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The Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards in Canada

Written by Jessica Steer
When looking for a good credit card in Canada, it’s not just the interest rates that you need to consider anymore. You should also consider what types of rewards that the credit card offers. There are certain cards that offer grocery rewards, others are cashback and some have incentives when it comes to fuel purchases. There are even credit cards that earn extra rewards if you shop at certain stores. On top of all of those options there are even travel rewards credit cards. Depending on which option you think would benefit you more, there are quite a few options.
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    If you are in the market for a travel rewards credit card, there is no shortage of options. In order to pick the right one for you, you need to look at the options and see what fits your needs the best.

    Benefits of Travel Cards

    There are a ton of different credit card options out there, but if you are someone who loves to travel then a travel rewards card may be the option for you. These cards are just like regular cards. They offer the same features such as credit card payment insurance, but they also have some perks that regular cards don’t. Some options that these cards may offer are:

    • 3x to 10x the points on travel related expenses
    • Using your points towards more trips
    • Lounge access
    • Travel insurance
    • Priority boarding
    • Free checked bags
    • No foreign transaction fees

    These are just a few of the many benefits. It just depends on which card you end up choosing. In reality though, if you are a person who likes to travel, travel rewards cards can make traveling more affordable as well as accessible. That is, as long as you pay off your balance in time.

    The Difficulty of Getting a Travel Credit Card

    Believe it or not, travel credit cards make up around 22% of all credit cards in Canada. They are actually relatively easy to get approved for, it really just depends on what amount you get approved for and where you choose to apply.

    Some general credit cards like those for certain airline companies, don’t have any minimum credit score limits, but the better your credit score the more likely you are to get a higher limit. Some more elite cards, like those with better rewards or higher limits, do have a minimum credit score requirement. Really, as long as you can demonstrate that you are financially responsible, you are more likely to get approved and with a higher limit.

    Applying for More Than One Card At a Time

    Shockingly, the answer to this is yes. That said, you do want to be careful on how many times you apply for credit per year. This is because every credit line that you apply for, it will slightly damage your credit score with the hard credit check. Sometimes, if the applications are all for the same thing, they can be counted as one, but that isn’t always the case.

    Even though you should apply for credit more than 6 times per year, it can still be a good idea to have more than one credit card. Different cards offer different rewards and one card may not work for all purchases.

    Best No Fee Travel Credit Cards

    While there are plenty of travel credit cards that require an annual fee, there are actually plenty that don’t. Even though they don’t have any annual fees, they still have some pretty good rewards.

    MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard

    The MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard isn’t exclusively a travel credit card, but you are able to redeem for travel benefits and there are some exclusive travel rewards included. The perks for this card include:

    • Bonus birthday points
    • No annual fee
    • No expiration on the points
    • Convenient payment plan on large purchases
    • Flexible rewards points (cash back, tavel, merchandise, gift cards and charitable donations)

    With this particular mastercard, you can earn 4 points for every dollar spent on groceries, digital media, membership and on household purchases. This is available for the first 90 days and after that, you will earn 2 points per dollar on these things. The limit on the points is $10,000 per category annually and for any other categories you will earn 1 point per dollar.

    You can also earn points with a special birthday bonus. How this works is 10% on the points earned in the 12 months prior to your (primary card holder) birthday month. The maximum amount that you can receive is 10,000 points.

    Along with the points, there are also special perks that come with this credit card.

    1. Mobile Device Insurance: This will cover up to $1000 in damages to your mobile device. You can use it in the event that your device is lost, stolen, damaged, or just breaks down.
    2. Warranty Benefits: On eligible items that you purchase with this card, the manufacturer warranty is double. This is only valid in Canada and provides up to one additional year on your extended warranty.
    3. Purchases Assurance: How this works is that if an item is stolen or damaged within 90 days of purchasing it, and you used your MBNA card to make the purchase, you will be covered. That said, there is a lifetime limit on this coverage up to $60,000.’
    4. Car Rental Discounts: In the US or Canada, you can use your MBNA Mastercard to pay for your vehicle rental at Avis or Budget rental participation locations. You can save 10%. With international rentals, you can save 5%.

    If you do choose to go with this MBNA Mastercard, the interest rate on regular purchases is 19.99%, 24.99% on cash advances and 22.99% on balance transfers and access cheques.

    American Express Green Card

    The American Express Green Card is a great option for those who love to travel. While you do earn 1x points on all your purchases, you do earn an extra point for every dollar when you book online with eligible hotels and car rentals. This card also gives you exclusive perks known as American Express Experiences.

