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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Capital One Aspire Travel™ World MasterCard® Review

THIS CARD IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE

This is the review in full as it appears on the main Rewards Canada site.

The next card to be released in Canada with the World branding from MasterCard is the Capital One Aspire Travel™ World MasterCard®. With a scheduled street date of June 8, 2010, Capital One is once again going to jump ahead of the pack in regards to reward cards just as they did with the Miles Plus Platinum MasterCard in 2008. This newest offering from Capital One is targetted towards the higher end market and is designed to compete with the Visa Infinite cards that have been attracting a lot of attention in the last two years. This card may make other credit card issuers rethink what they are offering due to its large sign up bonus, renewal bonus, high redemption ratio and a first for travel cards in Canada, price protection insurance.

Overview
Looking to storm onto the Canadian market with a new and larger set of bonuses, the Capital One Aspire Travel™ World MasterCard® provides an above average insurance and benefit package that comes at a cost equal to or lower then other high end credit cards in Canada. The card features a good earning ratio and provides the ability to book reward travel when, where and with whomever you like. Add to that, features like no fees for adding authorized users, and this card is ready to set a new standard in the Canadian Travel credit card market. For those who do not need all the features and benefits of this card, Capital One® also offers the Capital One® Aspire Travel™ Platinum MasterCard®, which is a no fee travel card and has the same interest rate as the World MasterCard.

Costs
The Capital One Aspire Travel™ World MasterCard® comes with an industry standard $120 primary card annual fee. The card offers a whopping 35,000 point welcome bonus which is equivalent to up to a $350 travel credit. Adding an authorized user is free which puts this card ahead of almost all of the Infinite/Platinum/Gold travel credit card offerings from other banks. The interest rate on the card is Prime + 16.8% placing it right in the middle of the pack of competitors.

Earning
The Capital One Aspire Travel™ World MasterCard® earns 2 miles for every dollar spent on the card for purchases. This earning ratio puts the card ahead of all other credit cards except Capital One's own Miles Plus MasterCard which also earns 2 miles per dollar. The card features a nice 10,000 mile bonus for each year you renew the card. Effectively, this card gives you up to $450 back in your first year of card membership. Only a few other cards in the Canadian market offer renewal bonuses and they come in at 2,500 to 3,000 miles depending on the card placing this card well ahead of that..

Redeeming
See application for details


Features and Benefits
As stated above the Capital One Aspire Travel™ World MasterCard® comes with an insurance package that competes with all the other high end cards. The card features your standard travel accident, baggage and car rental insurance that are found on almost all fee based rewards cards but it also includes some that are only found on a few select cards. These include, Trip cancellation which is only offered as a standard feature on four other travel rewards cards and Travel Medical insurance which only comes standard on about 50% of the cards in the market.

What is good about this card
This card has many great attributes, the sign up bonus of 35,000 miles, the yearly renewal bonus of 10,000 miles, the earning ratio of 2 Miles per dollar, no fee to add an authorized user and the whole host of insurance including trip cancellation.

What is not so good about this card
I can only think of two potential downfalls to this card, both of which may not even come into play for many people. The first is that this card offers no business class lounge access or at least a free membership into the Priority Pass lounge access program like some of the other high end cards. The second is that the 2% return is eroded on lower bookings based on how redeeming the miles is structured. See application for details.

Conclusion
The Capital One Aspire Travel™ World MasterCard® is ready to set the standard in Canada for travel point credit cards. With its big bonuses, relatively low costs, good earning ratio, benefit package and ability to book travel anywhere, we would have to rate this card as above average in the high end credit card market. In fact this card easily falls into the top 5 of all credit cards in Canada for travel rewards. If Capital One markets this card properly to l Canadians, I think you will see a good amount of them reconsidering what card they carry in their wallet and making a switch to this one.

We would like to hear your thoughts on the new Aspire Travel™ World MasterCard® by commenting below!

Related Links:
Capital One Aspire Travel™ World MasterCard®on Capitalone.ca


“The interest rates, fees, rewards details, benefits and other details of the Capital One product(s) described in the article may have changed since the time of publication. Please consult the product information pages on the Capital One website for accurate product details. In the event of any conflict between the product details in this article and the Capital One website, the details on the Capital One website shall prevail.”

