AIR MILES is one of the most popular loyalty programs in Canada but have you ever wondered what the best Air Miles credit cards are? Unlike some of the best travel credit cards in Canada, the best Airmiles credit card can be harder to choose since there are a limited amount of credit cards to choose from.

To come up with my list of the best Air Miles credit cards, I looked at the earn rate, welcome bonus as well as the annual fee. Before you choose the best Air Miles credit card for you, make sure you read my Air Miles review so you understand how the program works and how it can benefit you. 

 Welcome BonusEarn RateAnnual fee
BMO AIR MILES Mastercard 800 AIR MILES1 Mile per $20 spent,
2 Miles per $20 spent at AIR MILES partners
$0
BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard 2,000 AIR MILES1 Mile per $10 spent$120 - First year free
American Express AIR MILES Card500 AIR MILES1 Mile per $20 spent,
1 Mile per $15 spent at AIR MILES partners
$0
American Express AIR MILES Platinum Card2,000 AIR MILES1 Mile per $5 spent on food and drinks, gas stations and drugstores,
$1 Mile per $10 for everything else
$65

BMO Air Miles Mastercard 

  • No annual fee
  • 800 Air Miles signup bonus after you charge $1,000 in the first three months 
  • Earn 1 Air Mile per $20 spent on all purchases
  • Earn 2 Air Miles per $20 spent at participating Air Miles partners 
  • Save $0.03 per litre at Shell 
  • Purchase protection and extended warranty

If you’re looking for the best Air Miles credit card with no annual fee, then the BMO Air Miles Mastercard is the best choice for you. The card comes with a welcome bonus of 800 Air Miles when you charge $1,000 to your card in the first three months which is quite generous. The earn rate of 1 Air Mile per $20 spent is not the best, but it’s pretty standard for Air Miles. That said, you do earn 2 Air Miles per $20 spent at participating Air Miles partners which can be a good value depending on where you shop.

 

BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard 

  • $120 Annual fee – first year free (Until October 31, 2019)
  • 2,000 Air Miles signup bonus after you charge $3,000 in the first three months
  • Earn 1 Air Mile per $10 spent on all purchases
  • 15% Discount on all Air Miles flights in North America with no blackout periods
  • Free membership in Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey, plus two annual passes
  • Comprehensive travel insurance package included

I would argue that the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard is the best Air Miles credit card since it has the highest earn rate of 1 Air Mile per $10 spent on all purchases. The signup bonus is huge at 2,000 Air Miles and the annual fee for the first year is waived so there’s no reason to not sign up. Another great benefit of this card is that you get a 15% Discount on all Air Miles flights in North America with no blackout dates.

 

American Express Air Miles Card

  • No annual fee
  • 500 Air Miles sign up bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 1 Reward Mile for every $15 spent at Air Miles sponsors
  • Earn 1 Reward Mile for every $20 spent everywhere else
  • Optional balance transfer with an interest rate of 1.99% in the first 6 months

The American Express Air Miles Card is another no fee Air Miles credit card but many would argue it’s not as good as the BMO Air Miles Mastercard. The Amex card earns you 1 Mile for every $15 spent at Air Miles sponsors whereas the BMO card gives you 2 Miles for every $20 spent. Both cards give you 1 AIR MILE for every $20 spent on all other purchases. The one standout feature of the American Express Air Miles Card is that you get 500 Air Miles as a welcome bonus after spending just $500 in the first three months of card membership.

 

American Express Air Miles Platinum Card

  • $120 annual fee
  • 1,700 Air Miles sign-up bonus after spending $1,500 in the first 3 months
  • Get up to 1,800 extra Air Miles in the first six months of card membership. You’ll earn 150 miles for every $500 you spend (up to 300 miles per month)
  • Earn 1 Reward Mile for every $5 spent on food and drinks, gas and transit purchases, up to $30,000 annually
  • Earn 1 Reward Mile for every $10 spent everywhere else
  • Annual travel redemption benefit – Get 25% of the miles used back (up to a maximum of 750 miles).

