The Best Travel Credit Cards in Canada for February 2024

This Page's Content Was Last Updated: February 16, 2024
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What You Should Know

  • Best travel credit cards usually require a good credit score and an annual income of $60,000 for an individual and $100,000 for a household.
  • Best travel credit cards in Canada usually have an annual fee that can usually be covered with a high sign-up bonus, rewards, and other perks.
  • Travel credit cards are different because they target different types of travelers. For example, some credit cards may have high rewards for gas, while others have no FX fees.

About Travel Credit Cards

travel-card-benefits

There are various types of travel credit cards because of different kinds of travelers. Some people may prefer to travel abroad, while others rent a vacation home outside the city or spend time in the wild. Most travel credit cards are some of the best credit cards in Canada, but it is still best to pick the one that will provide the most value to you.

This guide will begin by helping you understand your travel credit card priorities. It will walk you through understanding earn rates, additional benefits, and the optimal redemption process. Once you know what you're looking for, this guide will empower you to compare the travel credit cards on the market to see which offers the best value for you. With most credit cards offering instant approval, you can get a new travel card in less than a week. Continue reading to become an expert on Canada's best travel credit cards.

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Best Credit Cards for Travel

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The sorting algorithm of the credit cards below assumes that your gross annual income is $60,000.00.are estimated based on your salary and CPI basket provided by the Statistics Canada. You can manually.

PC Financial Mastercard

Credit Card Image

Key Features

Annual Payment IconAnnual Fee

$0.00

Interest Rate IconInterest Rates

Purchase: 21.99%

Cash: 22.97%

Min Income IconMin. Income

No Income Required

Credit Score IconCredit Score

580

or More


Rewards: PC Points

1 PC Point ≈ ¢0.1

  • 30 PC Points for each $1 spent on: gas.
  • 25 PC Points for each $1 spent on: drugstores.
  • 10 PC Points for each $1 spent on: grocery and everything else.

PC Financial World Mastercard

Credit Card Image

Key Features

Annual Payment IconAnnual Fee

$0.00

Interest Rate IconInterest Rates

Purchase: 21.99%

Cash: 22.97%

Min Income IconMin. Income

Household: $100,000.00

Individual: $60,000.00

Credit Score IconCredit Score

580

or More


Rewards: PC Points

1 PC Point ≈ ¢0.1

  • 35 PC Points for each $1 spent on: drugstores.
  • 30 PC Points for each $1 spent on: gas.
  • 20 PC Points for each $1 spent on: grocery.
  • 10 PC Points for each $1 spent on: everything else.

Capital One Aspire Travel Platinum Mastercard

Credit Card Image

Key Features

Annual Payment IconAnnual Fee

$0.00

Interest Rate IconInterest Rates

Purchase: 21.90%

Cash: 21.90%

Min Income IconMin. Income

No Income Required

Credit Score IconCredit Score

580

or More


Rewards: Capital One Mile Points

1 Capital One Mile Point ≈ ¢0.5

  • 1 Capital One Mile Point for each $1 spent on: all eligible purchases.

CIBC Aeroplan Visa

Credit Card Image

Key Features

Annual Payment IconAnnual Fee

$0.00

Interest Rate IconInterest Rates

Purchase: 20.99%

Cash: 22.99%

Min Income IconMin. Income

Household: $15,000.00

Credit Score IconCredit Score

580

or More


Rewards: Aeroplan Points

1 Aeroplan Point ≈ ¢1

  • 1 Aeroplan Point for each $1 spent on: gas, grocery and Air Canada.
  • 1 Aeroplan Point for each $1.5 spent on: everything else.

How to Choose the Best Travel Credit Card

It may be challenging to pick the best travel credit card because there are many options. On average, a good travel credit card will have a welcome bonus, rewards program, travel insurance, and other perks like airport lounge access and companion vouchers. We organized and summarized the information about different credit cards so you could easily find the card that would benefit you the most.

Best Travel Credit Card by User Persona

travel-card-benefits

Some of the best travel credit cards in Canada are Aeroplan credit cards because they have good rewards as well as generous perks such as travel insurance, airport lounge access and welcome bonuses. Cash back credit cards can also be great travel credit cards because they may offer high cash back on relevant purchases and offer great perks as well.

Depending on your traveler type, you may prefer one card over another. Getting multiple cards that will maximize your points across different categories may also make sense. If you choose to get various travel credit cards, ensure that the annual fees you pay for each card are justified by the rewards you earn.

Credit card points can be a great way to earn rewards, but different points have different values. Many reward points have a value of ¢1, but some points may only be worth ¢0.1 or any other arbitrary value. When you compare different credit cards, you should compare the dollar equivalent of rewards points you get instead of simply comparing the amount of rewards points you get.

This table compares the best travel credit cards based on their category earn rate. We have estimated the actual value of each point to give you the most accurate understanding. You can also view the estimated point value as the cashback percentage per dollar spent. Look for cards that maximize the real point value for your top spending categories. The credit cards are sorted based on the highest average points from your selected categories.

