The Best Travel Credit Cards in Canada

   (Editor Rating)

Top Travel Free Credit Cards

Million Dollar Journey has been reviewing, comparing, and rating Canada’s best travel credit cards since 2006. With the majority of international travel plans on hold for 2021, it’s a great time to start collecting points for future plans. (Might as well put this time at home to good use!)

We’ve taken a look at old standbys and new arrivals to the travel rewards cards scene in Canada and picked our favourites. Hopefully this will help you get through the next lockdown, conjuring dreams of balmy beaches or bustling urban jungles in far-off countries (you’ll get there).

Best Canadian Travel Credit Cards: Top 6 Compared

Card

Best For

Annual Fees

Interest Rate (purchase / cash advance)

Minimum Income (person / household)

Learn More

Amercian Express Cobalt

Amex Cobalt

Hybrid Card (Best Overall)

$120

19.99% / 22.99%

None

TD Aeroplan

TD Aeroplan

Aeroplan points

$139

19.99% / 22.99%

$60,000 / $100,000

BMO air miles mastercard

BMO Air Miles

Air Miles

$120

9.99% / 22.99%

$80,000 /  $150,000

MBNA rewards platinum plus mastercard

MBNA Rewards

No Fees

$0

19.99% /  24.99%

None

Scotiabank Passport Infinite Visa

Scotiabank Passport Infinite

No foreign transaction fees

$139

19.99% / 22.99%

$60,000 / $100,000

CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite

CIBC Aeroplan

Insurance coverage

$139

19.99% / 22.99%

$60,000 / $100,000

What to Consider When Comparing Travel Credit Cards

When you compare travel credit cards, it’s important to keep your specific needs in mind:

  • Do you have a preferred airline? Aeroplan is Air Canada’s signature points program.
  • Do you prefer more flexibility? Air Miles or a credit card reward points system may work better for you.
  • What’s your financial situation? Many rewards cards come with minimum income requirements and annual fees.
  • Have you had bad luck with trips in the past? You may want to make sure you’re covered by a robust travel insurance package.
  • What’s most important to you when you think about travelling?

Obviously, we can’t answer these questions for your specific situation, so you’ll have to fill in the blanks using the information below before signing up with any credit card on our Best Travel Credit Card in Canada list.

 Is a Travel Credit Card Right for Me?

Travel credit cards are worth considering if you use the card often and travel multiple times a year. Using the card for everyday spending and then paying it off in full each month is one tactic you can use to rack up points quickly. 

Travellers can also make use of travel credit card perks (free checked bags, lounge access, discounts on auto rentals, etc.). These savings add up over multiple trips and can offset the cost of the card if you travel frequently. One word of warning: travel credit cards are primarily designed for people who fly, so if you prefer to travel by train, you might want to consider a rewards card that gives you cash back or other discounts.

Our best travel credit card list will highlight those credit cards that offer the highest earn rate, with the greatest degree of flexibility, combined with perks such as excellent built-in travel insurance and other useful underutilized features. We did our homework so you don’t have to—we’ve even included a couple of alternative selections in case our winning cards don’t feel like your perfect match.

Best Travel Credit Card For Aeroplan Points: TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite

With accelerated points earning on food, gas, and Air Canada travel, plus additional perks like a free checked bag and travel insurance, the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite tops our list of Aeroplan credit cards. While the fee is a hefty $139/year, the welcome bonus and the fact that the first year’s fee is waived (if you apply by May 31) make this card well worth trying out. We especially appreciate the Buddy Pass, which is always helpful if you’re booking a trip with a friend or family member. 

Annual Fee: $139 ($75 per additional card)

Minimum Income Requirements: $60,000 annual personal income, or $100,000 combined household income.

Interest: 19.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances

Earn Rate: 1.5 points per dollar spent on eligible gas and grocery, and on Air Canada purchases made with your card. 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. You can earn double points by paying with your card and providing your Aeroplan number.

