The best travel credit cards in Canada for 2022

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Canada’s best travel credit cards 2022

A good travel credit card can make your trip more affordable, more comfortable and even more secure. There are numerous cards to choose from, but you can get the best value by selecting one that pairs a strong earn rate for rewards or cash back along with perks like lounge access, travel credits or rebates, superior insurance coverage and the flexibility to transfer points between cards. Ultimately, choose your card based how you like to travel, your spending and credit card habits and travel perks that fit your lifestyle. To help you pick the perfect card, we’ve come up with a list of Canada’s best travel credit cards.


Best travel rewards credit cards for everyday spending

Scotiabank Gold American Express*

Scotiabank Gold American Express

At a glance: Its earn rate structure has undergone some major changes in 2022, thanks to Scotiabank and Cineplex’s new partnership with Sobeys. That makes this popular travel rewards card even more lucrative for Canadians who shop at Sobeys and its related stores. And the addition of mobile device insurance is a welcomed update. 

  • Annual fee: $120
  • Earn rate: 6 Scene+ points for each $1 spent at Sobeys partner stores; 5 points for purchases at other grocery stores and on dining and entertainment; 3 points on gas, public transit, and select streaming services; 1 point on everything else
  • Welcome offer: Earn up to $850* in value in the first 12 months, including up to 45,000 bonus Scene+ points and first year annual fee waived. Offer ends 30 April 2023.
  • Interest rates: Purchases 20.99%, cash advances 22.99%, balance transfers 22.99%
  • Annual income requirements: Personal income of $12,000 
  • Travel perks: Includes a travel insurance package with travel emergency medical, trip cancellation and trip interruption, flight delay, delayed and lost luggage, and common carrier travel accident protection; plus, rental car collision and loss damage, and hotel and motel burglary coverage; ability to book with any airline; access to the Scotia Rewards Travel portal; no foreign currency conversion fee

Pros:

  • The new members’ welcome bonus allows you to earn up to 40,000 bonus Scene+ points (a value of $400 towards travel) and your annual fee is waived for the first year.
  • This card already had a good accelerated points program, but with the new partnership with Sobeys, cardholders can now earn 6 Scene+ points for each $1 spent at Sobeys, IGA, Safeway, Foodland, FreshCo, Voilà by Sobeys, Voilà by IGA, Voilà by Safeway, Chalo! FreshCo, Thrifty Foods, IGA West, Les Marchés Tradition, Rachelle Béry and Co-Op.
  • Cardholders can still earn big with an accelerated rate of 5X on other groceries, restaurants, food delivery boxes, and entertainment, and 3X on gas, transportation and streaming services like Netflix.
  • Up to $1,000 in new mobile device insurance is now included when you buy your device using the card.
  • When you make a purchase in a foreign currency, including when shopping online and when travelling abroad, you don’t pay the 2.5% foreign transaction fee. Only the exchange rate applies.

Cons:

  • There is a cap on the purchases eligible to earn the accelerated 6X, 5X and 3X earn rates. These rates apply to the first $50,000 in purchases annually; after that, you earn 1X the points. 
  • As an American Express card, this card is less widely accepted than Mastercard or Visa.

Also consider: American Express Cobalt*

amex-cobalt-review

At a glance: American Express Cobalt offers competitive earn rates across the board, but its most interesting feature is just how broad its spending categories are. Cardholders can take advantage of accelerated rates on more of their purchases. Strong travel insurance, new mobile device insurance, and partner perks like bonuses when booking with The Hotel Collection make this a travel card worth considering.

  • Annual fee: $156
  • Earn rate: 5 points per $1 spent on food and drinks, 3 points on streaming services, 2 points on travel and transit, and 1 point on everything else. Earn an additional point for hotel bookings and car rentals when using Amex Travel Online.
  • Welcome offer: earn 2,500 points for each month you spend $500, up to a maximum of 30,000 points—that’s $300 towards a weekend getaway or concert tickets.
  • Interest rates: Purchases 20.99%, cash advances 21.99%
  • Annual income requirements: None
  • Travel perks: Travel insurance, including up to $5,000,000 in emergency medical expenses and $250,000 in travel accident, flight and baggage delay, lost or stolen baggage, hotel burglary, and car rental theft or damage coverage; ability to transfer points to several frequent flyer and other loyalty programs at a rate of one to one; access to the Amex Fixed Points Travel program, which lets you maximize your points on round-trip flights; benefits like hotel credits and room upgrades when you book with The Hotel Collection

Pros:

  • New members can earn up to 30,000 membership rewards points in the first year.
  • Outstanding 5 points per $1 earn rate on food and drinks applies to grocery stores, bars and food delivery services, as well as restaurants.
  • The travel spending category is as expansive and includes flights, hotels and vacations, as well as gas, public transportation, taxis and rideshare. 
  • Includes a robust travel insurance package with up to $5,000,000 in emergency medical expenses.

