A good travel rewards credit card can take you where you want to go, but with dozens of cards spanning several different rewards programs, finding the best one for you can feel like a challenge.
If you travel frequently for work or pleasure, or aspire to be a travel points hacker, a travel rewards credit card can not only earn you free flights and hotel stays faster, but create value through perks such as concierge service, travel insurance, VIP airport lounge access, and special travel discounts and upgrades. Attractive sign-up or welcome bonuses are the most valuable way for new cardholders to kick-start your earning.
Luckily, you can easily compare multiple credit cards side-by-side with RateHub’s rewards calculator. To help start your journey, we’ve rounded up what we consider to be the best travel rewards credit cards in Canada for 2017:
BMO World Elite MasterCard
We picked the BMO World Elite MasterCard as one of the best credit cards in Canada for 2017 for its flexibility, perks, and ease of redemption: You’ll earn two BMO Rewards points for every dollar spent on the card, or 2% back in travel rewards. There are no booking blackout periods, and unlike some rewards programs, points can be used to cover all extra taxes and fees. If you don’t have enough points to cover the cost, you can pay the difference. As a welcome bonus, you’ll earn 20,000 points when you make your first purchase using the card—that’s $200 toward your next trip.
Benefits include unlimited travel and medical insurance, plus the free annual Priority Pass membership, which gives you VIP airport lounge access in more than 400 cities around the world. You’ll also receive four complimentary passes per year, for a total value of US$200.
As with most premium travel credit cards, perks aren’t free: the card has an annual fee of $150, and a higher minimum income requirement of $80,000/year.
Scotiabank Gold American Express Card
The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card offers one of Canada’s highest earn rates at four Scotia Rewards points per every dollar spent (that’s 4% back in travel rewards) on groceries, gas, restaurants, and entertainment, up to $50,000 a year, after which you’ll earn one point per dollar. Purchases in all other categories give you one point per dollar, or 1% back.
One attractive feature of this card is the flexibility it gives you in booking your trip. You can use Scotia Rewards’ full-service travel agency, or book your own travel using your card and redeem points to cover the cost later. This lets you to book on any airline, hotel, or vacation package without restrictions. Like the BMO World Elite MasterCard, there are no booking blackout dates, points can be used to cover taxes and fees, and you can use cash to cover any points shortfalls.
The annual fee is $99 and includes a host of perks, including discounts and special offers on airfare, hotels, car rentals, cruises, and vacation packages, concierge service, and comprehensive travel insurance. If you spend a lot of time in airports, you can also buy a Priority Pass lounge membership at a discounted rate.
TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite
With the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite card, you’ll earn 1.5 Aeroplan Miles for every dollar spent on gas, groceries, drugstore, and aircanada.com purchases, and one point per dollar on everything else. You’ll receive a welcome bonus of 15,000 Aeroplan Miles with your first purchase, and an anniversary bonus of 5,000 Aeroplan miles if you keep your account open and good standing after one year. There are no booking blackout dates, miles can be used to cover taxes and fees, and your miles will never expire as long as you make at least one Aeroplan transaction per year.
The Aeroplan program also offers several opportunities to earn bonus miles through shopping with Aeroplan retail partners, or booking flights, hotels, cruises, vacation packages, and car rentals through their travel partners.
Aeroplan’s primary partner airline is Air Canada, but you can also earn miles on partner airlines that are members of Star Alliance. When you book an Air Canada flight using Aeroplan rewards you’ll get priority check-in and boarding, one free checked bag, and access to any of the 22 Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges around the world. You’ll also receive a free, one-time lounge guest pass per year.
This card also gives you access to Visa Infinite benefits, such as concierge service, preferred rates and upgrades at hotels, and access to new restaurants and culinary events. With an annual fee of $120 and a minimum income requirement of $60,000, this card is a more attainable option than some of the higher-end cards.
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