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From Aeroplan points to luxury hotel rewards, an expert looks for the best travel credit cards in Canada across a broad range of categories.

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 several major categories: including the 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 for 2021

Best Travel Card ForCredit CardMore Info
Best Travel Credit Card - OverallScotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* CardRead On
Best Aeroplan Credit CardTD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* CardRead On
Best Air Miles Credit CardBMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®*Read On
Best Earn RateThe American Express Cobalt® CardRead On
Best Airline Credit CardThe American Express® Aeroplan®* CardRead On
Best for Hotel RewardsMarriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card Read On
Best For Frequent TravellersHSBC World Elite® Mastercard®Read On
Best no annual feeMBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard®Read On

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 travel cards won out above the rest.

Overall Best Travel Credit Card in Canada

If you’re looking for a travel rewards credit card with an excellent earn rate plus perks and reasonable annual fee, we’ve found it.

Winner: Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card

Apply Now

The Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card wins big points in our books because it offers a lot of perks without a hefty annual fee. For starters, it’s got a great welcome bonus. Upon sign-up, you can earn up to 40,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points in your first year (that’s up to $400 towards travel). Plus, no annual fee in the first year, including on supplementary cards and 5X Scotia Rewards points on Travel for the first 3 months (up to $2,500 in total travel purchases).

Aside from the generous sign-up bonus, 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.

The Scotia Rewards points you earn are excellent since you can redeem them for any type of travel you book on your card.

What really makes this card shine is that it comes with no foreign transaction fees and lounge access with 6 free annual passes. The travel insurance with this card is also impressive. You get travel medical, trip cancellation/interruption, flight delay, delayed/lost baggage, rental car, hotel burglary, and travel accident insurance.

Whether you’re planning a summer staycation or jet-setting around the world on the regular, this is a fantastic card for anyone who wants to earn rewards from their everyday spending.

The Details

  • Annual Fee: $139
  • Minimum Income Eligibility: Minimum annual income of $60,000 or a minimum household income of $100,000 or a minimum assets under management of $250,000
  • Credit Score Required: Good to Excellent
  • Welcome Offer: Up to 40,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points in your first year (that’s up to $400 towards travel ). Plus, no annual fee in the first year, including on supplementary cards and 5X Scotia Rewards points on Travel for the first 3 months (up to $2,500 in total travel purchases).
  • Other Perks: Priority Pass membership and no foreign exchange fee markup
  • Purchase APR: 19.99% | Cash Advance APR: 22.99%
Learn more about the Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card

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 points 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* Card

Apply Now

The TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card is our pick for the best Aeroplan credit card because of its strong welcome bonus* and excellent earn rate on eligible card purchases. New cardholders who apply by December 5, 2021 can earn up to $1,250 in value.

With this card, you’ll earn 1.5 points for every $1 spent on eligible grocery, gas and AirCanada.com purchases. All other purchases will get you 1 point per $1 spent. 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 points quickly and easily.

Cardholders are also treated to other travel-related perks including travel and car rental insurance, and exclusive benefits like a free first checked bag for you and up to 8 travel companions on the same reservation for Air Canada flights, priority check-in with Air Canada flights, and more. The annual fee of $139 is affordable, and even more so when applicants take advantage of the limited-time first-year rebate for both the primary and all additional cardholders.

The Details:

  • Annual Fee: $139 (first year annual fee rebate)
  • Minimum Income Eligibility: $60,000 personal or $100,000 household annual income
  • Credit Score Required: Good to Excellent
  • Welcome Offer: Earn up to $1,250 in value Must apply by December 5, 2021
  • Other Perks: Travel insurance, $100 Nexus fee rebate, check-in and free first checked bag on Air Canada flights, Auto Rental Collision/Loss Damage Insurance
  • Purchase APR: 19.99% | Cash Advance APR: 22.99%
Learn more about the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card

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

Terms and conditions apply.


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®

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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 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 $12 in purchases is one of the highest AIR MILES rate of return out there for an AIR MILES credit card. Additional benefits include Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey, 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.

The Details:

  • Annual Fee: $120 (waived for the first year)
  • Minimum Income Eligibility: $80,000 individual or $150,000 household annual income
  • Credit Score Required: Excellent
  • Welcome Offer: Welcome bonus of 2,000 AIR MILES
  • Other Perks: 15% off AIR MILES flights within North America booked with AIR MILES, comprehensive travel insurance, Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey
  • Purchase APR: 20.99% | Cash Advance APR: 22.99% (21.99% for Quebec residents)
Learn more about the BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®

Best Earn Rate

This was an easy choice. Ever since the American Express Cobalt® Card showed up on the scene, it’s been getting high praises. Here’s why.

