8 Best Travel Credit Cards in Canada 2019

Last Updated on

best travel credit card canada

Here’s a shocker: Canadians love to travel! So it’s no surprise that there are numerous travel credit cards in Canada offering sweet rewards—so many, in fact, that it can be hard to decide on the best one for your needs. Some offer the opportunity to rack up some major points, while others include travel insurance and passes to posh airport lounges as part of the package. In this article, we look for the best travel credit card in Canada across four major categories: best credit card for travel points, sign-up bonus, hotel rewards, airport lounges and the overall winner. Use this handy guide to pick the best travel rewards credit card and let it work towards the perks and points most valuable to you.

Canada's Best Travel Credit Cards – December 2019

Best Travel Card ForCredit Card
Best Travel Credit Card - OverallTD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite*
Best Credit Card for Travel PointsScotiabank Gold American Express® Card
Best Air Miles Credit CardBMO® AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®*
Best For Cash Back on Foreign Currency PurchasesRogers™ World Elite Mastercard®
Best Travel Card with Sign-Up BonusScotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card
Best for Budget Hotel RewardsBest Western Rewards® Mastercard®
Best for Luxury Hotel RewardsMarriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card
Best for Airport LoungesScotiabank Platinum American Express® Card

In developing this list of the best travel credit cards in Canada, we evaluated all the travel credit cards currently on the market against the following criteria:

  • Annual fees
  • Welcome bonus
  • Cardholder perks & special features (travel insurance, lounge passes, no foreign transaction fees, etc.)
  • Rewards earn rates
  • Reward redemption flexibility and ease
  • Eligibility criteria

Truly, these seven cards won out above the rest.

Overall Best Travel Credit Card in Canada

TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite*

td aeroplan credit cardAnnual Fee: $120 (first year annual fee rebate if you apply online by March 2, 2020)
Income Eligibility: $60,000 personal or $100,000 household annual income
Other perks: Welcome bonus of up to 30,000 Aeroplan Miles (Conditions Apply. Must apply online by March 2, 2020)
*This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For Quebec residents, please click here. 

There are many fantastic deals out there in the travel rewards credit card category. But if we have to pick one, the best overall travel rewards credit card in the Canadian market is the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite*. For all the nitty-gritty details about what makes this card wonderful, you can read our full TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* review here. But here's the short version: it stands out above the others because of its winning welcome offer* (hello, up to 30,000 Aeroplan Miles!), premium perks (like priority boarding/check-in on Air Canada flights and travel insurance) and great potential to rack up points – all for a modest annual fee of $120. Plus, because it’s an Aeroplan card, purchases at partner sites double your Miles when you pay with your Aeroplan credit card and present your Aeroplan membership card. Apply online by March 2, 2020, to get an annual fee rebate for the first year and the welcome bonus of up to 30,000 Aeroplan Miles (the equivalent of 2 economy short-haul roundtrip flight rewards!).

Other card details: Purchase APR: 19.99% | Cash Advance APR: 22.99%

Learn more about the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite*


Best Credit Card for Travel Points

With all the points programs out there, it can be difficult to decide on the very best points credit card. Some programs have restrictions for what you might spend your points on but bear in mind that many cards allow points transfers between programs. After those considerations, a card’s points-to-dollar ratio—that is, the amount in dollars your points are worth—is one of the most important features for your card.

Winner: Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card

scotiabank gold amexIncome Eligibility: Minimum $12,000 annual income
Annual fee: $120
Other perks: Up to 30,000 Scotia Rewards point bonus in your first year

The Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card offers three tiers for their Scotia Rewards points program. For every dollar you spend on eligible grocery stores, restaurants, fast food, and drinking establishments, you’ll earn a whopping 5 Scotia Rewards points; 3 points per $1 on eligible gas, daily transit, and select streaming services; and any other purchases come in at 1 Scotia Rewards point per dollar spent in any currency.

