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By Credit Card Company Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards for 2009

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Welcome to Rewards Canada's first annual take on picking Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards. With Travel Rewards Credit Cards being one of the most popular type of credit cards, we have decided to continue our quest in helping the Canadian consumer choose the right card by picking what we think are the best cards. While it is practically impossible to give this question a perfect one card answer, we can breakdown the market of Canadian Travel Rewards credit cards into five major categories that these cards fall into.

How did we come up with these best cards? Simple, eight years of research, answers to hundreds of email questions from readers plus the charts and articles that we have written has given us insight into the pros and cons of each card. This has allowed Rewards Canada to form an opinion as to which ones are the best. That's right, it all boils down to opinion. The top cards listed here, are in our opinion, after looking at all of their details, the best cards for travel rewards in Canada. Will people agree? Some yes, some no. Will we make some credit card issuers mad? Yes. Happy? You bet. However, like we stated above it is nearly impossible to pick a single best card due to the vast majority of factors that can be considered when choosing a card.

We don't believe this to be the end all and be all of the best travel rewards cards in Canada. As we have stressed in the past, choosing a card is a difficult decision based on many factors including but not limited to rewards offered, benefits offered, cost and the issuing bank. We hope that in this first attempt of picking some of the highlights in Canada's travel rewards credit card industry, we will help those in the quest of finding the right credit card for them.

At last count there were over 35 travel rewards credit cards available to Canadians. Some are airline only cards that put miles directly into your airline frequent flyer accounts. Some are hybrid cards (a term coined by us, now used by many) where you collect points that can be used to book travel through the credit card or put the points into a frequent flyer/guest account. Some are travel points cards, where the points are redeemed for travel through the credit card company while a small number are hotel only cards that put the points directly into your frequent guest program accounts.

It is from these variations of cards that we have created the five main categories of cards in Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards for 2009.
1. Top Airline Credit Card
2. Top Hybrid Travel Credit Card
3. Top Travel Points Credit Card (with annual fee)
4. Top Travel Points Credit Card (with no annual fee)
5. Top Hotel Points Credit Card


Top Travel Points Credit Card (with annual fee)

Top Card:
Capital One® Miles Plus Platinum Mastercard with No Hassle Rewards*

One of the newest credit cards in Canada from a relatively new issuer in the Canadian market, this card charged onto the market with the following features and benefits:

- A 2% return on all purchases can be used towards travel that is booked with any travel provider
- Low yearly fee of $99 complete with Mastercard platinum benefits
- No fee supplementary card

Honourable Mention:
BMO Air Miles Gold Mastercard
A popular mainstay in Canada that recently went through changes after the termination of their partnership with WestJet, this card is the best option for those who love to collect Air Miles Reward Miles:
- This card offers the largest double dipping opportunities in Canada due to the sheer volume of Air Miles sponsors
- 20% discount on all Air Miles flights means you have to collect less before redeeming
- Double Air Miles for purchases made at Shell gas stations

Click here to view all the Travel Points Credit Cards (with annual fee) that were considered

Top Travel Points Credit Card (with no annual fee)

Top Card:
American Express Blue Sky Credit Card
Introduced in mid-2008, the Blue Sky Credit Card makes a perfect alternative to the no fee Air Miles card for those who do not want to be stuck earning points into one program by offering the ability to book travel anywhere and then redeem your points for that charge:
- Points can be redeemed against booked travel up to 12 months after the charge is posted (book first then spend spend spend to pay it off!)
- Offers a 1.25% return on purchases
- Can redeem as little as 10,000 points, which means you only have to spend $8,000 if you don't include the sign up bonus

Honourable Mention:
Capital One® Miles Platinum Mastercard with No Hassle Rewards*
Amusing commercials are not all that Capital One® has going for them, this card offers benefits and insurance's usually reserved for cards with an annual fee:
- A 1% return on all purchases can be used towards travel that is booked with any travel provider
- One of only a few cards with no annual fee that offer Mastercard platinum benefits
- Points can also be used towards Cash, Gift Cards or Merchandise

Click here to view all the Travel Points Credit Cards (with no annual fee) that were considered

Top Hybrid Travel Credit Card (with annual fee)

