The 9 Best Airline Credit Cards in Canada for 2023

airline credit card in canda
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    Finding the right airline credit card can be like navigating a maze – with many options, bonuses, fees, and restrictions, it takes time to know where to turn. But the reward makes the effort worthwhile. The right card in your wallet can unlock free flights, premium perks, and travel protections that transform how you fly. This guide will be your compass, mapping Canada’s top airline credit cards tailored to your needs.

    Whether your priority is earning points and miles with a leading airline loyalty program, gaining airport lounge access, or simply earning rewards to offset travel costs, you’ll discover the best pick. We’ve researched Canada’s top airline credit cards based on the value they provide through sign-up bonuses, earning rates, built-in insurance, and other perks. You’ll find which cards offer the most mileage with leading frequent flyer programs like Aeroplan and WestJet Rewards.

    If lounge access is a priority, we’ll reveal the cards that get you complimentary entry and credits. We highlight the top options for business owners to maximize rewards on travel and other expenditures. Students and consumers focused on budget travel will also find picks tailored to their needs and spending levels. By the end of this guide, you’ll have a clear view of Canada’s top airline credit cards for every type of flyer. Let’s chart the course to unlocking the premium cabin! The miles await.

    Airline Credit Cards Overview

    Before we dive into the best cards, it’s worthwhile to understand how airline credit cards work quickly. In a nutshell, there are two types of point systems: airline miles and bank points. As you can imagine, airline miles are designed to incentivize loyalty to a particular airline. For example, Aeroplan cards will incentivize you to travel with Air Canada because you’ll earn the most points on these flights. Likewise, you’ll receive the highest point valuation with redemptions on this Airline. As such, an Aeroplan credit card is great if you frequently fly with Air Canada. However, it won’t provide value on flights with Westjet, British Airways, or other airlines.

    If you prefer flexibility, it’s better to leverage a rewards program that offers transfer partners. For example, the American Express Membership Rewards program lets you transfer to various programs, such as Aeroplan. This provides more control over your selection of available flights.

    Another thing to consider is that each point system is a different currency. Each point system has a different valuation. For example, American Express Membership Rewards points have a value of up to 1 cent per point. Meanwhile, Aeroplan rewards are worth 2 cents per point. This is why we’ve created the table below to help you understand the true ROI provided by each card.

    CardStated Earn RatePoints ProgramPoint ValuationEffective ROI
    American Express Cobalt Card1x – 5xAmex MR1 cent per point1 – 5%
    TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite1x – 1.5xAeroplan2 cents per point2 – 3%
    WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard1.5% – 2%WestJet RewardsN/A1.5 – 2%
    Amex Business Edge Card1x – 3xAmex MR1 cent per point1 – 3%
    CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card for Students1xAeroplan2 cents per point2%
    Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite1x – 3xScene+1 cent per point1 – 3%
    Amex Green Card1x Amex MR1 cent per point1 %
    TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege1.25x – 2xAeroplan2 cents per point2.5 – 4%
    Scotiabank Gold Amex1x – 6xScene+1 cent per point1 – 6%

    1. American Express Cobalt – Best Overall Airline Credit Card

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    Frequent flyers consider the American Express Cobalt Card as the best airline credit card in Canada, thanks to its unmatched flexibility and strong bonus categories. Unlike most airline credit cards in Canada, which specific airlines such as Air Canada or WestJet co-brand, the Cobalt takes a different approach. It earns valuable American Express Membership Rewards points that frequent flyers can transfer to leading airline programs, such as Aeroplan and British Airways Avios. This flexibility allows the cardholder to redeem points for flights on any airline, making it an exceptional choice.

    In addition to transferable points, the American Express Cobalt delivers excellent earning potential in common travel spending categories. Cardholders earn an industry-leading 5x points on dining and food delivery purchases, 3x points on streaming services, and 2x points on transit, gas, and travel. One extra point per dollar is also earned on hotel and car rental bookings via Amex Travel.

    The Cobalt’s earn rate, insurance protections, and travel perks provide end-to-end value. Comprehensive coverage like emergency medical, trip interruption and baggage delay insurance safeguard travel plans. Extras through Amex Travel provide further savings on hotels and rental cars. These factors are also why we’ve ranked it at the top of our list of the best credit cards in Canada.

