Best Air Miles Credit Cards for 2021 in Canada | Finder Canada

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Compare the best Air Miles credit cards

Compare Air Miles cards to start earning points towards your next trip or merchandise.

Air Miles cards are some of the most popular rewards credit cards in Canada, catering to both frequent travelers and rewards points earners. You can redeem Air Miles points for a wide array of travel and non-travel-related benefits by choosing either Air Miles Dream Rewards or Air Miles Cash Rewards. Learn more in our guide to Air Miles cards below.

Best for no annual fee: BMO AIR MILES Mastercard

19.99%
Purchase Interest Rate
$0
Annual Fee
660
Min. Recommended Credit Score
With the BMO AIR MILES Mastercard, you'll earn Air Miles while enjoying a $0 annual fee. Get up to 5x the AIR MILES Reward Miles on groceries Valid until May 31, 2021.Plus, get 3x the AIR MILES for every $25 spent at eligible AIR MILES partners, and 1 AIR MILE for every $25 spent elsewhere. Plus, this card comes with an appealing balance transfer offer. Get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% transfer fee will be charged for each transferred balance.
Annual Fee $0
Additional Cardholder Fee $0
Min. Credit Score 660
Purchase Interest Rate 19.99%
Cash Advance Rate 22.99%
Interest Free Period Up to 21 days
Balance Transfer Rate 22.99%
Foreign Transaction Fee 2.5%
Pros
  • Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (enough for $80 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash).
  • This card has a $0 annual fee.
  • Free additional cardholders.
  • Get up to 5x the AIR MILES Reward Miles on groceries Valid until May 31, 2021.Plus, get 3x the AIR MILES for every $25 spent at eligible AIR MILES partners, and 1 AIR MILE for every $25 spent elsewhere.
  • Get 2X the points by presenting your BMO Air Miles Mastercard and your Air Miles Card at participating Air Miles Partners.
  • Get a discount of up to 25% off the base rate of rental vehicles at participating National Car Rental® and Alamo Rent A Car® locations.
  • Get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% transfer fee will be charged for each transferred balance.
What to watch out for
  • You'll face a foreign transaction fee of 2.5% every time you use your card overseas or online with international retailers.
  • Should you take advantage of the balance transfer offer, you'll face a balance transfer fee of 1.99%.

Best for earning Air Miles: BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard

19.99%
Purchase Interest Rate
$120
Annual Fee
760
Min. Recommended Credit Score
Earn accelerated AIR MILES that can be redeemed for travel perks and merchandise. Get topped up to 5x the AIR MILES Reward Miles on groceries until May 31, 2021 (when you use any BMO AIR MILES credit card with your AIR MILES Card when you shop at participating grocery stores). Plus, get 1 AIR MILE for every $10 spent on eligible purchases. Earn a bonus of up to 2,000 AIR MILES. Terms apply. Plus, get the annual fee of $120 waived in the first year.
Annual Fee $120
Additional Cardholder Fee $50
Min. Credit Score 760
Purchase Interest Rate 19.99%
Cash Advance Rate 22.99%
Interest Free Period Up to 21 days
Balance Transfer Rate 22.99%
Foreign Transaction Fee 2.5%
Pros
  • Signup bonus. Earn a bonus of up to 2,000 AIR MILES. Terms apply. Plus, get the annual fee of $120 waived in the first year.
  • Miles per dollar. Earn 1 mile per $10 spend in purchases.
  • Travel perks. Get a 15% discount on all AIR MILES flights in North America with no blackout periods.
  • Travel insurance coverage. Get peace of mind with a wide range of travel insurance benefits including up to $2,000,000 Out-of-Province/Out-of-Country Emergency Medical Protection as well as coverage for delayed flights; trip cancellations, interruptions and delays; rental car collision damage and baggage loss, theft or damage.
  • Rental car discounts. Get up to a 25% discount at National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car locations with complimentary Collision Damage Waiver benefits (MSRP of up to $65,000).
What to watch out for
  • Annual fee. This card has an annual fee of $0 in the first year and $120 thereafter.
  • Foreign transaction fee. This card has a foreign transaction fee of 2.5%. This will apply on any overseas purchases or any purchases made online with an international retailer.
  • Eligibility requirements. You’ll need to earn a personal income of at least $80,000, or a combined household income of at least $150,000 annually.

Best for earning Air Miles on everyday purchases: American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card

20.99%
Purchase Interest Rate
$120
Annual Fee
700
Min. Recommended Credit Score
The American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card allows you to easily build up Air Miles points from common, everyday purchases. Earn 1 AIR MILE for every $5 spent on eligible food, drink, gas and transit purchases (up to an annual spend of $30,000), and earn 1 AIR MILE for every $10 spent on all other eligible purchases (and after the $30,000 annual spend). Earn a Welcome Bonus of 2,000 AIR MILES when you spend at least $1,500 in eligible purchases within the first three months. That’s enough to redeem for $200 towards your purchases with AIR MILES Cash.
Annual Fee $120
Additional Cardholder Fee $0
Min. Credit Score 700
Purchase Interest Rate 20.99%
Cash Advance Rate 21.99%
Interest Free Period Up to 21 days
Foreign Transaction Fee 2.5%
Pros
  • Earn 1 AIR MILE for every $5 spent on eligible food, drink, gas and transit purchases (up to an annual spend of $30,000), and earn 1 AIR MILE for every $10 spent on all other eligible purchases (and after the $30,000 annual spend)
  • Earn a Welcome Bonus of 2,000 AIR MILES when you spend at least $1,500 in eligible purchases within the first three months. That’s enough to redeem for $200 towards your purchases with AIR MILES Cash.
  • Enjoy peace of mind while you're travelling with up to $100,000 Travel Accident Insurance. Coverage applies to the cardholder as well as his/her spouse and dependent children under 23 years old.
  • Complimentary Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance (MSRP of up to $85,000)
What to watch out for
  • You'll be charged a $120 annual fee.
  • The purchase interest rate is higher than comparable cards at 20.99%.
  • Compared to Visa and Mastercard, American Express is much less widely accepted in locations across Canada, the US and around the world.

Best for earning Air Miles for business: BMO Air Miles Business Mastercard

19.99%
Purchase Interest Rate
$120
Annual Fee
650
Min. Recommended Credit Score
The BMO Air Miles Business Mastercard is a travel card designed to help you earn Air Miles on every dollar you spend. Earn 1 Air Mile on every $10 spent on eligible purchases. Get up to 3,000 AIR MILES Bonus Miles ($310 towards your purchases with AIR MILES Cash). This card also comes with a welcome bonus, comprehensive travel insurance and purchase protection.
Annual Fee $120
Additional Cardholder Fee $50
Min. Credit Score 650
Purchase Interest Rate 19.99%
Cash Advance Rate 22.99%
Interest Free Period 25 days
Balance Transfer Rate 22.99%
Pros
  • Earn 1 Air Mile on every $10 spent on eligible purchases.
  • Earn miles twice at Air Miles partners when you show your membership card.
  • Get up to 3,000 AIR MILES Bonus Miles ($310 towards your purchases with AIR MILES Cash).
  • Protect the items you buy on your card with extended warranty coverage and purchase protection.
  • Get a full suite of travel coverage including trip cancellation, baggage delay or loss, trip interruption/delay and carrier insurance.
  • Rack up purchases for your business and track your payments when you buy in bulk at Costco.
What to watch out for
  • You’ll be on the hook for an annual fee of $120.
  • You’ll have to pay 19.99% on any outstanding balances and 22.99% on cash advance transactions.
  • Every extra card you add to your account will cost you $50 per year.
  • You won’t get travel medical insurance as part of your travel insurance on this card.

How do Air Miles cards work?

An Air Miles credit card allows you to earn frequent flyer points as you charge purchases to your card. These cards come with an annual fee, but you’ll get travel benefits and a generous welcome offer to offset the cost. Air Miles cards can be great tools for frequent flyers who pay off their account balances in full each month, but are probably not suitable for those carrying an outstanding balance on their account.

Some rewards cards allow you to transfer your points to several partnered frequent flyer programs. If you belong to more than one frequent flyer programs, this might be one way you can get more flexibility from your rewards card.

How do Air Miles points cards work?

You can typically earn 1 frequent flyer point for every $10-20 spent on eligible purchases. The number of points you earn per dollar differs among credit cards and transaction types. For example, a credit card could let you earn 1 point per $10 on eligible purchases, but only 0.5 points per $10 spent on other transactions.

Premium cards tend to cost more but give you a better return on miles and benefits. With both the reserve and the platinum card, you’ll get more miles when you spend money on daily purchases as well as with Air Miles partners.

Cash Miles vs. Dream Miles: What’s the difference?

You’ll have to set which type of Air Miles you want to collect in advance. You can either collect and redeem Air Miles as Cash Miles or Dream Miles. Dream Miles are the default miles you’ll collect unless you change your preferences on your account. The rewards you can redeem for your Air Miles points will depend on the type of Air Miles you pick.

  • Cash Miles. Cash Miles let you redeem Air Miles in-person with partner stores or online using eVouchers.
  • Dream Miles. Dream Miles can be redeemed online only for flights, hotels, car rentals, merchandise, events and attractions.

How to compare Air Miles cards

When comparing Air Miles cards, be sure to factor in the costs and make sure they don’t outweigh the value of any possible rewards and benefits. If you’re interested in getting one, consider these factors when shopping for your new Air Miles card:

  • Earn rate. The earn rate will determine how fast you can get your next reward. Note that credit cards with higher earn rates also usually come with higher annual fees and interest rates, so you should weigh these up when deciding.
  • Points cap. Some cards impose a cap on the points you can earn each month, e.g. earn 1 point per $1 spent up to $500 and 1 point per $10 spent subsequently. Consider how this may impede your earning capacity.
  • Bonus points offers. Getting a large number of bonus points when you sign up could be totally worthwhile because some introductory bonuses give enough points for you to instantly redeem a return flight. Don’t be so eager that you don’t consider the downsides of the card though, such as the high annual fee and interest rate.
  • Partner airlines. Even if you’re an absolutely loyal passenger to your frequent flyer airline, it can be advantageous to have access to a large network of partner airlines. This is especially beneficial when you fly out further and require a variety of flight connections.
  • Available rewards. Browse your frequent flyer store before deciding if it’s the frequent flyer program for you. This will ensure that you’ll truly enjoy the rewards you’ll be earning.
  • Card perks. Air miles cards can come with a variety of complimentary benefits such as free travel insurance, airport lounge access, airport limousine services and personal concierge services.
  • Annual fee. This can be a major cost when it comes to Air Miles cards, with the annual fee often directly correlated to the earn rate and perks offered by a card. Make sure you’re not paying for perks you don’t need or won’t use.
  • Interest rates. As with all credit cards, card interest rates are important if you intend to carry a balance. If you make regular repayments and always pay in full, this will be less important.
  • Other fees. It’s always good to know exactly what you’re signing up for and what you may someday be charged for. Pay attention to fees like the cash advance fee, foreign transaction fee (especially if you plan to use the card overseas) and any other possible administrative fees.

Compare a variety of Air Miles credit cards

Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Purchase Interest Rate Annual Fee Min. Credit Score Description
BMO IGA AIR MILES Mastercard
800 Miles
Up to 3x Air Miles for every $25 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (enough for $80 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash).
American Express AIR MILES Gold Business Card
150 Miles
1 Mile for every $15 - $20 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn a Welcome Bonus of 150 AIR MILES when you spend at least $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months
BMO AIR MILES Mastercard For Students
800 Miles
1 Mile per $25 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (enough for $80 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash). Get a 1.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to balance amounts transferred.
American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card
2,000 Miles
Up to 1 Air Mile per $5 - $10 spent
20.99%
$120
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn a Welcome Bonus of 2,000 AIR MILES within the first three months. That’s enough to redeem for $200 towards your purchases with AIR MILES Cash.
Shell AIR MILES Mastercard from BMO
800 Miles
Up to 3x Air Miles for every $25 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (enough for $80 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash).
BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard
2,000 Miles
1 Mile for every $10 spent
19.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 760
Earn a bonus of up to 2,000 AIR MILES. Terms apply. Plus, get the annual fee of $120 waived in the first year.
BMO AIR MILES Mastercard
800 Miles
Up to 3x Air Miles for every $25 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (enough for $80 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash). Get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to transferred balances.
Shell AIR MILES World Mastercard from BMO
Up to 5x Air Miles
1 Mile for every $15 spent
19.99%
$99
Min. recommended credit score: 760
Get up to 5x the AIR MILES Reward Miles on groceries Valid until May 31, 2021. Plus, get 1.25x Miles on card purchases at Shell locations in Canada.
BMO Sobeys AIR MILES Mastercard
800 Miles
Up to 3x Air Miles for every $25 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (enough for $80 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash).
BMO Air Miles Business Mastercard
3,000 Miles
1 Mile for every $10 spent
19.99%
$120
Min. recommended credit score: 650
Get up to 3,000 AIR MILES Bonus Miles ($310 towards your purchases with AIR MILES Cash).
American Express AIR MILES Reserve Credit Card
2,400 Miles
1 Mile for every $10 - $15 spent
20.99%
$299
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn a Welcome Bonus of 2,400 AIR MILES when you spend at least $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months.
American Express AIR MILES for Business Card
2,000 Miles
1 Mile for every $10 - $15 spent
N/A
$180
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn a Welcome Bonus of 2,000 AIR MILES when you spend at least $5,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months.
BMO Air Miles No-Fee Business Mastercard
1,000 Miles
1 Mile per $20 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 650
Get 1,000 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (over $100 towards your purchases with AIR MILES Cash).
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How to earn Air Miles on your credit card

air miles logoYou can earn Air Miles on your credit card by charging eligible purchases to it. Transactions like cash advances, balance transfers, interest, fees and government payments are usually not eligible for earning points.

