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Top 7 Credit Cards With Specialty Rewards

April 6, 21
16 mins
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Specialty rewards credit cards can help travel enthusiasts, motorheads, and hobbyists get the best return on spending and extra savings on unconventional purchases.

These cards tailor their loyalty programs to specific retail categories or brands and target a refined audience. This concept can be limiting to some but highly rewarding for those with specific rewards goals.

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What are specialty rewards credit cards?

Cardholders earn retail-specific rewards instead of the usual cash back or travel points offered by mainstream credit cards. These cards appeal to those with particular interests or hobbies and often provide exclusive perks and benefits to loyal customers.

Members may earn an accelerated reward rate for purchases at participating locations or affiliated partners. For example, the Triangle™ Mastercard® offers 4% back in Canadian Tire Money® at Canadian Tire locations and participating banner brands like Sport Chek, Mark’s and Atmosphere.

In exchange for racking up rewards so quickly, there is one caveat: usually, there fewer redemption options available. While cash back can be spent anywhere, specialty rewards typically have a narrow focus — limiting cardholders to free merchandise or money off purchases from the brand behind the card.

Easy ways to earn more money with a specialty rewards credit card

Cardholders may be able to boost their reward balance using these simple tactics:

  1. Cash in on routine expenses. Many people find themselves paying for work-related expenses out of their pocket before getting reimbursed. Using a specialty rewards credit card for regular business trips and hotel bookings can equal a free night’s stay or family vacation.
  2. Pick your payment preferences wisely. Paying with a specialty rewards card for most everyday purchases may not provide the best return on spending. In this case, having more than one credit card would be beneficial. Select the payment preference that offers the highest reward for each purchase.
  3. Do your research. Look at your credit card welcome package or online reward portal to see if your specialty rewards can be converted or transferred to other programs. This strategy may provide a more extensive catalogue of redemption options.
  4. Consider the annual fee. A credit card with an annual fee may quash any benefits gained if purchases are too infrequent at the associated brand or retailer. However, a no-fee card can still be advantageous even with occasional use.
  5. Combine membership points. Some loyalty programs allow members to double-dip on rewards using an affiliated credit card and membership card.
  6. Sign up for offers. Often, loyalty programs tailor exclusive offers and deals to members as incentives. Staying up to date with emails and app notifications can ensure you never miss a bonus event or promotion.

Compare credit cards with specialty rewards

Here are the best specialty rewards credit cards in Canada:

Our top picks

Credit card

Features

Annual fee

1. Marriott BonvoyTM American Express® Card

  • Earn free hotel stays
  • Transfer points from other popular travel programs
  • Access exclusive experiences with Marriott Bonvoy MomentsTM

$120

2. Best Western Rewards® Mastercard®

  • Earn free hotel stays
  • Get Gold Elite Status after your first eligible purchase

$0

3. Alaska Airlines® World Elite® Mastercard®

  • Earn Miles with the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Program
  • Access global airline partners
  • Receive an annual companion fare

$99

4. Scotiabank® GM®* Visa Infinite* Card

  • Earn GM Earnings toward the purchase price or lease down payment on a vehicle

$79

5. Triangle Mastercard®

  • Earn CT Money® everywhere you shop
  • Access no-interest financing on qualifying purchases
  • Pay property taxes, utilities, and other bills

$0

6. SCENE®* Visa* Card

  • Earn free movies and entertainment
  • Convert SCENE points to Scotia Rewards points

$0

7. Harley-Davidson® Mastercard®

  • Earn Harley-Davidson® Genuine Rewards Points
  • Get a chance to win a Harley-Davidson® motorcycle with every eligible purchase

$0

1. Marriott BonvoyTM American Express® Card

The Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card

card image
Welcome bonus
$582
Marriott Bonvoy Rewards
Annual rewards
$465
Marriott Bonvoy Rewards
Annual fee
$120

Great for individuals who travel more by road or rail
Unique hotel perks
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$582
Annual rewards
$465
Great for individuals who travel more by road or rail
Unique hotel perks
Details at a glance Collapse details

The Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card rewards members for shopping at participating properties, making this card great for business travellers and vacationers.

Cardholders can earn free stays at luxury hotels, spa treatments and dining experiences.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Good: You’ve had a credit card or loan for six or more 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 for existing credit cards for the past three months.

