Best Travel Credit Cards In Canada

With so many credits cards on the market that offer a wide variety of rewards, it can be hard to pick which kind of card to get. However, if you are someone who travels for work or leisure, or if increasing travel opportunities is your goal, a travel rewards card could be the answer. But, how are you supposed to know which credit card is best for travel? Well, it depends on a lot of factors. To help you with your search, we’ll tell you about the best travel credit cards in Canada.

best travel credit cards

What Is The Best Credit Card For Me?

Most credit cards, though not all, offer incentives or rewards for use. For some, the reward is simply a low interest rate. However, others offer points for rewards or cash back. In addition, some of the cards will charge an annual fee, while others have none. Typically speaking, it’s the cards with the greatest rewards that carry the largest annual fee. The annual feels can range. But it’s not abnormal for a card to charge $100 to $150 annually for the privilege of use.

However, deciding which card makes the most sense for you depends on many factors. For instance, it depends on your discipline to pay off balances and the types of rewards you think you’d benefit the most from. Therefore, if you typically carry a balance, it’s likely wise to stay away from travel rewards cards. Instead, stick to cash back or low-interest cards. In addition, credit cards are a great way to get and grow your personal credit score — but you have to use them wisely.

Something important to keep in mind as you review our list – the type of benefits and costs don’t typically change drastically. However, they do change often. Plus sign-up bonuses change all the time! In other words, credit card companies are always looking for new and great ways to entice you to apply.

Points vs. Cashback Credit Cards

Rewards cards offer a range of benefits and come in a variety of forms. However, they all fall under the same two umbrellas: points or cash back. Let’s take a closer look below. 

Points Card

These types of rewards cards allow you to earn points. To clarify, it is based on whatever formula the card company offers, which can be traded in for a reward. For example, points can be in the form of miles earned (for some travel cards) or dollar value (such as for supermarkets). But how quickly you earn points and the value of the rewards vary widely. So, it’s best to shop around for a card that makes sense for your particular spending habits and reward preferences.

Cashback Card

Unlike rewards cards, cash back cards typically come in the form of a percentage of cash back for every dollar you spend. To clarify, they’re exactly what they sound like — use your card and get cash in return! Your earned cash back is typically paid out as a credit on your card once per year, but sometimes it’s paid into a bank account instead.

Are Travel Rewards Cards Worth It?

The thing about travel rewards cards is that you really need to spend to earn. Therefore, if you’re not someone who puts a lot of money on your cards, a travel rewards card might not make sense. Because the last thing you want is to be inspired to throw more money on your card that you don’t have, just so you can earn points. And while that might sound obvious and intuitive, it’s a trap many people fall into.

In addition, these cards come with high interest rates. And this is an issue if you’re someone who carries a balance. At that point, you’re not really earning points as much as you’re spending your hard-earned money on interest. Also, the best cards that get you the best rewards tend to come with a pretty hefty annual fee. Again, that money could go towards your own travelling without it going to the credit company.

Therefore, you really need to look at your spending habits and travel needs and requirements to decide if it’s worth it.

How Can I Travel For Free?

Nothing in this world comes for free, and travel credit cards are no different. For one thing, you are on the hook for the taxes for the flight regardless of your points. Secondly, if you’re earning decent points and have great access to flights, chances are you’re paying an annual fee for that benefit. So, can you travel for free? Your ticket might be free. But, you are at least paying for some of it in fees and interest. In addition, you may want a meal at the airport or to check your luggage which your points probably won’t cover. At the end of the day, it’s never really free.

Best Travel Credit Cards At A Glance

Best Credit Card for Travel PointsTD First Class Travel®Visa Infinite* Card
Best Credit Card for Travel Points (no-annual fee)HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard
Best Travel Credit Card for Dining and TransitAmerican Express Cobalt Card
Best Credit Card for Travel InsuranceBMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard
Best Credit Card for Road TravelBMO Cashback World Elite Mastercard
Best Card for Hotel StaysMarriott Bonvoy American Express Card
Best Card for International TravelScotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card

Best Credit Card for Travel Points

If travelling is the goal and getting the most points with the least restrictions is going to help you get there, the best card on the market is the TD First Class Travel®Visa Infinite* Card. We admit there are cards that will get you more bonuses. But these cards come with annual fees approaching $700. So, for the average consumer, the TD First Class will do the job.

What You Get:

  • 3 points for every $1 you spend
  • 9 points for every $1 you spend when you book travel through Expedia for TD
  • Points never expire
  • Redeem for travel and travel-related purchases
  • Redeem for retail merchandise and gift cards, or for a cash credit to your account
  • No blackouts on travel or seat restrictions
  • Extensive suite of travel insurance
  • Beginner bonus of up to 100,000 points and an annual fee rebate for the primary and additional card holder for the first year

What You Pay:

  • $120 annual fee
  • $50 supplementary card, $0 for additional cardholders
  • 19.99% interest on purchases
  • 22.99% on cash advances

Related Reading: Best Rewards Credit Cards in Canada

Best Credit Card for Travel Points (no-annual fee)

Given that rewards often come at a cost, there aren’t many travel reward cards in Canada that come with no fee. And those that do obviously have fewer perks than a fee-based card. However, if no fee is what you need, then the HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard is a good choice.