Cons:

  • Travel insurance package does not cover trip cancellation. 
  • Although it’s billed monthly rather than annually, this card’s annual fee comes out to $155.88, which is slightly higher than other similar cards.
  • As an American Express card, this card is less widely accepted than Mastercard or Visa.

Best no fee card for travel

MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard*

At a glance: This card lets you earn MBNA rewards, which you can redeem for travel at a rate of 100 points per $1, and can be used on any airline. A no-fee card, the MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard will appeal to Canadians who don’t want to pay to earn rewards. But the relative lack in extras like travel insurance means it falls short of a full-service credit card. A robust welcome offer makes for a tempting offer.

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Earn rate: Earn 4 points on every $1 spent on restaurants, grocery, digital media, membership and household utilities during the first 90 days. After that, earn 2 points for every $1 spent on restaurant, grocery, digital media, membership and household utility purchases, and 1 point on everything else 
  • Welcome offer: Earn 4 points per $1 spent on eligible restaurant, grocery, digital media, membership and household utility purchases during your first 90 days. Plus, get 5,000 bonus points (a cash value of $25) after you make at least $500 in eligible purchases in those 90 days. You’ll earn another 5,000 points if you opt for paperless e-statements within the same time period. (Not available for residents of Quebec.)
  • Interest rates: Purchases, 19.99%, cash advances 24.99%, balance transfers 22.99%
  • Annual income requirements: None
  • Travel perks: Redeem 100 points for $1 in travel; use MBNA points to book travel on any airline; save with Avis and Budget rentals.

Pros:

  • Get up to 10,000 bonus points (worth $50) as part of the welcome offer.
  • Earn travel rewards without paying an annual fee.
  • Receive up to 10,000 birthday bonus points annually.
  • Includes up to $1,000 in new mobile device coverage for loss, theft, accidental damage or mechanical breakdown.

Cons:

  • Rewards are capped annually at a maximum of $5,000 per category. Spends beyond that earn at the base rate of 1 point per $1 spent.
  • Does not include travel emergency medical insurance.

Best Visa credit card for travel

TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card*

TD First class Travel Visa Infinite

At a glance: When used in concert with the Expedia for TD site, the TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite card can help you rack up major travel points that can be redeemed simply and easily for a wide range of travel rewards. This program keeps it simple with no blackout dates, no seat restrictions and no expiry for your points.

  • Annual fee: $139
  • Earn rate: 8 points per $1 for flights booked online through Expedia For TD and charged to your account; 6 Points per $1 on groceries & restaurants; 4 points per $1 spent on recurring bills; 2 points per $1 spent on everything else
  • Welcome offer: Earn up to 145,000 TD Points†. Apply by May 28, 2023.† Quebec residents, please click here.
  • Interest rates: Purchases 20.99%, cash advances 22.99%, balance transfers 22.99%
  • Annual income requirements: Personal income of $60,000 or household income of $100,000 
  • Travel perks: Access to Expedia for TD site; travel insurance including travel medical, trip cancellation or interruption, travel accident and car rental loss or collision; Priority Pass membership discount; savings with Avis and Budget car rentals

Pros:

  • With the welcome offer, earn up to 145,000 TD points and get a first-year fee-waiver for the primary and additional cardholders. 
  • You can use the Expedia for TD site to book a huge range of travel products like flights, hotels, car rentals and vacations with access to everything Expedia offers. 
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions, and points never expire.
  • Includes travel insurance and a discount on Priority Pass membership.

Cons:

  • The minimum personal income requirement of $60,000 (or $100,000 for the household) isn’t accessible to everyone.
  • While travel spending is incentivized, other common spending categories like groceries and gas earn at high rates.