    1. Presales: This card will get you front of the line presales to things like concerts, theatre productions, restaurants and special events. As long as you pay with your card, you could get access to these before anyone else.
    2. Reserved Tickets: No only do American Express members get exclusive access to presale tickets, they also have exclusively reserved tickets for some events. These are tickets that are available during public sale, but only to American Express members.
    3. Exclusive Entertainment: If you are someone who enjoys exclusive events, then American Express has you covered. These can be advanced screening of blockbuster movies or even theatre productions. There are lots to choose from.
    4. Dining: With this card you can get access to exclusive food festivals and some of the most popular restaurants in the country.
    5. Retail Exclusives: Not only can you get exclusive online shopping offers, you can also get special private shopping experiences. They also have special offers reserved to help you with your wellness and self care.
    6. Onsite Benefits: There are a few exclusive perks associated with American Express. You can get through the front gate at the Budweiser stage, use the American Express Lounge, and use priority lines and bars at certain exclusive theatres.

    These are just some perks, they don’t include the xtra year of warranty you can get on eligible items that you purchase with your card or the buyers protection plan that covers items up to 90 days after purchasing. We haven’t even mentioned yet what you can redeem the points for. There is quite a list.

    You can redeem all of your earned points on:

    • Eligible purchases from Amazon Canada
    • Gift cards
    • Merchandise
    • Travel with Air Canada
    • Travel purchases with American Express Travel Online

    You also have the option to transfer your points. The current loyalty programs eligible are Aeroplan, Avios and Marriott Bonvoy.

    The interest rate on the American Express Green Card is 20.99% on regular purchases and 21.99% on cash advances.

    Home Trust Preferred Visa

    Home Trust Preferred Visa is another credit card that doesn’t have just travel benefits, but there are some perks that benefit you if you travel.

    1. Cashback: With this card the only reward is cashback. You earn 1% cashback on all purchases that you can use towards whatever you choose.
    2. No Foreign Exchange Fees: This feature is what makes this card great for those who love to travel. It is one of the only credit cards that offers this feature. There are no fees on any international purchase, whether they are made online or in person, only the exchange rate needs to be paid.
    3. Zero Liability Policy: This policy protects you if someone makes an unauthorized purchase with your credit card. You pay nothing for fraudulent activity on your card.
    4. Purchase Security Insurance: Like most cards, your purchases are covered for up to 90 days in case of theft or damage.
    5. Guaranteed Hotel Reservations: This card allows you to request a guaranteed hotel reservation anywhere in the world. Even if you are late, the room will be held for you. This is another amazing perk if you are an avid traveler.

    Another great feature of this card is, unlike most other rewards cards, there is no cap on how much you can spend for your cash back limit.

    The interest charged on this card is 19.99% for regular purchases and 21.99% for all cash advances.

    BMO Rewards Mastercard

    The BMO Rewards Mastercard is just one of BMOs cards that offers benefits to those who love to travel. With this card you can:

    • Earn 1 point for every dollar spent
    • Get 25% off at participating Alamo Rent a Car and National Car Rental Locations
    • Pay with your points
    • Redeem your points into a savings or investment account
    • Redeem points for merchandise or gift cards
    • Use your points for travel purchases like flights, car rentals and vacation packages

    This credit card also includes extended warranty and purchase protection. You can also add an additional cardholder at no extra cost. The interest rate on regular purchases is 20.99% and 22.99% on cash advances. The cash advance interest rate is 21.99% if you are in Quebec.

    BMO Air Miles Mastercard

    Just as the name identifies, with the BMO Air Miles Mastercard, you earn Air Miles. It also has no annual fee just like the other BMO credit card. Some other features this card includes are:

    • 3x the miles at participating Air Miles partners
    • 2x the miles at eligible grocery stores
    • Getting miles twice when you use your BMO card and airmiles at participating locations
    • Air Miles cash rewards with participating partners
    • Travel rewards for flights, hotels, cruises, vacation packages and car rentals
    • Extended warranty and purchase protection
    • 25% off participating National Car Rental and Alamo Rent a Car locations
    • 15% Cirque du Soleil shows in Canada
    • 20% Vegas resident shows

    The main difference here between the two cards is that you get air miles instead of cash back. When you travel you earn more air miles so this is a great option for someone who travels a lot. The interest rate is the same as the other BMO card. Regular purchases are 20.99%, cash advances are 22.99% (unless you are in Quebec where they are 21.99%.