Top Card:
Diners Club Club Rewards Mastercard

The oldest credit card name in the industry shot up the ranks when it became a Mastercard a few years back and here is why it is the top hybrid card:
- Ability to book your travel with any provider you want and redeem your points against the charge up to 9 months later at a 1.7% return
- Low yearly fees with a nice suite of benefits including free access to over 115 business class lounges in major cities worldwide.
- Option to transfer Club Rewards points to 10 airline and 7 hotel reward programs

Honourable Mention:
RBC Visa Platinum Avion / Visa Infinite Avion
The Avion cards rank right up with the CIBC AeroGold Cards in terms of popularity with Canadians and offers a good suite benefits with a decent rate of return when redeeming points
- Ability to book flights with any airline with no blackout periods, extremely useful when there are no seat sales
- Option to transfer RBC Rewards Points to British Airways Executive Club or Cathay Pacific Asia Miles. Look for the twice yearly 50% BA bonus!
- Having to book travel via RBC and at least 14 days out to get the best redemption rate makes this the second best card.

Click here to view all the Hybrid Travel Credit Cards that were considered


Top Airline Credit Card

Top Card:
CIBC AeroGold Visa / AeroGold Visa Infinite

As some of the most popular cards in Canada, the AeroGold Visa's come out on top for the airline category for the following reasons:
- Ability to earn 1.5 Aeroplan miles on Grocery, Drug Store and Gas Station purchases
- Decent redemption rates, particularly on Business Class tickets (which afford the greatest rate of return on any credit card spending)
- Despite Canada's love-hate relationship with Air Canada, the airline still provides the most flight coverage domestically and internationally out of Canada, which allows AeroGold holders many redemption options

Honourable Mention:
American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum Charge Card

A card with a slew of benefits attached to it, the AeroplanPlus Platinum Charge Card is a favorite with the really frequent flyers:
- Ability to earn up to 1.5 Aeroplan miles on all purchases
- Free access to Air Canada Maple Leaf business class lounges and priority check in
- A high yearly fee along with lower merchant acceptance of American Express cards are what keep this card from being on top

Click here to view all the Airline Credit Cards that were considered

Top Hotel Credit Card

Top Card:
MBNA Starwood Preferred Guest Mastercard*

This card took Canada by storm a few years back. The first true hotel earning card for Canadians offers a suite of benefits with rewards tied to one the world's best Frequent Guest Programs, all with no annual fee. Honestly if this card gave out bonuses beyond the $30,000 mark, it would be the best card in Canada, period.
- Earn bonuses up to the first $30,000 of spending to make the card earn 1 Starpoint per $1 spent, after it is 1 Starpoint per $2
- Ability to transfer to 30+ airlines including a 5,000 mile bonus when you transfer 20,000 Starpoints at a time.
- Complete suite of benefits like most Platinum and Gold cards except this one has no fee

(Sep 1 update: This card has been discontinued as of Aug 31, 09, a new SPG card is slated to be released in Canada by Mar 2010)

Honourable Mention:

Chase Marriott Rewards Platinum Visa
The second true hotel earning card for Canadians originally came on the market with weak benefits and perks but the incentives have been increased making this the next best hotel card in Canada.
- Receive 10 nights credit toward Elite status each year, which automatically gives you Silver Elite status
- 10,000 bonus points on your first purchase, enough for a free night in a Category 1 or 2 hotel.
- 3 Marriott Rewards points per dollar spent at over 3,000 Marriott locations Worldwide.

Click here to view all the Hotel Points Credit Cards that were considered

What will the next year hold in store? Well with WestJet launching their own frequent flyer program with an associated credit card and hints of a major U.S. airline launching a Canadian credit card, Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credits Cards may look somewhat different for 2010. Stay tuned this time next year to see what transpires.

Care to comment on our choices? Want to voice your opinion on the good and the bad of all the Travel Rewards Credit Cards in Canada. Share you views and experiences on our accompanying blog post for Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards 2009.
Go to the Rewards Canada blog...


“The interest rates, fees, rewards details, benefits and other details of the Capital One product(s) described in the article may have changed since the time of publication. Please consult the product information pages on the Capital One website for accurate product details. In the event of any conflict between the product details in this article and the Capital One website, the details on the Capital One website shall prevail.”

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