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The Top Travel Credit Card Offers for Canadians

by on December 3, 2012 · 20 comments

in American Express, Canada, Credit Cards

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This morning I’ll be on Canadian news network BNN discussing Canadian credit cards and all the ways Canadians can maximize their points, but I also wanted to provide a quick snapshot of the current credit card deals of the moment that are available north of the border.

Although sign up bonuses for cards in the US are heating up (including 100,000 Avios for the British Airways Visa, 50,000 points each for the Ink Bold and Ink Plus)  the credit card bonus climate for Canadians is a little bit frostier. However, just because Canadian offers aren’t as lucrative as US offers doesn’t mean there still isn’t a lot of value for still to be had. Here’s a what’s quick roundup of whats available right now- if you’ve got a better offer, please feel free to share in the comments. (Note: None of these are my affiliate links. I earn no commission on these, they are simply the public offers that are available.)

AMERICAN EXPRESS:

American Express offers an extensive line of cards in the Canadian market. Some have no sign-up bonuses, but Canadians can still use Membership Rewards points. You can read this post to learn more about the Canadian Membership Rewards program, which sometimes offers transfer bonuses to its travel partner programs, and how it differs from the US version.

Platinum Card:

  • Earn 50,000 Bonus Membership Rewards points by making $1,000 in purchases in the first three months of Cardmembership.
  • Platinum members are automatically enrolled in the Membership Rewards First Tier and earn 1.25 points for every dollar in purchases charged to the Card.
  • Transfer your points into other frequent flyer and hotel programs, including 1:1 to Aeroplan and Avios.
  • $200 Annual Travel Credit: The $200 CAD Annual Travel Credit can only be redeemed through Platinum Card Travel Service at time of booking. Travel booking must be charged to The Platinum Card.  Annual Travel Credit can only be used once per calendar year towards a single travel booking of $200 or more.
  • The Platinum Card gives you access to exceptional benefits such as Canadian Platinum Lounge Benefit5, Airport Club Program and access to the Cathay Pacific Business Class lounges and oneworld alliance airlines Business Class lounges, complimentary and discounted companion tickets and upgrades,7 and lodging benefits at a collection of over 700 Fine Hotels & Resorts around the world.
  • Platinum members earn 1.25 Membership Rewards points for every dollar in purchases charged to their Card and are automatically enrolled in the Membership Rewards First Tier of the Membership Rewards program.
  • As a Cardmember, you can refer a friend and earn a referral bonus of 15,000 bonus Membership Rewards points for each approved referral
  • $699 annual fee

Gold Rewards Card:

  • Earn a Welcome Bonus of  15,000 Membership Rewards points when you charge $500 in purchases to your Card in your first 3 months of Cardmembership
  • Earn double points on eligible travel and everyday purchases
  • Transfer your points to frequent flyer programs, or one-to-one to Aeroplan and Avios
  • Charge any travel to your Card then pay for it with points5
  • 1 Free Supplementary Gold Rewards Card (a $50 value) to help you earn points faster
  • Annual fee of $150 waived the first year
  • Earn double points for every $1 in eligible travel purchases charged to the Card, including last minute travel, hotels, airline reservations, holiday packages, car rentals, cruise vacations, and more.
  • Plus, earn double points for every $1 in eligible gas, grocery and drugstore purchases charged to the Card.
  • As a Cardmember, you can refer a friend and earn a referral bonus of 10,000 bonus Membership Rewards points for each approved referral.

