Best Travel Credit Cards in Canada (Travel for Free!)

Trying to determine the best travel credit cards in Canada can be a bit difficult. There are so many factors that go into figuring out what the “best” travel credit cards are.

And what may be the best travel credit cards in Canada for me may not be the best travel credit cards in Canada for you.

The best travel credit card in Canada for the average person is the American Express Cobalt. It has the most flexible points, the easiest points to earn, and a reasonable annual fee that doesn’t break the bank. However, if you have a specific travel goal in mind, there is probably a better Canadian travel credit card that will get you to your travel goal quicker.

There are a lot of moving parts that go into picking a credit card that suits your needs best.

You have to consider:

  • Where do you want to travel?
  • What class of flights do you want to take?
  • How much you’re willing to pay in annual fees
  • Do you flight rewards or hotel rewards?
  • How much work are you willing to put in to redeem your rewards?
  • And on and on and on

As you can see, there are nearly countless things that go into determining what the best travel credit cards in Canada are.

In this post, I’m going to lay out what I think are the best travel credit cards in Canada for the average person in various categories.

I’ll also give you a few alternative cards in each category that you may prefer over the “top” card.

By the end of this post, you’ll have a significantly better understanding of which credit card suits your needs best, and you’ll be on your way to travel hacking and seeing the world for “free”!

I mean who doesn’t love free travel?!

Best Travel Credit Cards in Canada (by Category)

CategoryCredit CardSign-Up Bonus
Best OverallAmerican Express Gold Up to 25,000 MR points
Best for Lounge AccessAmerican Express PlatinumUp to 50,000 MR points
Best for Flexible PointsAmerican Express GoldUp to 25,000 MR points
Best for Aeroplan PointsAmerican Express Aeroplan Up to 15,000 Aeroplan points and buddy pass
Best for Air MilesBMO Air Miles World Elite MastercardUp to 2,000 Air Miles
Best for HotelsMarriott Bonvoy American ExpressUp to 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points
Best No Foreign Transaction FeeHSBC World Elite MastercardUp to 20,000 HSBC rewards
Best No FeeMBNA Best Western Rewards MastercardUp to 20,000 Best Western Rewards
Best for Travel in North AmericaRBC Westjet World Elite MastercardUp to $250 Westjet dollars and companion voucher
Best for Travel to AsiaMBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite MastercardUp to 30,000 Alaska Airlines miles and companion fare
Best for Travel to EuropeAmerican Express GoldUp to 25,000 MR points
Best for StudentsCIBC Aeroplan Visa Card for StudentsUp to 10,000 Aeroplan points

Best Overall Travel Credit Card in Canada: American Express Gold

The American Express Gold is the best all around travel credit card in Canada.

American Express MR points are extremely flexible, so you can collect points and then transfer then to your favourite airline or hotel partner to redeem points.

You can also redeem MR points directly through the American Express travel portal if you don’t want to put in the time and effort to figure out which partner is the most advantageous for you to transfer your points to.

You won’t get as good of a value per point if you redeem your points directly through the American Express travel portal, but it is very convenient.

One of the best features of the American Express Gold Canada card is how quickly you can earn points!

It has elevated points earning in travel, transportation, and grocery, which are traditionally some of the categories people spend most of their money.

Highlights

The Amex Gold Canada card has many benefits and card highlights, which is why it is the winner for my best travel credit card in Canada all around category.

I truly believe this card works for everybody no matter what your travel style, spending habits, or income.

It is so versitile!

The top highlights of this card include:

  • 2x points on food including grocery stores, transportation, gas, and travel
  • Strong travel insurance including flight delay and baggage loss insurance
  • Flexible points that can be redeemed for flights, hotels, movies, dining, and more
American Express Gold Canada

Points

Let’s talk about my favourite part about travel credit cards and one of the most important factors in determine the best travel credit cards in Canada.

Points!

How to earn points, how to redeem points, and what the all important points sign-up bonus is.

Points are those magical gifts from credit card and travel companies that let you get “free” travel or accommodation by redeeming the points you’ve earned.

They are really the be-all end-all in the travel hacking game!

It is time for a deep-dive into the American Express Gold Canada card point system!

Sign-Up Bonus

Ah. The best part of every travel credit card and the most addicting part of playing the travel hacking game.

Sign-up bonuses are the best and quickest way to earn enough points to travel for free.

The Amex Canada Gold card has a very unique sign-up bonus, and I haven’t seen a similar sign-up bonus on any other credit card in Canada.

You can earn up to 25,000 MR points in your first year as a sign-up bonus with this card.

You have to spend $1,500 in the first three months of holding the card in order to receive the 25,000 MR point sign-up bonus.

This is fairly easy to do- especially if you have a plan!

Make sure you know you will be spending $1,500 in the first three months of holding the card before applying for it.

To get even more points, be sure to spend as much money as possible in the categories with elevated points earning! One of the easiest ways to meet the minimum spend and earn extra points is booking your next trip and pre-paying for everything on the American Express Gold Canada card!

Earning Points

The Amex Gold Canada card is the best travel credit card in Canada for earning a lot of points quickly!

It feels like American Express has designed this card specifically with millennials in mind.

If you spend money like the typical young person (a.k.a. ordering in and eating out a lot), you’ll be racking up the points and cashing in for free travel in no time!

Here is a breakdown of the points earning categories for the Amex Gold Canada card:

  • 2x points on groceries
  • 2x points on transit (including cabs, gas, and public transit passes)
  • 2x points on travel (including flights and hotels)
  • 1x points on all other spending

These points earning categories are really good and are in line with the Amex Platinum Canada earning categories.

Redeeming Points

One of the best parts of every American Express card in Canada is that MR points are extremely flexible.

You can transfer MR points to a number of different airline and hotel partners or book travel directly though the American Express Canada portal.

You get the most value for your points when you transfer them to partner points programs, but booking directly through the portal is easier and less time consuming.

What you choose to do with your hard-earned MR points is up to you, but I recommend transferring them to a hotel or airline partner to get the most bang for your points.

It takes a bit of time and research to figure out the best partner program to transfer your points to, but it is well worth the effort!

If you transfer your MR points to a partner program, I recommend transferring them to one of the following:

  • Aeroplan miles (potentially to be redeemed through their new partnership with Etihad for a pretty good rate)
  • Cathay Pacific (reasonable rates for business and first class travel to or from Asia from Western Canada or Western United States)
  • British Airways (perfect for short-haul flights in South America, Asia, and Europe)
  • Marriott (I like that the transfer ration is 2:3, which makes it easy to get free nights at Marriott properties)
Airplanes at Airport
Airline partner programs (alphabetical order)
AirlineTransfer RatioEstimated Transfer Time
Air Canada (Aeroplan Points)1000:100030 minutes
Alitalia (MilleMiglia)1000:7505 business days
British Airways (Avios)1000:1005 business days
Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles)1000:7505 business days
Delta (SkyMiles)1000:75030 minutes
Etihad (Etihad Guest Miles)1000:7503 business days
Hotel partner programs (alphabetical order)
HotelTransfer RatioEstimated Transfer Times
Hilton1000:10005 business days
Marriott2:35 business days

Annual Fee

The annual fee on the Amex Gold Canada is $120.

