Top Canadian Travel Reward Credit Cards for 2019

Credit cards when in the right hands are a useful tool for your financial goals. There is nothing better than earning points towards your next vacation by using your credit card for your day to day purchases. The trick is to pay the balance in full every month, otherwise, any benefit is overridden by the high interest rates.

After researching every travel credit card on the market here are the top Canadian travel credit cards whether you travel solo, with a family, or looking for a no-fee card that is guaranteed to earn you the most points for purchases you already make. It’s time to kick some credit card ass.

Recommended for Solo Travelers

American Express Cobalt Credit Card

Quick Overview

  • 5 points for every $1 spent on restaurants, bars, grocery stores, and food delivery services like UberEATS or SkipTheDishes in Canada.
  • 2 points for every $1 spent on transit and gas purchases in Canada. This includes flights, hotels, taxis, transit passes, and ride-sharing services like Uber.
  • 1 point for every $1 you spend on everything else.
  • Up to 30,000 bonus reward points in the first 12 months
  • 99% interest rate for the first 6 months
  • Points redeemable for travel, merchandise, Amazon.ca or statement credits
  • $120 annual fee with $10 monthly payments

Insurance

  • Emergency Medical: The first 15 consecutive days; max of $5,000,000 per insured person under the age of 65.
  • Flight Delay: Up to $500 (aggregate maximum with Baggage Delay Insurance) coverage for a hotel, motel, restaurant expenses, and other miscellaneous items.
  • Baggage Delay: Up to $500 coverage (aggregate maximum with Flight Delay Insurance) for all immediate daily reasonable and necessary emergency purchases.
  • Hotel/Motel Burglary: Up to $500 against the loss of most personal items if your hotel/motel is burglarized.
  • Lost or Stolen Baggage: Up to $500 coverage for loss or damage to your luggage or personal effects while in transit.
  • Car Rental Theft and Damage: Covered for damage or theft of your rental car with an MSRP of up to $85,000.
  • Travel Accident: Up to $250,000 of Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance covers you, your spouse and dependent children under the age of 23.
  • Purchase Protection Plan: Automatically insurances your eligible purchases against accidental physical damage and theft.
  • Buyer’s Assurance Protection Plan: Automatically doubles the manufacturer’s original warranty up to one additional year.
  • Fraud Protection Guarantee: You won’t be held responsible for any fraudulent charges, as long as you’ve taken reasonable care to protect your account details and PIN.

Why I Like It

  • Up to a 5% Return on Purchases. With the American Express Cobalt Card, you get up to a 5% return on your purchases, the highest of any card on the market. It’s targeted specifically for Millennials but even if you aren’t a Millennial you should still get this card.
  • 30,000 Reward Point Sign-Up Bonus. This is equivalent to $300 which you can use for a short-haul flight, statement credits redeemed towards travel purchases or tickets purchased on ticketmaster.ca. To qualify, spend $500 each month to get 2,500 reward points for that month.
  • Monthly Fee of $10. I prefer this than getting dinged the full $120 like with other cards.
  • Versatile Reward Program. You can redeem your points for travel, statement credits for almost any purchase made on the card, or on Amazon.ca.
  • Additional Cards Are Free. Majority of other cards on the market charge for a second card.
  • No minimum personal income requirement. Comparable credit cards require a minimum personal income of at least $80,000.
  • Referral Program: You can get 5,000 bonus Membership Reward points for referring friends and family, up to a maximum of 75,000 points.
  • Hotel Benefits: You get a $75 USD hotel credit to use on amenities such as dining, spa or other leisure facilities when charged to the room, and a one-category room upgrade at check-in.
  • App support: You can easily check your account activity, view your reward points, and redeem them through the AMEX app available on iOS and Android.

Things to Consider

  • AMEX is not as widely accepted. American Express is not as widely accepted as other credit cards like Visa or Mastercard. For example, it is not accepted at Costco so if you shop there then keep that in mind or have a backup credit card.
  • Watch where you get groceries. For example, retailers that sell groceries count as a retailer. So if you get your groceries at Walmart it does not count towards the grocery point multiplier.
  • Some stores don’t accept tap. I’ve encountered this a few times like at Safeway where I have to insert my card and input my pin. This also means using Apple Pay won’t work since it’s tap-based. I consider this a minor inconvenience.
  • The annual fee is not waived for the first year. The point multipliers more than make up for this, however. I am on track to receive a free flight to Vancouver after 3 months of spending and it’s nice the fee is $10 per month.
  • Sign-up bonus reward points are spread out over the first year. For the first month you get 2,500 reward points, and then 2,500 reward points per month for the first year. While it would be ideal getting the 30,000 sign-up bonus reward points up front, it’s nice to see your point balance rack up faster over time.