Also consider: BMO eclipse Visa Infinite*

At a glance: The BMO eclipse Visa Infinite offers a high 5X earn rate on dining, groceries and travel which works out to a return of 3.5% back in points in those categories. The annual $50 “lifestyle credit” offsets the $120 annual fee.

  • Annual fee: $120
  • Earn rate: 5 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on dining, groceries, gas and transit; 1 point per on everything else
  • Welcome offer: Get up to 70,000 points ($467 in travel rewards) and earn 5 times the points on gas, dining, groceries and transit for the first year. Add and an authorized user and get 10% more points, too. Plus, they’ll waive the $120 annual fee your first year and you get a $50 lifestyle credit too.
  • Interest rates: Purchases 20.99%, cash advances 23.99% (21.99% for Quebec residents), balance transfers 23.99%
  • Annual income requirements: Personal income of $60,000 or household income of $100,000
  • Travel perks: $500,000 of travel accident insurance; car rental theft and damage protection; access to Visa Infinite perks

Pros:

  • With the welcome offer, you can earn up to 70,000 points (worth $467 in travel rewards), and the $120 annual fee waived in the first year.
  • Every January, receive a $50 “lifestyle credit” to be used as you wish.
  • Includes up to $1,000 in new mobile device insurance. 

Cons:

  • The travel insurance package is limited and doesn’t include flight cancellation or delay, baggage loss or damage, travel emergency medical or hotel burglary protection.
  • The accelerated earn rate is only available for a handful of spending categories.

Best Mastercard credit card for travel

BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard*

At a glance: With a tempting welcome bonus and strong earn rates on travel, the BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard offers opportunity to those looking for a travel Mastercard. Perks like Mastercard Travel Pass and BMO Concierge are nice extras.

  • Annual fee: $150
  • Earn rate: 5 points per $1 on travel, 3 points per $1 on dining and entertainment, 1 point per $1 on everything else
  • Welcome offer: Earn up to 70,000 points and the annual fee waived in the first year for both the primary cardholder and authorized users.
  • Interest rates: Purchases 20.99%, cash advances 23.99%, balance transfers 22.99%
  • Annual income requirements: Personal income of $80,000 or household income of $150,000 
  • Travel perks: Includes BMO World Elite travel and medical protection; Mastercard Travel Pass provided by DragonPass, with four annual complimentary passes; BMO concierge service

Pros:

  • With the welcome bonus for new cardholders, you can earn up to 70,000 points and get the annual fee waived in the first year for you and additional users.
  • Includes travel and medical insurance.
  • Includes four complimentary airport lounge passes annually.

Cons:

  • Accelerated points available only in select categories.
  • Minimum income requirement will put this card out of reach for some.

Also consider: National Bank World Elite Mastercard*

Image of National Bank World Elite Mastercard

At a glance: The National Bank World Elite Mastercard is most notable for its comprehensive travel and medical insurance that covers most events and, unlike many plans, extends to travellers over the age of 65. The annual travel refund and unlimited access to the lounge at Montreal’s Trudeau Airport make this a card to consider.

  • Annual fee: $150
  • Earn rate: 5 points per $1 on groceries and restaurants; 2 points on gas and electric vehicle charging, recurring payments, and National Bank of Canada’s À la carte Travel program; 1 point on everything else
  • Welcome offer: Earn 30,000 points when you spend $5,000 or more on purchases within the first three months of having the card. Must apply by January 13, 2023.
  • Interest rates: Purchases 20.99%, cash advances 22.49%, balance transfers 22.49%
  • Annual income requirements: Personal income of $80,000 or household income of $150,000 
  • Travel perks: Includes comprehensive travel and medical insurance; up to a $150 refund annually on your travel expenses like seat selection and airport parking; unlimited access to the National Bank Lounge at Montréal-Trudeau Airport

Pros:

  • Includes an extraordinary travel and medical insurance package that covers most travellers, even those over the age of 65
  • Receive an annual refund of up to $150 on travel expenses
  • Includes up to $1,000 in new mobile device insurance to cover for accidental breaks, loss or theft.

Cons:

  • The top-tier rewards rates of 5 points per $1 spent applies only to groceries and restaurants but not to other common spending categories.
  • There’s a monthly limit of $2,500 for accelerated rates. So, every additional dollar spent earns the base rate of 1 point per $1.
  • Minimum income requirements will put this card out of reach for some Canadians.

