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In this feature of Rewards Canada's Ultimate Credit Card Portfolios we look at the ultimate one for earning travel points that you can use for virtually any travel and not have to pay any annual fees.We have always recommended that you should carry a Visa, a MasterCard and an American Express card in your wallet. The reason why is that there are benefits, promotions and earning potential unique to each brand of credit card. We won't go into detail here as you can read all about it in our feature on how to Maximize your Miles and Points but here we outline one card from each brand that will help you build up those travel rewards points faster than ever without having to worry about paying annual fees. Ultimately there are various options that could be utilized for such a portfolio but we look at one card from each issuing family that will provide strong travel point earning.
MasterCard - Capital One® Aspire Travel™ Platinum MasterCard®
American Express - American Express Blue Sky Credit Card
Visa - Scotiabank More Rewards Visa
How to maximize your Travel Points earning with these cards
The main card in this porfolio is the Scotiabank More Rewards Visa card. This may come as a surprise to many of you as More Rewards isn't very well known, especially outside of B.C. and Alberta. That being said, don't be swayed by this or even Scotia's own wording on their website that states the card is better suited for those out west. Simply put, this card is the highest earning no free travel points card in Canada. It earns 6 More Rewards points per dollar spent and More Rewards partners. This is where the wording for 'better out west' comes from since most More Rewards partners are located in the West like Save On Foods and Overwaitea. However Petro-Canada recently became a More Rewards partner so nationwide you can earn the 6 points per dollar when buying gas or goods in a Petro-Canada conveniece store. So what are the 6 points worth? A whoppping 2.54% when redeemed for travel via More Rewards! That's even more than the majority of fee based card in Canada! But what about when you use the card at non More Rewards partners? Well it earns 4 points per dollar anywhere you can use a Visa card, so most places and that 4 points per dollar equates to a 1.695% return. Still at that rate it is the highest earning no fee travel rewards point card in the Canadian market.
Related: The Scotiabank More Rewards Visa Card is now available! Now the strongest earning no fee travel points card in Canada
So what if you are shopping at a place that doesn't accept Visa like Walmart? You'll want to funnel all that spending onto the American Express Blue Sky Credit Card. It earns 1.25 points per dollar spent which equates to a 1.25% return when redeeming for travel. Finally you have the Capital One® Aspire Travel™ Platinum MasterCard®. It may earn the least out of the three cards but is ideal to have for those places that only accept MasterCard like Costco . It only earns 1 mile per $1 spent which equates to a 1% return but the card has an insurance package that makes even many fee based cards envious. This is the strong point of this card and should be used for purchases where the insurance benefits like Price Protection and baggage delay can come in handy.
Now we go on to the fun part. Redeeming! Two of three of these cards provide the utmost in redemption flexibility. You essentially book your travel with whomever you want and when the charge shows up on your account you redeem points against the charge. The cards for that option are the Capital One and Amex Blue Sky. The More Rewards Visa is slightly less flexible as you have to book via More Rewards Travel either online or by phone so an issue may arise where they aren't showing the best price on their site. However in our experience it just takes a phone call to have them try to find a deal you may have found elsewhere and book it for you. All three allow partial redemptions, so you don't need the full amount of points but rather if you paid $1,000 for your hotel and have $500 worth of points, you can redeem those points for what amounts to a $500 discount on your hotel stay. The minimum amounts needed to redeem are 100 points on the More Rewards Visa, 10,000 points on the Blue Sky and no minimum redemption amount on the Capital One card. Now, chances are you'll have points spread out across at least two of the cards here, so when it comes to booking travel, put your flights onto one card and your hotel or other travel expenses like a car rental on the other so that you can redeem points from both cards towards the eligible charges. That is the beauty of these cards, you are not stuck to one airline or one hotel, you are not at the whim of a loyalty program that may route you through multiple cities to get to your destination nor have any rooms left to redeem hotel points for. Not to mention with the Amex and Capital One cards, these points are good for any travel, all inclusives, ferry rides and even whale watch excursions (read more about that here). Even if booked while on vacation, the Amex card gives you 12 months after the charge posts to your account to redeem points for it and Capital One cards give you three months. That means you can travel without even having the points and collect afterwards to eventually redeem for it.
The Ultimate No Fee Travel Points Credit Card Portfolio: