If you need any help comparison shopping, read our frequently asked questions below:
Why should I get a travel rewards credit card?
If you love to travel, and use your credit card to pay for all of your everyday purchases, a travel rewards credit card is one of the easiest ways to save on travel-related expenses. Based on the card you choose, you will earn a certain number of travel points for every dollar spent on the card. These points can then be redeemed for anything from flights, hotel stays, bus and ferry fares, taxi fares, ski rentals, baggage charges, airport parking and more.
The other bonus of a travel rewards credit card is the different insurance policies that may come with it. When you use your card to book your trip, or redeem points towards the trip or service, some of the best travel rewards credit cards can also include complimentary travel medical insurance, trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance, flight delay and baggage coverage, and collision and damage insurance for rental cars.
How can I redeem the travel points I collect?
Depending on the travel rewards program attached to your card, your travel points can be redeemed either by exchanging your points or miles for a certain dollar value of your travel expense, or by using the points or miles directly to make the purchase.
One thing to consider: When you’re redeeming your travel points, booking well in advance of your travel date is recommended, as prices will typically be lower and there will be more availability. It’s also important to keep in mind that some travel rewards credit cards charge a booking fee, taxes or fuel surcharges, when you redeem points. It’s worth comparing the fine print of any card that you’re considering getting, in order to see how the points are valued, how they’re redeemed and what restrictions apply.
How can I compare the best travel rewards programs?
When you’re doing your research and comparing travel rewards credit cards, it’s important to understand how each card values its points. Every rewards program in Canada is different, so you should read the card agreement for guidelines and restrictions – or you can compare them on our site, as we’ve done the hard work for you on our rewards charts. There may also be a number of different cards available within each program - try using our rewards calculators to find the one which suits you best.
Best Travel Credit Cards in Canada 2018
Best Rewards Travel Credit Cards
Scotiabank Gold American Express Card
The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card has one of the highest earn rates in Canada, giving you 4 Scotia Rewards points for every dollar (that’s 4% back in travel rewards) spent on eligible gas, groceries, entertainment, and restaurant purchases (on the first $50,000), and 1 point per dollar for everything else. The card has an annual fee of $99. However, this can be offset with the 15,000 point welcome bonus ($150 value), which is provided to new accountholders after $1,000 in purchases are made on the card within the first 3 months.
This card is a winner for its flexibility when redeeming points. There are no blackout dates or seat restrictions with your rewards. You can book your travel through Scotia Rewards Travel Service, a full-service travel agency, or on your own online at a later date. Don’t have enough points for your trip? You can pay the remainder of the balance. Cardholders also get complimentary concierge services and access to a Priority Pass membership at a 30% discount.
American Express Cobalt
The American Express Cobalt Card has a rich rewards rate that is tailored to foodies and those who subscribe to the downtown lifestyle - with 5 points for every dollar spent on restaurants and groceries, 2 points on travel (including taxis, gas and airfare), and 1 point on everything else. Each point is valued at $0.01, which means you earn a whopping 5% back in rewards on all food purchases made on this card.
Points are flexible and can be redeemed for flights on any airline with no limitations in terms of blackout dates or seat restrictions. Cardholders also get frontline access to numerous events and concerts through the American Express Invites program and can take advantage of top-of-the-line travel and shopping protection benefits.
One of the Cobalt's biggest selling points is its welcome bonus. For every month that you spend $500 on the card in your first year, you'll get an additional 2,500 points (up to a maximum of 30,000 points).
"Anytime, Anywhere” Travel Credit Card
BMO World Elite MasterCard
For convenience purposes, the BMO World Elite MasterCard is one of the best cards out there. All travel (including airfare), restaurant and entertainment purchases earn 3 BMO Rewards points per dollar spent, which works out to just over 2% back in rewards. All other purchases get you 2 points per dollar. Your points can be used on any airline with no blackout dates, and covers all flight charges and taxes.
New accountholders will have the card’s annual fee of $150 waived in the first year and can also access 35,000 bonus points ($240 value) upon spending $3,000 on the card in their initial 3 months. Looking for more value? The card also includes a Mastercard Airport Experiences membership (free access to over 1,000 airport lounges). In addition, you’ll get concierge service and a comprehensive insurance package. BMO’s travel centre will also match the price of any lower fares you find to help you snag the best deal on flights.
Best Flexible Travel Credit Card
American Express Gold Rewards Card
The most appealing aspect of the American Express Gold Rewards card is the Membership Rewards you can earn. New applicants will earn 25,000 bonus points after charging $1,500 to your card within the first three months of membership. Those points can then be transferred to frequent flyer programs including Aeroplan and Avios on a 1:1 basis. Those 25,000 points could also be used as a statement credit towards travel which has a value of $250.
The card does come with an annual fee of $150, but the first year is waived. One free supplementary card ($50 value) is available to help you earn points faster. Speaking of earning points fast, you earn 2 points per dollar spent on eligible gas, grocery, travel, and pharmacy purchases while all other purchases earn you 1 point per dollar spent. A comprehensive travel insurance package is also included.
Best Hotel Points Credit Card
Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express
At first glance, the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express may look like a simple hotel loyalty card, but it’s in fact one of the best hotel credit cards out on the market. You’ll earn 5 Starpoint per dollar spent on the card at all Marriott Hotels (as well as the hotel company’s over two dozen subsidiaries including Starwood and Ritz-Carlton) and 2 points per dollar on everything else.
Your Starwood points can be earned and redeemed at over 6,500 properties in 110+ counties. Cardholders also have the option to transfer Starpoints to over 40 airline loyalty programs at a 3:1 ratio. You’ll even get a SPG Silver Elite membership and one free night hotel stay every year. There is an annual fee of $120, but a comprehensive travel insurance package is included as well as a 50,000 point welcome bonus (provided $1,500 in purchases are charged to the card in the first three months).
Best No Fee Travel Credit Card
Scotiabank American Express Card
If you’re looking for a travel rewards card with no annual fee, the Scotiabank American Express card is a good choice. For every dollar you spend on eligible purchases, you’ll earn 1 Scotia Rewards point – that’s 1% back in travel rewards.
Cardholders can book their own travel online and then redeem their points later, or they can use Scotia Rewards Travel Service, a full-service travel agency. There are no blackout dates or seat restrictions when claiming points which gives you maximum flexibility.
Travel emergency medical, trip interruption, rental car collision loss/damage, and travel accident Insurance is included. In addition, you’ll get access to special offers, events and experiences with American Express Invites.
Travel Rewards Programs
Best Credit Card Travel Insurance Packages