For the avid traveler, there are a few things you can’t go without – your passport, travel insurance, and a good travel rewards credit card.
Those who travel pretty often already know – the opportunity to gain rewards with a good travel credit card are hard to resist. You can easily earn deep discounts on flights, accommodations, and more.
General rewards credit cards offer points or cash-back rewards for particular spending categories (gas, grocery, pharmacy purchases, etc.) But a good rewards card maximizes on your everyday purchases and ultimately helps you save, instead of forcing you to make purchases in specific categories you wouldn’t usually.
And when it comes to travel rewards credit cards, the best ones come with a flexible, easy-to-comprehend redemption process with few restrictions.
A great travel rewards credit card should also include travel insurance coverage – from trip cancellation and baggage delay coverage that can offset costs when your itinerary doesn’t go as planned, to medical insurance that can cover you in case you become injured or sick while abroad (international medical bills can become ridiculously expensive).
Problem is, with so many different cards on the market, how do you know which card will get you the most bang for your buck miles for your money?
To make the decision-making process easier, RateSupermarket.ca has a handy-dandy card comparison tool. And with all things considered, from sign-up bonuses to annual fees to earning categories, we used our Best of Finance methodology to rank the cards that provided the most cash value.
Here are the best credit cards that can get you the most in travel perks:
The Top 4 Credit Cards with Travel Perks – 2019
The Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card won Best Card with Travel Perks at our Best of Finance awards two years in a row, and with good reason too. Out of all the travel credit cards on the market, this one racks up points the fastest, and can get you a round-trip ticket for a medium-haul flight after two years.
You can redeem your Scotia Rewards points for gift cards, merchandise from Apple, Best Buy or other brand names, a charity donation, or even a credit towards your account balance. But you’ll probably get more value out of your points by putting it towards a travel purchase (done through the Scotia Rewards travel portal, or on your own). Note that there is a $99 annual fee though.
And as every good travel card should, this card comes with a premium suite of travel insurance coverages: travel medical and accident insurance, baggage insurance, flight delay insurance, rental vehicle insurance, and trip interruption and cancellation insurance.
- Grocery, gas, dining and entertainment: 4 Scotia Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible purchases.
- Other: 1 Scotia Rewards point on all other eligible purchases.
Annual fee: $99
Sign-up bonus: 15,000 Scotia Rewards points (if you charge $1,000 to the account within the first three months of cardmembership).
Rewards earned over a 24-month period: 109,980 Scotia Rewards points**
Monetary worth: $1,099.80
Why it’s an awesome card:
Probably one of the more “fun” cards out on the market, the American Express CobaltTM Credit Card rewards cardholders for things like restaurant and bar transactions, food delivery and ride-sharing. And in your first year, you can earn 2,500 Membership Rewards® points for every month that you put $500-worth of purchases on your card. This could add up to an additional 30,000 points in your first year.
You can exchange your Membership Rewards® points for a statement credit or browse through the Membership Rewards® catalogue and redeem your points for merchandise (electronics, appliances, clothing, jewelry, etc.), gift cards from various retailers, or a charity donation.
You can even use your points towards gas, groceries, TV subscriptions, Amazon or Ticketmaster purchases. And though the card has a $120 annual fee, it’s split up into easy $10 monthly payments.
- Restaurants and bars, grocery, and food delivery: 5 points per $1 spent at eligible retailers.
- Gas, transit and travel: 2 points per $1 spent at eligible retailers.
- Other: 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Rewards earned over a 24-month period: 105,244 Membership Rewards® points
Monetary worth: $1,052.44 in points that can be redeemed for a statement credit towards eligible travel purchases, or $736.71 that can be used for a statement credit towards all other eligible purchases.
Right off the bat, the RBC Visa Infinite‡ Avion® comes with enough sign-up bonus points for a short-haul flight. And the annual fee is waived for the first year ($129 after that).
The best part of the RBC Reward program is the opportunity to redeem your points for travel bookings, with no black-out periods or airline-specific bookings. And the RBC Rewards portal is simple enough to navigate, offering the option to redeem your points from a catalogue of merchandise too, from gift cards to electronics and home appliances. You can even redeem points for a charity donation, or a credit towards your account so your balance is reduced.
Lastly, this card comes with all types of insurance coverage for the smart, avid traveller; from medical and accident insurance in case you get sick or injured while abroad, to auto rental collision insurance, flight delay insurance, lost luggage insurance and hotel/motel burglary insurance.
- Travel: 25 RBC Reward points per $1 spent on eligible purchases (airlines, accommodations, tour operators, cruise lines, travel agencies, car rental companies, etc.).
- Gas: 1.20 RBC Reward points per $1 spent at Petro-Canada when you link your Petro-Points card to your account.
- Other: 1 RBC Rewards point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Annual fee: $0 for the first year. $129 after the first year.
Sign-up bonus: 15,000 RBC Reward points, plus an additional 5,000 points if you charge $1,000 to the account within the first three months of cardmembership.
Rewards earned over a 24-month period: 50, 285.36 RBC Rewards points**
Monetary worth: $502.85 that can be redeemed for travel booked through the RBC Rewards travel portal.
Frequent flyers are going crazy over the Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card because it comes with a deluxe suite of travel insurance coverage, not to mention no foreign exchange fees, and six complimentary airport lounge access passes per year.
The sign-up bonus alone qualifies you for a flight worth $250. But as mentioned before, Scotia Rewards can also be used towards gift cards, merchandise from Apple, Best Buy or other brand names, a donation to charity, or even a credit on our account balance. Scotia Rewards points are automatically applied to your account as they’re earned and detailed on your statement each month.
The insurance package that comes with the card covers you in case of any medical emergency or accident abroad, or if your flight is delayed, your baggage is lost, or if your items are stolen from your hotel, amongst other things.
- Grocery, dining, entertainment and daily transit: 2 Scotia Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible purchases.
Annual fee: $139
Sign-up bonus: 25,000 Scotia Rewards points if you spend $1,000 on the card within the first three months of cardmembership.
Rewards earned over a 24-month period: 78636.86 Scotia Rewards points**
Monetary worth: $508.37
*Earning rate up to card’s annual spending cap, if applicable.
**Assuming $1,222.96 is spent on the card monthly at eligible retailers, in the following categories: Pharmacy ($55.33), Food ($758.53), Gas: $155.72, Travel ($151.21), Other ($102.17).