Travelling is one of the eventful and rewarding things to do. If you’re one to explore new places, try new foods, experience new cultures and meet new people, then you know that all of that sometimes costs a lot, that’s where travel credit cards come in.
What is a Travel Credit Card?
A travel credit card is a credit card designed with unique offers that can help you offset some or even all of your travel costs. You earn something known as ‘points’ whenever you pay using a travel credit card. These redeemable points earned per transaction give the users access to numerous discounts and dozens of other perks.
Types of points you can earn on a travel credit card include Airmiles, Hotel Points, Cashbacks, and even transferable points. It’s no wonder travel cards are very popular in Canada.
Best credit cards for travel points in Canada
1. American Express Cobalt
The American Express Cobalt card offers the best rewards for everyday spending. It has an earning rate of 5 points for every dollar spent on food and drinks, 2 points per dollar paid on gas, travel and transit purchases, and 1 point per dollar spent on everything else.
This makes it ideal and significantly cheaper to try out all the excellent restaurants and bars you may encounter on your travels and is ultimately less expensive to travel. Travel is more than just hopping on a plane and getting there, it’s about trying new things and visiting new places, and American express cobalt understands that and delivers.
It also has other benefits such as Hotel transfer partners, Fixed Points Travel Program (which lets you maximize your points on roundtrip flights) and the right travel insurance package, but that doesn’t cover trip cancellation.
Apply before January 13, 2021, and enjoy a generous welcome bonus where you can earn up to 30,000 reward points and also earn ten times the points on every dollar of eligible purchases at Amazon.ca within the first three months.
- Annual fee: $120 ($10 monthly)
- Earn 5 points per $1 on dining and groceries
- Earn 2 points per $1 on gas, taxis, public transit and travel (air, water, rail, or hotels)
- Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
- Welcome bonus: Up to 30,000 bonus points in your first year
- Apply by January 13, 2021, and you can earn 10x the points per $1 on eligible purchases made at Amazon.ca (up to $500) for your first three months
- Income required: No specific amount
2. Scotiabank Gold American Express Card
With this card, you’ll earn 25,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points when you make at least $1,000 in purchases within your first three months. That’s $250 in value.
Another perk is that it eliminates foreign transaction fees on purchases made abroad or via foreign merchants online. This usually costs between 1.5% – 3% of the price. Regardless of the exchange rate, this feature will save you a lot.
The card still rewards daily transactions with Scotia Rewards Points, which cardholders can quickly redeem and use for anything from collecting merchandise to getting a cash credit on their account.
Lastly, cardholders can take advantage of the Best Price Guarantee on airfare booked via the Scotia Rewards Travel Service and the widespread travel insurance coverage added to the card. This is what makes it one of the best credit cards for travel.
- Annual fee: $120
- No foreign transaction fees
- Earn 5 points per $1 spent on entertainment (movies, theatres), restaurants, bars and food delivery services.
- Earn 3 points per $1 spent on gas and transit and streaming services such as Netflix.
- Earn 1 point per $1 on all other eligible purchases
- Welcome Offer: Get up to 25,000 bonus points ($250 value). This offer expires on February 28, 2021
- Includes 24/7 complimentary concierge service
- Income required: $12,000
3. TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite
The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite starts you off with a welcome bonus of 10,000 Aeroplan points and an Air Canada Buddy pass, granted you spend up to $1,000 within the first three months. That buddy pass lets you bring anyone on a roundtrip economy ticket anywhere in North America.
To top off the welcome bonus, the first year’s fee is rebated. This is all part of a limited time offer that’s only valid if you apply before January 17, 2021.
The rewards system gives 1.5 Aeroplan points per dollar spent on groceries and gas, while every other purchase earns a point per dollar. Cardholders can conveniently rack up points when they make purchases at Aeroplan partners and present their Aeroplan membership card; this will earn them double the rewards. Aeroplan changed its rewards program, making every seat available for redemption.
Other perks include getting the first bag of the primary cardholder and up to 8 travelling companions on the same itinerary for Air Canada flights checked for free, travel and Car rental insurance, a $100 Nexus fee rebate, and more.
