Best Travel Cards Canada
What’s the best way to spend Winter in Canada?
By getting away from it.
Heading to a tropical destination like Cuba or Mexico is a time test Canadian holiday past time. 🌴
Riu Palace Peninsula Cancun booked via Air Miles 🙂 👉
My name is Gary and over the last 4 years I think I’ve applied and used every Canadian credit card out there. I’ve had some great experiences and some bad ones.
I’ve also been able to travel to over 20 countries using points accumulated via various cards as well. While I usually write about geeky stuff like web hosting, services and small biz tools in this guide I’m going to share with you my top card picks and explain some of the benefits for each one.
The main thing to keep in mind with most travel cards is there is a lot of fine print. Deals may look the same on paper but once you start spending you’ll find that fees and rates basically cancel any discounts or rewards you’ll be getting.
How I Made My Top Picks
The way I’ve structured this guide is pretty simple. I’ve picked the best parts for each category of travel cards. I have cards for hotel lounges if that’s your thing, best cash back or Air Miles.
The big difference between my guide/recommendations and what you’ll get on bigger financial sites is I’ve actually tried these cards. Some of the picks on bigger sites have terrible rewards for signups but big bonuses for the promoters of the product.
Anyways, enough complaining. Let’s get into the guide! 🤑
If anyone has any additional suggestions please hit the contact form at the top and let me know. I usually revise this post once or twice a year depending on which cards I’m trying.
Understanding Travel Credit Cards
Many travel cards allow you to rack up points and miles on everyday spending items, thereby making it possible for you to accumulate a large number of rewards even if you don’t happen to fly frequently.
The abundance of travel cards and the numerous variety of their rewards programs leave so many customers in the dark. To make your decision easier, we’ll be looking at the best credit cards across seven broad travel rewards categories. These categories are travel points, air miles, cash back on foreign currency purchases, hotel rewards, sign-up bonuses, airport lounges, frequent flyers, and the overall winner.
This guide is designed to serve as a valuable resource when you have to pick a travel rewards credit card. To provide you the benefit of the best across the board, the cards we have chosen are the leading players in their category.
My methodology was simple yet detailed. I took into account the important factors such as the range of bonus categories, the welcome offers available, travel insurance perks, the flexibility of loyalty programs, annual fee waivers, and much more. I calculated reward points based on either personal or business expenses.
In doing so, we combined different aspects of monthly spending and purchases on items such as groceries, bill payments, gas, entertainment, travel, restaurant eating, pharmacy, and so on.
Below is a summary of the best travel cards in Canada. This is a mere snapshot, but the details of each card are below.
👉 IMPORTANT NOTE – These cards change rates often so if you see something on here that isn’t exactly the same as the website keep in mind companies will offer different rates and deals based on the IP location you are accessing the website from. I do my best to keep this as updated as possible. 👈
Best Credit Card for Travel Points
|#||Best Travel Card Category||Credit Card||Welcome Bonus||Annual Fee||Unique Selling Proposition|
|1||Overall||TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite*||Up to 40,000 Aeroplan Miles||$120 (with 1 year free)||An unmatched welcome offer, outstanding premium perks, with purchases at partner sites doubling your miles.|
|2||Travel Points||Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card||Earn as far as 30,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points in the first year||$120||This top-ranked card has eliminated the foreign currency conversion fee.|
|3||Air Miles Credit Card||BMO® AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®*||3,000 AIR MILES||$120 (with 1 year free)||Privileges include complimentary membership in Mastercard Airport Experiences. This is provided by LoungeKey and includes exclusive VIP access.|
|4||Cash Back on Foreign Currency Purchases||Rogers™ World Elite Mastercard®||None||$0||An irresistible package that includes 4% cash back for purchases made in a foreign currency, 2% on Rogers products and services charged to your card, and 1.75% on all other purchases.|
|5||Sign-Up Bonus||Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card||Up to 35,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points in your first year||$139||This card comes with some of the best perks with a generous rewards program rate of 2 points per dollar spent on a broad range of travel items.|
|6||Hotel Rewards||Best Western Rewards® Mastercard®||Flexibility and focus on hotel rewards give cardholders lots of choice and leeway.|
|7||Airport Lounges||Scotiabank Platinum American Express® Card||10 free lounge visits a year that comes free with a Priority Pass membership. Enough said.|
1. Best Overall Travel Credit Card – TD Aeroplan (40K Signup Bonus)
There are so many good deals available in credit card travel rewards category, so it was difficult to choose one. But after a rigorous analysis, I eventually decided that in the Canadian market, the crown of best overall travel rewards card belongs to TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite*
It is currently the most popular rewards program in Canada. Due to its popularity, Canadians constantly strive to rack up Aeroplan points anyhow they can. Cardholders can earn miles they can redeem towards hotels, flights, car rentals, vacation packages, assorted merchandise, and event tickets.
