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Published July 1, 2022

10 Best Travel Credit Cards in Canada for 2022

Explore the best travel credit cards in Canada for daily spending, flexible travel rewards, big welcome bonuses and more.

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Canadians took to the roads, seas and skies to embark on over 27 million trips in the first quarter of 2021 alone, according to a National Travel Survey conducted by Statistics Canada. And that figure is likely to increase in 2022 as more Canadians gear up for their next adventure.

Our picks for the best travel credit cards in Canada include top cards across numerous categories to help you earn discounts, perks and rewards before your next trip.

Best travel credit cards in Canada

Our pick for travel rewards and purchases booked through Expedia

TD First Class Travel® Visa Infinite* Card

  • Annual Fee
    $120
    Waived first year
  • Interest Rates
    19.99% / 22.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    3x-9x Points
  • Intro Offer
    Up to 100,000 Points
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    With a large welcome bonus and accelerated earn rate on travel booked through ExpediaForTD.com, the TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card is perfect for travellers aiming to score free flights and hotel visits.

    Pros
    • A huge welcome bonus worth $670 — provided you take full advantage of the intro offer ($500) and the annual fee rebate for yourself ($120) and an additional cardholder ($50).
    • Travel expenses eligible for redemption include more than just hotel stays and flights – baggage fees, airport parking, car rentals, cruises, travel attractions, entertainment and more are all fair game.


    Cons
    • This card doesn’t have as many travel perks as others on the list, but you can quickly earn free flights and hotel stays.
    • No free airport lounge access — you only receive an annual discount on a Priority Pass lounge membership.
  • Product Details
    • Intro Offer: Earn up to 100,000 TD Points† plus, first year no Annual Fee for the Primary and Additional Cardholders†. Conditions Apply. Must apply by October 29, 2022.
    • Earn 3 TD Points for every $1 you spend on Purchases made using your Card†.
    • Earn 9 TD Points for every $1 you spend when you book travel online through Expedia® For TD†.
    • Your TD Points do not expire as long as you are a TD First Class Travel® Visa Infinite* Cardholder.
    • Interest Rates: 19.99% on purchases and 22.99% on cash advances.
    • Go places: You can earn more TD Points when you book your travel online with your TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card through ExpediaForTD.com. You can also redeem† any earned TD Points towards that purchase at time of booking to pay for all or part of your trip. Or, use your TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card to book travel with any other travel provider and redeem† any earned TD Points towards that purchase within 90 days after the purchase date.
    • Amazon.ca Shop with Points: Redeem your TD Points towards making purchases at Amazon.ca to get what you want, when you want, quickly and easily. Conditions apply.
    • Shop online through TD Rewards.com: You can also redeem your TD Points for brand name merchandise from gift cards and appliances, to electronics, luggage and more.
    • Emergency Road Services with Deluxe TD Auto Club Membership, valued at $79.00†, is included as an option with the product.
    • Travel Medical Insurance†: Up to $1 million of coverage for the first 21 days. If you or your spouse is aged 65 or older, you are covered for the first 4 days of your trip. Additional top-up coverage is available.
    • Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance†: For Trip Cancellation, up to $1,500 of coverage per insured person, with a maximum of $5,000 for all insured persons, and for Trip Interruption, up to $5,000 of coverage per insured person, with a maximum of $25,000 for all insured persons on the same covered trip.
    • To be eligible, $60,000 (individual) or $100,000 (household) annual income is required. Also, you must have a Canadian credit file and be a Canadian resident of the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.
    • †Terms and conditions apply. This offer is not available for residents of Quebec.
    • The Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) is not responsible for the contents of this site including any editorials or reviews that may appear on this site. For complete and current information on any TD product, please click the Apply Now button.
Our pick for bonus rewards on daily spending

American Express Cobalt® Card

  • Annual Fee
    $155.88
  • Interest Rates
    20.99% / 21.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    1x-5x Points
  • Intro Offer
    Up to 30,000 Points
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    The American Express Cobalt Card boasts high rewards rates on everyday spending, a generous welcome bonus, comprehensive travel insurance coverage, flexible point redemption and plenty of specialty perks to keep things interesting all year long.

    Pros
    • Earn 150,000 points in the first year by spending up to $30,000 on eats, drinks and groceries. Combined with the 30,000 point intro offer, you could earn 180,000 points in your first year, which you could redeem for travel and more.
    • Easily transfer the points you earn to popular airline and hotel loyalty programs, such as Aeroplan and Marriott Bonvoy.