Welcome Bonus: Earn up to 30,000 Aeroplan points, an annual fee rebate for the first year, and a bonus Buddy Pass if you apply by May 30, 2021.

Insurance Coverage:

  • Travel medical insurance
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • Flight/Trip delay insurance
  • Delayed and lost baggage insurance
  • Common carrier travel accident insurance
  • Hotel/motel burglary insurance
  • Auto rental collision/loss damage insurance.

Other perks: First checked bag is free, 1.5 bonus Aeroplan points on Starbucks purchases (before Nov. 7, 2021), NEXUS fee rebate every 4 years, emergency travel assistance services, savings on Avis and Budget car rentals, mobile device coverage, purchase security and extended warranty insurance.

The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite is a solid Aeroplan option with excellent perks. The current welcome bonus is enough to cover a one-way flight from Halifax to Toronto or Vancouver to Los Angeles. The included Buddy Pass allows a companion to travel with the cardholder anywhere in North America for a base fare of $0. Every Air Canada seat is available to purchase on points, with no restrictions or blackout periods. The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite also has you covered for travel insurance. 

If you’re a frequent Air Canada passenger and you want a card that will help you get further for less, the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite is the card for you!

Best Travel Credit Card For Air Miles: BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard

We’ve checked our sources and it’s official: if you collect Air Miles and want a travel credit card that will help you fly sooner and farther, with the most perks, the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard is your best choice. The minimum income requirements may put this card out of reach for some, but if you meet the criteria, you’ll reap the rewards. 

We selected the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard because it combines solid earning with excellent perks and features like full insurance coverage. However, if you’re less concerned about the extra features and are simply looking for a great, high earning alternative with no fees, keep reading because we found you an alternative.

Annual Fee: $120

Minimum Income Requirements: $80,000 annual personal income, or $150,000 combined household income.

Interest: 19.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances

Earn Rate: Earn 1 Mile for every $10 in credit card purchases. Get topped-up to 5x the AIR MILES Reward Miles on groceries until May 31, 2021. 

Welcome Bonus: 2,000 bonus miles, $120 fee waived for the first year

Insurance Coverage:

  • Travel emergency medical insurance
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • Flight delay insurance
  • Delayed and lost baggage insurance
  • Auto rental collision/loss damage insurance.

Other perks: 15% discount on all Air Miles flights in North America, with no blackout periods. WiFi hotspot access, Mastercard Airport Experiences lounge access with two complimentary passes per year. Extended warranty protection and 90-day purchase protection.

The BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard combines a consistent rate of earning with travel insurance coverage and a selection of other perks. We appreciate a card that’s well-rounded, which is why it’s our pick for best Air Miles credit card. 

That being said, if you’re looking for a higher rate of earning and are less concerned about full insurance coverage, consider our runner up: the American Express Air Miles Platinum card, which allows you to earn one Mile per $5 spent on eligible food, drinks, and local transit (up to $30,000 annually) and has a similar sign-up bonus, but fewer insurance options. 

Best Travel Credit Card With No Annual Fee: MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard

If you’re looking for a card that gives you travel rewards without charging you fees, we recommend the MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard.  With no fees and no minimum income requirement, this card is ideal if you want to earn points towards your travel plans but may not meet the requirements of some of the other cards on the list. 

The welcome bonus is generous without requiring the same level of spending as some other options on this list (for example, you get 5,000 bonus points if you open a bank account and opt for electronic statements). We always appreciate a card that gives us great value while also asking less of us. 

Annual Fee: None

Minimum Income Requirements: None

Interest: 19.99% on purchases, 24.99% on cash advances, 22.99% on balance transfers

Earn Rate: 2 points for every $1 spent on eligible gas, grocery and restaurant purchases ($5,000 annual cap on each category) and 1 point for every $1 spent on all other eligible purchases. As an extra bonus, earn 4 points for every $1 spent on eligible gas, grocery and restaurant purchases during the first 90 days,

Welcome Bonus: Up to 10,000 points: 5,000 if you spend $500 on eligible purchases within the first 90 days, plus a “Paperless Bonus” of 5,000 bonus points, if you sign up for online banking and paperless statements within the first 90 days.

