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Not all Travel Points and Hybrid Credit Cards are created equal Posted on June 4, 2015
Updated on Jan 12, 2016

 

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The travel rewards credit card market in Canada is over saturated with 80 plus cards available to the general public. Here at Rewards Canada we break down those 80 cards into five categories, several of which fall under the Travel Points card moniker. Essentially travel points cards are credit cards with their own proprietary rewards program and are often marketed as the 'any airline, any seat, no blackout cards' that you often see on TV, hear on the radio or read in print and online. What a lot of people don't see or hear in the ads is the little asterisk beside the any airline, no black outs etc. Obviously the issuers want your business so they don't tell you the details of the redemption side of the card and want you to think their card is the most flexible. Truth be told, there is great deal of variability with the cards in the travel points and hybrid categories in how flexible they really are. (Hybrid is a card that has a travel points program but also allows you to convert those points to another loyalty program)

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A few years ago we developed the famed yoga Infographic on card flexibility and we have updated it for this article to best show the range of flexibility in the most popular travel points and hybrid cards in Canada. Please note that there are even more cards available that have the 'any airline' option but we look at the best premium card options from the Travel Points and Hybrid card categories. You should also be aware that there are more factors that should be looked at when choosing a card and we recommend using this infographic/feature along with our complete guide to choosing to travel rewards credit card to choose a card.

Flexibility Infographic


What makes the differences in flexibility?

Most flexible cards

American Express Gold Rewards Card / The Platinum Card from American Express

  • you can book any travel with any travel provider and then you redeem the points against the charge on your account
  • you don't need any points at time of booking as you have up to twelve months after the charge posts to redeem points against it. Which means you can actually be travelling and make bookings while travelling and redeem points for it at a later date
  • you can redeem as little as 1,000 points at a time for a $10 credit towards the travel (a 1 to 2% return depending on your spending and which card you have)
  • points can be used towards taxes and fees without a dilution of the value of your points

Capital One® Aspire Travel™ World Elite Mastercard® / Capital One® Aspire Travel™ Platinum Mastercard®

  • you can book any travel with any travel provider and then you redeem the points against the charge on your account
  • the World Elite card provides a straight 2% return on your spending when you redeem for travel while the Platinum provides 1%. The newest changes to the card see the loss of the requirement of having all the points needed to pay for a charge. What this means now is that if you have $150 of points you can redeem them for a $150 credit towards a travel charge that can be even higher than that.
  • you have up to 90 days after the travel charge is posted to your account to redeem points against it
  • points can be used towards taxes and fees without a dilution of the value of your points 

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card / Scotiabank Platinum American Express Card / Scotiabank American Express Card

  • you can book any travel with any travel provider and then you redeem the points against the charge on your account
  • you don't need any points at time of booking as you have up to twelve months after the charge posts to redeem points against it. Which means you can actually be travelling and make bookings while travelling and redeem points for it at a later date
  • you can redeem as little as 5,000 points at a time for a $50 credit towards the travel (a 1 to 4% return depending on your spending)
  • points can be used towards taxes and fees without a dilution of the value of your points 

mbna Rewards World Elite Mastercard / mbna Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard

  • you can book any travel with any travel provider and then you redeem the points against the charge on your account
  • you don't need any points at time of booking as you have up to nine months after the charge posts to redeem points against it. Which means you can actually be travelling and make bookings while travelling and redeem points for it at a later date
  • you can redeem as little as 10,000 points at a time for a $100 credit towards the travel (a 1 to 2% return depending on which card you have)
  • points can be used towards taxes and fees without a dilution of the value of your points 

TD First Class Visa Infinite Card / TD Platinum Travel Visa / TD Classic Visa

  • you can book any travel with any travel provider and then you redeem the points against the charge on your account
  • you don't need any points at time of booking as you have up to 90 days after the charge posts to redeem points against it. Which means you can actually be travelling and make bookings while travelling and redeem points for it at a later date
  • you can redeem as little as 10,000 points at a time for a $50 credit towards the travel (a 1.5 to 4.5% return depending on your spending)
  • points can be used towards taxes and fees without a dilution of the value of your points 

National Bank of Canada World Mastercard / National Bank of Canada World Elite Mastercard / National Bank of Canada Platinum Mastercard

