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The Best Credit Cards For Holidays In Canada

To the point

2021's holidays will be like 2020: find out the best credit cards to save money on your Canadian vacation.

Let’s face it: even if the vaccination campaign gets off the ground, international travel will not be for the foreseeable future. At least, probably not for the start of the summer of 2021.

The quarantine imposed on returning travellers(and the three mandatory nights in a hotel) is still a major impediment to travel abroad, even to the United States. And while the situation seems to be under control in our southern neighbours, we are no longer immune to a fourth or fifth wave. As well as instability in the opening/closing of borders.

In short: 2021 will obviously be another “vacation in Canada” year.

Paysage de la Baie Georgienne

Together with our authors, we have started to produce travel guides to help you plan your vacation in Canada. Here are some of them:

And we continue to publish our reviews on hotels you can book with points for your vacations in Canada (you can check out this page for a map of 250 hotels across the country):

To help you plan your vacation in Canada, we recommend several credit cards:

  • for their welcome bonus
  • for points earned with your expenses related to your future vacation in Canada (gas, groceries, etc.)

Accommodation

Hotels

Hotels in Canada have been particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, deprived of international tourists (and business conventions or weddings). A good way to support them is to stay there on your next vacation in Canada!

Kananaskis Mountain Lodge Autograph Collection
Kananaskis Mountain Lodge Autograph Collection

This is what the members of the Milesopedia community do (we were recently amused to see that on a single weekend, 14 rooms were occupied by readers at the Delta Hotels Sherbrooke Conference Centre).

delta hotels sherbrooke conference centre-11
Delta Hotels Sherbrooke Conference Centre

In Canada, two rewards programs allow you to save money on your hotel nights:

By applying for credit cards associated with these programs, you can get many free hotel nights across the country. What to lighten your vacation budget in Canada!

With the Best Western Rewards® Mastercard, you earn 20,000 points after the first purchase. That’s enough to get you at least one free night in a hotel. And if you’re a couple or a friend, you could each apply for this card and get 20,000 bonus points. Then transfer your points from one account to another for free so that you can get several free hotel nights!

A night at the Best Western Plus Chemainus Inn on Vancouver Island, for example, costs 20,000 points:

Best Western Plus Chemainus Inn Points

With the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card, you earn 60,000 points after $3,000 in Card purchases. Enough to offer you several free hotel nights during your holidays in Canada.

And if you’re a couple or a friend, you could each apply for this card and earn 60,000 bonus points. Then transfer your points from one account to another for free, giving you many free hotel nights!

For example, with 60,000 points, you could get 5 nights in Gatineau at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel & Conference Centre Gatineau-Ottawa :

Four Points By Sheraton Hotel Conference Centre Gatineau Ottawa Points

For 60,000 points, you could get 5 nights at the Delta Hotels Sherbrooke Conference Centre in Sherbrooke:

Four Points By Sheraton Hotel Conference Centre Gatineau Ottawa Points

Want to visit Niagara Falls and the local wineries? Stay at the Four Points by Sheraton St. Catharines Niagara Suites for only 20,000 points per night.

Four Points Sheraton St Catharines Niagara Suites Points

Looking for a stopover hotel while visiting British Columbia? How about this Fairfield Inn & Suites Kamloops hotel for only 20,000 points per night:

Fairfield Inn Suites Kamloops Points

In short, there are many hotels available with points for a vacation in Canada. Here are the 3 current offers for credit cards with hotel points :

Rentals: apartments, chalets, camping

Hotels are not for you? Do you prefer the comfort of an apartment or a chalet? Or the proximity to nature offered by campsites or unusual accommodation? There are credit cards allowing you to redeem your points for this type of accommodation.

Best Tips for Finding Your Airbnb Rental

For example, the American Express Cobalt™ Card is the one we recommend to anyone who wants to save money on their vacation rentals.

New American Express Cobalt™ Card can earn up to 30,000 points as a welcome bonus. This is a great welcome offer for a credit card that requires no minimum income!

That’s a value of $300 using your points for any purchase charged to the Card.

But there are many credit cards where you can use points on accommodation rentals. Here is a list of the best current offers for a vacation in Canada:

Travel

Rental cars

For car rental, you can use travel points from your credit cards.

national featured

But you could use specific points like AIR MILES or BMO Rewards points.

Here are the best credit cards for that use:

Gas

Here, we will try to use the best credit card to earn the maximum of points for gas during a vacation in Canada.

