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How to choose the best credit card to earn travel points

You can shop with your travel credit card and earn points towards flight discounts, cruise packages, hotel stays, rental cars and more.

If you’ve caught the travel bug and want a credit card that will earn you more travel points for every dollar you spend, it’s important to compare a variety of credit cards to find the right travel card for you. Some travel credit cards include perks such as comprehensive travel insurance coverage, no foreign transaction fees and more points per dollar spent, while others may have less benefits and a lower annual fee.

How we chose the best credit cards to earn travel points

We’ve chosen the cards on this page based on the providers available through Finder. These cards are not representative of the entire market. Our top travel cards offer a high value of rewards or cash back which can be used toward travel, exclusive perks such as free annual companion flights, airport lounge access and concierge services, and a signup bonus. We’ve also considered annual fees and balance transfer fees.

No single travel card will be the best choice for everyone, so compare your options before picking your new card.

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

With the BMO AIR MILES World Elite MasterCard, you’ll earn 1 mile per $10 spend in purchases. Air Miles can be redeemed for flights, cash, merchandise and statement credit, with little to no restrictions.

To sweeten the deal, the card comes with an enticing signup bonus, the annual fee waived in the first year and plenty of travel related perks including airport lounge access, comprehensive travel insurance coverage, big gas savings at Shell stations across Canada and more.

Best for earning Aeroplan Miles: TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card

When it comes to Air Canada, the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card is a great alternative to the American Express Gold Rewards Card. You’ll get plenty of Air Canada perks, however the earn rate is not as high as the Amex card which has us choosing it as the best Aeroplan Miles card instead.

Best for earning rewards points: American Express Gold Rewards Card

With the American Express Gold Rewards Card, you’ll earn 2 Membership Rewards points for every $1 spent on gas, likewise with purchases on travel, grocery and drug store purchases.

Although this might seem like a low earn rate, Amex Membership Rewards points are much more valuable. You can transfer your points to Aeroplan Miles at a rate of 1:1, which are worth $2.50 when redeemed toward a flight. Plus, this card is automatically enrolled in the Membership Rewards program, which saves yo $50 annually.

Best for hotel rewards: Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card

You can experience discounts at a variety of luxurious hotel chains around the world with your Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card.
With an annual fee of $120, this credit card can quickly pay itself off – but only if you frequent Marriott Bonvoy™ hotels and their partners. The signup bonus alone can reward you with a three night stay at a category 2 hotel.

Best for signup bonus: Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card is a powerful travel companion. By spending just $1,000 in the first three months of card membership, you’ll receive a massive 25,000 Scotia Rewards points, which you can use towards flights, hotels, car rentals, statement credit and more.

With no foreign transaction fees, this card allows you to earn rewards points for every dollar you spend. Plus, you’ll get travel insurance coverage, complimentary access to airport lounges, car rental discounts and more.

Best for using overseas: Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

With a fresh new look, the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card is a powerful everyday credit card as well as a strong travel companion. With a signup bonus of 30,000 points, earn 5x the points on your everyday eating and drinking expenses, and 3x the points on gas and daily transit costs.

When it comes to travel, enjoy no foreign transaction fees, complimentary airport lounge access, access to a 24/7 concierge service and a comprehensive suite of travel insurance.

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

19.99 % APR

Purchase interest rate

Eligibility criteria, terms and conditions, fees and charges apply

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

Apply today and receive a bonus of 30,000 Scotia Rewards points in the first of card membership.

  • Purchase interest rate: 19.99%
  • Cash advance rate: 22.99%
  • Balance transfer rate: 22.99%
  • Annual fee: $120
  • Credit rating: 650+ recommended credit score
  • Minimum age: Age of majority in province/territory of residence
  • Minimum income: $12,000
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Compare credit cards for earning travel points