Earn Triple Asia Miles for Delta Hotel stays

A repeat of last year's promo, if you are planning on staying at the Delta Hotels in Canada you can earn Triple Miles in Cathay Pacific's Asia Mile program. The offer runs until June 30, 2010.
Full details

Thursday, May 20, 2010

BMO World Elite MasterCard Review

This is the review in full as it appears on the main Rewards Canada site and is the updated version from Dec 30, 2013

In the middle of March 2010 BMO came out with a new MasterCard offering to compete with the Visa Infinite cards issued by other banks in Canada. Until now BMO has only offered Gold or Platinum versions of the various MasterCards they issued. One can assume BMO came out with this card for several reasons. The first is that BMO needs to keep its higher end clientele from jumping ship from their current line of cards to the premium Infinite cards offered by banks like CIBC and RBC. The second reason would be to try and pull some of the current Visa Infinite cardholders away from those other banks, particularly if they are BMO bankers to start with.

Overview
The World Elite tag is MasterCard's premium card offering much like Visa's Infinite/Signature branding and is a step up from the World MasterCard. To the best of our knowledge, the BMO World Elite was the first World Elite card offering in Canada. With World Elite comes extra benefits and enhancements like Concierge service, extra insurance benefits, exclusive concert/theatre packages and more. These features are what bring the card in-line with the other premium cards in Canada. Much like the RBC Avion Visa, the BMO World Elite MasterCard allows you to redeem for any travel in any class (flights, hotels, cruises etc.) for a varying amount of points via BMO's own travel agency.

Related: See how the BMO World Elite stacks up against its competition on Rewards Canada's Travel Points Credit Card with Annual Fee Comparison

Costs
The BMO World Elite comes with a heftier $150 primary card annual fee versus the average $120 for the Visa Infinite cards. If you apply for this card by Mar 3, 2014 you will have the annual fee waived in the first year. The card offers a 30,000 point welcome bonus which is worth $300 in travel with the newly revised redemption rate. Supplementary cards run $50 which is the same for almost all of the Infinite/Platinum/Gold travel credit card offerings from other banks. The interest rate on the card is 20.5% which is slightly higher then the competitors but most people who have this card will be paying off their monthly balances in full.

Earning
The BMO World Elite earns 2 points for every dollar spent on the card for purchases. Since it offers a straight 2 points per dollar (a 2% return) the card does not have any category multipliers like some of its competiors.

Redeeming
On the redemption side, BMO originally made it tough to find out what the redemption ratios were for travel unless you are an actual cardholder. However this has changed as they let you know now that the card offers a 2% return on your spending (prior to September 2013 it was 1.9%) This positions it near the top of the Travel Points Credit Card category as it matches cards like the Capital One® Aspire Travel™ World MasterCard®, the CUETS World Elite MasterCard and mbna Rewards World Elite MasterCard. The BMO World Elite comes ahead of the TD Visa Cards which have a 1.5% return, Diners Club at 1.7% and many other travel points and hybrid cards at 1%. There does not seem to be a minimum amount of points that you need to redeem at one time so this card can be quite advantageous in redeeming for seat sale fares. As an example, flights between Toronto and Ottawa or Montreal often dip below $50 each way and come in under $200 with taxes which means, you could redeem as little as 20,000 points for the flights (or $10,00 in spending) versus 15,000 with CIBC AeroGold Visas or RBC Avion Visas ($15,000 in spending). When redeeming with this card you want to try to do it online as BMO Rewards will charge you $29.95 for bookings made over the phone.For non-travel redemptions the World Elite MasterCard offers a 1% return (100 points = $1)

Features and Benefits
The BMO World Elite comes with a whole host of features and benefits, the majority of which are standard for cards of this level. It has the standard Travel Accident, Flight Delay and Car Rental insurance. The one insurance it has that most of its competitors do not is Trip Cancellation insurance. This benefits covers up to $2,500 per insured person to a maximum of $5,000 per account. The ScotiaGold Passport Visa, TD First Class Infinite and American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum cards are the only other cards that have this type of insurance as standard.

The card also offers free Priority Pass membership which allows access to over 600 business class lounges Worldwide. Normally the pass costs $99 per year plus your entry fee into each lounge of US$27. This feature is also found on the American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum and Diners Club MasterCards. The difference with the BMO World Elite is that it also gives you four complimentary lounge access passes valued at a total of US$108.

What is good about this card
The redemption ratio of 2.0% gives this card a high mark as it matches other top cards in the Travel Points category as is right in line with the average rate of return on many airline cards for economy class seats. The trip cancellation insurance and the Priority Pass benefits that include the three free lounge visits are also a plus feature for this card.

