Frequent flyers spend a lot of time at the airport, which can mean more time spent in security lines and waiting to board planes. The right credit card can make this standard airport hustle a breeze and potentially more luxurious.

This selection of credit cards features everything from complimentary airport valet services to free airport lounge access and top travel insurance coverage. That means taking off for your next work trip or vacation can be stress-free.

Not only that, but our winner also offers no foreign transaction fees on purchases. Standard credit cards charge 1.5% to 3% on purchases made in foreign currency, including when shopping online. These extra fees can eat into the travel budget. Luckily, cardholders of our top pick don’t have to worry about those costs, keeping more money in their pocket.

We compared prominent credit cards for frequent flyers using our Best of Finance methodology and ranked the cards that provided the highest first-year value.

These are the best credit cards for frequent flyers for 2020.

Our top pick
Credit card Great features Annual fee
1. Scotiabank PassportTM Visa Infinite* Card
  • Flexible Scotia Rewards redeem for travel or statement credits
  • Travel insurance, no foreign transaction fees, six free lounge passes per year

$139

Runner-up
Credit card Great features Annual fee
2. American Express® AeroplanPlus®* Platinum Card
  • Aeroplan® Miles
  • Travel insurance, annual Partner Ticket, Pearson Airport and  Air Canada perks
$499

1. Scotiabank PassportTM Visa Infinite* Card

Frequent flyers will enjoy the Scotiabank PassportTM Visa Infinite* Card. Pay no foreign transaction fees on purchases and access a full suite of travel insurance. Plus, get six free lounge visits per year and the Best Price Guarantee on airfare when you book through the Scotia Rewards Travel Service.

For a limited time, get 30,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points when you spend at least $1,000 in the first three months. Get an additional 10,000 Scotia Rewards points when you spend at least $40,000 annually.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian will see $515 in Scotia Rewards points in the first year.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Excellent: You’ve had a credit card or loan for at least 10 years. You’ve had good credit for the last seven years (no bankruptcies or no defaults on credit as a result of failing to pay debts back to creditors). You haven’t opened a new credit card account, loan, or line of credit in the last nine months. You’ve made the minimum payments on your existing credit cards for the past six months.

Annual fee:

$139

Get your first supplementary card for free. Each additional card has a $50 annual fee.

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Earn 30,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points when you spend at least $1,000 in the first three months.
  • Get an additional 10,000 Scotia Rewards points when you spend $40,000 in everyday purchases annually.

Offer expiry date: August 31, 2020

Rewards:

  • Earn two Scotia Rewards points per dollar spent on grocery, dining, entertainment, and daily transit purchases, including taxis and public transit, up to the first $50,000 spent annually. After, earn one Scotia Reward per dollar you spend in these categories.
  • Earn one Scotia Reward point per dollar you spend everywhere else you shop.

Earning potential:

How does this card stack up to other rewards credit cards? We crunched the numbers using our Best of Finance methodology to see how much an average Canadian could earn over a 12-month period.

Rewards earned over a 12-month period = 65,400 Scotia Rewards points
Monetary value= $654
Annual fee = $139
Total earned over the first year (rewards minus annual fee) = $515

You can redeem your points for:

  • Travel
  • Experiences
  • Merchandise
  • Gift cards
  • A statement credit
  • Convert to SCENE points

Insurance:

  • Travel emergency medical insurance
  • Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance
  • Flight delay insurance
  • Delayed and lost baggage insurance
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Rental car collision loss/damage insurance
  • Hotel/motel burglary insurance
  • Purchase security
  • Extended warranty
  • Feel reassured (optional protection)

Other perks:

  • Cardholders can access the Price Protection Service. If an eligible item has a price drop within 60 days of your purchase, you can claim the price difference up to $100 per item and $500 a year. Other conditions apply.
  • Enjoy no foreign transaction fees on purchases made abroad or at foreign merchants online. The exchange rate still applies.
  • Enjoy six free lounge visits per year with complimentarily Priority Pass Membership and Avis Preferred Plus membership for discounts and upgrades on rental cars.
  • Benefits include the Visa Infinite Concierge services, Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection, and the Visa Infinite Wine Country Program.
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2. American Express® AeroplanPlus®* Platinum Card

The American Express® AeroplanPlus®* Platinum Card has the highest annual fee in this category, at $499. However, it also has a lot to offer. Cardholders can bring a friend along with their annual Partner TicketTM, relax at over 1,200 lounges, including the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, and bypass the regular line with Air Canada Priority Check-in. Plus, this card features travel insurance and lots of extra perks at Pearson Airport.

Cardholders can earn 40,000 bonus Aeroplan® Miles when they make at least $3,000 in purchases within the first three months. Note, this card is a charge card, and balances must be paid in full at the end of each month. A 30% interest rate applies to unpaid balances.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian will see $1,251 in Aeroplan® Miles within the first year.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Excellent: You’ve had a credit card or loan for at least 10 years. You’ve had good credit for the last seven years (no bankruptcies or no defaults on credit as a result of failing to pay debts back to creditors). You haven’t opened a new credit card account, loan, or line of credit in the last nine months. You’ve made the minimum payments on your existing credit cards for the past six months.

Annual fee:

$499

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Cardholders can earn 40,000 bonus Aeroplan® Miles when they spend at least $3,000 in the first three months.

Offer expiry date: N/A subject to change without notice

Rewards:

  • Earn 1.25 Aeroplan Miles per $1 you spend up to $25,000 annually.
  • After your first $25,000 annually, earn 1.5 Aeroplan Miles per dollar in everyday purchases.

Earning potential:

How does this card stack up to other rewards credit cards? We crunched the numbers using our Best of Finance methodology to see how much an average Canadian could earn over a 12-month period.

Rewards earned over a 12-month period = 70,000 Aeroplan Miles
Monetary value= $1,750
Annual fee = $499
Total earned over the first year (rewards minus annual fee) = $1,251

You can redeem your points for:

  • Travel
  • Flights
  • Aeroplan’s Market Fare Flight Rewards®
  • Aeroplan’s Fixed Mileage Flight Rewards®*
  • Hotel stays
  • Car rentals
  • Vacation packages
  • Experiences
  • Merchandise

Insurance:

  • Out of province/country emergency medical
  • Trip cancellation
  • Trip interruption
  • $500,000 travel accident
  • Travel emergency assistance
  • Flight delay
  • Baggage delay
  • Lost or stolen baggage
  • Hotel burglary
  • Car rental theft and damage
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty

Other perks:

  • Enjoy an annual Partner TicketTM when you redeem 15,000 Aeroplan Miles for a short-haul roundtrip Fixed Mileage Flight Reward.
  • Bypass the regular line and head straight for the Air Canada Priority Check-in.
  • Access over 1,200 lounges worldwide with Priority PassTM membership. That includes the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge.
  • Take advantage of the complimentary valet service at Pearson Airport and the Pearson Priority Security Lane.

Best of Finance 2020 Methodology Infographic

Hayley Vesh

Hayley Vesh is a creative, resourceful, and knowledgeable content producer who is passionate about financial literacy, storytelling, and generating ideas. She writes about credit cards, savings, debt management, and personal finance. In her spare time, Hayley can be found wandering in the woods, hunting for second-hand treasures, or curled up with a steeped tea and a good podcast.

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