Annual fee:

$120

Annual fee for additional cardholders: $0

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Earn up to 60,000 Marriott BonvoyTM Points and a $120 statement credit in the first year. Get 60,000 Welcome Bonus points after making at least $3,000 in purchases to your card in the first three months of opening the account. Plus, get a $120 statement credit when you make at least $10,000 in purchases in the first 12 months.

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

Rewards:

  • Earn five Marriott BonvoyTM points for every $1 spent on eligible purchases at participating Marriott BonvoyTM.
  • Earn two Marriott BonvoyTM points for every $1 spent on all other 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 = 108,000 Marriott BonvoyTM points
Monetary value= $1,048
Statement credit = $120
Annual fee = $120
Total earned over the first year (rewards + statement credit - annual fee) = $1,048

You can redeem your points for:

  • Free hotel stays at over 7,000 properties from over 30 hotel brands, with no blackout dates
  • Once-in-a-lifetime events through Marriott Bonvoy MomentsTM
  • Transfer points to frequent flyer miles (if you transfer 60,000 points to a frequent flyer program, you receive 15,000 bonus points)

Insurance:

  • Flight delay
  • Baggage delay
  • Hotel burglary
  • Lost or stolen baggage
  • Car rental theft and damage
  • $500,000 travel accident
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty

Other perks:

  • Receive an Annual Free Night Award after your credit card anniversary.
  • Get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite Status.
  • Upgrade to Gold Elite Status after staying 10 nights within the calendar year or making at least $30,000 in purchases on the card annually.
  • Access American Express® Experiences for presale tickets, exclusive offers, and events.

This post was not sponsored. The views and opinions expressed in this review are purely those of RATESDOTCA.

2. Best Western Rewards® Mastercard®

Best Western Mastercard® credit card

card image
Welcome bonus
$165
Best Western Rewards points
Annual rewards
$278
Best Western Rewards points
Annual fee
$0

No fee travel card for Best Western loyatlists
Get 2 free nights at select Best Western properties
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$165
Annual rewards
$278
No fee travel card for Best Western loyatlists
Get 2 free nights at select Best Western properties
Details at a glance Collapse details

Cardholders of the Best Western Mastercard® credit card can get free hotel stays and more as they shop at Best Western properties located in over 100 countries. The hotel chain serves all types of travellers with family-friendly resorts and luxury hotel collections.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Good: You’ve had a credit card or loan for six or more 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 for existing credit cards for the past three months.

Annual fee:

$0

Annual fee for additional cardholders: $0

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Earn 20,000 Best Western Rewards® points when you make your first purchase using the card. That’s enough for a free night’s stay.

This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For residents of Quebec, please click here.

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

Rewards:

  • Earn five points for every $1 spent on eligible purchases at Best Western properties.
  • Earn one point for every $1 spent on all other 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 = 53,600 Best Western Rewards® points
Monetary value= $443
Annual fee = $0
Total earned over the first year (rewards minus annual fee) = $443

You can redeem your points for:

  • Hotel stays
  • Airline & Partner rewards
  • Dining
  • Gift Cards

Insurance:

  • Rental car collision loss/damage insurance
  • Purchase assurance
  • Extended warranty

Other perks:

  • Access the Away from Home service for support when travelling, including ticket replacement and lost luggage assistance.
  • Get Gold Elite Status after making your first eligible purchase.
  • Save on rental cars at participating AVIS Rent A Car and Budget Rent A Car locations across the U.S. and Canada.

3. Alaska Airlines® World Elite® Mastercard®

Alaska Airlines World Elite® Mastercard® Credit Card

card image
Welcome bonus
$480
Alaska Airlines Miles Rewards
Annual rewards
$460
Alaska Airlines Miles Rewards
Annual fee
$99

For Alaska Airlines travellers who live in a major Canadian city and often fly internationally
Redeem reward miles for flights on Alaska Airlines or with their partners
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$480
Annual rewards
$460
For Alaska Airlines travellers who live in a major Canadian city and often fly internationally
Redeem reward miles for flights on Alaska Airlines or with their partners
Details at a glance Collapse details

The Alaska Airlines World Elite® Mastercard® is designed for frequent flyers, allowing cardholders to access global airline partners and over 800 travel destinations worldwide.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Good: You’ve had a credit card or loan for six or more 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 for existing credit cards for the past three months.

Annual fee:

$99

Annual fee for additional cardholders: $0

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Earn 30,000 bonus Miles when you spend at least $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days.

