The Best Travel Credit Cards in Canada

**This post contains affiliate links

Frequently I’m asked what the best travel credit cards in Canada are. Depending on what your needs are, I’ll have a different answer, but most of the time people are looking for a card that offers a big signup bonus.

My list below of the best travel rewards credit cards in Canada are aimed towards churning. Not familiar with churning? It’s the practice of signing up to get the bonus, cancelling six months later, and re-applying for the same cards later.

I do NOT recommend applying for all of the below cards (there’s more than a dozen cards on the list). You should only apply for the best credit cards that make sense for you or meet your specific needs. To get the signup bonus, you need to spend a set amount within three months (unless otherwise stated), so you really need to have a plan before you start applying.

Remember, every time you apply for a new credit card, your credit score takes a hit of 10 points, so spread out your applications.

Promotions also change all the time, so I’ll try my best to keep you updated. I’ve detailed each card/program further down, so let’s check out my list of the best travel credit cards in Canada now.

CardWelcome BonusAnnual fee
American Express Personal Platinum60,000 after $5,000 spend$699
American Express Business Platinum75,000 after $7,000 spend$499
SPG American Express50,000 after $1,500 spend$120
American Express Gold Rewards card25,000 after $1,500 spend$150 - FYF via link
American Express Business Gold40,000 after $5,000 spend$250
American Express Cobalt5,000 monthly after $500 spend$10 per month
Scotiabank Passport Visa25,000 after $1,000 spend$139
BMO World Elite MC35,000 after $3,000 spend$150 - FYF
WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard$250 WJD after first purchase$119
CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite20,000 after 1st purchase$120 - FYF
CIBC Aventura Gold Visa20,000 after 1st purchase$120 - FYF
CIBC Aventura Business Visa35,000 after $3,000 spend$120 - FYF
MBNA Best Western Mastercard20,000 after first purchaseNo Fee
MBNA Alaska Airlines Mastercard30,000 after $1,000 spend$99

A few quick notes before I get into the details of each individual card.

FYF = First year free

There is no real order to my list. I’ve tried to stack them so you can see the value that you can get when you apply for multiple credit cards. The table I created is also a quick way for you to compare credit cards.

I favour American Express Membership Rewards (MR) points for the following reasons:

  • You can convert 1,000 MR into 1,000 Aeroplan or Avios miles
  • You can convert 1,000 MR into 500 Starwood points or1,500 Marriott points
  • Your points can be used to book flights via the Amex fixed points travel program
  • You can earn additional points when referring friends

Since I already have a detailed list of credit cards with no foreign transaction fees detailed list of credit cards with no foreign transaction fees, I’ve left the majority of them off my list here. Now let’s get to the details of the best travel credit cards in Canada.

American Express Personal Platinum

  • $699 Annual fee
  • 60,000 Signup points (with my referral link) after charging $5,000
  • Earn 1.25 points for every $1 spent
  • $200 Annual travel credit
  • Earn 15,000 points per referral
  • Priority Pass Membership with unlimited free entries
  • Premium Hotel Program Membership
  • Comprehensive travel insurance package included

The yearly fee may seem high, but if you read my full review of the American Express Platinum Canada card you’ll quickly realize that you get a lot of value. What makes the Amex Platinum one of the best travel credit cards in Canada is the 60,000 points (with my referral link) which are enough for two roundtrip tickets to anywhere in Canada and the continental U.S. — That’s a value of about $1,300.

This card is honestly one of the best credit cards for miles since you can transfer your points to Aeroplan and Avios. The included Priority Pass Membership and hotel status is fantastic for frequent travellers while the referral program is a great way to earn points fast. Note that if you use a regular link, you only get 50,000 sign up points with a $3,000 minimum spend. My link gives you the additional 10,000 points but on a $5,000 spend.

Apply now for the Amex Personal Platinum


American Express
Business Platinum

  • $499 Annual fee
  • 75,000 Signup points (with my referral link) after charging $7,000 in purchases
  • Earn 1.25 points for every $1 spent
  • Earn 15,000 points per referral
  • Priority Pass Membership with unlimited free entriesc
  • Premium Hotel Program Membership
  • Comprehensive travel insurance package included

The Amex Bu
siness Platinum is similar to the Amex Personal Platinum but the fee is $200 less and you don’t get the annual $200 travel credit. It’s essentially a wash, but to get the 60,000 points, you need to spend $7,000 as opposed to $3,000 with the personal card.

