Following the ease of travel restrictions in Canada from the pandemic, residents are travelling once again. If you are ready to pack up and go, consider investing in the best travel credit cards in Canada. These valuable tools make travelling affordable and accessible.
Travel cards help users keep up with everyday purchases during their trip and even cover some basic insurance that Canadian Medicare doesn’t cover. For frequent travellers, having these cards are essential to their planning.
Unsure of which travel credit card to get? Canadians can enjoy dozens of travel card options with great perks. Our experts at Insurdinary created a comprehensive list of their top picks to make your browsing experience manageable.
Before You Apply: Understanding Travel Credit Cards
Understand your needs thoroughly before choosing just any travel credit card. You can take advantage of many great benefits and rewards that suit you by choosing the right solution. Travel reward cards account for nearly a quarter of credit cards in Canada.
You can typically divide travel credit cards into three categories depending on the type of rewards they offer:
General Travel. This type is an excellent choice for travellers who use several different airlines or hotels during their trips. You can earn points through frequent miles and purchases to exchange for fuel, cruises, airfare, and more.
Airline Rewards. Travellers who appreciate frequently flying with a specific airline should consider an airline rewards travel card. Flyers can accumulate points through air miles and spending, which they can later redeem for cheaper flights, airport lounge access, and upgraded seating.
Hotel Rewards. Hotel costs can add up during travel. For some, getting a hotel travel card is a suitable choice because it saves them on overnight expenses. Travellers can redeem upgraded room and Wi-Fi rewards, free nights, and more.
How Do Points and Rewards Work?
Most travel card companies try to make point systems intuitive for the user. Hence, members continue to use their cards over competitors. Travellers should still take time to understand the differences between terms and conditions to choose the best card for them.
Depending on how much you travel during the year, some point systems make more sense than others.
For example, if you are travelling sporadically throughout the year, consistent point systems are wise choices. These points hold constant value, so you don't lose anything by not travelling for long periods. This model is most popular among users.
Keep an eye out for fluctuating point models. While many travellers use and enjoy cards that incorporate this system, it requires more attention to policy. Users must stay up-to-date with charts and tables to determine how many points they earn at specific locations and during certain seasons.
To get the best travel credit card in Canada, read the terms of service for each travel card before committing to one. Selecting the right rewards system for how you travel will save you the most amount of money.
Tips on How to Earn Great Rewards
While most credit card providers offer members welcome bonuses and static insurance coverage, you can maximize your rewards with the correct strategy. Plan your trip while considering how many points you have and what you can earn.
If you do not already own a travel credit card, consider applying for one within a few months of your next trip. You will likely reach the minimum amount of money you need to earn your welcome bonus by spending on gas, food, and other services. You also get a head start on paying for your next trip with redeemable points.
Always ensure that you pay the bill on time to avoid spending extra on interest. Travel cards typically issue high-interest rates between 19% and 25%. Be smart when spending during travel so that you end up saving money every year with redeemable points rather than losing it to interest.
Before applying for a travel credit card, know how you typically travel. If you are a frequent flyer, look for offerings that enhance airfare and baggage insurance. Canadians who like to take road trips should focus on saving money on gas and motels.
Earn the most points with little effort. Plan ahead and research each card carefully before signing on to a new account.
Anything can happen during your trip. When travelling, medical emergencies, stolen or lost items, and vehicle damage are all risks. Protect yourself by choosing a travel card that offers insurance to cover these concerns.
While these cards may insure some travel features, they may not cover everything. Here are some standard coverage options you see from the best travel credit cards in Canada:
Travel accident insurance
Cancellation or delayed trip insurance
Vehicle collision or damage insurance
Hotel burglary insurance
Having a financial cushion for these expenses is critical when travelling in and out of Canada. Keep tabs on policy changes that may impact certain credit card services' coverage. You can learn more about general travel insurance and compare options by exploring healthrates.ca.
Travel credit cards that offer exciting rewards and valuable perks sometimes come with an annual fee. Services may decide to collect the payment after waiving the first 12 months' fee, but this varies from company to company.
If annual fees are a deal-breaker, you can enjoy many free options from quality credit card providers. Companies typically trim down services and coverage with zero-dollar annual travel cards. Still, they can be easier to qualify for and are great for the casual traveller.
Some cards are more challenging to qualify for than others. Approval depends on many different factors. Criteria for approval usually include the users' credit score, age, and income range.