    Rogers World Elite Mastercard

    The Rogers World Elite Mastercard is fairly new. It has only been around since 2018. That said, it doesn’t fall short when it comes to perks. It Includes:

    • 1.5% unlimited cash back (on eligible purchases)
    • 3% cash back on US purchases
    • Welcome bonus of $25 when you make your first purchase within 3 months of account opening
    • 4 months free of Apple Music
    • Complimentary membership for Mastercard Travel Pass
    • Boingo Wifi at no cost (free wifi at over 1,000,000 locations)
    • Trip cancellation insurance
    • Trip interruption insurance
    • Purchase protection insurance
    • Extended warranty insurance
    • Car rental insurance for theft and damage
    • Emergency medical insurance (10 days for those under 65, 3 days for ages 65 to 75)
    • Can redeem cash back once your balance hits $10

    As you can see, there are plenty of perks included. That said, there are also some contingencies with this card. The first is that you need to spend the annual limit of $15,000 on your card in order for there to be no annual fee.

    This card also has income restrictions in order to be eligible. You must have a minimum income of $80,0000 per year or a combined household income of $150,000. The interest rate for regular everyday purchases is 19.99% and cash advances are 22.99%.

    Best Credit Cards for European Travel

    If your travels are leading you more towards Europe, there are some great credit cards that could help you out with that.

    HSBC World Elite Mastercard

    This is a great credit card for those who are looking to travel the world. Here are some benefits that it includes.

    1. No foreign transaction fees: With this feature, no conversion fees apply. You only pay the current exchange rate. This is in place for all purchases: in person or online.
    2. HSBC World Elite Travel Program: This allows you to earn 3% back in travel rewards on all travel purchases. You also earn 2% back on eligible gas, grocery and drugstore purchases. All other eligible purchases earn you 1% back.
    3. Travel Enhancement credit: You will receive a $100 annual credit. This credit can be used towards certain seat upgrades, for lounge access and even baggage costs.
    4. Worldwide assistance: They can be reached 24/7 if you have any issues. If your card is lost or stolen, they also offer up to $5000 for an emergency cash transfer.
    5. Insurance coverage: This includes emergency medical insurance, flight delay insurance and baggage loss/delay insurance, as well as many others.

    With the HSBC World Elite Mastercard, travel isn’t your only option to redeem your points either. You can also redeem them on:

    • Gift cards
    • Merchandise
    • Rewards for miles
    • Financial rewards

    In order to qualify for this card you must be a Canadian resident, be the age of majority in your province and meet the financial requirements. You must make at least $80,000 per year, have an annual household income of at least $150,000 or have $400,000 in assets.

    With this card there is an annual fee of $149. There is no fee for any additional cards. The interest rate on regular purchases is 20.99% (19.99% in Quebec). The interest on cash advances is 22.99% (21.99% for Quebec).

    Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite

    This is another great card if you are looking to travel abroad, especially if you already bank with Scotiabank. This could help reduce the annual fee, depending on which bank account you choose.

    The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite has some great benefits, especially for those who are looking to travel to Europe.

    1. Earn scene points: You don’t need to travel to earn points with this card. You can 3x earn points just by buying groceries at participating grocery stores. You get 2x the points when you dine out or buy groceries at non participating grocery stores. You also receive 2x the points on eligible entertainment purchases and eligible transit purchases.
    2. No foreign transaction fees: This card allows you to make foreign currency purchases online or in person without any transaction fees. You only need to pay the currency exchange rate.
    3. Access to airport lounges: This Scotiabank card includes Visa Airport Companion Program membership. This gives you access to over 1200 airport lounges, and your membership gives you 6 complimentary visits per year. These visits can be used for you and anyone traveling with you.
    4. Use points to travel: You can use your scene points to book your next vacation.
    5. Car rental discounts: Another great perk of this card is the complementary Avis Preferred Plus Membership. This includes car rental discounts ranging from 5%-25% and complimentary upgrades
    6. Experience benefits: With this card you have access to the visa infinite concierge service. This is available 24/7 and is there to help you book your trip or organize entertainment. There is also savings with the visa infinite hotel collection. This offers you free room upgrades when available as well as free wi-fi when you check in. If you are a person who loves fine dining, there is also the visa infinite dining and wine county program. This lets you gain access to some of the biggest food and wine names in the industry.

    The minimum credit limit that you can get on this card is $5000. In order to be eligible, you must earn at least $60,000 or have a household income of at least $100,000. Having at least $250,000 in assets will also qualify you. The interest rate on this card for everyday purchases is 20.99%. The interest on cash advances is 22.99%. The annual fee is $150 per year.

    WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard

    As a frequent flyer, this card is a great way to earn free flights as well as other great benefits. While some benefits do overlap with other loyalty programs, this one does have some unique features. This is what’s included with the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard.

