Alright, you have the means. You have a great credit rating, you can pretty much get any credit cards you want and can spend tons of money on them and pay them off each month. However you have no idea where or when you want to travel but you know you want to do so eventually since you love to travel. What do you do? The answer is simple. You stick to credit cards that give you multiple redemption options for when that time eventually comes. The best route is to go is with a trio of hybrid credit cards. Hybrid cards just happen to be Rewards Canada's favourite type of rewards cards!
What is Rewards Canada's Ultimate "I have no idea what travel rewards I want" Credit Card portfolio? It is the following three cards:
Hybrid cards give you best of all worlds when it comes to travel rewards. They give you the ability to use a frequent flyer program like Air Canada's Aeroplan or the ability to book travel yourself with any one you like and to use the points to pay for that travel. By collecting points with hybrid credit card programs you are providing yourself the most possible booking options and travel rewards for your points. Thus if you have no idea or plans on how you want to use your rewards just yet, we recommend grabbing three of Canada's favourite hybrid cards.
The first and primary card in this portfolio is Canada's number one travel rewards credit card - the American Express Cobalt Card. Plain and simple it is the most rewarding card in Canada. The card earns 5 points per dollar spent on groceries, dining out, coffee shops, bars, food delivery and so on. So what does 5 points per dollar mean? That means you are getting at a minimum a 5% return. If you choose to redeem points with Amex's Use Points for Purchases option you can redeem 1,000 points for a $10 credit. Whether it is a travel purchasel or simply order from Starbucks, you can redeem against that charge with this option. That's how 5 points becomes 5%. But the card gets better returns than that.
Redeem for travel with Amex's other redemption options and you can see returns of 10%, 15% or even more than 20%. Now we're talking! Want to get even more? Convert the points earned to Air Canada Aeroplan, British Airways, or Marriott Bonvoy. Those 5x points equates to 5 Aeroplan points, 5 BA Avios or 6 Bonvoy points. Aeroplan and Avios carry a minimum value of 1.5 cents while Bonvoy points, in our mind carry a value of at least 1 cent each, this means your 5x points gives you a 6% to 7.5% return at a minimum. Redeem for high end hotels or business class flights and that's where your 20%+ return comes in. You can also use them for Amex's Fixed Points for Travel option and those 5x points can provide up to a 10% return! Simply unbeatable.
The high earning doesn't end there - the card also earns 3 points per dollar on popular streaming services in Canada, 2 points per dollar on travel, gas and transit (including ride sharing) and then 1 point per dollar on everything else. Ultimately you'll want to put as much of your spending on this card as possible for food & drink purchases, streaming services, gas stations, transit and travel. The only time you wouldn't is if the merchant doesn't accept American Express.
Recommended reading: American Express Cobalt Card Confirmed Multiplier Locations
The second card in the portfolio is the HSBC World Elite Mastercard which is currently ranked as the Best Mastercard in Canada and the fourth best overall travel rewards card in Canada. For travel purchases the card earns 6 points per dollar spent which translates to a 3% return towards travel redemptions. All other purchases on the card earn 2 points per dollar spent which works out to a 1% return towards travel redemptions.
With this card you can redeem for any travel purchase you charge on the card at a rate of 1,000 points for a $5 credit (this is how you find the 3% and 1.5% returns listed above). All you have to do is book the travel how you want, when you want, with whomever you want and once the charge posts you redeem points towards it. The other travel option this card provides is the ability to convert HSBC Reward Points to frequent flyer programs. Three of them to be specific, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer. At the time of posting this article the conversions to this programs equated to 0.96 to 1.92 Asia Miles per dollar spent, 1.08 to 2.16 KrisFlyer Miles per dollar spent and 1.2 to 2.4 Avios per dollar spent. When you take into account that most frequent flyer miles (or Avios) are worth around 1.5 cents per mile for economy class redemption and typically no less than 2 cents per mile for business class or higher you can see where there is outsized value provided by this credit card as well.
After the rewards side of things the HSBC card has some great benefits with the major one being No Foreign Transactions fees. That means the card does not charge the 2.5% on average fee that other cards do for purchases made in currencies other than the Canadian dollar. Then you have other benefits the card provides like airport lounge access via Mastercard Travel Pass provided by DragonPass and an annual $100 travel enhancement credit that provides some nice savings when travelling if you check bags, have to pay for seat assignments etc.
If you are travelling outside of Canada I would recommend using the American Express Cobalt Card for your eats and drinks purchases as most should earn the 5x points which means you'd end up with at least a ~2.5% return (5% - 2.5% Foreign Transaction fee) whereas the HSBC card would get you 1% return on those same purchases. All other non Canadian spending whether travelling or shopping online however should go onto your HSBC card so you that you can save the 2.5% foreign transaction fee that the other two cards in this portfolio charge.
