During the month of December 2023, you’ve all had the opportunity to cast your votes in the 2023 Prince of Travel Awards, the fourth edition of our annual awards to recognize excellence in travel, hospitality, loyalty programs, and credit cards.
We’re excited to announce the winners of the 2023 Prince of Travel Awards in all 30 award categories, along with some thoughts and impressions about the results.
Best Overall Travel Rewards Credit Card
- Winner: American Express Platinum Card
Once again, the American Express Platinum Card has been honoured with the title of Best Overall Travel Rewards Credit Card. It emerged victorious with 35% of the vote, with the American Express Cobalt Card and the TD® Aeroplan Visa Infinite* Card taking second and third place, respectively.
This Canadian credit card offers cardholders a comprehensive suite of benefits, such as unlimited lounge access, Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts, a $200 annual travel credit, and the new $200 annual dining credit.
Even with a rise in its annual fee this year from $699 to $799, the extensive perks, generous welcome bonus, and valuable American Express Membership Rewards points were enough to keep this card at the top of the list.
Best No Annual Fee Credit Card
- Winner: CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card
With over 40% of the vote share, the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card has again won this category.
As the only Aeroplan co-branded credit card in Canada with no annual fee, it’s a great entry-level card for anyone looking to earn Aeroplan points without incurring any costs year after year. Indeed, it’s also an indication of how much the community values Aeroplan points compared to cash back and other points currencies.
Plus, cardholders benefit from preferred pricing on Air Canada Aeroplan redemptions, which can be a nice treat when the flights price out at the lower end of the dynamic spectrum.
Best Airline Credit Card
- Winner: TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card
As one of TD and Aeroplan’s flagship credit card products, there are many reasons why the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card has been voted as Canada’s Best Airline Credit Card with over 58% of the vote share. It’s also one that we recommend for all Canadian travellers, and especially to anyone who flies Air Canada with any frequency.
In 2023, we saw fantastic welcome bonuses available on the card, some of which were at an all-time high or came with a first-year annual fee rebate. The card’s 1.5x earning rate in meaningful categories makes it a great card to use for everyday spending, and its free first checked bag on Air Canada flights can result in meaningful savings over the course of the year, especially for families.
If you haven’t added this card to your wallet yet, be sure to take a look at the current offer, which is set to expire on January 3, 2024.
Best No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Card
- Winner: Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card
Scotiabank swept the podium in this category, as it remains the best Canadian issuer of travel credit cards with no foreign transaction fees.
The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card was voted as the best of the best when it comes to cards with no foreign transaction fees, taking in 56% of the vote. Cardholders can also take advantage of six free lounge visits and extensive insurance coverage as some of the card’s ongoing perks.
It’ll be interesting to see if any other Canadian banks take notice of Scotiabank’s dominance in this category to stir up some competition in 2024. Until then, if you’re looking for a great card to use for foreign transactions, look no further than the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card.
Best Premium Credit Card
- Winner: American Express Platinum Card
For the second time this year, the American Express Platinum Card has been voted the best-in-show at the 2023 Prince of Travel Awards, with just over 46% of the votes.
Premium credit cards command higher annual fees and offer a suite of perks to help justify the added expenses. The Amex Platinum Card continues to lead the way when it comes to added benefits for cardholders.
Despite an annual fee of $799, cardholders can look to the annual $200 travel and dining credits and lucrative Amex Offers to find value throughout the year.
For frequent travellers, it’s rather difficult to find a major airport without at least one lounge that you can access, and anyone who books cash fares for business class or First Class can take advantage of the International Airline Program.
Best Small Business Travel Rewards Credit Card
- Winner: Business Platinum Card from American Express
The Business Platinum Card from American Express wins this category handily, as it offers valuable benefits like unlimited lounge access, a $200 travel credit, and Marriott Gold status for travelling business owners. Plus, earning a consistent 1.25x MR points across all categories makes it a great candidate for non-categorized business spending.
As with last year, the American Express Aeroplan Business Reserve Card comes in a distant second place, with travel benefits that are arguably weaker than the Business Platinum’s. However, for the business owner looking for Maple Leaf Lounge access and exclusive perks with Air Canada, the Amex Aeroplan Business Reserve Card is certainly a worthwhile option to consider.
It’s worth noting that the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Business ranked in third place this year, perhaps due to its 1.25x base earning rate and the ability to redeem Avion points at an elevated rate for business class flights.
Best Cash Back Credit Card
- Winner: CIBC Dividend® Visa Infinite* Card
Canada’s cash back credit card landscape is marked by a series of fairly competitive players, with no clear winner among them. As we’ve seen in previous years, it was a pretty close race this time around.
