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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.

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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

BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard

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The BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard lets you earn accelerated AIR MILES that can be redeemed for travel perks and merchandise. Get 1 AIR MILE for every $10 spent on eligible purchases and get 5x the Miles at Shell until December 31, 2020. To sweeten the deal, the card comes with an enticing 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. Get 5x the Miles at Shell until December 31, 2020.

Cardholders also get a range of complimentary travel benefits including travel insurance coverage. Get a 15% discount on all AIR MILES flights in North America with no blackout periods. Enjoy a free membership in Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey with exclusive VIP access, plus get two annual complimentary passes. Cardholders can also access free Trip Assistance Services for travel-related information and advice.

Please note: All information about TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card has been collected independently by Finder and this card is not available through this site.

Best for earning Aeroplan Miles: TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card

The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card is great if you’re an Aeroplan member and fly frequently with Air Canada. Earn 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on gas, groceries and Air Canada purchases, as well as 1 point on everything else. T&C's apply.

This card also comes with an attractive signup bonus for new cardholders. Earn 10,000 Aeroplan points and get a Bonus Buddy Pass. Plus, get the first year annual fee waived for the Primary and 1st additional cardholder. Conditions Apply. Apply by January 17, 2021.

Best for earning rewards points: American Express Gold Rewards Card

American Express Gold Rewards Card

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The American Express Gold Rewards Card lets you earn accelerated travel rewards points that can be used towards flights or transferred to frequent flyer and other loyalty programs. Earn 2 Membership Rewards points for every $1 spent on eligible gas station, grocery store, drug store and travel purchases and on eligible hotel and car rental bookings made with American Express Travel, and earn 1 Membership Reward point for every $1 spent on all other eligible purchases

As an added bonus, the card comes with a generous incentive for new cardmembers. Earn a Welcome Bonus of 25,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend at least $1,500 on eligible purchases within the first three months Card members also get access to a suite of travel benefits including insurance coverage. However, take note that this is a charge card, not a regular credit card, which means that you must pay off your balance fully each month or a penalty interest rate of 30% will be applied.

Best for hotel rewards: Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card

Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card

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Experience discounts at a variety of luxurious hotel chains around the world with a Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card.
Even though this card has an annual fee of $120, the rewards can quickly outpace the cost – but only if you frequent Marriott Bonvoy™ hotels and their partners. The signup bonus alone is worth more than the annual fee of the card. Earn 5 points per $1 spent at participating Marriott properties and 2 points on all other spending. Terms apply

Best for signup bonus: Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card

Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card

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The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card is a powerful travel companion. With a 0% foreign transaction fee, this card allows you to save while earning rewards points for every dollar you spend. Plus, you’ll get travel benefits, car rental perks and more.

Earn up to 30,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points (up to a $300 travel value) in your first year. Apply by February 28, 2021.

Best for using overseas: Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

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With a fresh new look, the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card is a powerful everyday credit card as well as a strong travel companion. Book flights through Scotiabank's full-service travel agency, enjoy 24/7 concierge service, get access to over 1,200 airport lounges around the world and enjoy exclusive Amex benefits. Enjoy peace of mind with a broad array of travel insurance options including Emergency Medical (up to $1,000,000), Travel Accident, Trip Cancellation and Interruption, Flight Delay, Delayed or Lost Baggage and Rental Car Collision Loss/Damage.

Compare credit cards for earning travel points

Name Product Bonus Points Rewards Program Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee Rewards with this card Description
American Express Cobalt Card
30,000
Membership Rewards
19.99%
21.99%
$120
Earn 5 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent at eligible grocery stores, restaurants, bars, cafés and food delivery services. Earn 2 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent at eligible gas stations, and on transit and travel purchases. Earn 1 Membership Rewards point per $1 spent elsewhere. Terms apply.
In your first year as a new Cobalt Cardmember, earn 2,500 Membership Rewards points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $500 on your card (for a total of 30,000 points in a year). Plus, earn a total of 10x the points for every $1 spent on eligible purchases made at Amazon.ca (up to $500) in your first 3 months of Cardmembership (apply by January 13, 2021 to enjoy this perk).
American Express Aeroplan Card
15,000
Aeroplan Miles
30% annual interest rate applies to balances not paid in full each month
N/A
$120
Earn 2x the points on eligible purchases made directly with Air Canada and Air Canada vacations, 1.5x the points on eligible dining and food delivery purchases and 1x the points on everything else.
Earn up to 15,000 Welcome Bonus Aeroplan points and a bonus Buddy Pass as a new cardmember.
BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard
2,000
Air Miles
19.99%
22.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
Get 1 AIR MILE for every $10 spent on eligible purchases and get 5x the Miles at Shell until December 31, 2020.
Earn a bonus of up to 2,000 AIR MILES. Terms apply. Plus, get the annual fee of $120 waived in the first year. Get 5x the Miles at Shell until December 31, 2020.
American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card
3,000
Air Miles
20.99%
21.99%
$120
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 3,000 AIR MILES when you spend at least $1,500 in eligible purchases within the first three months.
Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card
50,000
Marriott Bonvoy™
19.99%
21.99%
$120
Earn 5 points per $1 spent at participating Marriott properties and 2 points on all other spending. Terms apply
Receive 50,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy™ points when you charge $1,500 in the first three months of card membership. Terms apply
BMO eclipse Visa Infinite
40,000
BMO Rewards
20.99%
23.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
Earn 5x the BMO Points for every $1 spent on groceries, dining in and out, gas and transit.
Get up to 40,000 points and the $120 annual fee waived in the first year. Earn 25,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months and get 15,000 points on your first anniversary.
BMO World Elite Mastercard
40,000
BMO Rewards
19.99%
22.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($150 thereafter)
Get 3 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible travel, dining and entertainment purchases (up to $50,000 spend annually), and get 2 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases (and once you reach the $50,000 annual spend).
Get up to $575 in value in your first year. Get a bonus of 40,000 BMO Rewards points ($285 travel value booked on bmorewards.com). Plus, get the $150 annual fee waived in the first year.
American Express Business Edge Card
30,000
Membership Rewards
19.99%
21.99%
$99
Earn 3 Membership Rewards points for every $1 spent on eligible business essentials including office supplies, electronics, rides, gas, eats and drinks (up to an annual earn of 75,000 Membership Rewards), and earn 1 Membership Reward point for every $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.
Earn up to 42,000 Membership Rewards points in your first year. Earn a Welcome Bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend at least $5,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months, and earn 1,000 Membership Rewards points each month (a total of 12,000 annually) when you spend a minimum of $3,000 on eligible purchases
Shell AIR MILES Mastercard from BMO
950
Air Miles
19.99%
22.99%
$0
Get 3x the AIR MILES for every $25 spent at eligible AIR MILES partners, and get 1 AIR MILE for every $25 spent elsewhere.
Get 950 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (enough for $100 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash). Plus, get 5x the Miles at Shell until December 31, 2020.
HSBC +Rewards™ Mastercard®
20,000
11.9%
11.9%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($25 thereafter)
Earn 2 Points for every $1 spent on eligible dining or entertainment purchases. Points can be redeemed for travel and financial rewards, gift cards and merchandise.
Earn 20,000 Points ($100 travel value) plus a full annual fee rebate for the Primary Cardholder for the first year ($25 value). Apply by December 28, 2020. Conditions Apply. This offer is only available to residents of Canada other than the province of Quebec. (Quebec residents eligible for separate offer).
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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.

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