AeroplanPlus Platinum Card:

  • Earn 25,000 Bonus Aeroplan Miles. Receive 20,000 bonus miles after your first use of the Card, plus 5,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in your first three months of Card membership.
  • Earn 1.25 miles for every dollar you charge to your Card
  • Accelerate your earn rate to 1.5 miles for every dollar in purchases over $25,000 annually
  • Enjoy a 2-for-1 short-haul flight reward when you redeem 15,000 Aeroplan Miles, with the Partner Ticket benefit
  • Breeze through airports lines with Air Canada Executive First/ Executive Class Priority Check-in
  • Access to Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges & Arrivals Lounges
  • $199 annually for AeroplanPlus Supplementary Platinum Cards; $50 annually for AeroplanPlus Supplementary Gold cards
  • Bring along a friend on us with a Partner Ticket. Once per year, you can redeem 15,000 Aeroplan Miles for a short-haul round-trip ClassicFlight reward seat in economy class and receive a second Partner Ticket for the same itinerary.
  • $499 Annual Fee

AeroplanPlus Gold Card:

  • Earn 20,000 Bonus Aeroplan Miles. Receive 15,000 Bonus Aeroplan Miles after your first use of the Card, plus 5,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in your first three months of Card membership
  • Earn 1 Aeroplan Mile for every $1 in Card purchases up to $10,000
  • Accelerate your earn rate to 1.25 Aeroplan Miles for every additional $1 in Card purchases over $10,000 annually
  • Earn Aeroplan Miles faster with two free Supplementary Cards – a $100 value ($50 for each additional Supplementary Cards)
  • Earn Aeroplan Miles twice at over 150 Aeroplan Partners
  • As a Cardmember, you can refer a friend and earn a referral bonus of 10,000 Aeroplan Miles for each approved referral.
  • $120 Annual Fee

Air Miles Gold Card:

  • Earn a Welcome Bonus of 150 AIR MILES reward miles the first time you use the approved Card
  • Special interest rate for purchases: 2.99% special interest rate on purchases for the first 12 months of Cardmembership, 19.99% thereafter, 21.99% on funds advances, provided you make your minimum monthly payments on time.
  • Earn 1 reward mile for every $15 in Card purchases at AIR MILES Sponsors
  • Earn 1 reward mile for every $20 in purchases you charge to the Card everywhere else
  • More than 1000 rewards to choose from! Redeem for a wide range of rewards – everything from movie tickets to electronics, travel and more
  • Shop at participating AIR MILES Sponsors across Canada with your Card and show your AIR MILES Collector Card, and you can earn reward miles twice
  • As a Cardmember, you can refer a friend and earn a referral bonus of 200 reward miles for each approved referral
  • Shop at participating AIR MILES Sponsors across Canada with your Card and your AIR MILES Collector Card, and you can earn reward miles twice
  • No Annual Fee

Air Miles Platinum Card:

  • Earn a Welcome Bonus of  500 AIR MILES reward miles the first time you use the approved Card
  • Enjoy your first year free
  • Earn 1 reward mile for every $10 in Card purchases at AIR MILES Sponsors
  • Earn 1 reward mile for every $10 in Card purchases at other eligible gas, grocery and drugstores
  • Plus, earn 1 reward mile for every $15 in Card purchases everywhere else you use the Card
  • Special interest rate for purchases: 2.99% special interest rate on purchases for the first 12 months of Cardmembership, 19.99% thereafter, 21.99% on funds advances, provided you make your minimum monthly payments on time.
  • As a Cardmember, you can refer a friend and earn a referral bonus of 350 reward miles for each approved referral.
  • $65 Annual Fee waived the first year.

Business Gold Rewards Card:

  • Earn 25,000 Welcome Points if you reach $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of Cardmembership.
  • You can also earn a Thank You Bonus of up to 40,000 Bonus Points aach year if, on or before the annual reset date you reach $50,000 in net purchases charged to your account, you will earn 15,000 bonus points, and if you reach $100,000 in net purchases you will earn an additional 25,000 points.
  • Earn 1 Membership Rewards point for virtually every $1 in purchases charged to your Card.
  • Maximize your cash flow with up to 55 interest free days and get purchasing power that can grow with your business
  • Book any kind of travel, including hotel, car rentals and excursions, and charge it to your Card and redeem for it with points
  • As a Cardmember, you can refer a friend and earn a referral bonus of 10,000 bonus Membership Rewards points for each approved referral
  • $180 Annual Fee waived the first year

