Canadians love to collect travel points, and over the years credit card companies have branched out from the traditional Air Miles and Aeroplan credit cards (or their own rigid loyalty programs) and now offer a wide range of travel options for consumers.

While collecting travel points may not be the most practical rewards choice for some people, there’s no denying that these programs can be extremely lucrative.

In the latest MoneySense Magazine they ranked the best travel rewards credit cards on the market.  Here’s a look at the overall top 10:

Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards

  1. Capital One Aspire World MasterCard
  2. CIBC Aventura World MasterCard
  3. CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite
  4. CIBC Aerogold Visa
  5. CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite
  6. BMO World Elite MasterCard
  7. CIBC Aventura MasterCard
  8. American Express Blue Sky
  9. Capital One Aspire Gold MasterCard
  10. American Express Air Miles

Unlike a cash back credit card, it can be difficult to determine the value of your travel points because there are so many variables involved.  You have to take into account the value of your hotel room, flight and other benefits.  And depending on the destination that you’re travelling to and the type of hotel, that can almost be impossible to figure out.

Thankfully, MoneySense did the work for you and calculated the value of your points based on your monthly spending level and the city that you’ll fly out of.  Let’s take a look at the winners based on flying out of Toronto:

Annual cash value of travel points if you spend $1,000/month

  • Capital One Aspire World MasterCard – $290.00
  • American Express Blue Sky – $170.00
  • Capital One Aspire Gold MasterCard – $138.00

Annual cash value of travel points if you spend $4,000/month

  • Capital One Aspire World MasterCard – $1,010.00
  • BMO World Elite MasterCard – $819.00
  • CIBC Aventura World MasterCard – $656.75

Now here is a look at the winners based on flying out of Calgary:

Annual cash value of travel points if you spend $1,000/month

  • Capital One Aspire World MasterCard – $290.00
  • CIBC Aventura World MasterCard – $179.81
  • CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite – $179.81

Annual cash value of travel points if you spend $4,000/month

  • Capital One Aspire World MasterCard – $1,010.00
  • CIBC Aventura World MasterCard – $924.19
  • CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite – $924.19

There are two important points that stand out to me from this list.  First, the Capital One Aspire World MasterCard is by far the best travel rewards credit card, regardless of where you live or what your spending levels are.  It’s not even close, so if you like redeeming your rewards for travel you need to get your hands on this credit card.

The second point is that the cash value from travel rewards credit cards easily dwarf those from cash back and retail rewards cards (beating the MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard to the tune of $250 a year), but consumers need to ensure that it’s in their best interests to collect travel rewards rather than redeeming points for gift card rewards or cash back.

Travel typically incurs an expense over and above the redemption of rewards, but if you’re comfortable with that fact and you prefer to stock up on travel points to supplement your annual vacation expenses, you can’t go wrong choosing one of the best travel rewards credit cards listed here.

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