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Here’s a shocker: Canadians love to travel! So it’s no surprise that there are numerous travel credit cards in Canada offering sweet rewards—so many, in fact, that it can be hard to decide on the best one for your needs. Some offer the opportunity to rack up some major points, while others include travel insurance and passes to posh airport lounges as part of the package.

In this article, we look for the best travel credit card in Canada across several major categories: including the best credit card for travel points, sign-up bonus, hotel rewards, airport lounges and the overall winner. Use this handy guide to pick the best travel rewards credit card and let it work towards the perks and points most valuable to you.

In This Article:

Canada’s Best Travel Credit Cards for 2020

In developing this list of the best travel credit cards in Canada, we evaluated all the travel credit cards currently on the market against the following criteria:

  • Annual fees
  • Welcome bonus
  • Cardholder perks & special features (travel insurance, lounge passes, no foreign transaction fees, etc.)
  • Rewards earn rates
  • Reward redemption flexibility and ease
  • Eligibility criteria

Truly, these seven cards won out above the rest.

Overall Best Travel Credit Card in Canada

TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card

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There are many fantastic deals out there in the travel rewards credit card category. But if we have to pick one, the best overall travel rewards credit card in the Canadian market is the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card. For all the nitty-gritty details about what makes this card wonderful, you can read our full TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card review here.

But here’s the short version: it stands out above the others because of its winning welcome offer* (hello, up to 25,000 Aeroplan Miles!), premium perks (like priority boarding/check-in on Air Canada flights and travel insurance) and great potential to rack up points – all for a modest annual fee of $120. Plus, because it’s an Aeroplan card, purchases at partner sites double your Miles when you pay with your Aeroplan credit card and present your Aeroplan membership card.

Apply by November 7, 2020, to get an annual fee rebate for the first year and the welcome bonus of up to 25,000 Aeroplan Miles when you make the first purchase with your card and spend at least $1,500 in the first 90 days of account opening.

The Details:

  • Annual Fee: $120 (first year annual fee rebate if you apply by November 7, 2020)
  • Minimum Income Eligibility: $60,000 personal or $100,000 household annual income
  • Credit Score Required: Good to Excellent
  • Welcome Offer: Welcome bonus of up to 25,000 Aeroplan Miles (Conditions apply. Must apply by November 7, 2020.)
  • Other Perks: Travel insurance & priority boarding/check-in on Air Canada flights
  • Purchase APR: 19.99% | Cash Advance APR: 22.99%
Learn more about the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card

*This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For Quebec residents, please click here. 


Best Credit Card for Travel Points

With all the points programs out there, it can be difficult to decide on the very best points credit card. Some programs have restrictions for what you might spend your points on but bear in mind that many cards allow points transfers between programs.

After those considerations, a card’s points-to-dollar ratio—that is, the amount in dollars your points are worth—is one of the most important features for your card.

Winner: Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® card

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The Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® card offers three tiers for their Scotia Rewards points program. For every dollar you spend on eligible grocery stores, restaurants, fast food, and drinking establishments, you’ll earn a whopping 5X Scotia Rewards points; 3x the points per $1 on eligible gas, daily transit, and select streaming services; and any other purchases come in at 1x Scotia Rewards point per dollar spent in any currency.

Plus, new cardholders can earn 25,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points when they spend $1,000 within the first 3 months of getting their card.

What’s also exceptional is the flexibility in rewards redemption. All you have to do is login to the system and select the “Apply Points to Travel” option. Then just use your accumulated Scotia Rewards points to offset any travel cost (flights, rental cars, hotels, etc.) charged on your credit card. It’s that easy – no black-out periods or annoying restrictions.

You also get some amazing extra benefits, such as no foreign transaction fees, comprehensive travel insurance, and Amex Front Of the Line® access. It’s no wonder the Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® card is often ranked as the best travel credit card in Canada.

