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By Credit Card Company Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards for 2012

I don't need to read all this just show me the rankings! Posted June 26, 2012 - Updated May 1, 2014


Media Coverage:

Where is Canada's Choice?
You may recall that last year we also had Canadian's vote for their favorite credit cards and we published the results with our rankings. Not to worry, we have just decided to run Canada's Choice later in the year as an entirely separate Top Credit Card feature.
Click here to see the results!

Welcome to Rewards Canada's fourth annual Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards feature. I am proud to say that this feature has become Canada's most highly regarded ranking that is not only used by our readers but also by the media (our 2011 rankings were featured on CTV's Canada AM, Global News and numerous other radio and print outlets) as well as the credit card issuers themselves who make use of the rankings in their marketing materials and annual reports.

Despite an onslaught from Cash Back Rewards Credit Cards, Travel Rewards Credit Cards continue to be the most popular type of credit card in Canada. The past year saw the actual launch of the Priority Club Mastercard from Capital One®, the new Sears Voyage Mastercard, MBNA being taken over by TD and a few other changes!
In terms of our rankings the biggest changes came in the Travel Points (with fee), Airline card and Hotel card categories all due to changes to some credit cards and/or their associated co-brand loyalty program.. There was only one slight change in the Hybrid Card with annual fee category and there were no changes in the Travel Points with no annual fee category for the second year in a row.

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, the associated loyalty program (co-brand), ease of redemption, card acceptance, partnerships, issuing bank and benefits. Couple this with over 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.

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 fourth annual ranking, we will help guide consumers to finding the right credit card for them .

What makes Rewards Canada's rankings different from the rest? At Rewards Canada, we are deeply entrenched in the loyalty industry, not just credit cards, so we take this into account for the rankings where it is applicable. Most other rankings
the Internet only look at the credit card itself and not the associated loyalty program or partners. For example, in the Airline
Cards category we take into account what cities the airlines and/or their partners serve in Canada, whether you can redeem for
premium class travel, what the redemption availability is like with their frequent flyer program and much more. For Hotel Cards we look at elite benefits from the programs, how many properties they have, where they have those properties and much more. For Travel Points and Hybrid cards we look at the flexibility of redemption, where you can redeem, partnerships and many other factors of course. This is why the Rewards Canada rankings are some of the most highly regarded in Canada with the media, loyalty programs and the credit card issuers.

With very few additions and deletions from last year, there are still 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 2012.
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 2011 in parentheses.

Top Travel Points Credit Card (with annual fee)


2. TD First Class Infinite Visa (2011: #3 in Hybrid)

This card was moved out of the Hybrid category after the end of TD's relationship with American Airlines and ultimately, for our rankings, it was a good thing for this card:
- a 1.5% return on all purchases plus a 4.5% return on travel booked via TD Rewards that can be used towards any travel that via any booking method
- Can start redeeming at 10,000 points or as a little as $3,333.34 in spending
- An excellent suite of insurance and benefits including out of province medical coverage

Rounding out the top five are the:
3: CUETS Platinum Class Mastercard (2011: 2)
BMO World Elite Mastercard (2011: 3)
BMO Air Miles World Mastercard (2011: 4)

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)

1. American Express Blue Sky Credit Card (2011: 1)

For the fourth 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 Travel™ Platinum Mastercard®*(2011: 2)

For the third year in a row the Aspire Travel Platinum takes second place in the Travel Points Credit Card with no fee for the following reasons:
- Earn reward miles – with no annual fee!
- Earn 1 reward mile for every $1 spent – on all purchases
- Get 5,000 bonus reward miles with your first purchase
- Get 25% extra reward miles every year
- Annual interest rate of Prime +16.8%

Rounding out the top five are the :
3: American Express Air Miles Credit Card
(2011: 3)
4: BMO Air Miles Mastercard
Citizens Bank Visas
(2011: 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)

1. American Express Gold Rewards Card* (2011: 1)

Taking top spot in the Hybrid category for the 2nd year in a row, this charge card (you can't run a balance) continues to be one of the best all around cards in the Canadian market:
- 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 and British Airways Avios (on a 1:1 basis) + 8 other frequent flyer/guest programs with occasional transfer bonuses


2. RBC Visa Infinite Avion (2011: 2)

One of the most popular cards in Canada continues 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: The Platinum Card from American Express* (2011: Out of the top 5)
4. CIBC Aventura World Mastercard (
2011: 4)
5: Diners Club Club Rewards Mastercard
(2011: 5)

Click here to view all the Hybrid Travel Credit Cards that were considered

Top Airline Credit Card

1. CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite (2011: 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. Capital One® Delta SkyMiles® World Mastercard®* (2011: 3)

With recent changes to this card that come into effect mid-July, it knocks out the WestJet card that held this spot for the last two years and here are some of the reasons why::
- Earn Delta miles on everything you buy
- Get a welcome bonus of up to 25,000 Delta miles
- Earn 3 Delta miles for every $1 you spend on Delta purchases
- Earn 2 Delta miles per $1 on all other net purchases
- Plus, get 10,000 annual bonus Delta miles when you spend at least $25,000 each year
Please Note: A requirement of this card is a minimum personal income of $60,000 or household income of $100,000.

Rounding out the top five are the :
WestJet RBC World Mastercard (2011: 2)
American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum Charge Card (2011: 3)
5. RBC British Airways Visa Infinite Card (New)

Click here to view all the Airline Credit Cards that were considered

Top Hotel Credit Card

1. Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express* (2011: Tied for 1st)

This credit card regains sole position at the top of the Hotel Credit Card category because of the recent positive changes made to the SPG program coupled with these credit card benefits
- 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 (plus the new SPG benefit of lifetime SPG Gold Elite Status if you reach this mark 5 years in a row) and a free weekend night after $40,000.

2. Priority Club® World Mastercard® from Capital One®* (2011: Tied for 1st)

Tied for first last year, this card dropped to second primarily due to IHG increasing redemption rates for reward nights at many of their hotels
- Get 30,000 bonus Priority Club points with your first purchase
- Earn 5 points for every $1 spent at any hotel within the Priority Club Rewards Family of Brands
- Earn 2 points for every $1 on all other net purchases
- Plus, get 5,000 bonus points for every $10,000 you spend – there's no limit to the amount of points you can earn
Please Note: A requirement of this card is a minimum personal income of $60,000 or household income of $100,000.

Rounding out the top five are the:
3: Chase Marriott Rewards Platinum Visa(2011: 3)
MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard*
(2011: 4)
MBNA Choice Privileges Mastercard*
(2011: 5)

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

What will the next year hold in store? For the next 12 months I know of at least one new card coming into the travel rewards market this fall plus the Diners Club Club Rewards Mastercard may reopen to the public in that time. Chances are there will be other new cards, changes to existing cards and changes to the co-branded loyalty programs that will all play a role in the 2013 rankings.

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 2012!

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.”

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