The Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards of 2016

Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards

MBNA Rewards World Elite MasterCard

MBNA Rewards World Elite MasterCard

Low annual fee, $100 signup bonus, 2% back

Apply Now
BMO World Elite MasterCard

BMO World Elite MasterCard

$200 signup bonus, 2% back, and free Priority Pass

Apply Now
Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

4% rewards on groceries, gas, dining, and entertainment

Apply Now

Do you like seeing new places and experiencing new things?

Travel is a great way to broaden your horizons and enjoy life. Whether you travel a great deal, or whether you go on a big trip every two or three years, it makes sense to get the most out of your experiences. One way to do that is with the help of travel rewards credit cards. These are cards that reward you for booking hotels and scheduling airline flights.

One way to get the best bang for your travel buck is with the help of travel rewards credit cards. These are cards that reward you for booking hotels and scheduling airline flights. You can also earn points for travel by making everyday purchases with these credit cards.

As you earn points, you can plan to redeem for travel down the road. The best travel credit cards work with your preferences and habits. Look for a card that will help you earn free stays at your favorite hotel or fly for free. Combine your travel rewards with a loyalty program, and you can super-charge your efforts.

Some of the biggest and best credit card rewards can be found in the travel category. Here are some of the best Canadian credit cards for travel rewards in 2016.

Great For: Low annual fee, same 2% reward of higher fee cards

Annual Fee: $89

  • Earn two points for every dollar in eligible purchases
  • Signing bonus of 10,000 points after your first purchase ($100 value)
  • Price protection
  • Extended warranty
  • Rental car coverage
  • Concierge benefits

MBNA Rewards World Elite – The MBNA Rewards World Elite credit card was rated the number one cash back credit card by MoneySense for 2015 and 2016. While they consider it a cash back credit card, you can redeem your points on travel, making it a great travel card as well.

You receive two MBNA Reward Points for each dollar you spend in eligible purchases. Not only that, but there is a 10,000 bonus after you make your first purchase. That is equal to about $100 when you redeem for rewards. You don’t have to worry about your points expiring, and there are limits to the number of points you can earn.

The MBNA Rewards World Elite also comes with prices protection, rental car coverage, and extended warranty. Plus, you can access concierge services. With the help of this card you can earn travel benefits quickly for all your regular purchases. Plus, there is flexibility if you decide you want to redeem your points for other rewards.

In order to qualify for this card, you need to have an income of $70,000, or a household income of $120,000. There is an $89 annual fee as well. However, if you use your card for most of your purchases, your rewards can easily make up for the fee.

Apply for MBNA Rewards World Elite MasterCard

Great For: Signup bonus, Priority Pass lounge access

Annual Fee: $150

  • Earn two BMO points for every dollar you spend.
  • Signing bonus of 20,000 points ($200 value).
  • Redeem points for travel at the retail price, including the ability to use cash if you don't have the full points amount.
  • Travel and medical insurance.
  • VIP airport lounge access, plus four complimentary passes

BMO World Elite MasterCard – Are you looking for a great travel card with extra perks, like VIP airport lounge access? The BMO World Elite MasterCard might be the right choice for you.

First of all, you get off to a great start. The BMO World Elite MasterCard comes with 20,000 bonus points when you get started, representing a $200 travel value. Earning points is also very easy. You get 2% (two points for every dollar you spend) back on each card purchase, helping you earn points faster.

On top of that, this travel credit card comes with travel and medical insurance and VIP airport lounge access through Priority Pass ($200 value). You can receive four complimentary passes each year as well, so you can bring a guest. Points never expire, and there are no limits on what you can earn.

One of the nice bonuses of the BMO World Elite MasterCard is that you can complete a partial redemption. It’s possible to use cash to make up the difference if you don’t have enough points to cover your full amount.

There is an annual fee of $150 a year, but if you use the airport lounge, you can easily make up for the cost each year. The additional benefits, like the insurance and your ability to quickly earn free flights and other travel perks, can also help offset the annual fee.

You need a minimum of $70,000 if you are single or a household income of $120,000 a year in order to qualify. (Full Review)

Apply for BMO World Elite MasterCard

Great For: Lower incomes, 4% on some categories

Annual Fee: $99

  • Earn four points for every dollar spent on gas, grocery stores, dining, and entertainment. Earn one point for every other purchase.
  • Signing bonus of 20,000 points when you spend $500 in the first month, a value of $200 toward travel.
  • Travel benefits, including insurance, special discounts, and upgrades.
  • Concierge services
  • Access to Priority Pass Lounges Worldwide

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card – If you are interested in travel and want to earn points faster, the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card might be able to help. Not only is there a generous signing bonus, but the tiered rewards program can allow you to earn travel rewards faster, depending on your spending habits.

The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card offers 20,000 bonus points when you spend $500 in your first three months of card membership. That is equivalent to $200 in travel rewards. This more than makes up for the $99 annual fee.

For those that use the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card for all of their gas, grocery, dining, and entertainment expenses, it’s pretty easy to build up the travel reward points. You will earn 4x the points for every dollar when you spend on qualified purchases in those categories. It’s worth noting that gas and grocery are things you need to buy all the time, so you can get extra rewards for your regular spending. Every other purchase is one point per dollar spent.

This credit card comes with other perks, including travel insurance (travel emergency medical coverage), as well as complimentary concierge services available 24/7. You can also get access to special discounts when you travel. American Express is known for its VIP experiences and events access. This also includes special offers on cruises and vacation packages. You can take advantage of these perks as a card member.

The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card also offers access to Priority Pass Lounges Worldwide, so you can get into an airport lounge.