    Cons
    • Airport lounge access isn’t provided, which may disappoint some frequent travellers.
    • No travel medical coverage for cardmembers over the age of 65.
  • Product Details
    • In your first year as a new Cobalt Cardmember, you can earn 2,500 Membership Rewards® points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $500 in net purchases on your Card. This could add up to 30,000 points in a year.
    • 30,000 points is enough for: $300 in statement credits redeemed towards purchases charged to your Card or $225 in American Express® Prepaid Cards.
    • Earn 5x the points on eligible eats and drinks in Canada, including groceries and food delivery.
    • Earn 3x the points on eligible streaming subscriptions in Canada.
    • Earn 2 points for every $1 spent on eligible transit & gas purchases in Canada and eligible travel purchases. That's 2X the points on purchases that get you from point A to B.
    • Earn 1 point for every $1 in Card purchases everywhere else. We won't tell you where to spend, we'll just reward you on your Card purchases.
    • Transfer points 1:1 to several frequent flyer and other loyalty programs.
    • Cobalt Cardmembers receive regular Perks such as bonus reward offers and access to great events.
    • Access Front Of The Line® Presale & Reserved Tickets to some of your favourite concerts and theatre performances and special offers and events curated for Cardmembers with American Express® Experiences.
    • American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details, current product information and Terms and Conditions, click the Apply now link. Conditions Apply.
Best credit card for Aeroplan rewards

American Express® Aeroplan® Reserve Card

  • Annual Fee
    $599
  • Interest Rates
    19.99% / 21.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    1.25x-3x Points
  • Intro Offer
    Up to 85,000 Points
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    Comprehensive travel insurance, Air Canada benefits, impressive earn rates and unlimited rewards make the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card a strong choice for frequent travellers.

    Pros
    • Strong earn rates with unlimited rewards.
    • Air Canada airport benefits, like Maple Leaf Lounge access, a free checked bag, Priority Airport Check-In, Priority Boarding for you and up to eight travel companions.


    Cons
    • A high $599 annual fee.
    • The highest earn rate only applies to Air Canada travel purchases, so this card might not be a good fit if you prefer another airline.
  • Product Details
    • New American Express® Aeroplan®* Reserve Cardmembers can earn up to 85,000 Aeroplan points:
    • Earn 25,000 Aeroplan points after spending $3,000 in net purchases on your Card within the first 3 months of Cardmembership.
    • Plus, you can also earn 5,000 Aeroplan points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $1,000 in purchases on your Card for the first twelve months of Cardmembership. That could add up to 60,000 Aeroplan points.
    • New Cardmembers: Earn up to $2,700 in value within your first year. Spend applies to bonus point offers valued at up to $1,700.
    • Eligible cardmembers get a FREE Uber Pass membership for 12 months. Including unlimited $0 delivery fee on eligible restaurant orders of $15 or more, 5% off eligible restaurant orders over $15, and exclusive Rides Perks.
    • New Cardmembers: Receive up to $100 CAD in statement credits every four years when a NEXUS application or renewal fee is charged to your American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card.
    • Standard Earn Rate: Earn 3X the points on eligible purchases made directly with Air Canada®* and Air Canada Vacations®*.
    • Standard Earn Rate: Earn 2X the points on eligible Dining and Food Delivery purchases in Canada.
    • Earn 2X the points on eligible purchases with Rocky Mountaineer®**. Plus, you could receive a Complimentary Hotel Room Category Upgrade, on the first and last night, and a Complimentary Upgrade from SilverLeaf to GoldLeaf class of service when you book directly with Rocky Mountaineer using your Aeroplan Reserve Card.
    • Standard Earn Rate: Earn 1.25X the points on everything else.
    • Get through the airport quicker with Air Canada Priority Check-In, Air Canada Priority Boarding and Air Canada Priority Baggage Handling.
    • Receive one Annual Worldwide Companion Pass when you spend $25,000 in net purchases prior to your Card anniversary date; your Pass entitles you to buy an accompanying Air Canada economy class ticket for a companion at a fixed base fare from $99 to a maximum of $599 CAD (plus taxes, fees, charges, and surcharges).
    • Enjoy access to select Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges™* and Air Canada Café™ in North America for you and a guest, with a same day ticket on a departing Air Canada or Star Alliance flight.
    • Enjoy your eligible first checked bag free for up to 9 people travelling on the same reservation on Air Canada flights.
    • Roll over any unallocated Aeroplan Elite™* Status Qualifying Miles and unused eUpgrade Credits to the following year to enjoy during your travels.
    • American Express® Experiences opens doors for you to access a number of special events, including special dining experiences, VIP parties, advance film screenings and more.
    • Get more from your travel experience at Toronto Pearson International Airport with:
    • Access to Pearson Priority Security Lane.
    • Complimentary valet service at the Express Park and Daily Park.
    • 15% discount on parking rates at the Express Park and Daily Park.
    • 15% discount on Car Care Services.
    • Get access to more than 1,200 Priority Pass™ airport lounges and enjoy an oasis of comfort before your flight, regardless of your airline or cabin class.
    • American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details and current product information click the Apply now link. Conditions apply.
Best credit card for AIR MILES rewards

American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card

  • Annual Fee
    $120
  • Interest Rates
    20.99% / 21.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    0.1x-0.2x Miles
  • Intro Offer
    2,000 Miles
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    The American Express AIR MILES Platinum card’s array of Platinum perks and unlimited rewards make it a fantastic value. Plus, an intro offer valued at $200 makes the $120 annual fee well worth paying.

    Pros
    • A generous intro offer worth $200 in purchases with AIR MILES Cash.
    • Includes several types of insurance: Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance, Travel Accident Insurance, Purchase Protection® Plan, Fraud Protection Guarantee, and Buyer's Assurance® Protection Plan.


