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The Ultimate Air Canada Credit Card Portfolio
Last Updated: November 9, 2016


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Rewards Canada's Ultimate Credit Card Portfolios

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 this one doesn't look at maximizing the number of Aeroplan miles you earn but rather maximizing the benefits you get for travelling on Air Canada. 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 make you travel on Air Canada better, easier and more enjoyable all the while earning Aeroplan miles 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 miles then this portfolio is not for you, you should check out our Ultimate Aeroplan Portfolio

What is Rewards Canada's Ultimate Air Canada Credit Card Wallet? It is the following three cards

Visa - TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card

Mastercard - mbna Rewards World Elite Mastercard

American Express - No longer available


The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card and the American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum Cards are the obvious choices since they offer the Air Canada benefits while the mbna Rewards World Elite makes the most sense as a Mastercard for the portfolio as there is no Mastercard out there that actually gives you Air Canada benefits, we'll explain this choice later. You could also get the CIBC version of the Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege but seeing that TD is the primary issuer for Aeroplan we go with that card, not to mention the TD card offers a higher sign up bonus.

Related: The Ultimate Aeroplan Card Portfolio

How to maximize your Air Canada benefits with these cards

As we said, this is not a card portfolio to maximize your Aeroplan mileage earning although the earn on the two actual co-brand cards in this portfolio is nothing to laugh at. You'll earn a minimum of 1.25 Aeroplan Miles with the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card and the American Express® AeroplanPlus Reserve Card with some accelerated options for certain categories. For example, Gas, Grocery and Drug Store purchases should be on the TD Card as those will earn 1.5 Aeroplan Miles per eligible dollar spent while Air Canada purchases should be put on the American Express card since it earns 2 Aeroplan Miles per dollar on those purchases.

Related: Which credit card earns the most Aeroplan miles?

Now on to the actual benefits portion and why these cards make sense as part of the Ultimate Air Canada Credit Card portfolio

Check In
Let's start off with check in. The American Express card offers your first bag free for Air Canada operated flights up to 5 times per year. So you'll want to utilize this benefit first. If you are checking luggage on more flights than that you can use the first bag free benefit from the TD card as it is not limited to 5 flights but rather is good on all flights. Both cards also give you Air Canada priority check-in, so you can skip the longer economy class line up and check in where the business class travellers and elite travellers do.

If you are flying out of Toronto Pearson you'll want to show your Amex card at security as you can jump the CATSA queue and take the priority screening lane. Flying out of Vancouver, Ottawa or Montreal? The TD Visa Infinite Privilege will give you priority screening at those airports.

Lounge Access
Both cards offer some sort of lounge access but the American Express card comes out ahead in this category. Both cards offer up Priority Pass memberships but the American Express card also gives you unlimited access to Air Canada's own Maple Leaf lounges as well as Priority Pass Prestige membership. The TD card gives you Priority Pass Standard membership but also 6 free lounge visit vouchers each year. So when you are travelling with a companion and not access a Maple Leaf lounge you can use the Priority Pass Prestige membership from the Amex card and give your companion one of the vouchers from the TD card. The TD card also provides four free Maple Leaf lounge access passes when you travel on Aeroplan award tickets.

Related: Rewards Canada's Guide to Business Class Lounge Access

This is one of the best benefits of the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege card. You get priority boarding on Air Canada operated flights! You get pushed up to Zone 2, so you are behind the Super Elites and such but you get to board before most of the plane and grab that coveted overhead bin space. But wait you get first bag checked for free so in some cases you don't have to worry about that fight!

Credits and Companion Flight Offers
These are some great benefits from the cards that will save you money and/or miles! First off the TD card offers a once per year 50% discount on a companion business class fare. The fare class must be J,C, or D which are not the heavily discounted business class fares but perhaps your company will pay for your flight and you can then take along a companion at 50% off. It is the American Express Reserve card which offers up the big benefits in this category and are part of the reason this card has the highest annual fee of any publicly available card in Canada. First off, it has a $200 annual travel credit that can be used towards any booking made via American Express Travel, doesn't matter if its a flight, hotel or car rental. Then it has an Annual Partner Ticket Benefit. Once per year, you can redeem up to 25,000 Aeroplan Miles for a short-haul or long-haul round-trip Fixed Mileage Flight Reward in economy class and receive a second Partner Ticket for the same itinerary. Thus the card saves you between 15,000 and 25,000 miles on that award itinerary. Finally the Amex card has an Air Canada Privilege Flight Pass benefit. This benefit allows you to buy at a discount, eight prepaid, one-way flight credits within Air Canada’s North American network. All in all if you can take advantage of these benefits you stand to save quite a bit of money on your Air Canada travels.

The Mastercard option
Now you may ask why is the mbna Rewards World Elite Mastercard part of this portfolio. Well there is not one Mastercard card in Canada that gives you benefits for travelling with Air Canada. However in our Ultimate Credit Card series of portfolios the mandate is to provide a wallet that has one Visa card, one American Express Card and one Mastercard. So what do you do if there isn't a Mastercard that provides Air Canada benefits? You pick the best suited one that can help out this portfolio but not cost too much since the other two main cards come with hefty annual fees. Our choice is the mbna card. It doesn't cost you anything in the first year and from then on is only $89 per year but it gives you the same return and flexibility of some other Mastercard cards that cost much more than that. Honestly you'll only pull this card out where only Mastercard is accepted (Costco for example) or if there is a promotion that requires you to pay with a Mastercard. On the redemption side, this card is our go to choice for portfolios like this since it gives you 2% back towards any travel purchase or you can choose to get that 2% as cash back. Easy as that. Redeeming Aeroplan miles for an award ticket? You could always put the taxes and fees on the mbna card and then redeem your points against that charge.

Related: Which credit cards can be used to cover award ticket taxes, fees and surcharges?

The Ultimate Air Canada Credit Card Portfolio:

Card Card Features

Other Card Options:

You have another two options on the American Express side of things. You could go with the one level lower and grab the American Express  AeroplanPlus Platinum Card. It is very similar to the reserve card but limits the partner ticket benefit to short haul only (15,000 miles), has no travel credit or the discounted flight pass option. The second choice is to get The Platinum Card from American Express. It costs less per year in terms of annual fee and gives you a whole slew of benefits for non Air Canada travel. On the Mastercard side you could also look at no fee cash back card options like the Tangerine Card. We recommend you check out our Cash Back Credit Card comparison for other options.

Final thoughts:

As you can see just by getting the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege and the American Express AeroplanPlus Reserve Card you stand to make your Air Canada flying much more enjoyable and stand to save lots of money if you can take advantage of the credits and companion offers provided by the cards. This portfolio is not for everyone as many of you fly whatever airline is cheapest. This portfolio is for someone who will or does fly Air Canada quite a bit and does not have one of the higher Altitude elite status levels. For example, flying between Sudbury and Toronto every few weeks may only get you Prestige status with Air Canada which doesn't provide very many benefits but tacking on this card portfolio you'll be able to fly more like those Super Elites.

Talk to us!

What do you find works best for you for maximizing your benefits on Air Canada? 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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