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Recommendation for versatile travel credit card

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[OP]
Member
Dec 6, 2013
371 posts
331 upvotes
Montreal

Recommendation for versatile travel credit card

So I have some paid time off (the whole year...) which I'm looking forward to using to travel around Europe, some parts of Asia and maybe Dubai. Afterwards I'm relocating in the States

Any recommendations for a good credit card for airport lounge access and relatively lower exchange rate fees; it'd be nice to be able to use the card for purchases while I'm abroad
this site makes me save and spend most of my $$$
13 replies
Deal Guru
Dec 5, 2006
13030 posts
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Markham
So you are looking for US card?
Sr. Member
Feb 28, 2014
964 posts
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Adamantine wrote: So I have some paid time off (the whole year...) which I'm looking forward to using to travel around Europe, some parts of Asia and maybe Dubai. Afterwards I'm relocating in the States

Any recommendations for a good credit card for airport lounge access and relatively lower exchange rate fees; it'd be nice to be able to use the card for purchases while I'm abroad
Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite has both free airport lounge access and is a no FX fee card. The reward earn rate kinda sucks though.
Sr. Member
Mar 25, 2015
784 posts
711 upvotes
Among Canadian ones there's no perfect option for no-FX + travel.

HSBC WE MC - best for travel imo, but no lounge access
Scotiabank Passport - lounge access but crappy rewards
Scotiabank Amex Gold - no travel rewards, interesting rewards for dining/restaurants, but it's Amex, limited coverage abroad might be meaning it's questionable option for travel
Brim - expensive higher tiers, no lounges, no auto-pay
Prepaids - barely much rewards as is "true cashback", no insurance, some countries are banned and since you have to always manually load it, I would consider it different card category altogether.

USA market with their no-FX cards is much more tasty choice, but of course, only if you have SSN/ITIN + US address to get it, otherwise you're SOL
Deal Addict
Oct 4, 2009
3293 posts
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Montreal
dimon222 wrote: Among Canadian ones there's no perfect option for no-FX + travel.

HSBC WE MC - best for travel imo, but no lounge access.
HSBC Jade FTW if the OP can swing the assets. Unlimited lounge access through LoungeKey, no FTF, 3% on travel and 1.5% everything else. https://www.hsbc.ca/jade/world-elite-mastercard/



Travelling all over the world in the midst of a pandemic sounds like a nightmare to be honest, not to mention obtaining proper insurance coverage with public advisories saying to avoid all non-essential travel.
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Jan 4, 2011
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Adamantine wrote: So I have some paid time off (the whole year...) which I'm looking forward to using to travel around Europe, some parts of Asia and maybe Dubai. Afterwards I'm relocating in the States

Any recommendations for a good credit card for airport lounge access and relatively lower exchange rate fees; it'd be nice to be able to use the card for purchases while I'm abroad
If you are moving to the U.S. afterwards, you should think about getting a U.S. card. Do you currently have a Canadian Amex? If so, you can automatically get approved for a U.S. Amex card via Global Transfer. The current public promo on the U.S. Amex Platinum is 100k MR points and 10x MR on dining worldwide. (I'm working on the assumption that a good portion of your costs while traveling will be airfare, hotels, dining and transit.) Yes, the AF is pricy, but it's essentially a free card for the first year given that the 100k MR points is worth at least $1,000 as a statement credit on travel expenses. So with that card, you'll get 10x on dining, 5x on airfare, no f/x frees, and a comprehensive lounge access package (though hotel charges would unfortunately be at only a 1x earn rate). After the first year, you can always downgrade it to a Green card, or cancel outright, if you are not getting enough value from it.

