Looking to collect more Air Miles to save for your dream vacation? It might be time to consider an Air Miles credit card. There are plenty of options in the market but in this article, we’re going to share our top picks for the best Air Miles credit cards in Canada so you can reach your travel goals faster.
What are Air Miles?
For anyone unfamiliar with Air Miles, Air Miles are one of Canada’s top travel rewards programs. It works like every other rewards program. Air Miles members collect Miles by making purchases with Air Miles partners (or by using their Air Miles credit card). Once they have a sufficient number of Air Miles, they can be redeemed for travel or merchandise.
How to Collect Air Miles
Air Miles is a free program that anyone can join. Once you are a member, you can collect Miles by presenting your Air Miles card when shopping in-store or online with Air Miles partners. To earn Miles even faster you can get an Air Miles credit card. These credit cards allow you to earn Air Miles on all purchases, no just with partners. However, when you do use your Air Miles credit card with partners, you can double-dip by earning as a member and as a cardholder.
Best Air Miles Credit Cards in Canada
Ready to kick-start earning more miles? Here are our top picks for the 5 best Air Miles credit cards in Canada.
Best for frequent travellers
Annual Fee: $120/year
Current Welcome Bonus: Up to 2,000 Air Miles Bonus Miles plus annual fee waived for the first year
Minimum income requirement: $80,000 individual or $150,000 household
Air Miles are prized by travellers but on top of being our pick for the best Air Miles credit card for travellers, we might argue that the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard could be the best Air Miles credit card overall.
The BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard offers one of the best earn rates and sign-up bonuses when it comes to Air Miles Credit Card. Right now, new cardholders will earn 2,000 Air Miles Bonus Miles plus get the annual fee ($120) waived for the first year. That ends up being a value of about $335.
Cardholders will earn 1 Air Mile for every $10 spent in purchases which is one of the highest earn rates available. Additionally, there are plenty of travel-themed perks and benefits. These include complimentary membership in Airport Experience provided by Loungekey with VIP access, plus 2 annual complimentary passes, included travel and medical insurance coverage for 15 days (our of the province and out of the country), and access to over 1 million Wi-Fi hotspots worldwide with no added fees or roaming charges. Another huge travel perk for the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard is the 15% discount on all Air Miles flights in North America. Additionally, cardholders will also benefit from purchase protection and an extended warranty.
Best no-fee credit card
Annual Fee: $0
Current Welcome Bonus: 800 Air Miles
Minimum Income Requirement: $15,000 individual
If you hate the idea of paying an annual fee to use a credit card, then the BMO Air Miles Mastercard might be the best Air Miles credit card for you. While it may not have the same high-end perks and benefits as other Air Miles cards on this list, it still comes with a decent welcome bonus (800 Air Miles) and allows you to collect Air Miles at a faster rate.
The average earn rate for the BMO Air Miles Mastercard is a little lower, 1 Mile for every $25 spent. However, remember you can double dip with Air Miles partners. Plus, with this Air Miles card, you can get 3x the Miles for every $25 spent at participating Air Miles Cash Reward Partners which will help you rack up those points even faster.
New cardholders can also benefit from a 1.99% introductory rate for balance transfers which is valid for 9 months (a 1% balance transfer fee does apply). It’s also worth noting that the BMO Air Miles Mastercard includes an extended warranty and purchase protection as an added benefit.
Best for Everyday Spending
Annual fee: $120
Current Welcome Bonus: 2,000 Miles
Minimum Income Requirement: N/A
American Express credit cards are always popular choices for rewards cards and the American Express Air Miles Platinum is no exception.
The American Express Air Miles Platinum card allows cardholders to earn Miles at a rate of 1 Mile per $5 spent at eligible restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores and gas or transit purchases. All other purchases will earn at a rate of 1 Mile per $10 spent. Right now, new cardholders can also take advantage of a 2,000 Mile welcome bonus when they spend $1,500 on their card within the first 3 months. There is also a referral program that allows you to earn 500 bonus Miles for every successful referral (up to a maximum of 7,500 bonus referral Miles each year).
