Best Air Mile Credit Cards

November 20, 2020 | Editorial Team

Air Mile Credit Cards

Many people in Canada are hesitant to get an air miles credit card, especially if they already have a regular credit card. But, not all Air Miles credit cards are the same. Each card has different bonus offers, a different annual fee, and a variety of rewards.

Your standard credit card likely only has an annual fee with no bonus offers. Air Miles credit cards, on the other hand, make their annual fee worth it. Many Air Miles credit cards offer more rewards on purchases, travel miles and a welcome bonus when you join. With better fees, offers, travel with purchases, and more, Air Miles credit cards could be the dream credit card you’ve been looking for.

Table of Contents

  1. What You Should Know
  2. Processing Rates, Bonuses, and Claiming Earned Air Miles
  3. Best Air Miles Credit Cards in Canada
  4. BMO Air Miles MasterCard — Best Air Miles Credit Card With No Fees
  5. BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard — Best Air Miles Credit Card for Travellers
  6. American Express Air Miles Platinum — Best Air Miles Credit Card for Everyday Spending
  7. BMO Air Miles Business Mastercard — Best Air Miles Card for Business
  8. Applying for an Air Miles Credit Card
  9. How Much is an Airline Mile Worth?
  10. How to Choose an Airline Credit Card
  11. Should I Consider an Airline
  12. Card With No Annual Fee?
  13. Do I Have to be a Frequent Flyer to Have an Airline Credit Card?
  14. How Do Air Miles Work?
  15. Can The Air Mile Credit Card Get You Into Executive Lounges?
  16. How Many Airline Miles Do You Need to Get a Free Flight?
  17. The Bottom Line

What You Should Know

Many different and unusual rewards can be exchanged for the Air Miles you earn. It is also easy to earn miles when you buy things such as electronics, groceries, and even when you use an eligible ATM. There are more than 100 Air Miles partners and retailers in Canada. They assist in the Air Miles Credit Card program to give you deals and rewards.

If that wasn’t enough, an Air Miles credit card could help you earn Air Miles points to put towards a fun day out. Those extra purchases can help you get that coveted ‘Best Mom’ or ‘Best Dad of the Year’ award from the kids.

You could have a free family trip to a Cineplex multiplex, or if your nearby, enjoy a Family Pass at Fallsview Indoor Waterpark near Niagra Falls. If you want to book some long-overdue time alone to unravel, exchange your Air Miles for a fabulous spa day. Options vary across Canada, with plenty of perks Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, and British Colombia.

Best of all, using your Air Miles credit card regularly can help you earn Air Miles for a much-needed vacation away. The Air Miles you earn can be used as reward miles for free flights. 1,250 to 2,000 Air Milescan get you a short-haul flight.So, if you need to, you can fly from opposite ends of Canada to visit family or long-lost friends at any time.

If you ever need to cross over to the US, your Air Miles are still valid to take you over the border. A short-haul flight to somewhere like New York will only cost around 2,000 Air Miles. When you arrive, the many hotels, car rental and other partners will be ready to make your trip more fun.

Processing Rates, Bonuses, and Claiming Earned Air Miles

We compiled the best information from banks nationwide. But, we thought that leaving it there wasn’t good enough. Instead, we conducted continuous hunting online through forums and comparison sites. Those sites allowed us to compile the best comments from current Air Miles credit card customers.

This allows us to give you the most honest evaluations and critiques of the products these national banks in Canada have to offer.

If you ask an avid Air Miles collector, I’m sure they’ll agree with us. The gains to be had from an Air Miles credit card are substantial, even with the annual fee and high-interest rate you may have to pay. This is because when you’re in the checkout process with one of the Air Miles partners, you can take advantage of DOUBLING the value of the points you earn. It really is the quicker, smarter way to earn Air Miles rewards. Just use your Air Miles credit card at the participating store to receive your Air Miles instantly. Or, use the Air Miles app, and then pay with your contactless Air Miles credit card.

Not all, but many Air Miles credit cards in Canada offer anearn rate of 1 mile for every $10you spend. Even when you spend only $5 at a grocery store or gas station, you can earn 1 mile in points. You can even redeemcash milesin $10 (95 Cash Miles) increments up to $750 (7,125 cash miles) a day.

