Best Travel Credit Card in Canada for 2019
How Do We Choose the Best Travel Credit Cards?
To help us derive our rankings for the best travel credit card, we first measured the value per point of each rewards program. We checked how many points were required to fly on 15 different flights for each credit card and compared it to the lowest price of each flight, giving us the true cost per point of each rewards program. We did a similar exercise for hotels.
We then evaluated earn rates, credit card bonuses, annual fees, perks, insurance coverage, foreign transaction fees, ease of redemption, and travel opportunities to determine the best travel credit card in Canada for each travel card category.
Best Travel Credit Cards in Canada in 2019
|Credit Card||Travel Credit Card Category||Card Features||Card Review|
|TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite||Best Travel Card for Aeroplan Members||Fee: $120 |
First year free
Bonus: Up to 30000 miles
|The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card||Best Accelerated Earn Rate Travel||Fee: $120|
Bonus: 30000 pts
|Scotiabank Passport Infinite Visa||Best Premium No Foreign Transaction Fee Travel||Fee: $139|
Bonus: 35000 pts
#1: TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite
Recommended Travel Card for Aeroplan Loyalty Program Travellers
This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For Quebec residents, please click here.
It comes as no surprise that travellers in Canada love the Aeroplan rewards program, which offers special discounts and benefits to those who fly with Air Canada. Aeroplan miles are the rewards currency that are collected via any Aeroplan card, but the best and most accessible comes from TD: the Aeroplan® Visa Infinite. This card will quickly deliver value with its generous 30000-mile introductory bonus, of which 15,000 miles after a first purchase and an additional 5 points per $1 spent for the first three months; up to an extra 5,000 miles per month. 30,000 potential bonus points total. Afterwards, cardholders will accrue 1.5 Aeroplan Miles for every $1 they spend on groceries, gas, drugstore purchases, or on aircanada.com. Every other purchase that doesn’t fit into these categories earns Aeroplan Miles at a rate of 1 per $1 spent. Cardholders will even earn double the Aeroplan Miles when spending at any Aeroplan partner store (full list available online).
Though the card’s annual fee is $120, it is rebated in the first year, and it’s also justified by the fast earnings rate and comprehensive array of other perks. Travellers on any Air Canada flight will enjoy free checked bags, priority check-in and boarding, and can relax in the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge once per year for free. Additionally, a suite of competitive insurance features will protect cardholders during their travels with $1 million travel medical coverage for 21 consecutive days, plus coverage for trip cancellations and interruptions, damage to a rental vehicle, trip and baggage delays, and common carrier accidents. Throw in permanent discounts for rental vehicles at Avis or Budget locations around the world, plus purchase protection and extended warranties, and the card’s value proposition is further strengthened.
The TD ® Aeroplan ® Visa Infinite card’s annual income requirement of $60,000 ($100,000 household) aligns well with its various features, but households with an income above $200,000 are eligible for the superior Visa Infinite Privilege card. This top-tier TD card offers much of the same features, but provides a higher base Aeroplan miles earn rate of 1.25 miles per $1 spent on everything. It also boosts insurance coverage and the introductory bonus, offers a 50% discounted yearly companion flight and four times the annual lounge passes (plus much more).
#2: The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card
Recommended Travel Card for a High Accelerated Earn Rate
Travel perks and a generous welcome bonus are nice, but the whole point of having a credit card is to make purchases with it. And as long as you’re spending you might as well be simultaneously earning.
Frequent travellers should seek out the maximum ratio of points to dollars when using their credit cards in order to save as much as possible on future trips. For this purpose, there’s no card in Canada better than the Scotiabank Gold Amex.
Purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, supermarkets, restaurants, and movie theaters will earn a best-in-class rate of 5 points per $1. The ‘dining’ category also includes drinking establishments and fast food places, but for anything not covered in this broad range, every $1 spent earns 1 reward point.
Scotia allows customers to redeem their points flexibly, by booking the arrangements they prefer and then spending points to pay for them later. Supplementing this ease of use are other lucrative travel perks, including access to over 600 airport lounges around the world, and a thorough array of travel insurance benefits. The spending threshold to earn 30000 welcome points is also quite low: Canadian consumers easily spend .
Compared to the Amex Cobalt, the Scotia Gold Amex wins out for travellers due to a slightly lower annual fee, more flexible point redemption, and a broader array of spending categories that earn accelerated rewards. The Cobalt card accrues 5 points per $1 in food-related spending categories, but gas purchases are rewarded at a far lower rate: 1 points per $1. The Scotia Gold Amex grants 5 points per $1 on all these categories.