    While most airline cards in Canada are limited by redemption restrictions, brand affiliations, and average earn rates, the American Express Cobalt stands out with maximum flexibility. Transferable points, strong bonus categories, and robust protections make it the most well-rounded choice for frequent flyers.

    2. TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite – Best Airline Card for Aeroplan Miles

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    With an annual fee of $139, the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite offers a robust rewards program and valuable travel benefits, making it a top choice for quickly earning Aeroplan Miles. A key reason it stands out is the generous welcome bonus. New cardholders can earn up to 50,000 Aeroplan points in the first year.

    Ongoing earning potential is also solid. Cardholders earn 1.5X miles per dollar on purchases directly at grocery stores, gas stations, and Air Canada. All other purchases earn 1 point per dollar. Additional opportunities to earn extra points come through Aeroplan partnerships and linking your Starbucks Rewards account.

    On the redemption side, Aeroplan Miles can be used for any Air Canada flight with no blackouts. The ability to redeem for business class rewards or Star Alliance partner flights also provides value. The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite also offers great travel benefits. This includes a free first checked bag for the cardholder and up to eight travel companions on Air Canada itineraries.

    With strong earn rates, a generous welcome bonus, and valuable Air Canada travel perks, the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite is regarded by many as the best option for maximizing Aeroplan Rewards. The rewards potential and travel benefits give it a clear edge for Aeroplan members.

    3. WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard – Best Airline Card for WestJet Rewards

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    With an impressive welcome bonus, solid ongoing earn rates, and valuable annual benefits, the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard stands out as the top choice for maximizing WestJet Rewards. This card offers unmatched value for frequent WestJet flyers or those seeking free flight rewards.

    New cardholders can earn a lucrative 450 WestJet Dollars welcome bonus after spending just $5,000 in the first three months. WestJet Dollars are the loyalty currency of WestJet’s rewards program and can be redeemed directly for WestJet flights and vacation packages with no blackouts. Earning the total welcome bonus provides a significant boost towards your next free flight. The WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard makes it easy to keep earning WestJet Dollars through everyday spending. You’ll earn an industry-leading 2% back in WestJet Dollars on WestJet purchases and 1.5% back on all other eligible spending.

    When you factor in the annual companion voucher, the value increases even more. Each year, primary cardholders receive a roundtrip companion voucher valid for travel to anywhere WestJet flies. Bring a companion for just $119 plus taxes and fees for travel within continental North America or $399 plus taxes and fees for other destinations. Using this voucher can effectively cut the cost of roundtrip airfare in half.

    The WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard also provides an automatic WestJet Rewards status lift. Reaching Silver or Gold status through spending unlocks added benefits like free checked bags, priority services, lounge access, and bonus earnings. Attaining status faster makes the rewards program more valuable. Other key perks include comprehensive travel insurance, Boingo Wifi, and a free first checked bag for the cardholder and up to eight companions. You’ll also have various options to receive lounge access.

    With a reasonable $119 annual fee, the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard gives cardholders plenty of reward-earning potential. The lucrative welcome bonus, accelerated earn rates on WestJet purchases, annual companion voucher, and built-in status lift provide unmatched value for WestJet Rewards members. For earning WestJet Dollars, it’s a clear choice.

    4. American Express Business Edge Card – Best Business Airline Card in Canada

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    With a competitive welcome bonus, accelerated earn rates on crucial business spending, and highly flexible redemption options, the American Express Business Edge Card stands out as a top choice for business owners looking to earn valuable rewards. New applicants can earn up to 67,000 Membership Rewards. This provides a solid boost right away to start redeeming rewards. Ongoing earning potential is also strong, earning up to 3 points per dollar. All other purchases make 1 point per dollar.

    Redemption flexibility is a crucial advantage of Membership Rewards points. American Express allows its users to utilize the points for any travel booking and redeem them for a statement credit, retail gift cards, merchandise, and more. Moreover, it offers the flexibility to transfer the points 1:1 to airline partners like Aeroplan.

