Travel rewards credit cards are great for vacations, journeys back home to visit family and road trip adventures. Often cardholders can redeem their rewards for flights, car rentals, hotel stays, merchandise and more. Not only that, but travel cards generally have travel insurance coverage for peace of mind on your trip.

Some travel cards offer airport lounge access, while others have no foreign transaction fees. Credit card providers typically charge 1.5% to 3% on foreign currency purchases, which can cut into the travel budget. However, cardholders with 0% foreign transaction fees won’t have to worry about using their card overseas, over the border, or online at foreign merchants.

We compared the top travel credit cards using our Best of Finance methodology and ranked the cards that provided the highest first-year value.

These are the best travel credit cards for 2020.

Our top pick
Credit card Great features Annual fee
1. Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card
  • Flexible Scotia Rewards redeemable for travel or statement credits
  • Travel insurance, no foreign transaction fees

$120

Runners-up
Credit card Great features Annual fee
2. TD First Class Travel®Visa Infinite* Card
  • Flexible TD Points redeemable for travel or statement credits
  • Travel insurance, roadside assistance (optional)
$120 (Waived year 1)
3. Scotiabank PassportTM Visa Infinite* Card
  • Flexible Scotia Rewards redeemable for travel or statement credits
  • Travel insurance, no foreign transaction fees, six free airport lounge visits per year
$139

1. Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card

Apply for the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card and earn 20,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points when you make at least $1,000 in purchases in your first three months. That is a $200 travel value. Plus, pay no foreign transaction fees on purchases made abroad or at foreign merchants online. Although the exchange rate still applies, cardholders will not pay the foreign transaction charges, which are typically around 1.5% to 3% of the purchase price.

Scotiabank Gold American Express® Cardmembers can also take advantage of the Best Price Guarantee on airfare booked through the Scotia Rewards Travel Service, and the extensive travel insurance coverage included on the card.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian will see $824 in Scotia Rewards points within the first year.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Good: You’ve had a credit card or loan for at least six years. You’ve had good credit for the last seven years (no bankruptcies or 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 any existing credit cards for the past three months.

Annual fee:

$120

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • New cardmembers can earn 20,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points when they spend at least $1,000 within the first three months.

Offer expiry date: August 31, 2020

Rewards:

  • Earn 5X the Scotia Rewards points per dollar on eats and entertainment, including grocery, restaurant, fast food, food delivery and select food subscription purchases, as well as movies, tickets and more.
  • Earn 3X the Scotia Rewards points per dollar on rides and select streaming services, including gas, public transit, taxis, rideshare, Netflix, and more.
  • Earn 1X the Scotia Rewards point per dollar spent on everything else.

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 = 94,400 Scotia Rewards points
Monetary value= $944
Annual fee = $120
Total earned over the first year (rewards minus annual fee) = $824

You can redeem your points for:

  • Travel
  • Experiences
  • Merchandise
  • Gift cards
  • A statement credit
  • Converted 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
  • Scotia Credit Card Protection (optional)

Other perks:

  • Enjoy all that American Express has to offer, including exclusive access to events, tickets, and deals.
  • Use the Scotia Rewards Travel Service for the Best Price Guarantee on airfare.
  • Take advantage of no foreign transaction fees on purchases made online and abroad.
  • Save time with the 24/7 complimentary concierge service.
  • Receive a preferred discount on the Priority Pass membership and access airport lounges around the world.
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2. TD First Class Travel®Visa Infinite* Card

The TD First Class Travel®Visa Infinite* Card is offering cardholders 20,000 bonus TD Points when they make their first purchase using the card. That is a $100 travel value. Plus, TD will waive the annual fee for the primary and supplementary cardholders for the first year.

Travellers can enjoy an extensive line of insurance coverage, discounts on rental cars, and an optional TD Auto Club Membership for protection no matter where adventures take them.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian will see $532 in TD Points within the first year.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Good: You’ve had a credit card or loan for at least six years. You’ve had good credit for the last seven years (no bankruptcies or 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 any existing credit cards for the past three months.

Annual fee:

$120

*The annual fee is waived for both the primary and secondary cardholders the first year.

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Earn 20,000 TD Points when you make your first purchase using the card. Plus, TD will waive the annual fee for the first year.

Offer expiry date: September 8, 2020

Rewards:

  • Earn three TD Points per dollar you spend on purchases.
  • Earn nine TD Points per dollar you spend on travel through Expedia for TD charged to the card.

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 = 106,400 TD Points
Monetary value= $532
Annual fee = $0
Total earned over the first year (rewards minus annual fee) = $532

*The $120 annual fee is waived for the first year.

You can redeem your points for:

  • Travel
  • Travel-related purchases
  • Merchandise
  • Gift cards
  • Statement credit

Insurance:

  • Travel medical
  • Trip cancellation/trip interruption
  • Common carrier travel accident
  • Delayed and lost baggage
  • Purchase security
  • Extended warranty

Other perks:

  • Take advantage of the emergency travel assistance services for help with personal emergencies while travelling.
  • Get an annual discount on a Priority Pass Membership for airport lounge access around the world.
  • Save on rental cars from Avis Rent A Car and Budget Rent A Car across the U.S. and Canada.
  • Cardholders have the option of adding a TD Auto Club Membership for roadside assistance services.

3. Scotiabank PassportTM Visa Infinite* Card

Members of the Scotiabank PassportTM Visa Infinite* Card can earn up to 40,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points in the first year. Get 30,000 points when you spend at least $1,000 in the first three months. Get another 10,000 points when you spend at least $40,000 on the card annually.

Cardholders who enjoy travelling can save with no foreign transaction fees on purchases made overseas or online. Get six free airport lounge visits per year with the complimentary Priority Pass membership and extended travel insurance coverage.

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

One free supplementary card. Each additional card has a fee of $50 per year.

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Get 30,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points when you make at least $1,000 in purchase in the first three months.
  • Get 10,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points when you spend $40,000 on the card annually.

Offer expiry date: August 31, 2020

Rewards:

  • Earn two Scotia Rewards points per dollar on eligible grocery, dining, entertainment and daily transit purchases, including buses, subways, and taxis.
  • Earn one Scotia Rewards point per dollar 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
  • Trip cancellation/trip interruption
  • Flight delay
  • Delayed and lost baggage
  • Rental car collision loss/damage
  • Hotel/motel burglary
  • Travel accident
  • Purchase security
  • Extended warranty
  • Price Protection
  • Scotia Credit Card Protection (Optional)

Other perks:

  • Enjoy no foreign transaction fees on purchases made abroad and at foreign merchants online.
  • Get six free lounge visits per year with the complimentary Priority Pass Membership.
  • Take advantage of the Best Price Guarantee on airfare when booking travel through the Scotia Rewards Travel Service.
  • Save on rental cars with the complimentary Avis® Preferred Plus membership.

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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