The best aspect of all is that cardholders can earn twice their points by purchasing items at Aeroplan-affiliated partners. Therefore, if you’re a member of the 5 million Aeroplan community, it is worth getting an Aeroplan card.
To illustrate why this card is considered best-in-breed, here is a summary of some of its benefits:
- It rolls out the red carpet by giving a whopping welcome bonus of 40,000 Aeroplan miles.
- It includes a comprehensive travel insurance package.
- It provides priority check-in and boarding when traveling on AirCanada.com with Aeroplan flight rewards.
- Cardholders are granted one free guest pass each year to Air Canada Maple Leaf lounge.
- Double the miles earned from purchases made at participating Aeroplan partners and online retailers via the Aeroplan eStore.
- Provides 1.5 points for every single $1 spent on gas, groceries, drugstore, and purchases made at AirCanada.com
- For other purchases, it is one point for each $1 spent.
- As long as you’re a TD Aeroplan Credit Cardholder, your Aeroplan Miles won’t expire.
- See the huge list of Aeroplan partners here. how many aeroplan miles will i earn on a flight
How Many Aeroplan Miles Will I Earn On a Flight?
Our pick for best travel rewards card comes with a lot of perks. It is packed with several features that make it stand out from the pack, for example, its irresistible welcome bonus of 40,000 Aeroplan Miles. To put this in perspective, this reward is roughly comparable to 2 premium economy short-distance, round trip flight.
Apart from being quite lucrative, this package offers the potential to earn Aeroplan miles with every single dollar spent. Every. Dollar. Spent. The ratio of miles earned to dollars spent is as follows: 1.5 Aeroplan miles for each $1 on gas, groceries, drugstore, and on AirCanada.com; then it provides 1 Aeroplan Mile for every single dollar spent on everything else.
Which is why it wins our top spot as the best overall credit card available, hands down.
How to Redeem Aeroplan Miles?
The redemption process for this card hinges on what you are trying to redeem. For stuff like merchandise or events tickets, the process is as simple as making purchases through their online eStore. Moreover, purchases at Aeroplan partner outlets earn cardholders double rewards, enabling them to quickly and easily rack up Aeroplan miles.
Other exclusive benefits and perks include a 24-hour, round-the-clock concierge service.
Gratuitously epic might strike some as overboard in describing its travel and auto insurance, but it might not be too far off. It has up to $1 million of travel insurance medical coverage for the first 21 days for cardholders who are under 65 years. It also includes other types of relevant travel insurance such as delayed/lost baggage, trip/cancellation, flight/trip delay, and car rental insurance.
Finally, it allows you access to all these cool premium perks at a modest annual fee of $0 (after the rebate).
One Last Thing – Aeroplan Insurance
Like I mentioned in the tip above, Aeroplan has some great incentives to encourage customers to book flights and vacations which includes cancellation insurance, money if your suitcase gets lost and a bunch of other smaller incentives.
2. Best for Travel Points – Scotiabank American Express
There are so many credit card products available, and the abundance makes it challenging to decide which is the best points credit card. Although they may restrict what you can spend your points on, most, however, provide the opportunity to transfer points between programs.
The Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card excels in an important factor that compels cardholders to select a particular travel card. The points-to-dollar ratio represents the amount in dollars that points are worth.
Three tiers are offered by Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card in their Scotia Rewards points program. Every amount of money used in eligible establishments such as grocery stores, restaurants, drinking, and fast food outlets will earn you an incredible 5 Scotia Rewards points.
Great Signup Bonus + 25,000 Reward Points
This travel reward card enables its users to quickly and conveniently amass up to $300 in bonus Scotia Rewards points, even in their first year. Within the first three months of opening an account, if you spend $1,000 in eligible everyday purchases, then you’ll automatically earn 25,000 Scotia Rewards points.
However, Scotiabank Gold recently increased the annual fee charged on the card from $99 to $120. This notable hike could dampen the card’s appeal. In spite of this increase, the price is still judicious compared to similar fees charged by other travel cards.
Nevertheless, it still provides you with great benefits like the absence of foreign transaction fees, with an Amex Front Of the Line® access, and comprehensive travel insurance.
Flexible Transferable Points
Another impressive feature this card manifests is the flexibility of its rewards redemption program. The process is easy and simplified – all that is required is to login to the system and then proceed to select the “Apply Points to Travel” option. You can subsequently use the Scotia Rewards points you’ve accumulated to offset any travel-related costs charged to your credit card. These can cover things such as flights, hotels, rental cars, and so on.
The convenience is a breath of fresh air: it doesn’t burden you with pesky restrictions or black-out periods. These are some of the reasons Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card is frequently ranked as the best travel credit card in Canada.
3. Best for Air Miles – BMO Air Miles World Elite
BMO® AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard® is simply one of the best ways to earn rewards in Canada. Its Air Miles program transforms everyday shopping for groceries and gas into benefits like free event tickets, hotel stays, flights, car rentals, and even electronics.
A generous bonus and high earn rate are just some of the things that make the BMO® AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard® travel card exciting. It hands you 1,000 air miles right after your first purchase, and as if that weren’t enough, it gives you an additional 2,000 air miles once you charge up to $3,000 on your credit card in the first three months of membership.
Moreover, the cards earn rate of one AIR MILE for each $10 purchase is the highest rate of return for an AIR MILES credit card. The Mastercard Airport Experiences, comprising of two free annual passes, are provided through the LoungeKey airport lounge program.
Cardholders also qualify for 15% off their AIR MILES flights in North America, on the condition that the flights must be booked using AIR MILES. It comes with a comprehensive travel insurance package that comprises of travel medical insurance spanning 15 days per trip.
⚠️ To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of this card. For the amount of company BMO is clearly making off its credit card customers I think this is a pretty measly bonus. If reward points + perks is what you’re after this card is definitely lacking. ⚠️
4. Best Cash Back on Foreign Currency Purchases – Roger’s Wireless
Cash, the saying goes, is king. Likewise, with regards to rewards, cashback credit cards let you get back a tiny percentage of the amount you’ve spent in purchases. However, Rogers™ World Elite Mastercard® goes the extra mile by making your travel expenses in foreign currency to accrue cash like no other card.
Rogers™ World Elite Mastercard® earned its top spot by enabling cardholders to earn a huge 4% cashback on all permitted purchases done in foreign currency. But before you get too giddy with excitement, remember it comes with a 2.5% foreign transaction fee. However, this is offset by the massive 4% cashback, leaving a substantial net gain of 1.5% cashback.
Cardholders obtain 2% cashback on Rogers products and services, while they get a 1.75% cashback on all else. They are also entitled to getting a free supplementary card, which allows them to earn even more cash back every year.
With the Mastercard® Pay combined with Rewards™ app, you can immediately apply cashback rewards to permitted purchases of at least $20 that you’ve made within the last 90 days using your credit card.
5. Best Sign-Up Bonus – Scotiabank Passport Infinite (35k Point)
Whether you prefer cards that offer substantial welcome bonuses, provide the highest earn rates, or instead crave for those that are a reliable traveling companion, Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card has you covered.
