There are quite a few good RBC credit cards in Canada, but some stand out above the rest for their impressive rates, complimentary memberships, and low annual fees. I constantly keep up with the latest options and policy changes and make my recommendations below based on years of experience.
I recommend the RBC Cash Back Mastercard as the #1 RBC credit card in Canada due to its no annual fee, high earn rate on groceries, and a flat 1% cash back on all other purchases. It's one of the most flexible RBC cards, and the fact that it doesn't charge any kind of fee makes it an excellent introductory card.
What Is An RBC Credit Card?
Credit cards are financial tools issued by banks or select credit card networks as a type of loan. With a credit card, you can borrow money within a pre-approved credit limit, and pay it back according to the terms and conditions of the issuer. The credit card limit is the maximum amount you can use; if you pay it back within the time stipulated in the contract, you won’t have to pay additional interest.
The Royal Bank of Canada – also known as RBC – is one of the ‘Big 5 Banks’ of Canada, with over 17 million clients worldwide. RBC offers all types of credit cards, including cash back, travel, low-interest, and no-annual-fee credit cards. You can use these cards to earn rewards like cash back (or points) on eligible purchases, and redeem them for groceries, gift cards, tech products, or travel benefits.
Although they're not generally the best in class, RBC offers some good cards in the Canadian market. Without further ado, here are the best RBC credit cards Canada has to offer.
The Best RBC Credit Cards In Canada
- RBC Cash Back Mastercard: Best for cash back with no annual fee
- RBC ION Visa: Best for Avion points with no annual fee; best for students
- RBC Cash Back Preferred World Elite Mastercard: Best for unlimited cash back
- RBC Avion Visa Infinite Business: Best for business
- WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard: Best for air travel rewards
How Do RBC Credit Cards Work?
A credit card is made of thin rectangular plastic or metal material with a built-in EMV chip, magnetic stripe, or both. These features work by paying for your purchases by swiping or inserting your card into a card reader. Another payment method is tap-to-pay, where you tap your credit card to make a contactless payment.
When you open your first RBC credit card, you have to learn about the credit limit or the maximum amount you can borrow to buy items and services. You need to settle for the minimum monthly payment (usually $10) to reduce the interest you have to pay in the longer term. If you spend less than that, RBC will charge you extra fees, making it more difficult for you to settle your balance.
Why Get An RBC Credit Card?
There are several reasons to get an RBC credit card, such as buying now and paying later for your purchases, and there are exclusive rewards and benefits when using a credit card. Below are the advantages of why you need an RBC credit card.
- Buy Now Pay Later transactions.
- Quick and convenient
- It helps build a credit score.
- Fraud and identity theft protection
- Wide range of travel, emergency, or purchase insurance
- Offer rewards in points (Avion points, WestJet dollars, Avios, or Asia Miles) or cash back
- Redeemable rewards for merchandise, gift cards, bill payments, travel purchase, etc.
Pros & Cons Of An RBC Credit Card
Pros: Why an RBC Credit Card may be worth it
- Wide range of credit card categories such as rewards, student, business, cash back, low interest, and travel
- Earn points on everyday purchases, including groceries, pre-authorized bill payments, subscriptions, transportation, and more
- Offers rewards in cash back rate, Avion points, Avios, Asia Miles, or WestJet dollars
- Get as low as a 2.9% prime rate with their low-interest credit cards.
- Save more money when you shop at Petro-Canada, Rexall, Hertz, and DoorDash.
- Convert points into free travel purchases such as hotels, airline tickets, vacation packages, etc.
Cons: Why an RBC Credit Card may not be worth it
- RBC doesn’t support secured credit cards
- 2.5% foreign exchange fee
- 19.99% Interest rate on purchases and 22.99% on cash advances
Types Of RBC Credit Cards In Canada
#1 Rewards Credit Cards
A rewards credit card lets you earn points for every purchase you make. RBC gives you Avion Rewards, WestJet dollars, Avios, or Asia Miles for every $1 you spend on various categories. These categories include groceries, transportation, gas, entertainment, subscriptions, digital gaming, and more.
You can redeem your rewards for merchandise, gift cards, credit card or household bill payments, or travel purchases. The worth of an Avion point depends on what credit card you have and which item you want to exchange for. These points do not expire. However, you have 90 days to redeem any remaining Avion points if your account is closed.
