Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards for 2016
Share the 2016 results!
Welcome to Rewards Canada's 8th annual Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards feature. Once again we're proud bring you the most anticipated and highly regarded travel rewards credit card ranking for Canadians. Overall the rankings from 2015 haven't changed dramatically although the Travel Points with Annual Fee card category did see the return of the Capital One® Aspire Travel™ World Elite MasterCard® to top spot, a position it held between 2010 and 2014. The biggest and most exciting change for this year is the addition of an overall best card category! This is huge as it is difficult to give one card a title of the best card in Canada but after eight years of ranking cards with tons of consumer feedback we felt it was time to crown an overall winner.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 on 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 and Worldwide, 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 the 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 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 credit card issuers.
The good news in 2015 was that our prediction of 2015: The Year Credit Card Rewards Come Crashing Down to Earth (read more here) didn't come entirely true and the market for cards is as hot as ever. Most of the major changes over the past year came from small issuers as the big four didn't make any drastic cuts hence the continued strength of the offers in the market. In fact, unless one of those major issuers decides to make a change it will continue to be a dog eat dog world in the Canadian credit card market. We are happy that up till now none of the big four issuers took the interchange rate agreement as a reason to cut back on their card offerings.
What is the best card? For the first seven years of this ranking we didn't pick one best card. We actually ranked cards based on the category they fell into as it is difficult to pick on best card. And while it can be said there is no one best card as it all depends on the end user we decided that this would be the year to provide an overall best card category based on our research, experience and knowledge of the market. Our pick for the best overall card in Canada is the American Express Gold Rewards Card. Why? The main reason is that it is a hybrid card which gives you the best options and most flexibility for travel redemptions. Want to book a cruise and use points? You can do that with the Gold Rewards Card. Want to convert to Aeroplan for a business class ticket to Tokyo. You can do that with the Gold Rewards Card. Want to convert to British Airways to fly between Toronto and New York on American Airlines for 15,000 Avios, or as little as $7,500 in spending? You can do that with the Gold Rewards Card. No other card on the market allows you to this, some come close like RBC's Avion but truth be told is just isn't as flexible as American Express' offering. Don't need to convert to frequent flyer or frequent guest programs or shop at places that don't take Amex? You're best bet is the Capital One® Aspire Travel™ World Elite MasterCard®. In a nutshell, there are cards that definitely stand out above the rest and for some of you these may not be the best option so we advise you to look at our breakdown of top cards in the five major categories we developed to see which one is best for you. What category is right for you? Check out Rewards Canada's Guide to choosing a travel rewards credit card to steer you in the right direction.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 being in our 15th year of research, answering hundreds of email questions from readers, comments from our 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, the best cards for travel rewards in Canada. Will people agree? Some yes, some no. Do 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 seventh annual ranking, we will help guide consumers to finding the right credit card for them .
There are still well over 75 travel reward credit cards available to Canadians despite the loss of some cards last year! 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's proprietary rewards program 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 six categories of cards in Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards for 2016.
1. Top Travel Rewards Card Overall
2. Top Travel Points Credit Card (with annual fee)
3. Top Travel Points Credit Card (with no annual fee)
4. Top Hybrid Travel Credit / Charge Card (with annual fee)
5. Top Airline Credit / Charge Card
6. Top Hotel Points Credit Card
To see some the factors behind the placements or movements of cards please see here.
To see all of the travel rewards credit cards that were considered for this years rankings please see here.
Care to comment on what Canada chose as the best travel rewards credit cards? 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 in the comment section below or on Facebook and Twitter for Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards 2016!
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