The Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards in Canada (2021)

Canadians love to travel. Whether it be to escape the winter (snowbirds), for a summer vacation abroad, or any travel for that matter, the best travel credit cards in Canada can help you save a tonne of money.

These credit cards offer a combination of rewards including comprehensive travel insurance, free airport lounges, sign-up bonuses, and travel perks that can make your vacations much more enjoyable.

Because the cards on this list are awesome and offer real value, you will also find some of them on my list of best cash back credit cards and best credit cards with no foreign transaction fees in Canada.

Best Travel Credit Cards in Canada for 2021

Can’t be bothered to read through the full post? I have highlighted the best cards (in my opinion) in each category below:

Credit CardBest ForSign-up BonusAnnual Fee
Scotiabank Gold American Express CardOverall best travel credit cardUp to 50,000 points$120
American Express Cobalt CardBest travel card for everyday purchasesUp to 30,000 points$120
Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite CardBest travel card with no FX feesUp to 40,000 points$139
KOHO Premium Prepaid VisaBest no-fee prepaid travel rewards card$20 welcome bonus$0
Mariott Bonvoy American Express CardBest travel card for the sign-up bonusUp to 105,000 points$120
TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite CardBest Aeroplan credit cardUp to 20,000 points$139
BMO AIR MILES World Elite MastercardBest Air Miles credit cardUp to 2,000 Miles$120
MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus MastercardBest no-fee travel credit cardUp to 10,000 points$0

Read on to see what each card offers for perks and benefits, their annual fees, income eligibility, and any downsides.

best travel credit cards in canada

Best Overall Travel Credit Cards

These two cards are the epitome of everything you want in a great card: high earn rates, easy and flexible redemption, solid sign-up bonuses, multiple perks, and a reasonable annual fee.

1. Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

The Scotiabank Gold American Express is one of Scotiabank’s best credit cards with a top-notch earn rate and a variety of redemption options. It offers:

  • $120 annual fee
  • Earn 30,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points ($300 value) when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months plus an extra 20,000 bonus points ($200 value) when you spend at least $7,500 in the first year (total bonus valued at $500)
  • Earn 5 points for every $1 spent on groceries, dining, and entertainment
  • Earn 3 points for every $1 you spend on gas, daily transit, and streaming services
  • Earn 1 point for every $1 spent elsewhere
  • No foreign transaction fee (a 2.5% savings on foreign currency purchases)
  • Comprehensive travel insurance including travel emergency medical, flight delay, trip cancellation/trip interruption, travel accident, rental car, hotel/motel burglary, delayed and lost baggage insurance.
  • Purchase security and extended warranty
  • Discounted Priority Pass membership (35% off) with access to 600+ VIP airport lounges worldwide
  • Special access to events with American Express Invites
  • Up to 25% discount on AVIS and Budget car rental
  • Complimentary 24/7 concierge services

The 5% rewards rate for this card on grocery, dining, and entertainment purchases is great. Add in the $500 bonus offer (50,000 points), and the $120 annual fee is easily paid off.

Personal income eligibility for the Scotiabank Gold Amex is very low at $12,000 per year. You can also read my complete Scotiabank Gold American Express review.

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

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2. American Express Cobalt Card

The American Express Cobalt is not just a travel card, it is also great for earning rewards on your everyday spending. Here’s what you get:

  • $10 monthly fee ($120 annual)
  • Earn up to 30,000 in bonus points ($300 value) in your first year
  • Earn 5 points for every $1 spent at grocery stores, restaurants, bars, and cafes
  • Earn 2 points for every $1 spent on gas, travel, and transit purchases
  • Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Comprehensive travel insurance including emergency travel (up to $5 million), flight and baggage delay, hotel/motel burglary, lost or stolen baggage, car rental, and travel accident insurance (up to $250,000)
  • Purchase protection plan and extended warranty
  • Access to VIP perks including Amex Invites with Front Of The Line Access to in-demand events
  • Multiple rewards redemption options
  • Free supplementary cards

In addition to great travel rewards, the Amex Cobalt card also has one of the highest earn rates for grocery and food purchases in Canada. Its 30,000 bonus points are achievable as long as you charge at least $500 to the card every month.