These factors help the card company determine if annual fees could cause conflict. They also help gauge how often the user will be able to travel and take advantage of rewards. Most credit card companies offer various options so that travellers of all economic classes can find a solution that fits their needs.
Canadians can enjoy a quick and easy application process. To apply, users can go online and select the card directly. They will first need to input basic information about their identities, such as their name, address, phone number, etc.
Next, providers will ask for a social insurance number and proof of identification. Users can show a driver's license or passport. If the company approves the application, Canadians can expect to receive a physical card in the mail within a month.
Remember that an open account can impact your credit score even before using your travel card.
Explore Your Options: No Annual Fees
Now that you know how travel credit cards work and how to apply, it's time to start browsing. Picking the right travel card for you is essential to making your next trip easy. Below are some of the best travel credit cards in Canada that have no annual fees.
Fast Rewards: MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard
The MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard is a quality zero-dollar annual fee solution for avid travellers. Canadians do not need a minimum income to be eligible. However, they should have a credit score of at least 700 for approval.
Members receive great features and benefits when choosing this card for purchases on the road:
A welcome bonus of up to 10,000 points, equalling about $50 in cash back after the first three months
Book travel using points with any airline
Take advantage of purchase protection and an extended warranty
Discounts on rental cars from Avis and Budget
Although this card does not offer travel emergency insurance, it does offer mobile device insurance up to $1000 in coverage.
Members also earn points faster than other zero-dollar annual fee cards at a significant rate of 4 points per $1 spent on groceries and restaurants. They also earn 2 points per every $1 on all other categories until reaching the policy cap of $10,000.
The Brim Mastercard is an excellent option for Canadians with good credit scores. This high redemption flexibility card requires no minimum individual or household income to apply. We recommend that eligible candidates have a credit score of at least 725 for approval.
Brim Mastercard holders enjoy the following benefits when using this travel card:
$200 in welcome bonus points
Up to 3% points on flights from Lufthansa, Etihad, Avianca, and Emirates
0% foreign transaction fees
Unlimited access to Boingo Wi-Fi while travelling
Instant notifications on any purchase in and out of the country
Users can take advantage of mobile and travel accident insurance when selecting Brim Mastercard.
Members score 1 point per every $1 on everyday purchases. For airlines, they score 3 points per every $1 on Lufthansa, Etihad, Avianca, and Emirates. Lastly, cardholders will score 4 points per $1 on select retailers.
The American Express® Green Card is the best travel credit card in Canada for those who want instant cashback. This card requires at least a 660 credit score for qualification. No minimum individual or household income requirements make this card accessible for many Canadians.
American Express® Green Card benefits and features include the following:
Owners enjoy a welcome bonus of 10,000 points, equaling $100
American Express Experiences and Front Of The Line® perks allow members to access specific shows and events in Canada
Earn 1x points on every purchase, allowing cardholders to accumulate travel points fast
American Express® Green Card members score 1 point per every $1 on purchases around the globe.
Travel Insurance Benefits: Rogers World Elite Mastercard
Rogers World Elite Mastercard is the best travel credit card in Canada for those who want to protect themselves while travelling abroad. This card offers several travel insurance benefits to keep yourself and your property safe. New members also enjoy a welcome bonus on their first transaction.
Cardholders of Rogers World Elite Mastercard access all these great benefits:
Free Boingo Wi-Fi in more than 1 million hotspots around the globe
Exclusive access to airport lounges in over 100 countries
A $25 cashback welcome bonus after your first purchase
Rogers World Elite Mastercard offers some of the most extensive travel insurance benefits for a zero-dollar annual fee.
Out-of-province and out-of-country emergency medical insurance help cardholders get the care they need abroad. Members can put their minds at ease on the road knowing rental car coverage protects their vehicle. Lastly, trip cancellation insurance saves users money during airport schedule mishaps.
Rogers World Elite Mastercard members earn 1.5% cash back on every $1 spent during their trip.
BMO Rewards® MasterCard is a medium redemption flexibility travel solution. This card is ideal for those who enjoy travelling by a rental car and have a credit score of at least 660. It requires a minimum individual income of $15k/year for qualification.
Benefits and features of BMO Rewards® MasterCard include:
25% off car rentals at Rent A Car locations worldwide, making it easy to find a car
Receive a bonus offer of 15,000 points when becoming a member
Earn rewards with additional cardholders
Enjoy an extended warranty
Travel accident insurance and purchase assurance make travelling with BMO Rewards® MasterCard easy. Members can protect their rental cars and wallets by choosing this option before getting on the road.