Gold Rewards Card - Gas station

A few credit cards stand out in Canada:

Credit card Points per dollar Return
CIBC Dividend® Visa Infinite* Card 4 % 4 %
BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card 5 points 3,4 %
Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card 3 points 3 %
American Express Business Edge™ Card 3 points 3 %
Marriott Bonvoy™ Business American Express® Card 3 points 2,7 %
American Express Cobalt™ Card 2 to 5 points 2 to 5%

Train

To travel by train with VIA Rail on your Canadian vacation, you could use travel points. But also AIR MILES Reward Miles!

via rail-15

For example, if you took advantage of Milesopedia’sexclusive offer for the BMO® AIR MILES® World Elite®* Mastercard®*, you currently have over 3,300 AIR MILES Reward Miles earned for free (counting miles earned with a minimum spend of $3,000 in the first 3 months)!

That’s $346 worth of train tickets with VIA Rail. Check out this article for more information.

Flights

Do you want to visit Western Canada? Or do you live in the West and want to discover Quebec and the Maritimes? Flying is the only solution for a short vacation in Canada.

Air Canada A220 Business Class 06
Air Canada A220

With a low-cost airline like Flair advertising fares never seen in this country, it will be possible to use travel points on your flights.

But don’t forget about Aeroplan points or AIR MILES Reward Miles, which are two currencies that are particularly well suited for a Canadian vacation. Especially since there are so many credit card offers currently available.

For example, with Aeroplan, you could buy a round-trip ticket from Montreal to Vancouver for 20,400 points and $83:

Aeroplan Yul Yvr En

Or 1 return ticket from Montreal to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island for 17,000 points and $80:

Aeroplan Yul Charlottetown En

You may also be eligible for the Air Canada Buddy Pass available with some credit cards such as the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card or the American Express® Aeroplan®* Card.

See these articles for more details on the Air Canada Buddy Pass:

If you are a family of 2 adults and 2 children, the best strategy is to each apply for a credit card with the Buddy Pass. This way, each of your children will travel almost for free!

Here’s a selection of the best Aeroplan credit card offers coming with an Air Canada Buddy Pass:

With AIR MILES, we will focus on short-haul flights with DREAM miles. For example, this round trip flight from Vancouver to Calgary for 1,500 miles and $127:

Yvr Yyc Air Miles En

If you’re a couple, you could get those two round-trip flights with 3,000 miles earned for free with the BMO® AIR MILES® World Elite®* Mastercard®*.

Food

Grocery

Are you travelling with your family during your vacation in Canada? Food can get expensive quickly. Stops at the grocery store will be necessary for your meal baskets.

cobalt super c
5x points at Super C

There are several specialized credit cards for grocery stores to earn more points or cash back:

The most interesting credit card for grocery shopping is the American Express Cobalt™ Card as you can get 5 points per dollar (a value of 5% against any purchase charged to the card or 6 Marriott Bonvoy points if you transfer to this program for free hotel nights).

Most grocery stores accept this card in Canada, such as Metro, Super C, Sobeys, Safeway, Whole Foods, and many IGA stores.

Another smart way to save on groceries while on vacation in Canada is to use the AIR MILES Cash Miles Program. At IGA or Sobeys, you can use 95 CASH miles for a $10 rebate at the grocery store.

So, if you applied for the BMO® AIR MILES® World Elite®* Mastercard®* through milesopedia’s exclusive offer, you have at least 3,300 Cash Miles in your AIR MILES account (including miles from the required $3,000 spend in the first 3 months).

That’s $346.50 worth of free food!

Restaurants and bars

For restaurants and bars, you may use your American Express Cobalt™ Card.

marriott suites anaheim – salle de restauration25

You’ll earn 5 points per dollar for spending at restaurants.

amex platine cobalt restaurants
Platine card Cobalt card at the restaurant

An example for a family

We have presented all the options available to save on your vacation in Canada on several important expenses: accommodation, transportation and food.

Of course, the goal is not to apply to 10 credit cards, but to get the ones that will meet your needs. And to be strategic, if there are two of you planning your vacation to Canada!

If you’ve read this article carefully, you’ll notice that one credit card stands out: the American Express Cobalt™ Card. It is one of the best credit cards in Canada because of its versatility:

  • You like Airbnb rentals or other accommodations: you can use your points on that
  • You prefer Marriott Bonvoy hotels: you can transfer your points (5 points = 6 Marriott Bonvoy points)
  • If you have grocery, restaurant or bar expenses: this card offers a 5% cash back

In short, this is the credit card we recommend first.

Then, if you’d like to stay in hotels, the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card is a must-have, especially with its current welcome bonus of 60,000 points.

If you are a couple, I suggest you both apply for this card and transfer your points from one account to another. This is enough to get several free hotel nights during your vacation in Canada.

Finally, you can complete your round of credit card applications with another card such as the BMO® AIR MILES® World Elite®* Mastercard®*, the Best Western Rewards® Mastercard, the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card or the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®.

Of course, it is up to you to do your calculations carefully to respect the minimum expenses required by all these offers (some of them do not require any minimum for Quebec residents). But planning ahead can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars on your Canadian vacation with Travel Reward Points.

HSBC Canada Credit Cards

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