What is not so good about this card
The biggest downfall I can find with this card is that they charge booking fees for redeeming you points for travel bookings that are made by phone. They also have a $25 fee for change or cancellations to your reward bookings over and above any fees charged by the actual travel supplier. For other rewards like financial or merchandise rewards, online orders are free and phone in orders are charged $10+tax. The annual fee is also higher then the card's direct competitors who offer similar features and benefits.

Conclusion
Overall the updated BMO Rewards World Elite MasterCard is much stronger offering than when it first came out and is a comparable match to its direct competitors. Booking fees on phone in rewards, a higher annual fee, and no ability to book travel directly from any provider makes this card fall short of ones like the Capital One® Aspire Travel™ World MasterCard®, the TD First Class Visa Infinite and the Diners Club MasterCard. The biggest benefits behind this card are the 2% redemption ratio and the four complimentary Priority Pass lounge passes that are not offered by other cards. If you bank with BMO and want to keep all your financial holdings with BMO, spend a lot on your card each year and travel a lot then this card makes for a very good choice.

We would like to hear your thoughts on the new BMO World Elite MasterCard by commenting below!

Related Links:
BMO World Elite MasterCard on BMO.com
Rewards Canada's Canadian Travel Credit Card Comparison including the BMO World Elite MasterCard 

Other cards to consider if you are looking at this card:
American Express Gold Rewards Card
Capital One® Aspire ™ Travel World MasterCard®
CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite
CUETS World Elite MasterCard
Diners Club Club Rewards MasterCard
Scotiabank Gold American Express
TD First Class Infinite Visa

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rewards Canada's Travel Rewards Credit Card Comparison - Updated again!

It has only been a little over two weeks since our last update of the most popular feature on Rewards Canada, the Canadian Travel Credit Card Comparison chart but we have updated it even more. This time round we have added three new cards, the BMO World Elite MasterCard (which we will also have a complete review of posted later today or tomorrow) and the upcoming Aspire Travel™ World MasterCard® and Capital One Aspire MasterCard.

The Aspire World MasterCard appears that it will set a new standard for travel rewards cards with a great signup bonus, a high renewal bonus and both of the Aspire cards are featuring a Canadian first, Price Protection insurance. If you find a lower price within 60 days of purchasing something, Capital One will give return the difference up to $100 per item and a maximum of $500 per year. We will have a complete review of these Aspire cards on RewardsCanada.ca soon!

You can view the chart at:
http://www.rewardscanada.ca/cccompare.html

“The interest rates, fees, rewards details, benefits and other details of the Capital One product(s) described in the article may have changed since the time of publication. Please consult the product information pages on the Capital One website for accurate product details. In the event of any conflict between the product details in this article and the Capital One website, the details on the Capital One website shall prevail.”

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Aeroplan Members Can Now Book One-Way Flights Online

From Newswire.ca

"MONTREAL, May 17 /CNW Telbec/ - Aeroplan today announced that Aeroplan Members can now book ClassicFlight one-way rewards online at aeroplan.com.

Aeroplan originally launched ClassicFlight one-way rewards as a pilot in Aeroplan's Contact Centre in May 2009. Due to a strong member response, Aeroplan has now made the rewards available online.

Starting at 10,000 Aeroplan Miles, ClassicFlight one-way rewards are available anywhere Air Canada flies, increasing the flexibility and accessibility of flight rewards by providing members with the option of using miles for just a portion of their trip and ultimately planning it to their advantage. For example, Aeroplan Members can earn miles when they purchase an Air Canada flight at aircanada.com and redeem miles for a ClassicFlight one-way reward seat on their return trip - or vice-versa.

"Aeroplan is excited to launch ClassicFlight one-way rewards on the web. Based on the one-way flights redeemed through our Contact Centre last year, we know that over a third were booked within 14 days prior to departure. This kind of flexibility is important to our members and we're pleased to make it even easier for them to travel when and where they want to go," said Craig Landry, Senior Vice President, Commercial, Aeroplan. "This is a great option for those members who don't have enough miles for a roundtrip or aren't sure when they'll be coming home, such as university students and snowbirds."

Aeroplan also offers ClassicPlus one-way flight rewards both online and through the Aeroplan Contact Centre. Visit: www.aeroplan.com for more details."

Become a Koreanair.com member to win prizes from Korean Air

Exclusive to residents in Canada, Korean Air is giving away some small prizes (USB Drives & Mirror Clocks) for those who become members on the Koreanair.com website. Membership involves becoming a member in their frequent flyer program SkyPass and setting up an online account. The contest is open until July 31, 2010 with winners announced on or around August 5.

