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You’ve been misled about travel credit cards. Many articles focus on the numerical point value and welcome bonus while failing to understand that Canadians have varying needs. It’s understandable, given the complexity of calculating point values and the steep learning curve of travel credit cards.

However, we’ve unpacked everything for you in this article. We begin with listing the best options and how they compare across rewards potential, redemption flexibility, insurance coverage, and additional benefits such as lounge access.

Furthermore, we provide frameworks to help you evaluate a card’s point-earning potential and rewards program. It’s capped off by explaining the different types of credit card travel insurance in detail and additional features to be aware of. By the end of this article, you’ll be empowered to determine the best card.

CardAnnual FeeEarn Rate*Additional info
American Express Cobalt® Card$155.88 ($12.99 monthly)2%-10%Best for points
Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite Card$1501%-3%Best for international travel
RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card$1202.33%-2.91%Best for predictable points
American Express® Aeroplan® Card$1202%-4%Best for Aeroplan points
The Platinum Card® By American Express$7992%-4%Best for lounge access
TD Business Travel Visa* Card$1491%-4.5%Best for business travel

*We’ve calculated the earn rate across networks to provide a direct comparison. The calculation uses the maximum point value, which may not always be available. 


American Express Cobalt Card® – Best For Points

The American Express Cobalt Card is the best travel credit card for points. Its high earn rate on everyday spending earns you up to five points per dollar spent on eats and drinks. Redemptions are especially lucrative with Amex’s transfer partner network, which can double the value of your points, earning you up to 10%. 

The card provides robust travel insurance, including coverage for lost baggage, emergency medical situations, trip interruption, and more. The card also offers travel perks such as up to $100 USD in hotel credit through The Hotel Collection from American Express Travel.

While the card is the pinnacle of earning points, it doesn’t offer lounge access. Furthermore, Amex cards suffer from a lack of merchant acceptance abroad. Overall, it appeals to individuals who prioritize points and insurance coverage with less emphasis on airport lounges.

Basic Features

  • Annual Fee: $155.88 ($12.99 monthly)
  • Purchase Rate: 20.99%
  • Cash Advance Rate: 21.99%
  • Card Earn Rate (Maximum Value):
    • 5x points (10%) on eats and drinks
    • 3x points (6%) on streaming subscriptions
    • 2x points (4%) on travel and transit
    • 1x point (2%) on everything else
  • Eligibility: N/A Income, 660+ credit score

Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite Card

Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite Card – Best For International Travel

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite shines without foreign exchange fees and industry-leading lounge access. On the points frontier, you can expect up to a 3% earn rate and a robust welcome bonus. Points are earned as Scene+ points, with no blackout dates but a lack of transfer partners. Redemptions are straightforward, as Scene+ points carry a flat value of one cent per point.

As for insurance, the card provides strong coverage, including travel emergency medical insurance. Other notable coverages include trip cancellation and interruption, delayed and lost luggage, rental car, and more. The coverage is underwritten by Manulife, a reputable Canadian provider. The overall suite of features appeals to frequent travellers. However, it comes at the expense of maximizing points.

Basic Features

  • Annual Fee: $150
  • Purchase Rate: 20.99%
  • Cash Advance Rate: 22.99%
  • Card Earn Rate (Maximum Value):
    • 3x points (3%) at participating grocery merchants
    • 2x points (2%) on other groceries, entertainment, and transit
    • 1x point (1%) on everything else
  • Eligibility: $60,000 personal, or $100,000 household income, or $250,000 assets under management, 760+ credit score

RBC Visa Infinite Avion

RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card – Best For Predictable Points

The RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card presents a straightforward approach to earning points. It’s best if you have dynamic spending habits that don’t align with category bonuses provided by other cards. All purchases earn one point per dollar spent, with a 25% increase in travel purchases. Redeeming points at peak value translates to a 2.33% to 2.91% earn rate. The font-loaded welcome bonus upon approval is also attractive.

RBC’s reward program is flexible, given the lack of blackout dates and seat restrictions. You can also transfer points to other airline partners like WestJet, British Airways, and Cathay Pacific. However, the Air Travel Redemption Schedule is the best way to redeem points. Insurance coverage rounds out the offer with emergency medical, flight delay, rental car, and more. 

While it doesn’t have lounge access, you can get a free ski pass for a friend at Blue Mountain, Mont Tremblant, and other resorts in Canada. The RBC Avion Visa Infinite balances a straightforward approach to earning points with redemption flexibility and comprehensive insurance coverage.

Basic Features

  • Annual Fee: $120
  • Purchase Rate: 20.99%
  • Cash Advance Rate: 22.99%
  • Card Earn Rate (Maximum Value):
    • 1.25x points (2.91%) on travel
    • 1x point (2.33%) on everything else
  • Eligibility: $60,000 personal, or $100,000 household income, 725+ credit score

American Express Aeroplan Card (1)

American Express® Aeroplan® Card – Best For Aeroplan Points

Across Aeroplan credit cards, the American Express Aeroplan Card provides the best balance of earning potential with annual fees. Aside from Aeroplan’s famous welcome bonuses, you can receive up to 4% on purchases. The card includes standard Aeroplan benefits such as free checked bags and status upgrades. Unfortunately, it doesn’t include lounge access.