This travel rewards card makes it easy and fast to earn up to $300 in bonus Scotia Rewards points in your first year. Here's how it works: spend $1000 in everyday eligible purchases in your first 3 months from account opening, and you'll earn 25,000 Scotia Rewards points. If you spend another $10,000 in your first year and get an additional 5,000 Scotia Rewards point bonus.

As of August 1, the annual fee is increasing from $99 to $120, which may dampen this credit card's dazzle just a little. Despite the hike, this is still very reasonable compared to the fees charged by other travel credit cards and you get some amazing benefits, such as no foreign transaction fees, comprehensive travel insurance, and Amex Front Of the Line® access.

What's also exceptional about this credit card is the flexibility in rewards redemption. All you have to do is login to the system and select the “Apply Points to Travel” option. Then just use your accumulated Scotia Rewards points to offset any travel cost (flights, rental cars, hotels, etc.) charged on your credit card. It’s that easy – no black-out periods or annoying restrictions. It’s no wonder the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card is often ranked as the best travel credit card in Canada.

Learn more about the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card


Best Air Miles Credit Card

The Air Miles program is one of the best ways to earn rewards in Canada. With an Air Miles Collector Card, you can turn everyday purchases – like gas and groceries – into free flights, car rentals, event tickets, hotel stays, electronics, and so much more. If you’re an avid collector, you can maximize your miles by using an Air Miles credit card to pay for your purchases.

Winner: BMO® AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®

bmo air miles mastercardIncome Eligibility: $80,000 individual or $150,000 household annual income 
Annual fee: $120 (free – waived for the first year)
Other perks: Welcome bonus of up to 3000 AIR MILES

What’s truly great about the BMO® AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard® is that it comes with a generous welcome bonus and a high earn rate. You’ll get 1,000 AIR MILES after your first purchase and another 2,000 AIR MILES when you charge $3,000 to your card in the first three months of card membership. The earn rate of 1 AIR MILE for every $10 in purchases is the highest AIR MILES rate of return out there for an AIR MILES credit card. Additional benefits include Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey with two free annual passes, 15% off AIR MILES flights within North America booked with AIR MILES, and a comprehensive travel insurance package which includes travel medical for up to 15 days per trip. Although there is an annual fee of $120, it’s waived for the first year.

Learn more about the BMO® AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®


Best Aeroplan Credit Card

As Canada’s most popular travel rewards program, many Canadians are looking to rack up Aeroplan points any way they can. Here’s a tip: simply by using an Aeroplan credit card, you can earn miles redeemable towards flights, hotels, car rentals, vacation packages, event tickets, and merchandise. Best of all, earn double the points by making purchases at Aeroplan-affiliated partners with your Aeroplan credit card and presenting your Aeroplan membership card. If you’re one of the 5 million Aeroplan members, it’s worth your while to get an Aeroplan credit card.

Winner:  TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite*

td aeroplan visaAnnual Fee: $120 (first year annual fee rebate if you apply online by March 2, 2020)
Income Eligibility:  $60,000 personal or $100,000 household annual income
Other perks: Welcome bonus of up to 30,000 Aeroplan Miles (Conditions Apply. Must apply online by March 2, 2020.)
*This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For Quebec residents, please click here. 

As already outlined, there are plenty of perks that make the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* our pick for the best travel rewards credit card. But it also wins our top spot as the best Aeroplan credit card because of its lucrative welcome bonus*of up to 30,000 Aeroplan Miles and potential to earn Aeroplan miles with every dollar spent (1.5 Aeroplan miles:$1 on groceries, gas, drugstore, and AirCanada.com; 1 Aeroplan Mile:$1 on everything else). Purchases made at Aeroplan partners earn double the rewards when you pay with your Aeroplan credit card and present your Aeroplan membership card, so cardholders can rack up their Aeroplan Miles quickly and easily. Cardholders are also treated to other travel-related perks including travel and auto insurance, and exclusive benefits like 24-hour concierge services. The annual fee of $120 is affordable, and even more so when applicants take advantage of the online-only limited-time waiver for the first year.

