Sep 13, 2010

Credit card comparison chart

Below is chart comparing some of the most popular credit cards, showing the true spending needed to obtain a free trip to Paris.

In the comparison chart I show the cost of an Air Canada flight to Paris for a weeklong getaway, except for the TD AAdvantage Visa which flies on American Airlines. Overall, you will need to spend $3,600 less on the TD AAdvantage Visa to obtain a free flight to Paris. It's important to consider that certain credit cards allow you to cover the cost of taxes and surcharges when redeeming your points while others don't. These extra costs can be substantial depending on which airline you choose to fly with.

Note that the BMO World Elite MasterCard charges a mandatory $18.95 + HST fee (included in this comparison) online booking fee to cash in a reward through their travel reward system. Also, the CIBC Aerogold Visa allows you to earn 1.5 miles per dollar spent on groceries and gasoline, allowing you obtain your reward a little faster.

In choosing your credit card, take your flexibility into consideration. The demand for using the Aeroplan miles program  is very high, meaning most rewards require booking far in advance to obtain the requested dates. Otherwise, you will need to spend more miles to obtain the same flight. American Airlines AAdvantage program has more availability and more flight options to exchange an award, giving one more flexibility in dates and departure times.

For this comparison the cost of an economy return Air Canada ticket to Paris was $530 + $406 in taxes and surcharges. An American Airlines flight on the same date cost $900 + $148 in taxes. Note that even though one airline charges more for the flight, the number of miles needed for the reward is 40,000 on AA while it's 60,000 on Air Canada, meaning you'll have to spend less dollars to obtain the same reward.

COMPARISON CHART Amex Aeroplan Plus CIBC Aerogold Infinite * BMO World Elite ** RBC Visa Infinite Capital One Aspire World TD Advantage
Points/Miles per $1 spent 1.25 1 1 1 2 1
Points/Miles needed for free ticket to Paris 60,000 60,000 49,263 65,000 93,600 40,000
Base ticket cost $530
Base ticket taxes $406
TOTAL spend needed for reward $936
Miles/ Points needed 60,000 60,000  49,263 65,000  93,600  40,000
How much you need to spend to get a free flight to Paris $43,739 $60,406 $49,263 $65,427 $46,800 $40,146
Does this card cover airport fees and taxes? Y/N No No Yes No Yes No
Out of pocket expenses $406 $406 $0 $427 $0 $146

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