#2 Cash Back Credit Cards
A cash back credit card is similar to a rewards credit card, but the key difference is how and what you can redeem with it. You can earn cash back credit every time you shop at a percentage rate. For example, the RBC Business Cash Back Mastercard offers 2% cash back on all purchases within the first three months and 1% on all purchases after that.
#3 Low-Interest Credit Cards
A low-interest credit card is designed for individuals who would like to save more money as they regularly have an outstanding monthly balance. There are two types of low-interest credit cards that RBC offers such as variable rate or fixed low-rate cards. The variable rate card has a prime rate that depends on your credit score rating – the higher your rating, the lower your rate. On the other hand, a fixed low-rate card focuses on giving flat interest rates regardless of your credit score performance.
#4 Student Credit Cards
A student credit card is made for students with low or no annual fee options to help them build their credit history. This works like a regular credit card, where you can earn Avion rewards or cash back on purchases to redeem them for merchandise, gift cards, bill payments, and more. Student credit cards also have higher chances of getting approved since RBC mostly requires your personal and student information during the application process.
#5 Business Credit Cards
A business credit card is for business owners or entrepreneurs looking for a simple and convenient way to manage business transactions. This credit card is also flexible regarding its rewards since you can still earn Avion points or cash back. RBC also lets you combine the point earned by your employees into one account and reward them with incentives, gift cards, or merchandise.
#6 Travel Credit Cards
A travel credit card rewards you with exclusive travel offers, whether for a vacation or business trip. You will earn Avion points, WestJet dollars, Avios, or Asia Miles for every $1 you spend on purchases. These can be redeemed for hotels, airline tickets, cruises, tours, car rentals, and more. Most travel credit cards come with travel insurance and protection so you can ensure your safety while on a trip.
How To Choose An RBC Credit Card In Canada
Credit Card Category
The first thing you should consider when choosing a new credit card is its category. RBC offers six credit card types, so you can find the one that fits best with your lifestyle. Among these categories are rewards, cash back, low interest, student, travel, and business, where each one excels in its specific features.
For example, if you are looking for an RBC cash back credit card with no annual fee, we recommend the RBC Cash Back Mastercard. It offers a very reasonable cash back rate, considering it doesn’t charge an annual fee.
The next thing that should be on the second of your list is the annual fee. You have to consider the cost of the credit card’s annual fee, especially if you are on a tight budget and would like to lessen your monthly payments. RBC offers no annual fee credit cards in almost all categories except travel.
Most of RBC’s credit cards offer a welcome bonus plus additional points if you have completed the requirement within the first few months of approval. Credit cards with higher annual fees tend to have generous welcome bonuses. However, you need to know when the promo ends to have enough time to apply.
One of the credit cards that gives a considerable sign-up bonus is the RBC ION+ Visa. You can enjoy 12,000 Avion points upon approval, but you must apply before November 30, 2022, to get the reward.
The earn rate of an RBC credit card depends on its category, annual fee, credit score, and minimum income requirements. Some credit cards designed for students, seniors, or youth tend to have an introductory reward rate and perks.
For instance, if you are a student who is starting to build your credit history, the RBC ION Visa may be for you. It has no annual fee, so you won’t need to worry about your bill payments, and it lets you earn 1.5x Avion points for every $1 you spend on your everyday purchases, including groceries and transportation.
There are two kinds of rewards that you can get from an RBC credit card – points or cash back. If you prefer points, RBC offers rewards in Avion points, WestJet dollars, Avios, and Asia Miles. You can redeem these points for merchandise, gift cards, products, bill payments, or travel purchases.
On the other hand, if you prefer cash back, you must wait for your cash back balance reaches $25 or more so that you can request RBC to transfer your cash back credit to your account. If you did not request it, the amount will be automatically credited in January or can be viewed in your February statement.
Perks and Benefits
RBC has partnered with well-known companies such as Petro-Canada, Rexall, DoorDash, Hertz, and more. By linking your new RBC credit card, you can receive exclusive offers and benefits by purchasing in-store and online purchases from their partnerships. If you are a frequent customer of these stores, you might as well try to apply for an RBC credit card online or through their selected partners.
How To Redeem Your RBC Credit Card Rewards
#1 Cash Back Program
Once you reach $25 or more on your cash back balance, you can contact RBC’s customer support to transfer the amount to your account. Otherwise, it will automatically be credited to your account every January and shown on your February statement.