Full details and online enrollment can be found here.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Air Canada to launch Montreal - Phoenix service

Air Canada has announced that they will offer direct non-stop service between Montreal and Phoenix for the Winter 2010/2011 season. The flights which will operate on Saturdays and Sundays will run from Nov 6, 10 to Apr 30, 11

Flight Timings:
Montreal-Phoenix Dep 0805 Arr 1140
Phoenix-Montreal Dep 1220 Arr 1856

Source: Air Canada

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lufthansa makes Montreal-Munich service year round

According to Lufthansa's updated winter schedule they will continue to operate their Montreal to Munich route over the winter season for 2010-11. This route has been flown as summer season only service since 2003.

Monday, May 10, 2010

American Airlines and Marriott part ways

Much to everyone's surprise, this is an email that was sent out late last week from American Airlines :

We would like to provide you with an important update to the American Airlines AAdvantage® program. Effective July 1, 2010, the Marriott Rewards program will no longer offer AAdvantage miles for stays at Marriott hotels.

All qualifying stays at participating properties completed by June 30, 2010 will be eligible to earn AAdvantage miles. It is also important to note the final date to convert your Marriott Rewards points to AAdvantage miles will be June 30, 2010.

Speculation comes down to the two companies not being able to agree on a price for the AAdvantage miles. It really is unfortunate for the split as most everyone expects major airlines and major hotel chains to be aligned in some sort of partnership. The end of this partnership will actually force some hardcore AAdvantage Miles earners to look at other hotel options when they are available, and with all the seemingly endless bonus offers out there, why wouldn't they?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Hyatt Gold Passport Award Chart Changes

Hyatt Gold Passport is the latest hotel program to make changes to their award charts in regards to the amount of points needed to redeem for free hotel nights. The changes take effect on June 4, 2010 and will see the introduction of a new Category 6 consisting of only 20 hotels. Along with the new category, 65 hotels will be moving to a lower category while 89 will be moving up.

Overall it does seem like a devaluation of the program but nowhere near as bad as Hilton HHonor's earlier this year. So if you are planning any reward stays be sure to book them before June 4 to get the old redemption rates on those hotels that are going up.

For complete details on this change and to see all the hotels in their new categories, please visit Goldpassport.com

WestJet, Cathay Pacific sign partnership deal

From the Globe and Mail

"WestJet Airlines Ltd. and Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. have signed a partnership deal, one in a series of co-operation pacts that WestJet is targeting with foreign carriers.

Calgary-based WestJet has been looking to forge links with the Hong Kong-based carrier for nearly six years, but they needed to overcome technology hurdles. With WestJet recently upgrading its computer reservations system, the two airlines will be taking their first step in the partnership.

“We signed and are in the process of implementing an inbound interline agreement with Cathay Pacific that should be in place later this month,” WestJet chief executive officer Gregg Saretsky said during a conference call Tuesday.

The “interline” pact calls for co-operation on ticketing and baggage handling, making it easier for a traveller on a Cathay trip into Canada to catch a connecting flight operated by WestJet. The partnership should be rolled out over the next several weeks, said Cathay spokeswoman Jennifer Pearson, who added that the Asian carrier already has an interline agreement in place with Air Canada."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Rewards Canada's Credit Card Comparison Chart Updated

At the end of last week I finally had a chance to update our very popular Credit Card Comparison chart. The update was to add two new cards that were released this year, the Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express and the WestJet RBC MasterCards.

You can view the updated chart here to see how these two cards stack up against other popular travel rewards credit cards.

Over the next few months you will some more credit card related items on Rewards Canada. The second annual Top Canadian Travel Rewards Credit Cards is in the works, we are working to put a portion of our comparison chart into the Financial Post (4th year running) and will be adding another card that was released in March, the BMO World Elite MasterCard into some of our charts and if time allows, we'll provide a complete review of that card as well.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Continental & United agree to merge

Continental and United Airlines have agreed to merge the two airlines to create the worlds largest airline. Not too many details have been released and the deal will be subject to government approval. What we do know is that should the merger go through, the airline will be called United Airlines but will use the Continental colors and logo. Chicago will be the headquarters of the new airline however it appears Houston will be the main hub. At this point, the announcement does not affect any of the airlines flights or frequent flyer programs, both will continue to run independently until the merger closes, which is expected to happen by the end of 2010.

We will continue to keep our readers up to date on the merger, primarily on the frequent flyer side as more news develops. You can also visit the website created by CO and UA which details the merger.