What You Get:

  • Earn 3 points for every dollar spent on eligible travel purchases
  • Earn 2 points for every dollar spent on gas and daily transportation
  • Earn 1 point for every dollar spent elsewhere
  • Travel insurance perks
  • Redeem points for flights, vacation packages, hotels, and more
  • Option to redeem points for gift cards and merchandise as well
  • Special offer of 25,000 points when you spend $1,000 on the card in the first 180 days

What You Pay:

  • $0 annual fee
  • $0 supplementary card
  • 20.99% interest on purchases
  • 22.99% interest on cash advances (21.99% in Quebec)

Best Travel Credit Card for Dining and Transit

If you’re big into travel and want a card that will help you get around and enjoy your trip, we are fans of the American Express Cobalt Card. That’s because it’s an extremely versatile card. In other words, it allows you to earn points and use points in a variety of ways.

What You Get:

  • Five points per dollar on restaurants, coffee shops, bars, grocery stores, and food delivery
  • Three points per dollar spent on streaming subscriptions
  • Two points per dollar on gas, taxis, public transportation and travel (air, water, rail, or road transport, plus hotels)
  • One point per dollar on all other purchases
  • Travel insurance coverage
  • Able to redeem points for a variety of perks

What You Pay:

  • $155.88 annual fee ($12.99 monthly)
  • 20.99% interest on purchases
  • 21.99% interest on cash advances

Best Credit Card for Travel Insurance

We Canadians are used to having quality medical insurance. And that is no different when we travel. In other words, we want to make sure we are still well taken care of. Therefore, it’s valuable to know which Canadian credit card has the best travel insurance. And that’s where the BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard comes in. To clarify, while most cards offer $1 million in travel insurance coverage, the BMO World Elite MasterCard doubles it.

What You Get:

  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points
  • 5 points for every dollar spent on travel
  • 3 points for every dollar spent on dining, entertainment and recurring bill payments
  • 1 point for every dollar spent on other purchases
  • $2 million in travel coverage for your whole family
  • Emergency travel medical insurance, trip disruption and car rental insurance,
  • Extended warranty and purchase protection

What You Pay:

  • $150 annual fee
  • $50 fee for additional cards
  • 20.99% interest on purchases
  • 23.99% interest on cash advances (21.99% for Quebec)

Best Credit Card for Road Travel

Not everyone jet sets. In fact, many of us are road-trippers for the experience and/or savings cost. However, travelling by car adds its own set of needs and requirements. Therefore, it’s helpful to have a travel credit card that adds extra protection for road travelers. The BMO Cashback World Elite Mastercard gives nice perks for people who are travelling by car.

What You Get:

  • Free access to roadside assistance through BMO
  • Discount on car rentals of up 25%
  • Collision Damage Waiver benefits on rental cars
  • Eight days of Out-of-Province/Out-of-Country Emergency Medical benefits, up to $2 million
  • 5% cash back on groceries
  • 4% cash back on transit
  • 3% cash back on gas
  • 2% cash back on recurring payments
  • 1% cash back on all other purchase
  • Welcome offer of 10% cash back in first 3 months or annual fee waived in first year

What You Pay:

  • $120 annual fee
  • 20.99% interest on purchases
  • 23.99% interest on cash advances (21.99 for Quebec)

Related Reading: Best Cash Back Credit Cards in Canada

Best Card for Hotel Stays

You can’t easily travel without finding a place to lay your head at night. So, credit cards that offer perks at hotels are a nice bonus to help reduce costs and get you some sweet benefits at the hotels you stay at. Therefore, for hotel travel benefits, we like the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card.

What You Get:

  • Earn 5 points on Marriott Bonvoy purchases
  • Earn 2 points for every dollar spent elsewhere
  • Welcome offer of 5 points per dollar spent on meals in first 3 months plus 65,000 bonus points
  • Travel insurance coverage

What You Pay:

  • $120 annual fee
  • $0 supplementary card
  • 19.99% interest on purchases
  • 21.99% interest on cash advances

Best Card for International Travel

Are you someone who travels overseas regularly for work or for pleasure? If so, you will want to consider the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card. To clarify, this card offers valuable benefits while abroad and great ways to earn while home.

What You Get:

  • Earn up to 35,000 bonus points in the first year
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Lounge access when traveling
  • Earn two points on every dollar you spend on grocery, dining, entertainment and daily transit
  • Earn one point on every dollar you spend on all other purchases
  • Access to travel insurance benefits

What You Pay:

  • $139 annual fee
  • $0 supplementary cards, additional cards costs $50 per year
  • 19.99% interest on purchases
  • 22.99% interest on cash advances

Depending on when, where and how often you travel, a travel rewards credit card may make the most sense as a reward card. But, it is important to understand your needs and the limitations of these cards. And it’s best to do so before applying.

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