Best Air Miles Credit Cards in Canada

The best Air Miles credit cards in Canada provide you with the ability to earn1 mile for every $10spent on ALL your purchases, wherever you may be. Not just at Air Miles partners in Canada. If you become a loyal Air Miles collector, why should you not have the best Air Miles credit card accompanying you everywhere?

If your sights are centred on platinum-level credit cards, the BMO Air Miles World Elite MasterCard® could be the one. It comes with a big welcome bonus, one of the best insurance packages on the market, and valuable bonus perks like flight discounts. Don’t forget the exclusive lounge entry. Just keep in mind that the annual fee may be higher.

If a platinum card doesn’t sound like the best opinion for you, maybe an entry-level Air Miles credit card would suit you better. One that allows you to earn more rewards miles on simple grocery purchases. The BMO Air Miles Mastercard is a good example of this as it has no annual fee.

No matter what you’re looking for, there’s an Air Miles credit card designed to suit your wants and needs. Below, we will look at the best Air Miles credit cards available in Canada now.

BMO Air Miles MasterCard — Best Air Miles Credit Card With No Fees

The BMO Air Miles MasterCard from the Bank of Montreal is perfect for mall trekkers and humble grocery shoppers. The biggest reason why you could do better with a BMO Air Miles MasterCard is a $0 annual fee. This means you earn Air Miles for free whenever you shop.

As soon as you make your first purchase, you also get an automatic welcome bonus of950 Air Miles. 950 Air Miles is equivalent to $100 worth of rewards. Standard policy for most credit cards would have you spending $20,000 minimum to earn so many Air Miles off the bat!

On top of the introductory earn rate of 1 mile for every $20 charged, you can get up to a25% discountat National Car Rental and Alamo Rent-a-Car.

For the first nine months, there will be a 1.99% interest rate on balance transfers. This means that your BMO Air Miles MasterCard can also help you consolidate credit card balances and reduce the amount you pay in interest.

Pros:
  • Annual fee:$0.
  • Minimum Income Eligibility:N/A.
  • Credit Score Required: Good.
  • Welcome Offer:950 AIR MILES Bonus Miles.
  • Additional Perks:Extended warranty and purchase protection.
  • 1.99% interest rate on balance transfers for the first nine months.
Cons:
  • Minimum personal income required:$15,000.
  • Purchase APR:19.99%.
  • Cash Advance APR:22.99%.
  • A BASE earn rate of 1 Air Mile per $20 spent.

BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard — Best Air Miles Credit Card for Travellers

Another offering from the Bank of Montreal is the very popular BMO Air Miles World Elite MasterCard. Many flight hoppers agree it is one of the best Air Miles credit cards available. This BMO Elite MasterCard offers many great rewards for frequent travellers.

  • For starters, the sign-up bonus and earn rate are significantly greater. This puts most other Air Miles credit cards on the market to shame. For the first year you own the card, the annual fee of $150 is deferred.
  • The 2,000 AIR MILES Bonus Miles welcome bonus is worth approx. $215 at participating Air Miles partners in cash rewards. In reality, you’ll receive a total value of $335 when you apply.
  • 15% off Air Miles redemptions within North America. This is one of the lesser-known privileges you can leverage to prolong all those Air Miles you can earn with Air Miles partners outside of Canada.

With BMO Air Miles World Elite MasterCard, you also get an excellent earn rate of 1 mile for every $10 in purchases. This Air Miles earn rate trumps all the Air Miles credit cards out there.

A Gratuitous Mastercard Airport Experiences membership is also included. Supplied byLoungeKey, you’ll receive TWO free annual passes. You will also receive a comprehensive travel insurance package that covers up to 15 days of travel medical needs.

Businesses can also reap the benefits of the BMO Air Miles World Elite MasterCard. They can earn 1 Mile for every $10 spent anywhere. As well as claim the impressive welcome bonus – up to 3000 Miles for a minimum spend of $5,000 in the first three months.

Given these HUGE rewards, the annual fee of $150 seems minute! Don’t forget that the annual fee is waived in the first year as well. Travel insurance, car rental damage waiver, and purchase protection are also thrown in the full package. For regular travellers, the stand-out BMO Air Miles World Elite MasterCard really is one of the best Air Miles credit card choices.

Pros:
  • Annual fee:$150. The annual fee is waived the first year.
  • Welcome Bonus:A bonus 2,000 Air Miles.
  • Additional Bonus:Travel insurance and Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey.
Cons:
  • Credit Score Required:Excellent
  • Income Eligibility:$80,000 individual or $150,000 household.