Note that if you sign up through the American Express website, you only need to spend $5,000 to get your bonus, but then you only get 40,000 points. By using my referral link, you get the 60,000 point offer on a spend of $7,000. Keep in mind that you can self-refer from the Amex Personal Platinum card which gives you an additional 15,000 points. You’re able to combine all your American Express Membership Rewards points by calling customer service. For more details about this card, read my American Express Business Platinum card review now.

Apply now for the Amex Business Platinum


Starwood Preferred Guest from American Express

  • $120 Annual fee
  • 50,000 sign up points
  • 5 points per $1 spent on eligible purchases at participating SPG and Marriott Rewards properties
  • 2 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Free Night Award (redemption value of up to 35,000 points)
  • Complimentary upgrade to Silver Elite Status
  • No annual fee on supplementary cards

50,000 SPG points as a sign up bonus is amazing since it’s worth 5 free nights at a category 2 hotel when you factor in the ongoing promotion where you get the 5th-night free when you book 4 nights on points. The free annual night is good up to 35,000 points which is incredible. There are multiple hotels in New York that require just 35,000 points for a free night but would cost you $350 USD if you were to pay for it. Seriously, it’s insane how valuable the annual free night award is and easily offsets the yearly fee of $120.

Apply Now for the SPG credit card from American Express


American Express Gold Rewards card

  • $150 Annual fee – first year free when signing up via Perkopolis, Venngo, CPA Canada, or eSurvus
  • 25,000 Signup points after charging $1,500 in purchases
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on grocery, gas, pharmacy, and travel
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Comprehensive travel insurance package included

The American Express Gold Rewards card comes with an annual fee of $150, but if you’re a member of programs such as Perkopolis, Venngo, CPA Canada, and eSurvus, you’ll get a statement credit of $150 when you spend $1,500 in your first 3 months of Cardmembership. This also lines up perfectly with the minimum spend requirement to get the welcome bonus of 25,000 points which makes it one of the best credit card deals available out there. 25,000 points are enough for a round-trip ticket to anywhere in the continental U.S. or Canada which has a value of about $600. To get your RSVP code, all you need to do is launch the app, you don’t actually have to be a member. Read my American Express Gold Rewards card review now for my full thoughts.

Apply now for the Amex Gold Rewards card


American Express Business Gold

  • $250 Annual fee 
  • 40,000 signup points after charging $5,000 in purchases
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all purchases
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent at 3 suppliers of your choice.
  • Some travel insurance included (no emergency medical)

Although the annual fee is no longer waived for the first year, you can still earn 40,000 points when you use my referral link. The minimum spend to to get your welcome bonus is a bit higher at $5,000, but that’s a lot of points you’re getting. By applying for both Amex Gold cards, and reaching the spend requirement for the bonus, you would have 71,500 Membership Rewards points. That’s a crazy deal since you would only paid $250 in annual fees. Honestly, American Express has some of the best travel rewards credit cards in Canada. Don’t forget about the Platinum cards, if you were able to get the signup bonuses for those cards too, you’d have more than 200,000 Membership Rewards points. Read my American Express Business Gold card review now for my detailed thoughts.

Apply now for the Amex Business Gold card


American Express Cobalt

  • $10 Monthly fee ($120 Annually)
  • 2,500 monthly welcome points (30,000 total) after charging $500 in purchases
  • Earn 5 points per $1 spent on food (grocery, restaurants, bars, food delivery, etc)
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on travel (includes public transportation and taxis/Uber)
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

The Amex Cobalt card is interesting since the annual fee and signup bonus happen on a monthly basis. That means you’ll need to spend $6,000 over the course of a year to get the full bonus of 30,000 Membership Reward Select (MRS) points, but it’s worth it since your points can be converted to hotel points or used for travel credits. Also, the earn rate is 5 points per $1 spent on food which is insanely high. If you spend a lot on food, you can earn a ton of points! Since 2 MRS points transfer to 1 SPG point, that means you earn 2.5 SPG points per $1 spent on food – that’s a higher earn rate than the SPG Amex card. Note that MRS points can’t be transferred to airline partner program. 

Apply now for the Amex Cobalt card


Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite

  • $139 Annual fee
  • 25,000 signup points ($250 value) after charging $1,500 in purchases  
  • Earn 2 Scotia Rewards points per $1 spent on grocery, dining, entertainment, and transit purchases
  • Earn 1 Scotia Rewards point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Priority Pass Membership with 6 free annual passes
  • Comprehensive travel insurance package included

As you can see, the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card comes packed with benefits. It’s the first credit card with no foreign transaction fees from a major bank which is quite impressive. Clearly, Scotiabank has targeted this as an all-in-one card travel card. The overall package is quite impressive if you’re the type of person who doesn’t like carrying multiple credit cards just to earn the maximum amount of points. Read my full review of the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card now.