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Additional Benefits of Travel Credit Cards

Additional perks and benefits are key features when choosing a travel credit card. Common benefits include airport lounge access, annual travel credits, insurance, and more. However, these benefits come at a cost, with a yearly fee significantly higher than a regular credit card. When deciding if the price is worth it, always consider the value of the benefits you will receive.

Welcome Bonus

A one-time welcome bonus is a crucial travel credit card benefit. A welcome bonus can provide hundreds of dollars worth of points and rewards that usually far exceed the annual cost of your credit card. While it is important to compare cards based on the welcome bonus, other perks and points are also essential to look at. Once the bonus ends, the travel credit card should still provide you value, especially if it has a hefty annual fee.

A good strategy to utilize welcome bonuses is to apply for relevant cards before making large purchases. For example, if you plan a trip, receive the card before purchasing your flight, accommodation, and car rental. This way, you can receive the bonus through purchases you would have already made. Another approach is making purchases on behalf of family or friends and having them pay you back. Below, you can find some of the best welcome bonus offers for Canadian credit cards:

CardAnnual Fee (First Year)Maximum Points ReceivedSpend Requirements
Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard$9930,000$1,000
American Express Aeroplan Reserve$59985,000$3,000 + $1,000 monthly
American Express Cobalt (Per Month)$12.992,500$500
American Express Gold$25050,000$3,000 + Single monthly purchases
American Express Platinum$69980,000$6,000 + Single monthly purchases
BMO Eclipse Visa InfiniteFirst Year Free60,000$3,000 + $2,000 monthly
CIBC Aeroplan Visa InfiniteFirst Year Free20,000 + Companion Pass$4,000
HSBC World Elite MastercardFirst Year Free80,000$6,000
RBC Avion Visa Infinite$12055,000$5,000
TD Aeroplan Visa InfiniteFirst Year Free50,000$7,500
TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege$599105,000$10,000
TD First Class Travel Visa InfiniteFirst Year Free100,000$1,500
TD First Class Travel Visa PlatinumFirst Year Free50,000$1,000

Airport Lounge Access

Some travel credit cards offer free or discounted airport lounge access. Lounge access is ideal for long layovers because it provides complimentary food, bartenders, baristas, and more. Some lounges have amenities like showers, sleep pods, and luggage storage. The following cards offer a full lounge access membership included in the card fee.

Card NameDetailsAnnual Cost
American Express PlatinumUnlimited American Express Global Lounge Collection Access$699
TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite PrivilegeUnlimited Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Access$599
Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite6x Priority Pass Membership$139
BMO Eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege6x Priority Pass Membership$499
BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard4x DragonPass Membership$150
CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite4x Priority Pass Membership$139
CIBC Aventura Gold Visa4x Priority Pass Membership$139

Companion Voucher

Another valuable travel credit card benefit is the ability to fly a friend or family member with you at a discount. While you must pay cash to buy tickets with a companion voucher, some co-branded airline cards offer heavy discounts on round-trip flights for guests.

For example, the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard allows you to pay only $119 (plus taxes and fees) for a round-trip companion flight between Canada and the Continental US. Additionally, you can pay $399 to fly a companion anywhere else WestJet flies. You can use the voucher each year to save hundreds of dollars. You can only use the voucher on flights offered by the co-branded airline. Additionally, some cards have minimum annual spending requirements to receive this benefit. Below are some of the best travel cards in Canada offering companion vouchers:

Card NameVoucher InformationAnnual Cost
WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard
  • Fare cost: $0 to $399
  • Destinations: Canada, Continental United States, Hawaii, Europe and Mexico
  • Minimum spend: $0
$119
Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard
  • Fare cost: $121
  • Destinations: Canada, Continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and Mexico
  • Minimum spend: $0
$99
Alaska Airlines Platinum Plus Mastercard
  • Fare cost: $121
  • Destinations: Canada, Continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and Mexico
  • Minimum spend: $0
$75
RBC British Airways Visa Infinite
  • Fare cost: $0
  • Destinations: British Airways flights
  • Minimum spend: $30,000
$165
American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card
  • Fare cost: $99 to $599
  • Destinations: Air Canada flights
  • Minimum spend: $25,000
$599
CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite
  • Fare cost: $0
  • Destinations: Canada, Continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and Mexico
  • Minimum spend: $1,000
$139

Insurance

Another massive benefit of travel credit cards is the inclusion of multiple types of insurance. However, it can be tough to understand what you are receiving with abstract terms. This subsection will demystify the common types of insurance included with your travel card.

Before we begin, note that you must typically charge the total expense to your card for the insurance to activate. For example, you'd need to pay for your phone using the relevant credit card entirely to take advantage of mobile insurance.

