If you are a frequent traveler outside of Canada we have very slim pickings on what is available to us. But there are still some hidden gems out there. Please keep in mind that the suggestions below are for frequent flyers (I would say at least 5 or more trips per year outside of Canada).
First of all, if you plan on renting a car or buying a flight ticket, I recommend using some of the top travel rewards credit cards that have good travel insurance coverage. My top picks are:
All AMEX cards generally have limited time higher sign up bonuses and first year annual fee waived, so if possible, watch for those promotions before signing up.
Aspire Travel World MasterCard – There has been a 50,000 sign up bonus instead of the usual 35,000 sign up bonus, but it seems like it only happened on time in the past. It may never come back.
Priority Club World MasterCard – I have seen a 60,000 sign up bonus at least twice instead of the usual 30,000 sign up bonus. I’m not sure if the sign up bonus will ever come back.
Keep in mind that all of the above credit cards have annual fees. The reason I pick the above credit cards is because they have the most extensive insurance coverage out of all the Canadian credit cards. When looking at the different types of travel insurance coverage, I would look for as many of the following coverage as possible:
- Emergency Medical Insurance (Out of province/country)
- Car Rental Collision/Loss Damage Waiver
- Car Rental Theft Damage Insurance
- Flight Delay Insurance
- Baggage Delay Insurance
- Lost or Stolen Baggage Insurance
- Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance
- Travel Accident Insurance
- Travel Assistance
- Travel Emergency Assistance
- Travel Medical Concierge
- Trip Cancellation Insurance
- Trip Interruption Insurance
The more extensive the coverage, the more value you will get from your annual fee. My personal favourite is the Aspire Travel World MasterCard. I find most Canadian banks have very poor insurance coverage, the perks are too low and the annual fees are too high, especially since they generally do not even waive the first year annual fee.
Once your transportation has been covered, I would recommend the following credit cards for your day-to-day use internationally. If you are a big spender, I would get one of the credit cards below and one of the credit cards above to use in combination with each other.
Best Buy Reward Zone Visa – Does not waive the foreign transaction fee
Marriott Rewards Premier Visa Card – There is frequently a 50,000 sign up bonus instead of the usual 30,000 sign up bonus, so watch for that.
Or any other Chase credit cards that suits your spending habits. I choose Chase credit cards because they waive the foreign transaction fees. Most credit cards you pay about 2.5% transaction fee for every purchase made outside of Canada, so to me, this is essentially a 2.5% savings. Some credit cards might charge lower than the 2.5% transaction fee, but if you can get one for 0% (especially since many of the Chase credit cards have no annual fees) then that wins out in my books.
Just a word of caution, keep in mind that when you use your credit card outside of Canada, remember to inform your credit card company of this travel note. Sometimes, it can be frustrating because even if you inform the credit card company about your travel plans, they might still lock you out of your credit card when you use it internationally. There has been too much credit card fraud in recent years, so credit card companies are really clamping down on suspicious activities. Remember to have a means to communicate with your credit card company when you are abroad.