American Express Air Miles Platinum — Best Air Miles Credit Card for Everyday Spending

The sooner you apply and sign up for the American Express Air Miles Platinum Credit Card, the better. You’ll regret missing out on their limited-time welcome bonus for new cardholders.

  • ONE lavish welcome bonus of 2,000 Air Miles Bonus Miles when you spend at least $1,500 in purchases. Purchases with your American Express Platinum card must be within your first three months of membership.

Boosting the welcome bonus is an earn rate of 1 mile for every $5 in card purchases of food, gas, groceries and transit (up to $30,000 annually). For everything else with the American Express Air Miles Platinum card, you’ll earn 1 Mile for every $10 spent. There’s also room to earn air miles **500 of them** for each successful referral bonus. There is, however, a maximum annual referral bonus of up to 7,500 Miles.

New American Express Air Miles Platinum cardholders also benefit from insurance coverage. This accompanies the continuous rewards program. The American Express Air Miles Platinum card has an annual travel redemption credit. It is 25% of a flight’s Dream Miles redemption cost. The Express Air Miles Platinum card also has an offer of accident insurance up to $100,000, car rental damage waiver and purchase protection.

Pros:
  • Minimum Income Eligibility:N/A.
  • Credit Score Required:Good to Excellent.
  • Welcome Bonus:Up to 2,000 Air Miles Bonus Miles after spending $1,500 in the first three months.
  • 25% of a flight’s Dream Miles redemption cost.
  • Additional Perks: Travel accident insurance and car rental insurance. Purchase protection, buyer’s assurance protection, and $0 supplementary cards.
Cons:
  • Purchase APR:20.99%.
  • Cash Advance APR:21.99%.
  • Annual fee:$120.
  • Uses the AMEX platform – currently not as widespread as VISA® or MasterCard®.

BMO Air Miles Business Mastercard — Best Air Miles Card for Business

Laborious businessmen and women across Canada, you can put your Air Miles credit card quest to rest. The best Air Miles credit card for business is here. BMO Air Miles Business MasterCard! Here we have a business-oriented credit card with a deeply sizable welcome bonus. 3,000 AIR MILES Bonus Miles – that’s enough for $310 towards your purchases with Air Miles Cash!

So, how does it work? After you make your first purchase with your BMO Air Miles Credit Card, 1,000 Bonus Air Miles will be added to your account. After you spend $5,000 within the first three months, a further 2,000 Bonus Air Miles are given. Plus, the $120 first year annual fee is waived for new cardholders.

You’ll also enjoy a regular earn rate of 1 mile for every $10 you spend, plus 5x the miles when you use your card with Shell. As another bonus, when you use your credit card to pay for your travel arrangements, you’ll benefit from a suite of insurance benefits. This includes car rental insurance, trip cancellation or interruption, flight delay, and more.

Pros:
  • Annual fee: $120 (first-year annual fee waiver).
  • Income Eligibility: N/A.
  • Credit Score Required: N/A.
  • Welcome Bonus: Get 3,000 Air Miles Bonus Miles – good for $310 towards your purchases with Air MilesCash!*
  • Additional Perks: Earn Air Miles on card purchases, travel or car rental insurance, and shopping protection.
Cons:
  • Purchase APR:19.99%.
  • Cash Advance APR:22.99%.

Applying for an Air Miles Credit Card

Finalizing a decision when applying for an Air Miles credit card in Canada can be tricky. The earn rate options offered from an American Express Air Miles Mastercard, a BMO Air Miles card and Air Miles partners make it hard to choose. The best Air Miles credit card varies from person to person. Your spending habits are the best way to calculate which is the best Air Miles credit card for your monetary needs.

Essential points to keep an eye on would be:

  • Annual fee.
  • Base earn rate on Air Miles.
  • Accelerated Air Miles earn rate and where you can earn a bonus rate.
  • A good welcome bonus.
  • Other things on offer like discounts and travel insurance.
  • Interest rates for balance transfers/APR.

When you finalize your preferred Air Miles credit card, expect the credit card company to undertake a credit check. Make sure the details you give are correct. If you provide false details, the credit card company may have a power of attorney and can take legal action further down the road. This may also negatively affect your credit rating.