A substantial sign-up bonus is one of the tried and true ways credit card companies use to reel in cardholders, and you should take advantage of this strategy to give your travel rewards a big boost. However, of all the strategies used to entice cardholders to sign up for travel reward programs, Scotiabank Passport appears to have mastered the Holy Grail.
Once you sign up, Scotiabank rolls out the welcome mat, enabling you to earn, in the first year alone, up to 35,000 Scotia Rewards points. These reward points translate to roughly $350 to travel alone.
This is how the earning methodology works: the first 3 months as a cardholder provides the opportunity to earn up to 25,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points with the initial $1,000 in everyday purchases.
Earn An Additional 10,000 Points
In addition, all cardholders are allowed to earn yearly 10,000 point bonus after they spend a minimum of $40,000 on eligible, everyday purchases each year. Other benefits include the ability to earn 2 Scotia Rewards points for each and every dollar spent on eligible dining, grocery stores, entertainment items, and everyday transit purchases such as buses, subway tokens, and taxis.
Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card was also designed with a focus on travelers. Therefore, Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card comes with little or no travel baggage, making it a worthy travel partner with its admirable policy of charging zero foreign transaction fees.
Because of this lack of fees, travelers save money each time they use their card. Whether at home or abroad, cardholders experience no foreign exchange fee markups with purchases made in foreign currency. Travel related perks include travel insurance, six free annual airport lounge passes, along with a sign-up bonus currently worth $250.
This card is ideal for individuals who want a card they can use both locally and abroad without any worries or hassles. Moreover, Scotiabank is a Visa card, and so it is generally accepted anywhere in the world.
It’s free Priority Premier Pass membership also offers six free visits to airport lounges annually.
6. Best Hotel Rewards – Best Western Mastercard
The hotel accommodation you choose depends on factors such as affordability, personal preferences, and choice. In other words, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposal. Best Western Mastercard® heeds this philosophy and makes its reward as flexible as possible.
They enable cardholders to redeem their rewards in as many as a 100 Best Western hotels worldwide, on items such as hotel stays, gift cards, dining, and much more. Therefore, when Canadians have to travel locally or abroad, Best Western Mastercard® is often a practical and sensible choice.
After you make your first eligible purchase, its bonus for signing of 20,000 Best Western Rewards® points is sufficient to get you an absolutely free one-night stay. The abundance of hotels and a variety of options makes it easy for cardholders to collect these points.
In addition to its flexibility, it comes without an annual fee. The availability of numerous Best Western hotels worldwide makes it convenient for a cardholder to find a hotel that suits their taste and budget. It also makes it easier to capitalize on points to acquire free hotel stays.
7. Best Airport Lounges – Scotiabank Platinum
I like hanging out at the airport — said absolutely no one. Luckily for besieged travelers everywhere, credit card companies are finally heeding their frustration and have added an increasingly sought after convenience. Access to worldwide airport lounges is a popular travel perk that Scotiabank Platinum American Express® Card has leveraged to its advantage and to the delight of its cardholders.
Scotiabank Platinum has a gratis Priority Pass membership that is accompanied with an incredible ten free lounge visits each year. Since most people don’t travel that frequently each year, these free lounge visits are adequate for most cardholders.
Travel insurance, along with 30,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points immediately after initial purchase, should give it a worthy consideration. Also, 4 Scotia Rewards points on each dollar spent on eligible grocery stores, gas stations, entertainment, and dining purchases, are not to be taken lightly.
However, it carries a rather high annual fee of $399.
Rewarding people with points or miles for making everyday purchases is the way credit card companies incentivise customers to use their cards. A travel rewards credit card provides immense benefits to the cardholder with flights, hotel accommodation, and transportation services.
Some rewards are more sophisticated, and bundle premium perks such as access to posh airport lounges and comprehensive travel insurance to their package. Travel cards are a must-have for travelers because they are convenient, fast, and help save money on travel-related expenses.
Hope this guide was helpful! Please feel free to shoot me a message if you have any tips and tricks you want added to this page!