RBC Rewards – Canada’s Largest Bank-Owned Loyalty Program

May 12, 2020
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RBC Rewards is one of the the most flexible loyalty program in Canada. You can redeem flight tickets with no blackout date restrictions; transfer your points to partnering airlines such as WestJet, British Airways, Air Miles and American Airlines; get financial investments, merchandise, gift cards and even pay your bills.

One of the easiest way to earn RBC points is using the RBC Avion Visa Infinite credit card where you get 1.25 RBC points per $1 spent for travel related purchases and 1 RBC point per $1 for any other purchases. If you dont have this card, it comes with a decent welcome bonus of 15,000 RBC points. Not bad to get you started on accumulating your RBC points.

Canadians love their loyalty rewards programs, and when it comes down to it, RBC Rewards is among the most popular in the country. In this review, we’ll cover all the ins and outs of this rewards program so you’ll know exactly how to make the most out of it.

What Is RBC Rewards?

RBC Rewards is a loyalty program by Royal Bank of Canada. The program is known to be Canada’s largest bank-owned loyalty program. With that, RBC offers a diverse range of products to be redeemed as you accumulate points with your purchases.

The typical concern would be that you need huge sums of points to redeem valuable offers. The upside is your points never expire. That would mean you have nothing to lose by accumulating points. It’s just a question of how soon can you accumulate the points with your spending. 

What Does RBC Rewards Offer?

There are 6 different redemption categories in the RBC Rewards program:

  1. Travel
  2. Convert your Points 
  3. Merchandise and Gift Cards
  4. RBC Financial Rewards 
  5. Pay With Points 
  6. Donate to Charity

Read on as we go through each category below:

RBC Rewards #1: Travel 

You can use RBC Rewards Travel to get:

  • Flight tickets 
  • Vacation packages, 
  • Hotels, 
  • Car rentals, 
  • Hotel + flight combinations, 
  • Cruises
  • Travel gift cards

One of the notable benefits is you can:

  • Choose any flights on any airlines (no blackout dates or seat restrictions)
  • Use your points to cover taxes or surcharges 

This section is a quick overview of RBC Rewards travel. We will deep dive on RBC Rewards – travel further below in this post.

RBC Rewards #2: Merchandise & Gift Cards

If you are not a travel person, that’s perfectly fine. You can use your points to redeem for merchandise of your preferred brands or to purchase gift cards of the value suited to your point balance.

Here are a few popular brands that you can redeem. 

Case Study: Redeeming RBC Points For Apple Products

If you’re a big fan of the California-based bitten fruit brand, you should know that with RBC Rewards you’ll be able to redeem your loyalty points for some pretty great products. This is how to go about it:

  • Click on the Apple link under ‘Shop & Redeem’ at the top of the page
  • Shop through the Apple catalogue
  • Add the item of your choice to your Cart 
  • Purchase the item by redeeming your points or you can combine RBC Rewards points redemption + credit card as your mode of payment. 

If you want to combine points and cash as your payment method, then you would need to pay at least 20% of the total purchase with points. As for the remainder 80%, you can use your points, credit card, or a combination of both.

Your merchandise is expected to arrive within 10 business days. Should you have any issues with receiving your purchases, you can contact RBC at 1-800-769-2512. 

RBC Rewards #3: Financial Rewards 

Unlike most other loyalty programs, RBC Rewards offers the chance to redeem your points for financial instruments. This means you can actually make your points grow in time if you don’t plan to use them right away. This is one of the big pros this program has to offer. Here are the 6 different types of financial rewards you can redeem:

  • RBC Registered Rewards®
  • RBC Homeline Plan Reward™
  • RBC Mortgage Reward™
  • RBC Credit Line Reward™
  • RBC Personal Loan Reward™
  • Trade with Points™

Unfortunately, there are no standard redemptions available for RBC financial rewards. You would need to check in the Promotions page for the promos given for financial rewards. 

Usually, it is 12,000 points as a minimum redemption for a $100 financial rewards voucher. Vouchers redeemed must be used for the loan or reward payment they were redeemed for. You will not be able to deposit the voucher into your personal savings or any other account.