The Details

  • Annual Fee: $120
  • Minimum Income Eligibility: Minimum of $12,000 annual income
  • Credit Score Required: Good to Excellent
  • Welcome Offer: 25,000 Scotia Rewards points when you spend $1000 in the first 3 months
  • Other Perks: No foreign transaction fees, comprehensive travel insurance, Amex Front of the Line® access
  • Purchase APR: 19.99% | Cash Advance APR: 22.99%
Learn more about the Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® card.

Best Air Miles Credit Card

The Air Miles program is one of the best ways to earn rewards in Canada. With an Air Miles Collector Card, you can turn everyday purchases – like gas and groceries – into free flights, car rentals, event tickets, hotel stays, electronics, and so much more.

If you’re an avid collector, you can maximize your miles by using an Air Miles credit card to pay for your purchases.

Winner: BMO® AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®

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What’s truly great about the BMO® AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard® is that it comes with a generous welcome bonus and a high earn rate.

You’ll get 2,000 AIR MILES when you charge $3,000 to your card in the first three months of card membership.

The earn rate of 1 AIR MILE for every $10 in purchases is the highest AIR MILES rate of return out there for an AIR MILES credit card.  Also, get 5x the Miles at Shell until December 31, 2020*

Additional benefits include Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey with two free annual passes, 15% off AIR MILES flights within North America booked with AIR MILES, and a comprehensive travel insurance package which includes travel medical for up to 15 days per trip.

Although there is an annual fee of $120, it’s waived for the first year.

The Details:

  • Annual Fee: $120 (waived for the first year)
  • Minimum Income Eligibility: $80,000 individual or $150,000 household annual income
  • Credit Score Required: Excellent
  • Welcome Offer: Welcome bonus of 2,000 AIR MILES
  • Other Perks: 15% off AIR MILES flights within North America booked with AIR MILES, comprehensive travel insurance, Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey with two free annual passes
  • Purchase APR: 19.99% | Cash Advance APR: 22.99%
Learn more about the BMO® AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®

Best Aeroplan Credit Card

As Canada’s most popular travel rewards program, many Canadians are looking to rack up Aeroplan points any way they can. Here’s a tip: simply by using an Aeroplan credit card, you can earn miles redeemable towards flights, hotels, car rentals, vacation packages, event tickets, and merchandise.

Best of all, earn double the points by making purchases at Aeroplan-affiliated partners with your Aeroplan credit card. If you’re one of the 5 million Aeroplan members, it’s worth your while to get an Aeroplan credit card.

Winner:  TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card

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As already outlined, there are plenty of perks that make the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card our pick for the best travel rewards credit card. But it also wins our top spot as the best Aeroplan credit card because of its lucrative welcome bonus*of up to 25,000 Aeroplan Miles and potential to earn Aeroplan miles with every dollar spent.

Purchases made at Aeroplan partners earn double the rewards when you pay with your Aeroplan credit card and present your Aeroplan membership card, so cardholders can rack up their Aeroplan Miles quickly and easily.

Cardholders are also treated to other travel-related perks including travel and auto insurance, and exclusive benefits like 24-hour concierge services. The annual fee of $120 is affordable, and even more so when applicants take advantage of the limited-time first-year rebate for both the primary and first additional cardholder (conditions apply).

Apply by November 7, 2020, to get an annual fee rebate for the first year and the welcome bonus of up to 25,000 Aeroplan Miles after you make the first purchase with your card and spend at least $1,500 in the first 90 days of account opening. It’s a limited-time offer, so don’t wait!

The Details:

  • Annual Fee: $120 (first year annual fee rebate if you apply by November 7, 2020)
  • Minimum Income Eligibility: $60,000 personal or $100,000 household annual income
  • Credit Score Required: Good to Excellent
  • Welcome Offer: Welcome bonus of up to 25,000 Aeroplan Miles (Conditions apply. Must apply by November 7, 2020.)
  • Other Perks: Travel insurance and priority boarding/check-in on Air Canada flights
  • Purchase APR: 19.99% |Cash Advance APR: 22.99%
Learn more about the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card

*This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For Quebec residents, please click here. 


Best Travel Credit Card for Sign-Up Bonus

One way credit card companies entice you into their travel rewards program is with a fat sign-up bonus. Take advantage of this strategy and give your travel reward goals a big boost.

