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Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards 2021

Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards

 

Posted January 25, 2021

Welcome to Rewards Canada's 13th annual Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards!

Canada's original travel rewards credit card rankings!

When we released our 2020 rankings last January we had no clue what would transpire for the remainder of that year! The Coronavirus Pandemic severely curtailed travel for all but two months of the year and that continues to be the case into 2021. In fact with recent changes to Canada's requirements for negative PCR tests to fly back here on top of the 14 day quarantine followed suit by the U.S. travel for at least the first half of this year will not be happening for a lot of people. So that brings us this years rankings and the theme this year is travel planning! Planning for that future travel is what most of us are doing right now, whether it is for the latter half of 2021 or not even until 2022, travel in the near term isn't on many people's radar. That's where these top cards come into play and can really help to cut the costs of that future travel. Getting one of these cards does not mean you have to travel right away, in fact it can be quite the opposite. Getting the right card right now allows you to spend for a longer period of time and accumulate a ton of points and/or miles that can help you pay for travel down the line. If travel is not in the cards be sure to check out Canada's Top Cash Back Credit Cards 2021

This year's rankings do see some cards move up and down the ranks and we also replace the Coalition Card category with the Ultra Premium Card category. Outside of the pandemic the biggest news on the travel rewards credit card front over the past 12 months was the launch of the new Air Canada Aeroplan program and the revamping of all the Aeroplan co-brand credit cards. The new Aeroplan program and its cards are now factored into our airline card and ultra premium card rankings. Also considered are any and all new cards and card changes that have happened over the past year from all issuers. Much like the past two years of rankings we won't list all the factors in our decision making process on this main page rather if you want more details on our consideration process you can read the factors behind our rankings right here

 

Top 5 Cards Overall

American Express Cobalt Card

American Express Cobalt Card

New limited time welcome offer: Earn up to 50,000 welcome bonus points! (The best ever bonus seen on this card!)

Taking the top spot for the fourth year in a row the American Express Cobalt card has definitely set the tone with competitors bumping up their offerings but this card's unmatched value and flexibility keep it on top. The card provides up to a 5% return towards any travel bookings thanks to earning 5x points on eats and drinks which actually levels up to a 10% return if you utilize Amex's Fixed Points for Travel program. Not to mention you can convert the points to hotel programs like Marriott Bonvoy which can then in turn be transferred to over 40 airline loyalty programs including Aeroplan. Like we said - it is unmatched in providing value and flexibility to such a wide range of Canadian travellers!

2nd

American Express Gold Rewards Card

American Express Gold Rewards Card

•  New American Express® Gold Rewards Cardmembers can earn a Welcome Bonus of 50,000 Membership Rewards® points when you charge $3,000 in purchases to your Card in your first 3 months of Cardmembership 

After running in the shadows of the Cobalt Card, this long time front running card has been transformed into a travel benefits powerhouse. Priority Pass membership and four Plaza Premium Lounge access passes each year, a $50 NEXUS Credit and an annual $100 travel credit make this card into a travellers dream. It still provides the utmost in travel rewards flexibility with its points and a nice sign up bonus of up to 60,000 points.

3rd

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card

TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card

Earn up to 25,000 Aeroplan points and a bonus Buddy Pass. Plus, first year no Annual Fee. †
Must apply by Dec 5, 2021.

The new Air Canada Aeroplan program launched in November 2020 and with it came an entirely revamped suite of Aeroplan co-brand credit cards. Many of the cards provide a ton of value but when we look at which card makes the most sense for the most Canadians it is the mainstay card of the program - the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card. With the ability to redeem points to almost any destination worldwide in Economy to Business to First Class the Aeroplan program is tough to compete with if you know how to make those most it. Add in new card features like first checked bag free, discounted reward flight pricing, a NEXUS credit and more this card quickly moved into our top 5 cards overall!

This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For Quebec residents, please click here.
† Terms and Conditions apply.

