I certainly hadn’t heard of it before I got into the travel hacking game!
The MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard really only benefits people living in Western Canada. For Western Canadians, the MBNA Alaska Mastercard is the best travel card in Canada for inexpensive reward flights to Asia. Alaska Airlines has a sweet spot from Western Canada to Asia you can take advantage of, and the trip costs you far fewer points than on any other airline. The MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard is a secret tool that makes travel to Asia more accessible than ever!
The MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard comes with other benefits like a 30,000 points sign-up bonus, a companion fare, and free checked luggage that only sweeten the deal.
It is a more advanced travel credit card, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be reaping the rewards in no time!
The MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard is one of the first travel credit cards I got, and I love it.
It isn’t for everybody, but if you’re a Western Canadian looking to travel to Asia or Western United States, this is a great option for you!
I have to admit that I’ve flown Alaska Airlines a number of times and think they are an underrated carrier in North America. I’ve always had good service, and the staff are so kind!
The MBNA Alaska Airlines Mastercard has similar benefits to the RBC Westjet World Elite Mastercard.
Just like the RBC Westjet Mastercard, it lacks a little bit in the points earning categories.
But it makes up for it with the other benefits offered with the card.
Some of the top highlights of the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard are:
30,000 Alaska Airlines miles sign-up bonus
Free first checked bag for you and up to 6 guests on the same reservation
Complimentary “world famous” companion fare awarded each year you hold the card
3 miles for every $1 spent at Alaska Airlines
1 mile for every $1 spent on every other purchase
Pros and Cons of the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard
Great redemption price for flights to and from Asia
Free checked luggage and companion fare
Decent points earning on Alaska Airlines purchases
Points most beneficial to people living in Western Canada
Very high minimum income requirement
Bad points earning on non-Alaska Airlines purchases
You earn Alaska Airlines miles with the MBNA Alaska Mastercard.
The best part about Alaska Airlines miles that they can be used to book on a plethora of partner airlines. The redemption rate for partner airline flights are significantly lower than you will find with other programs.
You get a ton of benefit out of Alaska Airlines miles, and you get a pretty high value per mile when you book with a partner airline.
Unlike some other credit card points, you don’t transfer your Alaska Airlines miles to partner programs.
Instead you go through the Alaska Airlines portal and redeem your miles on partner airlines directly through Alaska Airlines.
It eliminates that pesky middle step of transferring points from one program to another, which is sometimes a headache.
Redeeming Alaska Airlines miles is very easy and most redemptions can be done via the Alaska Airlines website.
There are a few exceptions where you have to call to redeem points, but they are few and far between.
Alaska Airlines is one of the few airlines that still allows one-way stopovers, and you need to call them to book a trip with a stopover.
Speaking of stopovers, the offering of a one-way stopover is one of the best features of the Alaska Airlines program!
You have the option to book a one-way flight with a stopover in a city for up to 364 days. This means you can fly from North America to Hong Kong, spend a few weeks or months in Asia, and then continue your booking and fly from Hong Kong to Dubai, South America, or Israel.
All for one low, low price!
The redemption process outside of booking a stopover on a one-way flight is very easy. As I said above, most of your bookings can easily be done alone through the Alaska Airlines website!
You simply sign into your Alaska Airlines account, go to the redeem points section, and search for the flight you want.
Once you select your flight, you book it as you would book any normal flight. The only difference is you use your points to pay rather than fiat money.
There may be some taxes and fees to pay on top of your point redemption, but they will be negligible.
The entire process is seamless, and it is nice to have everything on the Alaska Airlines portal and not have to worry about transferring points to a different program.
Best Way to Redeem Alaska Airlines Miles
The Alaska Airlines miles program has two sweet spots where you get a really high value per point:
Flying any class of service from Western North America to Asia
Flying economy from Western Canada to Western United States destinations
One-way economy flights from Vancouver to Asia start at just 35,000 Alaska Airlines miles and business class flights start at just 50,000!
That’s a very good redemption price. One of the best in the industry by far!
One-way flights from Canada to the US start at just 5,000 miles!
