Best travel credit card for 2020 award seal

In addition to being immensely popular, travel credit cards offer the best rewards value in Canada, as well as the best sign-up bonuses, insurance packages, and exclusive perks.

And while that all seems great, travel rewards programs can sometimes be complicated, often offering multiple ways to use your points. Getting the best value for your travel rewards requires some research and strategic planning.

That's where we come in, doing the legwork and giving you all the information you need to get the most out of your points.

Our unbiased, math-based comparison algorithm also removes the tedious guesswork and reading all the fine print – we analyze over 126 features of each credit card and give each a Genius Rating out of 5. This way, you can be sure to find the best travel credit card for you, with the least hassle possible.

So, let's take a look at some of the best travel credit cards in Canada for 2020:

Best travel credit cards for 2020

Here are our current top picks for the best travel credit cards available in Canada:

Category Credit Card Current Welcome Bonus Offer
Best travel credit card American Express Cobalt™ Card Up to 30,000 points
Best Aeroplan credit card American Express® Card Gold Rewards Card 25,000 points
Best airline travel credit card TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card 15,000 miles, annual fee rebate for the first year (terms)
Best AIR MILES Mastercard BMO® AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®* 2,000 miles, first year free (terms)
Best travel credit card with no foreign exchange fees Scotiabank Gold American Express® 20,000 points (terms)
Best no fee travel credit card MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard® Up to 10,000 points, plus 4 points per $1 spent in the first 3 months (terms)
Best Airline Mastercard Alaska Airlines Platinum Plus® Mastercard® 20,000 miles (terms)

Review all top 10 travel credit cards here.

The perks of having a travel rewards credit card

If you want the best travel credit cards in Canada, paying an annual fee is pretty much inevitable. The top 10 range from $75 to $399 annually – but this is overshadowed by the valuable rewards, best in class insurance coverage, and drool-worthy perks like:

  • lounge visits,
  • concierge service,
  • hotel upgrades, and
  • special companion fare rates on flights.

And that's just scratching the surface.

Best travel credit card

If you want the best rewards credit card that will earn you the most travel points, the is an easy choice.

Watch the points pile up with these earn rates:

  • 5 points per $1 spent on groceries, restaurants, and food delivery,
  • 2 points per $1 spent on gas, travel, and transit purchases, and
  • 1 point per $1 spent everywhere else.

And with points being worth up to 1.75 cents each, that's a return of up to 8.75% on your grocery and restaurant spend – the highest in Canada right now.

If that isn't enough, just for signing up you'll get a welcome bonus of 2,500 points every month you spend $500 for the first 12 months.

While earning lots of points is great, having multiple ways to redeem your points with great value is what puts this card on top.

The best way is to use the American Express Fixed Points Travel Program, where you can redeem a set number of rewards for a set flight distance.

Other ways that you can redeem your points include:

  • vacation packages and hotel stays,
  • any type of travel booked from any provider, and
  • cash back.

Any way you slice it, there's a way to use your points to suit your preferences.

And unlike Mastercards and Visas, all American Express cards have no minimum income requirements, putting this card within the reach of most people with good credit.

Even the annual fee of $120 is more manageable as a $10 monthly payment.

And if that wasn't enough to convince you, this card comes out on top in 5 other categories in our 2020 rankings:

Best travel credit card for Aeroplan rewards

If you're an Aeroplan collector, the is for you. And while it doesn't earn Aeroplan miles directly, you have the ability to transfer your Membership Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio to Aeroplan.

This card comes out on top because it earns more miles than any other Aeroplan card:

  • 2 points per $1 spent on gas, groceries, drugstores, and travel purchases, and
  • 1 point per $1 spent everywhere else.

Plus, with the uncertainty of upcoming Aeroplan changes, you'll be able to redeem your Membership Rewards points in other ways if things go sour.

You can transfer them to British Airways Executive Club (also 1:1) or Marriott Bonvoy Rewards (5:6), for example, use the Amex Fixed Points Travel program, redeem against any travel purchase made to the card, or just use your points for cash back.

As you can see, you'll get truly valuable points with this card, and not just for Aeroplan.

And like all other American Express cards, you'll get all this with no minimum income requirement and an annual fee of $150.

Best airline travel credit card

If you want a card that won't only earn airline miles, but get you some awesome perks as well, the is the card for you.

Earn Aeroplan miles on all of your daily spending:

  • 1.5 miles per $1 spent on eligible grocery, gas, drugstore, and aircanada.com purchases, and
  • 1 mile per $1 spent on everything else.

In addition, you'll get these great Air Canada perks every time you fly on an Aeroplan rewards ticket:

  • 1st checked bag free,
  • priority check-in,
  • priority boarding, and
  • access to the Maple Leaf lounge (once per year only).

Plus, with a comprehensive suite of travel insurance, this is a great card for all travellers.

