Best 2018 Travel Credit Cards in Canada
The Best Travel Credit Cards in Canada
Why get a travel rewards credit card?
If you’re hoping to travel more often, a travel rewards credit card may be right for you. With a travel rewards credit card, you can:
- Make everyday purchases with the card and collect points that can be redeemed for your next vacation.
- Rest assured that you have medical travel insurance coverage, trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage, as well as flight delay and loss of baggage coverage.
- Get automatic collision and damage insurance coverage for car rentals.
- Use the card to make purchases safely and securely while abroad, limiting how much cash you carry and decreasing the chances of theft.
How to find the best travel rewards credit card for you
RateSupermarket.ca conveniently allows you to compare and apply for travel rewards credit cards all in one place. We offer a variety of travel rewards credit cards and have ranked them based on their reward return rate – helping you find the card that will get you to your next vacation the fastest.
The best travel reward programs: Aeroplan vs. Air Miles
The main reason why people use a travel rewards credit card is to collect points to use towards travel, but the perks and benefits are definitely a bonus. When it comes to travel rewards, the most popular reward programs are Aeroplan and Air Miles.
There are several credit cards affiliated with the Aeroplan reward program, including credit cards from CIBC, TD, and American Express. Every $1 spent earns one “Mile” (point), but depending on the credit card and the purchase, there are opportunities to earn more than that. For example, presenting your Aeroplan membership card and then paying with your Aeroplan credit card gives you twice the points. Aeroplan also has over 150 partner brands, so it’s easy to multiply the points you earn by shopping at specific retailers.
The best Aeroplan credit card offered on RateSupermarket.ca is the CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite Card.
BMO and American Express offer credit cards that are affiliated with Air Miles. Points earned can go towards “Cash” rewards or “Dream” rewards. Cash rewards mean the points collected can be redeemed towards in-store and online purchases – making this option a bit more flexible in terms of redemption. To put it in perspective, 95 miles equates to $10 off your purchase.
Dream rewards, on the other hand, can be redeemed directly for travel, event tickets, merchandise and contests. The value of the points vary, depending on the membership level as well as the type of redemption being made.
Customers have the option to choose their Cash/Dream rewards ratio, meaning you can set your account up to collect solely Cash rewards, Dream rewards, or a mixture between the two.
Air Miles has a three-tier membership system, based on how many Miles are earned in a year. The tiers are defined as the following:
- Blue member: Up to 1,000 Miles a year
- Gold member: 1,000 to 5,999 Miles a year
- Onyx member: Over 6,000 Miles a year.
The more Miles you collect, the more benefits there are. For example, Gold members can book flights for up to 30 per cent fewer points, and Onyx members can book flights for up to 40 per cent fewer points.
The best Air Miles credit cards offered on RateSupermarket.ca are:
The best travel credit cards with car insurance
Two great reasons to get a travel rewards credit card is the car rental insurance and car rental discounts that usually come with the card. This can be a great travel perk if you’re into exploring destinations on your own while on vacation, or even if you find yourself renting a car regularly at home. Instead of having to pay an additional fee for insurance when renting a car, most travel rewards cards come with coverage whether you’re renting the car at home or in a different country. Depending on the credit card, you may also be able to get discounts from specific car rental companies
Normally, however, it is stipulated that if you want to use a credit card’s car rental insurance coverage, you have to pay for the rental with that credit card. So always read the fine print from your credit card company to understand how you can qualify for car rental discounts and insurance.
Here are RateSupermarket.ca’s best travel credit cards with car rental insurance in Canada:
The best U.S. dollar travel credit cards in Canada
The best U.S.-dollar travel credit cards offer no foreign transaction fees. However, most Canadian credit card companies add a two to three per cent foreign transaction fee each time a cardholder makes a purchase outside of Canada.
It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of any travel credit card you consider, as a credit card with no transaction fee may come with an annual fee, which may not be worth the savings if you don’t plan on spending enough to make up for the cost of the annual fee.