Recommended for Couples or Families

WestJet World Elite Mastercard

Quick Overview

  • 2% back on Westjet spending
  • 5% back on all other spending
  • Annual round-trip companion ticket
  • Free checked bags for you and anyone on your itinerary up to 8 people
  • Save 3 cents per litre on fuel at PetroCanada and 20% more Petro-Points
  • $250 WestJet dollar sign-up bonus with no minimum spend requirement
  • $119 annual fee

Insurance

  • Emergency Medical: 15 days (under age 65); 3 days (65 or over).
  • Flight Delay: Up to $250 per person or $500 per trip (4+ hour delay).
  • Hotel/Motel Burglary: Up to $2,500 per occurrence.
  • Auto Rental Collision/Loss Damage Insurance: Covers losses or damage up to the cash value of the damaged or stolen rental vehicle with an MSRP of up to $65,000.
  • Travel Accident: Up to $500,000 of Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance for you, your spouse or your dependent children under the age of 21 (or under the age of 26 if they are a student).
  • Purchase Security: Coverage for direct accidental physical loss or damage of up to $50,000 for 90 days from the date of purchase.
  • Extended Warranty: Automatically doubles the original manufacturer’s warranty up to a maximum of one year.
  • Trip Interruption: Up to $5,000 for each covered person per trip, to a maximum of $25,000.
  • Emergency Purchases: Up to $500 per occurrence per covered person, to a maximum $2,500 for lost or stolen luggage that has been checked by an airline carrier.

Why I Like It

  • Free First Checked Bag for you and anyone on your itinerary up to 8 people. This benefit alone can pay for the $120 annual fee with checked baggage normally costing $30 each way. If you fly twice per year, you already earned back the annual fee not to mention the extra benefit if you fly with anyone else.
  • Annual Companion Flight. This is renewed every year and is a killer deal, with no black-out periods. A friend of mine flies home to Halifax from Calgary every year for Christmas with his wife, and pays $99 + taxes for her ticket; a savings of over $900! The only restriction is that the primary cardholder has to fly on the same itinerary as the companion which is perfect for couples or families. You can even use your WestJet Dollars towards the cost of your companion flight. Below is the companion flight breakdown:
  • $99, plus taxes & fees, to anywhere in Canada & continental U.S.
  • $299, plus taxes & fees, to Hawaii, Mexico, Caribbean & Central America
  • $399, plus taxes & fees, to anywhere in Europe WestJet flies
  • 5% Return on Purchases and 2% with WestJet. There is no point multiplier, but a 1.5% return is still a nice bonus. If you fly often, then the 2% bonus on WestJet can also pay off.
  • 3 cents off per litre at PetroCanada. With gas prices over $1.00 per litre across the country, this is about a 2% to 3% return when you fuel up.

Things to Consider

  • You need to have a minimum personal income. Either a minimum personal income of $80,000 or a minimum household income of $150,000 to be eligible.
  • Additional cards are $59. This is better than paying $119, but still a bummer.
  • Use the companion pass to make it worth it. If you travel solo or find that when you book flights your companion is not on the same itinerary, then you are not getting the maximum benefit from this card and there are better reward credit cards out there.
  • You have to fly with WestJet. I personally love WestJet but they are more of a domestic airline than an international airline. Keep in mind they have ten 787 Dreamliners on order from Boeing with the first to be in service in 2019 so this opens up more international destinations but still pales in comparison to other airlines.
  • Link your Petro-Points Card for the gas savings. You don’t automatically get 3 cents off per litre; you first need to link your Petro-Points Card online with your WestJet Mastercard World Elite Credit Card.
  • Lacks trip cancellation insurance. While the other benefits more than makeup for a lack of trip cancellation insurance, this is something to keep in mind.

Recommended No-Fee Credit Card

Rogers World Elite Mastercard

Quick Overview

  • 4% cash back on all purchases made in a foreign currency
  • 2% cash back on Rogers products and services
  • 1.75% cash back on all other purchases
  • $25 sign up bonus
  • No annual fee

Insurance

  • Emergency Medical: Up to $1,000,000. 10 days (age 64 and under); 3 days (age 65 to 75).
  • Trip Cancellation: Up to $1,000 per insured person up to a max of $5,000.
  • Trip Interruption and Delay: Up to $1,000 per insured person up to a max of $5,000.
  • Rental Car Collision/Damage: Covers losses or damage up to the cash value of the damaged or stolen rental vehicle with an MSRP of up to $65,000.
  • Purchase Protection: Coverage for direct accidental physical loss or damage of up to $60,000 for 90 days from the date of purchase.
  • Extended Warranty: Automatically doubles the original manufacturer’s warranty up to a maximum of one year.

Why I Like It

  • 4% cash back when traveling. This is a great card to have when abroad since normally you’d be charged 2.50% on any transaction you make in a foreign currency. With the Rogers World Elite Mastercard, you’re essentially getting the 2.50% foreign transaction fee back in addition to another 1.50%.
  • 75% cash back on purchases spent in Canada. This is even better than a lot of cards with annual fees!
  • Insurance benefits are the most I’ve seen on a no-fee card. You’re getting the standard trip insurance in addition to extended warranty benefits and purchase protection.
  • No fees. There is no reason why you should not have this card and it’s perfect for traveling.

Things to Consider

  • You need to have a minimum personal income. Either a minimum personal income of $80,000 or a minimum household income of $150,000 to be eligible.
  • Limited flexibility on rewards. You can redeem cash back on Rogers products, services, and bills, but also once yearly as a lump sum statement credit. This means you have to wait the year to redeem.

Legal Disclaimer: The views expressed by Mr. Dumont on Money Sensei are solely his and not intended as investment advice nor a guarantee of any financial return. Mr. Dumont is not an investment or tax professional, so the information contained on the blog is not a substitute for professional advice. The contents of this blog are accurate to the best of his knowledge at the time of posting, but rules and laws are ever-changing. Please do your research to confirm that you have the current information.

 

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