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How do travel cards work?

Fundamentally, all travel credit cards in Canada work the same way: for every dollar you spend on the card, you'll earn points or miles that you can redeem to either offset or completely cover the cost of a travel purchase.

The more you spend, the more points or miles you'll earn, and the more you can save on travel.

Outside of those fundamentals though, the intricacies around how you redeem rewards and how much each point or mile is worth can vary depending on the credit card and its rewards program. We touch on some of the major differences between credit card travel programs below.


Why get a travel card?

If you're a frequent traveller (whether for business or pleasure), carrying a great travel credit card can make your life much easier.

Travel cards allow you to take advantage of deals and save on expenses like flights, accommodations and car rentals through the collection and redemption of points or miles. In addition to that, most travel cards also come with extra perks such as VIP lounge access, complimentary baggage check at airports, hotel room upgrades, and priority boarding, among others.

The best travel cards also offer thorough, comprehensive insurance packages as well, covering you in case of medical emergency, flight cancellation/delay, rental car loss/collision, and more.


How to apply for a travel credit card

 The first thing you'll want to do before applying for any new credit card is make sure you meet it's criteria for eligibility. While each card and provider may differ, in general you'll need:

  • Canadian residency or citizenship
  • A Canadian credit file
  • Age of majority status in your home province or territory
  • Annual income (this will depend on the card’s minimum income requirement)

Once you're ready to apply online, simply click through the application portal on your provider's website and follow these steps:

  • Read and confirm the details, terms and conditions of your chosen card.
  • Provide the personal information required (this usually includes your full name, date of birth, residential address, phone number, and email)
  • Provide your Social Insurance Number
  • Provide financial information such as your annual income and any recurring monthly expenses.
  • Confirm your identity by providing photos of an original government-issued ID such as a  passport or driver’s license
  • Take an extra moment to look over the information you’ve supplied, then submit your application.

One important thing to note is that credit card applications almost always involve a hard credit check. While these will take a temporary bite out of your credit score, the damage is easy to bounce back from after a few months of responsible credit usage. Too many applications and credit checks at once, however, can cause serious damage to your credit and reduce your chances of being approved for credit cards, mortgages, or other loans in the future.


General travel cards versus co-branded travel cards

General travel cards

General travel cards aren’t associated with any one particular airline or frequent flyer program, and the points you earn on these cards can be redeemed for travel from a large selection of flight carriers and hotel chains. The major appeal of general travel cards is their flexibility, as many let you redeem points for flights from literally hundreds of carriers of your choice. If you don’t frequently fly on a particular airline and value choice over the benefits that come with holding airline loyalty status (like priority check-in), general travel cards are a better fit for you.

It’s worth noting that when you’re redeeming points on a general travel card, in some cases, you’ll have to use the credit card’s proprietary travel agency (i.e. BMO Points must be redeemed on or with a BMO travel agent).

Best general travel credit cards in Canada: American Express Cobalt, TD First Class Visa Infinite, BMO World Elite Mastercard, MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus.

Co-branded travel cards

Co-branded credit cards are connected to a specific frequent flyer or loyalty program (i.e. Aeroplan, Air Miles, or Marriott Bonvoy), and are a testament to the old adage “loyalty pays.”

These cards can offer great value by letting you earn bonus rewards or discounts whenever you use the card at retailers, airlines, or hotels that are partnered with the co-branded credit card. In many cases, these cards also entitle you to loyalty member perks like priority check-in, free nights stay at a hotel or free checked bags.

While these cards aren’t known for their flexibility - as the points you earn can only be redeemed from one of the co-branded card’s partners - they can be the right choice for you if the card in question is associated with your favourite airline, hotel program, or retail network.

Best co-branded credit cards in Canada: TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite, Marriott Bonvoy Card from American Express, BMO Air Miles World Elite.

Consistent versus variable point programs

Consistent points programs

Consistent points programs are just that - consistent. No matter the airline, hotel, destination, or time of the year, the value of each point will remain the same. For instance, when redeeming Scotia Rewards Points for travel, 5,000 points always equal to $50, or $0.01 per point. In the same vein, 140 BMO Points always equals $1 when booking travel, which works out to a consistent $0.0071 per point.