Apply online by March 2, 2020, to get an annual fee rebate for the first year and the welcome bonus of up to 30,000 Aeroplan Miles (the equivalent of 2 economy short-haul roundtrip flight rewards!). It's a limited-time offer, so don't wait!

Other card details: Purchase APR: 19.99% | Cash Advance APR: 22.99%

Learn more about the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite


Best Travel Card for Cash Back on Foreign Currency Purchases

Cash is king, and when it comes to rewards, the best cash back credit cards let you earn a small percentage of your spending back in cash. But what about putting your travel expenditures in foreign currency to work for you?

Winner: Rogers™ World Elite Mastercard®

rogers world elite mastercardIncome Eligibility: $80,000 personal income or $150,000 household annual income
Annual fee: $0
Other perks: 4% cash back on purchases made in foreign currency

The Rogers™ World Elite Mastercard® wins our top spot because their rewards structure lets you earn a massive 4% cash back on all eligible purchases made in foreign currency. Yes, it's true that there is a 2.5% foreign transaction fee, but it’s offset by the 4% cash back, for a net positive of 1.5% cash back. You can also earn 2% cash back on Rogers products and services and 1.75% cash back on everything else. Cardholders are also entitled to a free supplementary card, allowing you to earn more cash back per year. Using the Mastercard® Pay with Rewards™ app on your smartphone, you can instantly apply your cash back rewards towards any eligible purchase you've made in the past 90 days on your credit card, with a minimum purchase of $20. It's that easy.

Learn more about the Rogers™ World Elite Mastercard® 


Best Travel Credit Card for Sign-Up Bonus

One way credit card companies entice you into their travel rewards program is with a fat sign-up bonus. Take advantage of this strategy and give your travel reward goals a big boost.

Winner: Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card

scotiabank passport visa infinite cardIncome Eligibility: $60,000 personal income or $100,000 household annual income or at least $250,000 in assets under management
Annual fee: $139
Other perks: Earn up to 35,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points in your first year

The Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card wins big points in our books because, on top of charging no foreign transaction fees, it’s got a crazy-good welcome bonus. Upon sign-up, you can earn up to 35,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points in your first year – that’s up to $350 towards travel! How it works: earn 25,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points with your first $1,000 in everyday purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, as a cardholder, you are always eligible to earn an annual 10,000 Scotia Rewards point bonus when you spend at least $40,000 in everyday eligible purchases annually on your Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card account. With this credit card, you’ll also earn:

  • Scotia Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible grocery stores, dining, entertainment purchases, and daily transit purchases (including taxis, buses, and subway tokens).
  • Scotia Rewards point per $1 spent on everything else.

Another perk of this credit card is free Priority Pass membership that includes six free visits per year to airport lounges worldwide. Of course, the no foreign exchange fee markup on purchases made in foreign currency at home or abroad is also alluring.

Learn more about the Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card.


Best Travel Credit Card for Budget Hotel Rewards

Travellers are not one size fits all, and there is nowhere in the travel sector where this is more evident than in accommodations. Where you choose to spend the night is going to depend on your taste and budget. However, when it comes down to hotel rewards, there's one card that shines above the rest.

Winner: Best Western Mastercard®

mbna best westernIncome Eligibility: No minimum annual income requirement
Annual fee: $0
Other perks: 20,000 Best Western Rewards® points welcome bonus.

This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For residents of Quebec, please click here.

Whether you're travelling in Canada or abroad, the Best Western Mastercard® makes a lot of sense. The sign-up bonus of 20,000 Best Western Rewards® points (after your first eligible purchase) is enough for a free one-night stay, and further points are easy to collect. The flexibility of Best Western Rewards® points allows you to redeem for hotel stays, dining, gift cards, and more, and best of all, there is no annual fee. Plus, there are more than 100 Best Western hotels located around the world, making it easy to cash in your points for free hotel stays when you're travelling.