    Cons
    • The earn rate on food, drinks, gas and transit is capped at $30,000 annual spend. After that, you’ll need to spend twice as much to receive the same number of AIR MILES.
  • Product Details
    • New American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card Cardmembers, earn a Welcome Bonus of 2,000 AIR MILES Bonus Miles when you charge a total of $1,500 in purchases to your Card within your first three months of Cardmembership. That’s enough to redeem for $200 towards your purchases with AIR MILES Cash.
    • Earn 1 Mile for every $5 in Card purchases, up to $30,000 annually, on eligible food & drinks, (such as eligible restaurants, coffee shops and stand-alone grocery stores), and eligible gas & transit (such as local commuter transportation including ridesharing services and taxi) in Canada.
    • Earn 1 Mile for every $10 in Card purchases everywhere else.
    • American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card Cardmembers can take advantage of the Annual Travel Redemption Benefit. Once per calendar year, when an eligible Cardmember uses Dream Miles with the AIR MILES Reward Program to book their first single flight or package vacation through airmiles.ca or vacations.airmiles.ca, they can get Bonus Miles equivalent to 25% of the net number of Miles used (up to a maximum of 750 Bonus Miles).
    • Shop at participating AIR MILES®* Partners®* across Canada with your Card and show your AIR MILES®* Card, and you can earn Miles twice.
    • American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details and current product information click the Apply now link. Conditions apply.
Our pick for a bonus rewards card + no foreign exchange fees

Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card

  • Annual Fee
    $120
    Waived first year
  • Interest Rates
    19.99% / 22.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    1x-5x Points
  • Intro Offer
    Up to 40,000 Points
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    Not only does the Scotiabank Gold American Express card reward you with impressive rates in six popular spending categories, but it also comes with no foreign exchange fees.

    Pros
    • No foreign exchange fee on any foreign currency purchases while travelling abroad or shopping online — you just have to pay the exchange rate.


    Cons
    • The bonus rewards rates drop down to the 1x flat rate after a $50,000 annual spend. This sounds like a lot, but much of your daily spending is probably included in the six bonus categories, so you might hit the limit faster than you’d think.
    • Your points will expire if you don’t use them within 12 months of the purchase date.
  • Product Details
    • Earn up to 40,000 bonus Scene+™ points in your first year (that’s up to $400 towards travel).
    • You will not pay 2.5% foreign transaction fees on any foreign currency purchases, including online shopping and when travelling abroad. Only the exchange rate applies.
    • Earn 5X Scene+ points for every $1 CAD spent on eligible grocery stores, restaurants, fast food, and drinking establishments. Includes popular food delivery and food subscriptions.
    • Earn 5X Scene+ points for every $1 CAD spent on eligible entertainment purchases. Includes movies, theatre, and ticket agencies.
    • Earn 3X Scene+ points for every $1 CAD spent on eligible gas and daily transit. Includes rideshare, buses, taxis, subway, and more.
    • Earn 1X Scene+ point for every $1 spent on every other purchase.
    • You must redeem a minimum of 5,000 points per travel-related rewards redemption, equivalent to $50 in travel savings. Points must be redeemed within 12 months of the purchase date.
    • Discounted Priority Pass™ membership, which grants you access to over 1200 VIP lounges around the world.
    • Score deals on shopping, dining, travel and more with Amex Offers®, and experience special events and discounts with American Express Invites®.
    • Access to Amex Front Of The Line® presale and reserved tickets.
    • To be eligible, $12,000 (individual) annual income is required. Also, you must have a Canadian credit file and be a Canadian resident of the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.
    • Terms and Conditions Apply. Click 'Apply Now' for complete details.
Our pick for bonus rewards on travel, grocery, dining, entertainment and daily transit

Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card

  • Annual Fee
    $139
  • Interest Rates
    19.99% / 22.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    1x-2x Points
  • Intro Offer
    Up to 35,000 Points
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card offers competitive earn rates and easy-to-understand redemption on travel — 1 point equals 1 cent in travel savings.

    Pros
    • Complimentary Priority Pass membership, with six free airport lounge visits included every year, which is more than typically included with a credit card.
    • No foreign transaction fees.


    Cons
    • The accelerated rate on travel purchases only lasts three months — but you can earn up to 42,500 points, worth $425 in travel savings.
    • The annual $1,000 bonus requires you to spend $40,000 per year on everyday spending on the card.
  • Product Details
    • The only major bank credit card offering you no foreign transaction fees, including for shopping online or abroad.
    • Your Award Winning Card For Travel.
    • Earn 2 Scene+ points on every $1 you spend on eligible grocery stores, dining, entertainment purchases, and daily transit purchases (including buses, subways, taxis and more).
    • Earn 1 Scene+ point on every $1 you spend on all other eligible purchases.
    • Airport lounge access through a complimentary Priority Pass™ membership, plus 6 free visits per year from the date of enrollment.
    • Visa Infinite* benefits including Visa Infinite Concierge, Visa Infinite* Luxury Hotel Collection, Visa Infinite* Dining Series, and Entertainment & Lifestyle Offers.
    • Access to Scotia SelectPay™.
    • To be eligible, $60,000 (individual) or $100,000 (household) annual income is required, or a minimum assets under management of $250,000. Also, you must have a Canadian credit file and be a Canadian resident of the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.
    • Terms and Conditions Apply. Click 'Apply Now' for complete details.
Our pick for bonus rewards on travel

HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®

  • Annual Fee
    $149
    Annual fee rebate for the first year*
  • Interest Rates
    19.90% / 22.90%
  • Rewards Rate
    3x-6x Points
  • Intro Offer
    Up to 80,000 Points
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    Not only does this World Elite card offer a high rewards rate on travel purchases, but it also comes with premium travel perks, like a $100 travel enhancement credit and 31-day worldwide emergency travel medical insurance.