    1. WestJet dollars: As you spend on your card, you will earn WestJet dollars. When you first open the account, you can earn 450 WestJet dollars when you reach the minimum spend limit. When using your card for everyday purchases you can earn 2% on WestJet flights and vacations packages, 1.5% back on everyday purchases.
    2. Companion voucher: Receive a round trip companion voucher once per year. You can get a value starting at around $119 that is valid for any WestJet flight.
    3. Checked bags: Your first checked bag is free for you and up to 8 guests.
    4. Fuel savings: At Petro-Canada locations, you can save 3 cents per litre on fuel when you link your card. You can also get 20% more Petro-Points.
    5. Be Well points: You can get 50 Be Well points for every 1 dollar spent on eligible products at Rexall.

    If you decide to get this credit card, the annual fee is $119 and $59 for any additional card. The interest rate on regular purchases is 19.99% and 22.99% for cash advances. In order to qualify for this card you must make at least $80,000 per year or have a combined household income of at least $150,000.

    RBC Avion Visa Infinite

    This is another great RBC travel card for those looking to travel all over the world, including Europe. While this card is slightly different from the RBC Westjet card, there are still eligibility requirements you need to meet. In order to qualify you must make a minimum of $60,000 per year or have a combined household income of $100,000. It also has an annual fee of $150 and a fee of $50 for each additional card. The interest on general purchases is 19.99% and 22.99% on cash advances.

    The benefits included with the RBC Avion Visa Infinite card are:

    • No blackout periods or seat restrictions
    • 1 Avion point for every dollar you spend
    • Book online using points
    • Trip cancellation insurance
    • Trip interruption insurance
    • Emergency medical insurance
    • Mobile device insurance, up to $1,500
    • Protection on eligible purchases
    • Visa infinite benefits

    Best Travel Cards and Lounge Access

    If lounge access while traveling is important to you, then look no further. While all of the cards listed below have some great benefits, they all offer lounge access. They are also great cards for earning points and getting great travel discounts.

    American Express: The Platinum

    This card is one of the more expensive ones. The annual fee is $699 and any additional card is $175. That said, it does come with some of the best perks.

    1. Lounge Access: With the Platinum Card, you have access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection. This gives you access to over 1,300 lounges in over 140 different countries. This includes priority pass membership.
    2. Travel Credits: You can receive up to a $200 annual travel credit. You can also receive a $100 statement credit for NEXUS application and/or renewal fees changed to your card.
    3. Spending limit: There is no pre-set spending limit.
    4. Concierge Service: You have access to assistance 24/7 in order to help you with anything you need.

    This is just the beginning of what you can receive with the Platinum Card. You can get exclusive benefits from Fine Hotels and Resorts, you just book with American Express Travel. The benefits include:

    • Daily breakfast for two
    • Wi-fi
    • Noon check-in (when available)
    • Room upgrades
    • Guaranteed late checkout (4pm)

    You can also get access to exclusive Hotel Status Benefits. You will be fast tracked through these different benefit programs without having to meet the eligibility requirements. These include:

    • Hilton Honors Gold Status
    • Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status
    • Radisson Rewards Americas Gold Status

    Last but not least, you can also get benefits at Toronto Pearson International Airport. These perks include, but are not limited to:

    • Access to the Pearson Priority Security Lane
    • Complimentary valet service at terminal 1
    • 15% discount on Express Park and Daily Park rates

    You also can’t forget the exclusive offers you receive on American Express Travel Online. This can be exclusive deals on hotels, flights and car rentals, or offers from statement credits on eligible purchases. The interest rate with this card is 20.99%. Don’t forget, American Express also offers the fixed points travel program.

    TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege

    The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege card is another card that is on the more expensive side. The annual fee is $599 and $199 for each additional card for authorized users. The interest on everyday purchases is 20.99% and 22.99% for cash advances. In order to qualify you must be a Canadian Resident, be the age of majority in your province/territory of residence, and have an annual income of at least $150,000 or a household income of $200,000.

    While this card is more expensive and can be more difficult to qualify for, it does come with many benefits.

    1. Exclusive Air Canada benefits: You can get access to the maple leaf lounge. You also get access to priority services like Priority Baggage Handling, Priority Boarding, Priority Standby and Priority Upgrades. These will be applicable for all Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge and Air Canada Express flights.
    2. Extra Points: Get up to 50% more points, as well as stars, when you use your card at starbucks.
    3. NEXUS rebate: When you renew or apply for a NEXUS card, you can get a rebate up to $100. As long as you use your credit card to pay for it.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to benefits. You can get an annual round trip pass for a companion for only $99. On top of that, not only do you get exclusive access to the maple leaf lounge, you also get membership to the Visa Airport Companion Program. This program will get you 6 complimentary visits to other airport lounges around the world.

