Best Travel Credit Cards in Canada With No Annual Fee for 2018 award seal

No annual fee travel credit cards are a rare breed.

Travel credit cards often offer:

  • increased rewards,
  • comprehensive insurance coverage, and
  • great perks.

And annual fees often reflect that…because annual fees are one way credit card companies can justify giving you all those extras.

So, finding a travel credit card that has valuable travel rewards, any type of insurance, and a few perks … all with no annual fee? That’s kind of like looking for Bigfoot – sightings are pretty rare.

But no matter how rare, there are still a few Canadian no fee travel cards in the wild.

Let it be noted, however, that there are some no fee cash back credit cards that are better than no fee travel credit cards, so we included them in our list. They may not give you points or miles ... but the nice thing about cash is that it can be used for travel.

Compare No Fee Travel Credit Cards

Why Choose a No Fee Travel Card?

But first, here’s a simple fact: you’re not going to find a no fee travel card that spoils you as much as the top premium cards do. So why anyone would want to give up those “lap of luxury” cards and go with a no fee travel card? Here are 3 reasons why a no fee travel credit card can make sense:

  • If you’re new to credit cards – no fee cards are a great starting point if points and miles are completely new to you. You get to figure out how everything works without any risk.
  • If you don’t use your card for all your purchases – if you’re not using your credit card for the majority of your purchases, paying a steep annual fee may not make sense for you. Our general rule of thumb is if you spend $1,500+ a month on your card, you can easily justify an annual fee. However, if you’re unsure, feel free to enter your monthly spending into our spending calculator to see if the rewards you would earn would outweigh the annual fee you would pay. Otherwise, consider a no fee card.
  • If you already have a premium credit card – some people like to pair no fee cards with premium credit cards to make sure that they aren’t leaving any rewards on the table. Perhaps you have an American Express that isn’t accepted, or you love shopping at Costco, but your Visa isn’t accepted there either. If that’s the case, perhaps a no fee Mastercard would be a good addition to your wallet.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at some of the best no fee travel credit cards on the market.

The Best Travel Credit Cards with No Annual Fee

Not only is the CIBC Aventura Visa Card the number one travel credit card on the list and with good reason. For a no fee credit card it has quite a lot going for it.

  • It is one of a very limited number of no fee credit cards that give cardholders 24/7 Concierge Service.
  • You get 1 point for every $2 you spend, and that doubles when you are making purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and drug stores.
  • It will give you up to 5,000 points as a welcome bonus (until June 30th, 2018).
  • Finally, you’ll earn very flexible rewards that can be used on travel, gift cards, merchandise, financial products, charitable donations, and even statement credits.

One thing to note is that there is also an identical student version of this card, the . So, whether you’re a student looking for a starter credit card or you’re looking for the best no fee travel card on the market, these Aventura cards from CIBC are both pretty solid choices.

Click “Learn More” to get the full details:

The Best Travel Mastercard with No Annual Fee

One interesting thing about the MBNA Rewards Mastercard is that it gives you a 1% return on spending, whether you’re redeeming your points for travel or cash.

Plus, this card allows you to use your rewards whenever you want – there is no need to wait to redeem your points once a year, or for high minimum redemption levels.

Another thing that really sets this card apart is the fact that there are 7 different types of purchase and travel insurance included. In fact all the MBNA Platinum Plus Mastercards cover you with the same insurance package…

So, if you’re looking for a no fee card and insurance is important to you, MBNA is definitely a good place to start.

Finally to top it off, this card will get you going fast with $50 worth of sign up bonus points – and it’s hard to say no to free rewards.

Read our full review as well as user reviews here:

Honorable Mention

It's not strictly a travel credit card, but the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card is a good one to consider if you’re looking for a no fee option, especially if the majority of your spending is done in a few purchases categories – say entertainment, restaurants, gas, or groceries.

This card allows you to choose up to 3 spending categories where you do most of your spending, and gives you 2% cash back for every purchase you make at stores that fall into those categories. And, if your spending habits change, Tangerine allows you to change your chosen spending categories at regular intervals. And although this card doesn’t give you points or miles, it gives you cash that you can use for whatever travel you like!

The Best Sign Up Bonus with No Annual Fee

The SimplyCash Card from American Express is another card that you may be surprised to see near the top of the no fee travel list (since it is a cash back card). Cash back cards don’t usually come close to travel cards in terms of value or perks, but the SimplyCash Card is definitely an exception to the rule. And since cash can be used for travel, we’ve included it here.

So, if the thought of a nice sign up bonus gets you excited ‒ then the potential to earn up to $188 in bonus rewards should put this card on your radar.

Aside from the rich sign up bonus, you get a straight 1.25% cash back on all your purchases (after the initial 5% for your first 6 months), plus extra rewards if you refer friends and they get approved.

Keep in mind you’ll actually earn $250 in total bonus cash if you spend $5,000 on gas, grocery, and restaurant purchases within the first 6 months you have the card. The real bonus is $188 though after you subtract the the $62 you’d be earning anyway at the regular 1.25% rate.

This card also includes 4 different types of insurance, great perks like American Express Invites and Front of the Line reservations, and even gives you an introductory balance transfer rate of 1.99% for the first 6 months. So if you have any pre existing credit card debt hanging over your head, the SimplyCash card could be a great way to pay off some debt first and start earning valuable rewards later.

Best Credit Cards in Canada for No Annual Fee Travel

As a recap, here’s a summary of the top 5 no fee travel credit cards in Canada. We included a stand-out feature of each card and the average return on spending you can expect to get (assuming a reasonably optimal redemption).

Credit Card Avg. Reward Return Notable Features Apply for Card
CIBC Aventura Visa Card 1.57% Includes 24/7 Concierge Service – very rare for a no fee card. Apply
Scotia More Rewards Visa Card 1.60% Highest average return of the top 5 cards. Apply
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card 1.14% Allows cardholders to choose (and change) their 2% spending categories Apply
MBNA Rewards Mastercard 1% Comes with 7 different types of purchase and travel insurance. Apply
SimplyCash Card from American Express 1.25% Highest sign up bonus. Apply

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