Redemption is also easy. It’s possible to combine points redemption with a charge to your card. This makes it simpler when it’s time to redeem.

If you are a frequent traveler, or if you hope to save up for a trip, this card can be a great addition to your wallet. Plan your spending to take advantage of the higher point values in certain categories, and you might be surprised at how fast your rewards add up.

Apply for Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

Great For: $400 signup bonus, great travel benefits

Annual Fee: $150

  • Earn two rewards miles for every dollar you spend.
  • Signing bonus of 40,000 miles, equal to $400 in travel rewards, when you spend $1,000 in the first three months.
  • Travel benefits, including insurance and trip cancellation.
  • Price protection.
  • Extended warranty.
  • Concierge services.

Capital One Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard – If you hope to earn more miles faster, you can do it with the help of the Capital One Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard. This card comes with a number of perks on top of offering two points for ever dollar you spend using the credit card.

You can earn more reward miles on everything you buy, creating an effective rewards rate of up to 2%. You receive two reward miles for each dollar you spend on all of your purchases. There are no limits to the number of miles you can earn. Not only that, but this card comes with 40,000 bonus reward miles when you spend $1,000 in the first three months. That’s a value of $400 in travel rewards.

Other benefits that come with the Capital One Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard include trip cancellation insurance and travel emergency medical insurance. This makes it easier for you when planning your travel. Not only that, but this credit card includes perks like price protection, extended warranty, and purchase assurance. There are also concierge services that allow you to get access to help with a variety of actions, no matter where you are.

This credit card does charge an annual fee of $150. However, it’s fairly easy to offset that with free travel, especially if you use the Capital One Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard to make all of your regular purchases. You can also add an authorized user for free. Those purchases then earn rewards for you. Another nice feature of this card is that you pay the same APR for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances.

You do need a personal income of $80,000 a year or a household income of $150,000 a year in order to qualify for this credit card.

Apply for Capital One Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard

The best travel credit card is the one that works with your preferences and habits. Check out our picks for the best travel rewards credit cards in Canada.

Written by Tom Drake

Tom Drake is the owner and head writer of Canadian Finance Blog. While you’re here, consider signing up for the RSS feed or email subscription. Both deliver the latest articles directly to you! You can also follow me on Twitter for all the latest posts or to send me any comments or questions!

10 Responses to The Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards of 2016

  1. Hello Tom,

    I just wanted to point out another really good MasterCard offered by most credit unions in Canada. The CUETS World Elite MasterCard.
    • $150 annual fee and $40.00 additional card.
    • Travel and health insurance included for the primary cardholder and his/her spouse up to the age of 75. Eligible dependent children covered as well. Note that most credit cards offer travel insurance up to age 65 and only 21 days. This Credit Union World Elite MasterCard covers up to 31 days of each trip outside of your province of residence.
    • Introductory rate of 3.99% on balance transfers for your first 10 billing periods
    • CHOICE REWARDS® program that allows you to easily collect and redeem points
    2 points/$1 spent | 10,000 points = $100
    • MasterRental, MasterTrip, MasterPurchase, Price Protection, Concerge Service.
    • Interest rate is 19.49%

    More info at or find a credit union near you.

  2. Addendum to the RBC AVION card:
    If you switch from RBC AVION to RBC British Airways Infinite, you get 1.5 Executive Club points for every 1.0 AVION points you have, plus they give you free companion tickets for every $60,000 spent. You can easily fly to Europe and back for 50,000 Business Class.

    While this may not mean much if you only have a few thousand points, for those holding 30,000-50,000 AVION points, after switch to BA Exec Club, you could be looking at a One-way First Class Ticket to many points in Asia. Case in point, I just booked a RTW (Round the World, multiple stop – First Class ticket) from on BA and Cathay Pacific for 225,000 points & used a companion pass. Nice way for 2 ppl to fly first class without spending $34,000 per ticket.

    Downside: if you carry a balance, it’s at 22.5%

  3. What do you think of the Blue Sky Amex card? I’m looking for the best No Annual Fee card for travel points. 1.25 pts per $1.00, 10,000 points . Thx.

  4. I’ve never owned a card that charges a fee and am in the habit of paying off my balance on each billing.

    My only credit card currently is a President’s Choice MasterCard but I would luv to see a review of the “Blue Sky Amex” card which Lana mentioned above.

    • Depending on your spending and payment habits, the premium cards are well worth the higher annual fees. If you pay your balance in full each month it only takes $1000 spending a month to earn more than enough to cover the fees. Add in the premium benefits (insurance mostly) and these cards are pretty economical.

  5. What are your thought on the CIBC Aventura card. I just switched my CIBC Visa Aerogold card to the CIBC Aventura, because the Aerogold was just about impossible to book anything unless you booked a year ahead. I heard the Aventura is similar to the Avion card. I was wondering if this is true.

    • Aventura card is great. I converted my Aerogold a few years ago because Aeroplan is hopeless. 35,000 points = $800 travel, just slightly better than Avion (35000=$750). Don’t use it for the fees/taxes though. The redemption rate is different (much lower) vs using it for the base ticket price only.


  7. I’d highly recommend the SPG American Express Credit Card for those interested in maximizing “Free” hotel stays and airline tickets. One free night at a Four Points by Sheraton can be had for as little as 2500 points (but usually 5000 minimum in Canada) with the ability to transfer Starwood Points to airline points (with lots of carriers participating) if and when needed. Only downside is the lack of emergency medical on the card. But if you already have coverage – and want to travel as close to free as possible – this is the card for you.

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