Canadians Can Get in on Credit Card Signup Bonuses, too

I often feel bad for Canada, they have only one airline which is part of an international alliance and offers reasonable aspirational mileage awards, but that airline has started adding fuel surcharges to its awards and gutted its award chart back in July. Even its credit cards are generally less rewarding than counterparts in the United States. No wonder Canadians I meet are often so defensive about their homeland.

There’s less competition up north in the mileage game, and they have to learn to expect a bit less or to figure out a way to finagle a US-based points earning card which doesn’t charge foreign currency transaction fees. Or to take the best of what’s out there.

I’m not a big fan of Avios, and I wouldn’t take a 50,000 mile offer for their credit card in the U.S. (bring back the 100,000 mile signup bonus, please, Chase…) but up in Canada 50,000 is rather big news.

In fact, that’s the new offer on a Canadian British Airways Visa Infinite through May 31.

  • Receive 15,000 Avios upon approval
  • Receive 35,000 Avios after $5,000 in qualifying spend within 3 months
  • Companion Award Ticket after $30,000 in qualifying spend in a calendar year (valid on BA only and not on partners).

The card earns 1 Avios per Canadian dollar spent, so even though the US dollar is weak Canadians can still be jealous of the US version of the card which earns 1.25 miles per dollar.

Still, 50,000 points are pretty good, and if all you want is non-stop short-haul (such as to the U.S. on America, or British Airways to London) it is a reasonable award chart. Fuel surcharges on routes where paid tickets have them, but Canadians face fuel surcharges from Aeroplan anyway…

(I do not receive any referral credit of any kind if you apply for this card. And I’m rather glad I do not live in Canada, Washington DC is cold enough.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary ┬╗

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Comments

  1. If you only collect Avios and fly BA to London it could be a good deal. If you have a fairly diversified point portfolio, I would use a Star Alliance carrier that doesn’t charge fuel surcharges to get to Europe and use the Avios points to go to HKG on CX, which is only about $350 in F. The card is useless in this scenario as the companion ticket only works on BA metal.

  2. For those dual citizens living in the US, is there a forex fee? Would otherwise be difficult to meet the minimum spend…

  3. I believe all canadian visa cards will charge a 2.5% difference in the exhange for any foreign transaction not posted in canadian funds.

  4. Thanks for recognizing our predicament, Gary. Besides a lack of large sign-up bonuses, almost every decent Canadian mile/point earning credit card has an annual fee of $120. And it’s not just airline cards that are a problem. We don’t have many hotel card options either. No Hilton, no Hyatt, and the Canadian SPG AmEx pales in comparison to its U.S. counterpart.

    However, in a really perverse way, miles are more valuable to Canadians….because our airfares are so darn high! In the first week of April I’m taking a quick trip to Chicago for a concert. A roundtrip YOW-ORD would cost $670, so 20,000 UA miles + $55 was a steal!

  5. Gary,

    Why would you pass on 50k Avios? Is that because you wouldn’t want to burn the “one time use only” approval in case the 100k comes back? Planning a trip to Europe next year, I’m starting to see the use of having some Avios laying around for those short haul flights… not aspirational, but functional.

    Oh, and as a transplant to DC from WI, I can tell you that these winters are pretty f’ing warm.

  6. This is tempting as I’m living in the US but a Canadian citizen without a SSN so I can’t get US-based credit cards for churning. The foreign exchange fee hurts for getting the spend, but the redemption on AA for cross-border flights could make this worth it. I can get two roundtrip BWI-ORD-YOW for under 50k Avios points, which cost roughly $700 each.

  7. @Dan there’s been bigger bonuses than 50k from the Chase BA card in the past — twice. And 50k is the standard offer that’s been around for awhile. So 50k shouldn’t be going away any time soon, and there’s a chance of something bigger, I wouldn’t pounce on 50k.

  8. Mario,

    I believe residency, and not citizenship is required to obtain a Canadian issued card.

    If you live in the US and are looking for CAD spend, buy your airline tickets on an airline’s Canadian site such as united.ca or aa.com will price in CAD if you put in your residence to be in Canada or use an OTA’s Canadian web site, such as expedia.ca.

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