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Thursday, June 13, 2024

5 Best Travel Credit Cards Canada (2024 Revealed)

Looking for the best credit card to subsidize your upcoming travel costs?

You’re in the right place.

Because I’m about to reveal not just one… but 5 of the best credit cards that can help you travel more for less.

I’m also going to go over the main pros and cons of each credit card, helping you find the one that best suits your needs.

And by end of this review: I’ll also reveal my top pick for travel credit cards.

Let’s dive into the top 5 credit cards for travel:

(Note: this post is updated monthly, last updated on April 15, 2024)

  • Up to 110,000 MR points
    90,000 MR points upon spending $10,000 in the first three months 30,000 MR points upon making a purchase between 14 and 17 months
  • Annual Fee: $799
  • Earn 2 points per dollar on dining and travel purchases
  • $200 travel credit
    $200 dining credit
    Priority Pass
  • Strong travel insurance
  • Welcome Bonus: Up to 50,000 Aeroplan points
    10,000 Aeroplan points on first purchase
    20,000 Aeroplan points on $6,000 purchases in first 4 months
    20,000 Aeroplan points anniversary bonus on $15,000 purchases in first 12 months
  • Annual Fee: $139
    First year free or waived with CIBC Smart Plus Account
  • Earn 1.5 points per dollar on gas, EV charging, groceries and Air Canada purchases
  • Free first checked bag
  • Strong travel insurance
  • Up to 80,000 Marriott Bonvoy points
    70,000 Bonvoy points on $3,000 purchases in the first three months
    3 extra Bonvoy points per dollar spent on travel and gas in the first six months, up to 15,000 points
  • Annual Fee: $120
  • Earn 5 Bonvoy points per dollar spent at Marriott hotels
  • 15 elite qualifying nights
    Annual free night award
  • Moderate travel insurance
  • Up to 40,000 Scene+ points
    20,000 Scene+ points on $1,000 purchases in the first three months
    20,000 Scene+ points on $7,500 purchases in the first year
  • Annual Fee: $120
    Annual fee waived with Preferred Package or Ultimate Package.
  • Earn 5~6 points per dollar on groceries, dining, and entertainment purchases
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Strong travel insurance
  • Up to 15,000 MR points
    1,250 MR points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $750 in purchases on your card
  • Monthly Fee: $12.99
  • Earn 5 points per dollar on groceries and dining purchases
  • Transfer points to airlines and hotels
  • Moderate travel insurance

1. American Express Platinum Card

The American Express Platinum Card stands out as one of the top travel rewards credit cards in Canada.

With a stunning welcome bonus of 100,000 Membership Rewards points, it boasts the most valuable loyalty points currency available in the market.

But that’s just the beginning…

The card also offers a plethora of benefits, including travel credits, premium hotel statuses, luxury airport lounge accesses, and of course, the prestige of its sleek metal designed card.

The Platinum Card is a must-have for every frequent traveler.

Quick Overview

Annual fee: $799
First year free? No
Waived with chequing account? No
Foreign transaction fee? Yes

Sign-Up Bonus

The Platinum Card is currently offering a total of 100,000 Membership Rewards points:

  • 70,000 MR points upon spending $10,000 in the first three months
  • 30,000 MR points upon making a purchase in between 14 and 17 months of card membership.

Earning Rate

  • 2 MR points per $1 spent on travel and dining purchases in Canada
  • 1 MR points per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Perks

  • $200 annual travel credit
  • $200 annual dining credit
  • Unlimited Plaza Premium and Priority Pass lounge visits
  • Marriott Gold and Hilton Gold status
  • Priority security at Toronto Pearson Airport
  • Amex offers (special promotions and discounts)

Travel Insurance and Protections

  • Emergency medical insurance: Up to $5 million, 15 day-coverage of your out-of-province trip, for travellers aged 65 and under.
  • Trip cancellation: $2,500 per person, $5,000 combined
  • Trip interruption: $2,500 per person, $6,000 combined
  • Flight delay: up to $1,000
  • Baggage delay: up to $1,000
  • Rental car theft and damage insurance: Yes
  • Mobile device insurance: No
Click here to apply for Amex Platinum Card

2. CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card

The CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card is a must-have for Canadians who like to travel.

Why?

Because not only it offers a generous sign up bonus but also a wide range of Air Canada perks.

It’s no secret that Air Canada provides extensive flight routes as our flagship carrier.

So having benefits like free first checked baggage for you and your companions, it’s already invaluable.

Plus, you’ll enjoy preferred pricing when redeeming Aeroplan points for Air Canada flights (more details to come, usually a 5-10% discount).

