Determining the best airline credit card in Canada is a bit subjective since it really depends on which airline you fly the most. Canada only has two major airlines so most people favour a card that earns you Aeroplan points or WestJet Rewards. That said, there are a few additional credit cards in Canada that earn you airline loyalty points with other carriers.
While it obviously makes sense to pick a card based on the airline you fly with most, it’s worth looking at what else is available. Every credit card comes with a good welcome bonus that can often help you get free or discounted flights. If you sign up for a few different cards, you can often combine things to fly in luxury for “free.” Here are the best airline credit cards in Canada.
The best airline credit cards in Canada
|Credit card||Airline partners|
|TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Credit Card||Air Canada + Star Alliance|
|WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard||WestJet|
|American Express Cobalt Card||Aeroplan, Avios, Delta SkyMiles, Asia Miles|
|American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card||Air Canada + Star Alliance|
|HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®||Asia Miles, Singapore Krisflyer Miles, Avios|
|MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard||Oneworld|
|Marriott Bonvoy American Express||40+ airlines|
TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card
- $139 annual fee – First year free – Must apply by December 5, 2021
- 10,000 Aeroplan points after your first purchase
- 15,000 additional Aeroplan points when you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days
- Air Canada Buddy Pass after you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days
- Earn 1 Aeroplan point per $1 spent on Air Canada, including Air Canada Vacations
- Earn 1.5 Aeroplan points for every $1 spent on gas, groceries or purchases
- Earn 1 Aeroplan point for every $1 spent on all other purchases
- Air Canada Travel Benefits: including eligible Free First Checked Bag (up to 8 people), Status Qualification Boost and Preferred Pricing on flight rewards
- Aeroplan Elite Status Benefits: Rollover Status Qualifying Miles, Rollover eUpgrade Credits and Priority Airport Upgrades
- Comprehensive travel insurance package
- Mobile device insurance
- Purchase security
- Extended warranty
- NEXUS+ application fee reimbursement of up to $100 for the primary cardholder and additional cardholders
The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card is the best airline credit card when it comes to Air Canada since you earn Aeroplan points. The standard welcome bonus is often 10,000 Aeroplan points after your first purchase. You would then get an additional 10,000 – 15,000 points, plus a Buddy Pass depending on what the current promotion is.
The earn rate of 1.5 miles per $1 spent on grocery, gas, and aircanada.com, plus 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases is respectable and is a quick way to earn Aeroplan Miles. Air Canada promotes the fact that you can use your Aeroplan points for any flight which is technically true, but that’s only if you use the market fare option which usually requires many more points to make a redemption. Most people prefer to use the fixed mileage option but there are often limited seats available.
WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard
- $119 annual fee
- $250 WestJet Dollars sign up bonus after your first purchase
- $200 Additional WestJet Dollars when you charge $5,000 in the first 3 months (must apply by Jan. 5, 2022)
- Earn 2% back in WestJet dollars on WestJet flights or WestJet Vacations packages
- Earn 1.5% back in WestJet dollars on everyday purchases
- Annual companion voucher
- Save 3¢/L on fuel and always earn 20% more Petro-Points when you link your WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard
- Free first checked bags for the primary cardholder (up to 8 bags on the same reservation)
- Some travel insurance included
- Free Boingo Wi-Fi
- Purchase security and extended warranty insurance
- Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey
The WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard is the best airline credit card in Canada if you prefer to fly WestJet. WestJet Rewards is admittedly not the best loyalty program, but it’s easy to understand since it’s essentially a cash back program. You get a generous welcome bonus in WestJet dollars after you make your first purchase which obviously makes up for the $119 annual fee. You also get an annual round-trip companion voucher which is an incredible value since you can easily save a few hundred dollars when you redeem it.
As for your earn rate, you’ll get 2% back in WestJet dollars on WestJet flights or WestJet Vacations packages and 1.5% back on all other purchases. The first checked bag is free for the primary cardholder and any other travellers on the same itinerary (up to 8 bags total). There’s also the great travel insurance package that you get included. If you fly WestJet on a regular basis or even once a year, this credit card is a must!
American Express Cobalt Card
- $12.99 Monthly fee ($155.88 yearly)
- 2,500 monthly Membership Rewards points after charging $500 in purchases each month for a year (30,000 points total)
- 20,000 additional Membership Rewards points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months of cardmembership
- Earn 5 points per $1 spent on eats and drinks (Groceries, restaurants, bars, cafés, and food delivery)
- Earn 3 points per $1 spent on streaming services
- Earn 2 points per $1 spent on travel (flights, hotels, trains, public transportation, taxis/Uber)
- Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
- Comprehensive travel insurance package included
- Mobile device insurance
- American Express Invites access
- Free supplementary cards
At first glance, the American Express Cobalt Card may seem like an odd choice when it comes to the best airline credit cards in Canada, but it comes down to the transfer partners. With American Express Membership Rewards, you can transfer your points to Aeroplan, Avios, Delta SkyMiles, and Asia Miles. Most Canadians will find Aeroplan to be the most useful partner since it’s the airline loyalty program of Air Canada.