RBC Rewards #4: Pay with Points 

This is a simple process where you basically use your points to pay for 

  1. Contactless transactions via Android or iOs device 
  2. Outstanding RBC credit card balance 
  3. Outstanding phone, internet or utility bills

The minimum payment is for points equivalent of $1 up to a maximum of $100.  Payments with your points are only for Canadian dollar purchases in Canada. For credit card balances, you can only use your points to pay for the RBC credit card that is linked to your RBC Rewards account. It is not too bad if you are an avid RBC credit card user. As for the bill payments, you can use your points to pay for your typical monthly bills

How Do You Pay Your Bills With Your RBC Points?

  1. Log in to your RBC Rewards account
  2. Select the account you want to use to pay for the transaction
  3. Select the bill you want to apply your payment to
  4. Input the dollar value of the bill payment you want the points equivalent to be applied. 
  5. The Points equivalent of the dollar value you entered will be displayed. 
  6. The Points for your redemption are taken from your RBC loyalty account.

The number of points required per $1 can change at any time, at RBC’s discretion. On top of that, you will not be notified when the change happens. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to do the math and check if you couldn’t rather use your points for something else. The upside is that, in case you change your mind, you can cancel the transaction within the same day it was made before 6 pm.

RBC Rewards #5: Donate To Charity

Your points can also be donated to a participating charitable organization with RBC. The donation will be done at the beginning of the month. With that, the receiving charitable organization will issue a tax receipt directly to you within 12 weeks from the time of donation.

RBC Rewards #6: Convert Your Points

Aside from using your points towards travel, you can convert your points to other partner loyalty programs:

  1. WestJet Rewards
  2. British Airways (Exclusive to Avioners)
  3. Asia Miles (Exclusive to Avioners)
  4. American Airlines (Exclusive to Avioners)

Here is a breakdown of the estimated point conversion rate:

Participating Loyalty Programs Point Transfer Conversion  Eligibility
WestJet Rewards 1,000 RBC points = $10 WestJet dollars As long as you have an RBC Rewards account
British Airways 10,000 RBC points = 10,000 Avios miles Exclusive to Avion cardholders
Asia Miles  10,000 RBC points = 10,000 Asia miles Exclusive to Avion cardholders
American Airlines 10,000 RBC points = 7,000 AAdvantage miles Exclusive to Avion cardholders

As long as you have an RBC Rewards account, you are eligible for a points transfer to WestJet Rewards. However, with British Airways, Asia Miles and American Airlines, you can only transfer your points if you own an RBC Avion card.

If you choose to close your account, your points are still active for a transfer within the time frame of 12 months from account closure. 

How To Use RBC Rewards For Travel

The biggest take away from the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) Rewards is the travel-based booking system and redemption benefits. If you are an RBC reward cardholder or Avion cardholder, you are in for a treat!

Why Choose RBC Rewards Travel?

The key benefit is that there are no blackout dates for any given airline, flight plan you chose. As long as seats are available on that airline, you can get it. No quota or limitations!

However, this benefit in RBC Rewards Travel kicks in only if you are Avion cardholder or any RBC Rewards cardholder. 

How Do I Book Flights via RBC Rewards Travel?

The RBC card you hold differentiates the options you have to travel. You can either use the

  • Fixed Points Pricing
  • Flexible Points Pricing

As an Avion cardholder, you are entitled to the fixed points pricing from Air Travel Redemption Schedule and the flexible points pricing as well. Whereas other RBC Rewards cardholders are only entitled to the flexible points pricing. 


Fixed Points Pricing via Air Travel Redemption ScheduleFlexible Points Pricing
Avion Card
Other RBC Rewards card

How Does The Fixed Points Pricing System Work?

It’s very simple really:

  1. You book your flight with a fixed number of RBC Rewards points to travel to a particular destination.
  2. Every destination has a maximum ticket price. If the base ticket cost exceeds that maximum rate, you can earn 100 points / $1 exceeded if you use your RBC Avion card to make the ticket purchase.