I highly recommend you use your Alaska Airlines miles to redeem for travel to either Asia or the US. It is by far the best value per point and some of the best value in the entire industry!
That being said, it is always better to use your points for something than to let them gather dust.
You lose your miles if there is no activity in your account for two years. That means if you don’t earn or spend miles for two years, you lose them all!
Don’t let that happen!
A lot of times people in the travel hacking game try to squeeze the very most value out of every single point and end up not using their points because they haven’t found the perfect value for them yet.
Don’t be that person!
Find the best way to use your miles that compliments your travel style and needs.
Don’t go booking a flight to Asia you don’t want to take just because it is one of the best ways to use your miles!
Do what is right for you and your travel style, and that is the ultimate best use of your points!
It does take two billing cycles for your rebate to show on your MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard statement. Be sure to contact Great Canadian Rebates within 3 monthsif your rebate doesn’t show on your card statement!
Effectively, your annual fee for the first year of holding this card is $49!
That is a tiny price to pay for all the benefits you get out of the card!
You have to meet the following requirements to be eligible for the MBNA Alaska Airlines Mastercard:
Be the age of majority in your home province
Be a Canadian resident
Have a Canadian credit profile
Have a minimum personal income of $80,000 or minimum household income of $150,000
Abide by the 5/24 rule where you haven’t applied for more than 5 credit cards in the past 24 months
Just like every other time a credit card issuer demands such a high minimum income for approval, I’m going to complain about it.
I hate these high minimum income requirements, and I wish banks would do away with them.
The discriminate against young people, single people, women, and less educated people.
Just because you’re underpayed at your job doesn’t mean you aren’t good with your money and you don’t deserve a premium travel credit card.
Having a high minimum income requirement that is significantly higher than the income of an average Canadian is an outdated practice that should be done away with!
Don’t let a credit card issuer make you feel bad about yourself just because you don’t meet their minimum income requirements!
It is their problem and not yours.
MBNA’s 5/24 Rule
MBNA is the only credit issuer in Canada that has a rule surrounding how many credit inquiries you can have on your profile.
No matter how good your credit score, MBNA will not approve you for one of their credit cards if you have more than 5 hard credit inquiries in the past 24 months.
This means you have to be strategic when applying for MBNA credit cards.
It is super underrated and offers a lot of benefits for a relatively low cost.
If you use the Great Canadian Rebates link, you’re paying a $49 annual fee and getting hundreds of dollars of benefits out of the card.
It is hard to beat that!
I personally use my Alaska Airlines miles to book a business class one-way stopover trip from Vancouver to Hong Kong and then Hong Kong to Dubai.
I think it is the best way to use your Alaska Airlines miles, and gives you the most value per point.
The MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard is very user friendly (minus the minimum income requirement). You only have to spend $1,000 on the card to get the sign-up bonus, and MBNA is helpful when you want to change products and transfer credit limits.
This is a genuinely good credit card for Canadians and a very good an underrated points program.
Most people don’t realize how versatile the Alaska Airlines program is, and how easily it can be leveraged to book the trip of your dreams!
The Amex Cobalt card is designed with millennials in mind. You get huge bonus points in the categories (like grocery and food delivery services) that millennials use constantly, so you quickly rack up the points. The annual fee and minimum spend are calculated monthly, so even if you have a small budget, you can get those sweet, sweet bonus points without breaking the bank. All in all, there is nothing to dislike about the American Express Cobalt Canada credit card.
It is without a doubt a keeper card, and you keep getting value out of it year after year!
If you’re a millennial looking to earn travel points, the Amex Cobalt Canada should be at the top of your list.
There is a lot to love about this card!
The Amex Cobalt is a great starter card. It is easy to use, and you earn points at a pretty quick rate.
The top highlights of the card include:
Up to 30,000 MR Select points as a sign-up bonus
The card fee is charged monthly rather than annually
5x points on eligible restaurant, food delivery service, and groceries purchases at Canadian locations
2x points on eligible gas and transportation purchases in Canada
2x points on eligible travel purchases including hotels and flights
$100USD hotel credit to be used on amenities such as dining and spa treatments
Pros and Cons of the American Express Cobalt Canada
The card fee is charged monthly rather than annually
Generous points earning on food and transportation
Point redemption and transfers are easy to use even as a beginner
You have to spend $500/month to get the full 30,000 sign-up bonus
Hard to earn a lot of points outside of food and transportation
In 2021, American Express changed the rules around earning and spending points with the AMEX Cobalt Canada, and it was a game changer.
