Top 4 Travel Credit Cards in 2015

Alyssa Furtado
by Alyssa Furtado July 10, 2015 / No Comments

Did George Clooney’s character from Up in the Air remind you a little too much of yourself? If you find yourself travelling the globe more than relaxing in your own pad, you could be seriously missing out on the fringe benefits if you don’t have the right credit card. There are plenty of travel rewards credit cards in Canada, but the ones listed below have some incredible offers, like travel insurance, extra points on travel expenses and deep discounts on hotels. If you’re going to be charging your globetrotting expenses anyway, you may as well reap the benefits.

* To compare the annual return of each card, we assumed you spent $1,500 on travel each month and didn’t use the card for anything else.

1. Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

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  • Earn one point per dollar
  • 20,000 bonus Starpoints after you spend $500 on purchase
  • Enjoy a Free Weekend Night Award when you reach $40,000 in purchases each year

 

Annual Fee Sign-up Bonus Spending Rewards Monthly Spending Profile Annual Return
$120 $446 1 point per $1 1 point x $1,500 on travel = 1,500 points per month

Value of 1 point: $0.0223

1,500 points x $0.0223 = $33.45 per month

Annual Fee: $120

Sign-up: $446

Spending Rewards: $33.45 x 12 = $401.40

Total: $446+$401.40-$120 = $727

Return: $727/$18,000 per year = 4% return

Coming out on top is the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express. This card gives you the ultimate in VIP treatment. In addition to standard benefits like travel insurance and an excellent sign-up bonus (valued at $446!), you’ll also get a free weekend night at a hotel with every 40,000 points you earn, and you can redeem your points at any time without the typical blackout dates. Not too shabby!

2. Marriott Rewards Premier Visa Card

Marriott Rewards Premier Visa

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  • No foreign exchange fees
  • 30,000 bonus points after your first purchase
  • 1 free night stay e-certificate valid for 12 months at any participating category 1-4 Marriott location worldwide upon approval
  • Free anniversary stay e-certificate valid for 12 months at any participating category 1-5 Marriott location worldwide
  • $120 annual fee – first year free

 

Annual Fee Sign-up Bonus Spending Rewards Monthly Spending Profile Annual Return
$120 (waived the first year) $375 5 points per $1 at Marriott locations

2 points per $1 at restaurants, airline tickets and car rentals

1 point per $1 on everything else

2 point x $1,500 on travel = 3,000 points per month

Value of 1 point: $0.0081

3,000 points x $0.0081 = $24.30 per month

Annual Fee: $0

Sign-up: $375

Spending Rewards: $24.30 x 12 = $291.60

Total: $375+$291.60-$0 = $667

Return: $666.60/$18,000 per year = 3.7% return

With your Marriott Rewards Premier Visa from Chase, you’ll get a free night’s stay at one of the participating hotels to be used within six months of signing up, as well as 30,000 points with your first purchase, so start planning that weekend getaway to a place you’ve never been before. You can also look forward to other benefits, such as emergency cash replacement services, travel insurance, guaranteed hotel reservation services and worldwide acceptance.

3. American Express Gold Rewards Card

American Express Gold Rewards Card

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  • $150 annual fee (waived in the first year)
  • Earn a welcome bonus of 25,000 Membership Rewards points when you charge $1,500 in purchases to your card in your first three months
  • Convert your Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan Miles or Avios on a 1:1 basis

 

Annual Fee Sign-up Bonus Spending Rewards Monthly Spending Profile Annual Return
$150 (waived the first year) $250 2 points per $1 at gas, groceries, pharmacy, travel

1 point per $1 on everything else

2 point x $1,500 on travel = 3,000 points per month

Value of 1 point: $0.01

3,000 points x $0.01 = $30 per month

Annual Fee: $0

Sign-up: $250

Spending Rewards: $30 x 12 = $360

Total: $250+$360-$0 = $610

Return: $610/$18,000 per year = 3.3% return

With a 25,000-point bonus just for signing up and spending money you would have spent anyway, you can earn enough points with the American Express Gold Rewards Card to fly almost anywhere in North America! And you can rest your mind at east with a ton of insurance benefits that come with it, including emergency medical, trip interruption, baggage loss and car rental collision. The only question now is, where will you go?

4. TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Cards

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card

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  • Receive up to 20,000 Bonus Aeroplan Miles
  • Earn up to 1.5 points per dollar spent
  • Annual fee rebate for the first year–that’s $120 in savings
  • Comprehensive suite of travel protection, including auto rental collision/loss damage insurance, travel medical insurance and trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance
  • Receive VISA Infinite benefits

 

Annual Fee Sign-up Bonus Spending Rewards Monthly Spending Profile Annual Return
$120 (waived the first year) $300 1.5 points per $1 at gas, groceries, and pharmacy

1 point per $1 on everything else

1 point x $1,500 on travel = 1,500 points per month

Value of 1 point: $0.012

1,500 points x $0.012 = $18 per month

Annual Fee: $0

Sign-up: $300

Spending Rewards: $18 x 12 = $216

Total: $250+$360-$0 = $516

Return: $516/$18,000 per year = 2.9% return

Finally, if you prefer to earn Aeroplan Miles, the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite is the card for you. Not only can you earn double the points at participating Aeroplan partners by flashing your credit card + free Aeroplan membership card, you’ll also get some of the best travel insurance policies available (including trip cancellation, baggage loss, accident and car rental insurance). On top of that, you’ll get some serious perks from Air Canada, including 1 free checked bag, priority check-in and priority boarding, as well as have access to the Visa Infinite program.

Flickr: sleepychinchilla