Rounding out my list of the best Air Miles credit cards is the American Express Air Miles Platinum Card. The welcome bonus of 2,000 Air Miles isn’t as generous as what the BMO World Elite Mastercard offers, but you only need to charge $1,500 to your card as opposed to $3,000 so this could be a good choice for people who don’t spend much. The earn rate is also good since you’ll get 1 Air Mile for every $5 spent on restaurants, grocery stores, gas and transit purchases. All other purchases earn you 1 Air Mile for every $10 spent. The annual travel redemption benefit where you get 25% of the miles back will definitely appeal to those who redeem their miles on a regular basis. In case you’re wondering, this card did go through some recent changes. Overall, the earn rate is better, but the annual fee almost doubled.

 

What are Air Miles?

Air Miles is one of the oldest and most popular loyalty programs in Canada. With Air Miles, you have two options when it comes to earning and redeeming points. You can choose to earn dream miles which can be used for things such as travel, event tickets and attractions. If you’re going to use your miles for flights, the number of points to make a redemption depends on where you’re flying from and where you’re headed. In some cases, the flights can be a good value, but not always so you really need to understand the program to get maximum value. Generally speaking, Air Miles are valuable for expensive short haul flights.

Cash Miles is your other option and it’s similar to a cash back program. Basically, you can redeem 95 Air Miles for $10 in-store credits. 

You can set your Air Miles to earn in any ratio you want between dream miles and cash miles. For example, you could go 100:0, 50:50, 25:75. You can change this ratio whenever you want, but once you’ve earned miles in your respective categories, it’s locked in there. That means once you’ve earned cash miles, you wouldn’t be able to transfer them to dream miles later.

How much is an Air Mile worth?

Since it takes 95 cash miles to get $10, an Air Mile is worth $0.105. However, calculating the value of an Air Mile is much harder if you’re looking to redeem your dream miles. As mentioned, Air Miles redemptions are based on where you’re flying from and where you’re flying to. In addition, the amount of points required to make a redemption differs depending on the season. They have three seasons: low, average and high. The maximum value you can get for an Air Mile when using them for dream miles is about $0.12 each.

How to earn more Air Miles?

If you’ve decided that Air Miles is for you, then you need to know the ways to earn more Air Miles. Obviously, the easiest way to earn Air Miles is by using one of the best Air Miles credit cards, but why stop at just one card? If you applied for the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard and the American Express Air Miles Platinum Card, you’d have over 3,500 Air Miles after you reach the minimum spend. I realize you may not need two Air Miles cards, but I’m just saying that the sign up bonuses can be quite lucrative.

The other way to earn more Air Miles is to double dip at Air Miles partners. Whenever you shop at an Air Miles merchant, scan your loyalty card via your Air Miles app. When you’re prompted to pay, use your Air Miles credit card. It’s that simple. It’s also worth paying attention to any in-store promotions at participating Air Miles partners. For example, Metro often has special offers of bonus Air Miles when you buy certain products. Air Miles also runs promos where you can earn extra miles if you shop at a number of Air Miles partners during a set period of time.

Admittedly, it’s not easy to earn Air Miles, but if you look at the sign up bonuses and promotions, you can rack up those points.

Do Air Miles expire?

Yes, but only after 24 consecutive months of no account activity. Even if you’re no longer an active Air Miles collector, it’s not hard to earn or burn some of your miles to keep your account alive. The easiest way to do that is to shop at an Air Miles partner. Don’t forget, Air Miles also has an estore where they have hundreds of online stores as a partner. Alternatively, you can donate a few miles as it would count as account activity.

Final thoughts

Air Miles may not be as popular as other loyalty programs such as Aeroplan or Marriott Bonvoy, but it still has a huge subscriber base. I personally think cash miles are the better value since you only need 95 points to make a redemption, but if you travel frequently on expensive routes, dream miles might be a good fit for you.

The Best Air Miles Credit Cards

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