Many of us like to participate in loyalty programs to collect points and enjoy travel perks such as discounted airfare and free upgrades. When it comes to travel rewards credit cards, there are over 75 options for Canadians, making the choice difficult. For avid spenders, choosing a travel rewards credit card can be beneficial, but it requires some number crunching.
Travel rewards credit cards each offer their own advantages. Some cards require an annual fee while others do not. Some are associated with an airline or hotel chain while other cards allow you to choose how to redeem your points. Most cards come with welcome and annual bonuses that often off-set the annual fees if they apply.
Rewards Canada has compiled their annual Canada’s Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards for 2013 feature to help readers choose the best loyalty program for them. They have listed five categories- Top Travel Points Credit Card (with annual fee), Top Travel Points Credit Card (with no annual fee), Top Hybrid Credit/Charge Card (with annual fee), Top Airline Credit/Charge Card, Top Hotel Credit Card- and the top five cards that fall under each category.
- Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard ranked first in the Top Travel Points Credit Card (with annual fee) category for the fourth year in a row. This card requires a minimum personal income of $60,000 or a combined household income of $100,000. Two miles are earned for every dollar spent anywhere in the world, as well as 35,000 bonus miles on your first purchase and 10,000 bonus miles each year. The annual fee is $120. This card is recommended for people who spend more than $2,000 a month. Miles can be redeemed for travel, merchandise, gift cards, and cash.
- American Express Blue Sky Credit Card ranked first in the Top Travel Points Credit Card (with no annual fee) category for the fifth year in a row. For every dollar spent, 1.25 Blue Sky Points are earned. If you spend $500 during the first three months, 10,000 points are earned. Redemption can occur as early as 10,000 points for a credit worth $100. Friend referrals earn 5,000 points.
- American Express Gold Rewards Card ranked first in the Top Hybrid Credit/Charge Card (with annual fee) category. Two points per dollar are earned for eligible gas, grocery store, drug store, and travel purchases; one point per dollar is earned on all other purchases. 15,000 welcome points are awarded when you make a purchase of $500 in the first three months. There is no annual fee for the first year, and every year after that is $150. There is an option to transfer Membership Rewards Points to Aeroplan Miles.
- CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite Card ranked first in the Top Airline Credit/Charge Card category for the fifth year in a row. One Aeroplan mile is earned for every dollar spent. 1.5 Aeroplan miles are earned for every dollar spent at any Fairmont Hotels and Resorts and eligible gas, grocery, and drug store purchases. The annual fee is waived for the first year, and every other year there is a $120 charge. If you spend $500 during the first three months, you are awarded 15,000 welcome miles. Flight rewards start at 15,000 Aeroplan Miles, with access to seats on Air Canada and Air Canada Express. This card requires a minimum personal income of $60,000 or a combined household income of $100,000.
- Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express ranked first in the Top Hotel Credit Cards category. Earn one Starpoint for every dollar spent and 10,000 welcome points after spending $1,000 in the first three months, enough for three free nights. There is a $120 annual fee. Earn a Free Weekend Night Award after reaching $40,000 in purchases in one year to use at a participating property. Use points on 350 airlines and nine hotel brands. Friend referrals received 10,000 points.
Each of these cards include a range of travel insurance benefits.
Always be weary of the annual fees and high interest rates (usually 19.99% or higher) to see if these cards are valuable to your own unique spending habits. Visit the individual websites for more details and carefully read the stipulations to choose what card is best for you. As always, many credible sources have determined their own unique lists of the “best” cards so do your research. It may be difficult to accumulate a substantial amount of points- but over time, you may rack up enough for your next vacation.