The status as a charge card means you should avoid carrying a balance, given the high-interest rates. Furthermore, Aeroplan doesn’t impose blackout dates, and you can redeem points on partner airlines. 

Insurance coverage includes standard flight delay, baggage coverage, rental car, and more. However, it notably lacks travel medical coverage. Overall, the Amex Aeroplan Card provides a good balance between the ongoing earn rate and additional benefits.

Basic Features

  • Annual Fee: $120
  • Purchase Rate: Up to 30%
  • Cash Advance Rate: N/A
  • Card Earn Rate (Maximum Value):
    • 2x points (4%) on Air Canada
    • 1.5x points (3%)  on dining and food delivery
    • 1x point (2%) on everything else
  • Eligibility: N/A Income, 660+ credit score

The Platinum Card By American Express

The Platinum Card® By American Express – Best For Lounge Access

The Platinum Card from American Express is renowned for unlimited global access to over 1,300 lounges, including The Centurion Lounge. However, Amex has recently increased the annual fee. To compensate, they’ve introduced a variety of credits, such as $200 for travel and another $200 for dining.

You’ll earn up to two points per dollar spent on dining, travel, and food delivery, reaching a 4% earning rate. Your points can be redeemed through Amex’s market-leading rewards network. This includes various transfer partners to maximize flexibility.

The insurance coverage is managed by Royal & Sun Alliance (RSA Group) and Chubb. It includes all events you’d expect at this price point, including travel medical, trip cancellation, and more. Overall, the Amex Platinum Card appeals to those who can maximize lounge visits. 

Basic Features

  • Annual Fee: $799
  • Purchase Rate: Up to 30%
  • Cash Advance Rate: N/A
  • Card Earn Rate (Maximum Value):
    • 2x points (4%) on travel, dining, and food delivery
    • 1x point (2%) on everything else
  • Eligibility: Income N/A, 660+ credit score

TD Aeroplan Visa Business

TD Business Travel Visa* Card – Best For Business

The TD Business Travel Visa Card is a standout choice for the international business traveller. This is due to the strong rewards potential, with up to a 4.5% earn rate on Expedia For TD purchases.

Points are earned as TD Rewards, with a value of up to 0.5 cents per point. Fortunately, there are no travel blackouts or seat restrictions. However, TD Rewards has no transfer partners, so you’re limited to Expedia For TD redemptions to maximize value.

Travel insurance includes medical coverage, trip cancellation, baggage coverage, car rental, and more. All coverages are underwritten by TD Life Insurance and explained in the Certificate of Insurance.

Overall, the card presents lucrative points for Expedia enthusiasts. However, it lacks airport lounge access.

Basic Features

  • Annual Fee: $149
  • Purchase Rate: 19.99%
  • Cash Advance Rate: 22.99%
  • Card Earn Rate (Maximum Value):
    • 9x points (4.5%) on Expedia For TD
    • 6x points (3%) on foreign currency purchases, restaurants, and recurring bills
    • 2x points (1%) on everything else
  • Eligibility: Business documents, N/A income, N/A credit score

Travel credit cards canada

How To Earn Travel Credit Card Points

Each reward system is a different currency. TD Rewards carries a different value than Scotiabank’s Scene+, so their ability to earn one point per dollar spent is different. Throughout the article, we’ve valued points for you to compare cards directly. However, other core concepts exist for understanding your card’s ability to earn travel points:

  • Earn Rate: The points you earn per dollar spent. This should be multiplied by the average point valuation to calculate an exact ROI per dollar spent.
  • Category Bonuses: Your earn rate changes across spending categories. These categories include travel bookings, dining, groceries, gas, and foreign currency transactions. Aim to align category bonuses with your spending habits so you don’t need to go out of your way to maximize rewards.
  • Welcome Bonus: The most lucrative way to earn points is to receive a welcome bonus. When comparing welcome bonuses, consider if the spending requirements are achievable. Also, review if the welcome bonus is offered up-front or across many months.

Trying to find the best credit card combination for your needs?

How To Redeem Travel Credit Card Points

Not every travel rewards program is created equal. While the potential for lucrative rewards may tempt you, you may have a poor redemption experience. Before diving into a card, evaluate the following concepts to see if a rewards program is right for you.

  • Transfer Partners: Without transfer partners, your points are locked into redeeming through one network. Transfer partners provide redemption flexibility by letting you transfer points across airline and hotel networks. Redeeming points through transfer partners is often a great way to maximize the value.
  • Blackout Dates: Imagine you want to redeem your points to visit your family over Christmas, but there are no redemption options. Some programs impose blackout dates during high-traffic travel periods.
  • Redemption Options: Aside from blackout dates, some programs may only offer a handful of flights available to you. 

Are You Making A Good Redemption?

