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The Ultimate "I have no idea what travel rewards I want" Credit Card portfolio!


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Alright, you have the means. You have a great credit rating, you can get pretty much any credit card you want and can spend tons of money on it and pay it off each month. However you have no idea where or when you want to travel but you know you want to eventually since you love to travel. What do you do? The answer is simple. You stick to credit cards that give you multiple redemption options for when that time eventually comes. The best route is to go with one or two hybrid credit cards and one hotel credit card.

What is Rewards Canada's Ultimate "I have no idea what travel rewards I want" Credit Card portfolio? It is the following three cards:

American Express - American Express Gold Rewards Card

Visa - RBC Visa Infinite Avion

American Express - Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card

Hybrid cards give you best of both worlds in the world of travel rewards. They give you the ability to use a frequent flyer program like Aeroplan or the ability to book travel yourself with places like Expedia and allow you to use the points to pay for that travel. By collecting points with a hybrid credit card program you are leaving yourself open to most possible booking options and travel rewards for your points. We recommend grabbing two of Canada's favourite hybrid cards, the American Express Gold Rewards card (RC 2017 #1 Overall & Hybrid Card) and the RBC Visa Infinite Avion card (RC 2017 #2 Hybrid Card & #4 Overall). The American Express Gold Rewards Card allows you to redeem for any travel at a rate of 1,000 points for $10. Say you have an Expedia booking of $500 you can use 50,000 points to pay for it or 20,000 points for a $200 credit toward it and so on. But then you also have the option of converting the Membership Rewards Points earned on the card to Aeroplan and British Airways Executive Club at a 1:1 basis. That way you can take advantage of some of the great offerings provided by frequent flyer programs like flying in business class or only having to redeem 26,000 British Airways Avios for a round trip economy class flight between Toronto and Dublin. The RBC Visa Infinite Avion card is similar, you can use points to book travel via RBC Rewards on virtually any airline at anytime however unlike the Amex Gold card you have to book via RBC Rewards and they use a set amount of points towards flights based on their Avion Airline Redemption chart. But the card like the Gold Rewards card also provides options to convert those points to airlines like British Airways and Cathay Pacific (and often have bonuses when you do!)

The one hotel card you'll want to grab is the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card (RC 2017 #1 Hotel Card & #3 Overall) This card is a little different than the hybrid card but it still gives you a lot of redemption options. You can redeem for hotel stays within the Marriott brands (Marriott, Residence Inn, Sheraton, Westin, St. Regis etc.) or convert to well over 40 airlines including Aeroplan, British Airways, American Airlines and so on. So you can see why this card can be ideal as you can redeem for free nights at over 5,000 hotels or fund an airline account, in particular Aeroplan and British Airways since the other two cards in this portfolio can fund those as well.

How you'll want to split the spending on the cards
Seeing that the American Express Gold Rewards Card gives you 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar on Gas, Grocery, Drug Store and travel purchases you'll want to be pulling this card out for all those type of purchases. Two Membership Rewards points equals 2% back for your travel anywhere option or equals 2 Aeroplan Miles or British Airways Avios or even 1.5 Delta SkyMiles, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles or 1 Starpoint! Outside of those categories you're probably better off pulling out one of the other cards.

For other spending outside of those four categories listed above where you can use an American Express Card pull out the SPG card. You're getting no less than about 2 to 2.5% back on each dollar spent if you were to redeem those points for a hotel stay or it earns up to 1.25 airline miles per dollar spent since Starwood pumps in 5,000 bonus airline miles when you convert 20,000 Starpoints at a time to an airline program.

For places that don't accept American Express bring out the RBC Visa Infinite Avion card. 1 point per dollar spent with a return as high as 2.3% if you redeem the maximum for any flight via the Avion Airline Redemption Chart or at a minimum 1 British Airways Avios, American AAdvantage Miles or Cathay Pacific Asia Mile.



Here are the redemption options

Card Travel Anywhere or Hotel Stays Conversion Options
American Express Gold Rewards Card 1,000 Points = $10 Travel Credit Aeroplan
British Airways Executive Club
Alitalia MilleMiglia
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
Delta SkyMiles
Etihad Airways Guest
Hilton HHonors
Starwood Preferred Guest
RBC Visa Infinite Avion Up to a 2.3% return on your spending depending on which reward ticket you book American AAdvantage
British Airways Executive Club
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
WestJet Rewards
Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card Free nights range from 2,000 to 35,000 Starpoints Aegean Airlines Miles&Bonus
Aeromexico Club Premier
Aeroplan/Air Canada
Air Berlin topbonus
Air China Companion
Air New Zealand Airpoints
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
Alitalia MileMiglia
ANA Mileage Club
American Airlines AAdvantage
Asia Miles
Asiana Airlines Club
British Airways Executive Club
China Eastern Eastern Miles
China Southern Sky Pearl Club
Delta Air Lines SkyMiles
Emirates Skywards

Etihad Airways Guest
Flying Blue (Air France KLM)
Gol Smiles
Hainan Airlines Fortune Wings
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
Japan Airlines (JAL) Mileage Bank
Jet Airways JetPrivilege
Korean Air SKYPASS
LATAM Airlines LATAM Pass
LifeMiles of Avianca
Miles and More
Qatar Airways Privilege Club
Saudia Alfursan
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
United MileagePlus
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Virgin Australia Velocity

Card Details

Card Card Features

There you go. With these three cards you are pretty much covered for any travel reward. Travel anywhere (flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, all inclusive and so on), airline frequent flyer programs and hotel frequent guest programs! This way you can really travel how you want when you want. Just remember that if you do plan on converting from cards or SPG to an airline that sometimes the transfer is instantaneous but in other times it can take up to two weeks so be sure you plan accordingly!

Relevant Links to help you with choosing one or all of these cards, how to redeem with them etc.:

Other Card Options:

You may have noticed we stepped away from our usual methodology of one Visa, one Mastercard and one American Express card for this portfolio and that is because there isn't a really good Mastercard out there that provides you with a variety of options. Sure you can grab the mbna Best Western Rewards Mastercard as you can redeem those points for BW hotel stays or convert to 8 airline programs but all 8 of those programs are covered by the SPG card with a much better conversion rate! You could also grab Mastercards like the mbna Rewards World Elite Mastercard which provide excellent travel anywhere rewards but do not have any conversion options. Now you can see why we didn't include a Mastercard card into the mix of our three main picks.

Talk to us!

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