Last Updated on January 16, 2023
In this feature of Rewards Canada' Ultimate Credit Card Portfolios we look at the ultimate one for travelling on Air Canada. This one differs somewhat from our Ultimate Aeroplan Portfolio as it is not as focused on simply earning and redeeming Aeroplan Points but rather the maximizing of the benefits you get for travelling on Air Canada while still taking into account the Aeroplan earn and burn aspect.
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. Here we outline one card from each brand that will help you make you travel on Air Canada better, easier and more enjoyable all the while earning Aeroplan Points or other points with your purchases. Ultimately there are various options that could be utilized for an Air Canada portfolio but we look at one card from each issuing family that will benefit you when you travel on Air Canada. If you are only out for earning Aeroplan Points you should check out our Ultimate Aeroplan Portfolio.
What is Rewards Canada's Ultimate Air Canada Credit Card portfolio? It's the following three cards:
The TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege* Card is the obvious choice since it provides many Air Canada benefits while the Cobalt Card is the best card in Canada for earning lots of Aeroplan points and the HSBC World Elite makes the most sense as a Mastercard for the portfolio. There are no Mastercards that actually provide Air Canada benefits and we'll explain this choice in this article. You could also go for the CIBC version of the Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card but seeing that TD is the primary issuer for Aeroplan we use that card in this portfolio.
The first card in the portfolio is the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege* Card. This card would be set as the main card in this portfolio for your travels with Air Canada. The main reason is that the card provides a wealth of elite like benefits when you fly on Air Canada.
Having this card in your wallet is almost like having elite status with Air Canada. It provides Priority Check-In, Priority Boarding (Zone 2) and Priority Baggage Handling. Speaking of baggage handling, the card provides your first checked bag free for you and up to eight people on the same Air Canada reservation.
Then you have lounge access, with this card you and a guest can enter Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges in North America when flying a same-day ticket on a flight marketed or operated by Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge, Air Canada Express, or any Star Alliance member airline. On top of this the card also provides membership in the Visa Airport Companion by DragonPass which is a global lounge access program. The Visa Airport Companion program allows the member to access lounges all around the world at a discounted rate but the good news is the card provides six free access passes annually so you won't pay any fees until you use those up.
Recommended reading: Rewards Canada's Guide to Business Class Lounge Access
The benefits with this card don't end there. As with all Aeroplan co-brand cards, by having the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege* Card you'll receive preferred pricing when redeeming Aeroplan points for Air Canada flights. That is, you'll receive a discount on the number points required when you make an award flight redemption for travel on Air Canada. You also get a NEXUS, rollover status qualifying miles, rollover status eUpgrade credits and more. You can also receive an annual worldwide companion pass when you spend at least $25,000 on the card each year.
Recommended reading: TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege* Card Review
The second card in the portfolio is the American Express Cobalt® Card which just happens to be th best overall credit card in Canada and in most case, the best card for earning the most Aeroplan points possible. It is the points earning as to why the card is in the portfolio over the American Express® Aeroplan®* Reserve Card. The Reserve card is an amazing card however it and the TD Visa Infinite Privilege provide almost the exact same benefits so by having the TD Infinite Privilege you'd be better off having the Cobalt Card to boost your Aeroplan earning.
Recommended reading: Which credit card earns the most Aeroplan Points?
The American Express Cobalt Card earns 5 points per dollar spent on eats and drinks. That's dining, dining delivery, groceries, bars, coffee shops and more. Next it offers 3 points per dollar on select streaming services and 2x points on travel, gas, transit, taxis and ride sharing. All those earn rates are the top earn rates for Aeroplan points. Now, the card doesn't earn Aeroplan points directly, it earns Membership Rewards points which can be transferred on a 1:1 basis to Aeroplan. Those transfers are almost always instant when you initiate them so the Cobalt Card is pretty much like having an Aeroplan card.
Recommended reading: American Express Cobalt™ Card Review
After the discontinuation of the MBNA Best Western Mastercard the Canadian market was left without a Mastercard that is connected to Air Canada or Aeroplan. So we have to look at Mastercard that would suit the portfolio well and seeing as this portfolio is definitely a consideration for international travellers the right card to round it out is the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®.
The primary reason this card is in the portfolio is for its No Foreign Transaction fees. This means they don't charge you the 2.5% fee when making purchases not in Canadian Dollars like the other two cards in the portfolio and most other cards in Canada. If you do travel outside of Canada a fair amount and/or shop online from the U.S. or other countries this card can provide some substantial savings for you. On top of not charging the FX fee you'll still earn points, HSBC Rewards points that is, on all purchases made with this card. Those points can be redeemed for any travel at anytime like car rentals, trains, hotels, and flights (including Air Canada) or you can convert them to programs like British Airways Executive Club and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer.
If you shop at Costco this card also fulfills the payment role for the warehouse giant. Costco locations in Canada only accept Mastercard so you can utilize the HSBC Mastercard for your purchases here.
Related: HSBC World Elite Mastercard review
Here's how you should split up your spending with this credit card portfolio:
Of note the American Express Cobalt Card has $30,000 annual cap on the 5x points eats and drinks category. Should you reach that cap start using the TD card for those purchases as you'll earn 1.5 Aeroplan points on most of those purchases.
Annual Fee $599
Earn up to $3,100 in value† including up to 115,000 Aeroplan points and additional travel benefits. Must apply by May 28, 2023.
This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For Quebec residents, please click here .
2023 Overall Top Travel Rewards Card
• In your first year as a new Cobalt Cardmember, you can earn 2,500 Membership Rewards® points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $500 in net purchases on your Card. This could add up to 30,000 points in a year. That’s up to $300 towards a weekend getaway or concert tickets
• Transfer points 1:1 to several frequent flyer and other loyalty programs
Top No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Card for 2023
Earn up to 80,000 Points* PLUS a full annual fee rebate for the Primary Cardholder for the first year*
Special offer: Earn up to 80,000 points* ($400 travel value) PLUS a full annual fee rebate for the primary cardholder for the first year* ($149 value) and receive a $100 annual travel enhancement credit*. Must apply by February 28, 2023. Conditions apply.
• With the HSBC World Elite Mastercard you earn 6 points for $1 in Net Purchases which are Travel Purchases, 4 Points for $1 in Net Purchases that are Gas, Grocery and Drugstore Purchases and 2 Points for $1 in Net Purchases, other than Travel, Gas, Grocery and Drugstore Purchases.
There you have it! The Ultimate Air Canada Credit Card portfolio. With these three cards you will receive amazing benefits when you travel with Air Canada all the while ensuring you still earning a lot of Aeroplan points on your everyday spending.
You could consider the American Express® Aeroplan®* Reserve Card for the Amex option as it earns the most points on Air Canada purchases at 3 points per dollar. However, there is lots of overlap between it the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege* Card and may not be worth having two cards with $599 annual fees. The Cobalt's 5x points would, for most people easily make up that difference of only earning 2 points per dollar on Air Canada flights instead of 3.
On the Visa site you could consider the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card, it is pretty much a carbon copy of the TD card so if your preference may be to bank with CIBC and keep a credit card with them you could go this route. You could also go with the lower Visa Infinite Cards however you'd lose a lot of the Air Canada benefits which really are the premise of this portfolio.
For the Mastercard, really any card would do to fill the spot if you don't want the HSBC card. You would really only be getting it to fulfill a need for purchases at Costco. If that is the case a card like the no fee Rogers World Elite Mastercard would be a perfect fit.
This article was first posted on November 9, 2016 and is continually updated