Winner: Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card

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The Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card wins big points in our books because it’s got a crazy-good welcome bonus. Upon sign-up, you can earn up to 35,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points in your first year (that’s up to $350 towards travel)‡!

How it works: earn 25,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points with your first $1,000 in everyday purchases in the first 3 months. As a cardholder, you are always eligible to earn an annual 10,000 Scotia Rewards point bonus when you spend at least $40,000 in everyday eligible purchases annually on your Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card credit card.

Aside from the generous sign-up bonus, with this credit card, you’ll also earn:

  •  Scotia Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible grocery stores, dining, entertainment purchases, and daily transit purchases (including taxis, buses, and subway tokens).
  • Scotia Rewards point per $1 spent on everything else.

Another perk of this credit card is free Priority Pass membership that includes six free visits per year to airport lounges worldwide. Of course, the no foreign exchange fee markup on purchases made in foreign currency at home or abroad is also alluring.

The Details

  • Annual Fee: $139
  • Minimum Income Eligibility: $60,000 personal income or $100,000 household annual income or at least $250,000 in assets under management
  • Credit Score Required: Good to Excellent
  • Welcome Offer: Up to 35,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points in your first year
  • Other Perks: Priority Pass membership and no foreign exchange fee markup
  • Purchase APR: 19.99% | Cash Advance APR: 22.99%
Learn more about the Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card

Best Travel Credit Card for Luxury Hotel Rewards

While there are many hotel rewards credit cards on the market, few offer luxury experiences at high-end hotels. Some hotel rewards credit cards have restrictions or blackout dates that you cannot book, while others afford you access to only lower-end or mid-range accommodations. An exception to this rule is the credit card we’ve chosen for the best luxury hotel credit card.

Winner: Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card

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When it comes to luxury hotel credit cards, you can’t go wrong with the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card. This credit card has an annual fee of $120 and no minimum income requirement, which makes it uniquely accessible. Cardholders earn 5 Marriott Bonvoy™ points for every $1 in eligible card purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy™ properties, and 2 points for every $1 in all other card purchases everywhere else.

When you sign up for this credit card, you’ll become a Marriott Bonvoy™ member, which entitles you to redeem your points for free hotel stays at over 7,000+ properties worldwide with no blackout dates. You can also choose to transfer your points to frequent flyer miles if you’d prefer free flights over free hotel stays.

When signing up for this credit card, you’ll earn a welcome bonus of 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ points after you charge $1,500 in purchases to your Card in your first three months of card membership. Plus, receive an automatic upgrade to Marriott Bonvoy™ Gold Elite status when you reach $30,000 in purchases charged to the Card each year.

The Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card also comes with a wide range of insurance coverage including travel emergency assistance, travel accident insurance, car rental theft and damage insurance, flight delay insurance, baggage loss and delay insurance, and hotel theft insurance.

The Details:

  • Annual Fee: $120
  • Minimum Income Eligibility: N/A
  • Credit Score Required: Good to Excellent
  • Welcome Offer: 50,000 bonus points when you spend $1,500 in 3 months
  • Other Perks: Automatic upgrade to Marriott Bonvoy™ Silver Elite Status, annual free night, travel insurance coverage
  • Purchase APR: 19.99% | Cash Advance APR: 21.99%
Learn more about the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card

Best Travel Credit Card for Budget Hotel Rewards

Travellers are not one size fits all, and there is nowhere in the travel sector where this is more evident than in accommodations. Where you choose to spend the night is going to depend on your taste and budget. However, when it comes down to budget hotel rewards, there’s one card that shines above the rest.

Winner: Best Western Mastercard® credit card

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Whether you’re travelling in Canada or abroad, the Best Western Mastercard® credit card makes a lot of sense. The sign-up bonus of 20,000 Best Western Rewards® points (after your first eligible purchase) is enough for a free one-night stay, and further points are easy to collect.