That is really reasonable and in line with most other travel credit cards in Canada!

Qualification Requirements

Unlike most travel credit cards in Canada, there isn’t a minimum income requirement to be eligible for this card!

This is just another reason to love this card and why it is one of the best travel credit cards in Canada!

American Express does generally require you to have a good credit score to be approved for their cards.

You’ll want a credit score over 650 for the best chance of being approved.

That being said, American Express knows this is an attractive card for young people, so you’re more likely to be approved for the American Express Cobalt card with a lower credit score than any other Amex card on this list.

Alternative

My alternative recommendation is the American Express Cobalt card.

The Amex Cobalt Canada card has a sign-up bonus of up to 30,000 MR Select points, which is really good!

The reason the Amex Cobalt Canada card didn’t win top spot is because MR Select points can only be transferred to hotel partner programs.

Regular MR points can be transferred to hotel and airline partners, and they are much more flexible.

Best Credit Card in Canada for Lounge Access: America Express Platinum

The Amex Platinum Canada is one of my favourite travel credit cards in Canada.

It is basically the highest end travel credit card that the average Canadian can access.

(You do know the ultra rich get exclusive credit cards right?!)

The American Express Platinum Canada has some of the best benefits out there, but it comes at a steep price.

I’ll talk more about the annual fee later in this section, but it is something you need to seriously take into consideration when applying for this card!

Highlights

There are so many benefits and highlights that come along with the Amex Platinum Canada.

It truly is one of the best travel credit cards in Canada and has a ton to offer users.

The top highlights include:

  • Complimentary Priority Pass unlimited airport lounge access plus lounge access for one guest
  • $200 credit to be applied towards travel expenses
  • Hotel status with popular companies like Marriott and Hilton
  • Access to priority lines at Toronto Pearson Airport
American Express Platinum Canada

Points

The points system is very similar to the American Express Cobalt Canada.

The redemption is the same, but the sign-up bonus and earning ratios are different.

Sign-Up Bonus

The sign-up bonus on the American Express Platinum Canada card is normally 50,000 MR points.

It does fluctuate a bit.

The highest it has been is 60,000 MR points and the lowest it has been is 25,000 MR points.

That bottom point is very rare and is in place during the 2020 pandemic. As soon as travel picks up again, I anticipate it will bounce back up to its normal 50,000 MR points or even higher!

The standard 50,000 MR points is a very generous sign-up bonus.

Between the sign-up bonus and the points you earn during the minimum spend of $5,000, you’ll have enough MR points for a one-way business class flight from Canada to Europe!

That’s really impressive, and it is hard to turn down such a nice sign-up bonus!

Earning Points

The American Express Platinum Canada earning categories aren’t as strong as the Amex Cobalt Canada card.

But they’re still pretty healthy!

You get:

  • 3x points on dining in Canada
  • 2x points on travel
  • 1x points on all other spending

But if you’re like me and don’t spend a ton of money on food inside Canada, then the Amex Platinum Canada card is a good option.

You can still rack up the points pretty quickly with this card.

Especially if you travel a lot, which is what the card is for!

Redeeming Points

You redeem the points you earn on your Amex Platinum Canada card exactly the same way you do with the Amex Cobalt Canada card.

I won’t go into detail on how to redeem MR points here since I covered it extensively in the “Best Overall” subheading, but I’ll cover the basics just in case you jumped here without reading the beginning of the post!

The best way to use MR points is to transfer them to partner airlines or hotels and redeem your points through that program.

This allows you to maximize the value you’re getting from each point and gives you an additional layer of flexibility that you don’t get when redeeming your points directly through the American Express portal.

Air Canada, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Marriott are the most common programs MR points are transferred into, and they often get you the most value for your points!

Woman waiting in airport

Annual Fee

The annual fee is very high on this card.

It is $699.

That is a lot of money, but you get a lot back in return for paying that high annual fee.

You get:

  • $200 annual travel credit (travel must be booked through American Express Travel Online to receive credit)
  • Complimentary priority pass (value of $429USD)
  • Ability to bring one guest to the lounge with you (value of $32USD per guest visit)
  • Hotel status with Hilton, Marriott, Radisson, and Shangri-La
  • Access to priority lines at Toronto Pearson Airport
  • Premium insurances and protects

If you’re someone like me who travels a lot and are in airports all the time, then the annual fee essentially pays for itself between the $200 travel credit, priority pass, and ability to bring one guest into the lounge with you.

The annual fee is basically zero once you deduct the $200 travel credit and $500+ ($429USD converted to CAD) that the priority pass costs.

For people that visit more than 10 airport lounges a year, paying the $699 annual fee is worthwhile because you’re getting more in benefits than you’re paying in fees.

However, if you’re a causal traveller who doesn’t spend a lot of time in airports and won’t use the priority pass that often, this isn’t the card for you.

You really need to do the math to figure out how often you’ll use the perks that come with the American Express Platinum Canada card to see if it is worth it for you and your travel style.

Because that is a lot of money to be dropping on an annual fee!

Qualification Requirements

This is a premium travel card, so you can expect that you have to have a proven credit history before you’re approved for this card!

You definitely need to have had a credit card for a few years and used it responsibly before you’re approved for the Amex Platinum Canada card.

America Express doesn’t list an exact credit score you need to be approved for this card, but you will have the best chance of being approved if your credit score is close to 700 or higher.

There are no income requirements in order to be eligible for the American Express Platinum Canada, which is a really nice feature!

As long as you have a good credit score, are a Canadian resident with a Canadian credit file, and are over the age of majority, you should be able to be approved for this card!

Alternative

The hefty annual fee deters a lot of people away from getting this card, and it is understandable.

You need to be an avid traveller and spend a lot of time in airport lounges in order for this card to be worthwhile.

If you’re not quite at the level where you want to be paying such a high annual fee, the American Express Gold Canada card is the best alternative.

The only thing the Amex Gold Canada doesn’t have is the complimentary priority pass and hotel status.

But those are things you can definitely live without!

Best Credit Card in Canada for Flexible Points: American Express Gold

You could easily argue that any of the American Express cards are the best travel credit cards in Canada for earning flexible points.

You earn MR points with all three of these credit cards, and MR points are just as valuable and flexible no matter what card you choose.

I think the American Express Gold Canada card is the best travel credit card in Canada to earn flexible points because it allows you to earn the points quickly and has a more affordable annual fee than the Amex Platinum Canada card.

You can’t go wrong with any American Express card that earns MR points though!

Highlights

You already know about the highlights of the Amex Cobalt Canada card seeing as they were discussed at length already.

But here is a quick recap of the card’s highlight features:

  • $120 annual fee
  • Earn 2x points on groceries, transportation, and travel
American Express Gold Canada

Points

We’re going to breeze through this section.

If you skipped down to this section, go back up to the “Best Overall” section for an in-depth explanation on the Amex Gold Canada points system.

