Paying for your own vacation is expensive enough. Funding a family of four or more is downright terrifying. From flights and hotel nights, to food and entertainment, family travel can be a serious financial investment.
The good news is, there are several Canadian credit cards that can make family travel far more affordable and fun!
In selecting our list, we looked for cards that accomplished one or more things. First they reduced the cost of flights or hotel nights. Second, they helped protect the family with the right insurance coverage. Third, they had some type of perk or benefit that made travel more fun for everyone!
1. The RBC WestJet World Elite MasterCard
This is our favourite family travel credit card. It comes with a $250 WestJet Dollar welcome bonus, an annual companion voucher, free checked bags for the primary cardholder and up to 8 travelling companions and travel medical insurance amongst other coverages.
The key to getting the most from this card is for both husband and wife to get the card. Doing so will give each parent a $250 WestJet Dollar welcome bonus, and a return airfare companion voucher for each child. Both the WestJet Dollar welcome bonus and the companion vouchers can be used on the same flights with no black-out dates or travelling restrictions.
If a family of four were to be flying from Toronto to Ft. Lauderdale in peak season, let’s say December 26th to January 2, they could save $1,245 in airfare, $200 in checked bags and $75 in travel medical insurance for a total of $1,502 in savings!
2. Aeroplan Credit Cards
25,000 Aeroplan miles will get you free round-trip airfare to anywhere in North America. There are two cards in the marketplace with no annual fee in the first year, the TD Aeroplan Infinite Visa card and the American Express Gold card which allows you to transfer your Amex points to Aeroplan miles 1:1 with no fee. If you and your wife apply for both cards, you’ll get 4 round-trip flights for free!
One of the huge benefits of Aeroplan (despite the drawback of its infamous blackout dates), is the ability to book up to 2 stopovers on the same trip! So if you’re planning on going on the summer vacation of a lifetime, you can do something like Toronto to Chicago, Chicago to Colorado and Colorado to Los Angeles and back to Toronto, all for the same 25,000 miles per person!
3. Marriott Rewards Premier Visa Card
The advantage of the Marriott Rewards Visa card for travelling families is that it comes with 4 free hotel nights, no foreign transaction fees and no annual fee in the first year.
The card’s welcome bonus is actually 30,000 Marriott points. Staying at a category 3 Marriott hotel will cost you 15,000 points per night, and on Point Saver nights, it would cost you 10,000 points per night. For example, you could get 2 free nights at the Marriott Courtyard in Orlando Florida.
Again, if you and your spouse both apply for the card, that’s 4 free hotel nights in Orlando, with no annual fee!
The other huge benefit of the Marriott Rewards Visa Card, is that it doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees. So you can use the card while travelling outside of Canada and all you’ll be charged is Visa’s exchange rate, which is pretty close to the spot rate. You won’t be charged the typical 2.5% foreign transaction fee most Canadian credit cards charge or the 3% most banks charge when exchanging money at the branch!
There are plenty of credit card options to help reduce the cost of family travel and make the whole experience better for you and the entire family!
When considering the right family travel credit card, don’t just look at how many points you need to earn for a free flight. See what other benefits the card offers, because as you can see from the above, perks like companion vouchers, free checked bags and robust insurance can add serious value.
Moreover, take advantage of being married! For most people, you’ll never get as much value from a credit card as you will from its sign-up bonus. Why spend $25,000 to earn 25,000 miles, when you can do it just by signing up for a new credit card. If you and your spouse each apply for new cards you can effectively double your points for each rewards program, and get to your destination of choice twice as fast!
Remember, credit card application minimum income requirements usually give you the option to use your personal or household income. That means that even if you’re not working, you can use your spouses income to qualify for the minimum spend on your own credit card application. In fact, you can use the income of ANYONE that’s living in your household, including parents and children. So get a little creative and start really piling on those miles now!
If you have any additional tips or tricks, share them with the rest of us!