Winner: The American Express Cobalt® Card

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The welcome bonus and annual fee are interesting with the American Express Cobalt® Card. Instead of paying your fee once a year, you’re charged monthly to a total of $155.88 ($12.99 monthly fee). With the welcome bonus, you’ll earn 2,500 Membership Rewards® points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $500 in purchases on your Card for the first 12 months. Plus, you can earn a Welcome Bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend a total of $3,000 in purchases on your Card in your first 3 months of Cardmembership.

The earn rate is an astonishing 5 points per dollar spent on eats and drinks, 3 points on eligible streaming services, 2 points on travel and transit, while all other purchases get you 1 point. Depending on your spending habits, you could easily rack up the points with this card.

What’s truly great about this card is how broad the increased earn rate categories are. Eats and drinks covers restaurants, cafes, bars, and food delivery. Travel and transit apply to flights, hotels, ride shares, and public transportation.

Also a plus: American Express Membership Rewards points are incredibly flexible and can be redeemed for a range of things (flights, gift cards, hotel stays, credit statement), and can even be transferred to other loyalty programs.

The card also comes with decent insurance coverage, including travel medical, flight delay, lost/delayed baggage, hotel burglary, and car rental.

The Details:

  • Annual Fee: $155.88 ($12.99 monthly fee)
  • Minimum Income Eligibility: N/A
  • Credit Score Required: Fair to Good
  • Welcome Bonus: Earn up to 50,000 Membership Rewards® points in the first year
  • Additional Perks: Insurance, exclusive entertainment access, access to VIP benefits at the Hotel Collection from American Express®
  • Purchase APR: 20.99%Cash Advance APR: 21.99%

Learn more about the American Express Cobalt® Card.


Best Airline Credit Card

Deciding on the best airline credit card is a bit subjective since it largely depends on your preferred airline. But we like the American Express® Aeroplan®* Card since it doesn’t have a minimum income requirement to be approved. In addition, Aeroplan points are highly flexible since there are no blackout dates or seat restrictions.

Winner: The American Express® Aeroplan®* Card

Apply Now

If you fly Air Canada, then the American Express® Aeroplan®* Card needs to be in your wallet. It offers perks that make flying AC way more enjoyable.

For starters, the primary cardholder and up to 8 people travelling on the same reservation get their first checked bag free. You’ll also earn 1,000 Status Qualifying Miles and 1 Status Qualifying Segment for every $10,000 charged to your card. That means you can get higher Aeroplan status quicker.

The welcome offer will also appeal to many people since it’s worth up to 40,000 Welcome Bonus Aeroplan®* points. How it works: New American Express® Aeroplan®* Cardmembers earn 10,000 Aeroplan points and a bonus Buddy Pass for an eligible round-trip flight within North America after spending $1,500 in purchases within the first three months of Cardmembership. Plus, you can also earn 2,500 Aeroplan points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $500 in purchases on your Card for the first twelve months of Cardmembership. That could add up to 30,000 Aeroplan points.

The Details:

  • Annual Fee: $120
  • Minimum Income Eligibility Requirement: N/A
  • Credit Score Required: Good to Excellent
  • Welcome Offer: Earn up to 40,000 Welcome Bonus Aeroplan®* points plus a bonus Buddy Pass (conditions apply)
  • Additional Benefits: Comprehensive insurance, Air Canada travel benefits, access to exclusive American Express benefits
  • Interest on Purchases: N/A | Interest on Cash Advances: N/A

Learn more about the American Express® Aeroplan®* 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. However, when it comes down to hotel rewards, there’s one card that shines above the rest.

Winner: Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card

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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. Plus, earn a total of 5 points for every $1 on eligible travel & gas purchases in Canada for your first 3 months of Cardmembership (up to 15,000 points). Offers subject to change at any time.

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.

When signing up for this credit card, New Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Cardmembers will earn a welcome bonus of 70,000 Marriott BonvoyTM points after charging $1,500 in net purchases to their Card in the first three months of Cardmembership. You can also receive an automatic upgrade to Marriott Bonvoy™ Gold Elite status when you reach $30,000 in purchases charged to the Card each year.

The Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card also comes with 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.

The Details:

  • Annual Fee: $120
  • Minimum Income Eligibility: N/A
  • Credit Score Required: Good to Excellent
  • Welcome Offer: 70,000 Marriott BonvoyTM points after you charge $1,500 in net purchases to your Card in your first three months of Cardmembership
  • Other Perks: Automatic upgrade to Marriott Bonvoy™ Silver Elite Status, annual free night, travel insurance coverage
  • Purchase APR: 19.99% | Cash Advance APR: 21.99%
Learn more about the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card

Best for Frequent Travellers

If you’re travelling a lot for business or leisure, you may benefit from a travel rewards credit card geared to frequent travellers.

Winner: HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®

Apply Now

If you want a credit card with excellent travel rewards, the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® is for you.