Quick Overview

Annual fee: $139
First year free? Yes
Waived with chequing account? Yes, with CIBC Smart Plus account
Foreign transaction fee? Yes

Sign-Up Bonus

CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card is currently offering a total of 50,000 Aeroplan points:

  • 10,000 Aeroplan points upon first purchase
  • 20,000 Aeroplan points upon spending $6,000 in the first four months
  • 20,000 Aeroplan points as an anniversary bonus upon spending $15,000 in the first year

The spending requirement may be a bit hefty for some, but if you have a significant purchase on the horizon—whether you’re relocating, renovating your house, or booking your vacation—consider signing up for this card beforehand.

Earning Rate

  • 1.5 Aeroplan points per $1 spent on gas, EV charging, groceries, and Air Canada purchases
  • 1 Aeroplan point per $1 spent on all other purchases

The elevated earning rate on gas and groceries make this card a solid choice for everyday spending.

Perks

  • Free first checked bag on Air Canada flights for the cardholder and 8 others travelling on the same booking.
  • Preferred pricing when redeeming Aeroplan points for Air Canada flights.

Travel Insurance and Protections

  • Emergency medical insurance: up to $5 million, 15-day coverage period. (3-day if 65+)
  • Trip cancellation insurance: $1,500 per person, $5000 combined
  • Trip interruption insurance: $2,000 per person
  • Flight delay insurance: $500
  • Baggage delay insurance: $500
  • Rental car theft and damage insurance: Yes
  • Mobile device insurance: up to $1,000

The CIBC Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Card offers a robust travel insurance, making sure that you’re covered in any unexpected incidents.

Click here to apply for CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite

3. American Express Marriott Bonvoy Card

The Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card stands as the sole hotel-affiliated credit card in Canada.

It’s an essential card for those who love to stay Marriott hotels.

In addition to offering a substantial welcome bonus, this card consistently provides excellent value year after year through a Free Night Award.

I’ve personally held onto this card for over 5 years, and I’ve never looked back.

Quick Overview

Annual fee: $120
First year free? No
Waived with chequing account? No
Foreign transaction fee? Yes

Sign-Up Bonus

The Marriott Bonvoy Card is currently offering a total of 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points:

  • 70,000 Bonvoy points upon spending $3,000 in the first three months
  • 3 extra Bonvoy points per dollar spent on travel and gas in the first six months, up to 15,000 points

Earning Rate

  • 5 Bonvoy points per $1 spent at all Marriott hotels. (including room charges, food and beverages, and incidentals)
  • 2 Bonvoy points per $1 spent on all other purchases

Perks

  • Silver Elite status as long as you hold the card
  • 15 elite qualifying nights every year as long as you hold the card
  • Annual free night award worth up to 35,000 Bonvoy points
  • Amex offers (special promotions and discounts)

Travel Insurance and Protections

  • Emergency medical insurance: up to $500,000 in Travel Accident insurance
  • Trip cancellation insurance: N/A
  • Trip interruption insurance: N/A
  • Flight delay insurance: up to $500
  • Baggage delay insurance: up to $500
  • Hotel Burglary Insurance: up to $500
  • Rental car theft and damage insurance: yes
  • Mobile device insurance: No
Click here to apply for Amex Marriott Bonvoy Card

4. Scotiabank Gold Amex Card

The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card is an outstanding choice, boasting an impressive welcome bonus and excellent rewards for everyday spending.

With a generous earning rate of 5 to 6 points per dollar spent at grocery stores and dining establishments, it perfectly aligns with our daily expenditures.

Furthermore, this card offers robust travel insurance coverage and no foreign transaction fees, making it an ideal travel credit card.

Quick Overview

Annual fee: $120
First year free? No
Waived with chequing account? Yes, with Ultimate Package.
Foreign transaction fee? No

Sign-Up Bonus

The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card is currently offering up to 40,000 Scene+ points.

  • 20,000 Scene+ points upon spending $1,000 in the first three months
  • 20,000 Scene+ points upon spending $7,500 in the first year

Earning Rate

  • 6 Scene+ points per $1 spent on Empire grocery stores (Sobeys, Safeway, IGA, Foodland, and FreshCo)
  • 5 Scene+ points per $1 spent on grocery stores, food and drink, and entertainment venues.
  • 3 Scene+ points per $1 spent on gas, transit, and streaming services.
  • 1 Scene+ points per $1 on all other purchases.