On top this year is the CIBC Dividend® Visa Infinite* Card, which came in with 23% of the votes. With a 4% return on eligible gas, EV charging, and grocery purchases,† and a fairly comprehensive insurance package for a cash back card, this card has been voted as Canada’s best.
Last year’s victor, the Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite Card, was just behind with 22% of the votes, and then we had a close race between the SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express and the recently revamped Rogers World Elite Mastercard duking it out for third, with the SimplyCash coming out just ahead.
Our results once again illustrate how tight the competition is for cash back cards in Canada, and hopefully 2024 adds even more fuel to the fire.
Best Overall Mastercard
- Winner: WestJet RBC® World Elite Mastercard
With the HSBC World Elite Mastercard being closed to new applications as of Fall 2023, the top spot for Canada’s Best Overall Mastercard was up for grabs in 2023.
Last year’s runner-up, the WestJet RBC® World Elite Mastercard, took top spot this year with 25.9% of the vote in a showdown with the up-and-coming MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard, which took 24.5% of the vote.
With its annual companion voucher, free first checked bags on WestJet flights, and the emergence of a record-high welcome bonus late in the year, the WestJet RBC® World Elite Mastercard is a must for anyone who flies with WestJet.
It’ll be interesting to see how this category plays out next year, especially with MBNA Rewards teasing that members will be able to transfer points to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan in 2024. And if the card’s temporary promotion for earning 5x MBNA Rewards points at wholesale clubs like Costco becomes permanent, we might just see competition heating up when it comes to Canadian Mastercard products.
Best Overall Visa Credit Card
- Winner: TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card
In another landslide victory, the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card once again reigns supreme as Canada’s Best Overall Visa Credit Card in the Prince of Travel Awards.
Its dominance in this category can be attributed to its generous welcome bonus, 1.5x category earning rates, wide acceptance, preferred pricing on Air Canada Aeroplan redemptions, $100 NEXUS credit, and solid travel insurance, including on Aeroplan redemptions.
Best Credit Card for Travel Insurance
- Winner: TD First Class Travel® Visa Infinite* Card
In one of our new categories this year, the TD First Class Travel® Visa Infinite* Card was voted as the Best Credit Card for Travel Insurance, taking in 36.5% of the vote. It was a close battle for second place, with the National Bank World Elite Mastercard eking out the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card with 20.2% of the vote compared to the latter’s 20%.
The TD First Class Travel® Visa Infinite* Card’s suite of insurance includes up to 21 days of travel medical insurance worth $2,000,000 for travellers aged under 65, and four days of coverage for travellers aged 65+.† Plus, there’s trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance of up to $1,500 and $5,000 per person,† as well as up to $500 in flight delay insurance and an aggregate amount of $1,000 for lost, stolen, or delayed baggage.†
However, it’s worth noting that award travel booked with the card isn’t covered for insurance, and for those bookings, we suggest having the National Bank World Elite Mastercard in your rotation.
Best Credit Card for Frequent Flyers
- Winner: American Express Platinum Card
Once again, the American Express Platinum Card has edged out the competition, this time as Canada’s Best Credit Card for Frequent Flyers.
This comes as no surprise, due to the usual reasons of unlimited lounge access, very strong travel insurance, Amex Offers, and more contributing to this card’s prowess as one of Canada’s best.
Best Aeroplan Credit Card
- Winner: American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card
In Canada, there’s certainly no shortage of Aeroplan co-branded credit cards; however, in the Prince of Travel Awards, there’s only room for one at the top of the list.
This year, the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card ranked in at the top, with 30.5% of the vote, while the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege* Card came in at second place with 27.7% of votes.
As a premium product, the Amex Aeroplan Reserve Card offers a number of meaningful benefits to Air Canada’s frequent flyers and Aeroplan’s most engaged members: unlimited Maple Leaf Lounge access, rollover benefits for unused SQM and eUpgrades, 3x points on Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations purchases, and more.
If you’re in pursuit of Aeroplan Elite Status, be sure to add one of the premium Aeroplan credit cards to your wallet, as you’ll be missing out without one.
Best Scene+ Credit Card
- Winner: Scotiabank Gold American Express Card
Scene+ has been rising in prominence in the Canadian loyalty space in the recent past, and is arguably Canada’s best, most flexible fixed-value points program (more on that below).
This year, the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card eked out the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card as the Best Scene+ Credit Card in Canada, with 33.5% of the vote compared to the latter’s 33.1%.
With an outstanding 5–6% earning rate at grocery stores, no foreign transaction fees, access to Amex Offers, and a very low annual income requirement of $12,000, this card is a must-have for anyone who’s looking to quickly pad their Scene+ balance and save on foreign spending.
