Best travel cards of 2014

The top 8 cards for travel perks

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52 comments on “Best travel cards of 2014

  1. I have been involved with aeroplan for 20+ years. There was a time when the plan was excellent. in recent years it has become next to impossible to get a direct flight unless you book one year in advance. Recently I hypothetically tried to book flights from Toronto to a place like Vancouver . I was appalled to find that the norm would require at least one stop of a duration of from three to nine hours. We have flown six times from Toronto to Bermuda–you can’t find a flight more straight forward then that. Try to book a direct flight there and you will be amazed at the ingenious way aeroplan can come up with a long circuitous route with stopovers. I thought that the change to TD might make a difference. It has not–aeroplan is a disgrace. Both of our sons and a number of friends have switched plans. I plan to do the same.

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    • I couldn’t agree more. Aeroplan is frustrating and manipulative. For most of us who love to travel the last thing we want are ridiculous layovers and tortuous routes. As for availability…laughable. That is exactly why I am searching on line right now to find a replacement. It takes a lot to annoy me, but they certainly have done the job.

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    • I am dumping Amex , because of Aeroplan. Ottawa to Las Vegas 11-16 hours, and $200 in taxes. They must think we’re idiots.

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    • Same flight comparison. cost including tax, Aeroplan classic total is $162, CIBC aventura point is $240. Aeoplan can still save you some money compare to others.

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  2. @garthgoodhew. agreed, Aeroplan is a terrible plan. The only benefit i get is due to living in Winnipeg i can get a direct flight to Toronto because they don’t stopover anywhere in between and can’t screw me and force me to just buy a new flight out of frustration. And i tried booking a year out (11+ mths actually, i was a few days late) and you still can’t get a flight. The other way they mess with you is now if you want a direct flight they will charge you way more mileage points to get on the flight so you use them up quicker.

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  3. Got away from an Aeroplan card a few years ago and love being rid of them. It’s impossible to book a decent flight. Get an “Any Airline, Any Seat” type of card instead. Do the math: $Value of tix / $ spent on card. CIBC Aventura gives you 2.29% back. RBC Avion is 2.14%. A couple more cards at 2%. There’s a few other variables you can consider, like annual fees. Also the redemption rates aren’t as good if you you use points to cover taxes.

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  4. I find the navigation and the layout of this article incredibly frustrating, can’t seem to find the information I am looking for. Disappointing.

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    • Totally agree … disapoointing

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    • Agreed.

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    • Agreed. The design is very provoking.

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      • You set up a website like this to artificially boost page views. It’s shameless and disrespectful to your readers.

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    • I could not find the navigation buttons at first either. They are off to the side above the share buttons. But there are only 10 things, why not just a list?

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    • no kidding, they just want more subscribers to the mag. a different way of messing with you but similar to Aeroplan

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  5. Personally, I’ve given up on Aeropland AND Air Miles, and now use the “cash rewards” of these two loyalty programs exclusively. Best travel card in my opinion remains the Capital One Aspire because you do not have to endure ANY frustration in booking flights while trying redeem. The redemption system with Capital One isn’t perfect, but it’s MUCH better than fighting with Air Miles or Aeroplan.

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    • The best reward card for travel is the BMO elite Mastercard. I never had any hassles nor problem in flights or car rentals. 1 dollar equals 100 points when redeeming. Earning is 2 points / dollar plus 4 free Priority lounges/ year. Medical and travel insurance free when purchased on the card. Today Air miles and Aeroplan reward program are terrible for the value.

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      • I am surprise that this one is not on the radar at all. Its a 2% return and you get to choose any flights available on any airline. It also covers the taxes and fees if you have enough points PLUS you can even book all inclusive trips with it. Its very straight forward.

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        • ok, which card are you talking about?

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          • BMO World Elite M/C has the best overall package for long haul flights to anywhere. And the insurance pkg and VIP lounge passes are a nice bonus. This is very important if your flying is to some locations which other cards require much more spending to get enough points. Flight costs also were better than Expedia rates. There is a good chart on rewardscanada.ca/ccrewardcompare.html that you should check out before you pick a card. It can save you an unbelievable amount

  6. I am now using a card that provides good insurance with the card rather than just travel rewards. This saves money too from having to purchase separate travel insurance. I am surprised in the card ratings that the travel cards didn’t even consider this when rating them, just how much to fly some where. A word of caution on the insurance, make sure you read through the policy so you know what you have and when it is applicable. I know it’s dry reading through that stuff but you want to make sure the of the ins and outs of the specific policies ie. life, rental car, delayed flight etc.