Here is a table on the Fixed Points pricing by RBC Rewards

RBC Rewards Points Required for a single Economy Round Trip FlightRegionRegion DetailsMaximum Ticket Price
15,000Short-haul: Canada/U.S.Within or to an adjacent Province/Territory/U.S. State$350
35,000Long-haul: Canada/U.S.Anywhere in Canada/U.S. except Hawaii and Alaska$750
45,000Long-haul: Bermuda, Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska & CaribbeanFrom any location in Western Canada/U.S. to Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska OR from Eastern Canada to Bermuda, Central America, Caribbean$900
55,000Long-haul: Bermuda, Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska & CaribbeanFrom any location in Eastern Canada/U.S. to Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska OR from Western Canada to Bermuda, Central America, Caribbean$1,100
65,000Long-haul: EuropeFrom a major gateway in Canada/U.S. to destinations in Europe$1,300
100,000Long-haul: Asia, Australia, Middle East, Africa & South AmericaFrom a major gateway in Canada/U.S. to destinations in Asia, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, Middle East, Africa, South America$2,000

Case Study: Flying From Toronto To Montreal

Here’s an example to show you how the system works:

A flight from Toronto to Montreal requires 15,000 RBC Rewards points and has a Maximum Ticket Price of $350 (All taxes and service fees are separate and are not part of the ticket price.)

The cost of the flight you select is $400. This amount exceeds the maximum ticket price ($350) by $50.

You can either charge the excess amount of $50 (plus taxes and fees) to your credit card or use any remaining points at a rate of 100 points = $1.

Things To Be Aware Of

Here are a few important disclaimers when using the Fixed Points pricing:

  • Tickets are non-refundable.
  • Taxes, surcharges, and fees are not included in the base ticket cost but can be paid using RBC Rewards points at a rate of 100 RBC Rewards points to $1.00 or you may charge them to your Avion card.
  • You must have at least half of the required points for your desired zone booking
  • The minimum amount of points you may purchase is 1,000
  • The maximum amount of points you may purchase is 15,000
  • Every 1,000 points = $40 plus applicable taxes.

How Does The Flexible Points Pricing System Work?

This is actually a lot more straight forward and simple to understand:

  1. To earn points, you can book your travel via RBC Rewards Travel and earn 100 points per $1 spent.
  2. If you have an RBC credit card that earns RBC Rewards points, there is no Maximum Ticket Price for airline tickets. You can use your points at a rate of 100 points per $1.
  3. You can use a combination of your points + RBC Rewards card or Avion card to pay for the ticket/fare as well.

Here is a video on how RBC Avion cardholders can use the RBC Rewards Travel for flight bookings with/without points:

Here is a video on how other RBC Rewards cardholders can use the RBC Rewards Travel for flight bookings with/without points:

With the guide videos above, you can have an easy guide on how the booking system works on RBC Rewards Travel.

Which Is Better, Fixed Or Flexible?

It’s best to use the fixed points redemption scheme when the base ticket price of the flight you’re after is very close to the maximum ticket price, since you’re getting the best value out of the same fixed number of points. However, if you want to buy a ticket that costs less than that maximum, the lower the actual price of the fare, the less valuable your points get. In these cases, it’s a lot better to use the Flexible Points system instead.

Using The RBC Rewards App For Travel

A great way to simplify your life when using RBC Rewards for travel is to use the RBC Rewards app. With it, as an RBC cardholders, you will be able to:

  1. Easily access to your travel itinerary from the booking(s) made on RBC Rewards
  2. Make your next travel bookings.
  3. View your points balance
  4. Get the latest updates/offers available on RBC Rewards

RBC Rewards Travel Insurance

There is optional travel insurance available to choose during your booking at RBC Rewards Travel. However, for a worry-free trip, it’s best to acquire the RBC Avion Visa Infinite card. It comes with a comprehensive travel insurance package provided you make your bookings entirely with the RBC Avion Visa Infinite card.

For more details, on this card, you can read our RBC Avion Visa Infinite Review.

Can I Cancel My RBC Rewards Travel Booking?

