Must Have Credit Cards for Canadian Travellers | Blog
Credit Cards

Must Have Credit Cards for Canadian Travellers

By Staff Writer | July 27, 2018

Credit cards are one of the best tools a traveler can have. Flights are generally the most expensive part of your trip, and anything you can do to bring the cost down is a major win. By choosing the right credit card now, you can earn a ton of points, all based on what you are already spending at home. 

The Various Benefits

We are going to go through a few credit cards and discuss the best parts of each of them, but first, it is necessary to know what you can gain from each credit card. There are the basic level benefits, like a reward points bonus once you sign up or meet the required amount of spending to get the secondary bonus. These are the most-advertised benefits of travel-oriented credit cards, but there are often even better benefits on the back-end. For example, the rate at which you receive points, if large enough, can yield even higher benefits in terms of the points you earn.When you book flights for your trip abroad, make sure that you are taking advantage of these benefits.

After the monetary and points rewards, there are many more add-ons and benefits a credit card can provide. This can be matters of convenience, like travel health insurance, lost luggage insurance, or trip cancellation protection, or cushy bonuses like VIP lounge access. Any and all of these are enough to draw someone to a card and keep them renewing it each and every year. The last benefit to look for is a credit card with zero foreign transaction fees. Most banks charge approximately 2.5% for each foreign transaction. If you can find a card that compensates for this, you will save a ton of money when you decide to go abroad.

On the flip side, most cards come with an annual fee that should be factored when choosing your preferred card. Some credit cards waive the annual fee for the first year but prepare to pay it atthe end of the first year. 

Understanding Travel Rewards

The other thing to consider is your average monthly spend and how much you actually expect to use this card. You likely already have a card you use, so take a look at the earning rates on the cards and once you have satisfied the minimum spend for bonuses on each card, allocate your extra spending to the card with the highest earning. 

Banks will often try to entice consumers to use travel reward credit cards with different offers, but those offers will not suit everyone. Because of this, make sure you remember that all things being equal, cash is better than airline points. $100 of cash has a higher variety of uses than $100 of airline points, and also doesn’t expire. Finally, do your own independent research on each rewards program, since not all programs are created the same. 

BMO World Elite Mastercard

In terms of frequent flier rewards, it is unlikely you’ll find anything better than the BMO World Elite Mastercard. This card is pretty much the whole package in terms of being able to use your points in a versatile manner and having a solid earnings rate. With $3,000 spending in the first 3 months, new cardholders can get a bonus of 35,000 points. 

The earnings rate is normally 2 points per $1 spend, but if you are spending on entertainment, dining, or travel, you can earn at a rate of 3 points per $1 spent. With World Elite Mastercard, you get all the perks of a great travel credit card (travel insurance, lost luggage, VIP lounge access), but also have the ability to spend your points with nearly every travel provider. This sort of versatility is what makes the World Elite card great. 


Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

This card is great for its accelerated earnings rate, which will allow you to earn up to 4 points per $1 spent on gas stations, grocery stores, supermarkets, restaurants, and movie theaters. However, for anything not fitting those categories, the earn rate is only 1 point per $1 spent, which is much below the other cards. 

The card has a $99 annual fee, allows for access to airport lounges, and can be redeemed flexibly. Its strength is its ability to earn double the points that other cards yield, but it also rewards users with 15,000 welcome points upon sign-up. 


Rogers Platinum Mastercard

Most cards charge a foreign transaction fee rate that users don't realize until they make their first foreign transaction. This 2.5% rate can be a real killer to the finances and will counter out a lot of the points gains for the user. One of the best credit cards in Canada for those looking to avoid foreign transaction fees is the Rogers Platinum Mastercard. 

Instead of waiving the fee like other cards do, this card actually rewards you with 3% cashback, which earns the user 0.5% over the 2.5% foreign transaction fee that is automatically applied. So users will actually end up making money when they spend abroad!

There are other credit cards that just waive the fee (such as the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card), however, those cards have annual fees of up to $139. The Rogers Platinum Mastercard has no annual fee and offers 1.25% cash back on domestic transactions, which makes it a much more sustainable card to use. There is a $25 sign-up bonus, but the biggest benefit of this card will always be the amount you save when you are spending abroad.


Home Trust Preferred Visa

Home Trust Preferred Visa*
Home Trust Preferred Visa*
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The Home Trust preferred Visa is one of the no foreign transaction fee travel credit cards we have on the Canadian credit card market today. Despite having been in the market quite some time, the Home Trust preferred Visa has not been a household name for many Canadians. 

Cards with zero foreign transaction fees are diamonds in the rough. With the recent exit of the Chase cards from the Canadian market, the Preferred Visa from Home Trust is arguably the single best no foreign transaction fee travel credit card available on the Canadian credit card market today.

With a majority of credit cards issued in Canada charging a 2.5% fee for currency conversion each time you make a purchase in any foreign currencies, travel rewards credit cards don't get any better than the Home Trust preferred Visa when it comes to no foreign transaction fee travel credit cards. This puts it in exclusive company with few other Canadian cards.

Notable perks

  • 1% cash back with every purchase with no limits on maximum rewards
  • $0 annual fee
  • Roadside Assistance at no extra cost
  • Purchase protection
  • Car Rental Collision Insurance

That being said, it’s hard to ignore the negative aspects of this card. Quebecers can’t apply for the card and the daily limit of 10 transactions, as well as not being able to change your assigned PIN are the setbacks. 


Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Credit Card

One of the surest ways to minimize your travel costs in by using a credit card that has no foreign transactions fees. Sadly, cards that offer this perk are rare. If you are a frequent international traveller and you’re looking for a credit card with no foreign exchange fees, the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Credit is a great option. The only consideration against this card is the $139 annual fee, which depending on your needs may be offset with the perks it offers. 

If you're an avid traveller in search of a travel credit that will earn you travel rewards and at the same time save you money on foreign transaction fees; the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card was clearly designed with you in mind.

This Card comes with quite a few benefits and seems like it was clearly built for the modern traveller. While it may not seem like much, for business travellers or passionate wayfarers, forex fees can be a significant expense. 

Notable perks

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Redeem your points for travel anywhere, anytime, with no travel restrictions.
  • 25,000 Scotia Rewards points ($250 value) when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months (offer ends June 30th, 2018)
  • Earn 2 Scotia Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible grocery, dining, entertainment, and transit purchases
  • Earn 1 Scotia Rewards point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • $139 annual fee
  • Rental car collision / Loss damage insurance included
  • Included travel emergency medical, delayed and lost baggage, and trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance
  • Hotel / Motel Burglary insurance included

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite is a well-balanced no foreign transaction fee travel credit cards suitable for the liberal traveller. With the recent exit of all Chase credit cards from the Canadian credit card market, this card is worth a deep consideration


Concluding Remarks

Now that you have an idea of the benefits that come with these three specific credit cards, it’s time to go out and choose your first one. If you are having trouble deciding, you can always get two. If you do so, make sure you can afford the minimum spend, and always pay down your statement the very next month.