Let’s be honest, travelling can be expensive.

Hotels, eating out, rental cars, insurance…it all really adds up.

Not to mention flights, which make up a significant percentage of the total cost of travelling.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll do what you can to reduce the total price of your vacation:

Plus, I’m a big fan of collecting points with credit cards to redeem for flights and other travel expenses

But is there anything else that can be done?

Related: The Best No Fee Travel Sign Up Bonus Available Now

Introducing companion vouchers – a free flight for your partner

What if you could take your spouse, partner, or best friend along with you for a fraction of the cost?

Almost sounds too good to be true, right?

Well, there actually are credit cards that will allow you to bring along a companion with you on your trip for a reduced price.

This article will fill you in on:

  • how this great perk works,
  • the credit cards that issue them,
  • what they cost to use, and…
  • where you can use these vouchers to fly.

Please Note: I won’t get into any specifics on how much these vouchers will save you since the combinations are endless and many cards give you this perk annually, but just imagine how much savings you could rack up.

Related: 3 National Bank Travel Mastercards Reviewed & Compared

Plus a $150 travel bonus.
Offer ends December 21, 2018.

How companion vouchers work

Companion vouchers come in many different forms.

How exactly you claim the voucher varies, but many have the same basic features:

  • you need to purchase a ticket using either the credit card associated with the voucher or the Airlines’ rewards points that you have accumulated,
  • they are only available once per year and cannot be carried over into future years, and…
  • they only cover the base fare at most, leaving you to pay the taxes, fees, and additional charges.

Please Note: Not all vouchers pay the whole base rate. Some may require you to pay a reduced rate for the companion flight.

Which cards offer a companion voucher

Now that we have the basics down, let’s move onto the cards that offer them.

RBC British Airways Visa Infinite

The offers a companion voucher for travel on British Airways, one of the largest airlines by countries served in the world.

In order to earn this voucher, you will be required to spend $30,000 annually.

The British Airways voucher can only be used with an award ticket.

Use your Avios points to book a ticket and then you can use the voucher to bring someone else with you, all you have to do is pay the taxes and fees, making this one of the most valuable vouchers on the Canadian market.

Outside your typical fees and taxes, there is no cost for your primary ticket or your companion ticket, making this deal as close to free for both passengers as you can get.

Where it can be used

This voucher is good for travel on British Airways’ flights, although we do have a limited number of places in Canada where this can be used:

  • Montreal,
  • Toronto,
  • Calgary (seasonal service only), and
  • Vancouver.

The first step is to make it to one of these airports, or another US hub such as Boston, New York, Chicago or Seattle.

Once there, while British Airways has global reach, realistically you should only use the voucher to fly to Europe, Africa, the Middle East, or India. Flights outside these areas could risk becoming quite long, and you might be better off finding another airline to travel with.

With that said, this still gives you an incredible range of destinations to use this voucher, and amongst the best set of international destinations on this list.

Though travel within Canada and the United States won’t be an option, here’s why British Airways could make sense for (most) Canadians.

Alaska Airlines World Elite & Platinum Plus Mastercards

Though not a well known commodity in Canada, Alaska Airlines has two credit cards that made this list.

Both the and the offer companion vouchers that can be used on Alaska Airlines for economy tickets only (unfortunately, no business class).

On your card’s anniversary, you will be awarded a companion voucher that will cost you $99 USD plus taxes, fees and charges to wherever Alaska Airlines flies. Purchase a trip through alaskaair.com and use your voucher to bring someone along for the ride.

Can’t wait that long for your voucher? Spend $1,000 in your first 90 days and you will be awarded a companion voucher as part of your welcome bonus.

These cards will also give you the same rewards on your spending. And although the platinum plus has an annual fee that is lower by $24, the world elite will give you:

  • 10,000 more welcome points,
  • one extra type of insurance (price protection), and
  • a free bag for yourself and up to six people travelling on the same reservation.

Where it can be used

Similar to British Airways, Alaska Airlines has a limited reach in Canada.

Alaska Airlines only flies to:

  • Edmonton,
  • Calgary,
  • Kelowna,
  • Vancouver, and
  • Victoria.

All flights from these cities are to Seattle, with the exception of Vancouver which also has a flight to Portland.

Another option, assuming you live close enough, would be to simply drive to Seattle, Alaska Airlines biggest hub and fly direct from there.

Once in Seattle, you’ll have full access to Alaska Airlines destinations, which include most of the continental United States, Hawaii, Mexico, Costa Rica, and of course, Alaska.

Finally, these credit cards offer great value because although your companion voucher can only be used for an Alaska Airlines flight, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan points can be used for a variety of partner airlines, including:

  • American Airlines,
  • British Airways,
  • Cathay Pacific,
  • Condor,
  • Emirates,
  • Hainan Airlines,
  • Icelandair,
  • Japan Airlines,
  • Korean Air, and
  • Qantas.

