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.
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.)
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!
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:
With the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card, you earn 50,000 points after $1,500 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 50,000 bonus points. Then transfer your points from one account to another for free, giving you many free hotel nights! By making a few purchases on the Card, you can easily earn 60,000 points.
For example, with 60,000 points, you could get 5 nights in Gatineau at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel & Conference Centre Gatineau-Ottawa :
For 60,000 points, you could get 5 nights at the Delta Hotels Sherbrooke Conference Centre in Sherbrooke:
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.
Looking for a stopover hotel while visiting British Columbia? How about this Fairfield Inn & Suites Kamloops hotel for only 20,000 points per night:
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
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™ Cardmembers can earn up to 50,000 points as a welcome bonus. This is a great welcome offer for a credit card that requires no minimum income!
That’s a $500 value in statement credits redeemed towards any purchase charged to your 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:
For car rental, you can use travel points from your credit cards.
Here, we will try to use the best credit card to earn the maximum of points for gas during a vacation in Canada.
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%|
To travel by train with VIA Rail on your Canadian vacation, you could use travel points. But also AIR MILES Reward Miles!
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.
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.
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:
Or 1 return ticket from Montreal to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island for 17,000 points and $80:
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:
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®*.
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.
There are several specialized credit cards for grocery stores to earn more points or cash back:
|Credit card||Points per dollar||Return|
|American Express Cobalt™ Card||5 points||5 %|
|Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card||5 points||5 %|
|BMO® CashBack® World Elite®* Mastercard®*||5 %||5 %|
|CIBC Dividend® Visa Infinite* Card||4 %||4 %|
|Desjardins Cash Back World Elite Mastercard||4 %||4 %|
|Scotia Momentum® VISA Infinite* card||4 %||4 %|
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).
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!
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 would like to stay in hotels, the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card is a must, especially with its current elevated welcome bonus!
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.