These days, nearly all credit cards include some kind of travel insurance. Like purchase protection, it’s an easy add-on to entice customers, but savvy Canadians know that not all insurance is created equal. Most travellers really only need to consider a few kinds of coverage: emergency medical, trip cancellation or interruption, and theft or baggage loss. As to which travel credit card offers the right combination of features for you—that will depend largely on the type of traveller you are and the perks you’re most likely to use.
The best travel insurance credit cards in Canada
- Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card — Best for frequent flyers
- BMO World Elite MasterCard — Best for medical insurance
- National Bank World Elite Mastercard — Best for snowbirds and seniors
- BMO CashBack World Elite MasterCard — Best for road travel
Best travel insurance card for frequent flyers
Flight delays are a fact of travel—an inconvenient and often expensive cost of being in transit. This card offers an attractive flight delay insurance package that lets you claim up to $500 in costs for accommodations, food, and even personal items after a delay of as little as four hours. If your delay is shorter, you’ll spend it in style and comfort with the card’s free airport lounge access. And, with no foreign transaction fees, the Passport Visa Infinite can save you even more on out-of-currency purchases. As part of the Scotiabank family, the Passport Visa Infinite allows you to earn Scotia Rewards, which you can redeem for travel or merchandise without blackout periods or other restrictions. And if you spend $1,000 in the first three months of card membership, you’ll receive 25,000 points which works out to $250 towards travel.
- Annual fee: $139
- Welcome bonus: 25,000 Scotia Rewards points when you spend $1,000 in the first three months
- Earn rate: Cardholders earn 2 points on every eligible $1 spend, and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else. Eligible spends include grocery stores, dining, entertainment, and transit
- Additional benefits: No foreign transaction fees, complimentary airport lounge access, flight delay insurance, plus Avis Preferred Plus car rental membership and Visa Infinite benefits
Best travel credit card for medical insurance
Canadians are privileged when it comes to healthcare, so it’s no surprise that we want to travel with the most robust medical insurance available. While many credit cards offer medical coverage of up to $1 million, the World Elite Mastercard doubles that. Coverage for you and your family to the tune of $2 million provides a lot of peace of mind, while your complimentary membership in Mastercard Airport Experiences will ensure comfort. You’ll receive VIP lounge access through LoungeKey, plus four annual complimentary passes.
Cardholders earn BMO Rewards points, which can be applied to travel, or to merchandise, cash redemption, or even a contribution to a BMO investment account.
- Annual fee: $150—waived for the first year
- Welcome bonus: 35,000 BMO Rewards points
- Earn rate: Cardholders earn 3 points on every eligible $1 spend and 2 point per $1 spent on everything else. Eligible spends include travel, dining and entertainment
- Additional benefits: Emergency travel medical insurance, trip disruption and car rental insurance, plus extended warranty and purchase protection
Best travel card for snowbirds and other seniors
Canadians work hard all their lives, often with the idea that they’ll travel once in retirement or semi-retirement. The thing is, many insurance companies radically increase premiums or even refuse coverage to older applicants. Travellers with the National Bank World Elite Mastercard in their wallet have 15 days of emergency travel insurance included, even if they’re over 65 years old. The card’s inventive travel fee reimbursements system can cover you for travel-related costs like airport parking, seat selection, and checked baggage fees.
This card’s rewards program lets you earn points on purchases that can be redeemed for travel or merchandise, or used for financial products like RRSP or TFSA contributions, or mortgage or line-of-credit payments.
- Annual fee: $150.00
- Welcome bonus: Annual fee waived for the first year
- Earn rate: This card has a tiered reward system that offers different point-to-dollar ratios depending on how much you spend, with a maximum of 2:$1
- Additional benefits: Comprehensive travel insurance, emergency medical protection, travel discounts, travel reimbursements, lounge access at Montreal-Trudeau National Airport, purchase protection, and extended warranty
Best card for road travel
Lounge access and cabin upgrades mean nothing if you never set foot in an airport. Road trippers are travellers, too, with their own set of insurance concerns. And with the BMO Cashback World Elite Mastercard you get free and automatic basic membership in the BMO Roadside Assistance Program. This covers up to four annual service calls in Canada and the United States, and provides you with standard help like boosting your battery, changing a flat tire or fuel delivery, as well as tows up to 10 kilometres. In addition, this card gives cash back to the tune of 1.5% of every dollar spent without limit. Other travel insurance perks include membership in Mastercard Airport Experiences (which, among other things includes lounge access, for you when you do choose to fly), travel and medical insurance, and concierge service.
- Annual fee: $120
- Welcome bonus: Earn 5% cash back for the first three months
- Earn rate: Cardholders earn 5% cash back on purchases made in the first three months and 1.5% afterwards
- Additional benefits: Travel and medical insurance, enrolment in Mastercard Airport Experiences, basic membership in the BMO Roadside Assistance Program, concierge service, purchase protection, and extended warranty
Honourable mention: President’s Choice Financial World Elite Mastercard*
If you’re looking for a no-fee card option that still offers protection, President’s Choice Financial World Elite Mastercard is an option to consider. While you can’t get liability insurance on any credit card (you must buy this at the counter), this one offers a robust policy for car rental loss and damage—31 days of coverage and a maximum value of $65,000. Additionally, cardholders earn PC Optimum points that can be redeemed for groceries, drugstore items, or even clothes at Joe Fresh. From campfire goodies to bug spray to swimming suits, this card will help get you out on the open road.
- Annual fee: $0
- Welcome bonus: None
- Earn rate: Cardholders earn 45 points on every $1 at Shoppers Drug Mart, 30 per $1 at affiliated Loblaw grocery stores or Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix, and 10 per $1 spent everywhere else
- Additional benefits: Car rental insurance, travel insurance, identity theft insurance and concierge service