American Express offers multiple ways to use your points including:

  • Flights through their Fixed points Program e.g. a long haul flight between the U.S. and Canada requires 40,000 points at a maximum ticket price of $700.
  • Instantly for purchases on almost anything.
  • Ticketmaster.ca where 2,000 points are equivalent to $20.
  • Amazon.ca, and more.
American Express Cobalt Card

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Best Travel Cards With No Foreign Transaction Fees

When you use your credit cards a lot abroad, the foreign transaction fees do add up. At a cost of 2.5% or more, these no-FX fee cards come in handy.

3. Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card

For a combination of zero foreign transaction fees and premium travel perks, the Passport Visa Infinite Card is a top contender.

  • $139 annual fee
  • Earn up to 30,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points ($300 value)
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on grocery, dining, entertainment, and transit purchases
  • Earn 1 point on all other purchases
  • No FX mark-up on foreign currency purchases
  • Complimentary Priority Pass membership with 6 free airport lounge visits per year
  • Comprehensive travel insurance including travel emergency medical, trip cancellation and interruption, travel accident, flight delay, delayed and lost baggage, rental car collision loss/damage waiver, and more
  • Purchase protection and extended warranty

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite‘s 30,000 bonus point is worth $300 in travel costs. Earn 30,000 points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months and an additional 10,000 points if your annual card spending is $40,000 or more.

The annual complimentary Priority Pass membership and 6 free lounge visits are worth around $379 which more than covers the card’s annual fees. Add in your savings from foreign transaction fees and this card has very little competition.

You need a minimum personal income of $60,000 (or $100,000 household income) to be eligible for this card. You can also read my complete Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite review.

Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Business card review

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4. Home Trust Preferred Visa

The Home Trust Preferred Visa is the second card I recommend if you are looking for a travel credit card with zero foreign transaction fees.

  • No annual fee
  • No foreign currency conversion fees
  • Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all purchases
  • Purchase security insurance

While the Home Trust Preferred has no sign-up bonus, its no annual fee, 1% flat rewards rate, and savings on foreign currency purchases are noteworthy.

Some downsides to this card include its unavailability to Quebec residents and a limit of 10 transactions per day.

Home Trust Preferred Visa

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Travel Credit Cards With The Best Sign-Up Bonuses

Premium credit cards come in various flavours. These two cards take the top spot for the best sign up welcome bonuses.

5. Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card

The Marriott Bonvoy American Express offers one of the best rewards for hotel stays for Canadians. It replaces the Starwood Preferred Guest SPG card.

  • $120 annual fee
  • Earn a welcome bonus of up to 105,000 Marriott Bonvoy points when you meet the eligibility requirements
  • Get a $120 statement credit when you charge $10,000 in net purchases to your card in the first 12 months
  • Earn 5 points for every $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties
  • Earn 2 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Redeem points for hotel stays at more than 6,500 hotels including names like the Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, Marriott Hotels, Le Meridien, and Sheraton
  • Get one free night every year (worth up to 35,000 points)
  • Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status
  • Free supplementary cards
  • Free Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status when you spend up to $30,000 each year
  • 15 Elite night credits each year
  • Comprehensive travel insurance
  • Access to American Express Invites such as Front of The Line Advance Access
  • Purchase protection and extended warranty

The 105,000 bonus points can be earned as follows:

  • 65,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first 6 months
  • Earn 5x the points on eligible food and drink purchases in Canada for the first 6 months (up to 25,000 points)
  • Earn 15,000 points when you make a purchase between 14 to 17 months of Cardmembership

When you look at the value of the bonus points and add in the 15 Elite night credits and annual free night, this card is worth every penny.

Lastly, you can easily transfer your Marriott Bonvoy points to several other frequent flyer programs in exchange for miles.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card

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6. TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card

The TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite comes loaded with 60,000 TD Points and a full annual fee rebate for the first year.

  • $120 annual fee
  • Get up to 60,000 bonus TD Points (a travel value of $300)
  • Earn 9 TD Points for every $1 spent on travel through Expedia for TD (4.5% reward rate)
  • Earn 3 points for every $1 spent on everything else (1.5% reward rate)
  • Comprehensive travel insurance
  • Discounted Priority Pass membership
  • Up to 10% off car rentals at participating Avis and Budget locations

The TD First Class Travel Visa’s 60,000 bonus points are worth $300 in travel. Add in the $120 fee waiver, a 4.5% reward rate on travel through Expedia For TD, travel insurance, and the luxurious benefits that come with a Visa Infinite card make this card worth considering.

