RBC is an interesting credit card provider. Rather than the boring old Aeroplan/Air miles and internal points system combo card offerings like the other big 5 banks, RBC has co-branded Asia-miles, British Airway Avios and Westjet cards as well.
For this article I will focus on the RBC internal loyalty reward system for now.
A lot of people think the RBC reward system is called Avion, but that is actually just the name of certain cards. The actual points are called RBC Rewards. There are 8 available credit cards that earn RBC rewards.
The absolute best way to earn RBC rewards right now is to apply for their special promotional Avion Visa Infinite card. For no annual fee and no minimum spend, you get 25,000 RBC reward points, which is on par with their Visa Infinite Privilege offer that has a $399 annual fee! RBC has very good cards but almost all of them has annual fees, so this is a good promotion that I would jump on if you are able to.
[November 2018: the offer is now 20k bonus with 1k minimum spend]
RBC rewards can be redeemed for merchandise, travel using RBC’s Expedia site (at 100 points = $1) or transferable to other flight miles and points.
Right now, there is even a 30% bonus (expires July 31) if you transfer to Avios, so you can get at least 32,500 points for no effort at all. There have been other promotions every couple months such as 15% bonus on Westjet back in Feburary (Avios transfers 100:1, so 25k points will be worth 287.5 Westjet dollars under this promotion).
Avios uses zones based on distance redemption, so can be very useful for short positional flights (eg. Toronto->New York positioning flight for a Cathay first class redemption using Alaska miles maybe?), or routes that are just under the distance threshold before the next zone (eg. Vancouver-Hong Kong for 30k in economy). Avios allows you to fly OneWorld alliance members, such as Cathay pacific, JAL, Malaysia and Qatar airlines.
I’d suggest you do some research and google best uses of Avios if you want to learn more (its a very lengthy topic and I admit I don’t feel like I have nearly enough knowledge on it to make a post). If you redeem Avios for “sweet spots”, it is not hard to get over 3 cents per Avios point, so this offer the best value for RBC Rewards.
If you don’t know what to do with your RBC rewards yet, I’d suggest you transfer them to Avios points under this promotion. Avios points expires 3 years from last earn or redemption, so you would actually have to try to get them to expire. Doing so also allows you to product switch to another card, like the WestJet card (which nets $130 profit, free checked bags & companion voucher benefits).
Otherwise, if you have direct use of american airlines, Asia miles or WestJet right away, I would do that instead.
Talking a little about RBC Expedia, which is what RBC wants you to use them for – I think it is better to transfer the points to Westjet or Avios. This is because Expedia usually matches whatever Westjet website has at the moment. However, if you transfer to WestJet dollars, you can suddenly use coupon codes (eg. WestjJet Perkopolis code for at least 5% off or their semi annual sales), so at best it is awash.
Obviously this all depends on the flight or hotel you want to book, there are times when it makes sense for you to use Expedia. Do your own research on which option offers you the best value!