The flexibility of Best Western Rewards® points allows you to redeem for hotel stays, dining, gift cards, and more, and best of all, there is no annual fee. Plus, there are more than 100 Best Western hotels located around the world, making it easy to cash in your points for free hotel stays when you’re traveling.

The Details

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Minimum Income Requirement: N/A
  • Credit Score Required: Fair to Good
  • Welcome Offer: 20,000 Best Western Rewards® (after first eligible purchase)
  • Other Perks: Redeem rewards for hotels, dining, gift certificates, and more
  • Other Card Details: Annual Interest Rate on Purchases (“AIR”): 19.99% | Interest on Cash Advances: 22.99% | Interest on Balance Transfers & Access Cheques: 22.99%
Learn more about the Best Western Mastercard® credit card.

*This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For residents of Quebec, please click here.


Best for Frequent Travellers

If you’re travelling a lot for business or leisure, you may benefit from a travel rewards credit card geared to frequent travellers.

Winner: HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®

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If you want a credit card with excellent travel rewards, the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® is for you.

With this card, you’ll earn 3% in travel rewards on all eligible travel purchases (6 points per $1) and 1.5% in travel rewards on all other eligible purchases (3 points per $1). You can easily redeem points for whatever your heart desires: from travel to gift cards and merchandise to financial rewards (yes, you can put points towards your HSBC mortgage, credit card or savings account!). As a new cardholder, you’ll also Earn up to 100,000 Points ($500 travel value) PLUS a full annual fee rebate for the Primary Cardholder for the first year.* Must apply by December 28, 2020. Conditions Apply. This card also comes with no foreign transaction fees (only the exchange rate applies), comprehensive travel insurance, and an annual $100 travel enhancement bonus redeemable towards baggage fees, flight upgrades, and other travel expenses. Plus, you’ll get a complimentary membership to Mastercard Airport Experiences Provided by LoungeKey, giving you access to over 850 airport lounges worldwide.

The Details

  • Annual Fee: $149
  • Minimum Income Requirement: Annual individual income of $80,000 or $150,000 household income, or a minimum of $400,000 in assets under management
  • Credit Score Required: N/A
  • Welcome Offer: Earn up to 100,000 Points ($500 travel value) PLUS a full annual fee rebate for the Primary Cardholder for the first year.* Must apply by December 28, 2020. Conditions Apply.
  • Other Perks: Comprehensive travel insurance; redeem points for travel, financial rewards, gift cards, merchandise, and more; shopping protection
  • Interest Rate on Purchases: 19.9% | Interest on Cash Advances: 22.9% | Interest on Balance Transfers & Cash Advances: 22.9%
  • *This offer is only available to residents of Canada other than the province of Quebec. (Quebec residents eligible for separate offer)
Learn more about the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®.

Best for Airport Lounges

Finally, credit card companies seem to have figured out that nobody likes hanging around at the airport. An increasingly popular travel perk is access to worldwide airport lounges. Bought individually, these passes can run upwards of $60 a pop, so there’s definite value here. But, as with all rewards, not all programs are created equally. Here are our favorites.

Winner: Scotiabank®* Platinum American Express® card 

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Here’s something we love: the Scotiabank®* Platinum American Express® card includes complimentary Priority Pass membership and a whopping 10 free lounge visits per year.

At just shy of one per month, this is going to be sufficient for most travelers. Additionally, other valuable perks like 30,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points upon first purchase and travel insurance make this a card to consider.

Plus, you earn 4 Scotia Rewards points on every $1 you spend at eligible gas stations, grocery stores, on dining and entertainment. The Scotiabank®* Platinum American Express® card carries a $399 annual fee.

The Details:

  • Annual Fee: $399
  • Minimum Income Eligibility: $12,000
  • Credit Score Required: Good to Excellent
  • Welcome Offer: 30,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points upon first purchase
  • Other Perks: Travel insurance
  • Purchase APR: 19.99% | Cash Advance APR: 22.99%
Learn more about the Scotiabank®* Platinum American Express® card

Best Travel Card for Cash Back

Cash back credit cards are always a popular option. Everybody could use a little more cash in their pocket, and it’s even better when you earn money back for everyday purchases you need to make, like groceries. But what if your cash back card also came with travel benefits?

