC Reward Point for every $1 spent on the card
  • Earn 1.25 RBC Reward Points for every $1 spent on travel related expenditures on the card
  • Earn extra RBC Reward points if you book your travel with Carlson Wagonlit travels or Thrift Car rental
  • You get 15,000 points to start off with (which is good for a short haul flight pretty much)
  • You can redeem for any flight at any time without having to deal with blackout periods etc.
  • You can transfer your points to British Airways, American Advantage, and Asia Miles airline programs if you wanted to
  • You can redeem your points at anytime instantly with Travelocity
  • Out of Province Emergency Medical for your trip (15 days if you're under the age of 65 and 3 days if you're older than 65!)
  • Trip Interruption Insurance
  • Flight Delay Insurance
  • Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance
  • Emergency Purchases Insurance
  • Auto Rental Collision/Loss Damage Insurance
  • Travel Accident Insurance Purchase Security and Extended Warranty Protection

What you need to get this card:

  • $60,000 personal income or $100,000 household income
  • If you have a few other banking things with RBC (e.g. mortgage, banking, etc.) you should qualify for the multi-product rebate which offers you a free first year for the Visa Infinite Avion credit card (which is what we had)
  • Unfortunately they are pretty strict on not giving you an extra year for free (yes, I tried)
  • $120 annually for one card and an extra $50 for supplemental cards

How to Redeem for Stuff:

  • Possibly the best part of this card is that you can redeem twice a year for 1.5x the British Airways Points than you would otherwise.  It only happens once or twice a year and they mail you a letter telling you the dates you can do these (usually it's about a month long window of opportunity)
  • Otherwise, it's redeemed on a 1:1 basis with the aforementioned airline programs, with a minimum of 10,000 point redemption
  • The other way to redeem your Avion points is booking through their Air Travel Redemption Schedule, where for 15,000 points you get a maximum amount of $350 spend (see my ugly attempt at a screen shot below).

  • Unfortunately, the Avion doesn't cover the bits and pieces of an airline flight fee like the fuel surcharge etc. so even if you save on a flight to London, you still have to pay the fees (which can add up to around $200 or so).

My thoughts:

  • I think we had about 35,000 points on this card (thanks to the bonus) when we had it and we just transferred it to one of the airlines reward programs to add to our existing points in that program.
  • With that, I was able to get a free return flight all the way to Asia (hence the Bali and Singapore posts).  I still had to pay about $200 in airline fees but that's better than having to pay $1400 in a flight, I'd say.
  • Unless you spend a lot on the credit card (it was our joint credit card so we didn't spend that much on it since we don't have too many joint expenses), I don't know if I would pay $120 annual fee for this card just because it's not as flexible as it claims to be.

Readers, do you have the Avion Infinite?  What are your thoughts on it?

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33 Comments

  1. SavingMentor on September 10, 2012 at 12:07 am

    The 1.5x transfer promo to British Airways really makes this card worthwhile. Somehow I don’t think many everyday people who have the card take advantage of that great promotion, but doing so can give you a really good return on your spending if you redeem for first class travel on international flights.

    Just redeeming for economy international travel, probably like you did, can give a pretty decent return that is much higher than that standard 2% return you see on most travel cards that give you a straight cash discount of your travel purchase.



  2. Rob on September 10, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    I live over the pond (Spain) and I can tell you reward cards suck big time here, Lufthansa Miles and more, only had to spend 60,000



  3. young on September 10, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    @SavingMentor- So do you pay an annual fee for this card, then, SM? I’ve never even tried first class- sounds like a worthwhile points-accumulation!



  4. SavingMentor on September 10, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    No, I haven’t taken the plunge into such a card yet since the SPG cards. I did have an SPG Amex for a little bit.

    I’m sticking to the free or rebated annual fee cards for now because the price is right, the return is decent, and the flexibility to book travel that is on sale is really nice.