The big advantage of consistent points programs is they’re straightforward and make it easy to calculate how much your rewards are worth. If you’ve got 30,000 Scotia Rewards Points, you’ll know you have exactly $300 worth of rewards. It’s worth highlighting though, points are only consistent within the context of travel rewards (i.e. flights and hotel stays), and point values can fluctuate when redeemed for merchandise, gift cards, or statement credits.

Best consistent points programs in Canada: American Express Membership Rewards, TD Rewards, BMO Rewards, Scotia Rewards, and MBNA Rewards.

Variable points programs

Variable or flexible points programs rely on charts or tables to calculate how much your rewards are worth - often factoring in things like destination and seasonality into the equation. That means the value of your points can vary depending on when and where you’re travelling.

While these programs can make the redemption process slightly more complex, they offer one major advantage: The opportunity to maximize greater value out of each point. By strategically planning a trip to a particular destination or during a specific time of year, you can squeeze extra value out of your rewards and go further with fewer points (something you can’t do when point values are always consistent).

Best variable points programs in Canada: American Express Membership Rewards, Aeroplan, Air Miles, Marriott Bonvoy.

Common perks found on travel cards

Airport perks

Many travel credit cards come equipped with perks to make air travel a lot more comfortable. These can include access to VIP lounges, complimentary checked baggage, priority boarding, and higher priority for seat upgrades. Other benefits can include access to expedited security lanes (helping you get to your gate faster) and free valet service.

Hotel perks

Once you get to your hotel, you can continue to benefit from using your travel credit card. The Marriott Bonvoy American Express card, for example, offers users the ability to upgrade to their Gold Elite Status after using the card for ten stays at any of their hotels. At this level, cardholders can enjoy extra bonus points, late check-out, enhanced in-room internet service and room upgrades (when available). In addition, members get exclusive room rates, mobile check-in, and a reservation guarantee which ensures that Marriott Bonvoy will arrange alternate accomodations and compensate you for the inconvenience.

Travel insurance

When travelling abroad, you want the security of knowing that you're covered in case of any mishaps or emergencies. That's where a travel card comes in handy, as most offer a wide, comprehensive range of travel insurance benefits. These could include (but are not limited to) travel emergency medical insurance, lost or stolen baggage, flight delay or cancellation and car rental loss or collision.


Credit card travel insurance

Whether travelling for business or pleasure, no one wants to consider the things that could go wrong while abroad. Issues like flight cancellations, medical emergencies, and lost baggage aren’t nice to think about, but they do happen. That’s why having travel insurance is so important.

Fortunately, most travel credit cards come with some sort of insurance package. While these can vary in terms of their extent and value, they’ll still typically save you money, as purchasing travel insurance yourself can cost you hundreds of dollars. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of coverage featured in most travel insurance packages.


Out-of-Province travel emergency medical

In Canada, we’re lucky to have provincial healthcare plans that will cover doctor’s appointments and hospital visits at home. Outside of your province’s boundaries, however, your coverage can be quite minimal if any. That’s why out-of-province travel emergency medical insurance is crucial to have. 

Typically covering injuries or serious illness up to $1 million, this insurance can take care of hospital stays, private nurses or major dental expenses (among other things). There are a couple of caveats, however.

For one, preexisting conditions aren’t usually covered, so if a long-standing issue lands you in the hospital, you may be on your own. Your age is also a heavy factor in the extent of your travel medical coverage. Those under 65 can typically count on insurance lasting around 20 days or more, while anyone over the age of 65 may have to settle for only a few days of coverage (if they get any at all). That said, some cards offer better coverage than others for seniors, so shop around.

Because this is the most important type of travel insurance, make sure you have a clear sense of what your provider will and will not cover before signing up. 


Travel accident coverage

Much like emergency medical insurance, travel accident insurance specifically covers you in the event of dismemberment or loss of life sustained while on a common carrier (i.e. plane, train etc). In the event that death occurs, your spouse or estate would receive the payout. Claims can include medical emergencies such as loss of limbs, sight and hearing.


Travel Interruption / cancellation coverage

While they might sound similar, there are some differences between trip cancellation and trip interruption.

In the case of trip cancellation, you’re only insured from the moment you book the trip until departure. Under this policy, your provider will pay out the non-refundable part of your trip (such as the flight) up to a certain amount. It’s important to note, however, that they won’t accept just any reason for cancellation. Only for specific events such as illness, a death in the family, or a travel advisory will you be reimbursed.