Note that a personal income of $60,000 or $100,000 household income is required for eligibility.

TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite

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Best Aeroplan and Air Miles Travel Credit Cards

Check out these cards for accelerated travel rewards.

7. TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card

The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite is one of the best cards for collecting Aeroplan miles.

  • $139 annual fee (waived in the first year)
  • Get up to 20,000 Aeroplan Miles
  • Earn 1.5 miles for every $1 spent on gas, grocery, drugstore, and aircanada.com purchases
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on everything else
  • Double up your miles when you pay with the card and also present your Aeroplan membership card at participating retailers and brands
  • Comprehensive travel insurance
  • $100 Nexus fee rebate every 48 months
  • Purchase security and extended warranty protection
  • Complimentary Visa Infinite Concierge service and luxury hotel privileges
  • One complimentary free checked bag when your travel originates on an Air Canada flight

Add in the first-year fee waiver, a suite of comprehensive travel benefits, high rewards earn rate, and ease of redemption and you see the true value of the card.

The Aeroplan Visa Infinite requires a minimum personal income of $60,000 per year.

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card

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8. BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard

The BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard has one of the best earn rates of any AIR MILES credit card in Canada. Here’s how it stacks up:

  • $120 annual fee (waived in the first year)
  • Get up to 2,000 AIR MILES bonus miles
  • Earn 1 reward mile for every $10 spent anywhere
  • 15% flight discount on all AIR MILES flights in North America (no blackout periods)
  • Complimentary membership in Mastercard Airport Experiences with access to VIP airport lounges and including two free passes per year
  • Earn 2x the miles at participating AIR MILES partners
  • Up to 25% discount at National Car Rental and Alamo Rent-a-Car
  • Comprehensive travel insurance
  • Extended warranty and purchase protection

When you sign up, you receive 2,000 Bonus Miles when you spend at least $3,000 within the first 3 months.

The $120 annual fee for the BMO AIR MILES World Elite is waived in year one. Since there is no limit to how many miles you can earn with the card, you could easily accumulate several free flights each year.

Similar to other World Elite cards, you need a minimum personal income of $80,000 to qualify. An alternative card without the income requirement is the BMO AIR MILES Mastercard.

BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard

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Best No Fee Travel Credit Cards

If you don’t like the idea of paying annual fees in exchange for travel rewards, these cards charge $0 annual fees, offer travel insurance, flexible rewards, perks, and more.

9. MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard

The MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus takes top-tier status in the no-fee cash back and travel rewards categories.

  • No annual fee
  • Earn up to 10,000 welcome bonus points ($100 value)
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on gas, groceries, and restaurant purchases
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • Flexible rewards redemption including travel, cash back, and merchandise
  • Comprehensive travel insurance
  • Purchase protection and extended warranty

This card has a cap of $5,000 on each purchase category eligible for the 2% earn rate.

MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard..

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10. Rogers World Elite Mastercard

The Rogers World Elite Mastercard often features among the best cards with no foreign transaction fees, however, its reward offerings were recently downgraded.

  • No annual fee
  • Earn 3% unlimited cash back on USD purchases
  • Earn 1.50% cash back on all other purchases
  • $25 welcome bonus
  • Comprehensive travel insurance including car rental collision/damage, emergency medical, trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance
  • Purchase protection and extended warranty
  • Redeem your cash back rewards as a statement credit at any time (minimum $20), against your phone bill, for Toronto Blue Jays tickets, and more

The minimum personal income to apply for this card is $80,000 per year. Also, you need to spend at least $15,000 annually to remain eligible for the card.

Rogers World Elite Mastercard

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Two additional no-fee travel rewards cards that are worth checking out include:

More Travel Rewards Cards For Canadians

There are a few other travel credit cards that are worth checking out if you plan to travel frequently within and outside of Canada.

11. KOHO Premium Prepaid Visa

The KOHO premium Visa card waives the foreign currency transaction fee and pays up to 2% instant cash back on your purchases.