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege & CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite Privilege

While being from different issuers, the and the are almost identical cards.

The companion vouchers that come with them are no exception.

Once a year, buy a business class ticket on any Air Canada operated flights and receive a 50% discount on the base fare to bring someone with you. Taxes and fees are not eligible for the discount.

So while buying any business class ticket is an expensive proposition, getting another one at a reduced rate makes traveling in business class a little more palatable.

It should be noted that a household income of $200,000 is required for these cards, and come with an annual fees of $399.

However, if you can stomach that, this card will give you some additional Air Canada Perks:

  • Free first checked bag,
  • Priority check-in and boarding,
  • Four one-time Maple Leaf Lounge passes (can only be used when travelling on Aeroplan tickets), and
  • Access priority security screening at the following Canadian airports:
    • Vancouver
    • Ottawa
    • Montreal-Trudeau

Where it can be used

With these vouchers from CIBC and TD, there aren’t as many restrictions on destinations.

If Air Canada flies there, this voucher can be used. And with over 200 destinations worldwide, it shouldn’t be hard to find a place to use it.

Related: Best Aeroplan Credit Cards

BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard

A popular card for collecting AIR MILES, the offers a one-time use companion flight rebate.

Simply book a flight for two people using your AIR MILES, within 12 months of being approved for the card, and get the miles back for one of the tickets. You’ll just end up having to pay the taxes and fees for the second ticket.

Surprisingly, there is no limit to the amount of miles you can have rebated, you are only limited by the amount of miles you have.

As part of it’s strong offering, the BMO AIR Miles World Elite Mastercard will also give you:

  • 1 AIR MILE per dollar spent, the highest of any AIR MILES card,
  • 3,000 mile welcome bonus,
  • 15% discount on the number of miles required to fly within North America,
  • 14 types of insurance, and
  • 2 airport lounge passes.

Please note: Because this is a one time rebate, we are including the value of this rebate with the sign-up bonus. We feel the average Canadian could earn 3,000 miles in one year. They could then book two medium-haul flights for 3,000 miles each and then be credited 3,000 miles. Therefore, we are valuing this rebate at 3,000 miles.

3,000 sign-up bonus + 3,000 miles rebated= 6,000 welcome bonus

Where it can be used

There’s really no limit to where it can be used. As long as you have enough AIR MILES for two tickets, you can fly anywhere the AIR MILES program can take you.

American Express AIR MILES Reserve

With the , American Express will give you a a companion flight worth up to 1,700 miles.

Simply redeem a flight with your AIR MILES with a value of up to 1,700 miles, and your companion flight is basically paid for, just pay the taxes and fees. Or, if you get a flight worth more than 1,700 miles, reduce the amount of miles needed by 1,700.

Unlike the other vouchers we have seen to this point, you’ll have access to more than one airline to fly with.

With an annual fee of $299 and no income requirements, this card does offer some other great perks:

  • access additional airlines, destinations and departure times not available in the AIR MILES program,
  • redeem for any available business seat,
  • access priority pass lounges worldwide, with four free passes included
  • access priority security screening at Toronto-Pearson airport, and
  • automatic AIR MILES Onyx status.

This is also the only AIR MILES credit card that waives the administration fee you have to pay when booking a flight. Depending on the booking, this can lead to savings of between $10-50 per person booked.

Where it can be used

Sadly, 1,700 miles won’t get you very far in the AIR MILES program. As an example, if you book a flight from Ontario, you could fly as far as Manitoba, Atlantic Canada, the US Northeast or the Upper Midwest.

And that’s just in low-season. Not a very extensive travel region.

AIR MILES does have the ability to take you almost anywhere in the world with their partner airlines, but you’ll still need to have your own miles to use your companion voucher.

Related: Best AIR MILES Credit Cards

American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum and AeroplanPlus Reserve Cards

The and the have the same method of awarding an annual companion voucher, just with different amounts of reward miles to redeem.

Book a fixed mileage short haul flight for 15,000 miles with the AeroplanPlus Platinum card and someone else can come with you, whereas the AeroplanPlus Reserve card is increased to 25,000 miles for a classic long haul flight.

In each case, you just have to pay the taxes and fees.

Please Note: These are very prestigious cards, that come with some hefty annual fees.

Although these cards have no income requirements, the AeroplanPlus Platinum card has an annual fee of $499, and the AeroplanPlus Reserve card has an annual fee of $899.

If you can handle these large fees, you’ll also get some pretty sweet perks:

  • Air Canada Priority check-in,
  • Complimentary lounge access to both Maple Leaf and Priority Pass lounges, and
  • Special Toronto-Pearson airport benefits, including priority security screening.