  • you can book any travel with any travel provider and then you redeem the points against the charge on your account
  • you don't need any points at time of booking as you have up to 60 days after the charge posts to redeem points against it. Which means you can actually be travelling and make bookings while travelling and redeem points for it at a later date
  • you can redeem as little as 11,000 points at a time for a $100 credit towards the travel (a 0.9 to 2% return depending on your spending)
  • points can be used towards taxes and fees without a dilution of the value of your points 

Flexible cards

BMO World Elite Mastercard

  • travel must be booked via BMO Rewards which makes the card a little less flexible than those that allow you to book via any channel as the BMO Rewards Travel Agency may not always have access to the best rates and deals.
  • you do not need the full amount of points towards your redemption. You redeem points at a rate of 100 points for $1 (a 2% return)
  • you cannot redeem points towards the travel after it is booked
  • points can be used towards taxes and fees without a dilution of the value of your points 

CUETS Choice Rewards World Elite Mastercard / CUETS Choice Rewards Platinum Mastercard

  • travel must be booked via Choice Rewards which makes the card a little less flexible than those that allow you to book via any channel as the Choice Rewards Travel Agency may not always have access to the best rates and deals.
  • Choice Rewards charges a $25 booking fee even for online bookings
  • you do not need the full amount of points towards your redemption. There is no minimum amount of points you need to redeem (up to a 2% return depending on which card you have)
  • you cannot redeem points towards the travel after it is booked
  • points can be used towards taxes and fees without a dilution of the value of your points 

Scotiagold Passport Visa

  • travel must be booked via Scotia Rewards which makes the card a little less flexible than those that allow you to book via any channel as the Scotia Rewards Travel Agency may not always have access to the best rates and deals.
  • you do not need the full amount of points towards your redemption. There is no minimum amount of points you need to redeem (up to a 2% return depending on which card you have)
  • you cannot redeem points towards the travel after it is booked
  • points can be used towards taxes and fees without a dilution of the value of your points 


Least Flexible cards

CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite / CIBC Aventura Visa / CIBC Aventura Gold Visa

  • travel must be booked via CIBC Rewards which makes the card a little less flexible than those that allow you to book via any channel as the CIBC Rewards Travel Agency may not always have access to the best rates and deals.
  • redemption rates follow a set chart. With the set chart rates you want to redeem at or near the maximum ticket value to achieve the best rate of return. Going well below that ticket value erodes your rate return quickly. If the ticket cost is over the maximum for the desired flight you can redeem additional points at a rate of 100 points for $1 which will also erode your return
  • you must have at least 80% of the required points for your desired flight. Up to 20% of the points required can be purchased at a rate of 1 point = $0.03 CAD.
  • you cannot redeem points towards the travel after it is booked
  • taxes and fees are not included in the redemption rates. Points can be used towards taxes and fees however only at a rate of 100 points for $1 which means you are only achieving a 1% return

RBC Visa Infinite Avion / RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege / RBC Visa Platinum Avion

  • travel must be booked via RBC Rewards which makes the card a little less flexible than those that allow you to book via any channel as the RBC Rewards Travel Agency may not always have access to the best rates and deals.
  • travel must be booked 14 days out to take advantage of redemption chart reward rates, redemptions for travel within 14 days lose point value (1% return versus an up to 2.3% return via the Avion redemption schedule
  • redemption rates follow a set chart. With the set chart rates you want to redeem at or near the maximum ticket value to achieve the best rate of return. Going well below that ticket value erodes your rate return quickly. If the ticket cost is over the maximum for the desired zone you can redeem additional points at a rate of 100 points for $1 which will also erode your return
  • you must have at least half of the required points for your desired zone booking. You can buy points to make up the difference. The minimum amount of points to purchase is 1,000 and maximum is 15,000, and every 1,000 points costs $40 plus applicable taxes
  • you cannot redeem points towards the travel after it is booked
  • taxes and fees are not included in the redemption rates. Points can be used towards taxes and fees however only at a rate of 100 points for $1 which means you are only achieving a 1% return




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“The interest rates, fees, rewards details, benefits and other details of the Capital One product(s) described in the article may have changed since the time of publication. Please consult the product information pages on the Capital One website for accurate product details. In the event of any conflict between the product details in this article and the Capital One website, the details on the Capital One website shall prevail.”

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