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The Ultimate British Airways Executive Club Credit Card portfolio!


In this feature of Rewards Canada' Ultimate Credit Card Portfolios we look at the ultimate one for earning British Airways Executive Club Avios. Avios is the currency of BAEC much like most programs have miles or points. 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 Avios faster than ever. Ultimately there are various options that could be utilized for an Avios 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 Avios earning along with very strong insurance benefits.

What is Rewards Canada's Ultimate British Airways Executive Club Credit Card Wallet? It is the following three cards

American Express - American Express® Gold Rewards Card

Visa - RBC Visa Infinite Avion

Mastercard - Best Western Mastercard

The American Express Gold Rewards Card is an obvious choice as it is Canada's number one ranked travel rewards card and is the strongest earning card in terms of earning British Airways Executive Club Avios. The RBC Visa Infinite Avion is another well known earner for British Airways Executive Club mainly in part due to its twice yearly transfer bonus when converting RBC Rewards Points to British Airways Avios (more on that below!) Finally the mbna Rewards World Elite Mastercard is brought in to round out the portfolio. The reason why is there isn't a Mastercard in Canada that earns points that can be converted to British Airways but mbna Rewards points can be used to cover taxes and fees on British Airways Executive Club award tickets.

You may be asking why does a British Airways portfolio even make sense for someone in Canada? There are many reasons! First off British Airways is founding member of the oneworld alliance which means you can use Avios for flights not only on British Airways but on their oneworld partners like American Airlines, Aer Lingus, and Cathay Pacific just to name a few. Plus they are also a partner with Alaska Airlines which is a boon for those living in Alberta and B.C. or even those close to a U.S. border city with Alaska Airlines service. In particular there are a number of reasons these partnerships can provide huge value, in North America flights on American Airlines and Alaska Airlines don't cost a lot of Avios as well as off season flights on Aer Lingus' Toronto to Dublin route. See the following articles we have written for more details:

You can also pull great value out of the BAEC program on short haul flights in numerous areas around the globe since flights under ??? miles only cost 4,500 Avios each way (we used to enjoy this in North America but too many people were redeeming for it so it was bumped to 7,500 within Canada and the U.S.) Some examples are Cathay Pacific between Hong Kong and ??? or on British Airways' flights in the Caribbean. You have many more options than this of course.

Related: Travel Hacking 101 - How to get thousands of British Airways Avios for free

How to maximize your Avios earning with these cards

Let's look at category bonuses first. The American Express Gold Rewards card gives you extra miles at Grocery Stores, Drug Stores, Gas Stations and for trave purchases including flights purchased from British Airways. How much extra? The Amex Gold Rewards gives 2 miles per dollar spent which means you are earning 2 Avios per dollar spent and no other card in Canada provides that sort of earn rate. So if the retailer you are at in these three categories accepts American Express, put that purchase on the Gold Rewards Card to earn the full 2 Avios per dollar. If they don't, then of course put it on the RBC Visa Infinite Avion as it will earn 1 RBC Rewards point per dollar spent on all eligible purchases which translates to 1 Avios per dollar. The RBC Visa Infinite Avion only has one category bonus, travel purchases but it isn't as good as the American Express earn rate. So on travel purchases where American Express isn't accepted you'll want to pull out your Avion card to earn 1.25 RBC Rewards Points per dollar or the equivalent of 1.25 Avios.

The only place you'll really look at using the Best Western Rewards Mastercard is at retailers that only accept Mastercard. The best known of those retailers in Canada is Costco. Use your Best Western card here and in reality nowhere else as you'll earn more miles with the other two cards. Can you get better value out of other Mastercards at Costco? Absolutely but if you are only focused on British Airways Executive Club Avios, then the BW card is the way to go.

All the other spending you have will be at non-category bonus retailers so those purchases can be put on either your RBC Visa Infinite Avions or the American Express Gold Rewards Card. We would recommend the latter if they accept Amex. Why? You are building a balance in your American Express Membership Rewards account (which of course transfer to 1:1 to BA) but you can utilize Amex's Pay for Purchases feature to pay for your taxes and fees on those Executive Club award tickets when you redeem for them! That's right, you've now earned tons of miles utilizing these three cards but don't need to boost your Executive Club balance more so now you can use the flexibility of Amex's Membership Rewards points to cover other travel charges like the fees on Executive Club award tickets.

Finally we recommend you do not transfer your American Express Membership Rewards points or RBC Rewards points to British Airways Executive Club until you know you are close to actually redeeming for an award ticket via British Airways Executive Club. The only time we would convert points without an award in mind is during bonus time! Both issuers run bonuses at select times of the year when you transfer to British Airways. American Express has been once per year recently while RBC is almost always twice per year. The Amex bonus tends to be up to 50% while RBC seems to switch back and forth between 30% and 50% bonuses. With that said unless you really need to transfer to British Airways Executive Club so you can get an award right away you'll want to wait until these bonus offers come along effectively giving you a minimum of 1.3 Avios to a maximum of 3 Avios per dollar spent on these cards!