Winner: The RBC Cash Back Preferred World Elite Mastercard

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If you’re looking for a cash back card that also offers travel perks, consider the RBC Cash Back Preferred World Elite Mastercard. With this card, you earn 1.5% unlimited cash back on all card purchases – adding up to some serious dough if you’re charging everyday purchases.

Other travel benefits include complimentary out of home mobile internet access at over 1 million hotspots worldwide and on select airlines with Boingo, cash back offers at international retailers and restaurants, and access to 800+ airport lounges worldwide through the Mastercard Airport Experiences by LoungeKey program. Plus, get a suite of insurance coverage that goes above and beyond your average card: extended warranty protection that triples the manufacturer’s original Canadian warranty, premium purchase protection for 120 days, and Auto Rental Collision/Loss Damage Insurance.

The Details:

  • Annual Fee: $99
  • Minimum Income Eligibility: $80,000 or Household: $150,000
  • Credit Score Required: Good
  • Rewards: Earn up to 1.5% unlimited cash back on all your purchases
  • Other Perks: Free Boingo Wi-fi, airport lounge access, premium insurance benefits
  • Purchase APR: 19.99% | Cash Advance APR: 22.99%
Learn more about the RBC Cash Back Preferred World Elite Mastercard

Comparison of The Best Travel Credit Cards in Canada

Disclaimer: MBNA Best Western Mastercard® credit card – This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For residents of Quebec, please click here.

*This offer is only available to residents of Canada other than the province of Quebec. (Quebec residents eligible for separate offer)

How to Redeem Travel Rewards

It really depends on the rewards program attached to your credit card. Some exchange dollars spent into points or miles (e.g. $1 spent = 1.5 miles earned), while others allow you to directly cash in points to make a purchase.

The process of redeeming points varies too. For instance, with the Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® card and the Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card, you login to their website and apply any number of accumulated points to offset any travel cost charged onto your credit card. Other credit cards have a travel portal for redemptions. With Aeroplan or AIR MILES, you login to their website and redeem your points directly for a specific travel reward. Either way is fine – the key is to choose a travel credit card that has a redemption process that isn’t overly complicated.

Why Get a Travel Credit Card?

Whether you’re a frequent traveller or planning a big trip for the future, a travel rewards credit card can offer big benefits to you. It’s one of the fastest and easiest ways to save money on travel-related expenses.

Here’s how it works: when purchasing everyday expenses on your travel credit card, you earn points for every dollar spent on the card. Once you accumulate a certain amount of points, you can redeem your points for travel-related rewards. Depending on the card, these points or rewards can be cashed in for travel-related expenses, such as flights, hotels, car rentals, parking, baggage fees, cruises, vacation packages, excursions – whatever you want!

Another big bonus is that travel rewards credit cards often come with comprehensive travel insurance,

which may include coverage for travel medical, trip/cancellation, baggage theft/loss, flight delay, collision/damage for car rental, and so forth. That means that if you use your travel credit card to pay for your trip, you may not need to purchase a separate travel insurance policy. However, make sure to read the fine print to understand everything that’s included (or not included) in the policy.

How to Choose a Best Travel Credit Card

There is no one travel credit card that’s designed for all travellers. You need to carefully compare the rewards structure of each program and choose something that best suits your lifestyle.

Are you saving up for one-time round-the-world flight purchase? Or do you prefer to put your points towards ongoing travel expenses, like baggage costs or hotel stays? The choice is yours, but there are a few key features to look for in a travel rewards credit card:

  • A generous welcome bonus
  • How easily and quickly you can earn points based on your personal spending habits
  • Ease of points redemption
  • A reasonable annual fee

When looking at all the products on the market, consider your lifestyle and compare these key features. It will make choosing a travel credit card much easier. No matter which you choose, don’t forget to pack the plastic in your wallet before leaving for your trip. Bon voyage!

The Best Credit Cards by Category:

This post was not sponsored. The views and opinions expressed in this review are purely my own.