    Pros
    • A $100 annual travel enhancement credit covers seat upgrades, baggage fees, lounge passes, and more.
    • No foreign transaction fees.


    Cons
    • Select types of travel insurance won’t apply unless you charge 75% of your travel expenses to the card.
    • No travel medical coverage for cardmembers over the age of 65.
  • Product Details
    • Get up to $649 in total value* for the first year! Must apply by October 31, 2022. Conditions apply.
    • Primary Cardholder Annual Fee: $149.
    • Annual Interest on Purchases: 19.9%.
    • Annual Interest on Cash Advances and Balance Transfers: 22.9%.
    • Authorized User Annual Fee: $50 Per Card.
    • *Terms and Conditions apply.
    • ®/TM Mastercard and World Elite are registered trademarks, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated. Used pursuant to licence.
Our pick for bonus rewards on travel, dining and entertainment

BMO Ascend™ World Elite® Mastercard®

  • Annual Fee
    $150
    Waived first year
  • Interest Rates
    20.99% / 23.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    2x-5x Points
  • Intro Offer
    Up to 60,000 Points
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    The BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard comes with a high base rate on rewards, a healthy return on travel spending, premium travel perks and an extensive travel insurance package.

    Pros
    • Free membership in Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey, plus four free passes a year.
    • Earn 2x bonus points and save up to 25% off rentals at participating National Car Rental and Alamo Rent a Car locations.


    Cons
    • You can’t transfer your BMO Reward points to frequent flyer or loyalty programs, but you can earn frequent flyer miles on your flight.
    • No travel medical coverage for cardmembers over the age of 65.
  • Product Details
    • 5x BMO Rewards points per dollar on travel, up to $15,000 annually.
    • 3x BMO Rewards points per dollar on dining and entertainment, up to $10,000 annually per category.
    • 2x BMO Rewards points per dollar on recurring bill payments.
    • 1x BMO Rewards point per dollar on all other purchases.
    • Save up to 25% off rentals at participating National Car Rental and Alamo Rent a Car locations.
    • Pay with points or redeem BMO Rewards points on travel, merchandise, experiences, cash, BMO Savings or Investment account credits, and more. Points do not expire.
    • $150 annual fee.
    • Visit VIP airport lounges in more than 120 countries with free membership in Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey, plus four free passes a year.
    • 15% off admission to Cirque du Soleil shows touring Canada, and 20% off resident shows in Las Vegas.
    • Free access to over 1 million Boingo Wi-Fi for Mastercard Cardholders around the world.
    • 10 types of insurance provided, including 21-day travel medical benefits — up to $2 million in coverage for cardholders under the age of 65.
    • Preferred rates: 20.99% for purchases, 23.99% for cash advances.
    • To be eligible, $80,000 (individual) or $150,000 (household) annual income is required. Also, you must have a Canadian credit file and be a Canadian resident of the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.
Our pick for bonus rewards and a digital-first experience

Brim World Elite Mastercard

  • Annual Fee
    $199
  • Interest Rates
    Rates vary by card member
  • Rewards Rate
    1x-30x Points
  • Intro Offer
    Up to $500
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    Brim is a tech-savvy option that offers an impressive mobile app with budget tracking, an eShop with hundreds of retailers, partnerships with five mobile wallets, free global WiFi, and no foreign transaction fees — even when shopping online.

    Pros
    • Rewards are easy to understand — each point is worth $0.01 — and you can earn up to 30x at select retail partners, which includes small local businesses and big brands.
    • Comprehensive insurance package offers 16 types of insurance, ranging from trip cancellation and interruption to mobile device and event ticket protector insurance.


    Cons
    • The bonus rewards rate drops down to the 1x flat rate after you spend $25,000.
    • Brim is a virtual bank with no physical bank branches, so you must be comfortable with a digital-first experience.
  • Product Details
    • 2x points per dollar on everyday purchases, up to $25,000 annual spend. Then, 1x.
    • Up to 30x points per dollar on retail partners in the eShop.
    • Points have a straightforward value of $0.01 and can be redeemed on transactions or as cash back. $1 minimum redemption required. Points do not expire.
    • $199 annual fee.
    • Brim’s Family Card option lets you add additional card members, set and adjust their spending limits, block types of transactions and track spending — perfect for teaching teens smart budgeting.
    • World Elite Mastercard benefits, including membership to Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey and access to over 1 million Boingo Global Wi-Fi hotspots around the world.
    • Enhanced security features allow you to lock your card and block online or foreign transactions instantly.
    • Access to the Brim Installment plan.
    • 16 types of insurance provided, including 15-day travel medical benefits — up to $5 million in coverage. 3-day coverage is available for ages 65 and older.
    • Preferred rates vary by card member.
    • No foreign exchange fees.
    • To be eligible, $80,000 (individual) or $150,000 (household) annual income is required. Also, you must have a Canadian credit file and be a Canadian resident of the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.
Our pick for a low-interest card with bonus rewards on travel and daily spending

Desjardins Odyssey® Visa Infinite Privilege

  • Annual Fee
    $295-$395
  • Interest Rates
    9.90%
  • Rewards Rate
    1.75%-4%
  • Intro Offer
    N/A
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    Not only does this low-interest card feature accelerated rates on daily spending, but the Desjardins Odyssey Visa Infinite Privilege comes with truly impressive insurance coverage.