Business Platinum Card:

  • No sign-up bonus
  • Same benefits as personal Platinum card except no $200 Travel Credit
  • Earn 1.25 Membership Rewards points for virtually every $1 in purchases and get the most out of your business expenses
  • As a Cardmember, refer a friend and earn a bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards points for each approved referral
  • $399 Annual Fee

Business Air Miles Gold:

  • Get 150 bonus AIR MILES reward miles when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of Cardmembership
  • Earn 1 reward mile for every $15 in Card purchases at AIR MILES Sponsors
  • Earn 1 reward mile for every $20 in Card purchases everywhere else
  • As a Cardmember, you can refer a friend and earn a referral bonus of 50 reward miles for each approved referral
  • No Annual Fee

Business Air Miles Platinum:

  • Earn a 250 AIR MILES reward miles Welcome Bonus – just make $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months of membership
  • Earn 1 reward mile for every $10 in Card purchases at AIR MILES Sponsors
  • Earn 1 reward mile for every $15 in Card purchases everywhere else
  • Annual bonus of 1,000 reward miles when you reach $50,000 in purchases each year
  • As a Cardmember, you can refer a friend and earn a referral bonus of 100 reward miles for each approved referral
  • $99 Annual Fee

Amex also offers two versions of its much-lauded Starwood Amex up north as well which resemble the US versions, only they have much smaller sign-up bonuses and higher annual fees:

Starwood Personal Amex:

  • Earn 10,000 Welcome Bonus Starpoints when you spend $1,000 within 3 months
  • Earn 1 Starpoint for every $1 in purchases charged to the Card.
  • Receive a Free Weekend Night Award at Category 1-4 hotels and resorts worldwide when you reach $40,000 in purchases on the Card each year
  • Automatically upgrade to Starwood Gold Preferred Guest status when you reach $30,000 in purchases on the Card each year
  • As an added benefit of being a Cardmember, you can always earn more Starpoints by referring a friend. For each approved referral you could earn 8,000 Starpoints.
  • Receive a 5,000 Starpoint bonus from the Starwood Preferred Guest program when you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to a frequent flyer program
  • $120 annual fee

Starwood Business Amex:

  • Earn 10,000 Welcome Bonus Starpoints when you spend $1,000 within 3 months
  • Earn 1 Starpoint for every $1 in purchases charged to the Card.
  • Receive a Free Weekend Night Award at Category 1-4 hotels and resorts worldwide when you reach $40,000 in purchases on the Card each year
  • Automatically upgrade to Starwood Gold Preferred Guest status when you reach $30,000 in purchases on the Card each year
  • As an added benefit of being a Cardmember, you can always earn more Starpoints by referring a friend. For each approved referral you could earn 5,000 Starpoints.
  • Receive a 5,000 Starpoint bonus from the Starwood Preferred Guest program when you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to a frequent flyer program
  • $150 annual fee

ROYAL BANK OF CANADA

Visa Infinite Avion: You can read a full review of this card here, and check out this post for strategies to maximize your Avion points for travel.

  • 15,000 points after first purchase
  • Earn 1 RBC Rewards point for every $1 spent on all purchases
  • Earn 25% more RBC Rewards points on travel related purchases (flights, hotels, car rentals, etc.)
  • No blackouts, seat restrictions or points expiry, redeem for flights on any airline with flights starting at 15,000 RBC Rewards points
  • Points can be transferred to British Airways (at frequent 50% bonuses), American Airlines, Cathay Pacific and WestJet.
  • $120 Annual Fee.

Visa Platinum Avion:

  • 15,000 points after first purchase
  • Earn 1 RBC Reward Point for every $1 spent.
  • No blackouts, seat restrictions or points expiry, redeem for flights on any airline with flights starting at 15,000 RBC Rewards points
  • Points can be transferred to British Airways, American Airlines,  Cathay Pacific and WestJet.
  • $120 Annual Fee.

