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The Ultimate No Strings Attached Travel Credit Card Portfolio
Last Updated: May 17, 2016

 

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In this feature of Rewards Canada' Ultimate Credit Card Portfolios we look at the ultimate one for earning flexible travel points that have no stings attached. That means points that you can earn and then use on any travel, at anytime, that you can book through any provider and even use the points after you purchase the travel. This is the ultimate wallet that most Canadians should have who travel only once or twice per year and don't want to be held back by traditional loyalty programs. 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 most flexible travel points faster than ever. Ultimately there are various options that could be utilized for such a portfolio but we look at one card from each issuing family that won't totally break the bank on annual fees but will provide strong travel point earning along with very strong insurance benefits.

What is Rewards Canada's Ultimate No Strings Attached Travel Credit Card Wallet? It is the following three cards

MasterCard - Capital One® Aspire Travel™ World Elite MasterCard®

American Express - Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

Visa - TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card

The Capital One® Aspire Travel™ World Elite MasterCard® is an obvious choice as it is ranked as the number one Travel Points card with an annual fee in Canada by Rewards Canada and it earns a straight 2 miles per dollar on all spending (a straight 2% return when you redeem for travel). The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card is ranked as our third best travel points credit card and should be part of this wallet for two reasons, to fulfill the Amex position but more so due to its 4 points per dollar earning at certain merchant categories. The TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card rounds out this wallet as it also ranks in our Top 5 Travel Points cards but is really the weakest of the three in the portfolio but as one of the only Visa cards in Canada to provide the no strings attached flexibility of truly being able to book travel how you want with whom you want and redeem points for that charge is why the card rounds out this portfolio. If you don't have any of these cards just signing up for them and meeting any spend requirements will net you $800 worth of travel!!

Related: Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards for 2016


How to maximize your Travel Points earning with these cards

Let's look at category bonuses first. The main card here is the Scotiabank Gold American Express card as it earns 4 points per dollar (a 4%return) on Grocery, Gas, Dining and Entertainment purchases up to $50,000 each year. So you'll want to funnel any of that type spending onto this card until you reach that maximum or if a place does not accept American Express then you'll put all your purchases onto the next card. The rest of your spending outside of Grocery, Gas, Dining and Entertainment as well as any places that do not accept American Express like Costco should go straight onto your Capital One® Aspire Travel™ World Elite MasterCard® and earn 2 miles per dollar for those eligible purchases.. The combination of these two cards ensures that you will earn no less than 2% back on all this spending. The third card in the wallet, the TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card should only be pulled out for purchases made on Expedia (well ExpediaForTD) as those purchases earn 9 points per dollar (or up to a 4.5% return) and also for retailers that only accept Visa or for those promotions that require you to use a Visa card to take advantage of them.

Now we go on to the fun part. Redeeming! All 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. 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. Now, chances are you'll have points spread out across at least two of the cards here, the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card and the Capital One® Aspire Travel™ World Elite MasterCard®. 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, 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, all three cards give you anywhere from three months to twelve months after the charge posts to your account to redeem points for it. That means you can travel without even having the points and collect afterwards to eventually redeem for it.

Related: Not all Travel Points and Hybrid Credit Cards are created equal

The Ultimate No Strings Attached Travel Credit Card Portfolio:

Card Card Features


Capital One® Aspire Travel™
World Elite MasterCard®

Capital One® Aspire Travel™ World Elite MasterCard®
• Earn more reward miles – on everything you buy!
• Earn 2 reward miles for every $1 – on all purchases
• Get 40,000 bonus reward miles when you spend $1,000 on net purchases in the first 3 months after account opening – a value of $400 in travel
• Annual Fee $150
• Annual interest rate of 19.8%

• Redeem for travel, cash, and gift cards
• World Elite MasterCard travel benefits, including Travel Emergency Medical Insurance and Trip Cancellation Insurance
• Add an authorized user for $0

World Elite MasterCard Travel Benefits
• Travel Emergency Medical
• Trip Cancellation
• Trip Interruption
• Flight Delay
• Baggage Loss
• Baggage Delay
• Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance
• Travel Accident Insurance
• Travel Assistance
• Car Rental Collision/Loss Damage Waiver

World Elite MasterCard Everyday Benefits
• Price Protection Service
• Extended Warranty
• Purchase Assurance
• World Elite MasterCard Concierge Services

MasterCard Benefits
• MasterCard Global Service™
• Zero Liability

Apply Now


20,000 Scotia Rewards bonus points with first purchase
Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card
20,000 Scotia Rewards bonus points,with $500 in net purchases in first three months - worth $200 in travel.

Earn 4x Scotia Rewards points for every $1 you spend at gas stations, grocery stores, on dining and entertainment Earn one point on all other eligible purchases
Extraordinary travel benefits
Flexible Point Redemption
Comprehensive travel insurance
Use your points to purchase travel online or over the phone through our full-service travel agency. Or book your own travel using your card and go online to redeem points for the purchase.
Receive discounts and other special offers on hotels, airfare, car rentals, cruises and vacation packages
Travel emergency medical coverage is automatically provided for eligible persons for up to 25 consecutive days
Complimentary Concierge Services
Redeem points for merchandise and other rewards
Apply Online

TD Infinite First Class Visa
TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite

TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite
• Receive a Welcome Bonus of 20,000 TD Points after your first Purchase
• You could receive another 20,000 bonus TD Points if you keep your Account open, active and in good standing for 90 days after your Account is opened   
• 100% Annual Fee Rebate (Primary Cardholder only) for the first year – that’s $120 in savings
• Offer Valid until May 27, 2016
• up to a 1.5% return on all purchases plus a 4.5% return on travel booked via Expedia for TD Rewards that can be used towards any travel that via any booking method
• An excellent suite of insurance and benefits including out of province medical coverage
Apply now for the TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite

Related: Capital One® Aspire Travel™ World Elite MasterCard® Review / Scotiabank Gold American Express Card Review

Other Card Options:

There are quite a few other options to change up this portfolio a little bit. The first option is on the MasterCard side, you can choose to go with the mbna Rewards World Elite MasterCard as it is also 2% back just like Capital One® Aspire Travel™ World Elite MasterCard® with an annual fee of only $89 however it comes with a much lighter insurance and benefits package. On the Visa side, if you don't want to shell out the full annual fee on the TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite card you could choose their lower the TD Platinum or Classic Travel Visas which earn less than the Infinite but ultimately in this wallet the Visa card is the least used card so you may not be losing out at all since you'll be paying a lower annual fee. Finally you could choose to go with the American Express Gold Rewards card instead of the Scotia Gold Amex. You'll lose 2% on Gas and Grocery store purchases but gain a percent on travel purchases over the Scotia card however that is what you have the MasterCard card at 2% for.

Related: Why proprietary credit card reward programs are the best option for most Canadians

Talk to us!

What do you find works best for you for earning the most no strings attached travel points? Do you use these three cards exactly as laid out above or do you use a different combination? Tell us in the comments section below or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter!

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“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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