Best Canadian Credit Cards for Travel 2021

Leveraging credit cards has always been a part of our travel strategy because it helps to make travel affordable and opens up so many opportunities that wouldn’t be available otherwise! We more or less had our strategy down pat for the last few years but things have changed and we have adapted to find new opportunities and offers recently. In this post, we share which credit cards we’ve signed up for recently and why.

The cards:

These are the 3 cards we signed up and will provide information about:

  1. HSBC World Elite MasterCard
  2. WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard
  3. American Express®* Aeroplan® Reserve Card

Disclaimer: signing up for credit cards has financial implications and anyone who does should assess their financial situation and make sure they have a strategy to pay off bills to avoid negative credit scores and potentially even bankruptcy.

  1. HSBC World Elite Mastercard

We have earned close to $1,000 worth of travel credits for future travel with this card so far.

The offer:

  • Earn up to 70,000 Points PLUS a full annual fee rebate for the Primary Cardholder for the first year. Must apply by September 27 2021. Conditions Apply.
  • Welcome Bonus – 20,000 Points ($100 travel value)
  • Spend $5,000 in the first 180 days to earn an additional 20,000 Points ($100 travel value)
  • Earn 10,000 Points ($50 travel value) for adding your 1st Authorized User
  • Receive an additional 20,000 Points ($100 travel value) as an Anniversary Bonus
  • Annual Fee Rebate for the Primary Cardholder for the first year ($149 value)

Other perks:

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $100 annual travel enhancement credit

Why we like this card:

We like this card because the points you earn are then converted to a cash value that can be used for anything travel related like airfare, accommodation, train, etc. It really offers lot of flexibility compared to other cards and the sign-up bonus makes it lucrative, especially if you can meet the minimum spend.

In addition, the opportunity to earn points based on daily spend is pretty generous too:

“Earn 3% in travel rewards on all eligible travel purchases (6 Points per $1) and 1.5% in travel rewards on all other eligible purchases (3 Points per $1).”

For us, we anticipate getting the highest value from booking an Airbnb stay. Since our condo was flooded and we had to live away from home for an extended period of time, we have developed an appreciation for Airbnb despite past hesitance and not being able to use points to offset the cost of the stay.

Why we don’t like this card:

This card does provide lounge access but at the cost of $32 per visit so this advertised perk is not really perk!

The sign-up bonus is generous but it is only worth it if you can meet the minimum spend. We signed up for the card around when we knew we’d have lots of home renovations to pay for or else it would have been difficult to meet the minimum spend (and you should ever just go on a spending spree to earn a credit card sign-up bonus!).

The annual fee for this card is $149 but you get an anniversary bonus worth $100 every year so in theory the card costs $50 per year after the first year. You need to evaluate if the anniversary bonus and other perks are worth keeping the card longer than a year. Compared to an American Express, Mastercard is widely accepted worldwide and so no foreign transaction fees could be worth it depending on how much you spend abroad.

2. WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard

We estimate that we will get about $2,000 worth of value from this credit card for future travel.

The offer:

  • 350 welcome WestJet dollars (on first purchase) Plus Earn 2x the WestJet dollars (on grocery, restaurants and food delivery in the first three months)
  • For a limited time, activate and use a new WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard and get your first round trip companion voucher for $0 CAD (usually $119 for Canada and the USA and $399 for Mexico, Hawaii and the Caribbean).
  • 1.5% back in WestJet dollars on everyday purchases
  • 2% back in WestJet dollars on WestJet flights or WestJet Vacations packages using your card

Other perks:

  • First free checked bags for primary cardholder
  • No blackout dates to use WestJet dollars
  • You can get about $25 of free fuel at Petro Canada when you sign-up for the Petro Pass.

Why we like this card:

The new offer of getting a companion fare for free within the first year of having the card is amazing! We hope to maximize using the companion fare when a round trip ticket would cost about $800 per person.

The $350 WestJet dollars sign-up bonus with no minimum spending requirements makes this an easier card to use.

Why we don’t like this card:

We have never signed up for a WestJet credit card because we found the companion fare deal to not really be a deal at all, especially since we have the Alaska Airlines credit card which has cheaper companion fares for the destinations we travel to.

The annual fee is $119 after your first year and without the first year bonuses and complimentary companion fare, it may not be worth it to keep the card for a long time.

3. American Express®* Aeroplan® Reserve Card

Due to the changes to the Aeroplan program, it is hard to estimate how much this is worth but $65,000 points is almost enough points for a one-way business class flight worth about $5,000. To buy 65,000 points right now would cost $1,950 CAD; the annual fee for this card is $599 (or $399 if you get a cashback promo).

The offer:

  • New American Express Aeroplan Reserve Cardmembers can earn up to 65,000
  • Aeroplan Welcome Bonus points and a $100 Statement Credit

Other Perks:

  • Earn 3 points for every $1 spent on eligible purchases made directly with Air Canada® and Air Canada Vacations®
  • Earn 2 points for every $1 spent on eligible Dining and Food Delivery in Canada
  • Lounge access to Maple Leaf Lounges in North America
  • Get access to Priority Check-In, Priority Boarding, and Priority Baggage Handling.
  • Earn Status Qualifying Miles and Status Qualifying Segments by meeting required spending on your Card

Why we like this card:

Since we are not flying as much and able to earn Aeroplan points that way, this card helps us to replenish our points balances affordably and quickly. We really like the new Aeroplan program having the flexibility to use more points for flights to book cancellable fares and have found some sweet spots for redemptions and so we want to have a good supply of points for the future. This card helps us do that easier than with an American Express Platinum right now.

Non-Air Canada elites will also benefit from the lounge access and some the priority services.

Why we don’t like this card:

The annual fee is quite high and unless you travel a lot and don’t have elite status with Air Canada, you may not benefit as much beyond your first year.

You also have to spend $25,000 in your first year to earn a companion fare which may be difficult for some to achieve, especially since American Express is not as widely accepted as other cards.

The real perk is getting the points because the lounge access is not very comprehensive and even the Priority Pass access requires you to pay for lounge visits.


With a little bit of planning and effort, we have been able to earn thousands of dollars in travel rewards for future travel! We would still love to be able to sign-up for American credit cards because the bonuses and perks are a gazillion times better than what Canadian credits offer but we think Canadians can benefit from the cards we featured in this post.

Are there any other credit card offers for Canadians you can recommend for us?

3 thoughts on “Best Canadian Credit Cards for Travel 2021

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