    Pros
    • Comprehensive travel insurance includes emergency medical worth $5 million per person, covering 60 days for ages 59 and under and 15-days for ages 75 and under.
    • 18 airport lounge visits included.


    Cons
    • No intro offer.
    • There’s a high annual fee and $150,000 (individual) or $200,000 (household) annual income is required, making this card inaccessible for many.
  • Product Details
    • 4% in BONUSDOLLARS per dollar spent on restaurants, entertainment and public transportation.
    • 3% in BONUSDOLLARS per dollar spent on groceries and travel.
    • 1.75% in BONUSDOLLARS per dollar spent on everything else.
    • Redeem BONUSDOLLARS for statement credits, financial products and services, charity, rewards, gift cards, purchases, and travel.
    • 1 BONUSDOLLAR earned = $1 you can redeem. BONUSDOLLARs do not expire.
    • $295 annual fee for Desjardins members, $395 annual fee for non-members.
    • Airport lounge access through a complimentary Priority Pass membership, plus 6 free visits per year. 12 visits per year to the Desjardin Odyssey Lounge in the Montreal-Trudeau International Airport.
    • Visa Infinite Privilege benefits including Visa Infinite Privilege Concierge, Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection, Visa Infinite Dining Series, and Entertainment & Lifestyle Offers.
    • Up to 25% off Hertz car rentals and up to 10% off Thrifty or Dollar rentals.
    • Access to Accord D financing up to $5,000 a day cash advances at a rate of 9.9%.
    • 12 types of insurance provided, including 60-day travel medical benefits — up to $5,000,000 in coverage per person under age 59. 31-day coverage is available for ages 60-64. 15-day coverage is available for ages 65-75.
    • Preferred rates: 9.9% for purchases and cash advances.
    • To be eligible, $150,000 (individual) or $200,000 (household) annual income, or assets under management of $400,000 is required. Also, you must have a Canadian credit file and be a Canadian resident of the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.
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Methodology

NerdWallet Canada selects the best travel rewards credit cards based on overall consumer value as well as their suitability for specific kinds of travellers. Factors in our evaluation include each card’s annual fee, foreign transaction fees, rewards earning rates, ease of use, redemption options, domestic and international acceptance, promotional APR period, bonus offers, insurance offers, and cardholder perks such as automatic statement credits and airport lounge access. Cards eligible for this list must offer travel insurance, travel perks, bonus rates on travel spending (if bonus rates are offered), and the ability to redeem rewards for travel. Hotel and airline rewards cards are not included in this list.

Summary of the best travel credit cards in Canada:

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How travel credit cards work in Canada

By Barry Choi and Shannon Terrell

Travel rewards credit cards earn points or miles as a reward for making eligible purchases. The type and rate of rewards you earn depends on the travel credit card you have. Additionally, how you can use those rewards may depend on the loyalty program associated with your card.

Why get a travel credit card?

Travel rewards credit cards account for 22% of credit cards in Canada, according to a 2021 report by Payments Canada. Outside reduced travel costs, travel cards can offer travel insurance, lounge access, baggage fee discounts, no foreign transaction fees and more. The right travel credit card can help you plan trips and access upgraded services that may have once been out of reach.

Types of travel credit cards in Canada

Generally speaking, there are three different categories of travel rewards credit cards. Knowing how they differ will help you determine what card is best for you.

General travel rewards credit cards

If you’re not loyal to one specific airline or hotel chain, then a general travel rewards program is something that will interest you. The points you earn can typically be used for any type of travel redemption, such as airfare, hotels, car rentals, cruises, and even vacation packages. Since your points don’t belong to one specific program, you have more options.

Some general travel rewards credit cards only allow you to use your points when booking travel through their online portal, while others let you use your points for any travel purchases you charge to your card.

Airline rewards credit cards

Airline credit cards allow you to earn points or miles for a specific airline. What’s interesting about airline credit cards is that the points you earn can usually be used on any airline that’s part of their network.

For example, Aeroplan is the loyalty program for Air Canada. Even if you don’t have one of the best Aeroplan credit cards, you can use your points for a flight on any carrier that’s part of the Star Alliance network. There are also some general travel rewards programs, such as Air Miles, that also earn miles and can offer some additional value.

Depending on the tier of your airline rewards credit card, you may get additional perks such as free checked bags, priority boarding and increased status. Having an airline credit card is highly lucrative if you frequently fly with one airline or network.