This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For residents of Quebec, please click here.

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

Rewards:

  • Earn three Miles for every $1 spent on tickets, vacation packages, and cargo services from Alaska Airlines.
  • Earn one Mile for every $1 spent on all other 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 = 58,800 Miles
Monetary value= $940
Annual fee = $99
Total earned over the first year (rewards minus annual fee) = $841

You can redeem your points for:

  • Travel with Alaska Airlines or global partners

Insurance:

Other perks:

  • Access concierge services to book travel and make reservations.
  • Receive a companion fare each year on the account anniversary. Buy one round trip and get another starting from US$121 plus taxes and fees.
  • Get a baggage allowance on eligible reservations for up to six passengers.
  • Save on rental cars at participating Avis Rent A Car and Budget Rent A Car locations across the U.S. and Canada.

Alternative or similar options:

Another great card is the Alaska Airlines Platinum Plus® Mastercard® with a slightly lower annual fee of $75.

4. Scotiabank® GM®* Visa Infinite* Card

The Scotiabank® GM®* VISA* Infinite Card may offer a very niche reward; however, it provides a substantial return on spending.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Good: You’ve had a credit card or loan for six or more 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 for existing credit cards for the past three months.

Annual fee:

$79

Annual fee for additional cardholders: $39

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Pay no annual fee for the first year.

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

Rewards:

  • Earn up to 5% in GM Earnings on the first $10,000 in purchases annually.
  • After, earn 2% in GM Earnings on all other purchases annually.

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 = $780 in GM Earnings
Annual fee = $0*
Total earned over the first year (rewards minus annual fee) = $780

*The $79 annual fee is waived for the first year.

You can redeem your points for:

  • Money off the purchase price or lease down payment of a new GM, Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, or Cadillac vehicle

Insurance:

  • Trip interruption
  • Travel emergency medical
  • Flight delay
  • Delayed and lost baggage
  • Travel accident
  • Rental car collision loss/damage
  • Purchase security
  • Extended warranty
  • Scotia Credit Card Protection (optional)

Other perks:

  • Save on rental cars at participating AVIS locations across the U.S. and Canada.

Alternative or similar options:

  • The Scotiabank® GM®* VISA* Card is a no-fee card that offers 5% in GM Earnings for the first $5,000 spent annually and 2% after that.

5. Triangle™ Mastercard®

Triangle Mastercard®

card image
Welcome bonus
$0
Annual rewards
$368
Canadian Tire Cash Back Rewards
Annual fee
$0

Great for Canadian Tire shoppers to earn CT Money® everywhere and even more in store and on gas
Get approved instantly when applying online
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$0
Annual rewards
$368
Great for Canadian Tire shoppers to earn CT Money® everywhere and even more in store and on gas
Get approved instantly when applying online
Details at a glance Collapse details

The Triangle™ Mastercard® offers members CT Money® on all everyday purchases and an accelerated rate at Canadian Tire stores and affiliated retailers.

Cardholders can take advantage of no-interest financing on purchases of $150 or more at participating stores, giving customers a flexible payment option.

Members can also pay property taxes, hydro bills, tuition, and insurance premiums with the card — expenses that often don’t permit that payment option.

Cardholders earn money for these transactions like purchases, and there are no extra fees. However, users must type in the bill’s account number to make each payment as the process isn’t automated.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Good: You’ve had a credit card or loan for six or more 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 for existing credit cards for the past three months.

Annual fee:

$0

Annual fee for additional cardholders: $0

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • New cardmembers can earn 15% back in CT Money® on their first qualifying purchase at select stores within 30 days of card activation, up to $50 in CT Money®.

These annual interest rates are not applicable for residents of Quebec. For residents of Quebec, please click here.

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

Rewards:

  • Collect 4% in CT Money® on eligible purchases at Canadian Tire, Sport Chek, Mark’s/L’Équipeur, Atmosphere, Party City, Sports Rousseau, Hockey Experts, L’Entrepôt du Hockey, and participating Sports Experts stores.
  • Collect 1.5% in CT Money® on the first $12,000 in eligible grocery purchases annually (excludes Costco and Walmart).
  • Collect 0.8% in CT Money® on all other purchases.
  • Collect five cents per litre in CT Money® at Gas+ and participating Husky stations.

