Using the right credit card is a smart way to maximize your travel booking power, and there are several that we recommend every traveler have in his or her arsenal. Some cards come with sign-up bonuses, others offer the potential to earn valuable points you can trade for hotel stays and flights, and others reward you with cash back.
We regularly update our Best Credit Cards for Travelers list, and every time we do, we are gently reminded by our Canadian readers that our advice is very useful…unless you live in Canada. That’s because Canadians can’t apply for a U.S. credit card unless they have a U.S. bank account and a U.S. address. In the interest of serving all of you globetrotters who reside in Canada, we reached out to our old friend and miles-and-points expert Gary Leff, who writes View from the Wing and founded BookYourAward.com.
“The Canadian card market isn’t quite as lucrative or competitive as the U.S. market,” Gary explained. “And it’s also somewhat in flux, because Air Canada is going to be ending its relationship with Aeroplan (the frequent-flier program that it spun off) and starting its own new program. As a result the value of accumulated unused Aeroplan miles is likely to fall. As a result my three favorite Canadian cards are American Express products.”
Here are Gary’s picks for the best credit cards for Canadian travelers:
• Starwood American Express: This has been a go-to in the U.S. for me for 16 years and is pretty similar in Canada.
• Gold Rewards: This one earns Membership Rewards points, which transfer to a variety of airline mileage programs (different programs than the U.S. cards have access to).
• Simply Cash Preferred: For cash back, this one gets you 2% rebates.
If you have any questions (for us or Gary), let us know in the comments below. And be sure to follow Gary on ViewFromtheWing.com for the latest insider info and explanations of the world of miles and points.
Photo credit: Plant Hide
Be a smarter traveler: Read real travelers’s reviews of Wendy’s WOW List and use it to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter @wendyperrin, and Instagram @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.
Yes agreed and I make the point that the cards I consider most rewarding in Canada are all from American Express.
The Marriott credit card in Canada, like in the U.S., earns only one point per dollar spent. And a Marriott point isn’t worth very much. In fact, now that Marriott acquired Starwood they will let members transfer 1 Starpoints into 3 Marriott points. Essentially they’re admitting that a Marriott point is only worth 1/3rd of a Starpoint. That’s why I find the Starwood American Express card so much more rewarding.
I view a Marriott point as worth US$0.007 – US$0.008. So I’d prefer the Amazon card in Canada which offers 1% cash back, has no annual fee, and no foreign transaction fees.
I like the Alaska Airlines MasterCard issued by MBNA in Canada but it does have foreign transaction fees. I like the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card but it comes with a high annual fee, last fall there was a 60,000 mile signup bonus so I’d wait to apply until I see something like that.
I do believe there is still a need for a more comprehensive review of credit cards available to Canadians that emphasize travel benefits. The three mentioned in the article are all Amex and some places don’t take that card because of the disadvantageous retailer costs (I believe Amex charges more than Visa or MC).
I use the Chase Marriott card (Canadian) and it works well for me. Possibly a list of cards that do not charge a FX fee would be a start.