In this feature of Rewards Canada's Ultimate Credit Card Portfolios we look at the ultimate one for those who want to travel in style, experience luxury and get great benefits from their credit cards. It is well known from multiple surveys that those who are well off or at least those who can afford higher end credit cards are less interested in the points and miles earned on their cards but rather they are interested in the exemplary benefits that can make their travel around the globe unique and more luxurious. Both American Express and Visa have higher end cards that fit this bill while Mastercard has lagged behind somewhat but as we have always recommended you should carry a Visa, a Mastercard and an American Express card in your wallet thus there is a Mastercard included in this portfolio. The reason why you should carry one of each 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 high end travellers get those perks, benefits and one of a kind experiences. Ultimately there are various options that could be utilized for such a portfolio but we look at one card from each issuing family that we feel are the best fit for a high end traveller.
What is Rewards Canada's Ultimate High End Traveller Credit Card portfolio? It is the following three cards:
This mix of cards will not only get you lots and we mean lots of travel benefits, they also provide relatively strong miles and points earning in their respective programs. Even though surveys point out that high rollers are less interested in points and miles, they still matter but perhaps just not as much as they do to us average Canadians. The front runner in this portfolio is The Platinum Card from American Express. It has long been the 'high end' or Ultra Premium card in Canada outside of the invite only American Express Centurion Card. The Platinum Card still offers the most benefits and perks for those looking to enhance their travels. The Visa slot is given to the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege card. The Infinite Privilege branding came out a few years ago as the 'high end' offering from Visa. Their aren't many Infinite Privilege options in Canada and we give the nod to the TD Aeroplan version since it provides some great perks when flying on Air Canada. As mentioned before, Mastercard is the weakest in the 'high end' market out of the three big issuers and we really only considered several cards for this position with the decision going to the HSBC World Elite Mastercard.
In reality this portfolio is about one card, the Platinum Card from American Express. It is the ultimate high end card. From the best airport business class lounge access programs to hotel elite status to business class companion fares and much more, the card has all ends of high end travel covered. It is also a hybrid card, which if you have followed Rewards Canada for some time, you'll know its our favourite type of card since it gives you so many options for reward redemptions. Want to redeem points against a travel charge on the card? You can do that. Want to convert to Aeroplan or British Airways? You can do that. Want to pay with points for a purchase on the card? You can dod that. But that's the points side of the card and this portfolio is more about the bling. You get an annual $200 travel credit that you can use via American Express travel, you get elite status with Marriott Bonvoy, Hilton Hotels and Radisson Rewards . You get access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program, a collection of over 950 luxury hotels where the Platinum Card gets you hotel/spa credits, breakfasts, upgrades, early check in, late check out and more. You get access to over 1,200 airport lounges via the American Express lounge program, Priority Pass membership that also includes a guest for free. You get Platinum Concierge service which by many reports is one of the best in the business by getting tables at restaurants that are fully booked, getting tickets to events that don't have tickets (we actually tried this one out and it worked but we did not end up buying the tickets due to a scheduling conflict) and more. Finally the card has a really strong insurance benefits package as well. Really, we could write a heck of a lot more about the card but I think you get the gist of it.
The next card for the portfolio is the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card and you are getting this card primarily for two reasons. First, it is a Visa card so it completes the Visa component of this portfolio. Second, it gets you some nice benefits for travelling on Air Canada, something many of us do seeing that is one of our two major airlines. It is these Air Canada benefits that make this card valuable. You get priority check in and boarding (if you aren't already flying in a premium class). You get priority security screening at select airports. You can access Maple Leaf Lounges in North America. The Primary Cardholder can take advantage of an annual round-trip companion pass, which entitles you to buy a companion ticket from $99 (plus taxes, fees, charges and surcharges). You get your first checked bag free on Air Canada flights and the benefits continue after that. The card is strictly an Aeroplan mile earning card which of course you can tie in to the Platinum Card since you can convert American Express Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan. Or if you make an Aeroplan booking you can put the taxes and fees on the Platinum Card and redeem points against that charge to really make your travel free. And it gets your Aeroplan award flight preferred pricing.
Finally, the third card is the HSBC World Elite Mastercard. This card fills your Mastercard component of the portfolio. As we already mentioned there really isn't a high end card in the market from Mastercard but this card does fit the bill of being the best Mastercard in the Canadian market and completes this portfolio nicely. You'll mainly take this card out at places that don't accept American Express or Visa like Costco. The main benefit this card provides to a high end traveller is No Foreign Transactions fees. When you travel outside of Canada or shop online in a currency other than C$ this card does not charge the 2.5% Foreign Exchange Fee most other cards in Canada levy on such purchases (including the other two in this portfolio) The card's points can be used to redeem for any travel or converted to British Airways Executive Club (again you can tie this in to conversion from the Platinum Card as well), Cathay Pacific Asia Miles or Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer. The card also has a nice $100 annual travel enhancement credit that can be used for baggage fees, seat selection fees, etc. It also has Mastercard Airport Experiences by Lounge Key, which for the most part you have covered by the other two cards however Mastercard Airport Experiences does have some additional benefits like free 15 minute massages and other non-lounge benefts at select airports around the world.
Here are the details on these three cards
• Unlock special experiences with the Platinum Card
TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege* Card
Annual Fee $599
Additional Cards: $199 †
Annual interest rate 19.99% on purchases and 22.99% on funds advances
$200,000 household annual income
Limited Time Offer
Earn up to $2,400 in value† including up to 65,000 Aeroplan points and additional travel benefits. Must apply by March 6, 2022.
This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For Quebec residents, please click here .
HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®
Earn up to 100,000 Points. PLUS a full annual fee rebate for the Primary Cardholder for the first year
Primary Cardholder Annual Fee: $149 (1st year annual fee waiver)
Authorized User Annual Fee: $50 Per Card
Annual interest rate: 19.9% on purchases and 22.9% on funds advances and balance transfers.
$80,000 personal or $150,000 household annual income
• Earn up to 100,000 Points* ($500 travel value) PLUS a full annual fee rebate for the Primary Cardholder for the first year ($149 value). Must apply by January 31, 2022. Conditions Apply.
• Earn 3% in travel rewards on all eligible travel purchases (6 Points per $1) and earn 1.5% in travel rewards on all other eligible purchases (3 Points per $1)
There you go. With these three cards you are pretty much covered as a high end traveller. You can literally use the points and miles earned on the cards to redeem for any travel from economy class to first class. You get access to tons of airport lounges, you get to stay in luxurious hotels and more.
Although we feel the combination above is your best bet there are other card options that can fit the bill for all three of the issuers. On the Amex side there are two other cards you could consider, the Centurion Card (Black Card) but that is an invite only card for those who spend a heck of a lot and we mean a lot on their card and the American Express® Aeroplan®* Reserve Card. For the Visa portion, you could look at the other two popular Infinite Privilege Cards, the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege card or CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Privilege Card. With these two you are not limited to Aeroplan only like the TD card but you will lose out on some of those Air Canada benefits that TD does provide. That being said with RBC you would now have points to use on any travel booked via them or you can convert to British Airways, Cathay Pacific and American Airlines and with CIBC you can book any travel with them. Lastly on the Mastercard side you could look at the MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard® which doesn't present a lot of high end benefits but is a super strong points earning card or you could look at the BMO World Elite™* MasterCard®* which has basic Priority Pass membership with 4 free lounge visits each year.