Sign-Up Bonus

The sign-up bonus, as previously discussed, is 25,000 MR points that are awarded after you spend $1,500 in the first three months of holding the card.

Earning Points

You earn the following points with the Amex Gold Canada card:

  • 2x points on groceries
  • 2x points on transit including gas, public transportation passes, and taxis
  • 2x points on travel including flights and accommodations
  • 1x points on all other spending

Redeeming Points

You can either redeem your MR points directly through the American Express portal or by transferring your MR points to a partner airline or hotel program.

The best use of your points it transferring them to a partner program.

This gives you the best value per point and the most flexibility. If you’re lazy, then you still get a fairly decent value per point if you redeem them directly through American Express.

Kensington Palace, London

Qualification Requirements

American Express knows that this card is appealing to millennials and young people, so they made it very accessible.

You don’t need to meet a minimum income requirement to be approved for this card.

You simply need to be a Canadian resident with a Canadian credit file and be the age of majority in whatever province you’re living in.

The Amex Gold Canada card is one of the easiest American Express travel credit cards to get, but you still need a decent credit score to be approved.

You will have the best chance of being approved for this card if you have a credit score of at least 650.

That’s a really attainable credit score for young people who have a starter credit card and pay it off in full every month.

Alternative

The American Express Cobalt Canada and American Express Platinum Canada are both good alternatives to the Amex Gold Canada card.

They both allow you to earn those very flexible MR points.

I think the Amex Cobalt Canada is a better alternative because it has a lower annual fee and is more suitable for the average Canadian. The major downside is not being able to redeem your points for flights.

Best Credit Card for Aeroplan Points: American Express Aeroplan Card

Air Canada’s Aeroplan underwent a huge restructuring in November of 2020.

Everything in the program changed. From redemption price all the way to what credit card is the best for earning Aeroplan points.

If this were 2020 before the major changes to the Aeroplan program, the Amex Aeroplan card would not have been my top choice in this category.

But it became the clear winner after the Aeroplan update.

It has the best sign-up bonus and the lowest annual fee amongst the Aeroplan credit cards in Canada.

All of the new Aeroplan credit cards are among the best travel credit cards in Canada now, but the edge goes to ever so slightly to the Amex Aeroplan card.

Highlights

The American Express Aeroplan credit card is one of the best travel credit cards in Canada for people who love Air Canada and fly it frequently.

The changes to the Aeroplan program and associated credit cards are designed to be way more beneficial for guests than it was in the past.

It is easier than ever to collect and redeem Aeroplan points with the Amex Aeroplan card. The major highlights include:

  • 2x points on purchases directly through the Air Canada website
  • 2x points on eligible purchases through the Aeroplan website and partner shops
  • 1.5x points on dining and food delivery services in Canada
  • Free checked baggage for you and up to eight people on the same reservation
  • No blackout dates when redeeming miles
  • Receive a complimentary buddy pass after spending $1,500 in the first 3 days of card ownership
American Express Aeroplan Card

Points

You’re probably not surprised to learn that you only earn and redeem Aeroplan points with this card.

You can use your Aeroplan points to redeem flights on partner One World flights, but you don’t have the ability to transfer Aeroplan points to different point currencies like you can with other points on this list.

Sign-Up Bonus

The sign-up bonus allows you to earn up to 15,000 Aeroplan points and a complimentary buddy pass with the Amex Aeroplan credit card.

You earn 9,000 Aeroplan points and a buddy pass after spending $1,500 in the first three months of holding the card.

You also have the change to earn an extra 1,000 Aeroplan points every month you spend $500 or more on the card in the first six months.

That is an extra 6,000 Aeroplan points you have the chance to earn in the first six months on top of the 9,000 Aeroplan points you earn for spending $1,500 in the first three months.

In summary, the least you can earn from the sign-up bonus is 9,000 Aeroplan points and a buddy pass. The most you can earn is 15,000 Aeroplan points and a buddy pass.

The buddy pass is a new addition to the Aeroplan program. It is a feature of almost every Aeroplan credit card and isn’t unique to the American Express Aeroplan card.

It essentially allows you to book a second ticket for a friend or family member for an economy flight you paid full price for. You have to pay the fees and taxes on the buddy flight ticket, so it isn’t completely free for your companion to travel with you.

Essentially, you the cardholder purchase an economy fare, and you only pay the taxes and fees for the second person on your reservation to fly.

The buddy pass has to be used on a North American flight. Because of the excess taxes and fees to land at Canadian airports, it is the best bang for your buck to use it for a flight from Canada to the US and back.

That will result in the lowest price for your buddy to fly.

Earning Points

The American Express Aeroplan credit card has basically the same point earning ratios as every other Aeroplan credit card on the market.

There are no super high spending categories like the Amex Cobalt Canada has, but if you use it strategically, you can earn a fair amount of points.

Here are the earning ratios:

  • 2x points on purchases made through the Air Canada website (including gift cards)
  • 2x points on purchases made through the Aeroplan portal and with participating businesses. Many businesses have 5x points promotions on the Aeroplan portal, so you have the potential or earning even more points!
  • 1.5x points on food delivery services and restaurant purchases . This is the only category where the Amex Aeroplan card is different from the CIBC or TD Aeroplan credit cards. The CIBC and TD credit cards offer 1.5x back on gas and groceries.
  • 1 point on every other purchase

The best way to maximize your earnings it to (obviously) make every Air Canada flight, vacation, and gift card purchase with your Amex Aeroplan card.

Taking advantage of the 2x points by shopping through the Aeroplan portal is another great way to increase your earnings.

The Aeroplan shop features amazing partners like Apple, Sephora, Indigo, and so much more.

If you’re doing any online shopping, be sure to check if the store partners with Aeroplan before making a purchase!

Redeeming Points

Aeroplan made it significantly easier to redeem Aeroplan points. They made changes to their online redemption platform and made it easier to redeem points on partner airlines online rather than over the phone like it had to be done in the past.

Since you don’t have to worry about converting your Aeroplan points to another point currency, you can make your redemption within a few minutes on the website.

Make sure you review the redemption chart to ensure you have enough points for the trip you want to book!

After that, you simply search for your dates, class of service, and airline you want to fly, and book it!

Some airline partner aren’t bookable online yet, so you have to call Aeroplan to have a customer service representative help you make the reservation.

Most partner airlines are bookable online now thanks to the Aeroplan update, so you likely won’t have to call to book your flight.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Annual Fee

The annual fee for the American Express Aeroplan card is $120.

It is the lowest annual fee on an Aeroplan credit card (excluding the very basic CIBC card that has no annual fee but lacks any useful benefits).

Both CIBC and TD charge $139 for their comparable Aeroplan credit cards, so the Amex Aeroplan card is a pretty good deal in my books!

Qualification Requirements

American Express doesn’t like any specific qualification requirements for this card. It states:

  • You must be a Canadian resident with a Canadian credit file
  • The age of majority in your province

The Amex Aeroplan card isn’t a super premium credit card, so you’re likely to get approved with a lower credit score than you need to get the Amex Platinum Canada card.

