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Best Canadian travel credit cards - Guide to finding the right one for you

Updated: Aug 27


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What are some of the best Canadian travel credit cards out there?


It's not so easy to say which card is the best one as it depends on your specific needs!


But how do you find the right one for you? Is it a long and tedious process?


Not so much.


Today I'm going to show you a simple 3 step plan to finding the best Canadian travel credit cards that are just right for you.


In fact, using this 3 step plan helped my family save over $800 on their latest trip to the Canary Islands.


But first...



Should I get a travel credit card?


Are you someone who enjoys travelling? Maybe a few times a year?


Do these trips involve flying?


Are you interested in obtaining free travel perks like lounge access or baggage fee discounts?


According to Payments Canada in 2021, around 22% of credit cards in Canada are travel rewards credit cards.


This goes to show the rising popularity and demand for travel credit cards across Canada.


Now, let's dive right into the 3 step guide.


Step 1: Check if there is a minimum income requirement


This simple step will help you not waste any time and focus on the cards you may qualify for.


Many of the top Canadian travel credit cards come with minimum income requirements.


Here is a table that lists some of the best Canadian travel credit cards, along with their minimum income requirements.


Credit card

Individual income

Household income

American Express Cobalt

N/A

N/A

The platinum Card from American Express

N/A

N/A

American Express Green Card

N/A

N/A

Scotiabank Gold American Express

$12,000

N/A

CIBC Aventura Gold Visa

$15,000

N/A

CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card

$15,000

N/A

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite

$60,000

$100,000

TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite

$60,000

$100,000

CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite

$60,000

$100,000

Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite

$60,000

$100,000

RBC Avion Visa Infinite

$60,000

$100,000

BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard

$80,000

$150,000

WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard

$80,000

$150,000

CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Privilege

$150,000

$200,000


And a chart to visualize this data better.



For example, for applying to to the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card, you will need to either have an individual gross income of $60,000 or household income of $100,000.


Household income is generally determined as the total combined income of all individuals in a household.


That could include salaries, wages, bonuses, investments or any other source of income.


After eliminating the options that may not work for you, let's dive into step 2.



Step 2: Highlight the features most important to you


One of the key things people often want to know is whether there's a yearly cost associated with the credit cards they are interested in.


If credit card fees are a significant factor to you, it can be helpful to visualize the different prices of the best Canadian travel credit cards.


Let's take a look at this table.

Credit Card

Annual Price

American Express Green Card

$0

CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card

$0

WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard

$119

RBC Avion Visa Infinite

$120

BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard

$120

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

$120

CIBC Aventura Gold Visa

$139

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite

$139

TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite

$139

CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite

$139

Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite

$150

American Express Cobalt

$155.88

CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Privilege

$499

The platinum Card from American Express

$699

As you can see, many of the best travel credit cards come with hefty price tags.


However, if you're looking for one of the best no-fee travel credit cards in Canada, take a look at CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card.


It offers a sizable 10,000 Points bonus and has a high rewards earning rate.


CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card

But let me tell you to not be afraid of paying an annual fee for travel credit cards.


Why not?


Because many of the higher priced travel credit cards also come with higher rewards rates, greater benefits and very often can pay for themselves.


Let's dive deeper into some of the benefits many of these cards have.


Some of the key extra benefits that come with travel rewards credit cards include:



Travel insurance


This can cover trip cancellations, medical costs, baggage loss or more during your travels.


Most people would agree that travel insurance is essential.


It provides a peace of mind for every trip you go to.


Now to get a better sense of which travel credit card comes with which types of insurance coverage, let's take a look at this table:



As you can see, the RBC Avion Visa Infinite and the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard have not only some of the best insurance coverages, but are also reasonably priced at $120.


BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard

How about having access to comfortable lounges while waiting hours for your next flight?



Airport lounge access


If you're a frequent traveler and would like to relax at exclusive airport lounges, this benefit is a must have.


CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card

One of the best travel credit cards for premium airport lounge access is CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card.


It provides 4 complimentary airport lounge visits per year to over 1200 lounges worldwide.



Free checked bags


Most airlines charge close to $100 or more per checked bag so this could save you a decent amount of money.


TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite offers free first checked bag benefit.


It also allows for sharing benefits and points across 8 other family members.


So when you include yourself, that's a total of 9 passengers with 9 free first checked bags on an Air Canada flight.



Zero foreign transaction fees


If you use your credit card when purchasing in non-Canadian currencies, you are often charged a 2.5% fee. Avoid it with this benefit!


Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

If no transaction fees on foreign purchases is a must have for you, consider the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card.


It further allows you to redeem points for travel to anywhere without restrictions.



Extended warranty


This benefit is great to have for lengthening your warranty by a year or two and is usually included in most travel credit cards.



Purchase protection


Offers protection for your purchases by refunding you the difference in value if you find a lower price later. Also included in most travel credit cards.



There's more...


If you don't have a strong preference for which benefits are a must-have, then consider this:


The credit card welcome bonus.


The welcome bonus more often than not intrigues many people.


Let's take a look at a few travel credit cards with the best welcome bonuses.



You see that some travel credit cards like the American Express Cobalt may have fairly lower welcome bonuses compared to the rest.


But should that keep you away from those credit cards?


The truth is that many of those credit card welcome bonus offers are temporary.


So in a few months, they may no longer be valid.


For example, the special offer by RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card that can earn you up to 55,000 points ($1,100 in the first year) ends by April 30, 2023.


Not to mention that the credit cards with lower welcome bonuses could potentially earn you more rewards in the long run compared to the rest.


Now that's a lot of perks to keep in mind.


Let's break it down into a simple table to visualize things better.


Airport lounge access

Free checked bags

Zero foreign transaction fees

Extended warranty

Price protection

American Express Green Card





CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card





WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard







RBC Avion Visa Infinite





BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard







CIBC Aventura Gold Visa







TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite







TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite







CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite







Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite









American Express Cobalt





CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Privilege







The platinum card from American Express







At this stage, you may have zeroed in on a few of your favorite travel credit cards.

But there is one more step which will help you drastically increase your confidence with your picks.


Let's go to step 3 to find out!



Step 3: Find the cards that give you the highest rewards


Now this step is where the fun begins.


Determining your total rewards potential.


Some of the credit card websites already include a section for estimating your points earning potential.


For example the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card.


calculate your potential travel points CIBC Aventura

But you can only estimate your spending so much.


How confident would you feel about those results?


I would say not so much.


Other methods for estimating your potential return involve either using a service like ratehub or doing the math yourself.


However, services like ratehub only factor in spending estimates that are often not very accurate.


Doing the math yourself can be time consuming.


Fortunately, you can let our free mobile app take care of all this for you.


We can analyze your real spending patterns and find the best travel credit cards for you.


You can visit our website to find out more.




The final consensus


And now it's time for the final list of best Canadian travel credit cards.


I chose these travel credit cards based on 5 key factors:

  • No outrageous yearly fees

  • Very high rewards earning rate

  • Extensive travel insurance coverage

  • Flexible points redemption options

  • Generous welcome bonus offers


Here are the top 5 picks:


1. American Express Cobalt Card


- Best all around

- Fantastic reward earning rate

- Transferable reward points

- Great insurance coverage


2. CIBC Aventura Gold Visa Card


- Flexible booking options with fewer points usage

- Multiple types of travel insurance

- 4 free airport lounge visits annually

- Access to 1,200 lounges worldwide


3. TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card


TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card

- Great airline card

- Large welcome bonus worth up to $1,100 in value

- Free first checked bags on Air Canada flights

- Earns you points twice with Aeroplan number


4. RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card


RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card

- Up to $1,100 of value in welcome offer bonus points

- Flexible redemption options

- High redemption value of Avion Points

- 12 different types of insurance and protection


5. BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard


- Waived first year's fee

- Extensive airport perks like 24/7 concierge access

- High rewards earning rate, 1 Air Mile per $12 spent

- Extensive medical insurance coverage of $2 million



Remember I told you that I helped my family save over $800 for their flights to the Canary Islands?


Using this 3 step guide is what helped me narrow down on the travel credit card that worked best for both me and my family.


So try it out and let me know in the comments!


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I hope you enjoy reading this article.

If you want to find your best credit cards and maximize rewards, book a session now.

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