Utilizing an automatedair miles calculatorcan help simplify the process and help you narrow down your final decision. You just need to enter your monthly spending details against the features of the Air Miles credit card you’re considering. Then, the calculator will notify you of the value your chosen credit card will deliver back in 1 year. We tried this with an American Express Air Miles card and found it useful.

Over time, you’ll notice the fantastic value to be attained from an Air Miles credit card. Not just to claim back the earn rate for Air Miles you’ve banked or exchanging them for cash or rewards. You’ll also have access to a great welcome bonus, rate perks and rewards you can use for flying.

Be advised! Choosing an Air Miles credit card that actually allows you to use your miles to get rewards is important. If you have an earn rate of 1 mile for every $10, but can’t even use your miles to get the rewards you want, what’s the point?

American Express, BMO, and the numerous Air Miles partners do have customer service centres for you to plea your case. But, starting off with the right credit card for your financial situation will save you plenty of time and irritation.

Always resist the urge to hit ‘apply’ until you’ve assessed all the best air miles credit card options available to you. When you’re certain the Air Miles card you’ve selected makes sense, you’ll be much happier.

Air Miles Credit Card FAQ’s

How Much is an Airline Mile Worth?

The average value of an airline mile fluctuates between 1.6 to 2.40 cents. However, valuing a non-revenue based points programs isn’t down to an exact science. How much the rewards are worth can vary, and 1 mile could get you a number of different rewards with different monetary values.

The value of an Air Mile does NOT stay consistent. It continually fluctuates based on where you’re travelling from and where you’re travelling to. The value of Air Miles can also depend on the season if you’re flying in.

  • High season: Dec. 16 to Jan. 7, Mar. 1 to 31, and Jun. 1 to Sept. 15; or
  • Low season: Sept. 16 to Dec. 15, Jan. 8 to Feb. 28, and Apr. 1 to May 31

Your Air Miles will bring you a bigger bonus during the low season. You can typically get longer flights for the same fee as shorter flights during the high season.

Between your purchase cost and Reasonable Redemption Value (RRV) is where the value of 1 mile lies. This basic rule to determine the value of 1 mile broadens the playing field and stretches a simple explanation out even further. It gives you guidelines which you can follow.

How to Calculate –

To calculate the Reasonable Redemption Value (RRV) of 1 mile, the following hypotheses need to be examined.

  • In North America, the majority of people use their miles to book domestic economy flights.
  • Common flyer programs offer 25,000-mile economy rewards within the US mainland during round-trips.
  • People able to reschedule their flight’s take-off time and due date obtain saver level awards (e.g. 25,000-mile round-trip).
  • $361 is the average price for domestic round-trip flights.

Given the above assumptions, you can use this formula to calculate the RRV of 1 mile:

RRV = (Average Flight Price – TSA Fee) / (25,000 miles)

How to Choose an Airline Credit Card

Before reaching a decision, you need to assess the details and determine which airline credit card will suit you long-term. But first, consider whether an airline credit card will suit your lifestyle.

A general travel credit card such as BMO Air Miles World Elite MasterCard may benefit you more. General travel Air Miles cards are flexible. They offer travel rewards without single airline loyalty requirements. General Air Miles cards are less complex than airline-specific credit cards. They demand experience with the card features and also with frequent flyer program policies, which tend to be cryptic. Then there are Aeroplan credit cards to consider.

These questions should be thought of when selecting an airline credit card.

  1. Do you use one airline to fly?- An airline-specific card may be perfect if you’re loyal. The airline card will allow you to earn miles or points and redeem for rewards such as fares and various travel expenditures. E.g. hotel stays and car rentals. If you like to shop around for better deals or don’t fly regularly, it’s probably worth considering other options.
  2. Are you likely to check bags?Often airlines allow one free bag between two passengers on the same travel itinerary. With an airline-specific card, free checked bags is one perk usually thrown in. Checked bags for two people could cost around $120 per round trip. This perk alone could be worth it if you fly routinely.
  3. Is your credit score high?Airline-specific credit card companies typically require good or excellent credit scores. They will typically ask for a minimum credit score of 690. You can useCredit Karmato get your latest credit score.
  4. Will you pay your outstanding balance?Airline-specific cards work best for customers who fully pay off their outstanding balance every month. If you don’t, the interest charges and potential annual fee will cancel out any rewards you’ve earned and hope to use later.

Should I Consider an Airline Card With No Annual Fee?

