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Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards for 2011
The 2012 Results are out, click here to see them!

Welcome to Rewards Canada's third annual Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards. Travel Rewards Credit Cards continue to be one of the most popular type of credit cards in Canada and with the emergence of new cards from American Express and Capital One® in the past year the industry became even more competitive!
In terms of our rankings the biggest changes came in the Hybrid card, Airline card and Hotel card categories because of the new cards that came onto the market since last July. There was only one slight change in the Travel Points Card with annual fee category and there were no changes in the Travel Points with no annual fee category.

What is the best card? Well it is practically impossible to give that question a perfect answer, however we do breakdown the market of Canadian Travel Rewards credit cards into five major categories and pick the best in each one.

How do we come up with our picks for the best cards? We look at various factors including cost of ownership, rate of return, ease of redemption, card acceptance, partnerships, issuing bank and benefits. Couple this with ten years of research, answers to hundreds of email questions from readers plus the charts and articles that we have written provides us the insight into the pros and cons of each card. As always this has allowed Rewards Canada to form an opinion as to which ones are the best. That's right, it all boils down to opinion. The top cards listed here, are in our opinion, after looking at all of their details, the best cards for travel rewards in Canada. Will people agree? Some yes, some no. Will we make some credit card issuers mad? Yes. Happy? You bet. However, like we stated above it is nearly impossible to pick a single best card due to the vast majority of factors that can be considered when choosing one.

We don't believe this to be the end all and be all of the best travel rewards cards in Canada. As we have stressed in the past, choosing a card is a difficult decision based on many factors including but not limited to rewards offered, benefits offered, cost and the issuing bank. We hope that with this third annual ranking, we will help guide consumers to find the right credit card for them .

At last count there were over 70 travel reward credit cards available to Canadians. Some are airline only cards that put miles directly into your airline frequent flyer accounts. Some are hybrid cards where you collect points that can be used to book travel through the credit card or put the points into a frequent flyer/guest account. Some are travel points cards, where the points are redeemed for travel through the credit card company while a small number are hotel only cards that put the points directly into your frequent guest program accounts.

It is from these variations of cards that we have created the five main categories of cards in Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards for 2011. You will find our rankings on the left hand side and the Canada's Choice Rankings on the left.
1. Top Travel Points Credit Card (with annual fee)
2. Top Travel Points Credit Card (with no annual fee)
3. Top Hybrid Travel Credit Card (with annual fee)
4. Top Airline Credit Card
5. Top Hotel Points Credit Card


To see some the factors behind the placements or movements of cards please see here.
You can find each individual card's ranking from 2010 in parentheses.

Share our 3rd annual results:
 
Canada's Choice
This year we went even further with the Top Travel Rewards Credit Card feature by asking Canadian's to vote for their favorite cards so that we could compare our rankings to what Canadians thought.
A total of 743 people voted with American Express coming across the big winner as they swept each category. To see how Canada voted continue on to our rankings below!
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Gold Rewards Card
Top Travel Points Credit Card (with annual fee)
Rewards Canada's Picks
Canada's Choice
1 .American Express Air Miles Platinum Credit Card
2. Capital One® Aspire Travel™ World MasterCard®
3. CIBC Gold Visa
4. RBC Visa Gold Preferred
5. BMO Gold Air Miles MasterCard
6. TD Classic Travel Visa Card
7. MBNA Travel Rewards Platinum MasterCard
8. BMO World Elite MasterCard
9. ScotiaGold Passport Visa
10. CUETS Platinum Class MasterCard
1: Capital One® Aspire Travel™ World MasterCard®* (1)
Taking top spot in this category for the second year in a row, the Capital One® Aspire Travel™ World MasterCard® has become a mainstay in the Canadian market. Here are some of the reasons why:

• Earn more reward miles – on everything you buy!
• Earn 2 reward miles for every $1 – on all purchases
• Get 35,000 bonus reward miles with your first purchase
• Get 10,000 anniversary bonus reward miles every year
Please Note: A requirement of this card is a minimum personal income of $60,000 or household income of $100,000