Insurance Coverage: None listed

Other perks: Savings on Avis and Budget car rentals. Extended warranty protection (up to 1 additional year) and 90-day purchase protection.

The MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard may not have as many perks as some of the other cards on the list, but it’s a great choice if you’re a student or you’re simply looking for a card that lets you earn points without charging fees. If you’re looking for more information on no-fee cards, take a look at our article on the top no-fee cards in Canada

Best Travel Credit Card With No Foreign Transaction Fees: Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite

Most credit card companies will charge a 2.5% transaction fee every time you make purchases in a foreign currency. If you’d like to shop abroad without worrying about additional fees, consider the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite. 

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite does not mark up foreign currency purchases, regardless of whether you make those purchases abroad or in Canada. This fact, plus a substantial collection of perks and benefits, make this card stand out. 

Annual Fee: $139 (first additional card free, then $50 per subsequent card)

Minimum Income Requirements: $60,000 annual personal income, $100,000 combined household income, or $250,000 in assets under management.

Interest: 19.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances

Earn Rate: 2 Scotia Rewards points for every $1 you spend on purchases of eligible groceries, dining, entertainment, and daily transit (buses, subways, taxis, etc.). Earn 1 Scotia Rewards point on every $1 you spend on all other eligible purchases.

Welcome Bonus: Up to 40,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points: 30,000 points when you make at least $1,000 in eligible purchases in the first 90 days, 10,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points when you spend at least $40,000 in everyday eligible purchases annually.

Insurance Coverage:

  • Travel emergency medical insurance
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • Flight delay insurance
  • Delayed and lost baggage insurance
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Hotel/motel burglary insurance
  • Auto rental collision/loss damage insurance.

Other perks:

No foreign currency fees, Priority Pass membership and 6 free airport lounge visits per year ($32 thereafter), complimentary Avis preferred plus membership, Visa Concierge Service and Hotel Collection (free upgrades if available, free in-room WiFi). Extended warranty protection (up to 1 additional year) and 90-day purchase protection.

Combining no foreign transaction fees with other excellent features such as lounge access, insurance, and a generous welcome bonus, the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite is a great choice. Our article on top credit cards with no foreign transaction fees has more information on this card as well as a runner-up option. 

Travel Rewards Card With The Best Insurance Coverage: CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite

With the most generous coverage out of any of the cards on this list, a welcome bonus, and accelerated earning on eligible purchases, the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite is the perfect choice for travellers who appreciate the peace of mind they get from robust travel insurance.

We crunched the numbers and the CIBC Aeroplan Visa came out on top not only in total insurance value but also in length of coverage. And while many cards don’t offer travel emergency medical insurance to cardholders aged 65 and over, the CIBC Aeroplan Visa does. Coverage like that is worth celebrating. 

Annual Fee: $139 ($75 per additional card)

Minimum Income Requirements: $60,000 annual personal income, or $100,000 combined household income

Interest: 19.99% for purchases, 22.99% (21.99% for Quebec residents) for cash advances

Earn Rate: 1.5 points per dollar spent on eligible gas and grocery, and on Air Canada purchases made with your card. 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. You can earn double points by paying with your card and providing your Aeroplan number.

Welcome Bonus: Up to 20,000 Aeroplan points: Earn 10,000 Aeroplan points when you make your first purchase. Earn 10,000 bonus Aeroplan points and a Buddy Pass when you spend $1,000 or more during the first 4 months.  