Best American Express Credit Card
- Winner: American Express Cobalt Card
Ever since its debut in Canada in 2017, the American Express Cobalt Card has been amongst the best pound-for-pound credit cards available.
This year, it has been voted by you as Canada’s Best American Express Credit Card in a landslide victory. No other card can match its 5x earning rate at grocery stores, restaurants, and bars, especially since the valuable MR points can be transferred to many airline and hotel partners.
Plus, with a reasonable monthly fee, you won’t have to break the bank as you watch your MR balance grow.
Indeed, this card is another that we recommend for every Canadian traveller, and we don’t see that changing anytime soon.
Best Credit Card for Hotel Stays
- Winner: Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card
In Canada, we aren’t blessed with the same array of hotel co-branded credit cards as our neighbours to the south, and the winner of this category should come as no surprise.
The Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card remains the best option for hotel credit cards in Canada. As a cardholder, you’ll get a Free Night Award worth 35,000 points each year, as well as a generous earning rate for spending at Marriott hotels.
It’d be great to see some more competition in this category in future years, but until then, we’re not likely to see any changes.
Travel, Hospitality, and Loyalty Programs
Best Transferable Points Currency
- Winner: American Express Membership Rewards
As we’ve seen in years prior, American Express Membership Rewards is the shoo-in to emerge as Canada’s Best Transferable Points Currency.
This predictable result confirms that the transferable points currency landscape in Canada continues to be dominated by American Express, with by far the widest array of airline and hotel programs to choose from.
It’s worth noting that the future of HSBC Rewards points, another one of Canada’s transferable points currencies, is in limbo with the upcoming acquisition of HSBC Canada by RBC. However, we’re likely to see MBNA Rewards become a new transferable points currency in 2024, which is a wholly positive development.
Best Fixed-Value Points Currency
- Winner: Scene+
Fixed-value points currencies are a useful tool to have in your overall points strategy. They can be particularly useful for offsetting the cost of things like boutique hotels, independent airlines, car rentals, and cruises, that are otherwise difficult to book through loyalty programs.
For the second year in a row, Scene+ has been voted as Canada’s Best Fixed-Value Points Currency, taking nearly half of the votes.
Scene+ is notable for the ability to book travel with any vendor, and then redeem points directly against travel expenses at a set value of 1 cent per point. There’s no need to shop through a particular portal or jump through any hoops – just book whatever you’d like, and redeem points against the cost.
Best Airline Loyalty Program
- Winner: Aeroplan
As we’ve seen before, Aeroplan comes out miles ahead of the competition as the Best Airline Loyalty Program. Members have access to over 40 airlines, and can redeem points for flights in economy and premium cabins all over the world.
Compared to many other programs, Aeroplan also offers members plenty of opportunities to earn points through co-branded credit cards, transferable points currencies, the Aeroplan eStore, everyday partners such as the LCBO and Starbucks, and more.
Whether it’s a short-haul flight from Vancouver to Edmonton, or a long-haul flight in First Class from New York to Tokyo, Aeroplan remains the most beloved airline loyalty program for Canadians seeking to elevate their travel game.
Best Hotel Loyalty Program
- Winner: Marriott Bonvoy
Marriott Bonvoy remains the most accessible and most desirable hotel loyalty program in Canada. With properties across the country and throughout the world, Canadian Miles & Points enthusiasts are more engaged with Marriott Bonvoy than any other program.
There’s been no change in this category from previous years, especially as it’s the only hotel chain with a co-branded credit card in Canada.
This leaves the door wide open for competition, which is something Canadian travellers would benefit from in 2024 and beyond.
Best International Award Sweet Spot
- Winner: 55,000 Aeroplan points for Vancouver–Tokyo business class
As we saw in 2022, Prince of Travel loyalists have voted Aeroplan’s sweet spot of 55,000 points for business class flights between Vancouver and Tokyo as the best of the best.
It’s worth noting that 2023 saw some ongoing challenges with ANA award availability through Aeroplan; however, awards appear to have returned to inventory, although competition amongst Miles & Points enthusiasts on any route to Japan these days is quite fierce.
However, if you’re able to find award availability, you’ll be handsomely rewarded with ANA’s outstanding reputation as a five-star airline, and you’ll likely not want the flight to come to an end.
Best Domestic Business Class in Canada
- Winner: Air Canada 787 Signature Class
For another year, Air Canada’s 787 Signature Class product has won handily over the nearly identical products on the Boeing 777 and Airbus A330.
With lie-flat seats, dimming windows, and a quiet ride, it’s easily the best way to fly across Canada in comfort, day or night.
Best Domestic Economy Class in Canada
- Winner: Air Canada
Air Canada has been voted as the Best Domestic Economy Class in Canada, taking in 47.6% of the votes.