Usually, you get what you pay for. With rewards cards like Air Miles, the better bonus and rewards are from credit cards with an annual fee that averages $95.

If you are an infrequent flyer, NOT checking bags, or rarely use a credit card for vacations, paying a high annual fee doesn’t make sense. If you aren’t going to take advantage of the rewards or any bonus on offer, then you should consider a no annual fee Air Miles card.

Many credit cards, including the BMO Air Miles CashBack MasterCard, come with no annual fee charges. They also offer rewards and bonus perks you can claim back, such as the chance to earn Air Miles or shopping points with associate retail partners.

If you are looking to scale your miles up to use for a free vacation but don’t spend enough, these no annual fee cards are an excellent choice.

Regardless, if you count yourself among the infrequent flyer crowd, thesereward cards with no annual fee are worth reviewing.

Do I Have to be a Frequent Flyer to Have an Airline Credit Card?

If your credit score is good, most airline credit card companies will be willing to give you an airline credit card. It doesn’t matter if you are not a frequent flyer with them. However, you should weigh the pros and cons of your preferred airline credit card. The main thing to consider is whether the bonus perks and rewards outweigh the annual fee? If not, it may be better for you to consider a standard travel credit card.

How Do Air Miles Work?

The most common choice in Canada for travel rewards is Air Miles. It has become a national staple among frequent flyers, shoppers, businessmen and women in Canada. Allied with an Air Miles Collector Card, they can earn miles and bonus perks. Points, called miles in this case, are earned when collectors use their card at participating retailers.

The best Air Miles credit cards and collector cards can be used for Air Miles’ two streams for rewards, bonus perks and earning points. Cash Rewards and Dream Miles.

Cash Rewards:

  • These rewards have a fixed value of 95 Cash Miles for $10 and can only be redeemed in $10 increments. Collectors can redeem Cash Rewards when checking out at participating stores and gas stations. Or they can use eVouchers for delivery services like Uber Eats and DoorDash.

Dream Miles:

  • These rewards can be redeemed for events, merchandise, or vacations. You can also use them for travel purposes such as purchasing flights, hotels, cruises or car rentals.

Dream Rewards include merchandise. Air Miles cash can be used instantly in-store to receive discounts on your purchases. Accumulated Air Miles can be managed and reclaimed online at airmiles.ca.

BMO and American Express offer separate credit cards affiliated with the program. They allow consumers to collect Air Miles from their everyday credit card purchases. These cards will typically charge an annual fee and a higher than normal interest rate to be able to offer you rewards and perks such as a welcome bonus.

eVouchers are also an Air Miles credit card bonus that functions similarly to coupons. However, only Cash Rewards stream customers have access to them.

Can The Air Mile Credit Card Get You Into Executive Lounges?

Here is where airline credit cards usually work their magic, as they will typically have lounge access as a bonus offer. However, many Air Miles cards also have executive lounge access included in their policies as a bonus.

The BMO Air Miles World Elite MasterCard gives cardholders access to airport lounges by LoungeKey. Members will receive a bonus of4 complimentary passes(they renew each year) to use at any of the 1000+ lounges carrying the LoungeKey name.

The BMO Air Miles World Elite MasterCard does have a $150 annual fee. However, if your lifestyle involves living out of a suitcase and airport hopping, the option is always there, and the annual fee may be worth it.

How Many Airline Miles Do You Need to Get a Free Flight?

If you’re aiming for the highest value out of your earned points, it’s best to redeem your Air Miles when the redemption value is close to the $0.121 mark or above. This will get you more bang for your buck.

Ultimately, how many airline miles you need to get a free flight depends both on the time you’re flying, the airline, and the destination. For example, flights within Canada and to the US that are less than 500 miles will only cost you 7,500 miles. An international flight, however, will be around 30,000 miles. So, if you don’t intend to use your Airline Miles on domestic flights, a steep annual fee to get an Airline card may not be worth your time.

The Bottom Line

Across North America, Air Miles has made a beneficial impact on travellers and shoppers everywhere. Here in Canada, Air Miles maintains its top spot as the most popular credit card brand. This is likely because it boasts Canada’s most popular loyalty points program.

Aside from the rewards and earn rate potential, one of the main benefits of an Air Miles credit card is the Air Miles you earn NEVER expire! At INCOME.ca, we love using our Air Miles Credit Card. We hope you will too.