On the other hand, trip interruption insurance starts when you take off and ends once you’re back home. This coverage insures you up to a maximum amount for non-refundable expenses in the event that you need to come home early. These could include things like severe weather conditions or a serious injury/illness that renders you unable to travel safely.


Flight delay insurance

Flight delay insurance covers you in case of unforeseen expenses due to a delayed flight (such as hotel rooms or meals). The amount you’ll be covered for can vary depending on your card, so check with your provider.


Lost/delayed baggage

In the event that your checked baggage doesn’t arrive on time, your delayed baggage insurance will reimburse you for essential items such as clothing (it typically kicks in if your wait is four hours or longer).

Lost baggage insurance, however, will cover you up to a maximum amount for loss of personal property in the event that your baggage is lost by a common carrier, such as an airline.


Rental car collision loss/damage

In the case of a damaged or stolen rental vehicle, your rental car collision loss/damage insurance protects you by covering any costs related to the event. It’s important to remember, however, that the coverage doesn’t extend beyond your own vehicle, so any harm to other cars, individuals or property would be your responsibility (unless you’ve got liability insurance). 

For this coverage to kick in, you’ll have to decline the optional collision damage waiver offered by the rental car company. This can typically run around $20 per day, so having this insurance on your travel card can save you a decent amount. There are some exclusions however, including (but not limited to) luxury cars, motorcycles and RVs.’s best travel credit cards in Canada for 2022

American Express Cobalt

  • Annual fee: $120 (charged $10 monthly)
  • Current welcome offer: Earn 2,500 bonus points every month you spend at least $500 on the card for your first year up to a total of 30,000 bonus points - that's $300 towards a weekend getaway or concert tickets
  • Everyday rewards: Earn 5 points per dollar on groceries and restaurants; 2 points per dollar on travel (flights and hotels), gas, and transit (public transit/taxis/rideshares). Get 1 point per dollar on everything else
  • Value of points: 1,000 AMEX Membership Rewards Points = $10 / 1 point = 1% when redeemed for travel. You can also get up to 1.5% - 1.75% per point on round-trip flights with AMEX’s Fixed Points Program

Why it made our Best Of list: When it comes to ranking the best travel credit cards in Canada, the American Express Cobalt has been the card to beat since it was launched in 2017.

It comes with a rich earn rate (offering between 2% and 5% on almost all your food and travel-related spending), a generous welcome bonus that can add up to well over $300, and a full suite of travel and entertainment perks including up to $5 million in out-of-province medical coverage and access to presale concert tickets. 

The AMEX Cobalt also makes redeeming your points just as easy as earning them; giving you the freedom to save on travel in one of either three ways: 

  1. AMEX’s Flexible Points Program: A straightforward option that lets you redeem increments of 1,000 points for a $10 travel credit (or a flat 1% per point). You can use this credit to save on travel purchases on flight tickets (from any airline), hotel stays, rental cars, and vacation packages.
  2. AMEX’s Fixed Points Program: A slightly more elaborate (but lucrative) option that lets you use points to save on round-trip flights out of Canada based on a redemption chart. By using the chart strategically, you can maximize your rewards and get up to 1.5% to 1.75% per point.
  3. Hotel transfers: You can exchange your American Express points into Marriott Bonvoy or Hilton Honors points to save on stays at participating hotels.

Another great feature of the Amex Cobalt Card is you’re not forced to use any kind of in-house travel agency or online search portal from American Express when redeeming your points. Rather, you can make a purchase directly from an airline or hotel provider on your card and use your points to offset the cost retroactively at a later date. This added layer of flexibility is hard to find on any other competing travel card.

Tip for AMEX Cardholders: Consider also carrying a second no fee Visa or Mastercard credit card in your wallet just in case you’re at a store, restaurant, or grocery that doesn’t accept American Express.


TD First Class Visa Infinite

  • Annual fee: $139 (rebated for the first year)
  • Current welcome offer: Earn up to 145,000 TD Points†. Apply by May 28, 2023.†
  • Everyday rewards: Earn 8 TD points per dollar on online purchases from the Expedia for TD website and 2 TD points per dollar on everything else
  • Value of points: 200 TD Rewards Points = $1 / 1 point = 0.5% when redeemed online on the Expedia for TD website
  • Income required: $60,000 personal income

Why it made our Best Of list: The TD First Class Visa Infinite climbs high on our list for two key reasons. 