Perks

  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Eligible for Amex offers
  • Mobile device insurance

Travel Insurance and Protections

  • Emergency medical insurance: up to $1 million for you, your spouse, and dependent children (aged under 65)
  • Trip cancellation insurance: up to $1,500 for you, your spouse, and dependent children
  • Trip interruption insurance: up to $1,500 for you, your spouse, and dependent children
  • Flight delay insurance: up to $500 per person
  • Baggage delay insurance: up to $1,000 for all insured persons
  • Hotel burglary Insurance: up to $1,000
  • Rental car theft and damage insurance: Yes, MSRP of up to $65,000
  • Mobile device insurance: up to $1,000
Click here to apply for Scotiabank Gold Amex Card

5. American Express Cobalt Card

The American Express Cobalt Card ranks among the most popular cards in Canada.

It’s renowned for its ability to earn the most powerful points, Membership Rewards points.

Here is the real kicker:

You earn a remarkable 5 points per $1 spent on groceries, dining, and food deliveries.

This feature has garnered significant attention from Millennials, whose lifestyle revolves heavily around these spending categories compared to other age demographics.

Typically, I’d rank this card a bit higher, but the current sign-up bonus is somewhat lukewarm, as we’ve seen bonuses hovering around 30,000 to 50,000 points in the past.

In my opinion, I’d hold off on signing up for this card and wait for a better offer to launch.

Summary

Annual fee: $155.88 (paid monthly at $12.99)
First year free? No
Waived with chequing account? No
Foreign transaction fee? Yes

Sign-Up Bonus

The American Express Cobalt Card is currently offering up to 15,000 Membership Rewards points.

  • 1,250 MR points for each of the first 12 months in which you spend $750

Earning Rate

  • 5 MR points per $1 spent on groceries and dining (including food deliveries)
  • 3 MR points per $1 spent on streaming services
  • 2 MR points per $1 spent on gas, public transit, and travel purchases
  • 1 MR point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Perks

  • Amex offers (special promotions and discounts)
  • Ability to transfer points to airlines & hotels

Travel Insurance and Protections

  • Emergency medical insurance: up to $5,000,000 for the first 15 days of your out-of-province trip, for travellers aged under 65
  • Trip cancellation insurance: N/A
  • Trip interruption insurance: N/A
  • Flight delay insurance: up to $500
  • Baggage delay insurance: up to $500
  • Hotel burglary insurance: up to $500
  • Rental car theft and damage insurance: Yes, MSRP of up to $85,000
  • Mobile device insurance: up to $1,000
Click here to apply for Amex Cobalt Card

Final Thoughts

After reviewing the top 5 travel credit cards, it’s evident that each card offers unique benefits and rewards tailored to different lifestyles and preferences.

My top pick is The American Express Platinum Card because its robust coverage of travel needs and perks from A to Z.

From travel credits to hotel statuses to airport lounge accesses, I can’t imagine traveling without it.

However, depending on whether you prioritize airline perks, hotel stays, or everyday spending rewards, there’s a card that’s right for YOU.

So, without further ado, it’s time to choose your ideal travel credit card and start planning your next adventure!


Read More: Factors to Consider When Choosing a Travel Credit Card

A. Rewards Program
The rewards program is the heart of any travel credit card, dictating how and where you earn points or miles.

Understanding the intricacies of each program, including earning rates, redemption options, and transfer partners, is crucial in maximizing your rewards potential.

But most importantly, you must have a travel plan in mind to find out which program you should prioritize earning first.

B. Annual Fees
While annual fees may seem daunting at first glance, they often come with a host of benefits and perks that can outweigh their cost.

Evaluating the value proposition of a card’s annual fee in relation to its rewards structure and additional features is essential in determining its overall worth.

Take out the emotions, be calculative. (even if you hate math :p)

C. Sign-Up Bonuses
Sign-up bonuses are one-time incentives offered by credit card issuers to entice new customers.

These bonuses can range from a substantial number of bonus points to complimentary companion tickets or statement credits, providing an immediate boost to your rewards balance.

These offers change time to time, so it’s best to sign up when the best offer launches.

D. Foreign Transaction Fees
As a global traveler, minimizing foreign transaction fees is paramount to avoid unnecessary expenses when using your credit card abroad.

Opting for a card with no foreign transaction fees can save you a significant amount of money over time, making it an essential consideration for frequent travelers.

For this purpose, you may consider bringing a prepaid card on your travel.

E. Travel Insurance and Protections
Travel insurance and protections offered by travel credit cards can provide peace of mind and financial security during your adventures.

From trip cancellation and interruption insurance to rental car coverage and emergency medical assistance, understanding the extent and limitations of these benefits is crucial in ensuring comprehensive coverage.

These insurances that basically come with no additional cost has saved me so many times that I cannot stress more on how important it is.

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