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Canada's 10 Best Travel Credit Cards

Last updated: 2024-07-01

Read time 6 mins

No matter how often you travel or what your style is, travel credit cards are great for earning rewards, making points bookings, and enhancing your travel experience with elite benefits.Read on to learn more about our recommendations for the best travel credit cards in Canada.

Best Overall Travel Credit Card

For premium rewards and benefits, the American Express Platinum Card reigns supreme.Like its counterpart for business owners, the personal Platinum Card earns Membership Rewards points, the most flexible transferable rewards in Canada. You can get a strong welcome bonus when you apply through a refer-a-friend link.In particular, Canadians can transfer MR points to Air Canada’s Aeroplan program, supplementing the points earned on other credit cards which carry the Aeroplan label. The best long-haul premium cabins on Air Canada’s partners can cost quite a few points, and cards with such a big welcome bonus are few and far between, so the Platinum Card is a great way to get you there more quickly.If you spend a lot on dining and travel, you’ll earn 2 MR points per dollar spent, along with 1 MR point per dollar spent on all other purchases.However, perhaps mor eso than everyday spending, the Platinum Card truly shines when it comes to airport lounges. You’ll get unlimited visits to Priority Pass lounges for you and one guest, as well as Plaza Premium lounges and American Express Centurion Lounges for you, your spouse, and two children under the age of 21 or one travelling companion.For an elevated hotel experience, the card grants automatic Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status and Hilton Honors Gold status.This would be useful if, say, your priority is the Marriott Bonvoy program and you maintain a higher status there like Platinum or Titanium, but you like to ensure a few token benefits for those odd stays at other hotel brands.Finally, the Platinum Card is among the best-in-class for travel insurance, offering higher payouts and wider-ranging coverage than most other credit cards.

Best Travel Credit Card for Business Owners

The Business Platinum Card from American Express is another top choice for anyone looking to use the power of their credit cards to reach their travel aspirations.The card often comes with the biggest welcome bonus in Canada, typically in the ballpark of 100,000+ MR points, which can offer incredible value when transferred to an airline’s frequent flyer program. American Express has transfer partners in each of the three major airline alliances, so you’ll be able to fly to pretty much any destination.For everyday spending, the card doesn't have the same category bonuses as the personal Platinum Card. Instead, it offers a stronger 1.25 MR points per dollar spent on all purchases, that’s an awesome base rate for the types of purchases that are likely to constitute the bulk of your business expenses.Furthermore, if you’re collecting points with a spouse or other family members, the Business Platinum Card is the best card to start with. For every referral you make, when the applicant is approved for an American Express business credit card, you’ll receive an additional 20,000 MR points.You’ll also get most of the same premium travel benefits as the personal Platinum Card, including automatic Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status, access to Amex’s Fine Hotels and Resorts program, and unlimited Priority Pass airport lounge access for yourself and a guest.And the best part is that you don’t need to be a business owner in the traditional sense to qualify for the card. You can apply as a sole proprietor, using your own name as the business name. As long as you don’t display abnormal spending patterns, Amex is unlikely to ask for a business registration document.American Express also doesn’t have a minimum income requirement for this card, or any of their cards, so the only barrier to the incredible bonus and perks is your ability to meet the spending requirement.

Best Visa Card for Earning Frequent Flyer Miles

If you’d prefer to avoid the challenges of Amex’s limited acceptance, the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card is another great choice.New cardholders can receive a very competitive welcome bonus, often on par with the Business Platinum Card from American Express. However, with lower or more drawn-out spending requirements, you're at less of a risk of missing out entirely in case your spending fluctuates or you accidentally miss a deadline.Beyond that, you’ll earn 2x Aeroplan points on Air Canada flights and vacations, 1.5x Aeroplan points on gas, groceries, dining, food delivery, and travel, and a strong base rate of 1.25x Aeroplan points on all other purchases.As for perks, the card has all of the same premium Aeroplan benefits as the American Express Reserve cards, with the added benefit of a DragonPass membership with six free lounge visits per year.If the $599 annual fee is too steep, consider the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card instead. It has a first-year annual fee waiver for a good welcome bonus, but you’d have a lower earning rate, fewer Aeroplan benefits, and weaker insurance.

Best Travel Credit Card for Aeroplan Benefits

All of the premium Aeroplan co-branded cards come with the same Air Canada perks, but the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card stands out thanks to its bigger incentives for cardholders.Among other benefits, you’ll get unlimited Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge access, free checked bags on Air Canada flights, priority treatment at the airport, and opportunities to spend your way to Aeroplan Elite Status.If you most often travel on points, you’ll get the best preferred pricing for Aeroplan flight rewards on Air Canada flights. If instead you purchase a lot of cash fares or vacation packages from Air Canada, you’ll earn 3 Aeroplan points per dollar spent, the highest return you’ll find on any credit card in Canada.You'll also get impressive earn rates on dining and uncategorized spending, putting this card at least on par with other premium Aeroplan credit cards in that regard, if not above them.Plus, with additional perks from American Express such as regular rebates throughout the year and cash signup incentives, you can reduce or even eliminate the hefty $599 annual fee. Not to mention, you’ll get all of the standard Amex lifestyle benefits like Front of the Line ticket presale and exclusive event invites.