Other card details:  Annual Interest Rate on Purchases (“AIR”): 19.99% | Interest on Cash Advances: 22.99% | Interest on Balance Transfers & Access Cheques: 22.99%

Learn more about the Best Western Mastercard®


Best Travel Credit Card for Luxury Hotel Rewards

While there are many hotel rewards credit cards on the market, few offer luxury experiences at high-end hotels. Some hotel rewards credit cards have restrictions or blackout dates that you cannot book, while others afford you access to only lower-end or mid-range accommodations. An exception to this rule is the credit card we’ve chosen for the best luxury hotel credit card.

Winner: Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card

Annual Fee: $120
Income Eligibility: $0
Other Perks: 50,000 bonus points when you spend $1,500 in three months, Marriot Bonvoy Silver Elite Status, Annual Free Night Award on your anniversary

When it comes to luxury hotel credit cards, you can’t go wrong with the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card. This credit card has an annual fee of $120 and no minimum income requirement, which makes it uniquely accessible. Cardholders earn 5 Marriott Bonvoy™ points for every $1 in eligible card purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy™ properties, and 2 points for every $1 in all other card purchases everywhere else. When you sign up for this credit card, you’ll become a Marriott Bonvoy™ member, which entitles you to redeem your points for free hotel stays at over 7,000+ properties worldwide with no blackout dates. You can also choose to transfer your points to frequent flyer miles if you’d prefer free flights over free hotel stays.

The Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card has a wide range of insurance coverage including travel emergency assistance, travel accident insurance, car rental theft and damage insurance, flight delay insurance, baggage loss and delay insurance, and hotel theft insurance.

When signing up for this credit card, you’ll earn a welcome bonus of 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ points after you charge $1,500 in purchases to your Card in your first three months of card membership. Plus, receive an automatic upgrade to Marriott Bonvoy™ Gold Elite status when you reach $30,000 in purchases charged to the Card each year.

Other card details: Purchase APR: 19.99% | Cash Advance APR: 22.99%

Learn more about the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card.


Best for Airport Lounges

Finally, credit card companies seem to have figured out that nobody likes hanging around at the airport. An increasingly popular travel perk is access to worldwide airport lounges. Bought individually, these passes can run upwards of $60 a pop, so there’s definite value here. But, as with all rewards, not all programs are created equally. Here are our favourites.

Winner: Scotiabank Platinum American Express® Card 

scotia american express

Eligibility: Minimum annual personal income of $12,000
Annual fee: $399
Other perks: 30,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points upon first purchase

Here's something we love: the Scotiabank Platinum American Express® Card includes complimentary Priority Pass membership and a whopping 10 free lounge visits per year. At just shy of one per month, this is going to be sufficient for most travellers. Additionally, other valuable perks like 30,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points upon first purchase and travel insurance make this a card to consider. Plus, you earn 4 Scotia Rewards points on every $1 you spend at eligible gas stations, grocery stores, on dining and entertainment. The Scotiabank Platinum American Express® Card carries a $399 annual fee.

Learn more about the Scotiabank Platinum American Express® Card


Comparison of The Best Travel Credit Cards in Canada

Travel Rewards Credit CardWelcome BonusAnnual FeeMore Info
TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite*Earn up to 30,000 Aeroplan Miles (Conditions apply. Must apply online by March 2, 2020.)$120 (Waived first year. Conditions apply. Must apply online by March 2, 2020.)Learn More
Scotiabank Gold American Express® CardUp to 30,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points in your first year$120Learn More
BMO® AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®3000 AIR MILES$120 (with 1 year free)Learn More
Rogers™ World Elite Mastercard®None$0Learn More
Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* CardUp to 35,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points in your first year$139Learn More
Best Western Rewards® Mastercard®20,000 bonus points$0Learn More
Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ bonus points when you spend $1,500 in the first three months$120Learn More
Scotiabank Platinum American Express® Card 30,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points upon first purchase$399Learn More

Disclaimer: MBNA Best Western Rewards® Mastercard® – This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For residents of Quebec, please click here.