I suggest having at least a 650 credit score before applying for this card.

Alternative

Both CIBC and TD offer very similar Aeroplan cards.

Their sign-up bonuses are 10,000 Aeroplan points and a buddy pass, and both annual fees are $139.

The earning categories are the same and so are the perks.

The major difference between CIBC and TD is the minimum spend. CIBC requires you to spend $3,000 in the first three months to receive your sign-up bonus. TD only requires you to spend $1,000 in the first 90 days to get your sign-up bonus.

That is a huge difference, and TD is the clear winner in this category.

If you don’t want the American Express Aeroplan credit card, the TD Aeroplan Visa is your next best choice!

Best Credit Card for Air Miles: BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard

Air Miles isn’t one of my favourite point currencies in Canada for travel.

There are often high fees and taxes on flight redemptions, and you have to start your trip in North America. I prefer to use my Air Miles for tickets and experiences rather than flights. I find it is better and easier to use my points on things like Universal Studios tickets rather than on a flight.

Air Miles is one of the most limiting travel points systems in Canada, but it is also one of the most popular.

A lot of Canadians are loyal to Air Miles, and if you’re one of them, the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard is the best Canadian travel credit card to get!

Honestly, this is one of my least favourite travel credit cards in Canada simply because I dislike the Air Miles program so much.

Highlights

BMO is the only big 5 bank in Canada to offer a dedicated Air Miles credit card in Canada.

One of the best things about the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard is that it is very straightforward and easy to use.

You don’t have to worry about converting points to different programs or any of the other more advanced techniques that come along with relying on American Express MR points or other travel credit cards in Canada.

A few of the highlights of the card include:

  • 1 Air Mile for every $10 spent
  • First year’s annual fee is waived
  • 15% discount on all Air Miles flights within North America
  • 15% to 20% off at select Cirque du Soleil shows
BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard

Points

Unsurprisingly, the only points you earn and redeem with this credit card is Air Miles.

There are no transfer programs, so it is easy to understand and use the points you earn.

Sign-Up Bonus

The sign-up bonus on the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard is 2,000 Air Miles when you spend $3,000 in the first three months of holding the card.

You can get a short-haul flight to a neighbouring province with the sign-up bonus, so it is pretty much in line with the majority of the other sign-up bonuses in Canada.

$3,000 is a lot to spend in three months, so make sure you know you have enough expenses coming up to cover the minimum spend!

Earning Points

You earn 1 Air Miles for every $10 you spend on the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard.

That is pretty good and is double the points you get if you have the no-fee BMO Air Miles Mastercard. You can rack up the points pretty quickly if you put the bulk of your spending on this card.

Additionally, Air Miles often runs promotions through the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard. You can often earn up to 10x the points at select partners (e.g. Shell) during a particular time frame.

Pay attention to these deals and take advantage of them!

My favourite way to earn Air Miles is through the Air Miles shop. You earn Air Miles on every purchase you make with a partner store, and you can earn points very quickly on purchases you would have made in any event.

You have to log into your Air Miles account and click on their link to the store so don’t skip that step! There are no points awarded if you don’t first log into your Air Miles account.

Just like with the BMO Mastercard, Air Miles often runs promotions through the Air Miles store. You can often earn 5x or 10x the points at any given time.

All in all, it is fairly easy to earn Air Miles points. It is straightforward and an easy points program for beginners to get the hang of before moving on to a more advance program if they choose.

Redeeming Points

Air Miles is the easiest travel point to redeem in Canada, and that is one of the reasons the program is so popular.

You simply log into your Air Miles account, select what you want to redeem your points for, and pay any taxes or fees associated with your purchase.

The only purchases that have taxes and fees are flights, hotels, car rentals, and vacation packages. If you purchase merchandise or tickets with your Air Miles, there is no additional tax charged. Shipping is also free, so that is a huge bonus!

Student Travel Hacking

Annual Fee

There is a $120 annual fee on the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard.

It is waived in the first year, which is a huge plus! You can try the card for a year, see if you like it, and downgrade it to a no-fee card if it isn’t the right fit for you.

Qualifications

BMO has some very high minimum requirements to get this card. In my opinion, they are a little too particular about who gets the card, and a lot of people are excluded because of the high minimums.

They require:

  • $80,000 personal income OR $150,000 household income

This eliminates a lot of people from being able to apply for this card, and it is fairly elitist.

I don’t think the perks of this card warrant an $80,000 minimum income. Most comparable cards require a $60,000 minimum income, which is a lot more achievable (but still excludes a lot of people).

I hope they make this card more accessible, but it doesn’t seem likely.

Alternative

The best alternative to the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard is the American Express Air Miles Platinum credit card.

You receive 3,000 Air Miles as a sign-up bonus if you spend $1,500 in the first three months of having the card. On top of that, you earn 1 Air Mile for every $5 spent on eligible food, gas, and transportation purchases.

You earn 1 Air Mile for every $10 spent on every other purchase.

The reason the Amex Air Miles Platinum card isn’t the top card in this category is simply down to the fact that there are many other American Express cards winning spots on this list.

Not every merchant accepts American Express, so it is good to have at least one Mastercard or Visa in your wallet at all times.

There are better and more useful American Express cards that I would prioritize over the American Express Air Miles Platinum card.

The Amex Cobalt, Amex Gold, and Amex Platinum are all superior to the Amex Air Miles Platinum card.

If you only have room for one American Express card in your wallet, it should not be the American Express Air Miles Platinum.

Best Canadian Credit Card for Hotels: Marriott Bonvoy American Express

There is no better hotel credit card in Canada than the Marriott Bonvoy American Express.

It has the best features, the best earning rate, and the most redemption properties to choose from.

Highlights

There is lots to love about the Marriott Bonvoy Amex card. Some of the highlights include:

  • Earn 5 points for every dollar spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • Receive a free night’s stay at a category 3 hotel every year you hold the card
  • Given complimentary silver elite status (and all the perks that come with it) and 15 night’s towards earning gold elite status (25 nights needed to received gold elite benefits)
  • No extra charge for additional card holders
Marriott Bonvoy American Express Canada

Points

You earn and redeem Marriott Bonvoy loyalty points (not a terribly unique name, eh) with this card.

They can be used to get free stays at Marriott Bonvoy hotels all around the world. Marriott Bonvoy hotels are nice. They are out of a lot of people’s price range (especially young world explorers), so it is nice to be able to redeem points for a free stay.

Sign-Up Bonus

The signed up bonus on the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Canada card is 50,000 points.

This is enough for a complimentary three-night stay at a category two hotel. Category two is the second lowest category of hotel, so it isn’t the fanciest place around.

But is isn’t a slum either!

This is a very generous sign-up bonus, and I highly recommend every travel enthusiast sign up for the Marriott Bonvoy Amex.

It is without a doubt one of the best Canadian travel credit cards!

You have to spend $1,500 on the card in the first three months in order to receive the sign-up bonus.

