In this feature of Rewards Canada's Ultimate Credit Card Portfolios we look at the ultimate one for those who want to travel in style, experience luxury and get great benefits from their credit cards. It is well known from multiple surveys that those who are well off or at least those who can afford higher end credit cards are less interested in the points and miles earned on their cards but rather they are interested in the exemplary benefits that can make their travel around the globe unique and more luxurious. Both American Express and Visa have higher end cards that fit this bill while Mastercard has lagged behind somewhat but as we have always recommended you should carry a Visa, a Mastercard and an American Express card in your wallet so there is a Mastercard included in this portfolio. The reason why is that there are 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 high end travellers get those perks, benefits and one of a kind experiences. 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 a high end traveller.
What is Rewards Canada's Ultimate High End Traveller Credit Card portfolio? It is the following three cards:
This mix of cards will not only get you lots and we mean lots of travel benefits, they also provide relatively strong miles and points earning in their respective programs. Even though we stated surveys point out that high rollers are less interested in points and miles, they still matter but perhaps just not as much to us average Canadians. The front runner in this portfolio is The Platinum Card from American Express. It has long been the 'high end' card in Canada outside of the invite only American Express Centurion Card and still offers the most benefits and perks for those looking to enhance their travels. The Visa slot is given to the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege card. The Infinite Privilege branding came out a few years ago as the 'high end' offering from Visa. Their aren't many Infinite Privilege options in Canada and we give the nod to the TD Aeroplan version since it provides some great perks when flying on Air Canada. As mentioned before, Mastercard is the weakest in the 'high end' market out of the three big issuers and we really only considered two cards for this position, the other was the BMO World Elite Mastercard but seeing that you should the Platinum Card from American Express you have business class lounges covered so there is no point in getting the BMO card when the mbna rewards World Elite Mastercard is cheaper to own and is way more flexible in how you can use the points earned.
Why you want to get each of these cards - AKA the benefits they provide!
In reality this portfolio is about one card, the Platinum Card from American Express. It is the ultimate high end card. From the best airport business class lounge access programs to hotel elite status to business class companion fares and much more, the card has all ends of high end travel covered. It is also a hybrid card, which if you follow Rewards Canada, you'll know its our favourite type of card since it gives you so many options for redemption. Want to redeem points against a travel charge on the card? You can do that. Want to convert to Aeroplan or British Airways? You can do that. But that's the points side and this portfolio is more about the bling. You get an annual $200 travel credit that you can use via American Express travel, you get elite status with Marriott Bonvoy, Hilton Hotels, Radisson Rewards and Shangri-La Golden Circle. You get access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program, a collection of over 950 luxury hotels where the Platinum Card gets you hotel/spa credits, breakfasts, upgrades, early check in, late check out and more. You get access to over 1,200 airport lounges via the American Express lounge program, Priority Pass membership that also includes a guest for free. You get Platinum Concierge service which by many reports is one of the best in the business by getting tables at restaurants that are fully booked, getting tickets to events that don't have tickets (we actually tried this one out and it worked but we did not end up buying the tickets due to a scheduling conflict) and more. Finally the card has a really strong insurance benefits package as well. Really, we could write a heck of a lot more about the card but I think you get the gist of it.
The next card for the portfolio is the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card and you are getting this card primarily for two reasons. First, it is a Visa card so it completes the Visa component of this portfolio. Second, it gets you some nice benefits for travelling on Air Canada, something many of us do seeing that is one of our two major airlines. It is these Air Canada benefits that make this card valuable. You get priority check in and boarding (if you aren't already flying in a premium class). You get priority security screening at select airports. You get 50% off a companion business class fare on Air Canada every year. You get your first checked bag free on Air Canada flights and the benefits continue after that. The card is strictly an Aeroplan mile earning card which of course you can tie in to the Platinum Card since you can convert American Express Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan. Or if you make an Aeroplan booking you can put the taxes and fees on the Platinum Card and redeem points against that charge to really make your travel free.
Finally, the third card is the mbna rewards World Elite Mastercard. This card fills your Mastercard component of the portfolio. As we already mentioned there really isn't a high end card in the market from Mastercard but this card does fit the bill of being the best Mastercard in the Canadian market and completes this portfolio nicely. You'll mainly take this card out at places that don't accept American Express or Visa like Costco. The main benefit this card is its strong earn. You get 2% back on your purchases towards travel or cash back redemptions. Just like the example above, you can put your Aeroplan fees and taxes on this card and then redeem points against that charge. Almost any travel charge counts and you can even redeem after the fact. Taking a ferry from the U.K. to France on a whim? Put it on this card and then when you get home you can redeem points towards that amount. Easy as that.
There you go. With these three cards you are pretty much covered as a high end traveller. You can literally use the points and miles earned on the cards to redeem for any travel from economy class to first class. You get access to tons of airport lounges, you get to stay in luxurious hotels and more.
Other Card Options:
Although we feel the combination above is your best bet there are other card options that can fit the bill for all three of the issuers. On the Amex side there are two other cards you could consider, the Centurion Card (Black Card) but that is an invite only card for those who spend a heck of a lot and we mean a lot on their card. For the Visa portion, you could look at the other popular Infinite Privilege Card, the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege card. With it you are not limited to Aeroplan only like the TD card but you will lose out on some of those Air Canada benefits that TD provides. However you would now have points to use on any travel via RBC or you can convert to British Airways, Cathay Pacific and American Airlines. Lastly on the Mastercard side you could look at the BMO Rewards World Elite Mastercard. It is also a 2% back card towards travel and includes the basic Priority Pass membership with 4 free lounge visits each year.
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