An improper redemption can significantly devalue your hard-earned points. For example, if you can redeem at a maximum value of two cents per point, do that. Don’t make the mistake of redeeming at a value of one cent per point instead. Here’s how to value your points at redemption:

  1. Review the points required for your desired redemption.
  2. Use an external travel portal (such as Expedia) to see the cost of the same flight.
  3. Calculate the prospective redemption valuation by dividing the flight cost by the number of points.
  4. If the prospective redemption exceeds the benchmark price, it’s a good redemption. Otherwise, you can get more value by retaining your points for now.

Travel Credit Card Insurance

There are seemingly endless insurance coverages that are difficult to understand. While the table below explains standard coverages, ensure they are listed on your card’s certificate of insurance. Research the coverage limit for the events to ensure they are sufficient to protect you.

Furthermore, look into previous experiences others have had with the underlying insurance provider. In many cases, another company provides the insurance, not the institution issuing your card. Ensure the underlying provider has a reputation for handling claims promptly and following through with payments.

Travel Medical InsuranceEmergency medical expenses, hospital bills, medical treatments, emergency dental care.
Trip Cancellation and Interruption InsuranceReimbursement for pre-paid, non-refundable travel expenses in the event of trip cancellation or interruption.
Flight Delay and Baggage InsuranceCoverage for expenses like meals and accommodation in case of a significant flight delay, compensation for lost, stolen, or damaged luggage.
Travel Accident InsuranceCompensation in the event of death or dismemberment while travelling on a common carrier.
Rental Car Collision/Loss Damage InsuranceCoverage for damage or theft of a rental vehicle.
Hotel/Motel Burglary InsuranceCompensation for personal items stolen from a paid hotel or motel room.
Purchase ProtectionCoverage against theft or damage of new items purchased with the card.
Extended WarrantyExtension of manufacturer’s original warranty on items purchased with the card.
Mobile Device InsuranceInsurance coverage for mobile devices (smartphones, tablets) in case of loss, theft, or damage.
Emergency Travel Assistance ServicesAssistance in coordinating medical care, legal services, and travel arrangements during emergencies abroad.

Additional Benefits From Travel Credit Cards

While rewards and insurance are often the most important factors in comparing the best travel credit cards, additional benefits exist. Here are some additional features to be aware of:

  1. Foreign Transaction Fees Waiver: Some cards waive foreign transaction fees, saving you a 2.5% fee on international purchases.
  2. Airport Lounge Access: Airport lounges provide a relaxed and comfortable environment with amenities such as Wi-Fi, food, drinks, and more. Some cards provide annual vouchers, while others require paid entry per visit.
  3. Credits: Some cards offer annual credits that can be used for specific expenses, such as flights, hotels, and NEXUS. This helps dilute the cost of your annual fee.
  4. Status Upgrades: Some cards partner airlines and hotel chains to offer automatic status upgrades. This can manifest as early check-ins, complimentary breakfast, or room upgrades.
  5. Companion Pass: Select cards offer a free companion ticket after you spend a certain amount annually. This lets you bring someone along for a heavily discounted price. 
  6. Concierge Services: Although not commonly used, some cards assist you with travel arrangements, dining reservations, event ticket bookings, and other services.
  7. Merchant Acceptance: Amex cards are less accepted globally despite bountiful rewards. This makes Visa and Mastercard better options for international travel.

Bottom Line

When choosing a travel credit card, balance your priorities between rewards potential, redemption flexibility, insurance coverage, and additional benefits. While cards like the Amex Cobalt offer the best earn rate, it comes at the expense of lounge access.

Align reward programs to your spending habits and focus on flexible options with transfer partners to maximize value. Also, carefully evaluate insurance coverage for robust protection. Since another company generally provides your insurance coverage, it’s worthwhile to research their reputation.

Ultimately, align a card to your travel style while ensuring lucrative earning and burning of points through an excellent rewards program. With the right travel card, you can offset travel costs and unlock VIP perks to elevate every trip.

No Fee Credit Card FAQs

How to apply for a travel credit card?

To apply for a travel credit card ensure you meet income and credit score requirements. You can then research the best options and apply directly on the financial institution’s website. 

What is the income requirement for a travel credit card?

Many travel rewards cards require a minimum personal income of $60,000-$80,000 or a minimum household income of $100,000-$150,000. You’ll also need to meet credit score requirements. 

What is credit card product switching? 

Many banks allow customers to product switch to a different card without reapplying. This is commonly done by people who want to receive a welcome bonus without impacting their credit score. 
Daniel Schoester avatar on Loans Canada
Daniel Schoester

Daniel is an expert on travel and finance. He received an Honours BBA (Finance) from Wilfrid Laurier University, then started his career with WOWA. Daniel is now the founder and lead financial writer of Croton Content. Aside from Loans Canada, notable clients include Forbes Advisor, WealthRocket, and Hardbacon. Daniel loves to travel when not working. Although based out of Lisbon, Portugal, some of his most adventurous destinations include Rio, Cairo, and Istanbul.

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