2: CUETS Platinum Class MasterCard
(2)
Staying in the same spot as last year, this not so well known credit union card comes with a great reward and benefit suite:
- a 2% return on all purchases that can be used towards any travel that is booked through the Platinum Class Rewards website or travel agency
- An excellent suite of insurance and benefits including out of province medical coverage

Rounding out the top five are the :
3: BMO World Elite MasterCard (3)
4: BMO Air Miles Gold MasterCard (4)
5:
MBNA Travel Rewards Platinum MasterCard (Out of the top 5)

Click here to view all the Travel Points Credit Cards (with annual fee) that were considered
 
Top Travel Points Credit Card (with no annual fee)
Rewards Canada's Picks
Canada's Choice
1. American Express Air Miles Credit Card
2. American Express Blue Sky Credit Card
3. Capital One® Aspire™ Gold MasterCard®
4. RBC Rewards Visa Gold
5. BMO Air Miles MasterCard
6. HSBC Premier MasterCard
7. MBNA TravelOnly MasterCard
8. Choice Rewards MasterCards
9. Vancity enviro Class Visa
10. Three cards tied for this spot
1: American Express Blue Sky Credit Card (1)
For the third year in a row The Blue Sky Credit Card takes the top spot in the no annual fee category. As in previous years, its benefits have yet to be challenged by other no fee credit cards:
- Points can be redeemed against booked travel up to 12 months after the charge is posted (book first then spend spend spend to pay it off!)
- Offers a 1.25% return on purchases
- Can redeem as little as 10,000 points, which means you only have to spend $8,000 if you don't include the sign up bonus


2: Capital One® Aspire™ Gold MasterCard®* (2)
Holding down second spot for the second year in a row, the Aspire Gold MasterCard is a good option for those who want an extensive benefit package on their card but with no annual fee:
- A 1% return on all purchases can be used towards travel that is booked with any travel provider
- One of only a few cards with no annual fee that has insurance coverage and other benefits
- Points can also be used towards Cash, Gift Cards or Merchandise


Rounding out the top five are the :
3: American Express Air Miles Credit Card
(3)
4: BMO Air Miles MasterCard
(4)
5:
Citizens Bank Visas
(5)

Click here to view all the Travel Points Credit Cards (with no annual fee) that were considered
 
Top Hybrid Travel Credit Card (with annual fee)
Rewards Canada's Picks
Canada's Choice
1. American Express Gold Rewards Card
2. The Platinum Card from American Express
3. TD First Class Visa Infinite Card
4. RBC Visa Infinite Avion
5. CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite
6. Diners Club Club Rewards MasterCard
7. CIBC Aventura World MasterCard
8. RBC Visa Platinum Avion (tie)
8. TD Platinum Travel Visa Card (tie)
10. CIBC Aventura Gold Visa
1: American Express Gold Rewards Card* (New)
Although technically this is charge card (you can't run a balance) the new American Express Gold Rewards Card stormed onto to market in late 2010 and takes top spot for its host benefits and great reward options some of which are:
- 2 Points per dollar for Gas, Grocery, Drug Store and Travel purchases. 1 Point per dollar on all other spending
- Book travel how you want and when you want then redeem Membership Rewards points against that charge on your monthly statement.
- Option to transfer Membership Rewards Points to Aeroplan (on a 1:1 basis) and 8 other frequent flyer/guest programs

2: RBC Visa Infinite Avion (1)
Despite losing top spot in the Hybrid category the Avion cards continue to be a great pick for the following reasons
- Ability to book flights with any airline with no blackout periods, extremely useful when there are no seat sales
- Option to transfer RBC Rewards Points to British Airways Executive Club, American AAdvantage or Cathay Pacific Asia Miles. Look for the twice yearly 50% BA bonus!
- A complete suite of insurance coverage and benefits

Rounding out the top five are the:
3: TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite (4)
4. CIBC Aventura World MasterCard (New)
5: Diners Club Club Rewards MasterCard
(5)