When you look at the earn rate of the Cobalt Card, you’ll quickly realize how quickly you can earn points. You’ll get 5 points per $1 spent on eats and drinks; 3 points per $1 spent on streaming services; 2 points per $1 spent on travel; and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else. I personally value 1 Aeroplan point at 2 cents each, so you’re getting a lot of value out of this card.
American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card
- $599 annual fee
- Earn up to 90,000 Aeroplan points as your welcome offer
- Earn 30,000 Aeroplan points and a Buddy Pass after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of cardmembership
- Earn 5,000 Aeroplan points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $1,000 in purchases on your card for the first twelve months of cardmembership (60,000 points total)
- Earn 3 Aeroplan points per $1 spent on eligible Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations
- Earn 2 Aeroplan points per $1 spent on dining and food delivery in Canada
- Earn 1.25 Aeroplan points for every $1 spent on all other purchases
- Unlimited free access to Maple Leaf Lounges in North America for you and a guest
- Complimentary Priority Pass membership (no free entries)
- Free first checked bag, priority check-in and boarding for the primary cardholder and up to 8 companions on the same reservation
- Preferred pricing on Aeroplan redemptions
- Annual Worldwide Companion Pass when you spend $25,000 in net purchases prior to your card anniversary date
- American Express offers and experiences
Frequent Air Canada travellers should take a look at the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card. Although it has an annual fee of $599, you get unlimited free access to Maple Leaf Lounges in North America and your first checked bag free. In addition, you get preferred pricing when redeeming flights with your Aeroplan points.
The earn rate is a respectable 3 Aeroplan points per $1 spent on Air Canada purchases; 2 Aeroplan points per $1 spent on dining; and 1.25 Aeroplan points per $1 spent on everything else. It’s worth noting that the American Express Platinum Card has a similar earn rate, and gives you better lounge access, so it may be the better choice since you can transfer your points to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio. That said, the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card has better Air Canada benefits.
HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®
- 1st Year annual fee waiver for Primary Cardholder*($149 value/$99 value)
- Welcome Bonus of 20,000 Points (up to $100 value) PLUS apply by October 3, 2021 and get an additional 20,000 Points (up $100 value) when you spend $5,000 within 6 months of account opening*
- Earn 10,000 Points (up to $50 value) for adding your 1st Authorized User
- Receive an additional 20,000 Points (up to $100 value) as an Anniversary Bonus
- 3% (6 points per $1 spent) in travel rewards on all eligible travel purchases
- 1.5% (3 points per $1 spent) in travel rewards on all other eligible purchases
- No foreign transaction fees. Only the exchange rate will apply.
- $100 annual travel enhancement credit
- 31-day travel insurance coverage
- Mastercard Airport Experiences Provided by LoungeKey (fee per visit still applies)
- 10% discount on select hotel bookings on your card with Expedia and Agoda
- Unlimited Wi-Fi through Boingo at over 1 million hotspots worldwide
- Purchase assurance
- Extended warranty
For Quebec residents
- Welcome Bonus of 20,000 Points (up to $100 value) PLUS apply by October 3, 2021 and get 50,000 Points (up to $250 in value) if you keep your account open and active for 6 months
- Earn 10,000 Points ($50 travel value) for adding your 1st Authorized User
- Receive an additional 20,000 Points (up to $100 in value) as an Anniversary Bonus*
The HSBC World Elite Mastercard is not only one of the best airline credit cards, but it’s also one of the best no foreign transaction fee credit cards in Canada. Although the card isn’t co-branded with an airline, you can transfer your HSBC Rewards points to Asia Miles, Singapore Krisflyer Miles and British Airways Avios. Not many people know about these transfer partners as it’s not listed on the HSBC Rewards website, but if you call customer service, they’ll be able to transfer your points for you.
Although Asia Miles and Singapore Krisflyer Miles have limited use in Canada (if any), they’re highly valuable to people who frequently travel to Asia. The $100 annual travel enhancement credit can be used on things such as seat selection, baggage fees and even lounge access which technically makes this card one of credit cards with lounge access.
MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard
- $99 annual fee
- 30,000 Signup miles after charging $1,000 in purchases
- Earn 3 Alaska miles per $1 spent on airfare and vacation packages from Alaska Airlines and Virgin America
- Earn 1 Alaska mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
- Receive an annual round-trip companion voucher for $121 USD
Alaska Airlines doesn’t get much attention in Canada, but if you live in British Columbia they can be an appealing airline since they serve the western part of the U.S. The MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard gives you 30,000 miles after charging $1,000 in purchases in the first three months of cardmembership. Your earn rate is 3 Alaska miles per $1 spent on airfare and vacation packages from Alaska Airlines and Virgin America which is great if you fly those airlines often, but you only get 1 Alaska mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. The annual round-trip companion voucher for $121 USD is also a decent benefit.
Alaska Airlines recently joined Oneworld, so you can now use your points to redeem flights on any carrier in that network. Some airlines that are part of Oneworld include, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Qatar, and more.
Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card
- $120 annual fee
- 70,000 Bonvoy points when spending $1,500 in the first three months
- Earn 5 Marriott Bonvoy points for every $1 on eligible card purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties
- Earn 2 Marriott Bonvoy points for every $1 on all other purchases
- Free annual night award that can be redeemed at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties worldwide, with a redemption value of up to 35,000 points
- 15 Elite Night credits each calendar year
- Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status
- Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status when you spend $30,000 on your card each year
- Complimentary in-room, premium internet access while staying at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
- Some travel insurance
You’re probably wondering why a hotel credit card is on my list of the best airline credit cards in Canada? In case you didn’t know, you can transfer your Marriott Bonvoy points to more than 40 airline loyalty programs. Yeah, now you get it. To be honest, the transfer ratio isn’t the best at 3:1 for most airlines, but it’s ideal if you’re looking to top up your airline miles or if you’re trying to get points for an airline that doesn’t have a credit card in Canada.
On a positive note, for every 60,000 Marriott Bonyoy points you transfer to an airline, you get an additional 5,000 miles for free so it’s not that bad of a deal. That said, you should only transfer your points to an airline if you need a top up for a sweet redemption. The sign up bonus that comes with the Marriott Bonvoy American Express is worth up 51,000 points when using a referral, so this card could be an easy way to earn additional airline miles.
What is the best airline in Canada?
Choosing the best airline in Canada is subjective as it depends on what’s important to you. Air Canada is the biggest airline in Canada, but if you live in Alberta or British Columbia, you may prefer WestJet. There’s also Porter which is known for its service, but they only fly to a few airports and have no credit card. Alternatively, Canada now has two ultra low cost carriers in Swoop and Flair. You’ll also notice that the best airline credit cards in Canada allow you to earn points on carriers such as Cathay Pacific, Delta, British Airways, and more. Although they’re not Canadian, they fly to Canada.
How to choose an airline credit card in Canada?
You would think that picking an airline credit card would be easy since it would be based on who you fly the most. While that’s some great logic, there are a few other factors to consider also.
- Sign up bonus – There is no other way to earn airline miles quicker than the sign up bonus that comes with the airline credit cards. Quite often, that initial bonus may be worth 1-3 flights. If you signed up for multiple cards, you could quickly have enough points for a big or premium trip.
- Annual fee – Many people don’t like paying an annual fee, but quite often the sign up and benefits included such as an increased earn rate are worth it. That said, if you’re a casual flyer, a no fee credit card could be a good choice.
- Who you fly the most with – If there’s one airline that you frequently fly with, then getting a credit card that earns you miles with them is what you want
- Your Future travel plans – Even if you fly with one airline regularly, it may be worth collecting miles for a different airline if you have future travels with them. For example, you may fly Air Canada most of the time, but if you have a trip coming up where you can take advantage of the WestJet companion voucher, you’d want to get a WestJet credit card.
- Airline partners – Flexibility with your miles are key. Some of the best airline credit cards in Canada allow you to transfer your points to various airline loyalty programs which is obviously beneficial to you. In addition, those airlines may be part of a larger network such as Star Alliance or One World where you can use your points on more carriers.
- Travel insurance – If you’re flying, you’ll want to ensure you have travel insurance and fortunately, there are many credit cards with travel insurance including some of the cards on this list. Remember, travel insurance isn’t just about travel medical, you’ll also want insurance such as trip cancellation, lost luggage and maybe even car rental insurance.
Do airline miles expire?
Generally speaking, yes. Most airline miles have an expiry date of about two years when there’s no account activity. As long as you have some form of activity in your account in a 24 month period, you won’t lose your miles. If you have a co-branded credit card with an airline loyalty program e.g. Aeroplan, then it’s unlikely your points will ever expire if you use your card regularly. As long as you’re using your card, you’re earning points.
There’s no reason why you need to only pick one of the best airline credit cards in Canada. If you’re a frequent traveller, having more than one card can be good for you since you can take advantage of the benefits each card offers. If you don’t travel that much, you may want to consider choosing just one that fits most of your needs.