Apply Now for the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite


BMO World Elite Mastercard

  • $150 Annual fee (first year free)
  • 35,000 Signup points ($250 value) after charging $3,000 in purchases  
  • Earn 3 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on dining, entertainment, and travel purchases
  • Earn 2 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Mastercard Airport Experiences membership provided by LoungeKey, plus 4 annual complimentary passes
  • Comprehensive travel insurance package included

The BMO World Elite Mastercard was devalued earlier in the year, but it’s still one of the travel credit cards in Canada. The annual fee is waived for the first year and you get a 35,000 welcome bonus worth $250 when you charge $3,000 in purchases to the card in the first three months – this is free money for travel! To be honest, the rewards program is bit complicated at BMO. It takes 140 points to claim $1 worth of travel. That means you’re earning 2.1% in rewards on dining, travel and entertainment, and 1.4% on all other purchases. That’s not bad, but it’s not great either. Sign up for the welcome bonus and then cancel the card before your annual fee kicks in after 12 months. Read my full review of the BMO World  Elite Mastercard if you want to learn more.

Apply Now for the BMO World Elite Mastercard


WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard

  • $119 annual fee
  • $250 WestJet Dollars signup bonus after your first purchase
  • Earn 2% back in WestJet dollars on WestJet flights or WestJet Vacations packages
  • Earn 1.5% back in WestJet dollars on everyday purchases
  • Receive an annual round-trip companion voucher starting at $99
  • Free first checked bags for the primary cardholder (up to 8 bags on the same reservation)
  • Comprehensive travel insurance package included

For a straight airline rewards bonus, the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard is pretty sweet. The obvious downside is the fact that this card really only benefits people who fly WestJet on a regular basis. That being said, the $99 companion voucher and getting your first checked bag free is quite valuable even if you’re an infrequent WestJet flyer. Read my review of the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard now.

Apply now for the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard Card


CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite

  • $120 Annual fee 
  • 20,000 Signup points (up to $400 value) after your first purchase
  • $100 travel credit until November 1, 2018
  • Priority Pass membership plus 4 annual free passes
  • Mobile device insurance
  • NEXUS rebate
  • Earn 2 Aventura points per $1 spent on travel purchased through the CIBC Rewards Centre
  • Earn 1.5 Aventura points per $1 spent on other travel purchases
  • Earn 1 Aventura point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Comprehensive travel insurance package included

CIBC Aventura cards are often overlooked since they don’t present anything special, but when you look at all three cards as a whole, you’ll quickly realize that you can use them to redeem free flights. All three have no annual fee and since you earn the same type of points, you can just stack the points until you’re ready to use them for travel. It really doesn’t matter which Aventura card you start with, but the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite does offer the best insurance package of the three cards. Note that the signup bonus is given after a single purchase which is amazing!

Apply Now for the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite card


CIBC Aventura Gold Visa

  • $120 Annual fee – first year free 
  • 20,000 Signup points (up to $1400 value) after your first purchase
  • Earn 2 Aventura points per $1 spent on travel purchased through the CIBC Rewards Centre
  • Earn 1.5 Aventura points per $1 spent on other travel purchases
  • Earn 1 Aventura point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Some travel insurance included

The CIBC Aventura Gold Visa is pretty much the same as the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite, but it requires a lower income to qualify and comes with less travel insurance. I would never seriously consider this as my main travel rewards credit card, but it’s still worth signing up for since it only takes a single purchase to get the signup bonus of 20,000 points. Those two combined have a value of $400 – $800

CIBC Aventura Business Visa

  • $120 Annual fee – first year free (offer ends June 30th)
  • 35,000 Signup points after charging $3,000 in purchases (20K at sign-up + 15K after minimum spend met)
  • Earn 2 Aventura points per $1 spent on travel purchased through the CIBC Rewards Centre
  • Earn 1.5 Aventura points per $1 spent on other travel purchases
  • Earn 1 Aventura point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • $120 annual travel credit (offer ends Dec. 31st, 2018)
  • Free UP Express tickets
  • Some travel insurance included

Then there’s the CIBC Aventura Business Visa which doesn’t get as much credit as it deserves. Like the other CIBC cards, this one has no annual fee for the first year, but you 35,000 points as your welcome bonus and an annual travel credit of $120. If you applied for all three CIBC cards and met the minimum spending requirement, you would end up with 78,000 points which worth $780 in travel credits or more if you claimed fixed flights. You get all of that for spending $3,000 + two purchases. That’s the best deal out there! 

