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By Credit Card Company Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards for 2010

I don't need to read all this just show me the rankings!  

THE 2014 RANKINGS ARE NOW OUT, PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SEE THEM!



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Welcome to Rewards Canada's second annual take on picking Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards. Travel Rewards Credit Cards are one of the most popular type of credit cards in Canada, and with last years success of our first ever ranking of these cards we have decided to do it once again! Since this time last year some cards have left the Canadian market and others have emerged, most notably the MBNA Starwood Preferred Guest MasterCard left the scene only to be replaced by the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express. WestJet finally got their frequent flyer program off the ground and with it came the WestJet RBC MasterCards which play the biggest and best role in the airline's young program.

This year's rankings have changed with the addition of these new cards and we have also expanded our ranking to the top 5 cards in each category compared to only the top 2 last year. What is the best card? Well it is practically impossible to give that question a perfect answer, however we can 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? Simple, nine years of research, answers to hundreds of email questions from readers plus the charts and articles that we have written have given us insight into the pros and cons of each card. 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 second annual ranking, we will help guide consumers to find the right credit card for them .

At last count there were over 60 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 (a term coined by us, now used by many) 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 2010.
1. Top Airline Credit Card
2. Top Hybrid Travel Credit Card
3. Top Travel Points Credit Card (with annual fee)
4. Top Travel Points Credit Card (with no annual fee)
5. Top Hotel Points Credit Card


You can find each individual card's ranking from 2009 in parentheses.

Top Travel Points Credit Card (with annual fee)

1: Capital One® Aspire Travel™ World MasterCard®* (New)
The newest travel rewards credit card in Canada, the Aspire World MasterCards replaces last years top card that also came from Capital One®. Here are just a few of the features that make this card number one in this category:

- Up to a 2% return on all purchases that can be used towards travel that is booked with any travel provider
- A large sign up bonus of 35,000 points with your first purchase and a yearly renewal bonus of 10,000 points make this card nearly fee free
- An excellent suite of insurance and benefits including Travel Emergency medical coverage

2: CUETS Platinum Class MasterCard
(New)
This card we knew nothing about until one of our readers advised us of it and after looking at it, the Platinum Class MasterCard quickly jumped to second place with some of these features:
- 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 (New)
4: BMO Air Miles Gold MasterCard (2)
5:
Desjardins Platinum Visa (New)

Click here to view all the Travel Points Credit Cards (with annual fee) that were considered
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(1)
The Blue Sky Credit Card takes the top spot in the no annual fee category for the second year in a row as 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®(New)
Released at the same time as the Aspire World Card, this card retains second place in the no annual fee category for Capital One® with the following features:
- 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
(Out of top 2)
4: BMO Air Miles MasterCard
(Out of top 2)
5:
Citizens Bank Visas
(Out of top 2)

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: RBC Visa Platinum Avion / Visa Infinite Avion (2)
Taking the top spot away from Diners Club, the Avion cards continue to be a mainstay in the Canadian market 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


2: CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite / Aventura Gold (Out of top 2)
A good alternative to the AeroGold cards for those consumers who do not want to be tied into Air Canada but have the option of gaining more miles in their Aeroplan account should they choose to do so. Here are some highlights of this card
- Ability to earn 1.5 Aventura points on Grocery, Drug Store and Gas Station purchases with the Infinite card.
- Transfer Aventura Points to Aeroplan or have the flexibility to use the points to book travel on over 100 airlines with no black out dates
- Like most premium cards, the Aventura Visa's come with excellent insurance coverage and benefits

Rounding out the top five are the :
3: TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite / Platinum Travel Visa (Out of top 2)
4: American Express Membership Rewards Charge Card
(Out of top 2)
5: Diners Club Club Rewards MasterCard
(1)

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

 

Top Airline Credit Card

1: CIBC AeroGold Visa / AeroGold Visa Infinite (1)
Holding top spot in the Airline category, the CIBC AeroGold Visa's continue to be some 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 (New)
Playing a major part in WestJet's Frequent Guest Program, this card takes over the second spot in the airline category for the following reasons
- 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: American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum Charge Card (2)
4: RBC British Airways Visa Platinum
(Out of top 2)
5: Bank of America (MBNA) Alaska Airlines Platinum MasterCard
(Out of top 2)

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* (New)
This is Starwood's new offering in Canada after ending their partnership with MBNA last year. Once again they as a reward program take the top spot.
- 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.

2:
Chase Marriott Rewards Platinum Visa (2)
The Marriott Rewards Platinum Visa retains second spot in our rankings based on the following benefits
- Receive 10 nights credit toward Elite status each year, which automatically gives you Silver Elite status
- 10,000 bonus points on your first purchase, enough for a free night in a Category 1 or 2 hotel.
- 3 Marriott Rewards points per dollar spent at over 3,000 Marriott locations Worldwide.


Rounding out the top five are the :
3:MBNA Best Western Rewards Platinum Plus MasterCard(Out of top 2)
4:
MBNA Choice Privileges MasterCard(New)
5:
There are only 4 hotel cards in Canada at this time


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

What will the next year hold in store? We believe the rankings will stay relatively the same as most banks and frequent travel programs have just released or changed their offerings. However, rumours have it that there will be changes to one of the credit cards from one of Canada's largest loyalty programs and there have been rumours for over a year now that another large hotel chain will launch a credit card. If these rumours come true, then perhaps we will see some big changes for the 2011 rankings, but until then expect them to stay similar to what we have above.

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 for Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards 2010.
Go to the Rewards Canada blog...
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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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