Best credit card for Air Canada

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite*

At a glance: Linked to Air Canada’s Aeroplan program, the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite offers solid travel perks that will appeal to those who travel frequently with the airline including a strong insurance package and discounts. The ability to share points will appeal to families. 

  • Annual fee: $139
  • Earn rate: 1.5 Aeroplan points per $1 spent on gas and groceries; 1 Aeroplan point per $1 on everything else
  • Interest rates: Purchases 20.99%, cash advances 22.99%, balance transfers 22.99%
  • Annual income requirements: Personal income of $60,000 or household income of $100,000
  • Welcome offer: Earn up to 50,000 Aeroplan points when you sign up. They’ll also waive the annual fee for your first year. Must apply by January 3, 2023.† Quebec residents, click here.
  • Travel perks: Travel insurance including up to $2 million in travel medical for the first 21 days of your trip, trip cancellation/interruption, flight/trip delay, lost or delayed baggage, common carrier travel accident, and hotel/motel burglary protection; auto rental collision/loss damage insurance; up to $100 rebate on Nexus application fee; free first checked bag for cardholder and travelling companions; savings with Budget and Avis; Visa Infinite benefits

Pros:

  • Generous welcome bonus of up to 50,000 Aeroplan points plus a first-year annual fee waiver.
  • Every seat is available for redemption with no seat restrictions or carrier surcharges.
  • Free first checked bag for primary cardholder and up to eight travel companions travelling on the same reservation travel originates on an Air Canada flight.
  • Share your Aeroplan points with up to eight family members and points never expire.

Cons:

  • The earn rate could be stronger in more spending categories.
  • It can be complicated to figure out the point values. You’ll need to consult Aeroplan’s dynamic redemption chart, as the number of points required for a free flight depends on dates and destination.

Best credit card for WestJet

WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard 

At a glance: If you travel regularly with WestJet, this card is definitely one to consider. You’ll earn WestJet dollars with every purchase plus have access to valuable perks like free checked bags, airport lounge access and a companion voucher every year.

  • Annual fee: $119
  • Earn rate: 2% back in WestJet dollars on WestJet flights and vacations packages and 1.5% back on all other purchases
  • Welcome offer: Receive $250 WestJet dollars, plus another $100 when you make your first purchase in the first three months (limited time, regular offer is $250)
  • Interest rates: Purchases 19.99%, cash advances 21.99%
  • Annual income requirements: Personal income of $80,000 or household income of $150,000
  • Travel perks: Travel insurance including out-of-province/out-of-country travel medical, trip interruption, flight delay, travel accident, and hotel/motel burglary protection; auto rental collision/loss damage coverage; annual companion voucher available; free checked bags for primary cardholder and up to eight travel companions; Dragonpass airport lounge access; free Boingo Wi-Fi

Pros:

  • With the welcome bonus, get up to 450 WestJet dollars plus and have the annual fee waived for the first year. 
  • Valuable annual companion voucher starts at $119—or, trade it in for four lounge vouchers.
  • Enjoy free checked bags for the primary cardholder and up to eight travel companions.

Cons:

  • The minimum income requirements will put this card out of reach for some.
  • You’re limited to WestJet flights and vacations.

Best credit card with no foreign transaction fees

Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite*

Scotia Passport Visa Infinite

At a glance: The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card comes with valuable travel benefits like travel insurance, airport lounge access with six free visits annually, and the ability to redeem Scene+ points for travel. You’ll also save 2.5% on purchases in a foreign currency because the card doesn’t charge foreign exchange fees.

  • Annual fee: $150
  • Earn rate: 3 Scene+ points on every $1 spent at Sobeys stores; 2 Scene+ points per $1 spent on grocery stores, dining, entertainment and transit purchases; 1 Scene+ point on all other purchases
  • Welcome offer: Earn up to 40,000 bonus Scene+ points and first year annual fee waived. Offer ends 30 April 2023.
  • Interest rates: Purchases 20.99%, balance transfers 22.99%
  • Annual income requirements: Personal income of $60,000 or household income of $100,000
  • Travel perks: Travel emergency medical insurance (under age 65 for up to 25 consecutive days, and for eligible persons age 65 and older for up to 10 days); coverage for trip cancellation/trip interruption, flight delay, delayed and lost baggage, travel accident, rental car collision loss/damage coverage and hotel/motel burglary insurance; airport lounge access with six free lounge passes annually; no foreign transaction fees

