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By Credit Card Company
ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard Review Posted on Jan 23, 2015

Since we launched Rewards Canada in 2001 we have always stated that there aren't really any bad credit cards out there as each card is good for certain individuals. However there are cards that we would have considered being at the bottom of the list when comparing cards and the ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard used to be one of them. Not the worst card but not far from taking that title. That was when the card had an annual fee but the card was revamped in the Fall of 2014 and now ATB touts it as the "Best no-fee coverage travel card". So with that statement we decided to give this 'small' issuing bank card the Rewards Canada review treatment!

Overview

The only for Albertan's ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard is the only travel rewards card from Alberta Treasury Branch portfolio of cards that also includes Cashback and MyHusky rewards cards. It used to be a weak card when compared to others in Canada but with its recent especially since it had an $89 annual fee and lackluster rewards and insurance. Now that has changed and the card provides a decent no fee option for those living in Alberta.

Sign up Features
The ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard does not have a sign bonus when you apply for the card although in the past in was known for having the largest sign up bonus on a credit card in Canada*. In place of a points based sign up bonus they are however providing a 0% interest rate on balance transfers to the card for the first six months.

* Related: ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard 100,000 Point Sign Up Bonus - Classic case of "Remember people it's all about the EARN and the BURN"

Costs
The ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard has no annual fee for the primary or secondary cards. The interest rate on the card is19.9% which is in line with most of the cards at this level.

Earning
The ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard has a simple earning structure of 10 points per dollar spent on all eligible purchases made with the card.
One thing to note with this card is that they round down earnings on non-whole dollar purchases. For example if a purchase is $47.79 you'll earn 470 points.

Redeeming
The ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard redemption process is like many other cards that have proprietary rewards programs. The card allows for various travel redemptions made via the atbmyrewards.com contracted travel agency or via their website where you can redeem for hotel gift certificates (Fairmont, Delta, Brewsters), VIA Rail Gift Cards, itravel2000.com gift cards and several other travel experience options. There are also other non-travel redemptions available. This card falls into the book any travel anywhere sub-category of Travel Points cards which means you don't have to redeem via ATB MY Rewards. All you have to do is book your travel whether it be aircanada.com, westjet.com, expedia.com or anywhere else including your trusted travel agent and when that charge shows up on your statement you simply call up ATB My Rewards or go online and redeem points against the charge.

With this card you'll want to go with the first option of booking via their travel agency or the latter option of redeeming for any travel as that will get you the best return on your spending. Points are redeemed at a rate of 1000 points for a $1 statement credit towards that travel charge. This means you receive a 1% return on your spending which for a no fee card is standard and equivalent to most of this card's competitors. Both the travel agency and self booking options have a minimum redemption of 50,000 points for $50 off your travel. That is the beauty of this card and many like it, you don't have to have the full amount of points to begin to enjoy the rewards! If you buy an airline ticket for $600 and have 30,000 points you can choose to redeem those points for a $300 credit which means your flight only cost $300. Another benefit of this' book travel on your own' is you can be on vacation and buy travel on the card (say a rail ticket) and then redeem points when you get home. It can't be done with cards that don't have this feature such as the BMO Rewards World Elite MasterCard or CIBC Aventura Visa since you need to redeem the points ahead of time. Essentially the ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard falls into the category of most flexible travel rewards cards.

The other travel redemptions on their website are gift cards and gift certificates for several Canadian hotel operators, VIA Rail and itravel2000.com. These options do not provide the 1% return that you would get for redeeming for travel directly. Most of these options run 130,000 for a $100 Gift Card or Certificate. That equates to roughly a 0.77% return on your spending. The question is, unless you need to give a gift certificate as a gift why would you redeem for one of these? If you have a stay planned at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise you are better off booking it through ATB's agency or yourself and redeeming 130,000 points for a $130 credit rather than the $100 gift card.

Features and Benefits

The ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard comes with a really decent insurance and benefits suite for a no fee card. On the insurance side the card comes with wide range of coverage as including travel accident insurance, flight delay, baggage delay insurance, car rental CDW coverage, purchase protection and extended warranty. Save for about three other cards most no fee travel rewards cards do not include insurance coverage like this card does.

