Many people like the idea of using a rewards program to collect points and save money on travel.  Some of the best credit cards are travel rewards credit cards, which can help you earn points faster and enjoy perks like free airfare, or upgrades when you travel.

I use the MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard as my preferred credit card because I like getting cash back on my every day spending.  However, I’m really impressed with the lucrative rewards and flexible redemption options being offered by the top travel rewards credit cards.

Related: Top Cash Back Credit Cards in Canada

Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards

I looked into the best travel rewards credit cards in Canada, and the only way to earn more rewards is to use a premium credit card with an annual fee.  I calculated the travel rewards based on spending an average of $2,500 a month – $30,000 annually on your credit card.

Here are the best credit cards for travel rewards:

Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard

  • 2 reward miles for every $1 spent
  • 35,000 bonus reward miles on your first purchase
  • 10,000 anniversary bonus reward miles every year
  • Redeem points for travel, cash back or merchandise
  • Trip interruption or cancellation insurance
  • $500,000 travel accident insurance
  • $120 annual fee

The Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard sets the bar high when it comes to earning travel rewards.  Double miles on every dollar spent, plus generous bonus reward miles on your first purchase and an additional 10,000 anniversary bonus reward miles every year.

Calculating points with the Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard is straightforward.  Every 10,000 points is equivalent to $100 in travel rewards.

  • 2 miles for every $1 in purchases – 60,000 points
  • 35,000 bonus miles with first purchase – 35,000 points
  • 10,000 bonus anniversary miles – 10,000 points

With this credit card from Capital One, you can earn up to $1,050 in travel rewards in the first year.  After subtracting the $120 annual fee you’re still left with $930 worth of free travel.  However, without the 35,000 bonus miles in subsequent years your total travel rewards drops to $580 a year.

Related: Capital One Aspire Cash World MasterCard Review

BMO World Elite MasterCard

  • 1 BMO ELITE Rewards point for every $1 spent
  • Welcome bonus of 15,000 ELITE Rewards points
  • No black-out periods & points cover all charges when redeeming for flights
  • Best-in-class travel insurance
  • Free access to VIP airport lounges
  • $150 annual fee

The BMO World Elite MasterCard claims to have the highest credit card travel redemption rate in the industry – every 10,000 points is equivalent to a $190 travel credit that can be used on the booking of your choice.

  • 1 mile for every $1 in purchases = 30,000 points
  • 15,000 welcome bonus miles = 15,000 points

With this credit card, you can earn up to $855 in travel rewards in the first year.  After subtracting the annual fee of $150, you’re still left with $705 worth of free travel.  In subsequent years – without the welcome bonus – your total travel rewards drops to $570 a year.

CIBC Aventura World MasterCard

  • 1.5 Aventura Points for every $1 spent at grocery stores, gas stations and drug stores
  • 1 Aventura Point for every $1 spent anywhere else
  • Welcome bonus of 15,000 Aventura Points
  • No blackout periods, fees or restrictions
  • Comprehensive insurance benefits, including Out-Of-Province Emergency Travel Medical Insurance
  • $120 annual fee

The CIBC Aventura World MasterCard has a set reward chart for flights that allows you to earn up to 4% return at the highest level.  This card also allows members to convert Aventura points to Aeroplan Miles.

The travel rewards calculation here is based on spending $600 a month on gas, groceries and drug store purchases, and $1,900 a month on everything else.

  • 1.5 points for every $1 in gas/grocery/drug store purchases = 10,800 points
  • 1 point for every $1 spent everywhere else = 22,800 points
  • 15,000 welcome bonus points = 15,000 points

With this credit card, you can earn up to $1,000 in travel rewards in the first year.  After subtracting the annual fee of $120, you’re still left with up to $880 worth of free travel.  In subsequent years – without the welcome bonus – your total travel rewards can be worth up to $530 a year.

TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite

  • 3 TD Points for every $1 you spend
  • Welcome bonus of 20,000 TD Points
  • Automatically receive Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption Insurance when you purchase travel
  • Automatically receive Travel Medical Insurance whether or not you purchase travel using your Card.  You’ll be covered for 8-day trips if you’re under 65 and 2-day trips if you’re 65 or older
  • Access to exclusive hotel and dining privileges including hotel upgrades, concierge service and restaurant reviews
  • Triple rewards when booking your travel through Expedia for TD using your TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card
  • Annual Fee: $120

Unlike other travel rewards credit cards, you don’t have to book your travel with a particular travel agency in order to redeem TD Points.  The TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card lets you book your trip through any travel agency or travel provider you choose.

Every 10,000 TD Points is worth $50 in free travel.  Here’s how your TD Travel Rewards add up with the TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card:

  • 3 points for every $1 spent = 90,000 points
  • Welcome bonus = 20,000 points

With this card, you can earn up to $550 in travel rewards in the first year.  After subtracting the annual fee of $120, you’re left with $430 worth of free travel.  In subsequent years – without the welcome bonus – your total travel rewards are only worth $330 a year.

Final Thoughts

An important factor to consider when comparing travel rewards credit cards is how much money you can spend each month on your card.  The best travel rewards credit cards all come with an annual fee.  It doesn’t make sense to use a premium credit card unless you have a good income and spend at least $2,500 per month on your card.

Related: Best No-Fee Rewards Credit Cards

Since these credit cards all come with a generous welcome bonus in the first year, here’s a look at how they stack up after three years:

Travel Rewards Credit Card Rewards in 1st year Rewards after 3 years
Capital One Aspire $930 $2,090
BMO World Elite $705 $1,845
CIBC Aventura $530 – $880* $1,090 – $1,940*
TD First Class Travel $430 $1,090

*based on redeeming at the highest level

The Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard is by far the best credit card in Canada for travel rewards.  The generous first year welcome bonus, 10,000 point anniversary bonus and flexibility to redeem your points for cash or travel rewards make this card worth carrying.

My new approach to using rewards credit cards now is to use the Smart Cash card for gas and grocery purchases and earn 2% back for the first $600 spent.  All of my other monthly purchases will go on the Capital One Aspire Travel card, earning 2% back.

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