    Coupled with that, I can usually find sign up bonuses or product bonuses to keep me in enough points for most of the flights that I need so I don’t really need the extra points for flights.

    If an SPG MasterCard or Visa came out though, I’d be hard pressed not to get that even if it had a $120 annual fee. The hassle of dealing with an Amex + the annual fee + I think there is a fee for a 2nd card, is just barely not worth it for me.



  5. Liquid on September 11, 2012 at 10:52 am

    I don’t travel much so I normally don’t really look into these types of cards, but this one might be worth thinking about because I like all the insurance coverage it offers. Reaching the minimum $60K annual income level will be something I need to do first though :p. Great review.



  6. young on September 15, 2012 at 12:01 am

    @Liquid- Yeah, oftentimes I forget about the insurance coverage available so then the benefits aren’t available for me either (because I forget to use them lol). I wonder if they count dividend income? 😉



  7. young on September 15, 2012 at 12:01 am

    @SM- Those are my sentiments exactly. I signed up for the Aeroplan AMEX and have used it all of two times. Amex just doesn’t work for me because it isn’t accepted everywhere.



  8. young on September 15, 2012 at 12:02 am

    @Rob- But you get cheap flights with Ryan Air! 🙂 It all evens out I suppose?



  9. Della on September 16, 2012 at 1:39 am

    We have the Captial One Aspire card and after doing the math no other card could even come close to it.

    It’s only $99/year and we each have the card (no additional fee for the extra card).

    You earn 2 miles for every dollar you spend on the card and you immediately receive 35,000 points upon signing up ($350 worth of rewards). Every year you receive 10,000 points on the anniversary of the card (which works out to $100 in rewards and cancels out the annual cost of the card itself). One year after signing up you have $450 in rewards.

    Rewards can be cashed at incremental values but essentially to figure out what the points are worth just knock off the last two zeros (e.g., 60,000 points are worth $600 in travel rewards).

    Assuming you spend $3000/month on the card at the end of the first year you would have $810 worth of travel rewards after the first year.

    You receive all the bonus items (travel insurance, trip cancellation insurance, price protection, extended warrant, concierge services etc.) and you can use the points to redeem for flights, hotels and other travel-related items. You just find the flight and hotel you want, book it yourself on your card (and get points for that) and then you simply receive money off your statement whenever you redeem the points.

    www.capitalone.ca/credi…T_PRASWOVW

    The only issue for some is that you must have a personal income of $60,000 or a household income of $100,000, which isn’t feasible for everyone. We do a lot of travel so this card is amazing for us. In our first eight months we had $1600 worth of travel points (it’s our corporate card and we both use it for everything but never run a balance).

    We did the math on this card vs. other cards and the Capital One came ahead. It’s really worth checking out.



  10. Della on September 16, 2012 at 2:00 am

    My math is bad. If you spend $3000/month on the the card at the end of the first year you will have almost $1200 of points to spend. Not $810. Even better!



  11. Lisa on September 24, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    So why is it when I click on the 1.5 x BA miles link it says ths offer is no longer available?



  12. Joanne on March 20, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    I booked a flight to Hawaii, paid for it (partially with points from my platinum Avion card, got an email ticket, then received the following email: “Unfortunately at this time there are no seats available for your trip. Please have the Airline reserve a seat when you check in at the airport.”
    A short time later my friend booked the same flight on Orbitz and received a ticket with no problem. So much for being an “Avioner”.
    I am not impressed.