Insurance Coverage:

  • Travel emergency medical insurance (up to $5 million per insured person, per trip, 31-day coverage if under 65 years, 10-day coverage if 65 and over)
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance (up to $2,500 per insured person, to a combined maximum of $10,000 per trip)
  • Trip interruption/delay insurance (up to $5,000 per insured person, to a combined maximum of $25,000 per trip)
  • Flight delay insurance (up to $500 per person, to a combined maximum of $1000 per occurrence)
  • Delayed baggage insurance (up to $500 per person, to a combined maximum of $1000 per occurrence)
  • Lost/stolen baggage insurance (up to $1,000 per insured person, to a combined maximum of $2,500)
  • Travel accident insurance (Up to $500,000 per insured person)
  • Auto rental collision/loss damage insurance on rental cars with a suggested retail price up to $85,000

Other perks:

First checked bag free for authorized users, Get up to 10 cents off per litre at participating gas stations with Journie Rewards. Visa Concierge Service and Hotel Collection (free upgrades if available, free in-room WiFi). Extended warranty protection (up to 1 additional year) and 90-day purchase protection.

The standout feature of the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite is the month-long medical emergency coverage. It’s almost a week longer than the next longest coverage period on the list. And cardholders over 65 are still covered for 10 days—which is almost unheard of. When compared head to head against the competition, the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite’s generous coverage won every time. That’s why we recommend this card as the best for travel insurance.

Jack of All Trades: American Express Cobalt

The American Express Cobalt is an excellent travel rewards card and even though it didn’t top any of our other categories, it came close. It’s got an excellent earn rate and a sizable welcome bonus that doesn’t require as much spending as some of the other cards do ($3,000 in the first three months). 

The fact is that we just couldn’t decide which category to put this excellent credit card in…so we made one up. The Amex Cobalt card deserves its own category. 

Annual Fee: $120

Minimum Income Requirements: None

Interest: 19.99% on purchases, 22.99% on balance transfers and cash advances

Earn Rate: 5 points for every $1 spent at restaurants and grocery stores in Canada, as well as food and grocery delivery. 2 points for every $1 spent at gas stations in Canada, or for travel or local commuting, up to a combined maximum of $30,000 on these categories annually. Once the maximum is reached, earn 1 point for every $1.

Welcome Bonus: Up to 30,000 points: In your first year you can earn 2,500 Membership Rewards points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $500 on your Card. If you apply by May 5, 2021, you can earn 15,000 bonus points if you spend a total of $3,000 in the first 3 months.

Insurance Coverage:

  • Travel medical insurance
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • Flight/Trip delay insurance
  • Delayed and lost baggage insurance
  • Common carrier travel accident insurance
  • Hotel/motel burglary insurance
  • Auto rental collision/loss damage insurance.

Other perks:

Periodic Perks including bonus rewards and access to great events. Up to $100 USD hotel credit to use on amenities like dining, spa or other leisure facilities when charged to the room. A one-category room upgrade at check-in, when available. Extended warranty protection (up to 1 additional year) and 90-day purchase protection.

A good earn rate, generous welcome bonus, and great insurance coverage make the American Express Cobalt card one of the best travel credit cards in Canada this year, and a must-include on this list.

Frequently Asked Questions About Travel Cards in Canada

So What’s the Best Travel Rewards Card for You in 2021?

When you’re shopping for the best travel rewards credit card, it’s important to keep your specific travel priorities and spending patterns in mind. There are so many excellent offerings on the market that it really comes down to what’s best for you.  From the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite with its accelerated Aeroplan points earning on certain purchases, to the MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard, with no fee and no minimum income requirement, there’s something here for everyone. 

Whether you’re looking for the best Canadian travel credit card for flight upgrades within a specific airline, or looking for a card that maxes out your grocery purchases, it’s important to review what you want to prioritize, and how your monthly spending categories would be best utilized. 

When it comes to our own wallets, the MDJ editorial team has all decided on the Amex Cobalt card. It was a strong contender in multiple categories, has a great rate of earning, and allows for business class booking. It’s a great all-rounder. 

That being said, it pays to do your own homework here. Figure out what you need and then look for the best travel credit card offerings in that area. 

Meg Goodmanson

Meg is a writer, editor, virtual assistant, credit card expert, and lifelong learner-of-things. A self-proclaimed nerd, Meg’s favourite thing is collecting information and presenting it in an interesting and helpful way—especially if it helps her travel for free!
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