First, thanks to TD’s partnership with Expedia (the world’s largest travel platform), you can use TD points to save on virtually anything travel - from flights on any airline, hotel stays, and vacation packages, to guided tours, museum tickets, car rentals, and more.

Second, the card offers huge returns on travel spending with 8 TD Points per dollar (4.5% return in travel rewards) on any purchase you make on the Expedia for TD website. If you’re a frequent traveller, that can add up to huge returns.

The card also offers a strong flat earn rate of 2 TD points per dollar (1.5% in travel rewards) on all your other everyday purchases, a full range of travel insurance benefits, and discounts on a Priority Pass Membership and rental car bookings from Avis and Budget.


TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite

  • Annual fee: $139 (rebated for first year)
  • Current welcome offer: Earn 10% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months up to a total spend of $2,000. Plus, first year no annual fee for the primary and additional cardholders. Must apply online by May 28, 2023.†
  • Everyday rewards: Earn 1.5 Aeroplan points per dollar on groceries, gas, and on AirCanada purchases; and 1 point per dollar on everything else
  • Income required: $60,000 personal income

Why it made our Best Of List: The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite has experienced a formidable change to coincide with the relaunch of Aeroplan, and the new card continues to deliver great value for airline loyalists, points optimizers, and frequent flyers who aren’t dissuaded by slightly complicated rewards programs.

Let’s start by talking about the welcome offers. As a new cardholder, you can Earn 10% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months up to a total spend of $2,000. Plus, first year no annual fee for the primary and additional cardholders. Must apply online by May 28, 2023.†

In terms of everyday rewards, you’ll collect between 1 to 1.5 Aeroplan points per dollar spent. Aeroplan points can be redeemed for flights on Air Canada or any of the over two dozen Star Alliance partners (though, booking on a Star Alliance airline using points will result in an extra $39 booking fee).  

The value of an Aeroplan point isn’t consistent and can fluctuate depending on your city of departure and arrival as well as whether you’re flying during a high-demand travel season (you can use Aeroplan’s Points Predictor Tool to estimate the numbers of points needed for a redemption) . While this adds a level of complexity to the program, it also means a strategically planned trip can get a return of well over the standard 1 cent per point offered by many other programs. In fact, you can get up to two cents per point (or more) depending on your travel routes. 

Aeroplan offers plenty of opportunities to maximize your points values when redeeming for travel including the ability to add stopovers on flights and redeem points for flights on business class at favourable value. With the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite, you’ll also get preferred pricing and can often redeem for travel using fewer points versus Aeroplan members without a co-branded credit card.

Finally, let’s talk about perks. As a TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite cardholder, you and up to eight travel companions on the same reservation can check in your first bag at no extra cost when flying on Air Canada. Considering baggage fees can add up to $30 on economy flights within Canada or between the US, the savings can really add up, especially for families flying together. The card now also offers NEXUS fee rebates (up to $100), letting you speed through security checks at border crossings between the US and Canada. All that’s just scratching the surface as the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite also offers robust travel insurance and mobile device insurance included.


BMO World Elite Mastercard

  • Annual fee: $150 (rebated for the first year)
  • Current welcome offer: Earn 30,000 bonus BMO Rewards points when you spend at least $3,000 on the card within your first three months and another 10,000 points at the end of your first year.
  • Everyday rewards: Earn 3 points per dollar on dining, travel, and entertainment; and 2 points per dollar on everything else
  • Value of points: 140 BMO Rewards Points = $1 / 1 point = 0.7% when redeemed for travel
  • Income required: $80,000 or $150,000 as a household

Why it made our Best Of list: The BMO World Elite Mastercard is one of the best cards out there period - but it really outshines when narrowing down the competition to only travel cards that carry the Mastercard badge.

With this card, you’ll earn 3 BMO Rewards points per dollar on all your travel, restaurant, and entertainment-related spending (or 2.1% in travel rewards). All other purchases get you 2 points per dollar, which works out an impressive base earn rate of 1.4% in travel rewards.