With this card, you’ll earn 3% in travel rewards on all eligible travel purchases (6 points per $1) and 1.5% in travel rewards on all other eligible purchases (3 points per $1). You can easily redeem points for whatever your heart desires: from travel to gift cards and merchandise to financial rewards (yes, you can put points towards your HSBC mortgage, credit card or savings account!). As a Welcome Bonus for New Cardholders: When you sign up, you can earn up to 100,000 Points* ($500 travel value) plus a first-year annual fee rebate ($149 value) for the primary cardholder when you apply by January 31, 2022. Conditions apply. This card also comes with no foreign transaction fees (only the exchange rate applies), comprehensive travel insurance, and an annual $100 travel enhancement bonus redeemable towards baggage fees, flight upgrades, and other travel expenses. Plus, you’ll get a complimentary membership to Mastercard Airport Experiences Provided by LoungeKey, giving you access to over 850 airport lounges worldwide.

The Details

  • Annual Fee: $149
  • Minimum Income Requirement: Annual individual income of $80,000 or $150,000 household income, or a minimum of $400,000 in assets under management
  • Credit Score Required: 650+
  • Welcome Offer: Earn up to 100,000 Points* ($500 travel value) PLUS a full annual fee rebate for the Primary Cardholder for the first year ($149 value). Must apply by January 31, 2022. Conditions Apply.
  • Other Perks: Comprehensive travel insurance; redeem points for travel, financial rewards, gift cards, merchandise, and more; shopping protection
  • Purchase APR: 19.9% | Cash Advance APR: 22.9% | Balance Transfer APR: 22.9%
Learn more about the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®.

This offer is only available to residents of Canada other than the province of Quebec (Quebec residents eligible for separate offer).

*Terms and Conditions apply.

®/TM Mastercard and World Elite are registered trademarks, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated. Used pursuant to license.


Best No Annual Fee

All the cards on this list come with an annual fee — not surprising given that these cards offer some pretty sweet perks. That said, if you don’t like the idea of paying an annual fee, the MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard® is a strong card even though it has no annual fee.

Winner: MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard®

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For a no annual fee card, the MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard® is impressive. The welcome offer is worth up to 10,000 points, which is easy to earn. How it works: you’ll get 5,000 points after spending $500 within the first 90 days of card membership. Another 5,000 points is awarded if you enroll for paperless e-statements within the first 90 days of opening an account. The earn rate on eligible gas, groceries and restaurant purchases is also doubled for the first 90 days.

The earn rate is also excellent for a no annual fee credit card. You’ll get 2 MBNA Rewards points per $1 spent on groceries and restaurants (up to a maximum spend of $5,000 on each category), and 1 point per $1 for everything else.

When redeeming your MBNA Rewards for Travel, your points are worth 1 cent each — so 10,000 points works out to $100 in travel. A big plus: when redeeming for gift cards or merchandise, your points are still valuable, as they’ll fall in the .80-.90 cents per point range. You can cash out your points, but the value decreases to .50 cents per point.

The Details

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Income Eligibility: N/A
  • Credit Score Required: Fair to Good
  • Welcome Bonus: Get 4 points per $1 on eligible groceries and restaurant purchases and up to 10,000 bonus points. (Conditions apply)
  • Interest Rate on Purchases: 19.99% | Interest on Cash Advances: 24.99% | Interest on Balance Transfers & Access Cheques: 22.99%

Learn more about the MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard®.

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

Comparison of The Best Travel Credit Cards in Canada

Travel Rewards Credit CardWelcome BonusAnnual FeeMore Info
Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card Earn up to 40,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points in your first year (that’s up to $400 towards travel) and 5X Scotia Rewards points on Travel for the first 3 months (up to $2,500 in total travel purchases)$139 (No fee first year)Visit Site
TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card Earn up to $1,250 in value Must apply by December 5, 2021$139 (Annual fee rebate for the first year)Visit Site
BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®Up to 3,000 AIR MILES$120 (waived first year)Visit Site
American Express Cobalt® Card

Up to 50,000 points $155.88 ($12.99 monthly fee)Visit Site
The American Express® Aeroplan®* CardUp to 40,000 Welcome Bonus Aeroplan® points and a bonus Buddy Pass (conditions apply)$120Visit Site
Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card 70,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ points (conditions apply)$120Visit Site
HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®Earn up to 100,000 Points plus a first-year annual fee waiver for the primary cardholder when you apply by January 31, 2022. That's an estimated value of $649! Conditions apply.$149Visit Site
MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard®Get 4 points per $1 on eligible groceries and restaurants purchases and up to 10,000 bonus points (conditions apply).$0Visit Site

Terms and conditions apply.

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 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 number 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
  • Additional travel benefits such as insurance and lounge access

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.

Article comments

6 comments
michelle says:

Curious as to why the RBC Westjet Rewards card is not mentioned here at all?

Lisa Jackson says:

We’ll take a look at it for our next update!

Akina says:

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

Lisa Jackson says:

Hi Akina,

Thanks for letting us know!

Amer says:

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!

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