Pros:

  • Comes with a generous welcome offer of up to 35,000 Scene+ points. First, earn 25,000 points when you spend $1,000 in everyday purchases in the first 3 months. Then, get another 10,000 points when you spend $40,000 on everyday purchases in the first year. 
  • Through a new partnership with Sobeys stores, cardmembers will earn 3 Scene+ points per $1 spent at Sobeys, IGA, Safeway, Foodland, FreshCo, Voilà by Sobeys, Voilà by IGA, Voilà by Safeway, Chalo! FreshCo, Thrifty Foods, IGA West, Les Marchés TradItIon, Rachelle Béry and Co-Op.
  • As this card charges no foreign exchange fees, it’s an excellent option for purchases in another currency.

Cons:

  • In October 2022, the annual fee increased from $139 to $150, or from $69 to $75 for those who have the Scotia Total Equity Plan (STEP). 
  • The minimum income requirement puts this card out of reach for some.


Best flat rate credit card for travel

MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard*

At a glance: This card is a great option for those who want reliable, flexible rewards from their travel card, but also crave simplicity. With the MBNA Rewards World Elite, you’ll earn 2 points per $1 spent on everything you buy. A generous welcome bonus and an annual birthday bonus points gift make this card worth a look.

  • Annual fee: $120
  • Earn rate: Earn 5 points for every $1 spent on eligible restaurant, grocery, digital media, membership and household utility purchases until $50,000 is spent annually in the applicable category, and 1 point for every $1 on all other eligible purchases.
  • Welcome offer: up to 30,000 bonus points ($300 travel value) in their first year alone: 20,000 points after $2,000 spent in the first 90 days and another 10,000 points for enrolling for e-statements also within the first 90 days. (Not available for residents of Quebec.)
  • Interest rates: Purchases, 19.99% cash advances, 24.99%, balance transfers 22.99%
  • Annual income requirements: personal income of $80,000 or household income of $150,000
  • Travel perks: Lost document and ticket replacement and lost luggage and legal assistance; car rental insurance, and discounts at Avis and Budget rentals

Pros:

  • Offers a welcome bonus of up to 30,000 bonus points (approximately $245 in cash-back value).
  • Flat-rate earnings mean there’s no need to be strategic about your spending or think about bonus categories.
  • Each year, you’ll receive an additional 10% of the points you earned in the past year back as a birthday bonus, to a maximum of 15,000 points.
  • Points do not expire.

Cons:

  • Does not include travel medical insurance.
  • There is a $50,000 annual cap on bonus points. After that, $1 spent earns 1 point.
  • The annual income requirements put this card out of reach for some.


Best hotel credit card for travel

Marriott Bonvoy American Express*

At a glance: Travellers who book facilities in the Marriott Bonvoy family should consider this card, which rewards their loyalty lavishly. In addition to a hefty 5 points per $1 spent at Marriott properties, this card gets you 15 Elite Night credits every year, plus an annual night hotel stay for free. The points are flexible and can be transferred to more than 40 airline programs, including Aeroplan.

  • Annual fee: $120
  • Earn rate: Earn 5 points for every $1 spent at Marriott properties and 2 points per $1 everywhere else
  • Welcome offer: 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.
  • Interest rates: Purchases 19.99%, cash advances 21.99%
  • Annual income requirements: None
  • Travel perks: Includes $500,000 in travel accident coverage; flight and baggage delay protection; car rental theft and damage protection; hotel/motel burglary insurance; cardholders have the ability to transfer points to over 40 airlines; one free hotel stay per year; 15 Elite Night credits each year to use towards attaining the next level of Elite status

Pros:

  • The welcome bonus gives you the chance to earn up to 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.
  • Flexible points can be redeemed for free hotel stays at more than 7,000 hotels worldwide, including at Marriott, Delta, Ritz-Carlton, Courtyard properties and more.
  • Cardholders can transfer their points to more than 40 airline programs, including Aeroplan. 
  • Cardholders get a free annual hotel stay.

Cons:

  • The included travel insurance lacks travel medical coverage.
  • As an American Express card, it’s not as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard.

