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By Credit Card Company Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards for 2014 - FACTORS

Go back to the Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards for 2014 Posted March 26, 2014

Here we look at the factors taken into account and some of the reasons why some rankings changed from last year

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. Coupled with nearly 13 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.

New Cards added to the Rewards Canada rankings
TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite
TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege
TD Aeroplan Visa Platinum

Cards that have been updated since the last rankings
American Express Gold Rewards Card
BMO Rewards World Elite Mastercard
CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card
CIBC Aventura Visa Gold Card
IHG Rewards Club® World Mastercard® from Capital One®

Reasons for the ranking changes from 2014

Travel Points Credit Cards (with Annual Fee)
The big move in this category comes from the BMO Rewards World Elite Mastercard. Revamped at the end of August in 2013 the card pushed its way up the rankings due to an increased sign up bonus, the waiving of the first year annual fee and upping the rate of return on the card to 2% from 1.9%. The Scotiabank Gold American Express moves down a spot after storming onto the rankings last year. Even with 4x points earning on select spend categories the average return for most people will probably fall below the 2% that the BMO card has plus the Scotiabank card sign up bonus is worth less and you always have to factor in the lower acceptance of American Express when compared to Mastercard. The CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite moves into this category which knocks the CUETS Choice Rewards World Elite Mastercard out of the top 5. The Aventura while a decent offering has some flexibility drawbacks and lack of additional benefits seen from the top 2 cards that keep this card from being higher up in our rankings. For the number two card to become the number one card, the BMO Rewards World Elite Mastercard it would be two simple changes, up the sign up bonus even higher to 35,000 and allow cardholders to book travel how they want when they want (not via BMO Rewards) and then redeem their points against the travel charge. Simple as that. (Hint hint BMO!)

Travel Points Credit Card (with no annual fee)

There were no changes in this category from 2013!

Hybrid Travel Rewards Credit Card (with annual fee)
Only slight changes here as the CIBC Aventura cards exit the category since they lost their ability to convert points to Aeroplan and American Express discontinuing the Choice and Choice Plus cards. Now this category only has a few cards left in it despite them being the most versatile type out of all five categories. We move the Diners Club Club Rewards Mastercard up to fourth even though it is still not available to the general public but this move is more for the several hundred thousand Canadians who still hold the card and use it. Also with the departure of the Aventura cards the RBC Avion Visa Platinum moves into the top 5 of only 5 cards!

Airline Credit Card
This is the one category that had the big changes for 2014. Now that the TD-CIBC-Aeroplan love triangle has been resolved (or at least we like to think it has been) the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card shoots to the top of the category replacing the CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite which drops down to third. The two cards are essentially the same with the TD card offering up a few extra benefits when travelling on an Aeroplan award ticket but since the TD card is now the primary Aeroplan card in Canada it justifies taking the top spot from the CIBC version. The CIBC card takes third place even though it almost the same as the TD card and will be for the next 10 or so years. We didn't place it in second however as most new acquistions for an Aeroplan card will go to TD and we feel the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard will actually become more popular than the CIBC Aerogold as that card drops off people's radars. With that we see the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard move up to second place this year taking over that spot from the Capital One® Delta SkyMiles® World Mastercard®. The Delta card kept second spot for a couple of years primarily due to the fact you can redeem SkyMiles for business/first class flights and for flights on many of Delta’s partners but over the past 18 months Delta has really decimated the SkyMiles program and this is one of the main reasons it drops to fourth. The decimation stems from Delta blocking certain business class and first class availability on their partner flights, award chart increases and now of course the news that they are moving to a revenue based model for mileage earning on flights in 2015. The WestJet card takes on second place as they offer a lot of domestic flight availability compared to SkyMiles (which has none) and Canada even spoke to the popularity of this card in our 2013 Canada’s Choice rankings where it landed first in the Airline category. It just makes sense for the WestJet card to be in the top two once again.

Hotel Credit Card
This category remains the same as last year but it actually was a real tough decision to keep it this way! Why? The IHG Rewards Club® World Mastercard® from Capital One® saw it’s sign up bonus doubled to 60,000 points permanently. This is a decent sign up bonus, it could be worth up to 12 free nights when taking advantage of IHG’s Point Break offers but due to the variability in those point break offers you can’t always count on them. The IHG card has stronger insurance benefits than the Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express but we had to give the nod to this mainstay in the top position based on the SPG program itself. The SPG program tends to be better than IHG Rewards and can provide exceptional value for the points earned on everyday spend. There is a reason why SPG continually ranks high around the world in surveys and awards and much like the airline category, the first place spot is given more on the strength of the co-brand loyalty program rather than what the card itself actually offers.

Go back to the Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards for 2014

“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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