    On top of the exclusive lounge access. You can also get Visa Infinite Privilege Airport Benefits. This includes exclusive benefits to major Canadian airports. There are also tons of other exclusive perks related to hotels, traveling and entertainment.

    Second to all the travel perks, another thing to consider is the insurances offered.

    • Travel medical insurance
    • Trip cancellation insurance
    • Trip interruption insurance
    • Flight/trip delay insurance
    • Delayed and lost baggage insurance
    • Common carrier travel accident insurance
    • Car rental insurance

    With the TD Aeroplan Visa, you can earn 1.5 points for every dollar spent on Air Canada purchases such as Air Canada vacations and Air Canada flights.

    BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard

    Another fantastic travel card to mention is the BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard. In order to qualify though, you must have a minimum income of $80,000 or a household income of $150,000. There is an annual fee waived for the first year, after that it’s $150. The interest rate is 20.99% for everyday purchase. The interest rate for cash advances is $23.99%, unless you are in Quebec where it is 21.99%.

    The benefits included with this card are:

    • 5x the points for every $1 spent on eligible travel purchases
    • 3x the points for every $1 spent on eligible dining purchases, eligible entertainment purchases and recurring bill payments
    • 1x the points for every $1 spent on other purchases
    • 24/7 access to concierge services
    • Extended warranty and purchase protection
    • Complimentary boingo account
    • 25% off rentals with participating National Car Rental and Alamo Rent a Car
    • Travel medical and accident insurance
    • Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance
    • Rental car insurance
    • Delayed and lost baggage insurance
    • Flight delay insurance

    With this BMO card, there are also plenty of things that you can redeem your points for. A popular way for them to be redeemed is for travel expenses like fights, hotels, cruises, car rentals and vacation packages. That said, they can also be used for contributions to savings and investment accounts as well as the balance on your card.

    One of the most talked about perks with this card is the airport lounge access. This is included with our free membership to Mastercard Travel Pass. This feature is provided by DragonPass and it also includes 4 free passes per year.

    Scotiabank Platinum American Express

    LIke most Scotiabank travel credit cards, the Scotiabank Platinum American Express has no foreign transaction fees with this card and you can earn scene points with your purchases. Here are the specific benefits.

    1. Airport lounge access: With your card, 10 complimentary airport lounge access visits are included. After that, there will be a charge of $32 USD per person.
    2. Scene travel points: Earn 3 points per $1 spent on hotel and car rental bookings. You can then redeem these points for more travel perks.
    3. Hertz club member: This gives you special privileges at tons of locations in over 140 countries.

    There are also a bunch of insurances included as well.

    • Travel emergency medical insurance
    • Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance
    • Flight delay insurance
    • Rental car insurance
    • Delayed and lost baggage insurance
    • Travel accident insurance
    • Hotel/motel burglary insurance
    • New mobile device insurance

    You can also get purchase security and extended warranty coverage.

    With this card there is an annual fee of $399 and a minimum credit limit of $10,000. That said, the interest rate on this card is relatively low at only 9.99% on everyday purchases. The rate of 9.99% is the same for cash advances as well.

    CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite

    The CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite credit card also has plenty of things to offer, including lounge access. It also has a reasonable annual fee of $139. When you open your account and make a purchase, you can also get a generous welcome bonus of 15,000 points.

    In order to qualify for this card you must have an annual income of at least $60,000 or an annual household income of $100,000. The interest on regular purchases is 20.99% and 22.99% (21.99% Quebec) for cash advances.

    If you are considering this card, It’s important that you are aware of the many benefits that are included:

    • Annual fee rebate for the first year
    • Visa Airport Companion program
    • Nexus application rebate
    • 1 point for ever $1 spent on everyday purchases
    • 1.5x points at eligible gas stations, grocery stores and drug stores
    • 2x points on travel that is purchased through the CIBC rewards centre
    • Earn points from global money transfers
    • All earned points don’t expire
    • Travel, medical and fight insurances
    • Baggage insurance
    • Hotel theft insurance
    • Car rental insurance
    • Purchase security and extended protection insurance

    There are even more benefits that go along with these. The perk that most card users look forward to is the Visa Airport Companion Program. It includes access to over 1,200 airport lounges throughout the world. 4 complimentary visits are included.

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