The Best Travel Credit Cards in Canada 2019

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 points-to-dollar ratio, best sign-up bonus, best for hotel rewards, and best for airport lounges.  Use this handy guide to get your travel rewards credit card working towards the perks and points most valuable to you.

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.

Summary of Canada's Best Travel Credit Cards 2019

Credit CardBest For
TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite*Best Overall + Best Aeroplan Credit Card
BMO® AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®*Best Air Miles Credit Card
Scotiabank Gold American Express® CardBest Points-to-Dollar Ratio
Rogers™ World Elite Mastercard®Best For Cash Back for Foreign Currency Purchases
Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* CardBest Sign-Up Bonus
MBNA Best Western Rewards® Mastercard®Best for Budget Hotel Rewards
Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® CardBest for Luxury Hotel Rewards
Scotiabank Platinum American Express® Card Airport Lounges

How Did We Choose the Best Travel Credit Cards?

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 and special features (such as travel insurance, lounge passes, no foreign transaction fees, etc.)
  • Rewards earn rates
  • Reward redemption flexibility and ease
  • Eligibility criteria

Based on the above criteria, we’ve compiled a list of the best travel rewards credit cards in Canada. Truly, these eight cards won out above the rest.

Overall Best Travel Credit Card in Canada: 

TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite*

TD-Aeroplan-Infinite-Visa-Card_243x153Eligibility: Minimum $60,000, or $100,000 annual household income
Annual fee: $120 (free first year annual fee rebate)*
Other perks: Welcome bonus of 30,000 miles

*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, 30,000 miles!), premium perks (like priority boarding/check-in and travel insurance) and great potential to rack up points – all for a modest annual fee of $120 (which for a limited time, this fee is waived your first year). Plus, because it’s an Aeroplan card, purchases at partner sites double your miles. The primary cardholder also gets an annual fee rebate on the first year, making this a sky-high deal.

Click here to apply for the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite*


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-World-Elite-Mastercard-243-1Eligibility: Minimum $80,000 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, 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.

Click here to apply for 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. 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 visa infiniteEligibility: Minimum $60,000, or $100,000 annual household income
Annual fee: $120 (first year annual fee rebate)*
Other perks: Welcome bonus of 30,000 miles

*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 30,000 miles and potential to earn Aeroplan miles with every dollar spent (1.5:$1 on groceries, gas, drugstore and AirCanada.com; 1:$1 on everything else). Purchases made at Aeroplan partners earn double the rewards, 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 limited-time waiver.

Click here to apply for the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite


Best Points-to-Dollar Ratio

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 american express cardEligibility: Minimum $12,000 annual income
Annual fee: $99
Other perks: 15,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points 

The Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card offers two tiers for their Scotia Rewards points program. For every dollar you spend on eligible gas, groceries, dining, and entertainment, you’ll earn a whopping 4 Scotia Rewards points. Any other purchases come in at 1 point per dollar spent. While other cards in the Scotiabank American Express® family also offer this ratio, the $99 annual fee makes this card a winner. With 15,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points with your first $1,000 in everyday purchases in the first 3 months; discounted membership to Priority Pass airport lounges & travel insurance.

But 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 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.

Click here to apply for the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card


Best For Cash Back on Purchases Made in Foreign Currency

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 mastercardEligibility: $80,000 per year personal income, $150,000 per year family 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. However, one thing to note: you can only redeem your cashback for Rogers products and services, which includes Toronto Blue Jays tickets and purchases at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.

Click here to apply for 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 cardEligibility: $60,000 per year personal income, $100,000 per year family income
Annual fee: $139
Other perks: Welcome bonus of up to 40,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points

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’ll earn up to 40,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points in your first year – that’s up to $400 towards travel! With this credit card, you’ll also earn:

  • 2 Scotia Rewards points per $1 spent on groceries, dining, entertaining and transit purchases (including taxis, buses, and subway tokens).
  • 1 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.

Click here to apply for the Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card.


Best Travel Credit Card for 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, and with that in mind, in this category, we’ve got a tie.

Winner for budget travellers: MBNA Best Western Rewards® Mastercard®

MBNA Best Western Rewards MastercardEligibility: No minimum annual income requirement
Annual fee: $0
Other perks: 20,000 Best Western Rewards® points welcome bonus.

If you’re on a budget, the MBNA Best Western Rewards® Mastercard® makes a lot of sense. The sign-up bonus of 20,000 Best Western Rewards® points (after a single eligible purchase) is enough for a free one-night stay, and further points are easy to collect. The flexibility of BWR® points allows you to redeem for hotel stays, dining, gift cards, and more, and best of all, there is no annual fee.

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

Click here to apply for the MBNA Best Western Rewards® Mastercard®


Winner for luxury travellers: Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card

marriott bonvoy card

Eligibility: Good to excellent credit
Annual fee: $120
Other perks: Welcome bonus of 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ points

When Starwood Preferred Guest and Marriott Rewards merged, it was unclear how the programs would be affected. One really exciting result is the launch of the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card, which replaced the popular Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card. For travellers that love luxury hotels, this card is for you. For one, it has an amazing sign-up bonus of 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ points when you spend $1,500 in the first three months. That's enough for 4 free nights at a Category 2 hotel! Additionally, cardholders earn 5 points for every $1 in eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties and 2 points per $1 for everywhere else. As a cardholder, you can redeem points for free nights with no blackout dates at over 6,500 of the world’s most desired hotels. You also receive an annual free night award after your anniversary each year. If you’re a frequent traveller who likes to stay in quality hotels, you must consider this travel reward card. For all the details, read our full Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card review.

Click here to apply for 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 

Amex Platinum

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

Here's something we love: the Scotiabank Platinum American Express® Card includes complimentary 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.

Click here to apply for the Scotiabank Platinum American Express® Card


Comparison of The Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards Canada

Travel Rewards Credit CardWelcome BonusAnnual FeeMore Info
TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite*30,000 Aeroplan miles$120 (with 1 year free)Learn More
BMO® AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®3000 AIR MILES$120 (with 1 year free)Learn More
Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card15,000 Scotia Rewards points $99Learn More
Rogers™ World Elite Mastercard®None$0Learn More
Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card40,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points$139Learn More
MBNA Best Western Rewards® Mastercard®20,000 Best Western Rewards®$0Learn More
Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card60,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ points$120Learn More
Scotiabank Platinum American Express® Card 30,000 Scotia Rewards points$399Learn More

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.

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:

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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.

2 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!



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