You used to only be able to earn and spend MR Select points. MR Select points were only able to be transferred to hotel rewards programs.
In 2021, they changed it, so you earn the same MR points that you earn with other AMEX travel cards.
These points can be transferred not only to hotel programs but also to flight programs.
It was an absolute game changer, and the American Express Cobalt Canada became even more valuable than it already was.
One of the biggest selling features of the Amex Cobalt Canada card is the sign-up bonus.
You earn up to 30,000 MR Select points in your first year of holding the card!
That’s an estimated value of about $300!
That’s a very generous sign-up bonus- especially when you compare it to the cost of holding the card!
The American Express Cobalt Canada is quite unique and a leader in the credit card space. One of the most innovative features of the card is that you get your sign-up bonus monthly rather than up front after meeting a specific minimum spend in the first three months as is the case with most credit cards.
You earn 2,500 MR Select points each month you spend $500 in the first 12 months. If you meet the $500 spending threshold every month in the first year, you earn 30,000 MR Select points.
The sign-up bonus on the American Express Cobalt Canada card is pretty hard to beat and is one of the best in travel credit card space!
Outside of the sign-up bonus, one of the most important things to consider when applying for a new travel credit card is the points earning.
It is incredibly important to analyze the points earning on a credit card. The better the points earning on categories you spend a lot of money in, the more beneficial the card is for you.
Lucky for you, the earning categories on the American Express Cobalt Canada card are incredible and make it easy for you to earn a lot of points without changing your spending habits!
The points earning on the Amex Cobalt are:
5x points on eligible grocery, restaurant, and food delivery services purchases. The bonus points are only awarded on purchases made in Canada and aren’t awarded on purchases made outside of Canada. You earn 1 points per $1 in these categories outside of Canada.
2x points on eligible gas and transportation purchases. This includes bus passes, rail passes, and cabs! Just like the food category, the bonus points only apply to purchases in Canada, and, unfortunately, you don’t earn 2x points when filing up your rental car with gas while on an Icelandic road trip.
2x points on eligible travel purchases. This includes flights and hotels no matter what country the purchase is made in!
1x points on all other purchases. Whether it is university tuition, rent, concerts, movies, or anything else under the sun, you earn 1 point per $1 spent on every other purchase that doesn’t fall within the bonus point categories.
You can probably already tell, but the best way to maximize your points earning with the Amex Cobalt is to use it every time you purchase food!
You’ll earn points at a staggering rate and be reaping the travel benefits in no time!
Now it is time to talk about the fun stuff and how you use the MR points you earn with the American Express Cobalt Canada card to travel the world for free!
As mentioned earlier, there are two ways you can redeem your MR points. You can book travel directly through the American Express portal or transfer your MR points to a partner program and redeem them through their portal.
You get the best value for your points when you transfer them to a partner program.
It gives you more flexibility and control of the value you get per point, and you have more redemption options.
On the other hand, I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that it was easier to redeem your points directly through the American Express portal rather than transferring them to another program.
It all comes down to personal choice though. Do what’s best for you and your travel needs.
If you’re going to transfer your points to a transfer program, all the information is below!
AIRLINE PARTNER PROGRAMS (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER)
Estimated Transfer Time
Air Canada (Aeroplan Points)
5 business days
British Airways (Avios)
5 business days
Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles)
5 business days
Etihad (Etihad Guest Miles)
3 business days
HOTEL PARTNER PROGRAMS (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER)
Estimated Transfer Times
5 business days
5 business days
Rules for Transferring Points to Partner Programs
There are two rules to be aware of when transferring MR points to partner programs:
All transfers are final, and you can’t get your points back once you’ve clicked the button to transfer them to another program.
There is a small fee for transferring points to Delta. It never exceeds $100 and is normally worth the additional fee with the added value you get from transferring points to the Delta program.