I would also carry a no-FTF Visa and/or MC as a backup for places that don't take Amex, e.g., either the HSBC WE MC (or Jade if you qualify), which would give you the 3% on hotels; or the BNS Passport VI, which would give you 2% on groceries/entertainment/transit/gas.
[OP]
Member
Dec 6, 2013
371 posts
331 upvotes
Montreal
Thank you for the suggestions, the Jade looks promising. The people saying I should get a US card - I can't since I'm not there yet and don't have a SIN etc.
this site makes me save and spend most of my $$$
[OP]
Member
Dec 6, 2013
371 posts
331 upvotes
Montreal
efrant wrote: If you are moving to the U.S. afterwards, you should think about getting a U.S. card. Do you currently have a Canadian Amex? If so, you can automatically get approved for a U.S. Amex card via Global Transfer. The current public promo on the U.S. Amex Platinum is 100k MR points and 10x MR on dining worldwide. (I'm working on the assumption that a good portion of your costs while traveling will be airfare, hotels, dining and transit.) Yes, the AF is pricy, but it's essentially a free card for the first year given that the 100k MR points is worth at least $1,000 as a statement credit on travel expenses. So with that card, you'll get 10x on dining, 5x on airfare, no f/x frees, and a comprehensive lounge access package (though hotel charges would unfortunately be at only a 1x earn rate). After the first year, you can always downgrade it to a Green card, or cancel outright, if you are not getting enough value from it.

I would also carry a no-FTF Visa and/or MC as a backup for places that don't take Amex, e.g., either the HSBC WE MC (or Jade if you qualify), which would give you the 3% on hotels; or the BNS Passport VI, which would give you 2% on groceries/entertainment/transit/gas.
That sounds like an interesting option - especially the global transfer (thanks for that tip!)
I was considering the AMEX although the annual fee does put me off a bit, but you make great points on the benefits I can redeem in the first year.
this site makes me save and spend most of my $$$
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Feb 4, 2019
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S5 wrote: Travelling all over the world in the midst of a pandemic sounds like a nightmare to be honest, not to mention obtaining proper insurance coverage with public advisories saying to avoid all non-essential travel.
+1

Apart from that, I'd recommend getting both the Scotia Passport and the HSBC WE. Both have FYF promos and they complement each other nicely in terms of rewards accelerators and give you Visa and MC coverage.

For cash withdrawals you could add Stack MC and Wealthsimple Cash Visa prepaids.

If you want to go the US cards route, although Amex global transfer may be an easy way, Amex acceptance outside North America is hit and miss. Personally I don't even bother bringing any Amex cards when travelling. Maybe it's an interesting enough option just for the Platinum's lounge access if you think you'll use that (but you could get the Canadian Platinum too, welcome bonus should more than cover the AF). As an alternative route into US cards, TD Bank NA accepts applications from Canadians and has the First Class Visa with no FX fees and 3% on travel and dining and 1% on everything else, also FYF.
Deal Addict
Nov 29, 2006
2003 posts
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Amex Platinum. So many perks. Lounge passes of different types, and also has Hotel Status which you may take advantage of also. Expensive annual fee, but with the welcome bonuses, you'll still be net positive. If you're going for a serious travel trip, this card is pretty good!

If you didn't want the high annual fee and are ok with less benefits (Infinite/World Elite):

I think all the credit cards have first year free and lounge passes:
Scotia Passport Visa Infinite
BMO World Elite MC
CIBC Adventura Visa Infinite

You don't have to keep the cards past the first year... all of the above have their perks, so you'll have to see which one you like. Free Nexus is nice if you don't already have it.

Like others have mentioned, a really good one without lounge passes is the HSBC World Elite MC. With an effective annual fee of only $50, it's a lot lower than the other ones and actually has a really good earn rate compared to those other cards. It's actually one that you won't feel like you're losing out by using it! No forex fee too.

If you wanted to keep it to a 1 card solution, then your only choice is the Passport Visa Infinite as I think it's the only card with no forex and lounge access.

My vote is the Amex Platinum + HSBC WE. You might even want to try to apply the USA version since you're going there anyways. Might as well get a headstart!
Member
Jul 17, 2018
301 posts
158 upvotes
Apply for a US credit card if you can. Many cards have no forex exchanges.

I think the Scotia Passport Visa Infinite is the best in your case. It gives you limited lounge access, has good travel insurance, and more important has no forex. Amex isn't as widely accepted in Europe as Amex.

I'm not sure why people are saying the rewards are crappy. For me, the bulk of my travel expenses is eating out and this card gives you 2% return on restaurants and daily transit when you are overseas.
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Jan 12, 2017
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do vegas shops on the strip take amex? tia
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