Your points can be used on any airline with no blackout dates, and covers all flight charges and taxes through BMO Rewards’ full-service travel agency. New accountholders will have the card’s annual fee of $150 waived in the first year and can also access up to 40,000 bonus points ($280 travel value). Looking for more value? This card also comes with airport lounge access with a complimentary membership to Mastercard Airport Experiences and four free annual passes to over 1,000 lounges worldwide. The BMO World Elite also offers some of the most comprehensive travel insurance benefits of any credit card in Canada. 

Since the BMO World Elite is a Mastercard, it’s widely accepted where other credit cards are not - namely Costco and No Frills.


MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Current welcome offer: Earn 1,000 bonus MBNA Points when you sign-up for e-statements and make at least $500 in purchases within the first three months of receiving your card. Plus, earn twice the points per dollar on the card’s three bonus categories (gas, groceries, and dining), for the first three months
  • Everyday rewards: Earn 2 MBNA Points per dollar spent on gas, groceries, and dining up to $5,000 annual spend in each category. Earn 1 MBNA Point on all other purchases
  • Value of MBNA Point: 100 MBNA point =$1 / 1 point = 1% when redeemed for travel rewards (i.e. flights)
  • Income required: None

Why it made our Best Of list: If you’re looking for a travel rewards card with no annual fee, the MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus should be high up on your list. It lets you earn up to two-times the points across three different bonus categories, a minimum of 1 point per dollar on everything else, and potentially over $100 in bonus rewards - impressive value for a card that’s free to carry.

Cardholders can use points to book travel with no blackout dates or seat restrictions for flights on virtually any airline. The card also includes common carrier and rental car insurance benefits but unfortunately lacks travel medical emergency insurance (which is an expected tradeoff that comes with a no fee credit card).


Marriott Bonvoy American Express 

  • Annual fee: $120
  • Current welcome offer: New users can earn 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points after you charge $1,500 in purchases to your card in your first three months of cardmembership. Subject to change at any time.
  • Everyday rewards: Earn 5 Marriott Bonvoy Points per dollar spent at Marriott properties (or its over 2 dozen subsidiaries). Get 2 points per dollar on everything else
  • Value of points: 1 Marriott Bonvoy point = 1.17% on average when redeemed for hotel stays (point values can fluctuate depending on the hotel and time of year)
  • Income required: None

Why it made our Best Of list: At first glance, you might think the Marriott Bonvoy Card from American Express will only help you save at hotels with the Marriott logo. But in fact, Marriott is the largest hotel conglomerate in the world - owning and operating over two dozen hotel brands (including Sheraton, Starwood, Delta, Ritz-Carlton, and Westin) across 7,000 properties in over 110 countries. The Marriott Bonvoy Card from American Express will help you save at all of them.

You’ll earn 5 Bonvoy points per dollar spent on the card at all Marriott-owned properties and a flat 2 points per dollar on everything else. 

You can redeem points for stays at all hotels under the Marriott brand. Cardholders also have the option to transfer Bonvoy points to over 40 airline loyalty programs at a 3:1 ratio. You’ll even get a Bonvoy Silver Elite membership and one free night hotel stay every year. Plus, you'll get an automatic upgrade to Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status when you reach $30,000 in purchases on the card each year or when you combine 10 qualifying paid nights within one calendar year with the 15 Elite Night Credits from your card. There is an annual fee of $120, but a comprehensive travel insurance package is included as well as a 75,000 point welcome bonus.


CIBC Aventura® Visa Infinite* Card

  • Annual fee: $139 (rebated for the first year)
  • Current welcome offer: Welcome Offer: Join and get over $1,250 in value including a first year annual fee rebate!†
  • Everyday rewards: 2 points for every $1 spent on travel purchased through the CIBC Rewards Centre; 1.5 points for every $1 spent at eligible gas stations, grocery stores and drug stores; and 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Value of points: 1 point = 1.16 cents on average according to Ratehub calculations (though values do vary by destination)
  • Income required: $60,000 or $100,000 as a household

Why it made our Best Of list: Aside from the card's strong earn rate - which climbs up to 2 points per dollar spent on travel - the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite gets a special shout out on this list for the sheer number of unique perks it offers. Cardholders receive a Priority Pass membership with four free visits to over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide each year, a $50 rebate on Nexus membership (allowing for a smoother border crossing experience at Canadian airports as well as south of the border), and up to $1,000 in mobile device insurance that’ll cover your smartphone in case it’s stolen, damaged, or lost. All those perks are offered for a standard annual fee of $139.