How to Redeem Travel Rewards

It really depends on the rewards program attached to your credit card. Some exchange dollars spent into points or miles (e.g. $1 spent = 1.5 miles earned), while others allow you to directly cash in points to make a purchase.

The process of redeeming points varies too. For instance, with the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card and the Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card, you login to their website and apply any number of accumulated points to offset any travel cost charged onto your credit card. Other credit cards have a travel portal for redemptions. With Aeroplan or AIR MILES, you login to their website and redeem your points directly for a specific travel reward. Either way is fine – the key is to choose a travel credit card that has a redemption process that isn’t overly complicated.

Why Get a Travel Credit Card?

Whether you’re a frequent traveller or planning a big trip for the future, a travel rewards credit card can offer big benefits to you. It’s one of the fastest and easiest ways to save money on travel-related expenses. Here’s how it works: when purchasing everyday expenses on your travel credit card, you earn points for every dollar spent on the card. Once you accumulate a certain amount of points, you can redeem your points for travel-related rewards. Depending on the card, these points or rewards can be cashed in for travel-related expenses, such as flights, hotels, car rentals, parking, baggage fees, cruises, vacation packages, excursions – whatever you want!

Another big bonus is that travel rewards credit cards often come with comprehensive travel insurance, which may include coverage for travel medical, trip/cancellation, baggage theft/loss, flight delay, collision/damage for car rental, and so forth. That means that if you use your travel credit card to pay for your trip, you may not need to purchase a separate travel insurance policy. However, make sure to read the fine print to understand everything that’s included (or not included) in the policy.

How to Choose a Best Travel Credit Card

There is no one travel credit card that’s designed for all travellers. You need to carefully compare the rewards structure of each program and choose something that best suits your lifestyle. Are you saving up for one-time round-the-world flight purchase? Or do you prefer to put your points towards ongoing travel expenses, like baggage costs or hotel stays? The choice is yours, but there are a few key features to look for in a travel rewards credit card:

  • A generous welcome bonus
  • How easily and quickly you can earn points based on your personal spending habits
  • Ease of points redemption
  • A reasonable annual fee

When looking at all the products on the market, consider your lifestyle and compare these key features. It will make choosing a travel credit card much easier. No matter which you choose, don’t forget to pack the plastic in your wallet before leaving for your trip. Bon voyage!

The Best Credit Cards by Category:

This post was not sponsored. The views and opinions expressed in this review are purely my own.

The following two tabs change content below.

Keph Senett

Keph Senett is a Canadian freelance writer with an interest in helping people make solid choices towards debt-free living. Her work has appeared in publications including Al Jazeera America, Greedy Rates, BBC News, and The Globe & Mail.

4 Comments

  1. Danielle Ogilvie on November 16, 2018 at 12:19 am

    Winner for me would probably be the best points to dollars ratio. Although, another contention would be what I could spend those points on



  2. Amer on November 18, 2018 at 10:26 am

    The best I found is the HSBC world elite credit card.
    Sign up bonus 75000 points, waived first year fees. (The bonus is 105000 points if you live in Quebec).
    100$ travel enhancement credit.
    10% off your Expedia hotel booking.
    No foreign transaction fee.
    Unlike the amex, it’s accepted everywhere. I have the cobalt and I have a hard time finding restaurants/groceries/pharmacies that accept it! Even Costco don’t accept it!
    My ultimate goal is to get the chase sapphire reserve Visa card… not sure how though!



  3. Akina on October 5, 2019 at 11:34 am

    Rogers has changed how you can apply their cashback. It’s now any transaction over $20.



  4. Lisa Jackson on October 7, 2019 at 9:05 am

    Hi Akina,

    Thanks for letting us know!



Leave a Comment





> >