Get a travel credit card with a strong welcome bonus

Credit card welcome bonuses are one of the easiest ways to get a free flight. Simply apply for a credit card with a sign-up bonus large enough to fund free airfare. You can sign up for multiple credits cards throughout the year, giving you multiple tickets, and some cards might even waive or rebate their first year’s annual fee.

There are a host of Canadian travel cards that offer enough points for free return airfare to anywhere in continental North America, and some that offer enough bonus points less or even more that can be used for flights to Hawaii or the Caribbean! Here’s a list of the best free flight welcome related bonuses in Canada today.

Credit card travel offers
Credit Card Sign-Up Bonus Annual Fee Minimum Spend
Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Earn up to $1,100* in value in the first 12 months, including up to 35,000 bonus Scene+ points and first year annual fee waived on your first supplementary card.¹ Offer ends October 31, 2023. $150 Earn 25,000 bonus Scene+ points by making at least $1,000 in everyday eligible purchases in your first 3 months. Plus, as a Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite cardholder, you are eligible to earn an annual 10,000 Scene+ point bonus when you spend at least $40,000 in everyday net eligible purchases annually.
BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard Up to 90,000 points* $150 (first year waiver)* Get up to 90,000 points and the annual fee waived in your first anniversary for both the primary cardholder and authorized users.*
RBC WestJet World Elite Mastercard Get up to 4501 welcome WestJet dollars (a value of up to $450 CAD) when you spend a minimum of $5,000 in the first 3 months on your card1. $119 $5,000 in first 3 months
American Express Business Gold Rewards Card Earn up to 110,000 Membership Rewards® points (conditions apply) $199 70,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first three months of Cardmembership. Plus earn 10,000 bonus points, when you charge $20,000 in net purchases to your Card account each calendar quarter.

¹ Conditions Apply. Visit here for the Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite Card to learn more.*

  • Terms and conditions apply

Be conscious of annual fees, but don’t obsess

Try to find a welcome bonus offer that waives or rebates the first year annual fee. If you’ve exhausted those options, a new card’s sign-up bonus should at least be worth substantially more than the annual fee. Regardless, switching from your current credit card that has an annual fee, to another credit card that has an annual fee but also provides a welcome bonus, will earn you an extra free flight you would not otherwise have if you’d stayed with your old card. In other words, switching often pays, with or without an annual fee.

Minimum spend requirements

Many credit card welcome bonuses will require that you spend a minimum amount on your credit card within the first three months to be eligible for the welcome bonus points. Others will simply require that you activate your card with a purchase. Some will also offer additional points if you meet a minimum annual spending target. Whatever the minimum spend requirements are, make sure they’re reasonable and feasible for you to meet given your income and lifestyle. If you need to engineer some spend to get the bonus, that’s ok, but do it intelligently. Don’t buy something you don’t need just to meet the spend threshold. Instead, consider buying a gas or grocery gift card, something you know you’ll use in the future.

Companion fares

Speaking of long-term value, another great way to repeatedly get free flights is to use a companion fare card. These credit cards entitle you to bring along a companion for free (or very cheap) on a flight itinerary that you’ve purchased, and some of these cards extend this benefit to you annually rather than as a one-off. This feature is especially beneficial to couples or close friends that like to regularly travel together.

Points transferability

Some travel rewards programs offer more flexibility than others, because they allow you to transfer your miles or points to other programs. For instance, cards that earn Amex Membership Rewards permit you to transfer their points to seven airline partners (including Aeroplan) and two hotel partners. That kind of latitude can help you maximize your points’ value in the event that a transfer partner is offering a particularly good deal on flights.

Double dip with your spouse

Another great opportunity is for both you and your spouse to sign up for each new card, as opposed to adding your spouse as an authorized user. For most credit cards you’ll be able to use household income, as opposed to individual income, to meet minimum income requirements. So even if one spouse isn’t working, they’ll still qualify.

Get additional flights with stopovers

One of the most significant, yet vastly underutilized advantages of airline rewards programs like Aeroplan and Alaska Airlines is the ability to book multi-city trips, on one ticket. For example, if you’re flying round-trip from Vancouver to Paris in shoulder season, it will probably cost you between 70,000–80,000 Aeroplan points. However, for an additional 5,000 points you can break up that interminably long flight itinerary with a refreshing stop in a city like Toronto.

Refer to RBC page for up to date offer terms and conditions.

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