    With a low $99 annual fee and no income requirements, the American Express Business Edge Card makes it easy for any business owner to earn valuable rewards. The welcome bonus, earning rates on business spending, and redemption flexibility provide overall solid value. For Canadian companies looking to maximize flexible travel rewards, it’s a leading choice.

    5. Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card – Best Airline Credit Card for Lounge Access

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    Featuring complimentary airport lounge access through the Visa Airport Companion Program, the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card is a top pick for frequent flyers seeking airport lounge access. As soon as they are approved, Passport Visa Infinite cardholders receive membership in the Visa Airport Companion Program. This provides entry to over 1,200 airport lounges worldwide, including in the Plaza Premium network. Even better, each cardholder gets six free annual lounge visit credits for themselves or their guests.

    With most premium travel cards only offering 2-4 annual complimentary visits, the six free passes provided by the Passport Visa Infinite Card offer exceptional value. This allows frequent flyers to enjoy premium lounge access during airport layovers without paying high daily entry fees. Beyond the lounge access, the Passport Visa Infinite Card has several other travel-friendly features. No foreign transaction fees are charged on international purchases, saving 2.5% on currency conversion costs. The card also offers strong earnings on transit, dining, entertainment, and groceries.

    New cardholders can earn 35,000 bonus Scene+ points. Points stay active as long as you maintain the card. With many travel cards charging $32 USD for a single lounge visit, the six free annual passes included with the Passport Visa Infinite Card provide exceptional value. Combined with no foreign transaction fees and bonus earnings on travel purchases, it is the top choice for lounge access while travelling.

    6. TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege – Best Airline Credit Card For Insurance

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    With comprehensive travel insurance and protections valued at over $1 million, the TD Aeroplan Visa infinite Privilege stands out as the top airline card for insurance coverage. Right off the bat, cardholders are covered by up to $5 million in emergency medical insurance for trips under 31 days. This provides extensive protection in the event of an illness or injury abroad.

    The TD Aeroplan Visa Privilege also includes robust trip cancellation and interruption coverage, protecting pre-paid trips up to $2,500 to $5,000 per insured person if plans derail. Baggage protection covers delayed, lost and stolen bags up to $1,000 to $2,500 per trip. For frequent flyers who rent cars regularly, the TD Aeroplan Visa Privilege provides up to 48 days of rental car collision/loss damage coverage in Canada and abroad. This can save hundreds in rental insurance fees. With such expansive coverage, cardholders can have peace of mind when travelling and making significant purchases.

    Beyond the insurance benefits, the TD Aeroplan Visa Privilege also grants access to valuable travel perks. Cardholders can access Maple Leaf Lounges when flying Air Canada, enjoying premium amenities before flights. With emergency medical and trip coverage reaching the millions, robust baggage and rental protections, and lounge access, the TD Aeroplan Visa infinite Privilege offers unmatched insurance value among Canadian travel rewards cards. These factors have also caused us to rank it the best travel insurance credit card.

    7. Scotiabank Gold American Express Card – Best Airline Card for No FX Fees

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    With no foreign transaction fees on purchases worldwide, the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card is a top choice for travellers and international shoppers. Whenever the card is used to make purchases outside Canada or for online shopping in foreign currencies, cardholders are not charged the typical 2.5% foreign transaction fee. Only the exchange rate applies. This provides significant savings for globetrotters on travel expenses and everyday spending abroad. For example, avoiding foreign transaction fees could save a cardholder $50 or more throughout a weeklong European vacation.

    The Scotiabank Gold Amex also makes it easy to earn Scene+ points through its accelerated earn rates. Cardholders earn 5x points on dining and entertainment, 3x points on gas, transit and streaming services and 6x points at select grocery stores. On top of earning potential, the card includes comprehensive travel medical insurance, trip interruption coverage and rental car collision insurance.

    With no foreign transaction fees, strong bonus categories to earn rewards quickly, and protections for international trips, the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card is a top pick for worry-free worldwide travel and shopping.

    8. American Express Green Card – Best No-Fee Airline Credit Card in Canada

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    With no annual fee and the ability to earn valuable American Express Membership Rewards points, the American Express Green Card is a top pick for budget-conscious consumers seeking a rewards card. Right off the bat, new cardholders can earn 10,000 Membership Rewards points. This provides a solid boost for earning rewards with no upfront cost.