This is a pretty doable minimum spend to meet- especially if you apply as you’re planning a trip and book a portion of your travel on the card!

Earning Points

The earning rate on the Marriott Bonvoy Amex Canada is pretty generous!

You earn 5 points for every $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. This includes things like dining, upgrades, and spa treatments in addition to the base fare you pay to stay at the hotel.

Outside of Marriott Bonvoy hotels, you earn 2 points for every $1 spent on every other purchase.

The points add up quickly!

Redeeming Points

Redeeming Marriott Bonvoy loyalty points is super easy!

You simply log into your Marriott Bonvoy account, search for whatever city you want to book a hotel in, and select the box that says “use points”.

Your search will show the total number of points needed to redeem for the stay, and you go from there.

It is really that easy!

You can also transfer your Marriott Bonvoy loyalty points to other programs, but you don’t get a very good deal.

I wouldn’t recommend transferring your Bonvoy points to other loyalty programs!

The points transfer at a 3 to 1 ratio, and there are over 40 partner airline programs you can transfer to. There are so many that I’m not going to list them all here!

Essentially, for every 3 Marriott Bonvoy loyalty points you have, you get 1 airline point.

I told you it wasn’t a very good deal!

Luxury overwater bungalow

Annual Fee

The annual fee is $120.

Every year on your anniversary, you get a free night certificate for a stay at a category three hotel!

When you take into consideration the free night certificate, you aren’t really paying anything out-of-pocket to hold the Marriott Bonvoy Amex Canada card.

The average category three hotel is more than $120 per night, so you’re making up the annual fee by not having to pay for one night in a hotel.

My favourite way of using the free night certificate is at an airport hotel. They’re always overpriced, and you tend to get a bigger bang for your free night certificate if you can find a category three hotel at an airport.

Qualifications

Just like every other American Express Canada card on this list, you need to have a Canadian credit file, be a Canadian resident, and be the age of majority of the province you live in.

Easy peasy!

I recommend having at least a 650 credit score before applying for this credit card, but American Express doesn’t list a specific credit score you need to be approved.

Alternative

The only other hotel credit card in Canada is the MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard.

It is disappointing Canada only has two hotel credit cards, but the MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard is a pretty good alternative to the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Canada card.

You receive a sign-up bonus of 20,000 Best Western rewards after your first purchase! That’s enough for a free night’s stay, and all you have to do is put a small purchase (like a coffee) on the card to earn it!

There is no annual fee on this card, so that is a huge plus!

Best No Foreign Transaction Fee Card: HSBC World Elite Mastercard

One of my biggest pet peeves about Canadian travel credit cards the majority of them charge you a 2.5% foreign transaction fee on top the standard currency conversion fee.

That means anytime you make a purchase in a currency other than Canadian dollars, you’re charged an extra 2.5%.

Yup. You read that right!

It is an absolute scam, and I hate it immensely. A lot of travel credit cards in the US waive the standard 2.5%, but we aren’t so lucky in Canada.

America Express doesn’t charge the foreign transaction fee on their US cards but does on their Canadian cards. It is infuriating, but there isn’t really anything we can do about it as consumers.

There are a very few travel credit cards in Canada that don’t charge the 2.5% foreign transaction fee, and you consider having one of those cards in your wallet!

The best no-foreign transaction fee credit card in Canada is without a doubt the HSBC World Elite Mastercard.

It has the best points, the best earning ratio, and the best extra perks.

Highlights

There are so many great features in this card that it is difficult to pick the top ones to highlight!

Here are a few of the top highlights of the HSBC World Elite Mastercard:

  • 20,000 HSBC Rewards points (but they often run promotions where the bonus is elevated!)
  • $100 travel enhancement credit to put towards seat selections, checked luggage, hotel upgrades, or anything else that enhances your travel experience
  • First year’s annual fee is rebated
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Ability to transfer HSBC reward points to airline partners
HSBC World Elite Mastercard

Points

You earn HSBC rewards points with this credit card.

They are one of the better stand-alone points programs in Canada. It is easy to redeem your HSBC rewards points, and they can be used in a variety of different ways.

Sign-Up Bonus

The standard sign-up bonus on the HSBC World Elite Mastercard is 20,000 HSBC Rewards points.

But!

They often run promotions where the sign-up offer is elevated, so you should wait until one of those promotions to earn even more rewards!

You earn those 20,000 HSBC Rewards points after making your first purchase!

The sign-up bonus varies widely on this card throughout the year. HSBC is known to run promotions on a regular basis, so you can end up getting a ton of sign-up points.

When I signed up for mine, I received 100,000 HSBC rewards, and that isn’t uncommon.

If you’re looking to add this card to your wallet, make sure you wait until this is an elevated sign-up bonus offer!

Earning Points

The best way to earn points with the HSBC World Elite Mastercard is by purchasing travel-related expenses with the card.

You earn 6 HSBC reward points for every $1 spent on travel and 3 HSBC reward points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

It is surprisingly easy to earn points on this card, but it does take a decent amount of points to redeem for anything of substance.

You need at least 25,000 HSBC rewards point before you start being able to redeem for good travel experiences or to transfer points to a partner program.

Redeeming Points

The HSBC interface is very user friendly, and they make it very easy to redeem your HSBC reward points.

The easiest way to redeem your points is to book travel with any airline, hotel, car rental, etc. provider you want and redeem your HSBC rewards after the charge shows up on your credit card account.

You have to log into the HSBC portal within 60 days of making your purchase and choose the travel expenses you want to use your points to off-set.

200 HSBC rewards points is equal to $1, so you can easily do the math to see how much of your travel costs you can offset with your points.

The better way of redeeming your HSBC rewards is to transfer them to a partner airline program.

HSBC partners with British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Singapore Airlines, and you can transfer your HSBC rewards to these partner airline programs. The transfer rates are as follows:

HSBC Rewards British Airways AviosSingapore Airlines KrisFlyer MilesCathay Pacific Asia Miles
25,00010,0009,0008,000

This means for every 25,000 HSBC rewards you have, you can covert it to 10,000 Avios, 9,000 KrisFlyer Miles, or 8,000 Asia Miles.

In addition to the base transfer rates, HSBC often runs promotions where you can get 35% to 50% bonus miles in the transfer.

It is best to wait until one of these transfer promotions to get the most value for your points!

My favourite program to transfer HSBC rewards to is the British Airways Avios program. I like using them for expensive short-haul flights that I don’t want to pay out-of-pocket for!

Solo Female Travel

Qualifications

The qualifications on this card are a bit hefty. A lot of people are excluded from getting this card because of the high minimum income requirement, and it is a bit frustrating.

I really don’t like how elitist and exclusionary a lot of travel credit cards in Canada are, but, again, there isn’t really much we can do about it as a consumer.

The minimum income requirements on the HSBC World Elite Mastercard are:

  • $80,000 personal income OR
  • $150,000 household income OR
  • $400,000 in assets under management (a.k.a. liquid assets under management at a Canadian financial institution- so you’re house doesn’t count)

In addition to the minimum income requirements, you have to be the age of majority in the province you live in.

