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Best Canadian Credit Cards for Miles and Points

by on February 8, 2012 · 29 comments

in Aeroplan, American Express, Canada, Capital One, Credit Cards, Delta, Starwood

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I love Canada. I used to make near weekly business trips to Montreal and Toronto in my old job and nowadays there are many Canadian TPG readers – many of whom sit idly on the side as we gorge ourselves on mega credit card bonuses here in the US. While we are accustomed to 50,000 and up bonuses here, our friendly northern neighbors rarely get to see much action. However, there are a couple decent deals on the market right now that can help boost your balances if you do happen to live in Canada:

50,000 points after $1,000 in spend within 3 months on the Aeroplan Platinum American Express. $499 annual fee. Aeroplan has short haul rewards that start at 15,000 miles roundtrip and business class to Western Europe is only 90,000 miles, so this card could easily pay for itself many times over. Note: Aeroplan now imposes hefty fuel surcharges on many Star Alliance awards.
35,000 points after first purchase on the Capital One Aspire Travel World Mastercard. 2 points per dollar spent. $120 annual fee. These points can’t be transferred to any mileage programs, but they are worth about a cent each towards travel and the flights booked earn miles and elite miles.
25,000 points after $3,00 in spend within 3 months on the American Express Business Gold Rewards Card. $180 annual fee, waived the first year. American Express Membership Rewards Canada points transfer to Aeroplan, Alitalia, British Airways, Delta, Priority Club, Hilton and Starwood (2:1 ratio).
25,000 miles after first purchase on the Capital One Delta Skymiles World Mastercard. 2,500 anniversary points every year. $120 annual fee.
15,000 points after $500 in spend within 3 months on the American Express Gold Rewards Card. $150 annual fee, waived for the first year.
10,000 points for the Personal Starwood American Express after you charge $1,000 in purchases within the first three months of cardmembership. Gold status after $30,000 in spend and a free weekend night at $40,000 in spend. $120 annual fee.
15,000 points for the Business Starwood American Express. Gold status after $30,000 in spend and a free weekend night at $40,000 in spend. $150 annual fee.
15,000 points after first purchase for the RBC Avion Infinite. Points can be transferred to British Airways (at frequent 50% bonuses), American Airlines and Cathay Pacific. $120 annual fee.

You can get rebates on applying to many of these cards through GreatCanadianRebates.ca.

Please feel free to comment on your favorite Canadian credit card or add a top deal of your own.

By the way, if you want to check out a clip of me being interviewed on the Canadian news channel BNN while in Toronto this past September, check out this video link: BNN_ca

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • http://twitter.com/avalonmel Melissa Hogan

    I’m curious why no one seems to talk about the Air Miles program? Is it considered a bad program? Flight rewards start with as little as 712 miles. The AmEx Air Miles Platinum card has a bonus of 500 miles the first time you use it and they waive the $65 annual fee for the first year.

    I use my Air Miles to book expensive short haul flights (YYT-YSJ for me, normally $800) and I also get a good bang for my buck going from YYT to New York or Chicago.

  • JA

    The info regarding the Amex Business Gold Rewards Card is incorrect. You need to spend $3,000 for the 25k points. $500 spend is for the smaller bonus (15k) with the personal card.

  • Bcred

    Thanks,most helpful.

  • Kpmtv

    Seems like a hastily cobbled together afterthought of an article. No analysis of spend category bonuses, benefits of each card, and you’re missing the heavyweight champ of Canadian cards, the CIBC Aerogold.

  • Enjoy

    Thanks for the info. It’s nice to see a post specific for Canada.

    For AMEX SPG, I have a referal link for 20,000 SPG points for $1,000 min spend on both personal and business card. Let me know if anyone is interested.

    I also agree with Melissa that Airmiles plays an important roles in my travel planning on coach/economy travel in the past. However, the recently devaluation makes it less attractive for me and I need to redevelop a new game plan for the program. Last year I accumulated 80k airmiles whihc is covered our Asia trip and several trip in north america.

  • Michael

    Also, a lot of these cards have rebates if you go through greatcanadianrebates.ca. The Amex Gold, for example, pays out $60. Of course, TPG isn’t getting a referral credit then, but still.