There’s also the CIBC Pace It program: which lets you pay off larger purchases in instalments at a lower interest rate in case you do need some financial wiggle room and can’t pay off your balance in full by the time your statement arrives at the end of the month.

All that’s in addition to the standard benefits like out-of-province medical insurance, auto rental collision/loss/damage insurance, and flight delay and baggage insurance.

Aventura points can be redeemed for a variety of travel rewards from virtually any airline (and can even be used to cover taxes and fees), though you are required to use the Aventura Travel agency.


American Express Gold Rewards Card

  • Annual fee: $150
  • Current welcome offer: earn up to 50,000 Membership Rewards® points - that’s up to $500 towards your next flight or dinner out with friends.
  • Everyday rewards: 2 points for every $1 spent on travel, gas, groceries, and drug stores; and 1 point per $1 on everything else
  • Value of points: 1 point = 1 cent to potentially over 2 cents (depending on redemption option)
  • Income required: None specified

Why it made our Best Of list: The American Express Gold Rewards Card has long been a favourite among savvy points optimizers. The reason? The points earned on this card can be transferred to around half a dozen frequent flyer programs (including Aeroplan and British Airways Avios on a 1:1 basis) as well as major hotel loyalty programs (like Marriott Bonvoy or Hilton Hhonors). With the right transfers, on the right flights, to the right destination, you can maximize your rewards and stretch the value of each point well beyond the standard 1 cent. In fact, it’s these transfers that so-called travel hackers use to their advantage to fly business class and book multi-city routes for less.

Along with the ability to transfer points to other loyalty programs, you can also book flights using AMEX's Fixed Points rewards chart or by retroactively offsetting the cost of travel purchases charged on your card at a flat rate of 1,000 points for $10.


National Bank World Elite Mastercard

  • Annual fee: $150 (refunded for the first year)
  • Current welcome offer: Up to 70,000 points in the first year
  • Everyday rewards: Up to five points per dollar on eligible restaurants and groceries; 2 points per dollar on eligible gas and electric vehicle charging purchases, recurring bill payments and a la carte travel purchases; one point per dollar on everything else
  • Value of points: 1 point = 1 cent to upwards 2 cents or more (depending on redemption option)
  • Income required: $80,000 or $150,000 as a household

The National Bank World Elite offers what is arguably the most comprehensive travel insurance package of any card in Canada. Its out-of-province travel medical insurance lasts for trips of up to 60 days for those under the age of 52, eclipsing most cards which typically offer coverage for a maximum of 25 days. Even seniors between 65 and 75 years old receive up to 15 days of coverage, whereas typical travel cards offer only 3 days or none at all.

Additionally, the card’s rental auto insurance doesn’t just insure against collision, theft, or damage of the vehicle, but even provides up to $2,000 in personal effects coverage in case your personal belongings in the rental car are stolen or lost. You’ll also receive standard insurance benefits including trip interruption and cancellation with up to $5,000 and $2,500 in coverage respectively per person, flight delay insurance, and baggage loss/delay coverage.

There's also a generous welcome bonus: new users who sign up by January 13, 2023 can get 30,000 rewards points for spending $5,000 in the first three months, plus an extra 10,000 points if they sign up for credit card payment insurance for a minimum of three months. And if that's not enough, you can also earn an additional 30,000 points for charging $12,000 to the card in the first twelve months. You'll also get your first year's annual fee refunded.

The card also allows users to get up to $150 each year in refund for travel expenses on airport parking, seat selection, check-in fees, airline ticket upgrades and access to airport lounges worldwide, plus free and unlimited access along with one guest to the National Bank Bank World MasterCard Lounge at Montréal-Trudeau airport.

If you’re a traveller who regularly embarks on extended trips abroad, this card’s insurance package alone can help you save several hundreds of dollars every year.