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 = $368 in CT Money®
Monetary value= $368
Annual fee = $0
Total earned over the first year (rewards minus annual fee) = $368*

*The first-year value does not include the welcome bonus as it depends on the price of the cardholder’s first qualifying purchase.

You can redeem your points for:

  • Merchandise at Canadian Tire, Sport Chek, Mark’s/L’Équipeur, Atmosphere, Party City, Sports Rousseau, Hockey Experts, L’Entrepôt du Hockey, and participating Sports Experts stores

Insurance:

  • There is no insurance coverage on this card.

Other perks:

  • Instantly get approved when applying online.
  • Make payments more manageable with no-fee, no-interest financing on qualifying purchases.
  • Make no-receipt returns at participating stores.

Access member-only events and offers.

6. SCENE®* Visa* Card

The SCENE®* VISA* Card offers cardholders free movies and entertainment for making everyday purchases. SCENE members can redeem rewards for free movies in the theatre, rentals online, and digital copies to keep in their movie library.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Good: You’ve had a credit card or loan for six or more 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 for existing credit cards for the past three months.

Annual fee:

$0

Annual fee for additional cardholders: $0

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Earn 2,500 bonus SCENE points when you make at least $500 in purchases in the first three months of opening the account.

Offer expiry date: July 1, 2021

Rewards:

  • Earn five SCENE points for every $1 spent at Cineplex theatres or cinplex.com.
  • Earn one SCENE point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

*A maximum of 300 points can be earned per transaction, up to a daily maximum of 600 points. When redeeming SCENE points at the theatre, additional SCENE points are earned, up to a maximum of one adult ticket and two child tickets per transaction and two transactions per day.

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 = 33,700 SCENE points
Monetary value= $337
Annual fee = $0
Total earned over the first year (rewards minus annual fee) = $337

You can redeem your points for:

  • Free movies
  • Entertainment
  • Dining
  • Gift cards
  • Convert SCENE points to Scotia Rewards points

Insurance:

  • Scotia Credit Card Protection (optional)

Other perks:

  • Save on rental cars at participating AVIS and Budget locations across the U.S. and Canada.

7. Harley-Davidson® Mastercard®

Harley-Davidson® Mastercard® credit card

card image
Welcome bonus
$0
Annual rewards
$120
Harley-Davidson Genuine Rewards points
Annual fee
$0

No fee card for Harley-Davidson enthusists
Redeem your points for Harley Chrome® Cash to be used at participating Harley-Davidson Canadian retailers
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$0
Annual rewards
$120
No fee card for Harley-Davidson enthusists
Redeem your points for Harley Chrome® Cash to be used at participating Harley-Davidson Canadian retailers
Details at a glance Collapse details

The Harley-Davidson® Mastercard® offers members Harley-Davidson® Genuine Rewards Points and a chance to win a motorcycle with every eligible purchase.

This no-fee card also includes basic rental car insurance and other travel benefits.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Good: You’ve had a credit card or loan for six or more 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 for existing credit cards for the past three months.

Annual fee:

$0

Annual fee for additional cardholders: $0

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • There is no welcome bonus on this card.

Rewards:

  • Earn one Harley-Davidson® Genuine Rewards Point for every $2 spent on eligible purchases.
  • Get a chance to win a Harley-Davidson® motorcycle with every eligible purchase on the card (four draws per year).

This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For residents of Quebec, please click here.

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 = 12,000 Harley-Davidson® Genuine Rewards Points
Monetary value= $120 Harley Chrome® Cash
Annual fee = $0
Total earned over the first year (rewards minus annual fee) = $120

You can redeem your points for:

  • MotorClothes® apparel
  • Genuine Motor accessories
  • Service

Cardholders can redeem 2,500 Harley-Davidson® Genuine Rewards Points for a $25 voucher (Harley Chrome® Cash) to participating Harley-Davidson retail locations in Canada.

Insurance:

  • Rental car collision loss/damage insurance
  • Purchase assurance
  • Extended warranty

Other perks:

  • Access the Away from Home service for travel assistance, including ticket replacement and other support.
  • Save on rental cars at participating Avis and Budget locations across the U.S. and Canada.

Rates, product information, and reward estimates are subject to change at any time and do not constitute financial advice. This post was not sponsored. The views and opinions expressed in this review are purely those of RATESDOTCA. Information in this article is accurate as of the date of this posting, April 6, 2021. Read our full disclaimer.

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.

Find Hayley Vesh on LinkedIn.

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