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The Ultimate AIR MILES Credit Card Portfolio
Last Updated: May 2, 2016


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In this feature of Rewards Canada' Ultimate Credit Card Portfolios we look at the ultimate one for earning AIR MILES Reward Miles. We have always recommended that you should carry a Visa, a Mastercard and an American Express card in your wallet. The reason why is that there benefits, promotions and earning potential unique to each brand of credit card. We won't go into detail here as you can read all about it in our feature on how to Maximize your Miles and Points but here we outline one card from each brand that will help you build up those AIR MILES Reward miles faster than ever. Ultimately there are various options that could be utilized for an AIR MILES portfolio but we look at one card from each issuing family that won't totally break the bank on annual fees but will provide strong AIR MILES earning along with very strong insurance benefits.

What is Rewards Canada's Ultimate AIR MILES Credit Card Wallet? It is the following three cards

Mastercard - BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard

American Express - American Express® Air Miles Platinum®* Credit Card

Visa - TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite

There are two cards in the portfolio that are obvious choices. The BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard and the American Express Air Miles Platinum Credit Card. The third card may seem out of place but there are no Visa cards that earn AIR MILES but we will show how you can tie in the TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite card to help out this portfolio. The first two cards not only provide very strong earning of AIR MILES Reward Miles but bring to you some decent benefits on the insurance and redemption side. Simply by having the BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard you can enjoy 25% off AIR MILES flight redemptions in North America even if those miles were earned on the Amex card or other methods. That 25% savings can mean you could be flying even sooner as it represents a significant discount on the regular AIR MILES redemption rates.

Related: Travel Hacking 102 - Earn up to 2,900 or more AIR MILES for free!

How to maximize your AIR MILES earning with these cards

In this portfolio your primary card will be the BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard as its earn rate is simple. 1 AIR MILES Reward Mile for every $10 you spend on the card. Nice and easy. No specific category bonuses to worry about and the card comes with a nice 3,000 AIR MILES Reward Miles sign up bonus. The secondary card in this portfolio is the American Express AIR MILES Platinum Card. Its annual fee is waived in the first year so it won't cost you anything and you can get the 2,000 Reward Miles sign up bonus. Its earn rate 1 AIR MILES Reward Mile for every $10 spent but only at AIR MILES sponsors and on gas and grocery purchases. So for those types of purchases it really is a toss up between using the Mastercard or the American Express Card. Outside of those categories always go with the Mastercard unless you are at merchant that only accepts American Express. Just before the first year is up on the Platinum Amex you could choose to switch it to the no fee regular American Express AIR MILES card to save yourself $65 but still have that Amex in your wallet for when a promotion comes up that is tied into using an Amex card.

At first it seems like the third card makes no sense at all. The TD First Class Visa Infinite Card does not earn AIR MILES (no Visa card does) but you can end up using it when you go to redeem your AIR MILES Rewards Miles. How and why? Well on AIR MILES redemptions you still have to pay the taxes and fees as you can't use your Reward Miles towards them. So if you have used your TD First Class Visa for those purchases where only a Visa card is accepted and built up some TD Rewards Points you can use them towards those taxes and fees. Redeem your AIR MILES for a reward flight and when prompted online or by phone as to which credit card to use to pay for the taxes and fees give them your TD Visa numbers. Once that charge shows up on your account after a couple of days, go online to tdrewards.com or give them call to redeem those points against the charge that shows up from AIR MILES. You can redeem as little as 250 points for a $1 credit or if you have enough points you can use them to cover all the taxes and fees and you have now got your AIR MILES reward ticket completely free.

Related: Which credit cards can be used to cover award ticket taxes, fees and surcharges?

The Ultimate AIR MILES Credit Card Portfolio:

Card Card Features

Related: American Express Platinum AIR MILES Credit Card Review / BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard Review

Other Card Options:

If you want to upgrade your travel you could choose to go with the American Express AIR MILES Reserve card. It comes with a heftier annual fee of $299 but comes with a slightly higher sign up bonus of 2,400 miles but the key with this card is the additional benefits it brings. It gives you automatic AIR MILES Onyx status meaning your AIR MILES will never expire as long as you hold the status and comes with a free companion ticket when you redeem for a flight with a value of up to 1,700 AIR MILES. It also pays for an annual Priority Pass which allows you to access airport business class lounges along with 4 complimentary lounge visit passes. Or as we mentioned above if the BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard is your main card you can just choose to go with a no-fee Amex option in the portfolio. On the other hand if you have something like the Platinum or Reserve from Amex and want a lower version of a Mastercard you could go to the no fee BMO AIR MILES Mastercard but with that card you'll do away with your strongest AIR MILES earning potential and the 25% discount on reward flights in North America. So we would not recommend going that route!

Talk to us!

What do you find works best for you for earning the most AIR MILES Reward Miles? Do you use these three cards exactly as laid out above or do you use a different combination? Tell us in the comments section below or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter!

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