HSBC doesn’t publicize what credit score you need to be approved, but they can be quite picky. It is best to have over a 650 credit score if you’re interested in applying for this credit card.

Alternative

The best alternative to the HSBC World Elite Mastercard is the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite.

It is the only other major credit card company in Canada to offer a decent no foreign transaction fee credit card.

The major downside to the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite is the points kinda suck. They can’t be transferred to partner airline programs, you don’t earn them very quickly, and they don’t have as much value per point as HSBC rewards points.

But if for some reason you’re not interested in doing business with HSBC, the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite is a good alternative.

I’ve had both the HSBC World Elite Mastercard and the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite and can say with confidence that the HSBC card is head and shoulders above the Scotiabank card.

Best No Fee Travel Credit Card in Canada: MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard

This may be a controversial pick, but I think the MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard is the best no-fee travel credit card in Canada.

It has the best sign-up bonus, you earn points quickly, and the points are useful and easy to redeem.

Highlights

Outside of the fact that it costs you nothing out-of-pocket to hold this card, there are a number of additional perks that come along with the MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard.

The major highlights include:

  • You receive 20,000 Best Western rewards after your first purchase
  • Automatically receive gold status and unlock all the benefits that come along with it
  • Save 5% to 10% off car rentals booked through Avis or Budget car rentals
  • Solid insurances and protects for a no-fee credit card
MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard

Points

Not so surprisingly, you earn and redeem Best Western rewards with this credit card.

You can’t transfer them to any partner program, and your points can only be redeemed at Best Western properties.

Best Western kind of gets a bad wrap, but I think they’re pretty good budget-friendly hotels. They’re always clean, have great service, and the beds are comfortable.

Nothing to complain about in my books!

Sign-Up Bonus

The MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard has one of the most generous sign-up bonuses on a no-fee credit card in Canada.

You received 20,000 Best Western rewards after your first eligible purchase. This could be anything from a cup of coffee to a stay at a Best Western property.

Petty much any purchase you make with this card unlocks the sign-up bonus! No minimum spend required!

Love that in a card!

Earning Points

The earning ratio on the MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard is pretty good- especially since it is a no-fee credit card.

No-fee credit cards normally have terrible earning ratios, but that isn’t the case with this card!

You earn 5 points for every $1 spent at Best Western properties and 1 point for every other $1 spent.

Clearly, the best and quickest way to earn points with this card is to use it to book stays at Best Western properties.

You won’t earn points all that quickly if you use it for your everyday spending, so you probably want to use a different credit card in those situations.

But, overall, you can’t complain about earning 5 points per $1 spent at Best Western properties.

That is in line with the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Canada card that has an annual fee.

Redeeming Points

Best Western makes it really easy to redeem your points.

You simply log into your Best Western account, search for the dates and property you want to stay at, click “pay with points”, and the dashboard will show you the total points required for your stay.

It can’t get any easier than that!

You also have the option of redeeming your Best Western rewards points for dining gift cards, but I don’t recommend you doing that.

You don’t receive as much benefit from your points, and you get more bang for your points by redeeming for hotel stays.

Hotel Room

Annual Fee

Since this is a no-fee credit card, you’ve probably already figured out that the annual fee on this card is $0.

Not really a suprise!

In addition to the primary card holder not paying an annual fee, you can add up to 9 authorized users to the card at no additional charge.

I’m not sure why you would want to give 9 other people access to this card, but, hey, maybe you have a lot of kids. I don’t judge!

Qualifications

The only qualifications required to get the MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard is be a resident of Canada and the age of majority in the province you live in.

There is no minimum income requirement, so anybody and everybody can apply for this card!

MBNA has what is known as the 5/24 rule. If you’ve applied for 5 credit cards in the past 24 months, they don’t approve you no matter how good your credit score is.

You need to keep this in mind when applying for any MBNA credit card and plan strategically when applying for one of their cards.

MBNA is quite accepting of product transfers and splitting credit, so there are ways around the 5/24 rule, but you need to get your first MBNA credit card before you can take advantage of these other roundabout ways of getting a credit card from them.

Alternative

My top no-fee alternative is the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card.

You receive 10,000 Aeroplan points after your first purchase, which is really generous of them!

The reason this isn’t my top no-fee credit card is because it has really bad earning ratios, and it is difficult to rack up the points with this card.

My other gripe with the card is you don’t get free checked bags on Air Canada flights. Nearly every other Aeroplan credit card offers this feature, so it is pretty disappointing this card doesn’t offer that as well.

One last thing to note about the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card is that you have to have a minimum household income of $15,000.

That’s pretty attainable for the majority of Canadians, but it certainly does exclude some people. I don’t like that a no-fee credit card has a minimum income limit, and I think it is in bad taste for CIBC to have it on this card.

Best Card for Travel in North America: RBC Westjet World Elite Mastercard

This is one of my all-time favourite travel credit cards in Canada. In fact, it was the very first travel credit card I ever got.

Maybe I’m a bit nostalgic, but the RBC Westjet World Elite Mastercard is my top pick for travel in North America.

It is also the perfect Canadian travel credit card for beginners. The points system is the easiest to understand and use, so it is a great introduction into what can be the very complicated world of travel hacking in Canada.

Highlights

The RBC Westjet World Elite Mastercard comes with a number of great benefits, and they are the reason I love this card so much. The highlights include:

  • Free companion voucher every year
  • Free first checked bag for the primary card hold and up to 8 other guests booked on the same reservation
  • 2% back in Westjet dollars for every $1 you spend on Westjet flights and vacation packages
RBC Westjet World Elite Mastercard

Points

The points are very easy to understand.

You only earn and redeem in Westjet dollars.

They can’t be transferred to other programs, and they have a fixed value. 1 Westjet dollar is equal to 1 Canadian dollar.

No trying to figure out the best route to use them on or need to perform mathematical calculations to get the most bang for your points.

It can be fun to try to get the most value out of your points, but it is also really nice to not have to deal with it and have an easy redemption program like the one at Westjet.

Sign-Up Bonus

You receive 250 Westjet dollars after making your first purchase on the card!

It can be anything no matter how big or small. I love that RBC doesn’t have a minimum spend requirement to get the sign-up bonus. It makes it incredibly easy to earn the sign-up bonus without having to worry about juggling your finances to make sure you hit the minimum spend.

Companion fare

In addition to the 250 Westjet dollars, you also get a companion fare.

The companion fare allows you to have a second person join you on a trip for a lower price. You have to be on the same reservation, so your companion is joining you on a vacation the two of you are taking together.

The price you pay with the companion fare is:

  • $199 (plus fees and taxes) on flights within Canada and the continental USA
  • $399 (plus fees and taxes) on all other Westjet flights

The best way to use the companion fare (in my opinion) is on a round-trip flight from Canada to the continental USA. You get the most bang for your buck and pay less in fees and taxes compared to Canada.

Canada has outrageous airport taxes and fees, and it often adds up to 45% to 50% of the ticket price. That wouldn’t be so bad if you just paid the taxes and fees based on the price of the companion voucher you’re redeeming.