Hotel rewards credit cards

While some people love the idea of free flights, getting a luxury stay at a nice hotel appeals to other people. Some would argue that hotel rewards are better than airline rewards since some hotel chains have a greater reach. For example, Marriott has over 7,000 properties in 130+ countries, so no matter where you’re travelling, it won’t be hard to find a room where you can use your points.

Hotel rewards credit cards will also typically include benefits that will make your stay more comfortable. For instance, you could get early check-in and late check-out. You could also get free high speed WiFi or enhanced status.

Additional rewards to look for in a travel card

Besides the main rewards categories that come with travel credit cards, consider the additional perks that are included. These extra perks can often be the thing that helps you choose one card over another.

Consider the following benefits that often come with travel rewards credit cards:

  • Free checked bags. Airlines charge anywhere from $30-$60 per checked bag, each way, so getting free checked bags can save you a fair amount of money.
  • Airport lounge access. Some credit cards include airport lounge access, plus free annual lounge passes. These benefits could easily have a value of over $300, so it can offset any annual fee you might pay.
  • Travel insurance. Depending on the credit card, an extensive travel insurance package could be included. This could cover things such as medical expenses, trip cancellation, lost luggage, and more.
  • No foreign transaction fees. Many credit cards charge a 2.5% fee when you make a purchase in any currency that’s not Canadian dollars. If your card has no foreign transaction fees, then you’re just paying the straight exchange rate.
  • Extended warranty. Many credit cards will lengthen your warranty up to one additional year as long as you charge the full cost of the purchase to your card.
  • Price protection. If you find a lower price after making a purchase, some credit cards will give you back the difference as long as it falls within a specific time period.
  • Concierge service. A credit card concierge can help you with basic tasks such as booking travel, ordering fits and securing event tickets.

As you can see, the list of additional benefits you can get with your travel rewards credit cards can be pretty extensive. Some of the best travel credit cards in Canada will have many of the above benefits, but not all of them. Always prioritize the perks that are important to you when applying for a credit card.

Travel credit card pros and cons

Pros

  • Earn points or miles to reduce travel costs, like discounted flights and hotel stays.
  • Get additional perks, like travel insurance, discounted baggage fees, airport lounge access and more.
  • Earn introductory bonus points when you sign up for certain travel credit cards.
  • Some cards let you transfer points to airline and hotel loyalty programs.

Cons

  • Many travel credit cards carry annual fees.
  • Blackout periods may restrict when you can redeem your points.
  • Introductory bonus offers may require you to spend a large sum of money in a short period of time.
  • Some travel rewards points expire if you don’t use them quickly enough.

Using travel rewards

Understanding travel credit card earn rates

The earn rate on a travel credit card is the number of rewards points or miles you earn on each dollar spent.

Some cards offer a flat rate, which means you earn the same amount of rewards on every purchase. For example, you may earn 2 points for every $1 you spend with your card.

Most rewards credit cards have a tiered rewards structure when making purchases. The type of structure can vary quite a bit between cards. For example, you may have an accelerated earn rate on purchases made in certain categories, such as travel, groceries, gas and drugstores. All other purchases will use the lower base earn rate.

Ideally, you want to choose a credit card with an accelerated earn rate that is aligned with your spending habits.

Additionally, travel credit cards may deliver additional points or miles when you make purchases with their main partner, if they have one. For example, an Aeroplan credit card gives you an accelerated earn rate on Air Canada purchases, and Amazon Rewards gives you a bonus when making purchases on Amazon. Some loyalty programs even have a network of partners where you can earn additional points or miles.

How to calculate the value of travel credit card points

Knowing how to calculate the value of your points or miles is essential since not every redemption value is the same. By establishing a baseline value for your points, you can decide if specific redemptions are worth it — even if you’re not getting the maximum value.

The formula used to determine the value of one point is as follows:

Cash value of the redemption x 100 / number of points required = Cost per point

Let’s say you want to fly from Vancouver to Toronto, and it’s going to cost $585 in cash, or 25,000 Aeroplan points, plus $75 in taxes. You would use the following formula. Note that since you have to pay $75 in taxes, you’d have to subtract that amount from the cash value for an accurate assessment.

$510 x 100 / 25,000 = 2.04 cents per point

This formula can be applied to any redemption regardless of the loyalty program. For example, let’s say you want to redeem 13,400 points for a $100 gift card. Your formula would be the following:

$100 x 100 / 13,400 = .75 cents per point

Assuming these redemption options are available with the same program, the flight is a better bang for your points.

Do travel rewards points ever expire?

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been a member of a loyalty program or how many points you’ve accumulated; you can lose everything if you’re not paying attention.

Generally speaking, most loyalty programs that belong to an airline or hotel have a defined expiry date of 12 – 18 months. However, that only applies if there’s been no account activity in your account during that time. If you earn or redeem just one point during that time, your clock would reset. Even if you’re not travelling anytime soon, you could make a small redemption or donate some points to ensure you don’t lose the rest of your points.

When it comes to bank credit card rewards programs, it’s unlikely your points will expire as long as your credit card account is in good standing. Your account would only fall out of good standing if it becomes delinquent or your credit card is used for fraudulent activity.

How to redeem travel credit card rewards

Some credit card rewards programs only let you redeem points or miles through their rewards portals. Others allow point redemption for any eligible purchase you make with your credit card.