The card also offers one other benefit that we typically don't see on a credit card but rather from vacation packagers: a weather guarantee! Called WeatherGuard, it offers up to a $300 discount towards future travel if precipitation is more than 0.5 inches in a 24-hour period on at least half of the total number of days on your affected trip. Trip must be a minimum of 4 days/3 nights within Canada, the United States, or Caribbean. You then have two years after you return from the affected vacation to apply the discount towards another vacation.

What is good about this card
The insurance package that comes with the ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard is strong for a no fee rewards card and is the best thing about it.

Also the fact that you can book travel on your own and then redeem points against the charge on your account is great as it provides the utmost in flexibility when it comes to travel rewards.

The WeatherGuard benefit is another good point to the card, while it seems like a great benefit, the longer your trip the less likely it will work out that you would be able to claim this benefit. However since it does work for trips in Canada or to the U.S. and you fly to a location that is known for rain, say Vancouver, Victoria or Seattle for four days, you won't be sad if it rains as chances are you'll be prepared for it and there is a possibility you could qualify for this credit!

What is not so good about this card
The 1% return on the card, while standard for the majority of no fee travel rewards cards is lower than at least three other cards who provide 1.25% or a blend of 1 and 2% back makes the card a little weak in the earning department.

No sign up bonus, many no fee cards don't carry a bonus but this card's major competitors do.

The foreign transaction fee on this card is the highest in Canada. The majority of cards charge 2.5%, some are 0% and 2% while this card is 2.9%. If you travel out of Canada a lot that 0.4% could really add up to a lot of extra fees.

The fact that this card is only available to Albertans makes it not good at all for the remainder of Canada!

Conclusion
For point and mile gamers in Alberta the ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard won't even be on the radar. No sign up bonus, no ties to other loyalty programs and a mediocre return. However for those who aren't chasing down every mile and point but like to vacation once or twice a year this card could actually make sense. One percent return isn't huge but the fact that you can book travel how you want and when you want is a nice bonus and makes it much easier to redeem for travel rewards than programs like Aeroplan and AIR MILES. This is especially true if you don't earn a lot of miles in those two other programs from other methods. If you are happy with a few hundred dollars discount each time you take a vacation, these type of cards totally make sense. For others in Alberta the card may be attractive as secondary or tertiary card especially if you bank at ATB for convenience sake however if you don't bank at ATB you are probably better off with one of the no-fee travel rewards cards that offer 1.25% as one would assume that your primary credit card carries all the necessary insurances and benefits for your travels.

If your travel rewards goals is flying like VIPs in first or business class this card is not for you. There are much better options out there that will get you those premium seats much faster and at a better return than this card would.

What about the claim of being "Best no-fee coverage travel card". You'll notice then leave 'rewards' out as they know other no-fee travel rewards offer higher returns but the claim about coverage? The only coverage they have on this card that other no fee cards have is Flight Delay insurance but other cards in the no fee category have other insurances like Trip Interruption and Price Protection which this card does not have. It also has that WeatherGuard guarantee but we here don't feel that is a game changer as the majority of trips
taken by cardholders will not qualify. That is why you see travel providers like itravel2000.com offering this type of benefit as well as the pay out for them is very little. So in our minds it is not the Best no-fee coverage travel card but its not bad either. If this card was available across Canada it would definitely make it into our Top 5 Travel Points Credit Cards (with no annual fee) in our annual rankings.

Care to comment? Do you agree or disagree with us? Tell us what think about the ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard on our blog


Related Links:
ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard on atb.com
Rewards Canada's All Travel Rewards Credit Card Comparison including the ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard
Rewards Canada's Travel Points Only Credit Card Comparison including the ATB Gold My Rewards Travel MasterCard

Other cards to consider if you are looking at this card:
American Express Air Miles Credit Card
American Express Blue Sky Credit Card
BMO Air Miles MasterCard
Capital One® Aspire Travel™ Platinum MasterCard®
CAA Rewards MasterCard

Rewards Canada: Top Bonus Offers
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Rewards Canada: Blog Features
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