Best Use of MR Select Points
This probably isn’t a popular opinion. In fact, I know it isn’t a popular opinion, and I’ll be shamed in the travel hacking community for it.
The best use of your points is whatever works best for you and your travel needs!
There is no shortage of information on the internet about how to maximize every point to get the most value out of it.
This is all well and good, but if it doesn’t suit your travel style or isn’t a place you want to go, then what’s the point?!
You’ll sit on your points, not use them, and let them go to waste.
That’s one of the worst things you can do with your MR Select points!
That being said, there are ways to use your MR points to maximize your points if you don’t have any specific travel plans you’re saving your points up for.
But, again, I want to emphasize that it is better to use your points for anything even if it isn’t technically the best use of your points from a sheer numbers perspective.
You don’t want those points to go unused and lose their value. Or worse expire!
I bet you’re expecting me to say there is no bad use of your MR points, but I’m not going to tell you that.
There are bad uses for your MR points.
The least value you get for your MR points is when you use them for a statement credit or use them to purchase merchandise or gift cards.
You should only use these options as a last resort when either you’re struggling so much financially that you can’t afford to pay your bills or your points are going to expire before you can use them for travel.
But, again, using your points for anything is better than not using your points at all.
We don’t like wasted and forgotten points here!
America Express Cobalt Canada Annual Fee
The Amex Cobalt Canada is incredibly accessible, and that is one of the reasons I love this card as much as I do!
A lot of people can’t afford a $100+ annual fee all at once, and the American Express Cobalt Canada card takes that worry away and makes it easier for the average person to get the card.
You are charged $12 every month you hold the card for a total annual fee of $144 if you hold the card for an entire year.
It is significantly easier for someone to budget for a $12 charge every month than a $100+ charge the month after they receive the card.
The other amazing upside to having the fee charged monthly rather than annually is that you only pay for what you use. If you try the card for a few months and don’t like it, you’re only out $12 per month rather than the full $144 like you would if it were a traditional annual fee.
The flexibility of the American Express Cobalt Canada is unbeatable, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more and more cards moved to this model in the future.
Unlike most credit card providers in Canada, American Express doesn’t have a minimum income requirement to qualify for their cards.
We love this because it makes accessing credit cards easier for people in lower-earning jobs.
Just because someone is underpaid doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to have a great credit card that helps them travel for free.
We appreciate that American Express credit cards are accessible to everybody and are based on other qualifications rather than simply income.
You need to meet the following criteria to be eligible for the Amex Cobalt Canada:
Be the age of majority in your home province
Be a Canadian resident
Have a Canadian credit file
And that’s it!
A word of caution though.
Just because you meet the qualification requirements doesn’t mean you will be approved for the American Express Cobalt Canada card.
America Express likes you have a pretty good credit score in order to be approved.
I recommend you have at least a 650 credit score and the higher or better.
Who the American Express Cobalt Canada Card is Best For
The Amex Cobalt Canada card is very versatile, and it is a great addition to basically everybody’s wallet.
I think the card is best for millennials who are on a tighter budget because you pay the annual fee monthly and have a smaller monthly minimum spend rather than a large minimum spend to meet within the first three months of holding the card.
The Amex Cobalt Canada is really good for everybody no matter your travel style. MR points are so easy to use and work for any kind of travel, so it is hard to go wrong with the Amex Cobalt Canada card.
Most people spend a lot of money on food, so anybody and everybody can earn a lot of points pretty quickly.
All in all, I think every Canadian travel hacker or average Canadian traveller can benefit from having the American Express Cobalt Canada in their wallet.
Who the American Express Cobalt Canada is Not For
It is a bit difficult to identify who the Amex Cobalt Canada isn’t for, but there are a few categories of people who may want to think harder before getting this card.
Here are the two types of people who may not want to get this card:
Credit card minimalists: Not every vendor accepts American Express credit cards. If you only want to hold one or two credits may not want to have the Amex Cobalt in their wallet, so they don’t run into an issue with not having a credit card in their wallet they can pay with if someone doesn’t accept American Express.