MBNA Best Western Mastercard

  • No annual fee
  • 20,000 Signup points 
  • Earn 5 Best Western Rewards points per $1 spent at Best Western Properties
  • Earn 2 Best Western Rewards point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get Best Western Gold Status after your first purchase

Here’s another one of the best travel credit cards in Canada that gets overlooked. People tend to ignore the MBNA Best Western Mastercard since staying at Best Western hotels aren’t very glamorous. However, since the card has no annual fee and you get a welcome bonus of 20,000 points after your first purchase, what are you complaining about? This isn’t as good as the previous 40,000 points that were being offered, but if you sign up via Great Canadian Rebates, you get $60 cash-back.

MBNA Alaska Airlines 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

If you live on the west coast of Canada, you should seriously consider signing up for the MBNA Alaska Airlines Mastercard since you can earn 30,000 miles after spending $1,000. There’s an annual fee of $99, but keep in mind that you can convert your Alaskan Miles to Cathay Pacific points so there is good value here. Another huge benefit of the card is the annual round-trip companion voucher for $121 USD which can save you a fair amount of money when you’re travelling with someone.

By |2018-11-25T08:31:58+00:00April 8th, 2018|Budget Travel, Credit cards, Personal Finance, Travel|

33 Comments

  1. Jaymee October 8, 2015 at 4:02 am - Reply

    I vouch for the Scotiabank Infinite Visa card. I use it for everything!

    And it’s great to know about that No Foreign Exchange fee credit card! I couldn’t find one back when I was looking for one. I’m surprised Amazon offers a credit card…

    • Barry Choi October 8, 2015 at 9:30 am - Reply

      Jaymee,

      4% back on certain categories can make the fee tolerable, it’s definitely one of the best card.

  2. pastorash1 October 8, 2015 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    As a thought, the Capital One Aspire Travel MasterCard just took away all their annoying tiers for rewards redemption, just received an e-mail on it today. I was considering other credit cards, and still will for the future, but it makes my large rewards balance on the card much more usable for 2016 when I hope to have a nice 25th Anniversary vacation away. What used to be a great card is still a decent card, and now with the tiers gone it goes back to being a good card. Time will tell if it become a top level card again.

    • Barry Choi October 8, 2015 at 1:19 pm - Reply

      Pastorash1,

      Good eye! The Capital One Aspire Travel MasterCard will soon be offering a 40K bonus miles when you signup instantly making it arguably the best travel card available. I’ve updated my list to include it.

  3. Our Big Fat Wallet October 8, 2015 at 2:11 pm - Reply

    I’m a big fan of the capital one aspire travel card and how they eliminated the tiers for the rewards. I actually just redeemed some earlier this morning. It was very easy to do. I’m glad I got it when they still had an annual fee of $120 (with 10,000 bonus rewards annually, essentially making the annual fee $20)

    • Barry Choi October 8, 2015 at 3:33 pm - Reply

      Our Big Fat Wallet,

      I missed out since I was too cheap to pay the yearly fee. I should have done the math, at $20 a year, that’s totally worth it.

  4. Jerry Hung October 8, 2015 at 11:34 pm - Reply

    Typo – “when you spend $1,00 in the first 90 days”, should say “$1000” 🙂
    and I’d wait for the BMO World Elite First Year Free + 30K offer when it comes back

    • Barry Choi October 9, 2015 at 12:47 am - Reply

      Jerry,

      Thanks for the catch. FYF + 30K signup offer is pretty good. The flexibility of the BMO card is one of the best.

  5. […] which will give you enough points to claim multiple nights right away. Check out my post about the best travel rewards credit cards for more card […]

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  9. Dante Fabiello July 2, 2018 at 10:49 am - Reply

    if you travel more than one time a year then the best is Scotia AMEX Gold. For $99, it gives the best coverage for all travel (inc cancellation insurance), good cash back and much more. Just the travel insurance coverage for you and your partner will cost more than $99 per year.

    • Barry Choi July 2, 2018 at 7:24 pm - Reply

      Dante,

      Yes, the Scotia AMEX GOld is indeed an excellent card.

  10. […] $1,000,000 in emergency medical insurance for 15 days if you’re under the age of 65, many of the best travel credit cards in Canada come with better insurance […]

  11. […] was as light devaluation, but overall, the card is still excellent and would rank in my list of the best travel credit cards in Canada if it had a good signup bonus. Read my SPG Amex Canada review now for the full […]

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  25. […] can help you build points with them are quite limited which is why many prefer to use one of the best travel credit cards instead since it gives them more […]

  26. […] are the huge signup bonuses that many credit cards offer. Seriously, if you look at my list of the best travel credit cards in Canada, I’ve listed more than 10 that would easily give you $200+ in […]

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