Insurance NameDescription
Travel Emergency MedicalCovers you for emergency medical expenses while away from home. For example, hospital visits, ambulances, helicopter evacuations, etc.
Travel Accident InsuranceCovers you in the event of accidental death or dismemberment while travelling.
Trip Cancellation InsuranceCovers you if you have to cancel or interrupt your trip due to an unforeseen event. For example, severe weather, sickness, jury duty, etc.
Trip Delay InsuranceCovers you if your flight is delayed for a certain period. For instance, if your flight is delayed for more than 12 hours, you would be eligible for a hotel stay and meals
Baggage Delay InsuranceCovers you if your baggage is delayed by the airline. For example, if your luggage is delayed for more than 12 hours, you would be reimbursed for the necessary items you need to purchase.
Common Carrier Accident InsuranceCovers you in the event of accidental death or dismemberment while travelling on a common carrier. A common carrier is a bus, train, plane, or boat.

No Foreign Exchange Fees

A common misconception about credit cards is that they offer unfavorable exchange rates. You can receive better exchange rates through your credit card than by using a Canadian bank to convert the currency.

While the exchange rates are low, most credit cards apply a 2.5% surplus fee. This fee can quickly add up if you frequently spend in foreign currencies. Additionally, some cards will also charge a 2.5% fee on refunds. These fees could add up when booking and canceling hotels, flights, and other expenses.

As a benefit, some credit cards offer no foreign exchange fees. This removes the standard 2.5% fee applied to foreign transactions. Some cards offering this perk include:

Card NameAnnual CostIncome Requirements
Brim World Elite Mastercard$199
  • Annual income above $80,000
  • Or household income above $150,000
HSBC World Elite Mastercard$149
  • Annual income above $80,000
  • Or household income above $150,000
  • Or assets under management above $400,000
Scotiabank Gold American Express$120
  • N/A
Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite$139
  • Annual income above $60,000
  • Or household income above $100,000
  • Or assets under management above $250,000

Annual Travel Credits

Another popular benefit of a travel credit card is an annual travel credit. You can redeem this credit for travel-related expenses such as flights, hotels, and vacation packages. While these cards typically have a higher annual fee, their generous credits help reduce costs. The best travel cards that offer this benefit are:

Card NameCreditAnnual Fee (Net)
American Express Platinum$200$699 ($499)
BMO Eclipse Visa Infinite$50$120* ($70)
BMO Eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege$200$499 ($299)
*First Year Free

Redeeming Travel Credit Card Points

Knowing how to redeem points is just as important as knowing how to earn them. Improper redemption may quickly put your efforts of getting high rewards to waste. The key here is to understand the value of your points and how to unlock their value best. Travel credit card points are usually best spent on travel-related redemptions. For example, applying your reward points to a hotel stay is generally better than using your points to purchase a gift card.

You should understand the value of your points. You can begin by referencing the following table to understand their base value redeemable as a statement credit. Any redemption that values your points higher may be worthwhile.

Base Point Value In Cents

Estimation By Rewards Program

Calculating Redemption Value

Now that you understand the average value of your points, the next step is to calculate if the redemption is beneficial. To begin, you must calculate the proposed redemption value to compare it with the average value of your points. If the redemption values your points higher than the average, it's optimal. Otherwise, it's better to save your points for another redemption. To calculate the proposed redemption value, you must:

  • Determine the required amount of points as shown in your rewards app.
  • Estimate the dollar cost of the redemption by comparing it with online platforms.
  • Solve for the proposed redemption value by dividing the estimated cost by the required points.
  • If you need to pay taxes on top of your redemption, use this formula: (Estimated Cost - Tax) / Required Points.
  • Compare the proposed redemption value per point with the average cost per point.

For example, let's pretend you want to book a domestic flight that requires 30,000 Aventura points. After researching the flight cost, you find it would cost $350 if booked with cash. To calculate the proposed redemption value, we must divide 350 by 30,000 to reach ¢1.16 per point. Since this is lower than our average valuation of ¢1.25 per Aventura point, it's not an optimal redemption, and you should save your points.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to Get a Priority Pass for Free?

Get a credit card with a priority pass as a bonus. Many high-end travel credit cards offer priority passes with their credit card. They can be unlimited or limit the number of lounge access points in a year. Some travel credit cards also offer a discount on airport lounge access. Most credit cards only provide to partnered lounges. Canadian credit cards usually partner with Priority Pass and DragonPass for airport lounge access.

Priority Pass vs. DragonPass Membership

Priority Pass membership offers access to more lounges. However, the DragonPass membership offers more exclusive airport lounges not available with the Priority Pass. If you frequent Pearson Airport in Toronto, the Plaza Premium lounges are now only available through DragonPass. Ultimately, your best membership will depend on your travel needs and preferences.

What Credit Cards Offer Mobile Device Insurance?

A few credit cards in Canada offer mobile device insurance as a benefit. This insurance will protect you if your phone is lost, damaged, or stolen. There are many horror stories of unsuspecting tourists losing their phones through pick-pocketing. However, you must have paid the total purchase price of the phone using your relevant card. We have included the top cards offering this benefit and links to their fine print pages below:

The calculators and content on this page are provided for general information purposes only. WOWA does not guarantee the accuracy of information shown and is not responsible for any consequences of the use of the calculator.