The Reserve card also has these additional features:

  • Free first checked bag on Air Canada flights, and
  • A $200 annual travel credit.

Where it can be used

For the AeroplanPlus Platinum card, similar to the AIR MILES Reserve card, this won’t get you very far.

A short haul flight will only get you to a neighboring province, state or region.

The AeroplanPlus reserve card is not nearly as restrictive. You will be able to travel anywhere in Canada, the continental United States and Alaska.

Also, since this is a classic flight reward, it can be used on any Star Alliance carrier. So in this case, your vouchers could also be used to fly on United Airlines in addition to Air Canada.

Related: Credit Card Travel Insurance for Age 65 & Over

RBC WestJet World Elite Mastercard

Probably the most well known, the offers a voucher that will take you anywhere WestJet flies.

Simply purchase a round trip airfare through westjet.com and pay the following for your discounted companion flight:

  • $99 for travel within Canada & the Continental United States,
  • $299 for travel to Hawaii, Central America and the Caribbean, and
  • $399 for travel to Europe.

On top of these base costs, you will also have to pay taxes, fees and additional charges.

The best part of this voucher is that it covers the same fare level as the purchased ticket, so if you buy a plus seat (WestJet’s premium in-flight offering), the voucher covers a plus seat as well, leading to some pretty great savings. Plus, you also have the option to redeem any amount of WestJet dollars to cover the paid fare, leading to double savings.

This card also offers free checked bags on WestJet flights for yourself and up to 8 additional guests traveling with you on the same itinerary.

With the price of baggage going up to $30 plus taxes for your first bag, this offers great savings even without using the voucher. All this for an annual fee of $119.

Where it can be used

These vouchers can be used on any flight in the WestJet network.

However, there are a few points to note about some of the destinations.

For the continental United States, WestJet, for the most part, only flies to popular destinations, such as:

  • California,
  • Florida,
  • Las Vegas,
  • New York,
  • Boston,
  • Nashville,
  • Denver, and
  • Houston.

If you feel like venturing off the path most travelled in the United States, WestJet won’t be able to help you.

If Europe is where you have your sights set, you will be limited to:

  • Dublin,
  • Glasgow,
  • London, and
  • Paris.

If you want to travel beyond these cities, you’ll have to hop on another European carrier when you get there. Also, flights to these cities (excluding London) all originate from either Halifax or St. John’s. For most people, you’ll need to take an extra flight (or two) to reach these destinations.

Related: WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard: Deep Dive Review

Honorable Mention

While it doesn’t offer a companion voucher, the does offer seat discounts through the card’s International Airline Program.

Simply call the Platinum Travel services line, discuss where you want to go and see the available options.

Here are some of the airlines available for this program:

  • Air New Zealand,
  • British Airways,
  • Cathay Pacific,
  • Delta,
  • Air France,
  • KLM,
  • Emirates,
  • Japan Airlines,
  • Lufthansa,
  • Swiss Air, and
  • WestJet.

Generally, you will need to book two seats to take advantage, although a few of these such as Emirates will give discounts when you purchase only one seat. The discount you receive varies by airline, so the only way to know what is available is to call Platinum Travel services.

On top of this, the Platinum Card card also offers some incredible perks:

  • An annual $200 travel credit,
  • Complimentary access to Priority Pass Lounges,
  • Special Toronto-Pearson benefits including priority security screening, and
  • Various complimentary upgraded hotels, car and golf memberships.

If you can handle the $699 annual fee this card truly offers a premium experience.

 

Final Word

There are quite a few options for getting companion vouchers through credit cards, and they come in many different forms.

While the cost to bring a companion with you never completely disappears, it certainly can be a way to get a seat cheaply. In many cases the airfare is completely free, you just have to cover the taxes and fees.

Here is a summary for each credit card that offers a companion voucher.

Credit Card Type of Flight Locations Extra Fees
Rewards Europe, Africa, Middle East, India No – however requires $30,000 annual spend to receive voucher

Pay – economy seats only United States, Mexico, Costa Rica Yes – $99 USD

Pay – requires booking business class seat Worldwide Yes – must pay 50% of base airfare
Rewards – up to 1,700 miles Canada, US – must be to neighboring regions, but can go worldwide if using own miles to top up No – unless travelling beyond a neighboring region
Rewards – up to 15,000 Aeroplan Miles Canada, US – Only to neighboring regions No
Any flight, as long as you have enough AIR MILES to cover the cost. Worldwide Yes – must pay taxes and surcharges.
Rewards – up to 25,000 Aeroplan Miles Canada, Continental US and Alaska No
Pay – can be any fare class Canada, US, Mexico, Caribbean, Europe Yes – varies according to destination

We would love to hear from you

Have you used a companion voucher? If so, what were your savings?

Please leave a comment below to share your experience.