4th

Marriott Bonvoy

Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card

• New Marriott BonvoyTM  American Express Cardmembers, earn 70,000 Welcome Bonus points after you charge $1,500 in net purchases to your Card in your first 3 months of Cardmembership
• Plus, earn a total of 5 points for every $1 on eligible travel & gas purchases in Canada for your first 3 months of Cardmembership (up to 15,000 points). Offers subject to change at any time

Another long time running top card the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card is virtually unknown to many Canadians and that's unfortunate as it provides a ton of value and benefits. This is the card the Rewards Canada family pulls out of our wallets for purchases where we don't earn bonuses with other cards. The two Bonvoy points per dollar are worth at least 2 cents but in many cases can be worth much more than that. Add in the free night stay on the card anniversary and the ability to convert to 40+ airline frequent flyer programs at favourable rates makes this card a travellers dream.

5th



HSBC World Elite Mastercard


Earn up to 100,000 Points. PLUS a full annual fee rebate for the Primary Cardholder for the first year

Knocking out one of its biggest competitors which was the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card, the relatively new HSBC World Elite Mastercard is proving to be an amazing contender in our market. With earn rates that give you 1.5% to 3% back on your spending when you redeem for any travel (yes any travel with any travel provider) On top of that you can convert points to three airline programs (British Airways being the most popular), a $100 annual travel enhancement credit, business class lounge access and the biggie - no foreign transaction fees. Whether you do travel lots or shop online in other currencies you'll save on average 2.5% over most cards in Canada.

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Top Cards by Category

  Top Travel Points
Credit Cards
Top No Fee Travel Rewards Credit Cards Top Hybrid Credit / Charge Cards
Top Airline Credit / Charge Cards Top Ultra Premium Credit Cards

1st



Scotiabank Gold American Express Card


mbna Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard


American Express Cobalt™ Card


TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card


The Platinum Card from American Express
 

2nd


Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card


American Express® Green Card


American Express® Gold Rewards Card

WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard

American Express® Aeroplan®* Reserve Card
 

3rd

CIBC Aventura® Visa Infinite* Card
mbna Best Western Mastercard

HSBC World Elite Mastercard
Amex Aeroplan
American Express® Aeroplan®* Card

TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card
 

4th


BMO World Elite Mastercard

CIBC Aventura® Visa* Card

RBC Avion Visa Infinite

mbna Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard

RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege Card
 

5th


TD® First Class Travel® Visa Infinite* Card

Scotiabank American Express Card

The Platinum Card from American Express

RBC British Airways Visa Infinite Card

BMO eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege* Card
 
A Travel Points Credit Card earns points that can be used to book travel via that credit cards travel agency, associated reward program or with select cards you have the ability to book travel how you want and use those points towards the charge on your account
A no fee travel rewards credit card can have any type of travel rewards attached to it (travel points, airline miles, coalition program etc.) and has no annual fees attached to it as a standard feature. This category does not include cards that may waive annual fees in the first year of ownership or if you hold specific bank accounts that provide fee waivers.
A Hybrid card is a combination of an airline and/or hotel card and a travel points card. You can convert your points to airline and/or hotel frequent travel programs or use the points to book travel via the credit card's travel agency or many cards to book travel how you want and then redeem the points against the charge on your account
An airline credit card earns miles directly into that airline's frequent flyer program
An ultra premium credit card is one that carries a hefty annual fee ($200+) that can actually fit into any of our categories across the rankings. From airline to hybrid to travel points they are covered here and you get better rewards and a lot more benefits with these cards. These cards also have higher income requirements.

Expanded details for the top 5 cards in each category

Click on 'Show All' to the right to see the five cards in each category

Details on the Top Travel Points Credit Cards (with annual fee)
Details on the Top No Fee Travel Rewards Credit Cards
Details on the Top Hybrid Credit / Charge Cards (with annual fee)
Details on the Top Airline Credit / Charge Cards
Details on the Top Ultra Premium Credit Cards

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