    The SPG is either 20K if you are referred (as someone has written below) or 15K and first year free right now (check out FlyerTalk or RedFlagDeals)

  • Greg

    Thanks for posting a Canadian Credit card summary. I would also like to add one of the best points credit cards for Canadians which is the Alaska Airlines Mastercard. You get 25,000 points for signing up and the anual fee is $75. As well, the card comes with a virtually no-strings attached companion certificate. The companion certificate lets you bring someone else on your Alaska (metal) flights for $99 + tax. No blackout dates on the companion certificate, so you can fly in the summer, spring break and even Christmas and the companion pays just $99 + tax. You get one companion ticket per year.

    I would also like to add the Amex Platinum for $499 gives out 25,000 membership rewards (similar to the gold one you mentioned as well) So although you pay nearly $400 more for the same amount of points you also get Fairmont Platinum after 5 nights and a membership to FHR which for some could make the card worth the additional $379 (I think it also includes a low level type of priority pass lounge access pay-as-you go but am not sure)

  • Anonymous

    Good to know- I’ll add the rebate site.. I don’t care about missing referrals if theres a better deal elsewhere!

  • Anonymous

    This post was just meant to be a rundown of current deals- digging into the specifics of each card is way beyond the scope of one blog post, so I plan to do deeper dives on each card in the future. I’ll also add CIBC Aerogold to the list. I’m not Canadian so I appreciate any and all feedback on the Canadian cards!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks- I’ll update

  • Anonymous

    Awesome- added both to the list

  • Brian Lockhart

    A couple of tips, RBC lets you switch back and forth between the Avion card and their cheaper Rewards gold cards which earn “RBC reward points”. However if you ever switch back to Avion in the future (to catch another sign up bonus), the RBC rewards points you’ve earned switch with it. So I’d collect the points under the “free” program, and redeem them under Avion. I still have an upcoming trip with Cathay thanks to a BA point transfer, unfortunately that train has long departed.

    The Capital One World Aspire has been higher. I got a 50k sign-up last summer thanks to a red flag deals promo with the card. But the points are 1cent at best as long as you spend the “perfect” amount of points, or have an over $600 travel purchase and the points to cover it. Not a card I devote any spending towards.

    Also referral bonuses do exist for the SPG amex for 20k instead of 15 as another poster already mentioned. I’m also totally willing to refer. :)

    That said there aren’t any massive bonuses, and they seemed to have remained quite steady in Canada.

  • [email protected]

    There is also the Aeroplan Gold amex card with a 20k sign up bonus after $1000 spend within 3 months with $120 fee it’s shown on the same page as the 50k platinum link in the master thread above.
    Also I would like to explain why I think the SPG 20k with fee is a better option then the 15k no fee that’s being offered now
    1) You get 20k which immediately turns into 25k airline miles with out needing to spend an ADDITIONAL $5000 on your credit card, so basically its 25k and fee instead of 15 with out fee.
    2) If you dont plan on using the points for airline miles then I would say that the extra 5000 starwood points when used for hotel rooms to be worth more then the 120 dollars for the fee.
    DO YOU AGREE? My freinds,
    IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE REFERRED FOR THE 20K OFFER PLEASE EMAIL ME @ [email protected]

  • Bcred

    here is the Alaska card. I had it last year,but cancelled on the anniversary.
    My plan is to re apply in 8/9 months or so.

    http://www.alaskaair.com/content/deals/mileage-plan/visa-signature-promo.aspx

  • Rewards Canada

    Hey Brian, thanks for the quick round up. Perhaps for your Canadian readers who may not be aware but I have put in 10 years of work for the Canadian market with tons of coverage on Canadian travel credit cards and it could help them in their card decisions:
    http://www.rewardscanada.ca/choosing-a-travel-credit-card.html

  • nd.mp

    @Melissa Hogan

    You can get reasonable redemption rates with the Air Miles, but, relatively speaking you’re getting a lot less value then if you were to use a different point system.

    For example, if you spent $20,000 on the SPG Amex, you can transfer that to numerous programs at 1:1 ratios. With the 5000 bonus with a 20,000 transfer, you’d get 25,000 points. That’s enough for a roundtrip flight between Canada and anywhere in the mainland US.