WestJet Mastercard:

  • Welcome bonus of $50 WestJet Dollars with first purchase
  • 1% in WestJet dollars for every $1 spent on the card.
  • 1.5% in WestJet dollars for every $1 spent on the card for WestJet flights or WestJet Vacations packages.
  • Every WestJet dollar is worth $1 Canadian toward travel with WestJet or WestJet Vacations.
  • Use your WestJet dollars just like cash towards all or part of your next WestJet flight or WestJet Vacations package whenever you want, wherever WestJet flies. No blackout periods. No seat restrictions. No advance booking requirements. Save – even on WestJet seat sales.
  • $39 Annual Fee

British Airways Visa Infinite:

  • 15,000 bonus Avios as a welcome bonus upon approval.
  • 1 Avios for every $1 CAD spent on the card.
  • Double Avios for every $1 CAD spent on the card on British Airways flights.
  • Receive a complimentary Companion Award Ticket when you spend $30,000 or more on your card in any calendar year
  • $165 Annual Fee

Cathay Pacific Platinum:

  • Receive a welcome bonus of 10,000 Asia Miles upon approval
  • 1 Asia Mile for every $1 CAD spent on the card.
  • Double Asia Miles for every $1 CAD spent on the card on Cathay Pacific tickets purchased online at www.cathaypacific.com
  • 2 Asia Miles for every $5 HKD spent on in-flight purchases (minimum net purchase of $500 HKD)
  • $150 Annual Fee.

CHASE

Marriott Visa: You can read a full review of the card here.

  • 30,000 Bonus Points after your first purchase
  • 1 Free Night Stay at a Category 1-4 location after account approval
  • Together, that’s enough for up to 5 Free Nights at a Category 1 Hotel (or 4 free nights at a Category 2 hotel)
  • No Foreign Currency Transaction Charges on international purchases in addition to  the exchange rate!
  • 5 points per $1 spent at over 3,500 participating Marriott locations
  • 2 points for every $1 spent on airline tickets purchased directly with the airline, and at car rental agencies & restaurants
  • 1 point per $1 spent on purchases elsewhere
  • Achieve your next Elite membership level faster with 15 Nights Credit every year
  • Receive one anniversary bonus free night stay at a Category 1-5 hotel every year just for having the card!
  • No charge for additional cards
  • Plus, the $120 Annual Fee is waived for the first year

CAPITAL ONE

Aspire Travel World Mastercard:

  • 35,000 bonus reward miles on your first purchase
  • 10,000 anniversary bonus reward miles every year
  • 2 points per dollar spent. $120 annual fee. T
  • 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.
  • $120 Annual Fee

Aspire Travel Platinum:

  • 1 reward mile for every $1 – on everything you buy
  • 5,000 bonus reward miles on your first purchase
  • 25% extra reward miles every year
  • No Annual Fee

CIBC

Aerogold Visa Infinite:

  • 15,000 Aeroplan Miles upon first purchase
  • Rewards for everyday spending, including 1 Aeroplan Mile for every $1 charged to your card2
  • Additional earning opportunities, including:
  • 50% more Aeroplan Miles at gas, grocery and drug stores
  • 1.5 Aeroplan miles for every dollar you spend at any Fairmont Hotels & Resorts worldwide (available on your first $80,000 in total annual account spending)
  • Up to triple the Aeroplan Miles at select CIBC Bonus Rewards establishments Learn more: Earn up to triple the miles with CIBC Bonus rewards
  • Use your CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite Card at over 150 participating Aeroplan Partners, and earn Aeroplan Miles twice when you present your Aeroplan Card Learn more: Earn twice the miles at participating Aeroplan partners
  • Car rental discounts of up to 25% at participating Avis and Budget locations with your CIBC credit card
  • Chip-enabled for enhanced safety and security against fraud
  • $120 Annual Fee

Aerogold Visa:

