Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Which credit cards can be used to cover award ticket taxes, fees and surcharges?

If you live in the Calgary area you may have seen Global Calgary run a piece on their Sunday morning news about Fuel Surcharges on Aeroplan award tickets.

I mention in the piece that there are some travel rewards credit cards you can use to cover the taxes, fees and the fuel surcharges levied on frequent flyer award tickets. In Canada, the big three are Aeroplan, Air Miles and WestJet Rewards. All of these programs do not allow you to use miles, points or in the case of WestJet, dollars, towards the additional fees on these tickets. Those miles can only be used towards the base fare. So one question asked is how can you get those tickets totally free? The answer is to use a 'travel anywhere' card. Now some cards claim 'travel anywhere' like the RBC Avion or BMO World Elite cards but those cards work differently than what I consider a true 'travel anywhere' card. I consider cards that allow you to book travel with whomever you want and once that charge is on your statement you use that credit card's points or miles to pay for the charge as 'travel anywhere' cards. In fact most of these 'travel anywhere' cards even give you anywhere from 90 days to 12 months after the charge is posted to redeem against it.

The only cards in Canada that offer this and therefore allow you to cover the taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges on award tickets are as follows:
American Express Gold Rewards Card (minimum redemption amount is 1,000 points for $10 credit)

The Platinum Card from American Express (minimum redemption amount is 1,000 points for $10 credit)

Diners Club Club Rewards MasterCard (minimum redemption amount is 10,000 points for $150 credit)

National Bank of Canada World Elite MasterCard (minimum redemption amount is 11,000 points for $100 credit)

National Bank of Canada Platinum MasterCard (minimum redemption amount is 11,000 points for $100 credit)

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card (minimum redemption amount is 5,000 points for $50 credit)

Scotiabank Platinum American Express Card (minimum redemption amount is 5,000 points for $50 credit)

Scotiabank American Express Card (minimum redemption amount is 5,000 points for $50 credit)

To recap, if you have enough Aeroplan Miles, Air Miles Reward Miles, WestJet Dollars or any other frequent flyer program miles for a redemption, go ahead and redeem them then use one of the above the cards to pay for the taxes, fees and surcharges. Once the charge for those amounts show up on your statement go online or call up your credit card issuer and redeem your credit card points or miles against that charge. This is the only way you will get that award ticket absolutely FREE. To see how all those credit cards compare please visit Rewards Canada's Travel Rewards Credit Card comparison chart.

* Disclaimer: Rewards Canada receives a approval fee for several of the credit cards listed above. I thank you for your continued support if you do select and apply for one those cards.


  1. Wouldn't it be great if we could use the AMEX Platinum "$200 Annual Travel Credit" to pay for fuel surcharges and fees? From what I read it is not possible. Has anyone tried this before?

    1. If I recall correctly you can only use that $200 credit via the Platinum travel service which of course won't book award tickets.

  2. Don't forget the National Bank MasterCards. They fall within the same category.

    1. Thanks Mitch! I knew I should have consulted my own chart rather than doing this post from memory as I always forget about the National Bank MasterCards since they aren't are very big player in the market.

  3. This list needs to be updated, as CIBC Aventura offers fuel surcharge and tax/fees coverage as well, where you can pay using points.

  4. That is only true on Aventura Reward tickets which are essentially revenue tickets bought from the airline and are different then those we are talking about in this post. This post is about is the coverage of fees incurred on Air Miles, Aeroplan, Avios, MileagePlus and virtually all other Frequent Flyer programs which the Aventura does not cover. Many credit cards cover the taxes and fees on their own 'award' tickets such as the Aventura but only those listed above can do both.

  5. I understand that the BMO World Elite doesn't fall under a "travel anywhere" card, but would it not be a good card to pay for fees and taxes as I believe it allows you to pay fees and taxes at a rate of return of 2%.

    Taken from the BMO fine print document:
    "You will receive $1.00 in travel rewards for every 100 points. Points can also
    be used to cover any applicable taxes and fees"

  6. Unfortunately no. What that refers to is the fees and taxes on flights booked via BMO Rewards only, which of course you can't book Aeroplan, Air Miles, etc. via.

  7. Ok, I understand.

    thanks for clarifying.