  13. Teacher Man on March 20, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    Good to know Joanne.



  14. baris on May 30, 2013 at 10:06 am

    RBC infinite avion card is just a scam. Scam is deep hidden and you don’t realize it until you reach to the point of redemption. We collected lot of points for a long haul international flight. It’s supposed to get you a $1300 ticket for free for 65000 points right? Guess what. It doesn’t pay taxes and fees of the ticket. So all of a sudden you have to pay half of that $1300 ticket from your pocket. That means it does not give you anything for free for your points. If you decide to use cash back option for your ticket purchase then it’s rate of return falls to only 1%. For a $120 annual fee that’s a big scam because there are credit cards out there to give 1.5% cash back with no annual fee at all. Another catch is the travelocity. You’re very lucky if you can find the flight you’re looking for. We searched many hours on different web sites for the optimum timing and price for our flight and that flight simply does not exist on travelocity. So the conclusion is, this card is the biggest scam I’ve ever encountered among all the credit cards. It’s probably only good if you fly only first class, or you lose and get disappointed big time.



  15. baris on May 30, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Same thing happened to us. All major travel sites like expedia, kayak, orbitz could find the ticket we are looking for, EXCEPT Travelocity.



  16. susan s. on July 28, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    I am avid avion visa infinite point collector. I use it for every cent spent that I can, spending and bills, its my points, I am taking it. Of course, it does not become valuable if you don’t pay your balance monthly, then any point card is “pointless” if your paying interest. I receive at least 100,000 points per year, which I always convert to BA airmiles at 1.5 times. (you can only do this when stated, about twice a year , but you can get points for points anytime.) You can also redeem BA points fro Alaska and American airlines, but limited. If you are a European traveller, the only way to go is converting to BA, avion charges to many points. I use my points for myself and daughters, to England, Germany and Italy, have had about 800,000 points so far, with the 1.5 bonus, the only way to go. And for those about taxes, etc. of course you have to pay those, most cards those are extras, but its worth it , for us anyway. BTW, I love the smallenfreuden commercials, but again, pointless if you can’t pay your bills. thanks. great little website.



  17. susan on July 28, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    P.S. to my above blog, British Airways is also part of Oneworld alliance, so have also other airlines in Europe/central asia, etc. to also book with. Just a thought.

    Thanks.



  18. Yersinia pestis on August 8, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    In my opinion, the best way to use the Avion program is to take advantage of the aforementioned Avion>Avios transfer bonus. You can redeem Avios points on AA flights at pretty good rate – e.g. BOS-LAS roundtrip is 25000 points and a whopping 5 (five) dollars in taxes and fees.

    Redeeming for BA flights via UK airports can be very expensive because of high taxes, BUT there is another trick: you can subscribe for the Iberia program which also uses Avios points. Once both accounts (BA and IB) have been active for three months, you can transfer your Avios points between BA and IB as you please (people say, transfer is almost real-time). Taxes on IB flights to Europe are much lower.



  19. Carlos on January 30, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    Hey,
    I use my AVION to buy EVERYTHING. I also travel a lot. More than most people (35+ countries, hundreds of cities). The best, and possibly the only way to use the Avion properly is transfer to BA/Avios miles. From there, I use those BA miles to fly on AA. Flew MTL to Chicago/Miami/SF etc for $30. Use Avios miles for SHORT-HAUL flights. Those are the most worth it, as taxes and surcharges are low.

    And I was supposed to fly to Columbia for xmas 2013. Got really sick, went to the doctor, got a note. RBC just paid me cheque for $1500…AND I got a voucher from AA for the same amount. The insurances on the card are great. Make sure you know them. They doubled my warranty on my Macbook Pro. No applecare needed.



  20. Kyle on January 30, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    Sounds like a great deal Carlos. Thanks for letting us know about it!



  21. […] loved it, but didn’t want to pay the $120 for the annual fee after the first year.



  22. lina on November 20, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    RBC Avalon is the worse visa I have ever had, poor points and hard to deal with reservations; you lose your money if you want to change the date and etc



  23. BEVERLEY STERN on November 11, 2015 at 11:47 am

    Why does infinite avion not have trip cancellation insurance? do you buy this on your own?? where can u buy it??



  24. Kyle on November 16, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    Almost every airline and/or travel agent sells some version Beverley. Cheers!