For travel medical insurance, it offers a million dollars in coverage for 21 days to people younger than 65. People 65 and older get just four days.
- Annual fee: $139 (first-year annual fee rebate if you apply by January 17, 2021)
- Income Eligibility: $60,000 personal or $100,000 household annual income
- Welcome Offer: Welcome bonus of 10,000 Aeroplan points. Must apply by January 17, 2021.
- Earn 1.5 Aeroplan points per $1 on eligible gas, groceries, and Air Canada purchases
- Earn 1 point per $1 on everything else
- This offer is not available for residents of Quebec.
4. TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite
Apply before May 30, 2021, and you can earn up to 60,000 bonus TD points (a travel value of $300). Get 20,000 points when you make your first purchase with the card and another 40,000 points when you spend up to $1,500 within the first 90 days. Also, the first year’s fee is rebated.
This card has a flexible redemption program and a partnership with Expedia, which you can use for TD online portal to redeem rewards for hotels, flights, and car rentals with almost any carrier on Expedia. Cardholders can also enjoy extensive insurance coverage, discounts, and an optional TD Auto Club Membership for protection no matter where their travels take them.
The points system rewards you 9 points per $1 spent on ExpediaforTD.com and 3 points per $1 spent everywhere else. 200 points are worth a dollar and can be redeemed for travel, merchandise, gift cards, and statement credit.
- Annual fee: $120 (rebated for the first year). Offer ends May 30, 2021
- Earn 9 TD Points per $1 on travel booked online through the ExpediaforTD website
- Earn 3 TD Points per $1 on your everyday purchases
- Welcome offer: Get up to 60,000 TD Points ($300 value). Offer ends May 30, 2021
- Income required: $60,000
- This offer is not available for residents of Quebec
5. Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card
This card offers a welcome bonus of 30,000 Scotia Rewards points in the first year. Get 20,000 points when you spend at least $1,000 within the first three months and receive another 10,000 points when you spend up to $40,000 on the card annually. Offer lasts till February 28, 2021.
Like the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card, The Passport Visa Infinite also eliminates foreign transaction fees. Still, unlike its sister card, it grants more sign-up bonuses. It offers six free airport lounge passes per year with the complimentary priority pass membership and extensive travel insurance coverage (25 days for persons under 65 and 10 days for persons 65 and older).
However, it’s Gold American Express counterpart has a bigger point multiplier and a cheaper annual fee.
Here’s how you earn with this card: you’ll get two Scotia Rewards points per dollar spent on eligible grocery, dining, entertainment and daily transit purchases, including buses, subways, and taxis and one Scotia Rewards point per dollar everywhere else you shop. The points are redeemable for travel, Gift cards, a statement credit, or they can be converted to SCENE points.
This card also offers a wide range of insurance services: $1 million Travel medical insurance coverage for 25 days to people under 65 and ten days to 65 and over. The card also offers trip cancellation/interruption insurance, delayed and lost baggage insurance, flight delay insurance, rental car insurance, e.t.c.
The Passport Visa Infinite Card is an asset to have on your trips as you’ll save money every time you swipe. This makes it, without a doubt, one of the best credit cards for travel in Canada.
- Price: Annual fee is $139. The first supplementary card is free.
- No foreign transaction fees
- Point System: Scotia Rewards
- Sign Up Bonus: 30,000 bonus points ($300 value) after your first $1,000 in the first 3 months.
- Earn 5 points for every $1 spent on eligible grocery stores, dining, entertainment purchases, and daily transit purchases (including buses, subways, taxis and more).
- One point on every $1 for everything else.
These are five of the best credit cards for travel in Canada.
Disclaimer: Rates and product offerings are always changing, so this article might not reflect the current market situation. Please contact your financial advisor before making any financial decisions.
Is the annual fee worth it?
You can save considerably more than the annual fee on virtually all these cards if you utilize them correctly. So the answer is, it depends on your spending habit.
Should I get a cash-back or a travel credit card?
You should get both, but if you can’t, you’ll have to decide which sort of card best suits your needs.
Are there different considerations for choosing an international credit card?
Short answer, Yes. Not all travel credit cards are best for spending outside Canada. Some cancel fees for purchases made abroad. Others may not be widely accepted.