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  7. Impossible to have a comprehensive list because all situations are different. RBC Avion card didn’t make your top eight list but, I regularly convert my Avion to BA points for an additional 50% BA points. It also takes less BA points to get across the Atlantic than Aeroplan to begin with. They offer this twice a year. I travel to Europe annually so it works great. I can also use those BA points on American though difficult sometimes to get a flight. I wonder if this conversion feature was taken into consideration in the analysis.

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    • I’m interested in the RBC Avion too. Can you please explain converting Avion to BA points?

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  8. It is impossible to book a flight through Aeroplan points nowadays without numberous stops, overnight flights, unavailable dates and such. The Aeroplan points however are useful for hotels and/or car rentals, no problems there.

    Because I don’t want to keep both cards I need to make a decision , will it be the new CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card or the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card? So, I have spent the last 2 hours online to both my Aeroplan account and my CIBC Aventura account sample booking to different places in North America and Europe. I was very impressed with the CIBC Adventura and totally disappointed with Aeroplan. I think I have my answer, CIBC Aventura. It sounds like others on this site have had problems with Aeroplan as well. Sad, been a customer for years.

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  9. Based on this review and other, I was all excited about getting this card. I was going to ditch the two competitors cards and shift Capital One. However, I was totally turned off when I was told by the Capital One representative that there are certain purchases I couldn’t make using the card. I’m self employed and the card would be used for purchasing product, office supplies, paying for phone/internet etc. I’ve never had a credit card company tell me what I can and cannot buy. NOT SUCH A GREAT CARD AFTER ALL. Very disappointing, but moving onto the next best option.

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  10. Disappointed that the TD Visa Infinite (the non-Aeroplan) version didn’t make the list. Seems conspiciously absent from the analysis given it has been one of the recommended cards in the past.

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  11. I agree- have had aeroplan for many years and now aeroplan does not offer direct flights and the ones they do offer are at terrible times and connection times- shopping for new plan

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  12. Being retired seniors our interest is to find the best credit card earning the maximum non restricting miles at the lowest cost and without any hidden restrictions and high annual fees.

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  13. Aeroplan is most disappointing, manipulative and totally lacks any response to the complaints raised by other users. They just do not listen to complaints. We too are switching to another travel card that has no blackouts and does not change flight plans every other week. Just hope we get the right card that meets our needs.

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  14. What about the additional fees, taxes,etc?

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  15. Helpful

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  16. your evaluation is based solely on points value. You are not counting any other factors (annual fee, benefits, insurance, ways to redeem your points, etc) in your ratings. Therefore, I consider your article absolutely null. Your number 1 card is a westjet card, which makes me question: will i have the opportunity to buy merchandise with my points? Can I book a hotel in japan with it? Can I purchase investments? What happens if I purchase an article with this card and I get it stolen? Will it cover my lost items? Am I medically insured if I leave province / country?
    These are other factors we, as credit card customers, consider when choosing a credit card…..
    But thanks for the effort!

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    • Jeannie, we do factor in annual fees and sign-up bonuses. See our methodology here.

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  17. One huge difference in TD versus is the TD customer service is far inferior to CIBC. I was one of the unfortunate ones to have my aeroplan Visa Infinite card transferred to TD. I have no other TD product, fortunately. I recently had an issue where I believed my credit card was compromised. I phoned TD and was asked 3 security questions, one of which was the last purchased I made, the amount and when. How can this ever be a security question that identifies a card holder when their account could have been compromised. Absolutely incredible. Needless to say i’m cancelling my card, forthwith.

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  18. The article is set up for ad impressions and no solid information is contained. This is why users are RUNNING from traditional publishers who attempt to milk users for every ad impression possible. Modernize and think differently, rather than just being annoying.

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  19. Cant agree more. Got rid of Aeroplan after 15 years and went with Credit Union World Elite….getting 2 points per dollar spent and redeem at 1% and I can find deals from whatever site and get those deals. No Air Canada or Air Canada Vacations only ! With their $300 + in taxes and fuel surcharges ! !