Digital nomads or full-time travellers: Since you have to make purchases at Canadian businesses to earn the bonus points, if you don’t spend a lot of time in Canada, this isn’t the card for you. You simply won’t get the most out of the card, and there are other options that may work better for you and your lifestyle.
But it shouldn’t! It is packed with value and really benefits holders.
The RBC British Airways Visa Infinite gives you 40,000 Avios points as a sign-up bonus. That’s enough points for 5 short-haul round-trip flights or 3 one-way flights from Eastern Canada to Western Europe. The RBC British Airways Visa Infinite sign-up bonus is one of the best in Canada. The annual fee is a little steep at $165, and RBC, unfortunately, doesn’t rebate the annual fee in the first year. However, the pros of the RBC BA Visa Infinite outweigh the $165 annual fee!
Today we’re going to do a deep dive into the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite.
We’re going to talk about the pros and the cons of the card and help you decide whether it is the right credit card for you!
As an aside, the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite isn’t your typical credit card. It isn’t the credit card you get and then hold for years because it is so great.
Most people cancel their RBC BA Visa Infinite in the first year, and that is what I recommend doing as well.
You earn and redeem British Airways Avios points with the RBC BA Visa Infinite.
There isn’t the possibility to transfer points to partner programs, but the Avios program is so robust that you don’t need that option.
Before applying for the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite, make sure you have an Avios profile set up and have a rewards number.
You need to enter that number when you apply for the card, so they can add the points you earn to the correct account.
You earn up to 50,000 Avios points as a sign-up bonus with this card.
The sign-up bonus is split into three sections, and you earn it as follows:
15,000 Avios points after your first purchase
25,000 Avios points after spending $5,000 on the card in the first 3 months
10,000 Avios points after renewing your card for the second year and paying the annual fee
That’s a total of 50,000 Avios points, but, as I said, most people only receive 40,000 Avios points as their sign-up bonus.
That is because it isn’t worth paying the annual fee to hold the card for a second year.
One Avios equals approximately $0.0153. That means 10,000 Avios points is worth $153 Canadian dollars. You are way overpaying for those last 10,000 Avios points if you spend $165 on the second year’s annual fee.
I highly recommend you cancel this card before the second year’s annual fee comes due!
You can also do a product switch, which is the best way to work your way through RBC’s travel credit cards with just one hard credit hit.
You can easily do a product switch online, and it takes less than five minutes!
There is no nice way of putting this:
The points earning categories on the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite are rubbish.
They are a bit shameful actually!
2 Avios points for every $1 spent on British Airways flights
1 Avios for every other $1 spent
It is for that reason I don’t recommend you put much spending on this card once you’ve hit the minimum spend.
You can pick up almost any other travel credit card and get a better points earning rate on them.
It takes ages to earn Avios points with this card outside the sign-up bonus.
The RBC British Airways Visa Infinite is really a one night stand. You get it for the sign-up bonus and then sneak out in the middle of the night and never call it again.
British Airways makes it really easy to redeem your Avios points!
You simply search for the flight route you want to take and check the redeem points box.
That takes you to a listing of available flights and shows you the price in Avios rather than in fiat currency.
British Airways is a member of the OneWorld Alliance, and you can redeem your Avios for flights on partner airlines.
All through the British Airways website!
Redeeming Avios points is super painless and one of the best programs for people new to the travel hacking world.
One important thing to note about redeeming Avios points is there are two different charts. It is slightly less expensive to redeem Avios on British Airways, Aer Lingus, Vueling, and Iberia than it is to redeem on other partner airlines.
It is widely known in the travel hacking world that Avios points are best used for short-haul flights under 1,151 miles flown.
You get an exceptional value per point when you redeem your Avios points for short-haul flights. One-way flights can be paid for with as little as 4,000 Avios!
And let’s be honest. Those expensive short-haul flights are some of the most painful to pay for with your own money! I always feel like I’m winning when I redeem my Avios for an expensive short-haul flight.
With so many partner programs, you can redeem Avios anywhere in the world.
You don’t need to be in Europe/England to take advantage of Avios points!
Another great way to redeem the Avios you earned through the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite is to fly economy from Eastern Canada to Western Europe!
