When you think of a card with well-rounded benefits and flexible points, easy ways to redeem for travel, a healthy welcome offer, and generous hotel and insurance perks, American Express is often top of mind. While still not as widely accepted as competitors bearing the Visa or Mastercard name, the American Express Gold Rewards Card still stands out as one of the most flexible points cards in Canada, featuring a strong earn rate fit for frequent travellers looking to maximize their rewards.
One of the largest travel rewards programs in Canada, Air Miles is affiliated with a wide variety of everyday retail partners, from grocery stores and gas stations, to liquor stores and travel outlets, where members earn points on their purchases. Savvy collectors know they can boost their earn rate by using the right credit card—and with its wide selection of partners and recently enhanced redemption options, the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard is one of the best Air Miles credit cards in Canada, made even better with an annual fee rebate if you have the BMO Premium chequing account. Rounded out with airport lounge access, travel insurance benefits, and purchase protection, this BMO credit card gives other premium travel rewards credit cards a run for their money.
The approval process for a new credit card can be a daunting one, especially if you have to wait several days for confirmation before your personal card is printed and mailed to your home. Luckily, many credit cards now have instant approval, making the application process much quicker and less stressful. After filling out an application with details on your personal background, the card provider’s website runs its checks and lets you know if your application has been approved or rejected within minutes.
If you’re approved with the information provided, your application is expedited for credit checks, card printing and mailing, and you can expect to receive a welcome package containing your card in five to seven business days.
As a safeguard against fraud, at times an application may go under manual review, in which case the file gets forwarded for verification, sometimes taking an additional two to three business days before a final decision is made.
As banking processes become increasingly digital, more credit card applications are moving online, and more issuers are offering instant approval cards.
As a frequent traveller, lounge access can help ease a long plane journey, especially if I’m stuck with multiple connections. Last summer, I was travelling to Toronto from Hong Kong, and after a 10-hour flight to Vancouver, it was nice to have access to food and drink, a quiet place to rest, entertainment options, a business centre and—my favourite part—a shower, before continuing my journey.
Generally speaking, you can purchase one-time access to a lounge for a bit less than half the price of a yearly unlimited access subscription through a provider such as Priority Pass. A variety of Canadian credit cards also offer appealing lounge privileges included with the annual fee, but there are differences around how access is granted and which spaces you can enter. Some cards offer unlimited access to select airport lounges, while others offer limited visits per year, so the estimated number of passes you’ll need each year may dictate which card you choose.
In Canada, the three ways you’ll typically access airport lounges through your credit card are Priority Pass, American Express Centurion and traditional airline-specific lounges, such as Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounge and the Mastercard Experience Lounges. Browse the picks below to learn about some of your top options as you consider the annual fee alongside the value of lounge benefits.
Millions of Canadians travel abroad with their domestic credit cards—and not realizing they’re racking up foreign transaction (also called “forex”) fees with every purchase. The 2.5% charged for every purchase you make in a foreign currency might not seem much, but can add up very quickly. For perspective, that’s $25 in forex fees for every $1,000 you spend on your card, and you have to pay the exchange rate as well.
If you like to explore other countries on vacation or your work frequently takes you abroad, it’s worth considering a card that travels with you.
The good news is there are a few credit cards that offer no foreign transaction fees (or their fees are returned to you as cash back), ultimately helping frequent travellers put the 2.5% back into their pockets. These picks are based on our analysis of each card’s benefits and annual fees; foreign transaction fees and how they’re handled (if rebated); and whether there are additional rewards incentives for using the card domestically and/or abroad.