Best Travel Credit Card for Hotels

If you’re looking to enhance your hotel stays, the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card is your best choice. The card offers great value even beyond its welcome bonus.Starting in your second year with the card, you’ll get an annual Free Night Award for a single night priced at up to 35,000 Bonvoy points. That’s enough to cover a night at most mid-tier hotels. For longer stays, you can combine this with additional points or cash nights.Also, when you have at least one Marriott Bonvoy co-branded credit card, you’ll automatically get 15 elite qualifying nights every year. Think of this as a leg up on your progress towards Platinum Elite status. Normally requiring 50 qualifying nights, you’d only be 35 away every year.If that’s still out of reach, you’ll get Silver Elite status just by being a cardholder. You can also achieve Gold Elite status by staying 10 nights, or spending $30,000 per year on your Marriott Bonvoy credit card.No matter your travel tastes, Marriott Bonvoy is a great hotel program. They have over 7,000 properties across 30 brands, a full range of accommodations from ultra-luxury to ultra-budget, and a comprehensive global footprint. With the ability to score some free stays on points, there’s something for everyone in this program and its co-branded credit cards.

Best No Fee Travel Credit Card

If you prefer to avoid paying annual fees, the American Express Green Card is the way to go. The card awards 10,000 MR points upon first purchase. There’s no easier or cheaper way to get started towards your travel dreams, and even students can qualify for the card.That said, you might not earn points as quickly as you would with a premium card. Still, for everyday spending, it's hard to beat 1 MR point per dollar spent for no annual fee.

Also, as long as you remain a cardholder, your MR points won’t expire. If you have a big points balance with a premium card but no travel plans on the horizon, it’s a great way to avoid other more costly methods of keeping your rewards active.

Best Travel Credit Card for Beginners

If you’re just getting started with credit card rewards, you might prefer to start with a mid-tier option like the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card.The card has a first year annual fee waiver, and an easy welcome bonus to achieve, with a low spending requirement up front and a long deadline to achieve the full bonus. It’s a good choice as you begin to grasp how to best use your travel rewards.As for perks, you’ll get preferred pricing on Air Canada flight redemptions, your first checked bag free for your entire travelling party, and insurance on Aeroplan award tickets when you use the card to pay for fees and taxes. Also, your hard-earned points won't expire as long as you remain a cardholder, so you can take your time figuring out the best way to redeem them.

Best Travel Credit Card for Daily Spending

The best card for daily spending always depends on which categories you tend to spend the most on. For many people, the American Express Cobalt Card is a great way to maximize your points on everyday purchases.The card earns 5 MR points per dollar spent at grocery stores, restaurants, bars, and food delivery. If those make up a large chunk of your expenses, the sheer number of points you’ll earn is unbeatable.Membership Rewards points are very flexible, too. You can use them for flight redemptions with Aeroplan and other programs, hotel stays with Marriott Bonvoy, the Fixed Points Travel Program at a rate of up to 2 cents per point, or redeem for statement credit at a rate of 1 cent per point.Alternatively, if you spend more than $30,000 per year in the 5x bonus category, you might instead consider the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card.However, the Scotiabank card doesn’t have transferable points – the best you’ll do is 1 cent per point as statement credit for any travel purchase.

Best Travel Credit Card for Buying Business Class Fares

If you buy a lot of premium airfare, the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Business offers a unique way to get more value for your points. You can redeem Avion points at a flat rate of 2 cents per point for any paid business class or First Class fare.You could also choose to transfer your points to a frequent flyer program instead, but you’d be limited by airline partners and award availability. With a direct redemption through RBC Rewards, you can book any seat on any airline in business class.The RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege also allows the same flat rate of 2 cents per point. Both cards earn 1.25 Avion points per dollar spent, a solid rate for a flexible points currency. The Infinite Privilege card also occasionally offers an elevated welcome bonus.However, the Visa Infinite Business card has a lower annual fee of $175, compared to the Visa Infinite Privilege’s cost of $399.You can qualify just by being a sole proprietor (although you’ll likely be asked for registration documents), rather than meeting the more exclusive requirement of a household income over $200,000 for the personal card.

Best Travel Credit Card for Travel Insurance

The National Bank World Elite Mastercard is uniquely positioned as the best credit card for travel insurance, thanks to two standout features.First, the card offers insurance coverage for trip cancellation, trip interruption, and baggage issues as long as you partially pay for your travel arrangements with the card. That means that you can use the card to pay the taxes and fees on a points booking, and you’ll be insured.Most other credit cards don’t do this – instead you’d have to pay the full fare with the credit card, which isn’t possible when points are involved.Second, the card offers emergency medical coverage for out-of-province trips up to 60 days long. That’s an exceptionally long period of time to be covered; other cards tend not to exceed 31 days, and 15 days is even more common.Also, seniors are often excluded from credit card medical insurance. With the National Bank World Elite Mastercard, everyone up to the age of 75 will be covered for trips of at least 15 days – the same maximum coverage that other cards offer for younger people.

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