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Best Credit Card for Frequent Flyers in Canada for 2020

Nov. 5, 2020
8 mins
A professional man chats on the phone with a big cappuccino beside him and his laptop not far from reach

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 possibly 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 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


*This credit card is no longer available.

  • Aeroplan® Miles
  • Travel insurance, annual Partner Ticket, Pearson Airport and  Air Canada perks
$499

1. Scotiabank PassportTM Visa Infinite* Card

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$250
+ Annual rewards
$354
- Annual fee
$139
Total first year value
$465
Scotiabank PassportTM Visa Infinite* Card

card image
Welcome bonus
$250
Scotia Scene+ Points
Annual rewards
$354
Scotia Scene+ Points
Annual fees:
$139
Interest rates:
19.99% on purchases • 22.99% on cash advances
Includes strong travel insurance, lounge access and no foreign transaction fees
Rewards points can be redeemed for travel or on statement credits
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$250
Annual rewards
$354
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$250
+ Annual rewards
$354
- Annual fee
$139
Total first year value
$465
Annual fees:
$139
Interest rates:
19.99% on purchases
22.99% on cash advances
Includes strong travel insurance, lounge access and no foreign transaction fees
Rewards points can be redeemed for travel or on statement credits
Details at a glance Collapse details

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 20,000 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 $415 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 20,000 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: February 28, 2021

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 = 55,400 Scotia Rewards points
Monetary value= $554
Annual fee = $139
Total earned over the first year (rewards minus annual fee) = $415

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

*This card is no longer available. Check out the new Aeroplan credit cards from American Express or visit the RATESDOTCA credit card marketplace for more options.

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.

Rates, product information, and rewards estimates are subject to change at any time and do not constitute financial advice. Information in this article is accurate as of the date of this posting, November 5, 2020. This article was first published on August 19, 2020.

This post has been updated.

Best of Finance 2020 Methodology Infographic

Hayley Vesh

Hayley Vesh is an editor and writer in the personal finance space, where she uses her eight years of media and marketing experience to bring content to life. She specializes in money products, including mortgages, home and auto insurance, and credit cards. Hayley holds a Broadcast Journalism diploma from Sheridan College and was awarded the Shaw Media Journalism and Media Award for graduating at the top of her class. Her work has appeared in Global News and diverse digital corporate training materials behind the scenes.

Hayley is passionate about making complex subjects, such as home buying and financial literacy, concise and intriguing. Her work has garnered media coverage from The Globe and Mail, blogTO, Yahoo! News, and CityNews 680 and has been syndicated across other publications.

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