Rewards programs offered through banks typically have their own website where you can make redemptions. They often have separate tabs where you can choose from travel, gift cards, merchandise, and financial rewards. While this can be handy, you’re typically limited to their offerings — what you see is what you get.

Airline and hotel loyalty programs will almost always allow you to redeem your points or miles directly on their website or mobile app. When searching for flights or hotels, you’ll likely see a box that says “use points.” The prices displayed will be in points, so you’ll know exactly how much you’ll need to make a redemption.

Knowing where to go to redeem your points is important, but you may also want to familiarize yourself with the different point redemption systems.

Travel reward point redemption options

Not all rewards programs are created equal, and this is especially true when it comes time to cash in your travel points. These three redemption models tend to be the most popular among travel credit cards:

Consistent points

Consistent points hold a constant value, regardless of season or travel destination. This point redemption model is the most transparent and user-friendly of the three.

Fluctuating points

The value of fluctuating points can be impacted by several factors, including travel destination and time of year. A point may carry less value when used to travel during peak season instead of travelling in the off-season. This model can make it challenging to determine the value of your points when trip planning. Look for any provider-issued charts or tables that outline what factors impact the value of your points.

Point transfers

Point transfers let you transfer points to affiliated rewards programs. This model may be useful for those trying to take advantage of multiple rewards programs. The catch? The value of your points may be different once they’ve been transferred, which means you’ll need to figure out the transfer ratio before you make a decision.

What to know about credit card travel insurance

For many, travel insurance is essential — especially when venturing outside Canada. While it’s likely the last thing you want to worry about when on vacation, medical emergencies happen. And your federal, provincial and territorial health plans may not cover the medical expenses you incur while travelling. That’s where travel insurance comes in.

Not only does travel insurance help cover medical expenses, it can also offer trip cancellation coverage, vehicle damage insurance, flight delay insurance and more.

You can get travel insurance from a third party, like a travel agent or insurance provider, but many travel credit cards offer it, too — and at no added cost to the cardholder.

Out-of-province travel emergency medical insurance

Travel medical insurance isn’t only for those travelling outside Canada; it can also provide coverage for those exploring another province or territory. Your provincial plan may not extend to emergency medical expenses incurred out of province. Out-of-province medical insurance can provide coverage for a range of medical needs and services, from prescription medication to emergency evacuations and hospital stays.

If your travel card offers out-of-province medical insurance, ask your provider about coverage limitations. Your medical expenses may not be covered if they’re the result of a pre-existing medical condition or high-risk activity, like bungee jumping or motorized racing.

Travel accident insurance

This type of insurance can be useful in the event of accidental injury or death while travelling on public or ticketed transportation, sometimes referred to as a common carrier. Some policies only cover accidents that happen on airplanes, while others encompass a wider range of common transports, like trains, ships and buses.

Travel interruption/cancellation insurance

Trip cancellation coverage reimburses non-refundable travel expenses if your trip gets cancelled. Eligible cancellation circumstances may include dangerous weather conditions, pregnancy complications or the death of an immediate family member.

Trip interruption coverage activates once you’ve departed and reimburses non-refundable travel expenses if your trip is cut short. Again, not every circumstance will qualify for trip interruption coverage. Covered reasons for heading home ahead of schedule are often similar to those that qualify for cancellation coverage.

Flight delay insurance

Flight delays are frustrating, but they happen. If your flight is postponed and you need to book a place to stay or grab a bite to eat while you wait, flight delay insurance may reimburse those costs.

Lost/delayed baggage insurance

If your bags are delayed, this type of insurance will cover the cost of essential items you may need to purchase — like clothes or toiletries — while you wait for your bags to arrive. And if your bags are lost outright, you may be covered up to a predetermined amount for your lost property.

Rental car collision/loss damage insurance

If you plan to rent a car on your next trip, collision and damage insurance may come in handy. This insurance covers costs associated with theft or damage to your rental car. But it doesn’t replace liability insurance — the insurance that provides coverage if you injure someone or damage another vehicle on the road.

Your personal auto insurance policy may come with liability insurance that extends to rental vehicles, but contact your insurance provider to confirm you’re covered before you hit the road.

To take advantage of your credit card’s collision and damage insurance, you’ll need to decline coverage offered by your car rental company.

Hotel/motel burglary insurance

If your hotel or motel room is broken into while on the road, this coverage will reimburse you for the loss of stolen goods up to a set amount. Not all stolen items may be eligible for reimbursement.

How to choose the right travel credit card

Every credit card is good for at least one thing, so deciding on which card is best for you can be difficult. Here are some important criteria you can use to compare different travel credit card options.

Welcome bonus

If you’re trying to decide between several travel cards with similar rewards, the tiebreaker can often be the sign up bonus. Some credit cards offer a generous welcome offer that covers the annual fee or jumpstarts your rewards collection with thousands of free points or miles.