Many Air Miles cards also offer additional points when you sign up. Be aware that you may have to do something to activate that introductory offer and receive your points. For example, you might have to spend $500 in the first month to receive 10,000 bonus points.

Some card issuers also offer promotional bonus points for existing customers. American Express, for instance, awards bonus points to card members for successfully referring friends and family members.

You can also give your partner or family members a supplementary card to help you earn even more Air Miles. You can easily double or triple your earn rate this way, but it’s important to remember that you’ll be accountable for all purchases made on the additional card.

For more info on how to earn Air Miles faster, read our guide.

Should you buy Air Miles?

It’s typically not a great idea to buy miles from the airline for a simple reason: purchased miles cost more than they’re worth when redeemed. Most airlines charge around $0.03 per mile on average. Considering you can transfer Miles to an airline at a 1:1 ratio with an eligible credit card, or earn Miles at better rates directly with cobranded cards, buying miles directly usually isn’t worth it.

However, there are three instances where it could make sense to purchase Air Miles:

  • Discounts and promos. You may come across a promotion or sale on Miles, where they’ll be sold at a price closer to what they’re worth when redeemed.
  • Topping off your Miles. It could be worth buying extra Miles if you’re just short the few Miles needed for a redemption. Of course, you will won’t get a great value for those last few Miles, but your eventual redemption could make the trade-off worth it.

What can you redeem your Air Miles card points for?

Although nowadays you can redeem almost anything via the frequent flyer store, flight redemptions still usually offer the greatest value in terms of dollar per point. You can usually use your points to redeem flights with any of your frequent flyer programs partner airlines, although some routes and seat classes may be excluded.

Additional rewards you can get with your Air Miles points may include:

  • Travel packages. The range of travel rewards has extended to include travel packages and vacation packages, so your frequent flyer store can now be your one-stop shop when it comes to vacations.
  • Hotel accommodation and car rental. Frequent flyer programs now extend to your full travel needs. You can book your overseas hotel stay and car rental using your points at the same time, which can be done when booking through your frequent flyer website. If not, you might also need to provide your frequent flyer number and elect that you’d like to pay with points when making the booking.
  • Cruises. If you have enough miles, you may be able to cash them in for a round-trip cruise or an all-inclusive vacation.
  • Entertainment. You should be able to get a decent exchange rate on your miles when you use them to book tours, events, entertainment and experiences.
  • Products from the rewards store. Frequent flyer stores these days appear more fully stocked than department stores, with their wide range of clothing, jewellery, homewares, electronics and toys. These online stores can usually be accessed through your online frequent flyer account.
  • Lifestyle rewards. You can even spend your points on theme park tickets, concert tickets, wine and restaurant dining.
  • Shopping and gift cards. Most frequent flyer programs have large retail partners, so you can exchange your points for store vouchers either to be used online or at their bricks-and-mortar outlets.
  • Charitable donations. If you’re feeling extra generous, you can also transfer your miles into a cash donation for the charity of your choice.

How to redeem Air Miles points

The way you redeem your miles will depend on whether you sign up for Cash Miles or Dream Miles. Cash Miles are easy to redeem instantly for in-store discounts or cash vouchers with participating partners. Dream Miles are a little bit more complicated because you’ll have to sign in to your Air Miles rewards account and look through their online catalogue. When you settle on what you want, you can make your redemption online or over the phone. Learn more details about how to redeem Air Miles points in our full guide here.

Deciding if an Air Miles card is right for you

As a general rule, make sure your Air Miles credit card gives you more value than it costs. A simple way to calculate this is by adding up the value of rewards you’d redeem in a year and comparing that with the amount of fees you’d pay each year. While Air Miles cards may be a great idea for some people, they’re not for everyone.

If you have settled on getting a travel rewards credit card, you’ll find that Air Miles, Aeroplan, Avion, Aventura and WestJet rewards are all competing for your loyalty in the Frequent flyer space these days. That means there are quite a few options to pick from, so make sure to compare the following features listed below before settling on your card:

  • Partner companies. Look for the frequent flyer plan that will let you earn miles at the stores where you shop most frequently.
  • Partner airlines. Choose a card that works with the airlines that you prefer to use for flights to make sure you have a wide range of options.
  • Available rewards. Look at each program’s “rewards store” to find out what you can use your miles to purchase aside from airline tickets.

Bottom line

If you’re a frequent flyer and you want to try out an Air Miles card, there are several suitable options. Find out how these cards work and compare basic and premium cards to find the best fit for your budget.

Frequently asked questions about Air Miles cards

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