Canada’s largest airline offers passengers the most choice when it comes to domestic flights, including a range of aircraft with various configurations.
However, it’s worth noting that Porter Airlines came in at second place with 34.3% of the vote, and WestJet at a distant third with 12.8%.
Porter Airlines has been in the headlines throughout 2023, as it has taken delivery of new Embraer E195-E2 jets and is launching new routes seemingly every other day. With a 2-2 configuration, free Wi-Fi, a rapidly expanding network, and complimentary beer and wine for all passengers, it’ll be interesting to see how the 2024 results take shape.
Best International Business Class
- Winner: Qatar Airways Qsuites
Qatar Airways Qsuites has been voted as the Best International Business Class product by Prince of Travel’s readership.
The Doha-based airline continues to receive accolades for its excellent hard product, consistently outstanding soft product, and vast route network.
As we’ve seen before, ANA’s “The Room” business class took second place, which is also an outstanding way to fly to or from Japan.
Best International First Class
- Winner: Emirates First Class
For the past few years, this award has alternated between Emirates First Class and Singapore Airlines Suites Class. Last year, Singapore Airlines had the honour; however, Emirates First Class has been voted as 2023’s Best International First Class in the Prince of Travel Awards.
With copious amounts of caviar and a shower in the sky, Emirates’s opulent and ostentatious First Class experience continues to be a fan favourite.
As airlines continue to roll out new First Class cabins, we’ll be keeping an eye on how you vote in the years to come.
Best Airport Lounge in Canada
- Winner: Air Canada Signature Suite Toronto
For the second year in a row, the Air Canada Signature Suite Toronto has been voted as the Best Airport Lounge in Canada in the Prince of Travel Awards.
Indeed, Air Canada’s most premium lounges, including its counterpart in Vancouver, are also widely considered to be amongst the best in North America.
As you might expect, the access policy is much more exclusive than Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounges, as you need a paid Air Canada business class ticket, a Business Class (Flexible) Aeroplan redemption, an Emirates First Class ticket, or the invite-only American Express Air Canada Card to enter.
However, as long as you’re eligible, you’re certainly in for a treat before your flight.
Best International Business Class Lounge
- Winner: Air Canada Signature Suites Toronto & Vancouver
After a second-place finish in the 2022 Prince of Travel Awards, the Air Canada Signature Suites Toronto & Vancouver have overtaken the Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge in Doha for the honour of Best International Business Class Lounge.
Whereas the Doha lounge is vast, Air Canada’s Signature Suites are intimate, which perhaps swayed the votes in their favour.
Best International First Class Lounge
- Winner: Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge Doha
Once again, the Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge has emerged as the winner of Best International First Class Lounge, with 28.6% of the vote. With phenomenal dining, sleep rooms, and a jacuzzi, it’s an experience like no other in airports worldwide.
Coming in just behind with 28.4% of the vote, is the Singapore Airlines Private Room experience. Third place was also a close call, with the Lufthansa First Class Terminal edging out the Air France La Première Lounge with 17.5% versus 16.9% of the vote, respectively.
Best City Hotel in Canada Bookable on Points
- Winner: The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto
When it comes to redeeming points for aspirational city hotels in Canada, this year, you’ve chosen The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto as the number-one choice with 26.5% of the vote.
Last year’s winner, the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver, came in just behind, with 25.8% of the vote.
All properties nominated in this category fall under the Marriott Bonvoy umbrella, which isn’t surprising given that it remains the most accessible hotel points program in Canada.
Best Resort in Canada Bookable on Points
- Winner: Westin Whistler
It appears that Prince of Travel readers love a trip into the mountains, as the Westin Whistler has once again been bestowed with the honour of Best Resort in Canada Bookable on Points.
This doesn’t come as much of a surprise, however, since cash rates in Whistler are often sky-high, and it can make for valuable redemption at any point throughout the year.
Best Aspirational Hotel Bookable on Points
- Winner: St. Regis Maldives Vommuli
With its stunning overwater villas, exceptional spa, and azure-blue waters, many Canadian Miles & Points enthusiasts aspire to book a dream trip at the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli.
With the winners announced, the 2023 Prince of Travel Awards have concluded. Our sincere thanks goes out to all who participated in the voting process here at the fourth annual Prince of Travel Awards.
Keep an eye out on our social media channels for the announcement of the winner of a prepaid digital $100 gift card.
This year, there was some movement in the award winners; however, we’d love to see credit card issuers, loyalty programs, and travel partners step up their game to make next year’s iteration even more competitive.
We hope you’ve enjoyed voting in the 2023 Prince of Travel Awards, and we wish you a very rewarding year in 2024.