Here’s a look at the welcome bonuses offered by our picks for best travel credit cards:

CategoryTravel Credit CardBonus Offer
Best travel card with bonus rewards on travelHSBC World Elite® Mastercard®80,000 points/$400 travel value (terms and conditions apply)
Best travel card with bonus rewards on daily spendingAmerican Express Cobalt® Card50,000 points (terms and conditions apply)
Best travel card with 0% intro rateScotiabank Gold American Express® Card40,000 points (terms and conditions apply)
Best travel card with bonus rewards on travel, dining and entertainmentBMO World Elite® Mastercard®60,000 points (terms and conditions apply)
Best travel card with a digital-first experienceBrim World Elite MastercardUp to $500 (terms and conditions apply)
Best travel card with bonus rewards on grocery, dining and daily transitScotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite Card35,000 points (terms and conditions apply)
Best low-interest travel cardDesjardins Odyssey® Visa Infinite PrivilegeN/A
Best travel card for trips booked through ExpediaTD First Class Travel® Visa Infinite Card100,000 points (terms and conditions apply)

Earn rate

Every credit card has a base earn rate, but many of the best travel credit cards in Canada have an increased earn rate for specific bonus categories — like the TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card, which offers up to 9x the points per dollar spent on travel through its online Expedia portal.

If you have a general travel credit card, you could earn extra points on categories such as groceries, gas, pharmacies and more, like the American Express Cobalt Card, which offers 5x the points on food, drink and groceries. The earn rate is essential since choosing a card that lines up with your spending habits can quickly increase the number of points or miles you earn.

Annual fee

If you’re firmly against paying an annual fee for your credit card, you’ll instantly narrow down your choices. That said, there are some instances where an annual fee is worth the cost. Travel credit cards that have a yearly fee typically come with more benefits than their fee-free counterparts.

None of the cards on our list are fee-free, but a few cards have $0 introductory offers, like the TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card and Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card. These $0 introductory offers mean you won’t pay an annual fee for the first 12 months you have the card.

Reward flexibility

Having a lot of points is meaningless if it’s hard to redeem them. Look for a loyalty or rewards program where you know you’ll be able to use your points without much trouble. What you’re looking for are programs where there are no blackout dates and multiple redemptions options, like the HSBC World Elite Mastercard. This card lets you redeem points across various spending categories, including airline tickets, hotel stays and electronic gift cards. You can even convert rewards points to savings account funds if you hold an HSBC personal savings account.

You’ll also want to consider whether the program has any transfer partners, as that’s another way to use your points. Additionally, knowing if and when your points expire is key to ensuring you don’t lose your hard-earned rewards.

Perks and benefits

Besides the type of rewards, welcome bonus and earn rate, additional perks may sweeten the deal and sway your decision. Take the Brim World Elite Mastercard, for instance: no foreign transaction fees, free global WiFi and VIP airport lounge access in over 120 countries.

Here are a few travel card perks to scout for:

  • Seat upgrades.
  • Room upgrades.
  • Premium lounge passes.
  • Entertainment ticket presale access.
  • Car rental discounts.
  • Priority check-in and boarding.
  • Various types of credit card insurance.

How to apply for a travel rewards credit card in Canada

Different travel credit cards have different eligibility criteria, so check whether you meet a card’s requirements before you begin the sign-up process. Here are some general eligibility criteria you may encounter when applying for a travel credit card:

  • Canadian resident with a Canadian credit file.
  • Age of majority in the province or territory where you live.
  • Minimum annual income thresholds.

Many cards offer an online application process that can be completed from the card issuer’s website. Here’s a general rundown of the application process:

  1. Review the card’s details, terms and conditions.
  2. Enter your personal information, including your full name, date of birth, residential address and mobile phone number.
  3. Enter your Social Insurance Number.
  4. Enter your financial information, including your annual income and monthly expenses.
  5. Verify your identity by submitting photos of your original government-issued ID, like your passport or Driver’s Licence.
  6. Review the information you’ve supplied and submit your application.

Keep in mind that applying for a credit card may impact your credit score.

Tips to maximize your travel credit card rewards

If you’ve decided that a travel credit card is for you, there are a few tips you can follow to ensure you get the most out of your credit card rewards.

  • Pay your bills in full and on time, so you don’t pay any interest.
  • Make sure you meet the minimum spend requirement to get your welcome bonus.
  • Pay attention to your earn rate and use your rewards card on purchases that earn extra points.
  • Research your rewards program so you know what you can do with your points or miles.
  • Calculate the value of your points before making a redemption.
  • See if your loyalty program has a partner network where you can earn additional points.

Although choosing a travel credit card may require you to do some research, the value you get is often worth it. Getting free stuff on points feels great, especially if it’s something you’ve been saving a long time for.
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  • FAQs for Canada's Travel Reward Credit Cards

    • Do travel credit card rewards expire?

      Yes, travel credit card rewards can expire. Most loyalty programs that belong to an airline or hotel have a defined expiry date of 12 – 18 months. However, that only applies if there’s been no account activity in your account during that time. If you earn or redeem just one point during that time, your clock would reset.

      When it comes to bank rewards programs, your points may never expire as long as your credit card account is in good standing. Of course, your account would only fall out of good standing if it becomes delinquent or you use your credit card for fraudulent activity.

    • What credit score do I need to get a travel credit card?

      In most cases, a good credit score — generally 660 to 724 — is required to get the best travel credit cards. However, some secured credit cards and prepaid options offer rewards, and are more suitable for people with lower credit scores.

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