#2 Avion Points or Rewards Program
You can redeem your Avion points (or rewards) through the RBC website (or the app). Here’s how you can redeem your points from the RBC website:
- Log in to the Avion Reward website.
- Click Shop (to redeem points for everyday purchases) or Travel (to redeem points for flights or hotels)
- Choose the shopping rewards that you want, either Apple, Best Buy, merchandise, gift cards, donation, or investment products. Likewise, pick your travel rewards for flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, or vacation packages.
For the RBC app, you can follow the steps below,
- Open the Avion Rewards app and sign in using your phone or tablet.
- Press the Shop or Travel tab
- Redeem your points for shopping rewards (e.g., Apple, Best Buy, gift cards, donations, investments) or travel rewards in the Book Online section.
Keep in mind that 100 Avion points are equivalent to $1 for other Avion Rewards members or 172 Avion points for $1 for RBC ION Visa and RBC ION+ Visa card holders.
How To Apply For An RBC Credit Card In Canada
You must be a Canadian resident and at least the age of majority in the province or territory you reside to apply for an RBC credit card. RBC also opens its services to international students, business owners or entrepreneurs, and foreign workers.
For international students, you must show proof of entry into Canada with supporting documents such as a passport or study permit. For business owners or foreign workers, you must provide government-issued documents and meet all of RBC’s credit criteria and other supporting documents.
Premium credit cards usually require a minimum income requirement on personal or household. You must have at least $60,000 for personal income and at least $100,000 for the household to avoid unnecessary rejection during the application process. However, some credit card types, such as student credit cards, do not require high income as long as you specify your source of income and employment status.
Your credit score has a role in determining your chances of getting approved on a particular credit card. According to Equifax, a credit score of 660 or more will qualify you for most credit cards. The higher your credit score, the more likely you will be accepted for premium cards with better bonuses, rewards, and benefits.
How To Apply For An RBC Credit Card
#1 Online Banking
You can apply for an RBC credit card online or by visiting the RBC website. Find the Credit Cards tab on the top of the page and click the Credit Cards Overview. Scroll down, and you will see all of the credit cards offered by RBC. Choose the credit card you want and click the Apply Now button to start your application.
#2 Credit Card Selector
If you are unsure which card is best suited for you, you can use the RBC Credit Card Selector – just answer a couple of questions, and the selector will recommend a credit card for you, based on your lifestyle and monthly expenses. You can choose from six different credit categories. After you complete the test, there is an Apply Now button at the right of the page to apply for your chosen credit card.
#3 Checkout Page Of Selected Partners
RBC has partnered with well-known companies and retailers for consumers to use their credit cards in-store and online. For example, you can apply directly from the checkout pages of their selected partners when you shop online. This option would also give you exclusive offers when you are approved immediately on your new RBC credit card.
RBC Credit Card FAQs
Are RBC Credit Cards Worth It?
RBC credit cards may be worth it depending on spending habits, financial needs, and wants.
An RBC credit card is worth it if you want to earn in cash back rate or rewards such as Avion points or WestJet dollars. It is also valuable if you frequent customer of Petro-Canada, Rexall, DoorDash, and Hertz since it offers exclusive benefits and perks.
In contrast, an RBC credit card is not worth it if you are looking for a secured credit card with lower APRs and higher points or cash back.
What Is The Best Free RBC Credit Card In Canada?
The best free RBC credit card in Canada is the RBC ION Visa. It doesn’t charge annual fees and you can earn Avion points on all your purchases. Points can be redeemed for in-store and online purchases, gift cards, travel purchases, or household bill payments.
Why Is My RBC Credit Card Declined?
Your RBC credit card may be declined if you spend beyond your credit limit. When your purchase is approved, you will be charged an over-limit fee of $29 on your account. Other reasons your card may be declined include an expired credit card, a damaged magnetic strip, or suspicious card activity.
How Do I Increase My Credit Limit?
To increase the limit on your RBC credit cards you can:
- Visit the official RBC Online Banking app on the website and sign in. On the right side select Change Credit Limit
- Call RBC customer support directly
- Visit a local RBC branch and request a credit limit increase
What Is A Good Credit Score In Canada?
According to Equifax, a good credit score in Canada is usually between 600 to 724. A higher credit score is considered excellent, making it easier to get approved on premium credit cards.
What Should I Set My Credit Limit To?
Most experts agree that an acceptable credit card limit is between 10% and 30% of your annual income. This ensures you have enough liquidity to make monthly payments on time, so you don’t incur extra interest.