#3: Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite
Recommended Travel Card for No Foreign Transaction Fees (Annual Fee)
Cards that reduce or eliminate foreign transaction fees are beloved by Canadian travellers, but their benefits aside from this feature might be limited. If given the option, plenty of travellers are comfortable paying more for a credit card that negates foreign transaction fees *and* adds extra perks on top. For these Canadians, there are few cards better than Scotiabank’s Passport Visa Infinite.
When comparing the Passport Visa Infinite to the other two cards that we commonly recommend for reducing foreign transaction fees—the Home Trust Preferred Visa and the Rogers Platinum Mastercard—it’s easy to see why it deserves its own category. It offers a way to completely negate all relevant fees, and yet also earns rewards and other perks that exceed the offerings from the other two cards.
To begin, new cardholders will earn 35000 Scotia Rewards points for conditions apply. That’s already enough to significantly reduce the cost of your next flight, or outright pay for a pair of Ray Ban Aviator sunglasses or other great merchandise. This provides a nice head start to the 2 points per $1 that cardholders otherwise earn on grocery, dining, and entertainment expenses. Scotia also enables cardholders to obtain 1 point per $1 spent on all their other purchases. The card’s main travel perk is its protection against foreign transaction fees, but for a $139 annual fee it should go much further still—and does.
Another excellent benefit is Priority Pass status that cardholders have at airport lounges around the world, but also the 6 passes given to them each year granting free entry. This is already a significant value (our estimation puts it at about $260 worth), but it’s made even better with the inclusion of travel insurance. The Passport Visa Infinite card is accompanied by travel medical, trip interruption and cancellation insurance, and even coverage for a rental car. Purchase protection and extended warranties represent the cherry on top, further lengthening this card’s lead over its peers. Overall, there are few options that can compete with all the value-added benefits available from the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card.
More Cards for Canadian Travellers
Didn’t see what you’re looking for? There are a number of niche credit cards in the market designed for the specific needs and travel tastes of different Canadians. We’ve included the below options for travellers that value flexible rewards point redemption, value-rich signup bonuses, extensive insurance protections, and low barriers for approval.
The American Express® Gold Rewards Card
Recommended Travel Card for Flexible Point Transfers
A flexible travel credit card allows you to make any travel related purchase on your card, then call or go online to pay for it with your points, allowing you to benefit from the best deals or options you can find. Some even allow you to convert your points into an alternative frequent flyer program.
The American Express Gold Rewards card is special because of its phenomenal rewards value and its unparalleled flexibility. Earn a welcome bonus of 25000 Membership Rewards points (redeem for $250 against any travel or transfer to Aeroplan 1:1 for 25000 Aeroplan miles).
Ongoing value is strong. Earn double points on gas, grocery, drugstore & all travel related expenses (air, water, rail and road transport, lodging and tour operator sales). Each Amex point is worth 1 cent. As a result, the base rewards rate is worth 1% and the bonus rewards rate is worth 2%. If you transfer your points to Aeroplan, the base rewards rate is worth 1.28% and 2.56% on bonus categories, which is stellar. The insurance package is phenomenal.
What makes this card the gold standard of flexibility in Canada however, is that you can book any travel related purchase (flight, cruise, train, hotel, or rental car) on the card, and then use your points to pay ANY of the travel expenses that show up on your statement, including taxes & fees. You can ALSO choose to transfer your Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan or British Airways AVIOS points 1:1 with no additional charges – secretly making this the most valuable Aeroplan card on the market.
The Amex Gold Rewards card beats RBC’s Visa Infinite Avion card for three reasons. First, it has a higher sign-up bonus. Second, you can earn double points on travel expenses (in addition to gas & groceries). Third, Amex allows you to redeem for any travel expense on your statement at full value, while if you redeem with RBC’s Payback with Points feature, you’ll get closer to half a penny per point.
In the end, Amex gives the cardholder additional flexibility to take advantage of promotions and cost saving opportunities in both the Aeroplan and Avion programs, without sacrificing any value if you decide to redeem for any travel purchase.
Choose a Card Companion for Your Trip
There are many types of travel reward credit cards available in Canada, because different Canadians like to travel in different ways. There are cards that earn miles quickly, cards that make a trip as luxurious as possible, and cards that offer impressive insurance protection. Finding the right one depends on many considerations, but the most important is how your spending habits align with the card’s rewards plan.
If you’re still undecided, compare travel credit cards canada with our travel rewards calculator, which will help you determine your ideal travel card based on many of the criteria mentioned above. Just enter your estimated monthly expenses and some other basic details to get a look at what you stand to earn.
Learn more on the most popular loyalty programs credit cards by comparing aeroplan vs airmiles vs avion cards.