  • 15,000 Aeroplan Miles upon first purchase
  • Rewards for everyday spending, including 1 Aeroplan Mile for every $1 charged to your card2
  • 50% more Aeroplan Miles at gas, grocery and drug stores Learn more: Earn 50% more miles at gas, grocery and drug stores
  • 1.5 Aeroplan miles for every dollar you spend at any Fairmont Hotels & Resorts worldwide (available on your first $80,000 in total annual account spending)
  • Earn 50% more miles at select CIBC Bonus Rewards establishments Learn more: Earn 50% more miles with CIBC Bonus reward
  • Use your CIBC Aerogold Visa Card at over 150 participating Aeroplan Partners, and earn Aeroplan Miles twice when you present your Aeroplan Card Learn more: Earn miles twice at participating Aeroplan partners
  • Car rental discounts of up to 25% at participating Avis and Budget locations with your CIBC credit card
  • Chip-enabled for enhanced safety and security against fraud
  • $120 Annual Fee

Aerogold Business:

  • Receive a Welcome Bonus of 1.5 Aeroplan Miles for every dollar you spend at travel establishments1. Find out morewhen you use your new CIBC Aerogold Visa Card for Business for the first time. Apply online now for a card designed with business owners’ needs in mind.
  • 1.5 Aeroplan Miles for every dollar you spend at travel establishments1. Find out more
  • A guarantee from CIBC that ensures you will not lose your Aeroplan Miles due to 12 months of account inactivity
  • Earn 1.5 Aeroplan Miles for every dollar you spend at travel establishments1. Find out more
  • Earn one Aeroplan Mile for each dollar charged to your card.
  • Earn Bonus Aeroplan Miles with CIBC Bonus Rewards, when you use your card at participating establishments.
  • Car rental discounts of up to 25% vehicles at participating AVIS and Budget locations.
  • Commission-free Regular American Express Travellers Cheques.
  • $180 Annual Fee

Aero Classic:

  • An everyday card with the benefit of travel rewards, including a Welcome Bonus of 2,500 Aeroplan Miles
  • Rewards for everyday spending, including 1 Aeroplan Mile for every $2 charged to your card2
  • 50% more miles for card purchases at select CIBC Bonus Rewards establishments Learn more: Earn 50% more Aeroplan Miles
  • Additional cardholder benefits, including car rental discounts of up to 25% at participating Avis®2 and Budget®3 locations with your CIBC credit card
  • Chip-enabled for enhanced safety and security against fraud
  • $29 Annual Fee

Aventura Visa Infinite:

  • Welcome Bonus of 15,000 Aventura Points upon first purchase
  • Rewards for everyday spending, including 1 Aventura Point for every $1 charged to your card2
  • 1.5 Aventura Points for every dollar spent at gas stations, grocery and drug stores
  • Earn up to triple Aventura Points at select CIBC Bonus Rewards establishments
  • Double Aventura Points on purchases made with the CIBC Aventura Rewards Centre
  • Car rental discounts of up to 25% at participating Avis and Budget locations with your CIBC credit card
  • Chip-enabled for enhanced safety and security
  • $120 Annual Fee (50% rebate until December 31, 2012)

Aventura Mastercard:

  • Welcome Bonus of 2,500 Aventura Points1 upon first purchase
  • Rewards for everyday spending, including 1 Aventura Point for every $1 charged to your card2
  • Earn 50% more Aventura Point at participating CIBC Bonus Rewards establishments
  • Car rental discounts of up to 25% at Avis and Budget locations with your CIBC credit card
  • Chip enabled for enhanced safety and security.
  • $39 Annual Fee waived the first year (offer available until December 31, 2012)

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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  • Jerry

    That’s a lot of affiliate links :P

    I don’t see any TD Bank CC in here, are they not good or not shown for other reasons, just curious?

    Sad(?) to say I own quite a few CC in the list, and still liked AMEX MR the best

  • thepointsguy

    None of these are affiliate links.