Click here to view all the Hybrid Travel Credit Cards that were considered
 
Top Airline Credit Card
Rewards Canada's Picks
Canada's Choice
1. American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum Card
2. CIBC Aerogold Infinite Visa
3. American Express AeroplanPlus Gold Card
4. CIBC Aerogold Visa
5. American Express AeroplanPlus Card
6. Capital One® Delta SkyMiles® World MasterCard®
7. Alaska Airline Platinum Plus MasterCard
8. TD AAdvantage Platinum Visa
9. RBC British Airways Visa Platinum (tie)
9. WestJet RBC World MasterCard (tie)
1: CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite (1)
Holding top spot in the Airline category, the CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite continues to be one of Canada's most popular travel cards and here's why:
- Ability to earn 1.5 Aeroplan miles on Grocery, Drug Store and Gas Station purchases
- Decent redemption rates, particularly on Business Class tickets (which afford the greatest rate of return on any credit card spending)
- Air Canada still provides the most flight coverage domestically and internationally out of Canada, which allows Aerogold holders many redemption options


2: WestJet RBC World MasterCard (2)
The WestJet RBC MasterCard keeps second place as it only got stronger this year with WestJet's tie up with American Airlines. Here are other reasons why this card stayed in second spot:
- Ability to redeem WestJet dollars in any amount at any time towards any WestJet flight or WestJet Vacations package
- A low annual fee of $79 with all comprehensive suite of benefits makes this an affordable premium card
- WestJet's flight network makes this card attractive for those looking for reward flights within Canada or to Sun Destinations


Rounding out the top five are the :
3. Capital One® Delta SkyMiles® World MasterCard®* (New)
4.
American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum Charge Card (3)
5. TD AAdvantage Platinum Visa (out of the top 5)

Click here to view all the Airline Credit Cards that were considered
 
Top Hotel Credit Card
Rewards Canada's Picks
Canada's Choice
1. Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express
2. Chase Marriott Rewards Platinum Visa (tie)
2. MBNA Best Western Platinum Plus MasterCard (tie)
4. MBNA Choice Privileges MasterCard
For the first time in the three year history of our rankings we cannot choose a clear winner for a category so this year for hotel cards we pick two winners. If you are looking for good elite status perks or great airline transfer ratios then the SPG card will fit you better, if you are looking for access to more hotels in Canada and around the World or a great benefits package then the Priority Club card is the one for you.
1: Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express* (1)
For the second year in a row this card takes top spot (well shares it this year) as
- Redeem Starpoints for hotel stays around the world with a potential rate of return of over 5% depending on the hotel and season
- Ability to transfer to 30+ airlines including a 5,000 mile bonus when you transfer 20,000 Starpoints at a time.
- Receive SPG Gold Status after $30,000 in spending within a year and free weekend night after $40,000.
1: Priority Club® World MasterCard® (NEW)
Due out in November 2011 this new card from Capital One® and IHG will be a major challenger in the Travel Rewards Credit Card market for some of the following reasons:
- Great insurance and benefits including trip cancellation and out of province medical coverage

Rounding out the top five are the :
3: Chase Marriott Rewards Platinum Visa (2)
4:
MBNA Best Western Rewards Platinum Plus MasterCard*
(3)
5:
MBNA Choice Privileges MasterCard*
(4)

Click here to view all the Hotel Points Credit Cards that were considered

Rewards Canada's tools to help you choose a
Travel Rewards Credit Card
What will the next year hold in store? With the onslaught of new travel rewards credit cards that we have seen in the past two years we believe the introduction of new cards will be limited. We know of one new one coming out later this year plus we should see the return of the Diners Club Club Rewards MasterCard to the general public in 2012. With only a few new cards the rankings should stay relatively the same for 2012 but ultimately without a crystal ball we could be totally wrong.

Care to comment on our choices? Want to voice your opinion on the good and the bad of all the Travel Rewards Credit Cards in Canada. Share you views and experiences on our accompanying blog post or on Facebook and Twitter for Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards 2011!
Go to the Rewards Canada blog...

“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.”

* - These links offer commissions to Rewards Canada for successful applications that are completed after clicking the link. This affiliation has in no way influenced our choices for the top travel rewards credit cards.
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