But you have to pay taxes on the price of the ticket as if you were paying out-of-pocket for it.

Having to pay high fees and taxes can render your companion voucher useless.

The US isn’t void of taxes and fees, but a lot of American airports have significantly lower taxes and fees than Canadian airports. It varies from airport to airport, but you can normally find some good deals and avoid paying a lot of taxes and fees.

For example, I used my companion voucher to fly round-trip from Edmonton to Orland (yay Disney World!) in 2019. The taxes and fees were only $50 total!

It was an extremely good route to redeem my companion voucher on. It saved me hundred of dollars, and the taxes and fees barely made a difference in the price!

Earning Points

You earn 2% back in Westjet dollars for every $1 you spend on the Westjet website. This includes vacation packages, flights, and seat upgrades.

You earn 1% back in Westjet dollars for every $1 you spend on every other purchase.

The earning ratio could be better. It is definitely the weak point of the RBC Westjet World Elite Mastercard, but you can still accumulate points fairly quickly if you use it strategically.

RBC sometimes runs promotions where you earn extra rewards by making purchases in certain categories (like food or gas). Take advantage of these! They’re the quickest way to earn points.

Redeeming Points

Westjet might have the easiest system to redeeming points.

You simply search for a flight like you normally would, and at checkout you can choose to pay with Westjet dollars.

You don’t have to pay for the whole fare with Westjet dollars, so it is very flexible!

If you only have 50 Westjet dollars, you can apply them to your fare and pay the rest with Canadian dollars.

So easy. So simple.

Sky Needle, Seattle

Annual Fee

The annual fee on the RBC Westjet World Elite Mastercard is $119.

Of all the premium travel credit cards in Canada, this is the second lowest annual fee!

Unfortunately, RBC doesn’t waive the annual fee in the first year, but the benefits of the card outweigh the annual fee in my opinion.

Qualifications

This is another Canadian travel credit card that has a really high minimum income requirement and excludes a lot of people because of it.

You need:

  • $80,000 personal income OR
  • $150,00- household income

In addition to the minimum income requirements, the standard requirements of being a Canadian resident and the age of majority in your province apply.

RBC doesn’t list a specific credit score required, but, since it is a premium travel credit card, you should have at least a 650 before applying.

The higher the better!

Alternative

If you’re not a fan of Westjet and prefer to fly Air Canada in North America, the America Express Aeroplan card is the best alternative.

You easily and quickly earn Aeroplan points that can be redeemed easily for any class of service on Air Canada flights.

We already discussed this card extensively, so please refer to the best Aeroplan credit card section of this post if you want to learn more about the card!

Best Canadian Travel Credit Card for Travel to Asia: MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard

MBNA is one of the most underrated credit card issuers in Canada. They have two of the best travel credit cards in Canada and shouldn’t be overlooked!

My favourite MBNA credit card is the Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard.

This may sound like an odd pick for the best Canadian travel card for travel to Asia, but hear me out!

Alaska Airlines has some of the best sweet spot redemptions for travel from Western Canada to Asia.

The points required to travel to Asia are super low and one of the best travel redemptions we have in Canada.

A note of caution: the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard is only effective for people living in Western Canada where Alaska Airlines operates out of. If you live in Eastern Canada, Aeroplan points or Avios miles are probably a better points currency to travel to Asia on.

Highlights

The MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard comes with a host of benefits in addition to the great redemption program.

The redemption program is by far the star of the show, but the added perks are very much welcome!

The highlights include:

  • 30,000 Alaska Airlines miles as a sign-up bonus
  • Complimentary companion fare
  • Ability to have a stop-over when booking a one-way flight
  • Complimentary checked baggage for you and up to six guests booked on the same reservation
MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard

Points

You earn and redeem Alaska Airlines miles with this credit card.

There isn’t the option to transfer them to a partner program, but you can easily redeem your Alaska Airlines miles for flights on dozens of partner airlines at a very reasonable rate.

Sign-Up Bonus

The sign-up bonus on this card is pretty generous.

You receive 30,000 Alaska Airlines miles after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days of holding the card. In addition, you receive a complimentary companion fare that can be used on any Alaska Airlines operated flight.

Basically, any flight within North America that is operated by Alaska Airlines.

I like the Alaska Airlines companion fare more than the Westjet companion fare and the Air Canada buddy pass.

The Alaska Airlines companion fare includes taxes and fees, so you know the total cost of your companion’s flight no matter what the ticketed price is!

It is an amazing feature, and I appreciate it so much.

The companion fare costs $121USD no matter what flight you use it on!

This is fantastic for Canadians. Alaska Airlines flies to quite a few US destinations that are normally fairly expensive to fly into. You seriously cut down on flight costs with the companion fare!

Earning Points

The earning ratio on the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard leave a bit to be desired. The earnings are pretty good if you purchase Alaska Airlines flights, but the everyday earning ratios are terrible.

You earn 5 points for every dollar spent through the Alaska Airlines website and 1 point per dollar spent on every other purchase.

This is not the card you want to use for your everyday spending outside of spending enough to get the sign-up bonus. There are much better cards for everyday spending on the market.

Where this card shines is the sign-up bonus and the 5x points on Alaska Airline purchases.

The sign-up bonus alone is worth getting the card for. When I have this card in my wallet, I meet the minimum spend to get the bonus points and then never touch it again unless I’m booking an Alaska Airlines flight.

Redeeming Points

Alaska Airlines makes it very easy to redeem points for flights.

You simply search for the route and class of service you want to redeem your points for, and they provide you with a list of options. The list includes different airline providers, and each airline provider requires a different amount of points for redemption.

There are a very few airlines (like Cathay Pacific) where you have to call to book your flight, but they are increasingly becoming more and more rare as Alaska Airlines updates their website and partnerships.

Luggage and passport

Annual Fee

The annual fee on the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard is $99.

There is no first year fee waiver, unfortunately, but there is still a way you can reduce the cost!

You can (and should) use the Great Canadian Rebates link to apply for the MBNA Alaska Airlines credit card. They offer a rebate of $50 if you are approved for the card!

It takes a minimum of 56 days to receive your refund, but, in my experience, it takes significantly longer than that and can be up to six months before the $50 credit appears.

Qualifications

This is another card that has a high minimum income requirement. Too high for my liking. You need:

  • $80,000 personal income OR
  • $150,000 household income

You also need to be the age of majority in your province, be a Canadian resident, and have a strong credit score. I suggest having at least 675 credit score before applying.

Additionally, just like the Best Western rewards credit card, MBNA applies the 5/24 rule.

You will not be approved for this credit card if you have applied for 5 or more credit cards in the past 24 months.

Keep that in mind and plan strategically when travel hacking in Canada!

Alternative

My pick for an alternative Canadian travel credit card that will get you to Asia is the American Express Gold.

It is without a doubt one of the best all around travel credit cards in Canada as you can tell by how many times it makes an apperance on this list!

I like the Amex Gold Canada card as an Asia alternative because of the vast array of travel partners.