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  20. For some reason the site won’t Unhide Comments so I can’t see if anyone has asked this, but you must have considered the RBC Avion Visa Infinite for this list, but it didn’t make it. Is there a specific reason for this? When I run my calculations for this card, based on the $2,000 spending/mth. I get a total of 24,000 eligible points (1%/$1 spent). Their travel redemption means that for that amount of spending I make roughly $560 worth of flight spending. Granted I am limited by their ticket price tiers, but still after 1 year I could purchase a $350 ticket, with 9K points leftover and with 2 years of spending, I have enough to purchase a $900 ticket, with 4K points leftover.
    Is there a reason that this didn’t make your list?

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  21. looking for info

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  22. The only thing the article doesn’t take Into consideration is the ease of redemption. I have found that both with
    Air miles and aeroplan it is almost impossible to book a flight that doesn’t have three stops to get me to my destination for the base points amount that they say I should need to redeem. However if I want to pay extra
    miles there always seems to be a flight available. So for that reason I decided to go the Scotia Bank AMEX.
    No need fool around with Airmiles and aeroplane’s crazy lack of flights.

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  23. Aeorplan is the worst to have. I have been a member for over 20 years and have not been able to use any points and I have a lot of points!!!! you can only book strange flights i.e. Toronto to Calgary will take you 20 hrs (I guess they fly you to Asia first). I am dumping Amex because of Aeroplan. I have been happy with my TD Visa Travel. Fly anytime, anywhere (they have their own travel agency). I also like Westjet master cards (but only if you fly westjet frequently)

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  24. In my opinion Capital One is #1, it gives 2% return on everthing, $350 woth of points for signing up and $100 worth of bonus points every year. The catch is you need to redeem on a travel expense more than $600 to get max out of the points.

    It’s so much easier to redeem the points if you know how to browse internet, no limitation.

    Not sure why it was #1 on MoneySense list.

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  25. DO NOT EVER EVER use AEROPLAN. I have accumulated over 300,000 points and when I try to do a simple trip from Miami to Montego Bay, no flight exists. Last month I was flying from Toronto to Geneva, Swiss and I couldn’t believe that I was only restricted to Air Canada flights that had 30 hrs lay over. To top it off, the “Air Canada Fuel Surcharge & taxes” was $650. that was on top of my 60,000 points. On a normal google searched flight, I could see total flights for $900. I ended up booking through other sites and not using my points. After accumulating my points for so long, I regret the day I switched to Aeroplan. Only if I could change the hands of the clock……

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  26. I wouldn’t call this the best travel rewards card. From my reading of their website, it seems that you have to pay for the whole ticket with points – “no partial redemptions”. Unless you’re travelling mainly on low cost short flights, I wouldn’t recommend this card.

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  27. Mark, thought you might like this story… echoing what some other commentators mentioned.
    Tried to book a flight from Toronto to Bangkok with Aeroplan. Cost would be 75,000 points + $1,200 in taxes and surcharges. ($1,000 of that for “carrier surcharges”). I then checked the same flight on Travelocity and it was $1,300 all in. Mostly the same itinerary, with different airlines, on Delta’s website was $1,200 all in! That’s it. I am giving up on Aeroplan. This is quite ridiculous really.
    Love the Credit Card ranking yearly article, however, I think it would be quite valuable to look at the cost of using the points as well. With Aeroplan’s new stingier policies I definitely do not think 3 Aeroplan cards belong in your list… if any at all. Not sure it is accurate to just look at which cards give you more points. What’s the point of having a lot of points if it is actually cheaper to use cash with an Air Canada competitor? Personally, I always felt that credit cards that provide hotel points give more value to a traveller than an airline points program. You can always find a cheap airline ticket somewhere…. however, the cost of a hotel room rarely changes much. For me, I am going to start looking into Delta, Marriott and Starwood points credit cards.
    Also, the Cap One Aspire card is a great card. I had that one for a while. Only problem is that they have limits on the max amount. I believe it was $10,000. I had to cancel it since that is not a high enough limit considering my monthly business expenses. So “practicality for business expenses” should also be taken into account.
    Thanks for your time.