On top of high earn rates, the American Express Air Miles Platinum card comes with several perks and benefits. These include travel accident insurance (out of the country only, not out of province), car rental theft and damage insurance, purchase protection, and AMEX Front of Line.
While there are many perks and benefits to the American Express Air Miles Platinum for travellers, it does fall behind the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard in our opinion due to the fact that there is no first-year rebate (so welcome bonus is lower value in comparison). Plus, American Express cards aren’t as widely accepted.
Best for additional perks and benefits
Annual Fee: $299
Current Welcome Bonus: 2,400 Air Miles
Minimum Income Requirement: N/A
If you are someone who shops around for credit cards based on the added perks and benefits, then the American Express Air Miles Reserve might be the best Air Miles credit card in Canada for you.
With an annual fee of $299, it’s the priciest credit card on our list of the best Air Miles credit cards in Canada, however, you have to expect to pay a little more for the added perks and benefits. The earn rate on this credit card is 1 Mile for every $10 spent at Air Miles partners, 1 Mile for every $10 spent at eligible grocery stores, gas stations, and drug stores (within Canada), and 1 mile for every $15 in card purchases made elsewhere. As for the welcome bonus, new American Express® AIR MILES® Reserve Credit Card Cardmembers, earn 4000 Bonus Miles when you charge a total of $6,000 in purchases to your card within your first 6 months of cardmembership; that’s enough for 2 flights!
As for additional benefits, the American Express Air Miles Reserve is loaded with plenty of perks that travellers especially will love. These include Air Miles FlexFly which allows you to book flights through additional airlines, to destinations, with different departure times and seat classes on flights that are not available within the Air Miles Flight Program. To take advantage of this, just call Concierge. Additionally, you will receive an annual companion flight up to a maximum of 1,700 for a companion to travel with you on the same itinerary. Another American Express Air Miles Reserve exclusive is that you can redeem your Miles to pay for taxes and fees plus, you can opt to redeem for business class seats. Further travel benefits include Priority Pass which allows you worldwide airport lounge access, several types of travel insurance coverage (out of province and out of the country), waived Air Miles flight administration fees, and priority security at Toronto Pearson Airport.
Best for business credit cards
Annual Fee: $120
Welcome Bonus: 3,000 Air Miles plus annual fee waived for the first year
Minimum Income Requirement: N/A
For business owners looking to collect Air Miles take a look at the BMO Air Miles Business Mastercard. You will earn Miles at a rate of 1 Mile for every $10 spent and 1.25 the Miles when you use your card at participating Shell gas stations. Right now, new cardholders can earn a welcome bonus of 3,000 Air Miles Bonus Miles. You’ll earn 1,000 Miles after your first purchase and then an additional 2,000 Miles when you spend $5,000 on your card within the first 3 months. On top of that, the annual fee is waived for the first year.
As an added bonus, the BMO Air Miles Business Mastercard includes several types of travel protections and insurance including collision damage waiver, car rental personal effect and business property, car rental accidental death and dismemberment, baggage and personal effects, baggage delay, trip cancellation, trip interruption/ trip delay, flight delay, and common carrier insurance. To take advantage of this coverage, you just need to use your BMO Air Miles Business Mastercard to pay for your travel arrangements.
If you are serious about collecting Air Miles, then it is absolutely worth your while to get an Air Miles credit card. It’s the fastest way to earn Air Miles and, if you use your credit card frequently, the earn rate can out-perform the annual fee making it well worth the value. Especially if you get a card with lots of bonus perks and benefits as well.
Not quite sure yet? Be sure to check out our credit card comparison tool.
This article was compiled by Hardbacon, which has designed a credit card comparator listing hundreds of Canadian credit cards. Hardbacon also helps you save on savings accounts, chequing accounts, online brokers, robo-advisors, life insurance, mortgages and personal loans. If you want to go one step further and take control of your finances, you should download Hardbacon’s mobile app, which links to your bank and investing accounts, helps you plan for your financial goals, create a budget and invest better.