    Now, with Air Miles, that $20,000 would get you somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 air miles (depending on if you have the credit card or not), as the earning rates are 1 per $10 to $20 spent.

    Let’s say you get 2000 air miles. Sure, that can get you a trip to New York from Toronto (at 1400 air miles), but it cannot get you to, say, New Orleans (3,000 air miles). The equivalent spend would net enough starpoints to get you that trip to new orleans.

    More to the point, there’s way less flexibility in air miles. You must leave from a Canadian city. Whereas if you transfer other points over, you can transfer them to whichever program works best. Flying out of Buffalo might make way more sense to many Southern Ontario dwellers, or out of DTW for Western Ontario.

    And, just to be aware, you can even get some great deals. To use starpoints, again, as an example: if you transferred 20,000 to American Airlines (=25,000 AAdvantage miles after the bonus), you could get one roundtrip ticket to New York from Toronto.

    Now consider instead transferring 20,000 Starpoints to LAN. LAN is a oneworld member, and it transfers at a great 1:2 ratio. So 20,000 starpoints actually nets you 50,000 LANpass KMs. With their lowest tier awards you can book seats on American (if there are sAAver awards available–the same ones that would be 25,000 in AAdvantage miles) at 12,000 roundtrip. So for those 20,000 you could actually get 4 roundtrip tickets to New York.

    Also a good option would be transferring to Avios, as British Airways might be easier to book on than LAN. At 1:1 you can transfer 20,000 to 25,000 Avios. At 9,000 Avios per roundtrip between Toronto and New York, that get’s you nearly 3 roundtrips. Not bad.

    Also, one note to everyone about the Alaska Airlines card. I don’t think they’re taking new members at the moment. When TD acquired MBNA, they acquired all but 3 of it’s card portfolio. Of the 3 cards that still belong to BofA Canada are the Shopper’s Optimum, the MLB Card, and the Alaska Airlines card. I do not know when or if a new issuer will take over the cards. As it stands, MBNA is still servicing them, but TD does not have the rights to issue new ones.

  • [email protected]

    could you explain your following statement
    ” However if you ever switch back to Avion in the future (to catch another sign up bonus)”
    How would you get the sign up bonus again just from upgrading the card without a new application?

  • Deb

    I second the Alaska Card. The $99 annual companion ticket is great because you can use it for first class tickets, too. A huge deal for trips from Western Canada to Hawaii or Mexico in First (well, once you get down to Seattle… single class cabins on the Horizon flights).

  • http://twitter.com/avalonmel Melissa Hogan

    Thanks for some of those examples. I’m going to have to look into this some more.

    Leaving from a Canadian city isn’t a downside for me since I live nowhere close to the American border. The only airlines that service YYT (St. Johns, NL) are Air Canada, WestJet, Porter, United and sometimes Sunwing. Bascially, Star Alliance rules here.

    Also, I tend to get maybe half of my Air Miles through bonus collector card offers rather than through credit card spends so together it seems to work well enough for me but maybe there’s a better system.

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  • Steven

    How about the Capital One Priority Club (Holiday Inn) card? 40k-60k bonus to signup, $120 annual fee. Gives you back 2 pts:$1 spent, or 5 pts:$1 spent at Priority Club properties (Holiday Inn, IC, etc).

  • anon

    no longer first class tickets.

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  • Larry2121

    Amex Gold Rewards Card now is offering 20k bonus points (instead of 15k) if you apply through this link: https://www.americanexpress.com/canada/en/mgm/mgmeeApplynow.cgi?mgmerCard=goldCard&CPID=999999371&MGM_URN=AAAAEgIPEhEUAw%3D%3D

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  • http://www.facebook.com/dan.rydell.71 Dan Rydell

    Amex Gold Rewards card has a great offer: 20,000 points = 20,000 Aeroplan miles. First year free. Apply through https://www.americanexpress.com/canada/en/mgm/mgmeeApplynow.cgi?mgmerCard=goldCard&CPID=&MGM_URN=AAAAEgIWDRodDw==

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