Best AIR MILES Mastercard

If you collect AIR MILES for the travel, the will not only earn lots of miles, but let you make the most of them as well.

This travel credit card has one of the best earn rates of any AIR MILES credit card on the market right now – 1 AIR MILE for every $10 you spend.

It also comes with a great sign-up bonus earning you 2,000 AIR MILES after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.

Plus, get a 15% discount on the number of miles you need to redeem for a flight within North America, in addition to 14 types of insurance coverage – among the best of all credit cards.

BMO and AIR MILES have a lot to offer in this card.

Best travel credit card with no foreign exchange fees

Lots of travel rewards are great, but if you travel frequently outside of Canada, every other credit card on this list will charge you an extra 2.5% on purchases made in a foreign currency.

Want to save on this fee? Then look at the . You'll save 2.5% on every purchase made in foreign currencies because the fee is waived completely.

And you'll also earn plenty of flexible Scotia Rewards points on your purchases as well:

  • 5 points per $1 spent on groceries, restaurants and entertainment,
  • 3 points per $1 spent on gas, transit and select streaming services, and
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Throw in plenty of insurance coverages and a welcome bonus of 20,000 points, and it's a great overall travel credit card.

Best no annual fee travel credit card

Prefer not to pay an annual fee? Don't spend enough to justify one? Our top no fee alternative is the .

Why? It's all in the earn rates. For no fee, you'll still earn lots of rewards:

  • 2 points per $1 spent on gas, groceries, and restaurants ($5,000 annual cap on each category), and
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

With MBNA Rewards worth 1 cent per point when redeemed for travel, it's a return of up to 2% on your spending.

And even for a no fee card, it has good insurance as well, with 7 types of coverage, including rare rental car personal effects and accident coverages.

Best airline Mastercard

If you prefer a Mastercard (we see you, Costco shoppers), then the is the best Mastercard for earning airline miles.

But don't be fooled by the "Alaska" in the name, there's a lot of value to be found in this card even for Canadians.

The Alaska Airline Mileage Plan miles you earn can be used with many different airlines around the world, including:

  • American Airlines
  • British Airways,
  • Cathay Pacific,
  • Emirates,
  • Korean Air, and
  • Qantas.

And flying with Alaska Airlines has its extra advantages, like getting an annual companion voucher for $99 USD plus taxes and fees – another great way to save on travel.

If you like travelling around the world, this card could be right for you.

Compare Best Travel Credit Cards

How we get our point values

How do we get our points values? When it comes to travel rewards, there are lots of ways to redeem points, and it takes a lot of research to figure out the top travel reward value for each program.

We've compiled guides for 15 major travel reward programs in Canada, calculating the top travel point value for you.

Here's a summary of the best travel value for each of them.

Travel ProgramTop Travel Point Value
Aeroplan2.5 cents
AIR MILES17.2 cents
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan2.3 cents
American Express Membership Rewards2.5 cents when transferred to Aeroplan, 1.75 cents for the Fixed Points Travel Program
Best Western Rewards0.83 cents
BMO Rewards0.71 cent
CIBC Rewards2.3 cents
Desjardins BONUSDOLLARS1 dollar
Marriott Bonvoy1.04 cents when transferred to Aeroplan, 0.97 cents for hotel stays
MBNA Rewards1 cent
National Bank À La Carte Rewards1 cent
RBC Rewards2.33 cents
Scotia Rewards1 cent
TD Rewards0.5 cents
WestJet Rewards1 dollar

How we get our rankings

How do we decide what the best travel credit cards are? We take into account over 126 features of each card, broken down into 7 main categories:

Travel page genius rating scoring

We then take those features and put them through our algorithm, which calculates a score out of 5. And since we're talking about travel credit cards, we give extra weight to the rewards category, as it's the primary feature we're after for cards on this page.

Learn more about our Genius Rating methodology.

Best travel credit cards in Canada FAQ

Overall, what’s the best travel credit card available in Canada?

Based on the results from our unbiased math-based ratings algorithm, our current top pick for the best travel credit card in Canada is currently the American Express Cobalt Card. This card has a fantastic earn rate, and the rewards are worth up to 1.75 cents per point. And just for signing up, you’ll be able to earn 2,500 points every month you spend $500 for the first 12 months you have the card. You can read more about our best travel credit card here.

Is there a no fee credit card that lets you collect travel rewards?

The best travel credit card that has no annual fee is the MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard®. Even with no fee, this travel credit card still lets you earn lots of valuable rewards, each worth 1 cent per point when redeemed for travel. It also has 7 types of insurance coverages, giving you added peace of mind.

What’s the best AIR MILES credit card in Canada?

Our top rated AIR MILES credit card also happens to be our top rated Mastercard. The BMO® AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®* lets you earn 1 AIR MILE for every $10 spent on all credit card purchases, one of the top earn rates of any credit card. You’ll also get 2,000 bonus AIR MILES in the first 3 months, and your first year is free.

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