Whether it’s for work or for play, if you travel frequently then you might want to consider getting a travel rewards credit card. There are plenty of travel cards out there and although it might seem overwhelming when it comes to choosing the right one, the benefits are definitely worth it when you find the card that’s suited to your preferences and needs.
Travel cards are incredibly diverse because of all the different factors that go into taking a trip. If you have a favourite travel supplier, airline or hotel, then chances are there’s a card that’ll offer you great discounts for that particular one.
Here’s a list of what we think are some of the best travel credit cards offered to Canadians this year. To compare them equally we used the following monthly spending profile:
|Card||Annual fee||Spending rewards||Bonuses||First year rewards|
|The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express||$120||• 1 Starpoint for every $1 you spend||• Welcome bonus of 20,000 Starpoints (worth $446)||$861|
|Scotiabank Gold American Express||$99||• 4 points for every $1 spent on all gas station, grocery store, dining and entertainment purchases
• 1 point for every $1 spent on everything else
|• No annual fee in the first year
• 20,000 sign-up bonus points (worth $200)
|Capital One Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard||$150||• 2 reward miles for every $1 you charge to your card||• One-time bonus of 40,000 miles (worth $400)||$730|
|BMO World Elite MasterCard||$150||• 2 BMO Rewards points for every $1 you spend||• Welcome bonus of 30,000 BMO Rewards points (worth $300)||$630|
|American Express Gold Rewards Card||$150||• 2 points for every $1 charged at gas stations, grocery stores, drug stores and for travel expenses
• 1 point for every $1 spent everywhere else
|• No annual fee in the first year
• Welcome bonus of 25,000 rewards points (worth $250)
The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express offers the complete package. This card not only has an incredible welcome bonus of 20,000 Starpoints (worth a whopping $446!), it also allows you to redeem points for free nights with no blackout dates at resorts and hotels in nearly 100 countries. Check out how we converted Starpoints to dollars and cents here. You can use these Starpoints for flights with over 150 airlines, and you get to enjoy a free weekend night at one of Starwood’s hotels whenever you spend at least $40,000 in a year.
If you’re looking for a flexible card that earns you lots of points and offers extraordinary travel benefits, then the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card is for you. With every dollar you spend at gas stations, grocery stores, on dining or entertainment, you earn 4 Scotia Rewards points. This card offers discounted rates for over 18,000 hotels and more than 131 car rental companies worldwide, and has special offers for cruises and vacation packages. Enjoy the simplicity of redeeming your points by booking a trip with Scotia’s full-service travel agency and rest easy knowing they’ve got you covered with extensive and comprehensive travel insurance benefits. If you’re curious about how much money Scotia Rewards points are worth, check this out.
With your BMO World Elite MasterCard you earn 2% back in travel rewards with every dollar you charge to it. You also get $300 that can be put towards a flight or a hotel booking after you make your first purchase with the card. One of the best perks that this card offers is that you can add additional cardholders to your account for free which allows you to earn more points faster. Redeem your points through the BMO Rewards program and cover the entire flight charge (including taxes and fees), and enjoy VIP airport lounge access with the Priority Pass membership that’s included with the card. Look here for information on the dollar value of a BMO Rewards point.
Although the American Express Gold Rewards Card is second-last on our list, its value should not be underestimated. With the annual fee waived in the first year and a welcome bonus of $250 if you make $500 worth of purchases within the first three months of getting the card, it is extremely flexible. The reason being that you don’t need to change the way you book a trip in order to benefit from the rewards. While other cards make your points redeemable only through specific rewards programs, the Amex Gold Rewards Card lets you transfer the points you earn to Aeroplan Miles or British Airways Avios, among other frequent flyer plans, on a 1:1 basis(!) so you can book your trips as you always have with no need to worry about not being able to make use of your points. Check out what American Express Rewards points mean in dollars and cents here.
Similar to the BMO World Elite MasterCard, you can add additional authorized users to your Capital One Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard account absolutely free of charge, so you can earn 2 reward miles for every dollar you spend on all your purchases even faster and with no restrictions. Pair that with the 40,000 bonus reward miles (worth $400) you can earn if you charge $1,000 to your card in the first 3 months of getting it, and you get one of the top travel rewards cards in the country right now. This card also comes with an awesome travel insurance package, so all that’s really left to do is apply and pack your bags!