Best travel credit cards of 2016

Fly farther with these value cards



From the September/October 2016 issue of the magazine.


Travel is expensive, but it doesn’t have to be if you sign up for the right credit card. With travel cards, don’t just focus on the points—perks like companion flights and insurance coverage can add real extra value.

The best travel reward card

WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard

best travel rewards card

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Annual rewards*: $560

Buddy system

No one likes flying alone and with this card you won’t have to. Once a year bring a friend with you for $99 anywhere in Canada or the continental U.S.

Boarding pass

Get $250 WestJet dollars when you make your first purchase on the card—enough for a round trip from Calgary to Vancouver.

Racking up miles

Earn 1.5% on every purchase back in WestJet miles and 2% back on WestJet bookings.

Lost luggage

Almost every type of insurance comes standard on this card, like travel medical and flight delay coverage, with one exception: Luggage insurance.

The fine print

This card will cost you $99 a year; adding supplemental cards will cost you $49 each.


Scotiabank Gold American Express

best travel credit cards

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Annual rewards*: $429

Looking to travel outside of the WestJet routes? Then the Scotiabank American Express Gold Card is a good alternative. Earn four points for every $1 you spend on gas, groceries, restaurants and entertainment. The card comes with an annual fee of $99, but supplemental cards are just $29.

Only spend $500/month?

best travel credit cards

WestJet wins again. Under normal circumstances if you don’t charge a lot on your credit card you’ll want to steer clear of cards with an annual fee. This one may be the exception. You won’t get this card for the points, you’d get it for the annual companion flights starting at $99, which is a pretty good deal.

*Estimated travel rewards based on $2,000/month spending after fees

best travel credit cards

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—A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the Scotiabank American Express Gold Card allows users to convert points into Aeroplan points. MoneySense regrets the error—

10 comments on “Best travel credit cards of 2016

  1. The Scotia American Express offers travel insurance for those people over 65. Something to check.


    • Aeroplan points are currently a joke, if stuck flying Air Canada to Europe you will save around $200 on flight that you may have saved 5 years of points for. It is cheaper to find a seat sale then book with them and at least you have some selection. If you only had to pay the taxes with your Aeroplan points it would be alright but they slap on a $400 or $500 surcharge which you might as well pay full price then.


  2. Used properly, Aeroplan points are worth 3 to 4 cents per point. 155,000 points for a $5,000 Business Class flight to Orient which can be changed or cancelled at minimal cost. Visa, Am Ex and others offer Aeroplan points. (But ya gotta spend to earn the points)


  3. did you look at hotel cards ?
    My AMX Sheraton card gives me 1 point per dollar, i spend 12000 a year and the hotels i stay at are 2000 or 3000 a night thats 4 to 6 free nights for a 125 yearly fee


  4. My focus with a charge card is to collect benefits for flights as we travel to Mexico (Cancun) 2-3 times a year. I’ve collected points with Aeroplan for a long time but over the years the number of points required for a direct flight to Cancun has become ridiculous. I have an Amex Gold card and use it on purchases where 2X the points are offered (groceries and pharmacies) which beats the % on purchases provided by WestJet ($99 annual fee and free second card). I also have and use the WestJet card for most purchases. I’m glad to see your research confirms this as the best travel card while the travel insurance coverage for those over 65 isn’t the best. The question I pose is what is the best way to cover expenses in US$. The cost of our accommodation in Mexico is in US$. I currently have a TD US$ credit card (no annual fee) that I use for US$ purchases. I purchase US$ to pay the US$ expenses through Knightsbridge which advertises it is less expensive than going through the banks. I have recently become aware that a Rogers MasterCard does not charge the usual 2.5% fee for using a Canadian$ charge card and offers a 4% cash discount on the actual US$ expenditure. Is this a better alternative that what I’m currently doing? Your readers may be interested in an analysis of this sort which includes offerings through charge cards.


    • Snowbirds should consider Amazon Credit Card Chase Canada Bank) while in the US. Purchases made in US$ are translated on you monthly bill to CDN$. For each $CDN 2000 charged to your Amazon card, you receive 2000 points. Twenty dollars is credited to you account for each 2000 points that you accumulate.. For purchases made in US$ with this card there are NO transaction fees. Banks charge from 1% to 3% transaction fees. This is why this card is excellent for snowbirds travelling to US. Go to their website for additional benefits. There is no annaual fee for this card. I also use the Westjet Masterdcard while in Canada.


  5. Using points takes some work. I use Avion regularlly transfer points to British Airways when 50 percent mark up is advertised. I have been able to travel Europe 3x, China 1x, US 8-10 times mostly business class. I am not handcuffed as to which airline I use. If BA does not accomodate me, I use whichever airline I wish.


  6. I have used the Alaska Airlines MasterCard for years now due to its once a year companion ticket. Alaska Airlines has great flight options to Hawaii. How come I never see it listed in comparisons? Also HSBC Premier MasterCard lets you spend your accumulated points on any kind of travel so you are not tied to one particular airline, or restricted options.


  7. I know you get the biggest bang for your bucks with the AMEX Gold but keep in mind that not every store takes AMEX!!


  8. Along with no luggage insurance, the WestJet credit card does not offer trip cancellation insurance either. For me this is a deal breaker because I would still have to buy expensive cancellation insurance for my vacations. Other travel credit cards offer this so not sure why West Jet does not. Somewhat devious to say the card has travel insurance and then people find out the hard way that they’re not covered if they get sick before a trip.


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