BMO eclipse Visa Infinite

  • Annual fee: $120 (rebated for first year)
  • Current welcome offer: A total of 40,000 points: 25,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months plus 15,000 after your first year anniversary
  • Everyday rewards: Earn 5 BMO points per dollar on groceries, dining, gas, and daily transit; 1 point per dollar on everything else. Plus earn a $50 lifestyle credit card every calendar year.
  • Value of 1 BMO point: 0.7% when redeemed for travel
  • Income required: $60,000

Why it made our Best Of List: The BMO eclipse Visa Infinite is an all-new credit card from BMO that’s clearly aimed at millennials - who are just as likely to spend big on eating out and rideshares as they are on groceries and gas. And if you fit that description, you’ll seriously want to consider this card.

You’ll earn an impressive 5 BMO points per dollar on virtually all your spending on food (groceries and restaurants) and transit (gas, public transit, and rideshares), along with 1 point per dollar on everything else. To top it off,  you’ll get a $50 annual lifestyle credit at the start of each calendar year. That’s like getting an additional month’s worth of rewards for free.

Since this credit card has the Visa badge on it, you can also rest assured the BMO eclipse Visa Infinite will be accepted at virtually all places, including smaller and independently-run dining establishments.

When considering 1 BMO point is worth about 0.7 cents (or 0.7%) when redeemed for travel, you’ll net between 3.5% and 0.7% on every dollar you spend. BMO points are extremely flexible and can be redeemed for flights on virtually every major airline. Using the new “Pay with points” option, you also have the ability to use BMO points to save on everyday purchases recently charged to your card within the past 30 days in increments of $1, kind of like cash back. Note though, while the Pay with points option is more convenient, it offers a slightly less return from your points (200 points = $1, or 1 point = 0.5 cents).

The BMO eclipse Visa Infinite also offers a ton more perks we haven’t covered yet. For instance, if you add an authorized user, you can up your everyday earn rate by 10% - perfect for couples or family members looking to streamline their finances and share an account. Plus, the card comes with up to $1,000 in mobile device insurance and travel medical insurance.


American Express Platinum Card

  • Annual fee: $699
  • Current welcome offer: earn up to 80,000 Membership Rewards® points - that’s up to $800 towards a weekend away.
  • Everyday rewards: Earn three points per dollar on dining and food delivery and two points per dollar on travel (flights and hotels). Get one point per dollar on everything else
  • Annual Rewards: Get a $200 travel credit every year
  • Value of points: one point = one cent to potentially over two cents (depending on redemption option)

Why it made our Best Of List: The American Express Platinum Card may be notorious for its unique metal-build and sky-high annual fee, but behind the allure of its luxury status, the card comes packed with a ton of perks that makes it a popular pick among even the most value-conscious frequent flyers.

Right off the bat, it’s worth calling out the card’s annual travel credit. Every year, all cardholders will receive a $200 CAD travel credit that can be applied towards any single travel booking of $200 or more charged on the card. This recurring offer can slash a huge chunk out of your annual travel expenses and effectively helps to cut down the card’s annual fee to $499. 

The card also comes with a significant bonus offer allowing you to earn up to 80,000 Membership Rewards® points - that’s up to $800 towards a weekend away. Plus, you'll get unparalleled airport lounge benefits with unlimited access to over 1,200 Priority Pass Lounges (for you and up to one guest) and coveted Centurion Lounges (an annual value of $399 USD), the best in concierge services, comprehensive travel insurance, and up to $550 in potential hotel upgrades when staying at any of the participating AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts.

Finally, it’s time to talk about the card’s lucrative rewards program: Membership Rewards Points. 

Membership Rewards Points are extremely and can be redeemed for travel in one of three ways, the simplest of which is through AMEX’s Flexible Points Program where 1,000 points are always worth a consistent $10 (1%) in credits that can be used for virtually any travel expense including flights, hotel stays, car rentals, cruises, and more. But that’s just scratching the surface. Points can also be transferred to over half a dozen hotel and frequent flyer programs, including the likes of Aeroplan and British Airways Avios, often at a 1:1 ratio. Transferring to the right programs can turn a point normally worth 1 cent to upwards of 2 cents or more. That’s potentially over a 100% boost in value! Then there’s AMEX’s Fixed Points Travel Program, where points can be redeemed for round-trip flights according to a rewards chart that can potentially deliver 1.5 to 2 cents per point.

Summary (+/-)


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