  25. William Petra on January 15, 2016 at 6:20 am

    Is it possible to switch RBC Avion points back to BA Avios, I switch them to RBC earlier this year? We just tried to book business class tickets to the Mexico in February and couldn’t get the dates.



  26. Kyle on January 15, 2016 at 9:26 am

    Not sure William. I assume you’ll have to bug the RBC loyalty program about that. Let us know how you make out.



  27. Karin on June 29, 2016 at 1:15 am

    Hello Everyone
    Just want to say, I very much regret ever having the RBC Avion card. After years of using the card and saving thousands and thousands of points to eventually take my family on good holidays, I got very sick and was late on some monthly payments, but they were always made. I finally was able to pay off the card in full, but realized RBC cancelled all my points, so after 10 or more years of saving the points and not using any, they were all gone. Not to mention they also cancelled the RBC card. I always paid the annual fee, paid my visa bill, collected the points and got “Nothing in Return”
    A big scam and very upsetting. I will never deal with RBC again.
    Look @CIBC Aventura for a better airmiles card. They have been really good and you build up points much faster for a wonderful trip.



  28. Jane on July 6, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    Having this card for over 10 years, until a year ago, I was a supporter. However, RBC was unable to reclaim overcharges from hertz Melbourne of over $300, and when I booked a flight this weekend to Europe I was given surcharges, fees and taxes of over $600 on top of my 65,000 points, while Flight Centre was offering $600 return flights. And plus they missed a flight connection that the quoted a change fee of over $200 on a $100 flight to correct their mistake. Sorry, I’m taking my business elsewhere 7/16 at less cost.



  29. Leanne on October 3, 2016 at 9:55 am

    I just wanted to share my experience with the car insurance through the RBC Infinite Avion card. Last May I was in Scotland and we had parked our rental car on the side of the road out front of our airbnb. At some point overnight, someone dinged our bumper. We had to pay the rental car company (Arnold Clark – would not recommend) 750 GBP in a deductible. The RBC insurance folks were excellent with communication, were very friendly on the phone, and after 3 months (because Arnold Clark refused to provide the damage assessment for that long), RBC reimbursed me the full amount – even without the correct documentation (with an agreement that I would repay them the balance if AC paid me anything). I don’t imagine it would have taken that long if Arnold Clark had provided the required documentation, and overall I’m extremely pleased with the insurance. Something else to note is that while some car insurance on credit cards doesn’t cover all countries (e.g., Ireland) this card does!



  30. Kyle on October 3, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    Thanks for sharing Leanne!



  31. brent on December 12, 2016 at 6:00 pm

    Have had this card foe as long as i can remember and have nothing but excellent service Use to spend close to a hundred thousand a year on it and every time we needed to fly would just phone them up and book the flight Very professional Way better the air miles



  32. Philip on January 29, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    To those on here who are saying they are disappointed with Avion as you have to go through their Travelocity based site to book travel which allows you limited airline/flight options, I had though the same thing until recently reading a comment on another website.
    I haven’t tried this yet but apparently you can purchase any ticket you want from any airline or website (taking advantage of lower prices, seat sales, etc.)and go ahead and pay for that ticket using your Avion Visa. You then call RBC Avions travel site and simply ask them to refund your Visa for the price you paid for your ticket(s), minus taxes and fees of course. Supposedly they will do this no problem up to the maximum $ amount allowable in their published redemption schedule. They then withdraw the corresponding points from your account for trip you had refunded.
    Has any one else tried this approach to booking through Avion yet?



  33. Allan Hughes on March 16, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    I, too, had the experience of this card only paying half the international fee (I opted to pay cash because the 65,000 points it will ultimately almost get me 2 domestic flights up to $1,500 as the airline carrier fees are much smaller to travel to Canada or US).
    However, I must add that I had my son’s Imac monitor replaced for free and a $23,000 write-off of a rental vehicle paid for by my Avion Insurance. They were very good to deal with in both instances so I would never get rid of this card because of the insurance benefits even though I was a little miffed by the European flight experience.



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