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Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards
Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards for 2019

I don't need to read all this just show me the rankings!

Posted January 23, 2019

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REWARDS CANADA'S TOP FEATURES



Welcome to Rewards Canada's 11th annual Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards feature.

These are Canada's original, most anticipated, highly regarded, often imitated and duplicated travel rewards credit card rankings!

This past year saw fewer changes to the rankings as we saw from 2017 to 2018. Overall in our market the major news for the year was more No Foreign Transaction Fee cards being introduced into our market and two of those cards make their way into the 2019 rankings. This year we continue without a hotel card category since there are only two such cards for Canadians but both of those cards do make into our top card selections.

Related: No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards for Canadians

Of course the main ranking is the overall best card category! This is the 4th year of naming an overall winner and as you all know we feel it is difficult to give one card a title of the best card in Canada but the category is so well received it is a mainstay! In fact for 2019 the top 5 overall cards don't change at all from 2018 despite some new and updated card offerings.

Three of the five sub categories do see some slight changes. The Top Travel Points Credit Card category sees the newly introduced Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite take over first place from its brethren the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card. Although the Gold Amex has slightly better earning than the Visa Infinite card the latter's No Foreign Transaction fees, business class lounge access and acceptance rate move it ahead to first place. The other significant addition is HSBC's new World Elite Mastercard offering that is open to all Canadians (rather than only their banking clients) and it debuts in the fourth spot in our Hybrid category. We also see the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card move from 5th to 4th in the Travel Points Credit Card category thanks to its recent benefits update and even the no fee version of the Aventura card jumps into our rankings this year.

Related: CIBC Aventura Card enhancements coming on October 15 - Priority Pass with lounge visits, NEXUS credit and more

What is the best card? For the second year in a row the number one card in Canada is the American Express Cobalt Card. Why? Well it has the super strong earn of 5x Points on Eats & Drinks, a well rounded insurance package and a great sign up bonus. Not to mention the fact that it is a hybrid card which gives you the best options and most flexibility when redeeming for travel. Want to book a cruise and use points? You can do that with the Cobalt Card. Want to convert to hotel programs for hotel stays or further conversion to airline programs? You can do that with the Cobalt Card. Look at it this way, the 5x points is equal to 5% for any travel booking or they are worth 6 Marriott Bonvoy points which we value at no less than 1 cent per point (so 6 cents back) and those can be further converted to Aeroplan, British Airways and many more airline programs. The potential reward with the last option is 2 to 2.5 miles per dollar spent on the card in eats and drinks category. Speaking from personal experience, my wife and I each have our own Cobalt card and have racked up over 400,000 points in about 14 months or, with about half of those being transferred to Marriott. The value to us? Around $5,000 to $6,000! Don't need the frequent flyer or frequent guest option or shop at places that don't take Amex? You're best bets are the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard (read Why my wife and I each grabbed our own WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercards) the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card or the RBC Visa Infinite Avion cards. In a nutshell, there are cards that definitely stand out above the rest and for some of you these may not be the best option so we advise you to look at our breakdown of top cards in the five major categories we developed to see which one is best for you. What category is right for you? Check out Rewards Canada's Guide to choosing a travel rewards credit card to steer you in the right direction. For those who may be wondering what we use in the Rewards Canada family, we actually use the top four overall cards on a daily basis and they have proven to be real winners for us.

How do we come up with our picks for the best cards? We look at various factors including cost of ownership, rate of return, the associated loyalty program (co-brand), ease of redemption, partnerships, issuing bank, personal experience and benefits. Then add in nearly 18 years of research, answering hundreds of email questions from readers, comments from our readers plus the charts and articles we publish provides us the best insight into the pros and cons of each card. As always 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, the best cards for travel rewards in Canada. Do people agree? Some yes, some no. Do we make some credit card issuers mad? Yes. Happy? You bet.

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 with this 11th annual ranking, we will help guide consumers to finding the right credit card for them.