Yes – you are allowed to make changes or cancel your travel booking done on RBC Rewards Travel. However, it may incur charges. Refer to the table below for the charges with respect to the amendments/cancellation you are looking to make.


FlightHotelCarVacation PackageCruise
Change$25 per ticket$10 per booking$10 per bookingFlight + hotel – $25 per bookingNone
CancelNone$10 per booking$10 per bookingNoneNone

It is commendable that RBC Rewards is liberal on travel bookings done via RBC Rewards Travel especially when many other travel portals have blackout dates that do not allow seat bookings during peak periods. This is where RBC Rewards Travel stands out – you can book the seat as long as it’s available. 

How Much Are RBC Points Worth?

In travel, RBC points are worth an average of $0.0114 per point when you redeem for flights. This average is derived from a huge discrepancy across the regions you would want to travel to in the table below:

Region Points RequiredAverage Point Value
Short Haul: Canada/US 15,000 $0.0102
Long Haul: Canada/US 35,000 $0.0131
West Coast to Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska
OR
East Coast to Bermuda, Central America, Caribbean
45,000 $0.0116
East Coast to Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska
OR
West Coast to Bermuda, Central America, Caribbean
55,000 $0.0116
Europe 65,000 $0.0095
Long Haul: Asia, Australia, New Zealand 100,000 $0.0121

The good news is you can use your RBC points to cover your tax charges as well at an average rate of 100 RBC points per $1 in tax.

You can get a better value by transferring your RBC points to other partner loyalty programs. In the following table, you’ll find the RBC point valuation for partner loyalty brands:

Participating Loyalty Programs Point Transfer Conversion  Point Value
WestJet Rewards 1,000 RBC points = $10 WestJet dollars$0.01
British Airways 10,000 RBC points = 10,000 Avios miles$0.0175
Asia Miles  10,000 RBC points = 10,000 Asia miles$0.0121
American Airlines 10,000 RBC points = 7,000 AAdvantage miles$0.013

When you redeem for financial rewards, you need 12,000 RBC points for $100 which gives the valuation of RBC points at $0.0083 per 1 RBC point.

With merchandising such as Best Buy and Apple products, the average valuation is $0.65 per 1 RBC point. Do take note, however, that RBC Rewards redemption on merchandise does not cover tax and surcharges.

How To Earn RBC Rewards Points?

 There are four ways of earning RBC Rewards points:

  • Apply for an RBC credit card suitable to your spending pattern
  • Refer friends to RBC Rewards
  • Open an RBC High-Interest eSavings account
  • Open an RBC Business Essentials Fixed-Fee account or an RBC $6 Small Business account 

Earn Points With RBC Credit Cards

With the different redemptions available in RBC Rewards, the best way to earn RBC Rewards points would be to use the RBC line of credit cards. Here are the two best choices you can make:

RBC Rewards Visa

The card with the highest success rate is the RBC Rewards© Visa. It comes with a $0 annual fee. With this card, you can earn 1 point per $1 spent for gas, grocery, and drug store purchases and 1 point per $2 spent for any other purchases. 

RBC Avion Visa Infinite

To enjoy better optimization of your points, you can try to apply for the RBC Avion card. Only with an Avion card, you can transfer your points to British Airways, Asia Miles and American Airlines, as we mentioned before. Otherwise, you would be limited to WestJet Rewards only. The card has a $120 annual fee which comes with other benefits detailed in our RBC Avion card review.

rbc avion visa

Conclusion

On the whole, the RBC Rewards program is best suited for Royal Bank of Canada users. The rewards are interesting but earning your way to redeeming them may not be as easy. The points required to earn them are not set in stone. The points can be subject to change anytime without prior notice. This can be a concern if you are planning to save up towards a particular redemption.

In this loyalty program, points do not expire, which makes it convenient to grow in value. With which, you can work towards earning RBC Rewards point at your own pace to redeem your preferred redemption.

If earning the reward is not as urgent, then you can consider getting yourself a no-fee RBC Rewards© Visa card and you can earn points as you go. The plus is your points will never expire but you would just need to wait for a pretty long time to redeem them for something you like. 

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