The HSBC card will also be your go to card for Costco purchases as Mastercard is the only brand of card accepted at their warehouses.
Recommended reading: HSBC World Elite Mastercard Review
Finally rounding out this portfolio is the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card which will most likely be the least used card of the portfolio as it earn rates don't match the other two cards but for the Visa card portion of this portfolio it has all your rewards needs handled. It covers you where only Visa cards are accepted plus the very easy to earn welcome bonus alone makes it worth getting this card. Just as with the other two cards you have multiple redemption avenues. You can redeem for flights via the RBC Avion Air Travel Redemption Schedule which is their fixed points for flights reward chart. Just like Amex's Fixed Points for Travel this is where you redeem a flat rate of points for travel within specific regions or from one region to another. For example you can redeem 15,000 points for short haul flight within your province or to a neighouring province or state with a maximum ticket value of $350 (before taxes and fees) With the RBC Avion Air Travel Redemption Schedule you can get up to a 2.91% return on your spending.
Like the other two cards in this portfolio the Avion card allows you to convert points to airline programs, namely American AAdvantage, British Airways Executive Club, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and WestJet Rewards. The two most popular being British Airways and WestJet, and there are occasions where RBC does include a bonus when you do convert your Avion Rewards points to British Airways or WestJet. With our valuation of 1.5 cents per British Airways Avios that means at a minimum the spend on the RBC card is worth 1.5% to 1.8% but you should be able to get more value than that out of those Avios.
|Any Travel Any Time
Booked with any travel provider
|Fixed Points Reward Chart for flights||Conversion Options|
|American Express Cobalt Card||Yes||Yes
(up to a 10% return on your spending)
|Air Canada Aeroplan
Air France KLM Flying Blue
British Airways Executive Club
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
|HSBC World Elite Mastercard||Yes||No||British Airways Executive Club
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
|RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card||Not advertised, however it is technically possible but you lose a lot of value in the points||Yes
(up to a 2.91% return on your spending)
British Airways Executive Club
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
2023 Top Overall Travel Rewards Card | 2023 Top Hybrid 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
Monthly Fee $12.99/month of Cardmembership ($155.88 annually) | Additional Cards: $0 | Annual interest rate 20.99% on purchases and 21.99% on funds advances
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*
Primary Cardholder Annual Fee: $149 (1st year annual fee rebate*) | Authorized User Annual Fee: $0 Per Card | Annual interest rate: 20.99% on purchases and 22.99% on cash advances and balance transfers. | $80,000 personal or $150,000 household annual income
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 August 31, 2023. Conditions apply.
• Welcome bonus of 20,000 points* ($100 travel value)
• Earn 10,000 points* each month when you spend at least $1,000 each month for the first 6 months of account opening (up to $300 travel value)
• First year annual fee rebate for the primary cardholder* ($149)
• Receive a $100 annual travel enhancement credit*
• 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.
• Save on all your foreign currency purchases (even online) with no additional foreign currency conversion charges.
• Enjoy maximum flexibility and redeem your Points on your terms for:
• Gift cards and valuable merchandise
• Financial rewards
• Rewards for miles
*Terms and Conditions apply
®/TM Mastercard and World Elite are registered trademarks, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated. Used pursuant to licence
This offer is only available to residents of Canada other than the province of Quebec (Quebec residents eligible for separate offer)
Get 35,000 welcome Avion points on approval* - Enough to fly anywhere in Canada & the U.S (Alaska and Hawaii require more points)
Annual Fee: $120 | Additional Card Fee: $50 | 20.99% on purchases 22.99%* on cash advances and balance transfers *21.99% if you reside in Quebec.
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 you could consider the American Express® Gold Rewards Card or the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express®* Card. The Gold Card has all the same redemption options as the Cobalt Card however with lower earn rates however it does come with more travel benefits than the Cobalt Card. The Marriott card will provide points and benefits for hotel stays with Marriott and also those points can be converted to over 40 airlines which means you have a lot of travel options with that card as well. On the Mastercard side, there are no other Hybrid card options like the HSBC World Elite Card so here you'd maybe want to look at a cash back card like the Rogers World Elite Mastercard or a high points earning travel card like the MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard. On the Visa side of things it the same story - other than the other RBC Avion card options there are no other Visa Hybrid Cards. Your best bet here would be a card like the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card as you can redeem points for any travel you like plus the card has great travel benefits and no foreign transaction fees.