Best credit card for travel insurance

National Bank World Elite Mastercard*

At a glance: The National Bank World Elite Mastercard has one of the best suites of included travel insurance around, especially for the hard-to-insure older traveller. Other travel benefits like VIP lounge access at Montréal-Trudeau International Airport, and up to $150 in travel rebate annually makes this a stand-out.

  • Annual fee: $150
  • Earn rate: Earn up to 5 points per $1 on grocery and restaurant purchases;
    2 points on gas, electric vehicle charges and recurring bills; 1 point on everything else.
  • Welcome offer: Earn 30,000 points when you spend $5,000 or more on purchases within the first three months of having the card. Must apply by January 13, 2023.
  • Interest rates: Purchases 20.99%, cash advances 22.49%, balance transfers 22.49% 
  • Annual income requirements: Personal income of $80,000 or household income of $150,000 
  • Travel perks: Includes comprehensive travel insurance coverage for up to 60 days; out-of-province-of-residence medical/hospital insurance, departure flight delay insurance, baggage insurance in case of delay, theft or loss; and vehicle rental insurance; VIP access at the National Bank Lounge at Montréal-Trudeau Airport; 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

Pros:

  • Excellent travel insurance coverage, particularly for travellers between the ages of 65 and 75. 
  • Includes up to $1,000 in new mobile device insurance that protects against accidental breakage, loss or theft.
  • Get a refund of up to $150 annually for travel expenses like airport parking and check-in fees. 

Cons:

  • There is a monthly cap of $2,500 in spending for bonus points. Purchases above this threshold earn at a rate of 2 points per $1 spent. 
  • The income requirements may put this card out of reach for some.

Best no fee card for travel insurance 

Rogers World Elite Mastercard

At a glance: For those who want solid travel insurance without having to fork out an annual fee, the Rogers World Elite Mastercard is an excellent choice. Other travel-related perks include Mastercard Airport Experience which gets you LoungeKey access, free Boingo Wi-Fi, and travel rewards. This card will also appeal to those who prefer cash back over point reward programs.

  • Annual fee: None
  • Earn rate: 1.5% cash back on all purchases; 3% cash back on all U.S.-dollar purchases
  • Welcome offer: Earn $25 cash back when you make your first purchase
  • Interest rates: 19.99%, cash advances 22.99%, balance transfers 22.99%
  • Annual income requirements: Credit approval, plus personal income of $80,000 or household income of $150,000
  • Travel perks: Includes out-of-province/out-of-country emergency medical insurance; trip cancellation/interruption protection; rental car collision/damage coverage; access to over 1,000 LoungeKey airport lounges in over 100 countries with Mastercard Airport Experiences; free Boingo Wi-Fi at over 1 million hotspots worldwide; and Mastercard travel rewards

Pros:

  • Although not a card without foreign exchange fees, you’ll get 3% back on purchases made in American dollars, which will more than offset foreign-exchange fees (typically 2.5% on purchases).
  • New members get a $25 bonus applied to their account on making their first purchase with the card.

Cons:

  • To maintain eligibility, you must have an annual spend of $15,000 each year.
  • Lounge access does not include any free passes.
  • The minimum income requirements and need for credit approval put this card out of reach for some.

Best credit card for earning Air Miles

BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard*

At a glance: The BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard is a valuable tool for the Air Miles collector, offering a minimum of 1 Mile per $1 spent and the ability to “double dip” at sponsor locations, which will help boost your balance quickly. Cardholders can book one Air Miles flight annually using 25% fewer Miles, and get Onyx collector status, which lets you use fewer Miles for flights and merchandise. For those travelling frequently with Air Miles, this card is a good choice.

  • Annual fee: $120
  • Earn rate: Get 3 Miles for every $12 spent at participating partners, 2 Miles for every $12 spent at any eligible grocery store, and 1 Mile for every $12 spent everywhere else
  • Welcome offer: You’ll get 3,000 bonus Air Miles when you spend a minimum of $3,000 in the first three months. They’ll also waive the card’s annual fee for the first year.
  • Interest rates: Purchases 20.99%, cash advances 23.99%, balance transfers 22.99% 
  • Annual income requirements: Personal income of $80,000 or household income of $150,000
  • Travel perks: World Elite travel and medical protection that includes trip cancellation, 15 days of out-of-province/out-of-country emergency medical benefits up to $2 million, and collision damage waiver benefits on rental cars; complimentary membership in Mastercard Travel Pass provided by DragonPass.

