How do I choose the best credit card to pay for my trip?

To the point Here is our decision tree to help you choose the best and most advantageous credit card to pay for your trip!

We are often faced with a dilemma: what is the best credit card to use to pay for our trip (airfare, accommodation, etc.)?

How do we choose the right credit card to optimize our purchase in all aspects?

  • benefits (travel insurance)
  • possibility to use points
  • accumulation of points in the right category
  • bonus

Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine the best credit card to pay for your trip!

Credit cards with the best travel multipliers

Here is, in brief, a table summarizing the different credit card rewards multipliers that can be earned on expenses categorized as “travel”.

Credit Cards General travel Specific travel FX Point value Return (FX purchase) Return (CA purchase)
American Express® Aeroplan®* Business Reserve Card 2X 3X (AC and AC Vacations) 2.5% 2 ¢ 1.5 to 3.5% 4 to 6%
American Express®* Aeroplan® Reserve Card 1.25X 3X (AC and AC Vacations) 2.5% 2 ¢ 0 to 3.5% 2.5 to 6%
TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege* Credit Card 1.5X 2X (AC and AC Vacations) 2.5% 2 ¢ 0.5 to 1.5% 3 to 4%
TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card 1X 1.5X (AC and AC Vacations) 2.5% 2 ¢ -0.5 to 0.5% 2 to 3%
American Express Platinum Card® 2X 2.5% 1.7 ¢ 0.9% 3.4%
American Express® Gold Rewards Card 2X 2.5% 1.7 ¢ 0.9% 3.4%
American Express Cobalt® Card 2X 2.5% 1.7 ¢ 0.9% 3.4%
TD First Class Travel® Visa Infinite* Card 2X 8X(Expedia for TD) 2.5% 0.5 ¢ -1.5 to 1.5% 1 to 4%
TD Platinum Travel Visa* Card 1.5X 6X(Expedia for TD) 2.5% 0.5 ¢ -1.75 to 0.5% 0.75 to 3%
BMO eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege* Card 5X 2.5% 0.67 ¢ 0.85% 3.35%
BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard 5X 2.5% 0.67 ¢ 0.85% 3.35%
Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card 1X 1X + 3X(Expedia Scene+) 0 % 1 ¢ 1 to 4% 1 to 4%
Scotiabank Platinum American Express® Card 2X 0 % 1 ¢ 2% 2%
Marriott Bonvoy® Business American Express®* Card 3X 5X (Marriott) 2.5% 0.9 ¢ 0.2 to 2% 2.7 to 4.5%
Marriott Bonvoy® American Express®* Card 2X 5X (Marriott) 2.5% 0.9 ¢ -0.7 to 2% 1.8 to 4.5%

As you can see, you can’t just rely on the multiplier, since the value of the points differs from program to program. Which credit card gives the best return for travel will also depend on the currency in which you make your purchase. Finally, some credit cards offer a higher return on more specific travel expenses, as on certain sites or platforms.

The value of a point used in this table is what Milesopedia has retained as an estimate. The best travel multiplier for you may differ depending on how you use and value your points.

So, here’s some food for thought on which credit card to use to get the biggest return on your travel purchase, depending on its type.

Airline tickets

Do you need travel insurance?

This section mainly covers cancellation, interruption, flight delay, baggage loss, etc., since coverage for emergency medical care is automatically included, regardless of the method of payment, with several credit cards (under certain conditions).

Airline ticket paid with reward points

As a general rule, the best credit card will be :

However, some credit cards stand out by offering protection even if the trip is partially paid for by the credit card; see the next point.

Airline ticket partially paid by credit card

Airline ticket paid entirely by credit card

Some cards require that the trip be paid in full on the credit card . So, you can’t go wrong if you charge the entire trip expenses to your credit card and the ones mentioned above.

However, travel insurance is not the same from one credit card to another! When comparing coverage amounts, they differ greatly from card to card.

Do you plan to use airline rewards points?

Do you have points in the bank and want to use them to pay for this trip? You will need to use the credit card linked to the rewards program in question.

For example, by paying for your plane ticket with the National Bank’s World Elite Mastercard®, you’ll be covered in the event of a glitch, and be able to call on your NBC Rewards points within 60 days of purchase.

Do you need toearn a particular type of point?

As a result of your airfare purchase, you will be able to collect points. Turn to the card that gives the type of points you are looking for! To do this, you need to determine your goals and your point earning strategy.

However, you have to ask yourself which aspect you favor when the card that gives you the best insurance does not match the card that gives you the type of points you want.

Similarly, the return (discount) may be greater with another card, but travel insurance must be factored into the equation, not just the “best return” as illustrated in the table at the beginning of this article.

Do you need to unlock a bonus?

Finally, if you don’t need travel insurance and your priority is to unlock a bonus, you can check out the best current offers!

Accommodation, car rental and activities

Do you need travel insurance?

When it comes to accommodation, travel insurance may be a little less important. In fact, a large majority of establishments allow the cancellation of the reservation without charge during a specific period (often up to 24 hours before the stay).

On the car rental side, the BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard offers some of the best rental car insurance coverage around.

For activities, organized tours, excursions, etc., most of these purchases are non-refundable, so it’s imperative to put these expenses on cards with good travel insurance like National Bank’s World Elite Mastercard®.

Do you intend to use reward points on this same trip?

Just like airline tickets, you must use the card with the reward program you wish to use to reduce the bill.

Do you need toearn a particular type of point?

Some credit cards, like the Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card, give you more points for travel purchases, charge no foreign exchange fees, and are able touse those same points as account credit.

If you are staying at a Marriott Bonvoy or Best Western hotel, paying with a credit card linked to these programs is more advantageous to earn more points.

However, do you want to earn 5X Marriott Bonvoy points, or would you save on foreign currency fees instead? The answer is yours.

Do you need to unlock a bonus?

Same as the answer given above for airfare.

Bottom Line

There is no single answer to choosing a credit card to pay for a trip and get the “best return”. Indeed, there are several factors to consider in order to make the “best choice” in your situation.

Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!
I'm Aline, an experienced traveller, a foodie at heart, an Avgeek, a photography enthusiast and an expert on credit card programs. I use Reward Points to travel on a budget and to save money on everyday life; writing about these topics allows me to share my passion and help you. ~ 7 continents and 75 countries ~

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