What makes Rewards Canada's rankings different from the rest? At Rewards Canada, we are deeply entrenched in the loyalty industry, not just credit cards, so we take this into account for the rankings where it is applicable. Most other rankings on the Internet only look at the credit card itself and not the associated loyalty program or partners, hidden tricks of the programs and more or they only list cards they earn commissions on. For example, in the Airline Cards category we take into account what cities the airlines and/or their partners serve in Canada and Worldwide, whether you can redeem for premium class travel, what the redemption availability is like with their frequent flyer program and so on. For Coalition Cards we look at how many partners are in the program, what you can use those points or miles for etc. This is why the Rewards Canada rankings are the most regarded in Canada with the media, loyalty programs and credit card issuers.

There are over 70 travel reward credit cards available to Canadians! Some are airline only cards that put miles directly into your airline frequent flyer accounts. Some are coalition cards the belong to larger programs like Aeroplan, AIR MILES and More Rewards. Some are hybrid cards 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's proprietary rewards program 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 continue with six categories of cards in Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards for 2019.
1. Top Travel Rewards Cards Overall
2. Top Travel Points Credit Cards (with annual fee)
3. Top No Fee Travel Rewards Credit Cards
4. Top Hybrid Travel Credit / Charge Cards (with annual fee)
5. Top Airline Credit / Charge Cards
6. Top Coalition Program Credit Cards

To see all of the travel rewards credit cards that were considered for this years rankings please see here.

Care to comment on what we chose as the best travel rewards credit cards? 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 in the comment section below or on Facebook and Twitter for Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards 2019!

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Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credit & Charge Cards for 2019

Top 5 Cards Overall


American Express Cobalt Card

This card continues to hold on to the top spot as no one has tried to match it for continued points earning. The card is marketed to Millennials but is an amazing card for anyone younger or older than that. If you want to earn a lot of points fast that can be used towards any travel or converted to other programs this card is for you.

2nd

American Express Gold Rewards Card
American Express Gold Rewards Card

This long time front running card still provides the utmost in travel rewards flexibility with a nice sign up bonus of 25,000 points, strong insurance and more. You may ask why get the Gold Rewards Card over the Cobalt Card? The direct conversion to Aeroplan or British Airways and if you spend lots on travel or at drug stores are the main reasons why.

3rd

WestJet
WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard

Continuing changes to the WestJet Rewards program keep this card in third place. Not only can you redeem for WestJet flights you can also redeem your dollars for flights on Air France, Delta, KLM, and Qantas to almost all corners of the globe. Add in the benefits like the annual companion flight, first checked bag free and lots more and you can see why this card is one of the best in Canada.

4th

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card
Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card

Marriott and SPG combined into one program in August of 2018 and with it came some changes to this card. Even with those changes it still provides huge value for hotel stays and allows you to convert to 40+ airline frequent flyer programs at favourable rates.

5th

RBC Infinite Avion
RBC Visa Infinite Avion

Still one of the most popular cards in Canada, the Avion card provides a high level of flexibility but you do have to know how to work this card to pull the maximum value out of it. Lots of its competitors are easier to use but still having that option to book any travel or convert to airlines like British Airways, Cathay Pacific, American and WestJet make this an extremely good card. Not to mention over the past year RBC has been very aggressive with great sign up offers for the card with increased welcome points and first year free offers

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 Coalition Program Credit Cards

1st



Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card



mbna rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard



American Express Cobalt Card


WestJet
WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard



TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card

2nd


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



mbna Best Western Rewards Mastercard


American Express Gold Rewards Card
American Express Gold Rewards Card






CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite Card

3rd


BMO

BMO World Elite Mastercard



CIBC Aventura Visa Card


RBC Infinite Avion
RBC Visa Infinite Avion



RBC® British Airways Visa Infinite



BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard

4th


CIBC Aventura
CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card


The card previously listed here is no longer available



HSBC World Elite Mastercard



RBC Cathay Pacific Visa Platinum



American Express® Air Miles Platinum®* Credit Card

5th


TD Infinite First Class Visa
TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card


The card previously listed here is no longer available




The Platinum Card from American Express


WestJet
WestJet RBC Mastercard


The card previously listed here is no longer available

 

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 Coalition Program Credit Cards

Disclosure: We receive compensation from some credit card companies featured on this site. Although we are compensated for every credit card that is approved via our website affiliate links, our research and content are based on an objective analysis.
"American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website For full details and current product information click the applicable link."
Capital One Canada's cards have been removed from our site at their request
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