The competition for Canada’s top travel rewards card is heating up as banks and credit card issuers aim to get more share of your wallet and spending. Those in the market for a new rewards card will have no trouble finding juicy sign-up bonuses and other enticing offers, but the best cards should continue to provide value long after the introductory period ends.

Top Travel Rewards Card

Two cards – BMO’s World Elite MasterCard and Capital One’s Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard – rise above the competition when it comes to earning power and flexible ways to redeem your travel points. Here’s how they stack up:

BMO World Elite MasterCard

It’s no surprise why the BMO World Elite MasterCard was recently named the Canada’s top travel points credit card for 2015 by the popular Rewards Canada blog. This card offers a ton of value:

• Welcome bonus: 30,000 points = $300 in travel rewards
• Earn rate: 2 BMO Rewards points for every $1 spent = 2% back in travel rewards
• Booking travel: Travel must be booked through BMO Rewards program
• Points redemption: Points cover travel taxes and fees at time of booking, with no blackout periods or seat restrictions, and points never expire
• Partial redemption: If you don’t have enough points for the full cost of your trip you can pay the difference with your card
• Extra goodies: 4 Priority Pass airport lounge passes valued at $200 per year
• Annual fee: $150
• Interest rate: 19.99% interest on card purchases
• Additional card fee: $0 additional card fee
• Insurance: Comprehensive 21-day travel medical coverage, plus trip cancellation, trip interruption, trip/flight delay, purchase assurance, extended warranty, and car rental
• Eligibility: $70,000 personal annual income OR $120,000 annual household income

How much can you earn with the BMO World Elite MasterCard?

• Spend $2,000 on your card each month
• Earn $480 in travel rewards each year
• Add $300 travel rewards welcome bonus in the first year
• = $780 travel rewards this year

Apply for the BMO World Elite MasterCard here

Capital One Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard

Capital One revamped its flagship travel rewards card earlier this year and made it easier to redeem points for full value. These changes, plus a new and lavish early-spend bonus, make this card worth carrying in your wallet:

• Early-spend bonus: 40,000 points = $400 in travel rewards once you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months
• Earn rate: 2 reward miles for every $1 spent = 2% back in travel rewards
• Booking travel: Book your own trip – including the hotel, airline or rental car of your choice
• Points redemption: Redeem your miles to cover any travel expenses with no minimum requirements. 100 points = $1 in travel.
• Partial redemption: Redeem on a portion of a transaction – for example, redeem half of an overseas flight.
• Extra goodies: n/a
• Annual fee: $150
• Interest rate: 19.8% interest on card purchases
• Additional card fee: $0 additional card fee
• Insurance: 22-day travel emergency medical coverage, trip cancellation, trip Interruption, flight delay, baggage loss, baggage delay, purchase assurance, extended warranty, and car rental
• Eligibility: $70,000 personal annual income OR $120,000 annual household income

How much can you earn with the Capital One Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard?

• Spend $2,000 on your card each month
• Earn $480 in travel rewards each year
• Add $400 travel rewards early-spend bonus in the first year
• = $880 travel rewards this year

Apply for the Capital One Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard here

The verdict:

Both cards can be considered frontrunners for top travel rewards card. They each offer tremendous value for everyday travellers. The flexibility to book and redeem your points anyway you want without being tied to one airline or points system sets these cards apart from programs like Aeroplan or Air Miles.

Capital One Aspire offers the highest pure return on spending in the first year, with its 40,000 point early-spend bonus paying $100 more than BMO’s 30,000 point welcome bonus.

But BMO’s World Elite MasterCard sweetens the deal for frequent flyers by throwing in four Priority Pass airport lounge passes (worth US$200 a year). The Priority Pass allows you to relax at these lounges worldwide with drinks and snacks and complimentary Wifi. The passes, provided you use them, offer an ongoing bonus for travellers each year.

Pin It on Pinterest