These days, it’s hard to come across a credit card with no foreign exchange fees, but there are a select few out there. For example. RateSupermarket.ca offers great Canadian travel credit cards with no foreign transactions fees like the Scotiabank Passport® VISA Infinite* Card.
Who should have a no foreign transaction fee credit card?
The easiest way to pay for things while travelling is by using a credit card, especially if you can’t be bothered with currency exchange or you simply don’t want to keep a lot of cash on you. The downside of paying with your credit card outside of Canada is the foreign transaction fee.
While the fee is typically no more than three per cent of your purchase, and seemingly low, it can add up every time you tap or swipe your card. If you plan on spending $1,000 on hotel stays, dining out and shopping over the course of a week on vacation, then three per cent of $1,000 is $30, which isn’t that significant when considering the convenience.
If, however, you do travel regularly, and you spend thousands of dollars each time, then it may be worth getting a credit card with no foreign transaction fees at all. Here are a few examples of who would benefit most from having a card with no foreign transaction fees:
- Those who frequently shop across the border.
- Those who like to shop online from U.S. sites.
- Those who do business in the U.S. and use their credit cards to make purchases from vendors.
- Snowbirds who go south in the winter for months at a time.
Different features of travel rewards credit cards
There are so many travel credit cards available in Canada, but not all are created equal. There are different features and benefits tied into each one, and it can get a little bit overwhelming. It’s important that when you start comparing travel credit cards, you don’t pick the first one you see. Think about what’s important to you as a traveller and what you want out of a credit card.
The following are just a few factors to consider when shopping for a travel credit card:
- Earning potential: Ultimately, you’re going to earn reward points from making purchases on your travel credit card. But there are credit cards that allow you to earn even more points if you make your purchases at certain establishments, such as gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants. This is a great way to maximize point earnings and collect faster than normal.
- Point redemption for travel: There are travel reward programs that allow you to redeem points for a statement credit after you’ve booked travel and travel related expenses on the card. And generally, travel redemption isn’t limited to plane tickets; you may also be able to redeem for car rentals, train tickets, coach buses, and hotel stays. So if you like to use different forms of transportation when travelling, then this type of reward program may be for you.
- Travel booking limitations: Some travel reward programs require you to book travel with its specific agency in order to redeem your points. This may seem limiting, however, this can also sometimes open up doors to cheaper prices on flights that may have otherwise cost significantly more. Tip: Always book early for the best selection of flights and options.
- Redeeming points for other things: If you don’t plan on cashing in your points for travel, it probably seems counterproductive to have a travel rewards credit card. Still, its nice to have some flexibility when redeeming rewards, so some travel reward programs allow you to redeem points for merchandise and experiences too.
- Travel insurance: Many travel credits cards offer travel insurance, but it may be limited. Make sure you read the fine print and check for things like travel medical or accident insurance, trip interruption or cancellation insurance, flight delay insurance and even baggage insurance. The last thing you want is to not have the coverage you need in the case of an emergency in another country.
- Discounts: Some travel credit cards have discounts you can use towards hotel stays, car rentals, as well as dining. It may not seem like much, but it can add up over the length of a trip.
- Sign-up offers/ bonuses: Many travel credit cards offer bonuses for signing up, such as introductory rates, annual fee waivers, bonus points, or even gift card incentives. Bonus points can be worth a few hundred dollars, so it’s definitely worth considering when you’re shopping for a new travel rewards credit card.
- Fees: Some travel credit cards carry annual fees and foreign transaction fees. However, as mentioned before, some cards may offer an annual fee waiver once you sign up, possibly saving you hundreds of dollars. And if you’re doing a lot of travel and plan on paying for everything with your credit card, look for a card with low or no foreign transaction fees.
- Perks: Some credit cards give you membership to exclusive airport lounges, giving you the opportunity to start your travels in style. Most airport lounges have comfortable seating, serve meals and beverages, and offer free guest wi-fi, amongst other amenities available to guests, depending on the location.
Now that you know what to look for in a good travel rewards credit card, let RateSupermarket.ca help you find the best card to chase your wanderlust, wherever you go.
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