You can fly economy from, say, Toronto to Dublin on Aer Lingus for just 13,000 Avios each way.
That is an incredible value and shouldn’t be overlooked!
I live in Western Canada and can’t take advantage of that sweet spot, but if I lived out East, I would be chomping at the bit to take advantage of that redemption!
Worst Way to Redeem Avios Points
Without a doubt the worst way you can redeem your Avios points is by buying merchandise and gift cards.
The value get per point is atrocious, and it simply isn’t worth it!
I don’t think many people redeem their Avios for merchandise in Canada, and it is probably a more common occurrence in Europe.
But don’t do it!
In terms of flight redemptions, the mid-haul flights aren’t a great value.
You pay quite a bit more in points but don’t fly that many miles.
The long-haul flight redemption of 32,500 to 51,000 Avios one-way in economy isn’t great, but if you fly a huge number of miles, it may just be a better deal than mid-haul flights.
When push comes to shove, try to save your Avios points and only use them for short-haul flights or for that special Eastern Canada to Western Europe redemption.
But no matter what, please don’t redeem your Avios for merchandise!
You need to meet one of the following income requirements:
$60,000 in personal income
$100,000 in household income
The personal minimum income requirement is quite difficult to meet. I really don’t like when credit card issuers have minimum income requirements that are so much higher than the average income.
It is an elitist practice that discriminates against young people, single people, women, and people who are underpaid at their jobs.
Don’t let a credit card issuer make you feel bad about yourself because your employer doesn’t pay you what you deserve, and you don’t meet their high income standards.
The good(ish) news is that the household income is more manageable assuming there are two working people in the household.
It by no means guarantees that you will meet the household minimum income with two working people, but it is more likely to happen than someone meeting the minimum income as an individual.
I understand why banks have minimum income requirements, but they really get on my nerves! That’s why I love American Express so much. They don’t have any minimum income requirements on their Canadian cards!
Who Should Get the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite
I definitely think the RBC BA Visa Infinite is not the right credit card for everybody.
I suggest going after those credit cards first and then applying for the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite.
Another tactic is to apply for the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite first and get you 40,000 Avios and then do a product search to either the RBC Westjet World Elite Mastercard of RBV Avion Visa Infinite.
That is what I did, and it worked out great!
You have to apply for the RBC BA Visa Infinite first because you have to meet a minimum spend to unlock part of your sign-up bonus. The other two RBC cards don’t have a minimum spend requirement.
A number of people have said that said that when they transfer to the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite from another RBC card, they did not get the bonus points associated with the minimum spend requirement.
They only got the 15,000 Avios after their first purchase.
You do not want to miss out on those additional 25,000 Avios!
So if you’re going to product switch between RBC products, make this card your starting point and switch to other cards from there!
Who Should NOT Get the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite
People who are just getting into the travel hacking game probably shouldn’t target the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite right out of the gate.
There are much better credit cards out there where you can earn points quicker and transfer them to the Avios program.
Once you have exhausted all the other Avios cards, then you should start considering this card.
I personally like the RBC BA Visa Infinite, but it isn’t a card I would recommend to new travel hackers.
There are better credit cards on the market with higher points earning categories that you should target first.
Once you’ve exhausted those, the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite is a great place to start looking next.
I love the Avios program and never turn away from an opportunity to earn more Avios points!
And this card really helps you earn a lot of Avios points quickly!
As a side note: I really enjoy RBC. I’ve had nothing but good experiences with them, which is not something I can say about any other Canadian bank. I know it has nothing to do with the card, but it is a nice cherry on top of RBC’s fantastic selection of travel credit cards.
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”!
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.
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
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.
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!
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!
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.
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)
That is really reasonable and in line with most other travel credit cards in Canada!
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.
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!
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!
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.
$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!
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!
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!
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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 clearwinner in this category.
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.
Honestly, this is one of my least favourite travel credit cards in Canada simply because I dislike the Air Miles program so much.
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
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
It has the best features, the best earning rate, and the most redemption properties to choose from.
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
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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!
The earning ratios on this card are laughable, and CIBC should have done a better job.
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.
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!
There is no annual fee for this credit card!
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.