  • Jerry

    Really, didn’t know that. GOOD for you then!!!

    Well, honestly I don’t really mind them as long as they’re disclosed

    CIBC Aerogold/Aventura has a free-1st-year promo right now as well till 12/31

  • Pingback: The Top Travel Credit Card Offers for Canadians | The Points Guy | Discount Travel Guides

  • Tim M

    It’s possible to get the marriot card with a 50,000 point sign up

    Amex gold is offering 20,000 now (vs 15,000) when you use the refer a friend link

    Amex Starwood personal is offering 18,000 (vs 10,000) when using the refer a friend link as well as a referral bonus of 8,000 (vs 5,000)

    Amex refer a friend is ALWAYS the highest possible points bonus available and the referral bonuses are important to take advantage of.

  • Pingback: The Top Travel Credit Card Offers for Canadians | The Points Guy | Discount Travel Tips

  • Dillon

    Tim M,

    How do you get the 50,000 marriot points for signing up. Is there a special link?

  • Jerry H.

    great credit card review for Canadians !!! thanks a lot !!!
    so which card would you recommend ?
    which one(s) is/are the best deals ?

  • Tim M

    Call and ask. It was an open promotion during August but now it is targeted. You’ll find more information with google.

  • Mthaler

    Thanks Brian,
    ( I have thanked you personaly at the ORD seminar for being the only major bloger who pays
    attention to us,Canadian)
    Here are 3 additional C.C. that I have in my walet.
    1

    1) Alaska airlines Platinum plus master card issued by MBNA
    2)Best Western Rewards Platinum Plus master card issued by MBNA
    Check the above 2 at MBNA.CA
    3) Delta Skymiles master card issued by Capital one ( go to capitalone.ca)

    Michael at YUL

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  • Jill I

    Here’s one way to get the offer – just sign up for a Marriott Rewards membership — I don’t have elite status with Marriott – just a regular member with only a stay or two, but I noticed that a link to the 50,000 point Visa offer offer appears when you log in as a member.

  • Carly

    http://www.scotiabank.com/ca/en/0,,4657,00.html look at the new AMEX Cards from Scotiabank 4x points

  • Pingback: Highest Starwood Canada Amex Signup Bonus Ever: 21,000 Starpoints For Charging $1,000 in First 3 Months | The Points Guy

  • JP Cross

    Have we addressed which Canadian cards have waived foreign transaction fees? To my knowledge, it’s just a few of the Chase cards— amazon.ca, Marriott and Sears. I was surprised that even the Amex Centurion CAD continues to charge 2.5%!

  • Pingback: Maximize Monday: The Best Canadian Credit Cards and Current Deals | The Points Guy

  • Yvonne

    We like TD Visa – for travel, you can choose what you would like to pay with your points rather than booking it with them in advance. Lots for flexibility.

  • Evelyn McClennen

    I have a CIBC Vacationgold card that was offered many years ago (not currently being offered). I started saving my Vacationgold dollars to pay for my dream vacation. However since then I have become disabled and can no longer travel. I have accumulated $1799.72 in vacation dollars. Since I can no longer travel, I would like to transfer my dollars to some other card where I can use the money to buy merchandise instead of travel. I have called CIBC credit card services several times and can not find anyone who knows anything about this type of card, even though I am still using it and accumulating more dollars. Do you have any ideas as to what I can do to get some assistance with this problem. I sure don’t want to throw away my earnings. My annual fee is $39.00
    I would appreciate any hekop you can offer me.
    Many thanks, …..E. McClennen

  • myrna

    The same thing is happening to me. Numerous calls to various numbers has left me frustrated and, apparently, unable to redeem. No one seems to know what I’m talking about. I’m still accumulating “vacation dollars”, though no one seems to know what they are or what to do with them. The many people I spoke with at the call centre “support” lines, had little command of the english language and little knowledge of the product in question. They couldn’t have cared less about resolving my issue.

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