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  28. I’m not sure how much analysis was done on these cards. I can tell you from my own evaluation that CapitalOne Aspire Travel card is the best as it is one of the few cards that gives points for ALL purchases on the card, so estimate your spend and calculate 2% and that is your potential $ savings opportunity! Although the annual fee is $120 per year, you get reimbursed with “anniversary” points of 100,000 pts which is worth $100 so the card really only costs you $20 per year. Like others have mentioned, Aeroplan and Air Miles are so difficult to use and the “retail” prices of these trips don’t necessarily make it worth your time. With CapitalOne, you buy any travel you want on your own, then redeem afterward. To maximize your benefit of the 2%, any spend above $600 (assuming you have enough points) will be fully redeemed. So no need to redeem points based on “retail” prices through Air Miles/Aeroplan/or any other travel organization, if you find a trip that is an amazing deal anywhere and pay on your Cap1 credit card, it will be redeemed in full!

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  29. not really informative or user friendy

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  30. Aeroplan is as bad as the Air Canada services. Next to impossible to get a flight and never on time, I dropped them this month.

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  31. This list isn’t credible at all. How do you leave out BMO World Elite when it’s giving 2% back with VIP benefits to lounges?

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  32. I have the WestJet MasterCard and it is fantastic. Just by signing up, they give you a 250.00 WestJet dollar bonus, also a companion flight ticket for 100.00 is available to use ever year. So my wife and I went to Florida last winter, and she only had to pay taxes plus 100.00 to come with me. Its a great card if you use WestJet once a year, and fortunately for my family and I, WestJet destinations are sufficient enough for us. If you were collecting points to go to Europe or Asia etc…(where WestJet does not fly) then I would recommend a different card that is more flexible. After working in the retail banking industry for 8 years, the TD infinite card jumps out at me, RBC Avion, the Aeroplan with TD also has some nice perks. Keep in mind, use your credit card for everything and pay it off regularly to avoid charges and interest.

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  33. I had TD Firstclass. Switched banks recently so I had to cancel it. Was an amazing rewards program, earning potential and easy to use. I now have the new Scotia gold Amex. Did some calculation for my spending compared to BMO WORLD ELITE. For points accumulation, depending on what you spend, in my case Scotia is better. However a 100.00 statement credit or inclvestment with Scotia is 12500 points. A 50.00 investment credit only is 11,000 points. Not to mention BMO any travel made with points is only valid if made through their travel agency. Can’t use use for meal, travel excursions or things you do on the fly. It’s inly good for hotels, flights, and other things you can get on Hotels.com according to them. They use hotels.com to book travel apparently. So if you see a lower price somewhere else, they WILL NOT MATCH IT!!!

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  34. I left the BMO Gold World Air Miles credit card because direct flights to many places I am interested in going are no longer offered. Other places, they are offered, but only leaving very early in the morning. The 25% discount on required number of air miles is no longer given to flights outside of Canada or U.S. If you want a decent flight time, it will require more air miles. I used to love my Air Miles credit card, but the program is now very limited in terms of what you can book for flights. I have switched to a TD Infinite card which offers any flight, any time.

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  35. Last year we applied for an AVION Card from RBC but they cheated us out of 15000 Points because had No-Fee RBC Card before. It was a technical manoeuver on their part.

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  36. Agree with Garth and most of the others posting here; Aeroplan SUCKS and the card that uses (TD Infinite) them is about to lose my business… to the tune of $160-170K/yr. Here’s why: there’s extremely limited availability, the arrival and departure times are terrible, and there’s always a connection which means long days of travelling, unless you want to pay premium “Market Fare” (more miles).

    Good example; to go from Edmonton to Los Angeles, 15+ frigging hours. How bloody insulting… if this is how these two companies have conspired together to squeeze every last penny out of me, instead of giving me decent value for the $$$ I make them every year (I’m a business owner who uses merchant service and I know how much I pay them every month to let people use their cards at my establishment) then they can go screw themselves… I’ll take my business elsewhere.

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  37. Just an update : BMO Mastercard is phasing out it’s Gold card. I has also put a cap of $7000 on the amount of points you can claim. For instance if you spend $10,000 in one month, you only get points for $7000. For the remaining $3000 you get nothing. That’s 200 hundred lost points. And that’s the problem with these so called contracts, we are victims of the banks who can change them on a dime.

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