But why settle for any old card, when you could be earning a lot more miles and experiencing a lot more perks by getting the best one?
Figuring out which one is best is easier said than done though ... that's why I analyze every single detail of these cards and then rank them using a comprehensive system I personally developed over the last five years.
No more comparing feature by feature trying to weigh the pros and the cons - you can rest assured that the top card on my list is the best fit for most Canadians. My rankings are also continually updated so you can be sure you aren't getting stale information.
AIR MILES Credit Cards Compared And Ranked
The cards in the table are ordered from best to worst. Please note that the table scrolls horizontally by using the slider at the bottom.
|Apply||BMO AIR MILES World Elite MasterCard|
|Apply||American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card
(low min. income!)
|Apply||BMO AIR MILES World MasterCard|
|Apply||Hudson's Bay MasterCard|
|Apply||BMO Sobeys AIR MILES MasterCard|
|Apply||American Express AIR MILES Reserve Credit Card|
|Apply||American Express AIR MILES Credit Card|
|Apply||BMO AIR MILES MasterCard|
|Score||Miles Per $100 Spent||Bonus Miles||Annual Fee||First Year Free?||Extra Cards||$25,000 Spend Score||$100,000 Spend Score||Insurance Score||Perks Score|
What The Numbers Mean
The score you see above is calculated very carefully accounting for all the features of each credit card including:
- Rewards per dollar spent including all bonus spending categories like gas, groceries, etc.
- The impact of both typical spending habits and high spending habits.
- Annual fees for primary and secondary cardholders.
- If the first year is free.
- The size of the sign up bonus.
- What insurance coverage the card offers across the 15 different types that I track.
- What other perks big and small the card might have like concierge service, lounge access, companion flights, low minimum income, etc.
That's right, you only have to look at one number to know if you are getting the best card. If one particular feature is of more importance to you, then you can dig into the other scores like spending, insurance, and perks. There are many more features you can compare side by side using the above table or you can read on below for my discussion of the features people value most.
I also want to point out that Miles Per $100 Spent is a calculated number that factors in spending spread across all the different bonus spending categories in a sensible way that would fit the daily life of a typical Canadian. That way, you know roughly how many AIR MILES you will really earn when using the card and can easily compare the cards against each other.
What's Important To You?
What you think is the most important feature of a credit card might not line up with my own assessment. Therefore, if one of the features listed below is of great importance to you, then you might want to consider applying for a card that does well in that particular area.
1) Earning Miles As Fast As Possible
If all you want is the most bang in miles for your buck, then the new BMO AIR MILES World Elite MasterCard has no equal. You get 1 mile per $10 spent across all spending categories, which none of the other cards can match. That works out to exactly 10 miles per $100 spent. The problem is, you'll need an income of $70,000 or more to qualify!
My recommendation is to go with the American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card because it has a combination of a high earn rate (8 miles per $100 spent), a reasonable annual fee of $65 that is waived for the first year, a massive sign up bonus of 2,000 free miles, and a lot of premium perks and features for little cost.
2) Getting The Biggest Bonus For Signing Up
The highest sign up bonus award goes to the BMO AIR MILES World Elite MasterCard at 3,000 miles. The problem again is the income needed to qualify and the fact that you have to pay the $120 right away in the first year to get those miles.
If you want free bonus miles, then the American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card is best because you get 2,000 at no cost with the annual fee being waived for the first year. It's a great way to try the card out with no risk while getting more than $210 worth of free miles (worth more if you redeem for flights). Better yet, you only need a $15,000 income to qualify - what fully employed person doesn't make that?
3) No Annual Fee
If you can't imagine ever paying an annual fee for a credit card, then your best choice is surprisingly the Hudson's Bay MasterCard. This card, backed by Capital One, allows you to earn 2 HBC points per dollar spent. Additionally you get 25% bonus points for all your spending credited to your account twice a year. That works out to 6.3 miles per $100 spent, not counting an additional 15% bonus you get 4 times a year if you have AIR MILES Gold status. All you have to do is link your HBC account with your AIR MILES account, and your points will automatically be converted to miles and credited to you once a week.
If you'd rather earn AIR MILES directly, then the BMO Sobeys AIR MILES MasterCard is a solid second choice, especially if you shop at Sobeys or Foodland for groceries already.
4) Top Insurance Package
If you're a frequent traveler, then the insurance coverage offered by a good credit card can easily save you thousands of dollars. Whenever you rent a car you can decline the Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) that adds up to $20 per day to the bill. If you drop your brand new iPad within the first 90-120 days of owning it, you can get a full repair or reimbursement of the purchase price.
Need medical insurance? Good cards offer from 15-31 days of travel medical absolutely free which could easily cost you hundreds per trip. With 15+ types of credit card insurance available, the potential savings certainly don't end there!
The BMO AIR MILES World Elite MasterCard has the top insurance package hands down offering 14 out of the 15 types of insurance that I track. Not only that, but it offers the best insurance in 12 out those 14 categories when compared to all the other cards which is a very impressive feat.
If you want something with a tolerable annual fee and low minimum income, then the American Express Platinum AIR MILES Credit Card would be what I'd suggest.
5) Great Perks
One card really stands out when it comes to perks: the American Express AIR MILES Reserve Credit Card.
It gives you a free companion flight once a year, 4 lounge passes, concierge service, the ability to use your miles for business class flights, taxes and fees, and other flights that are typically unavailable to AIR MILES collectors. It even allows you to waive the administration fee you normally have to pay when booking a reward flight.
Other perks include priority access to security, taxi, and limo lines at select Canadian airports and exclusive access to better concert and event seating via American Express Front Of The Line. The $299 annual fee is steep, but if you like perks then this card is worth it.
Converting Points To Miles
You may see a few credit cards in the above table that seem out of place because they don't reward you in AIR MILES directly. However, certain rewards programs allow you to convert your points to miles for free. I wanted to include those cards that allow you to turn your points into miles to be thorough and provide a few unconventional options.
There used to be more options for converting, but since HBC Rewards stopped allowing you to convert points from Esso Extra, the options have become a lot more limited.
Converting From Hudson's Bay Rewards
This is an easy conversion that can be set up to convert your points automatically on a weekly basis. It costs 40 HBC points to earn one AIR MILE and that conversion ratio has been factored into all the numbers in the above table such that everything is displayed in miles instead of points.
Looking For Travel Rewards Credit Cards?
The cards listed here are AIR MILES rewards miles only. Follow this link if you are looking for travel credit cards.