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In this feature of Rewards Canada's Ultimate Credit Card Portfolios we look at the ultimate one for those who like to travel with companions and want to save on that travel. This portfolio looks at credit cards in the Canadian market that offer companion pass vouchers. That is, a benefit where you can buy one ticket (or redeem miles for a ticket) and get a second ticket for free or at a reduced price. Of course the cards included offer other benefits beyond companion passes that should also be taken into account when selecting cards.
As we have always recommended and is standard with our Ultimate Wallets, you should always carry a Visa, a Mastercard and an American Express card in your wallet. The reason why is that there are benefits, promotions and earning potential unique to each brand of credit card regardless of the version of the card you have. We don't go into detail here as you can read all about it in our feature on how to Maximize your Miles and Points but we do outline one card from each brand that will help you as a travelling pair to get the most bang for your buck. Ultimately there are various options that could be utilized for such a portfolio but we look at one card from each issuing family that we feel are the best fit for this mission.
What is Rewards Canada's Ultimate Companion Pass Credit Card portfolio? It is the following three cards:
Mastercard - WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard
American Express - American Express Air Miles Reserve Credit Card
All three cards in this wallet provide some sort of companion pass benefit, some are better than others but they all feature them on an annual basis. There are other cards out there that do offer passes (see below for more details) and some that offer it as a limited time offer like the current offer from BMO on their AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard that has a companion pass benefit when you apply for the card right now however it is a one time pass offer not an annual benefit like the other cards.
Why you want to get each of these cards!
This portfolio is mainly about saving yourself some money when you travel with another person. It won't make a lot of sense if you are a single traveller as you won't have a need for companion passes. (well for the most part, as a single traveller you should still consider the WestJet card for the baggage benefit)
The first card in the portfolio is Canada's number one airline credit card - the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard. This card provides the best companion pass benefit out of any card in Canada. If you were to only consider one card in this portfolio this should be it. You are entitled to one companion pass per year with the card that can be redeemed for virtually anywhere WestJet flies. Travelling within Canada or the U.S., you can book one ticket at the regular price (seat sale fare, full fare, you name it) and the second ticket is only $99 plus taxes with the companion voucher. Sun destinations like Hawaii, the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America is only $299 plus taxes for the companion while Europe is $399. The beauty of WestJet's companion pass or voucher as they call it is that it can be used on any fare except for their new business class fares. Whether it's Basic or Premium Flex (nee Plus fare) you can use your companion voucher. For the maximizers it will be more so on the latter fare type or for very expensive last minute fares when you are travelling with someone else. Here at the Rewards Canada family we booked a very last minute vacation early in 2018 and made use of the companion vouchers (we had two since my wife and I each have the WestJet card) and brought $7,000 worth of flights in Plus down to $3,500 or so. You can also use WestJet dollars to pay for part or all of the tickets including the amount required by the companion pass of $99 to $399.
The second card is the American Express AIR MILES Reserve Credit Card. This card also provides a once per year companion pass benefit. Unlike the WestJet card where you are paying for the first ticket with cash or WestJet dollars, this pass only works when you are redeeming AIR MILES Reward miles for flights. The companion pass is limited to redemption values of up to 1,700 AIR MILES which covers most short haul flights in Canada or to the U.S.. That is if you are redeeming for two AIR MILES flights that are 1,500 Reward Miles each, the companion pass will cover the second flight of 1,500 miles. Taxes and fees have to be paid for on both tickets however. Should you be redeeming for flights that cost more than 1,700 AIR MILES each the companion pass will cover the first 1,700 miles and you'll have to redeem miles from your account to cover the rest. For example if you have flights that are 2,300 miles each the companion pass will cover 1,700 miles of the second ticket meaning you'll have to redeem 600 miles to finish purchasing that second ticket.
Finally rounding out this portfolio is the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite card This card does not come with an automatic companion pass. It is awarded when you spend at least $30,000 on the card annually. Once you reach that spending amount you'll receive the one Companion Award eVoucher. As you can tell by the naming of the voucher, it is an award voucher. That means it is redeemable when you redeem Avios (BA's currency in their Executive Club program) for an award flight on British Airways. The voucher can be used for any fare class which means when you redeem for a British Airways award flight in Economy, Premium Economy, Business or First Class. This can amount to a big saving on the amount of Avios you need to use for flying two or more people on British Airways. For example, travelling in Business Class from most cities in Canada to London will cost 100,000 Avios per person plus taxes and fees. With the voucher you can get two Business Class tickets for that same 100,000 Avios plus the taxes and fees on both tickets. Note that taxes and fees can approach $1,000 per ticket in Business Class so you'll still have to pay about $2,000 for a pair of tickets with the voucher but when you compare that to $6,000 or more that you would have paid for two tickets with cash that's a pretty good deal!
Another card you should consider adding to the above three:
There is one other card in the market that is big for companion passes is the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite® Mastercard®. In term of the companion pass that comes with this card it is somewhat limited for Canadians since the pass has to be used on Alaska Airlines or its subsidiaries. This limits many Canadians as Alaska Airlines only flies to Victoria, Vancouver, Kelowna, Calgary and Edmonton. Granted if you live in Southern Ontario, Alaska does fly to Detroit which means you could use the passes on flights out of DTW to Seattle. Of course you could always use points or miles for repositioning flights out of Canada to any Alaska city and use the pass that way but it kind of defeats the purpose of saving money (or points or miles which we treat like money)
One more limited time offer that should also be considered:
The offer that was listed here is no longer available.
Talk to us!Do you have any other tips for the Ultimate Flight Companion Pass Credit Card portfolio! Tell us in the comments section below or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter!
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Title image courtesy of British Airways