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

The Ultimate British Airways Executive Club Credit Card Portfolio:

Card Card Features

MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard®

• 20,000 bonus points†† (approximately $165 in cash back value) after you make $2,000 or more in eligible purchases within the first 90 days of your account opening.
• 10,000 bonus points†† (approximately $80 in cash back value) once enrolled for paperless e-statements within the first 90 days of account opening.
• Earn 5 points for every $1 spent on eligible restaurant, grocery, digital media, membership, and household utility purchases until $50,000 is spent annually in the applicable category. 1 point for every $1 on all other eligible purchases.
• Each year, you will receive Birthday Bonus Points equal to 10% of the total number of Points the Account earned in the 12 months before the month of your birthday, to a maximum Birthday Bonus each year of 15,000 Points.
• Redeem points for cash back, brand-name merchandise, gift cards from participating retailers, charitable donations, and travel.
• Standard Annual Interest Rates of 19.99% on purchases, 22.99% on balance transfers, and 24.99% on cash advances.
• Mobile Device Insurance***
With Mobile Device Insurance, you’ve got up to $1,000 in coverage for eligible mobile devices in the event of loss, theft, accidental damage or mechanical breakdown.
• $120 annual fee. $50 Additional Card Annual Fee for one authorized user (if you have one).
• To qualify, your personal annual income must be greater than $80,000, or your household annual income must be $150,000 or greater.††††
• This offer is not available for residents of Quebec.  For residents of Quebec, please click here.

Apply Now

Sponsored advertising. MBNA is a division of The Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) and TD is not responsible for the contents of this site including any editorials or reviews that may appear on this site. For complete information on this MBNA credit card, please click on the "Apply Now" button.
‡ These are highlights of the credit card rewards program (the "Program") associated with this credit card account. Points will be awarded on eligible transactions charged to your account as set out in the Program terms and conditions. The account will earn five (5) points per dollar spent on eligible restaurant, grocery, digital media, membership, and household utility purchases until you spend $50,000 annually (per calendar year) in the applicable category. Other eligible purchases will earn a Base Earn Rate of one (1) point per dollar. Each year, the account will receive Birthday Bonus Points equal to 10% of the total number of Points the account earned in the 12 months before the month of the primary cardholder's birthday, to a maximum Birthday Bonus each year of 15,000 Points. The Birthday Bonus Points will be added to the account before the end of the primary cardholder's birthday month. The redemption rate for Points earned may differ depending on the redemption option chosen. Complete terms and conditions describing Program eligibility, accrual, earn limits, and redemption of Points, and other important conditions will be sent after your account is opened. Please read the terms and conditions carefully upon receipt.

†† To qualify for this offer, an applicant must be approved for the specific credit card account described in the offer. Welcome bonus of 20,000 points will be awarded if $2,000 in eligible Purchases are made on your Account within the first 90 days of account opening that are not subsequently rescinded, the subject of a charge back request(s) or otherwise disputed. In order to obtain a "Paperless Bonus" of 10,000 bonus points, you must enroll in online banking at and consent to Paperless Statements for the account within the first 90 days of account opening, and not subsequently rescind such enrollment throughout this period. Please allow 8-10 weeks for the applicable bonus points to be posted to your points account. Limit one-time bonus point offer (no cash value) per new account for each bonus point offer. This offer is not available to residents of Quebec. This promotion is offered by MBNA and may be amended or cancelled at any time without notice.

†††† To be eligible for a World Elite account, your personal annual income must be greater than $80,000, or your household annual income must be $150,000 or greater. Additional account qualification criteria apply as set out in the application.

✪ Balance transfers will be fulfilled in the order listed and are treated as balance transfers in accordance with your Account Agreement. The total value of balance transfers cannot exceed your authorized credit limit. If the value is greater, MBNA may send a partial payment to the named creditor/designated account. THERE WILL BE A TRANSACTION FEE EQUAL TO 1.00 % OF THE DOLLAR AMOUNT OF EACH BALANCE TRANSFER INITIATED WITH THIS APPLICATION. A MINIMUM FEE OF $7.50 WILL APPLY TO EACH BALANCE TRANSFER TRANSACTION. A balance transfer may not be used to pay off or down your account balance or any other balances with us (including our affiliates, which would include any member of the TD Bank Group).

***Insurance coverage is underwritten by American Bankers Insurance Company of Florida (ABIC) under Group Policy MBNA-0620. To be eligible for Mobile Device Insurance you must use your Account to pay all of your monthly mobile bill payments and any upfront costs or pay at least 75% of the purchase price with your Account when paying the full cost of your mobile device up front. Benefits, features and coverages are subject to conditions, limitations and exclusions that are fully described in the Certificates of Insurance included with your Guide to Coverage. ABIC, its subsidiaries, and affiliates carry on business in Canada under the name of Assurant®. ®Assurant is a registered trademark of Assurant, Inc.

The Toronto-Dominion Bank is the issuer of this credit card. MBNA is a division of The Toronto-Dominion Bank.

Related: American Express Gold Rewards Card Review / RBC Visa Infinite Avion Review

Other Card Options:

There are several other cards you can look to replace our picks from each of the issuers. On the Visa side you could look at the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite Card however in all honesty outside of the 2 Avios per dollar it earns on British Airways purchases and the companion voucher at $30,000 in spend, you are better off with Avion card as it affords a lot more flexibility and more Avios when you transfer during the bonus periods. On the Mastercard front you could look at the BMO World Elite Mastercard as it provides the same earn and redemption on travel as the mbna card but has a larger annual fee due to its excellent insurance coverage and lounge access. Although we don't think there is a better option on the Amex side, If for some reason you don't spend a lot on gas, grocery, drug store or travel purchases but do elsewhere then you could choose to go with the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card as you can convert poiunts to British Airways 3:1 and when you convert 60,000 points at a time they'll throw in an additional 5,000 Aviose or you could look at The Platinum Card from American Express since it earns up to 3 points per dollar spent on all purchases which translates to 3 Avios plus all the travel and other benefits associated with this high end card. Finally you can look at the new American Express Cobalt Card which earns 5 points per dollar on food categories (dining, groceries etc.) which translates to 2.5 Starpoints which then in turn translates to 2.5 to 3.14 Avios!

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