Members earn 1 point for every $1 spent at eligible retailers and services.
You can become a Home Trust Preferred Visa cardholder with no minimum income requirements. Visa recommends a credit score of at least 660, so this card is great for members who want to improve their score as they spend.
Redemption flexibility for this travel card is high, and users get the following features:
Avoid confusing conversions with a 0% foreign currency conversion charge on all out-of-country purchases
1% cash back on select purchases in Canada
Users of Home Trust Preferred Visa score 1 point for every $1. These points can quickly accumulate when spending money in other countries.
Offers are unavailable for Quebec residents, so we recommend exploring the other options above for great deals and rewards.
Explore Your Options: Premier Travel Cards with Annual Fees
For frequent travellers, investing in the best travel credit card in Canada may mean paying an annual fee. Luckily, these cards can save you money by the end of the year if you take advantage of the offers. Below are some of the best options for Canadian travellers.
American Express designed this card to maximize point collection for cardholders. Canadians do not need a minimum income to apply for this offering. American Express recommends a credit score of at least 660 for approval.
Travellers can collect points fast on their vacation with these great offers:
2,500 points for each $500 you spend with your card
5x points on domestic restaurant dining
3x points on select digital media streaming, meaning you earn just for relaxing on vacation
Two points per $1 on select transit & gas while driving domestically
One point per $1 during all other purchases
Front-of-the-line access to select concerts and other events
This card offers baggage insurance, accident and car rental insurance, price protection, and rapid rewards. It also provides you and your family with loads of points to spend on vacation, saving you money on future trips.
Everyday Spending: Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite Card
This is the best travel credit card in Canada for those who spend money regularly on groceries, entertainment, and retail while travelling. Travellers gain points faster spending with this card than other options that offer no annual fees.
Like many travel cards with annual fees, Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite Card requires a minimum income for approval. Individuals who make at least $60k a year and a household income of $100k a year are eligible. You can qualify for this card with a credit score of at least 660.
Everyday spending accumulates points while saving money for the cardholder. Members of this premium travel card enjoy benefits such as:
The only major bank credit card with no foreign transaction fees. This offer applies to online shopping as well
Six free airport lounge passes a year
Also, you can earn up to $1320 in additional value within the first 12 months. This also includes up to 40,000 bonus Scene+ points and your annual fee waived for the first year. Offer expiry date - April 30, 2023
Cardholders protect themselves with high-quality travel insurance perks as well. This card offers baggage insurance, rental car insurance, travel emergency medical insurance, accident insurance, and trip cancellation insurance.
Collect points fast by earning two per $1 on groceries, entertainment, food and drink, and transit. You also earn one point per $1 on other categories. Also, you’ll earn 3x Scene+ points for each dollar charged to your account on all eligible purchases at Sobeys, IGA, Safeway, Foodland, FreshCo, Voilà by Sobeys, Voilà by IGA, Voilà by Safeway, Chalo! FreshCo, Thrifty Foods, IGA West, Les Marchés TradItIon, Rachelle Béry and Co-Op.
Flat-rate Benefits: MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard
MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard is the best flat-rate option for travelling. Cardholders earn 1 point per $1 they spend on anything during travel. You can avoid confusing point systems when choosing this solution.
Eligible candidates need an individual income of at least $80k and a credit score of around 700 to apply. The benefits of this card outweigh the initial costs:
Members can get 30,000 points in the first 90 days, equal to $245 cashback
Earn five points for every eligible restaurant, transit, media streaming, and household purchase (and 1 point per $1 spent in other categories)
Flexible redemption on points with a rate of return of around 0.9 cents per point
While MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard does not provide travel insurance, it fills the gap with other great benefits. Cardmembers can take advantage of quality rental car insurance and written warranty coverage for nearly all purchases.
Air Travel: TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Card
Interest: 20.99% (P) / 22.99% (CA) Annual Fee: $139 (after the first 12 months) Top Perks:
Earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on eligible gas, grocery and direct through Air Canada® purchases
Earn points twice when you pay with your card and provide your Aeroplan number at 150+ Aeroplan partner brands and at 170+ online retailers with the Aeroplan eStore
This Visa card is the best travel credit card in Canada for residents who regularly travel by Air Canada®. Frequent flyer programs offer travellers great deals on airfare and comfort. Canadians do not need a minimum income but should consider having a credit score of at least 660 to apply.