Here are some of the benefits offered by KOHO:

  • No FX fees
  • Automatic savings using the roundup feature
  • Earn 1.20% interest on your balance
  • Earn cash back on purchases with 2% on 3 categories of spending and up to 5% at select merchants
  • Get a $20 welcome bonus with promo code CASHBACK
  • No monthly account fees for the basic account ($9 for KOHO Premium)
  • Price matching
  • Free financial coaching
  • 1x free international ATM withdrawal/month

Read my KOHO Premium review.

Apply for the KOHO Visa.

12. STACK Prepaid Mastercard

This prepaid Mastercard comes with many of the benefits you want when you are travelling abroad, and more importantly, there are no monthly or annual fees. You can read my detailed STACK review for more information.

  • $0 annual fee
  • No foreign currency exchange fees (save 2.5%)
  • No ATM withdrawal fees
  • $5 sign-up bonus (link)
  • Earn cash back rewards on your spending
  • Automated savings plan and free budgeting tool
  • Get rewarded for every friend you refer

Apply for STACK

13. CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card

  • $120 annual fee; waived in the first year
  • Get up to 20,000 Aventura points
  • Complimentary Priority Pass membership with four free VIP airport lounge passes
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on trips purchased through CIBC rewards centre
  • Earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on gas, grocery and drugstore purchases
  • Earn 1 point per $1 for everything else
  • Comprehensive travel and purchase insurance
  • Nexus card application fee rebate every fourth year (worth $50)
  • Mobile device insurance (up to $1,000)
CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card

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Bonus – WestJet RBC World Elite Card

The WestJet RBC World Elite card is a great card for maximizing your WestJet Rewards.

  • $119 annual fee
  • Earn 2% back on all WestJet flights and travel packages
  • Earn 1.5% on your general spending and save 3 cents per litre when you buy gas at Petro Canada
  • Free first checked bags on WestJet flights for the primary cardholder
  • Annual round-trip companion voucher
  • Comprehensive travel and purchase insurance coverage
  • Complimentary 24/7 concierge service

Conclusion

Check out this list for some of the best travel credit cards available in Canada. The cards vary in many ways including annual fees, types of rewards and earn rates, income eligibility, travel insurance coverage, and more.

Depending on what your travel preferences and needs are, one or two of these cards should be able to satisfy your wanderlust requirements and save you money while you are at it!

Best Travel Credit Cards in Canada
5

Summary

For travel in Canada or abroad, the best travel credit cards can save you a lot of money. Check out the best travel rewards credit cards for Canadians!

Best Credit Offers this month

One of the best no-fee credit cards in Canada.

Get 2% unlimited cash back on up to 3 purchase categories.

Get 0.5% unlimited cash back on all other purchases.

1.95% balance transfer offer for 6 months.

$350* welcome bonus offer from Scotiabank.

Annual fee waived in the first year.

Comprehensive travel benefits and mobile device insurance.

Cash back card with the most awards in 2021.

Get the best rates from multiple lenders.

Borrow up to $50,000 regardless of your credit score.

Pre-approvals offered in as fast as 5 minutes.

Low interest rates starting at 9.9%.

Free prepaid reloadable Visa card.

Access to a portion of your paycheque 3 days early.

Credit building available with a subscription.

Free budgeting app with automatic savings features.

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Author

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Enoch Omololu

Enoch Omololu is a personal finance expert and a veterinarian. He has a master’s degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School (Scotland) and has completed several courses and certificates in finance, including the Canadian Securities Course. He also has an MSc. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Manitoba and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan. Enoch has a passion for helping others win with their personal finances and has been writing about money matters for over a decade. His writing has been featured or quoted in the Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, MSN Money, Financial Post, Winnipeg Free Press, CPA Canada, Credit Canada, Wealthsimple, and many other personal finance publications.

His top investment tools include Wealthsimple and Questrade. He earns cash back on purchases using KOHO, monitors his credit score for free using Borrowell, and earns interest on savings through EQ Bank.

2 thoughts on “The Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards in Canada (2021)”

  1. Which card has the best travel reward rate for everyday spending? I travel once or twice a year to Mexico and sometimes to Europe/Asia. I spend around 25000$ a month on my card most of which is everyday spending.

    Reply
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