Pros:

  • Comes with a solid welcome offer of 3,000 Air Miles (a value of $310 in Air Miles cash) and the waiving of the annual fee for the first year (a value of $120).
  • Use fewer Miles with an exclusive 25% discount on one worldwide flight redemption per calendar year.
  • Automatically get Onyx collector status and use fewer Miles on flights and merchandise, and receive a complimentary Shell Go+ membership until December 31, 2022.
  • You can “double dip” Miles when you make purchases at sponsor locations.

Cons:

  • You’re limited to the Air Miles program. 
  • Income requirements put this card out of reach for some.

Find the right points program for you

Not all travel reward programs are created equal. So how do you choose the right one for you? 

First, it’s important to understand that travel rewards programs can be broken down into two basic types: Consistent and chart-based. 

With consistent points programs, the value of the points is always the same. With BMO Rewards, for example, 140 points equals $1 in travel rewards, and that’s always the case.

But with chart-based programs, the value of your points depends on different variables for redeeming, such as your destination, price of the ticket, when you plan to travel and other things. This type of travel reward program operates according to a reward chart to help you calculate how many points you need when redeeming. It’s worth noting that in rare cases, like the American Express Membership Rewards Program, you might get to choose to redeem points for travel based on either a consistent system or as a chart-based system.

Many of the big banks offer consistent points travel reward programs. They’re aimed at people who want to operate within a simple program that has an easy-to-understand redemption process; people who dislike complicated programs will appreciate these. Chart-based programs can be considerably more complicated—but also potentially more valuable. Since the number of points needed to redeem for a flight isn’t consistent, using the rewards chart strategically can help you stretch the value of your points and net a higher return when flying on certain routes, or even when booking premium seats or business class. These programs are more popular with personal finance enthusiasts and left-brain thinkers.

Consistent points programs

  • MBNA Rewards: 1 point = $0.01 in travel rewards
  • American Express Flexible Points Program: 1 point = $0.01 in travel rewards
  • Scotia Rewards: 1 point = $0.01 in travel rewards
  • TD Rewards: 1 point = 0.5 of a cent in travel rewards booked via Expedia For TD
  • BMO Rewards: 1 point = 0.7 of a cent in travel rewards
  • WestJet Dollars: 1% in WestJet Dollars = $0.01 in travel rewards
  • National Bank: 1 point = $0.01 in travel rewards
  • RBC Rewards: 1 point = $0.01 in travel rewards

Chart-based programs

For chart programs, you will have to consult the respective rewards website when redeeming to truly understand the value of our rewards.

  • American Express Fixed Points program
  • Aeroplan
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • RBC Avion – Air Travel Redemption Schedule

Understanding reward redemption values

Every travel rewards program makes its own rules about the earn rate, value and redemption process for your points. No wonder it’s confusing to even try to compare them all. However, there are a few things to keep in mind.

In almost all programs, travel rewards offer a better value than, say, merchandise or a statement credit (which might give you an average of 20% to 40% less for each point). You can also use points toward gift cards, but do your homework and go for the options with the highest returns. For example, if you can redeem 5,000 points for a $10 gift card from a retailer or $8 in statement credits, you may want to opt for gift cards since they offer more value.

While travel might not be the top imperative in your life right now, in most programs, points don’t expire, so you can save them for future travel.

If you’re not much of a traveller, consider a cash back credit card instead.


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Our methodology

For the best travel credit cards of 2022 ranking, MoneySense tapped into Ratehub.ca’s‡ credit card tool and ran the numbers for travel point cards based on $2,000 in monthly spending. We used the following scenario: $500 on groceries, $200 on gas, $200 on restaurants, $125 on bill payments, $175 on travel, $225 on entertainment, $75 on pharmacy purchases and $500 on everything else.

The annual net reward in dollar terms was then used to identify the top travel cards for each type of spender, as well as an honorary mention. Our methodology also took into consideration other factors, including welcome offers, the range of spending bonus categories, annual fee waivers, loyalty program flexibility and travel insurance perks.

‡MoneySense.ca and Ratehub.ca are both owned by parent company Ratehub Inc. We may be partnered with some financial institutions, but this does not influence the “Canada’s Best Credit Card” rankings. You can read more about this in our Editorial Code of Conduct.

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