Cardholders enjoy a variety of great rewards for air travel, including:
No annual fee for the first 12 months
Earn as much as 50,000 Aeroplan points equalling roughly $1,400 in value (Apply online by September 5, 2022)
A welcome bonus of 10,000 points when making your first purchase
Earn an additional 20,000 points after spending $7,500 within the first 12 months; great for travelling internationally
24/7 complimentary Visa Infinite Concierge service
TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Card provides excellent travel insurance features for members. Baggage, flight delay, car rental, and mobile insurance make your time at the airport simple. Purchase assurance and emergency medical insurance also keep you safe during travel.
Members will earn 1.5 points for every $1 spent on select gas, groceries, and Air Canada purchases. They will also make another one point for every $1 spent elsewhere. Consider this option before you plan your next flight.
Food and Gas: BMO Eclipse Visa Infinite Card
Interest: 20.99% (P) / 23.99% (CA) Annual Fee: $120 (after the first 12 months) Top Perks:
Earn 5 points per $1 spent on eligible takeout, food delivery or dining out
Earn 5 points per $1 spent on gas, public transit, ride sharing and more
The BMO eclipse Visa Infinite Card is the best travel credit card in Canada for dining and transit services. Members collect points fast by eating out or buying groceries. Eligible candidates need a minimum income of at least $60k a year and a credit score of 725+ to apply.
Visa ensures its members get the best offers for gas and dining:
No annual fee for the first 12 months
Get up to 70,000 points at a value of $467 in travel rewards during the first 12 months
A complimentary $50 lifestyle credit to spend on anything during travel (within the terms and conditions)
Redeem points fast at as little as $1 to pay for purchases
Mobile insurance covers up to $1000 for cardholders. This card also offers travel medical insurance, pay assurance, and rental car insurance. Offers like these are ideal for travellers looking for the best protection on the road.
Using this travel card, Canadians are happy to earn a fantastic 5 points per $1 on gas, stores, and restaurants.
Marriott Bonvoy American Express cards will save members money on hotel costs. You do not need a minimum income to apply but should have a credit score of at least 700.
Cardholders who regularly stay in hotels benefit from these offerings:
Be a visitor of the world's most extensive hotel program covering 7,000 locations around the globe
A welcome bonus of 65,000 points after making $1,500 in purchases during the first three months
One complimentary hotel stay a year
This card also provides up to $500,000 in travel accident and hotel burglary insurance. It is no wonder why so many Canadians rely on this card to cushion them from surprise expenses and losses during travel.
Members earn an impressive 5 points for every $1 they spend on Marriott properties, making this solution ideal for loyal customers.
Say you’ve spent a good amount of time accumulating your travel points over the past several years, and are now ready to cancel your travel credit card—where do your rewards points go? Will you lose them or are they yours to keep and store for future use?
While the answer to this question can vary depending on the terms of your credit card and the credit card provider, your airline rewards are usually safe. Usually, your rewards are deposited in a frequent flier account, which is separate from your credit card, should it close for whatever reason.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that you can lose access to your points if you don’t use them fast enough. Some frequent-flier programs will expire your points if there isn’t activity in your account for a long period of time, so check the fine print that came along with your account.
There are travel cards in Canada accessible to applicants with credit scores in the mid-600 range or higher. These travel cards designated for those with average/fair credit scores likely won’t feature the most sought-after travel perks, like lounge access or extensive travel insurance, but they should at least earn some travel rewards or miles for regular spending. Keep in mind that your credit score will also affect your credit limit.
The generalization that Visa and Mastercard are more widely accepted than Amex is not necessarily the case abroad like it is in Canada. American Express carries a lot of prestige and has a large network in foreign countries, and before travelling it’s best to check on a country-by-country basis about which card processors are most widely accepted. Merchants in some areas may inexplicably tend to support Mastercard over Visa, for example.
It’s best to minimize the number of credit card applications you make within a period of a few months. Each credit card application review will typically require a hard credit check, and many hard credit checks in a short period could damage your credit score and suggest to a potential lender that you aren’t creditworthy.
With so many cards to choose from, travellers may feel overwhelmed. Partner with a company that can help you find the right solutions for your vacation. At Insurdinary, we make sure everyone has access to clear comparisons between credit cards, insurance options, mortgages, and more.
You deserve to have all the resources accessible to make intelligent financial decisions. It can take time to conduct thorough research on rates alone. That is why we consolidate the best price comparisons in one place so you can shop with confidence and find the best travel credit card in Canada.
It's time to get your quote today. Get the help you need by filling out this quick and easy form. Our team will show you the best offerings in Canada so that you can plan your next vacation with success.
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