    Ongoing earning potential is also decent for a no-fee card. Cardholders earn 1 Membership Rewards point per dollar on all eligible everyday purchases. An extra point per dollar is earned on hotel or car rental bookings made through the Amex travel portal. While accelerated earning rates would be ideal, the simple earning structure makes accumulation straightforward, with no categories to track. The American Express Green Card includes valuable protections like extended warranty and purchase protection coverage.

    With no annual fee, an upfront welcome bonus, and basic earnings on everyday spending, the American Express Green Card makes it easy for consumers to earn airline rewards without a significant upfront investment. The embedded protections and redemption flexibility add to the overall value.

    9. CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card for Students – Best Airline Cards for Students

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    With no annual fee, a lucrative welcome bonus, and the ability to earn valuable Aeroplan Miles, the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card is an excellent option for students looking to maximize travel rewards. Right away, new cardholders can earn 10,000 Aeroplan Miles by making their first purchase with the card. This provides an immediate boost for redeeming Air Canada flights or other rewards.

    Ongoing earning is also easy, with 1 point per dollar spent on all additional purchases. While the ongoing earning rate is lower than premium travel cards, it’s highly competitive for a no-fee student card. Students who frequently fly Air Canada can quickly accumulate enough miles for free flights and flight upgrades. Another significant benefit is redemption flexibility. Miles can be used for any Air Canada flight with no blackouts. Star Alliance partner awards are also an option to maximize value.

    The CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card also comes with valuable insurance coverage at no extra cost. This includes rental car collisions, common carrier accidents, purchase security and extended warranty coverage – protecting travel and everyday purchases. For students looking to earn rewards on a budget, the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card is hard to beat. The upfront welcome bonus, in combination with steady mile earnings and insurance protections, makes it easy for students to get started with the Aeroplan program and accumulate rewards for future travel.

    FAQ About Airline Credit Cards

    What credit card has the best airline rewards? 

    The American Express Cobalt Card is Canada’s best airline credit card due to its flexibility and strong bonus categories tailored to frequent flyers. It earns American Express Membership Rewards points that can be transferred to leading airline programs, providing exceptional flexibility in redeeming points for flights on any airline.

    Are airline credit cards worth it? 

    Airline credit cards can be worth it for frequent travellers who want to maximize their rewards and enjoy travel-related perks. These cards generally offer bonuses, airline miles, lounge access, and insurance coverage. However, it’s essential to consider the annual fees, interest rates, and travel habits before deciding if an airline credit card is worth it.

    How do credit card airline miles work? 

    Credit card airline miles work by earning a certain number of miles for every dollar spent on eligible purchases. These miles can then be redeemed for flights, upgrades, and other travel-related expenses. The accumulation of miles varies depending on the credit card and its rewards program. Some credit cards also offer bonus miles for specific categories or welcome bonuses.

    How to buy airline tickets with credit card points? 

    You can buy airline tickets with credit card points by redeeming your accumulated points through the rewards program. Most credit card rewards programs have an online portal or booking platform where you can search for flights and use your points to pay for them. Select the desired flight, choose the option to pay with points, and follow the instructions to complete the booking.

    Which airline has the best credit card in Canada? 

    The best credit card for a specific airline in Canada may vary depending on individual preferences and travel habits. However, some popular options include the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite for Aeroplan miles, the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard for WestJet Rewards, and the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card for lounge access. It’s recommended to compare airline credit card features, benefits, and rewards to find the best fit for your needs.

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    Daniel is an expert on travel, finance, and SEO. He received an Honours BBA (Finance) from Wilfrid Laurier University, then started his career with WOWA. Here, he learned various SEO tactics that were instrumental in quadrupling monthly traffic to one million views. Now the founder of Croton Content, Daniel helps financial companies scale through evergreen content. Aside from Hardbacon, notable clients include Forbes Advisor, WealthRocket, and Hellosafe. Daniel loves to travel when not working. Although based out of Lisbon, Portugal, some of his most adventurous destinations include Rio, Cairo, and Istanbul.