Name Product Bonus Points Rewards Program Rewards Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee
30,000
Membership Rewards
5x points per $1 spent on eligible grocery, restaurants, bars, cafés, food delivery, 2x points on transit, gas, travel purchases, and 1 point on all other spend.
19.99%
22.99%
$120
Earn 5x the points on eligible eats and drinks, including groceries and food delivery, 2x points on transit, gas, travel purchases, and 1 point on all other spend.
25,000
Scotia Rewards
Visa Infinite
2x points per $1 spent on grocery stores, dining, entertainment and daily transit, 1 point on all other spend
19.99%
22.99%
$139
Earn 2 Scotia Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible purchases. Plus, an extra 10,000 points with a min. annual spend of $40,000 on your card.
3,000
Air Miles
1 mile per $10 spend in purchases
19.99%
22.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
Get up to 3,000 AIR MILES Bonus Miles with minimum spend of $3,000 in the first three months, plus a first year annual fee waiver. Ends 31 October 2019.
2,000
Air Miles
1 mile per $10 spent at eligible AIR MILES® sponsors, stores, drugstores and gas stations, 1 mile per $15 on all other spend
19.99%
22.99%
$65
Offers 1.99% balance transfer rate in the first 6 months. No balance transfer fee upon application.
35,000
BMO Rewards
3 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on dining, travel and entertainment purchases
19.99%
22.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($150 thereafter)
Offers 35,000 BMO Rewards bonus points upon minimum spend of $3,000 in the first three months of card membership. Ends 31 October 2019.
N/A
Cash back
5% cash back on the first 6 months (2% cash back thereafter)
19.99%
22.99%
$99
Offers 1.99% balance transfer rate in the first 6 months to new cardmembers. No balance transfer fee upon application.
N/A
Cash back
1% cash back on purchases at eligible gas stations, grocery stores, drug stores and recurring payments and 0.5% on all other spend
7.99% intro APR for the first 6 months, 19.99% thereafter
22.99%
$0
Receive 1% cash back on payments made at petrol stations, supermarkets, pharmacies and recurring bill payments.
N/A
N/A
12.99%
12.99%
$29
Save on interest by consolidating your higher-rate balances and get a low 12.99% purchase interest rate.
800
Air Miles
2x AIR MILES reward miles per $20 at eligible partners, 1 mile for all other purchases
19.99%
22.99%
$0
Get up to 800 bonus AIR MILES reward miles with minimum spend of $1,000 in the first three months. Ends 31 October 2019.
N/A
Air Miles
1.25 AIR MILES reward miles at Shell stations in Canada, 1 mile per $15 on all other purchases
19.99%
22.99%
$99
Earn 1.25x Miles on card purchases at participating Shell stations in Canada.

Compare up to 4 providers

How do travel points work?

Credit cards that allow you to earn travel points work in the same way that standard rewards cards do. You accumulate points when you spend money on your card, and these points can be used to book flights and hotels or lock in discounts on other travel experiences. Every card will offer a different number of points per dollar spent, as well as a different conversion rate depending on the rewards program it belongs to.

For example, one card might offer 10 points per $1 spent, with 250,000 points converting to $500 in rewards. This means you’ll need to spend $25,000 on your card to earn $500 in redeemable travel credit. Another card might offer 2 points per $1 spent, with 50,000 points converting to $500, which also adds up to $25,000 in spending. Even though the earn rate is lower with the second card, the points are much more valuable, making the second card a much better choice for earning travel credit.

Before choosing a card, be sure to do the math on conversion rates and remember that a higher number of points doesn’t necessarily mean more money at the end of the day.

Types of travel points programs

  • Frequent flyer miles. AIR MILES and Aeroplan Miles are the two most common travel rewards programs in Canada. Using a credit card linked to one of these loyalty programs will earn you points towards your balance.
  • Rewards points. Rewards points allow you to exchange points with your credit card provider to book travel. Some cards offer a flat-rate of points per dollar spent, while others will give you an accelerated number of points for specific purchases (like gas, groceries or dining out).

How to find the best credit card to earn travel points

  • Compare your options. Compare a number of different cards to find the one that best suits your unique set of needs. You’ll want to take more than just the travel points into consideration – look at annual fees, APRs and added perks like travel insurance coverage.
  • Look for added benefits. Since you’re looking for a good travel card, consider beneficial perks like complimentary travel insurance coverage, concierge services, free flight upgrades and other perks that might come in handy when you’re overseas.
  • Ask about foreign exchange fees. Most credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee of 2.5%, however, there are a few cards on the market in Canada that come with no foreign transaction fees – saving you $2.50 for every $100 you spend overseas.
  • Look for the best conversion rate. When it comes to rewards programs, they are not all created equally. Compare rewards programs to find out which offers the best points to travel credit conversion. More points doesn’t necessarily mean more money in the long run.

Tips for earning travel points

  • Pay an annual fee. You’ll typically get a higher return on your travel points if you pay an annual fee. A mid-range fee will cost you around $40 – $120 per year, while pricier travel cards can run up to $450 a year or more.
  • Look for a signup bonus. You can earn hundreds or even thousands of additional points by signing up with a provider that offers a welcome bonus on points in your first few months. You’ll usually need to meet a spend requirement in order to receive the full signup bonus.
  • Take advantage of referral programs. You can sometimes earn additional points by referring friends to signup for the card.
  • Pair with frequent flyer cards. Pay with your credit card and swipe your AIR MILES or Aeroplan customer loyalty card to double up on points.
  • Choose a card that offers accelerated rewards. Earn travel points faster by signing up for a card that offers a higher return on points or miles based on specific spending categories.

What to watch out for

  • Expiration dates. Your points may expire if you don’t use them within a certain time period, so make sure you know when you need to redeem them by.
  • Blackout dates. There’s nothing worse than finding out you can’t travel on the dates you want. Make sure your points won’t limit when you can travel.
  • Caps on rewards. Avoid providers that cap your earnings once you spend a certain amount of money.
  • Excluded purchases. Some providers don’t offer travel points on certain purchases (like cash advance transactions) so it pays to check into what’s covered and what isn’t.

Frequent travellers looking for discounts on flights – along with an array of travel-related perks – are most likely to benefit from a travel points card. These cards often come with benefits like comprehensive travel insurance coverage and concierge services to help you save money when you go abroad. You’ll usually get the most benefits and a higher return on points if you opt for a card with an annual fee.

Frequently asked questions

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