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
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.
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 ticket paid with reward points
As a general rule, the best credit card will be :
- an AIR MILES creditcard to cover travel for which you have used AIRMILES miles
- an AEROPLAN creditcard to cover a trip for which you have used AEROPLANpoints
- Membership Rewards creditcard to cover a trip for which you used American Express Membership Rewards points
- and so on for each program (CIBC Aventura, TD Rewards, BMO Rewards, etc.)
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.
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).
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?
Do you need to unlock a bonus?
Same as the answer given above for airfare.
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.