You can shop around and see how to best apply your points to get the best redemption rate for your trip to Asia.

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, British Airways Avios, and Air Canada Aeroplan are the three transfer partners I would look at for booking a trip from Canada to Asia.

Best Canadian Travel Credit Card for Europe Trips: American Express Gold Canada

See I told you I love this card and think it is one of the top travel credit cards in Canada!

It is so versatile and MR points can be used in so many ways.

The reason the American Express Gold Canada card won out over an Aeroplan card for the best Canadian travel credit card for European travel is because of the transfer partners.

Transferring your MR points to Aeroplan points or British Airways Avios is your best option depending on how long and expensive your flight is.

Highlights

We’ve already covered this card extensively, so I’m going to power through the remaining categories. The highlights of this card include:

  • A low(ish) annual fee
  • Up to 25,000 MR points as a sign-up bonus
  • 2x points on travel, transportation, and groceries
American Express Gold Canada

Points

As with all American Express Canada cards, you earn MR points.

There are plenty of transfer partners you can convert your MR points to, and that is the beauty of the sytem.

A list of the transfer partners can be found in the best overall travel credit card in Canada section of this post.

Sign-Up Bonus

You earn up to 25,000 MR points as the sign-up bonus.

You have to spend $1,500 on the card in the first three months of holding it to receive the sign-up bonus.

Earning Points

The points earning ratios on the Amex Gold Canada card are outstanding. Some of the best points earning ratios for any Canadian travel credit card- especially in the food department!

You earn:

  • 2 points for every $1 spent at eligible grocery purchases in Canada
  • 2 points for every $1 spent on gas and transportation
  • 2 points for every $1 spent on travel
  • 1 point for every $1 spent on other purchases

Redeeming Points

We covered the MR point redemption process extensively in the first section of this post. If you need a more in depth discussion on how to redeem MR points, please refer to the best overall travel credit card in Canada portion of this article.

Essentially, the best way to redeem MR points is to transfer them to a partner airline or hotel partner.

It is super easy to transfer points from your MR dashboard. You need a minimum of 1,000 MR points to transfer them to another program, and sometimes it can take multiple days for the points to show up in the points bank of the program you transferred them to.

Hong Kong

Annual Fee

The annual fee on the American Express Gold card is $120.

Qualifications

You need to be a Canadian resident, have a Canadian credit file, and be the age of majority in your home province to be eligible for this card.

American Express does not have a minimum income requirement, so that is a huge win in my books!

I do recommend you have a pretty good credit score (about 650) before applying for this card.

Alternative

The best alternative for travel to Europe is the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite.

You earn up to 50,000 British Airways Avios as a sign-up bonus, but most people don’t renew the card to get the additional 10,000 British Airways Avios miles. Most people will only get 40,000 Avios with this credit card.

Avios are perfect for travel to Europe if you live in Eastern Canada.

You can get a round-trip flight from Toronto or Montreal to London to Dublin for only 26,000 Avios!

It is an incredible value for your points and a great alternative to the Amex Gold Canada card.

Best Canadian Travel Credit Card for Students: CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card for Students

Getting into the travel hacking game as early as possible will help you build your travel hacking skills and help you build up your point banks.

There aren’t many travel credit cards in Canada for students, so there aren’t that many options to choose from.

But, without a doubt, the best Canadian travel credit card for students is the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card for Students.

If you’re a student looking to cut down on the cost of your summer away from school, there is no better credit card!

Highlights

The top highlight of the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card for Students is the sign-up bonus.

The earning ratios and lack of complimentary checked baggage is a dark spot on this credit card, but it is the best option out there.

Highlights of this card include:

  • 10,000 Aeroplan points as a sign-up bonus
  • No annual fee or minimum income requirements
CICB Aeroplan Visa Card for Students

Points

Unsurprisingly, you earn and redeem Aeroplan points with this credit card.

Aeroplan points are a great way to get started in the travel hacking game in Canada, and the sign-up bonus is enough for a flight within North America.

Sign-Up Bonus

You earn 10,000 Aeroplan points after your first eligible purchase.

There is no minimum spend required, so you can buy a coffee and get the 10,000 Aeroplan points!

Earning Points

This where the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card for Students falls shorts.

The earning ratios on this card are laughable, and CIBC should have done a better job.

You earn:

  • 1 point for every $1 spent on gas, groceries, and Air Canada website
  • 1 point for every $1.50 spent on every other purchase
  • 2x points when buying from a partner retailer through the Aeroplan shop

With such low earning ratios, it is difficult to earn enough points for a intercontinental flight.

Redeeming Points

You redeem your Aeroplan points through the Air Canada website.

It is very easy to do, and with the new Aeroplan program, there are no blackout flights, so you can fly whenever suits your schedule!

Couple Travelling Together

Annual Fee

There is no annual fee for this credit card!

Qualifications

You have to be the age of majority in the province you live in, be a Canadian resident, and attending a post-secondary institution in order to be eligible for this card.

There isn’t a minimum income required, and you can apply with nearly any credit score and still be approved.

CIBC knows that most students don’t have a strong credit score because they are young and just building up their credit file. For this reason, your credit limit on the card will probably only be $1,000.

CIBC doesn’t want to extend a lot of credit to an unproven person, but you can ask for an increase once you’ve built trust and payed off your balance in full multiple months in a row.

Alternative

The best travel credit card alternative for students is the Student- BMO Air Miles Mastercard.

You earn 1 Air Mile for every $25 you put on the card, so you can rack up the points pretty quickly- especially if you pay your tuition with the card.

You also earn 3x the points if you purchase from partner retailers through the Air Miles online store or in person.

Overall, this is a good option if you want to collect Air Miles rather that Aeroplan points. The flat earning ratio is nice, and getting 3x the points at Air Miles partners really adds up quickly.

Conclusion

Whew! We finally made it to the end of the post. You deserve a pat on the back for making it this far!

There are a lot of great travel credit cards in Canada. They aren’t nearly as many as in the US, but every year there seems to be more and more good Canadian travel credit cards popping up.

Every travel credit card on this list is tried and true and will get you closer to your travel goals.

Whether you want to fly for free or get free hotel stays, travel credit cards in Canada are the way to meet those goals.

They are the fastest way to earn points, and in a lot of cases, you earn a free flight in the sign-up bonus alone.

Many travel credit cards in Canada allow you to reapply for the same card 6-12 months after you last held the card.

Strategically applying and reapplying for the Canadian travel credit cards on this list will make you an expert travel hacker in no time.

Please don’t abuse the system though!

Play within the rules set by the credit card companies, don’t manufacture spend, and don’t purposefully cheat the system.

We all want to enjoy the benefits of the travel credit cards in Canada on this list, and the only way we can is if we all play by the rules.

It only takes a few bad apples for the rules to get changed, and we all suffer because of that.

But taking advantage of the generous rules travel credit cards in Canada have is the perfect way to see the world without breaking the bank.

There is hardly a better feeling than walking onto a plane or into a hotel room and knowing you didn’t pay a dime for it!