Best Credit Cards in Canada

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With a wide range of credit cards available to Canadian residents, making the right choice can be difficult. The credit cards you choose should depend on what you’re looking for— whether it is travel benefits, perks like cash back, or even low interest rates.

Credit Card Categories in Canada

There are 2 major categories of credit cards in Canada, namely:

  1. Travel Reward Credit Cards
  2. Cashback Credit Cards

Travel Reward Credit Cards

These cards are designed to help you ‘breathe’ and spend less while travelling by earning points (or miles) when you make everyday purchases. On top of travelling benefits, the best travel reward cards come with insurance coverage. Some of these cards have additional side-perks like access to airport lounges, priority boarding, and free checked bags. We have accumulated a list of Travel Reward Credit Cards below with more information. 

1. TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card

If you’re frequently on the move, the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card can significantly level up your travelling experience. With this credit card, you get special Air Canada benefits, access to travel insurance, Aeroplan Miles when you make everyday purchases, and substantial introductory bonuses.

Using this card also gives you access to using insurance to cover up to $1 million in travel medical insurance.

Note: Quebec residents cannot access this offer. 

Earn Rates: 1.5 Miles per $1 spent on purchase of groceries, gas, drugs, and when using aircanada.com; 1 Mile per $1 spent on anything else.

Welcome Bonus: 15,000 Aeroplan Miles on your first purchase using the card, and extra Aeroplan Miles earned through regular spending for the first year.

Annual Fees: $120, with a rebate for the annual fee in 1st year.

Income Requirement: $60,000 personal income per annum or $100,000 household income.

2. TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card

Want to earn points when traveling and on a constant basis? TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card is one of the best cards for this. This card was made primarily for travelers, and throughout the year, TD Rewards Points are obtained as you use the card which you can transfer to Expedia for TD to redeem these points.

You get rewards equivalent to 4.5% for every purchase made with regards to travel when using this card, and users of this card also have access to bonuses such as travel insurance and special discounts when they shop at Avis. 

Earn Rates:  3 points for $1 spent on everyday purchases; 6 points for each dollar spent on travel booked through a phone; 9 points for each dollar spent on online purchases made through Expedia for TD.

Annual fee: $120, with a rebate for the annual fee in 1st year.

Welcome bonus: 20,000 welcome bonus points on your first purchase using the card, which culminates in a travel value of $100.

Income Requirement: $60,000 personal income per annum or $100,000 household income per annum.

 

3. American Express Cobalt Card

The American Express Cobalt card is one of the best travel credit cards in Canada, and for good reason too. The great rewards for everyday purchases on basically anything makes this card an attractive proposition for a lot of people and this is backed by the plethora of awards this card has won.

The points won using this credit card can be easily redeemed to fund the cost of flight tickets and hotel bookings. The rate for this is 1,000 points for $10, and since this is equivalent to 1% it means that there’s a 5% earning on all food spending and 2% on all travel and transit spending.

Holders of this card also have access to travel insurance and the ability to spend their rewards on accommodation at partners of American Express—Marriott Bonvoy is an example of such a partner.

Earn rate: 5 points for $1 spent on groceries/eating out; 2 Points for $1 spent on travel; 1 point for $1 spent on all other purchases.

Annual fee: $120 ($10 monthly).

Welcome bonus: 30,000 welcome points distributed as 2,500 points monthly provided a minimum of $500 is spent on the card in the first year.

Income Requirement: $12,000 personal income per annum.

4. Scotiabank Gold American Express

The Scotiabank Gold American Express is a travel credit card that offers great rewards to its users. It offers 5 reward points for 3 spending categories (groceries, restaurants, and entertainment) and using the card also helps you avert the foreign transaction fee of 2.5%.

You can use your bonus points for travel rewards using the Scotia Rewards system at 1 cent per point; if you spend $1,000 on purchases in your first 3 months, as a card holder you will get a sign up bonus of 20,000 points which is equivalent to $200 in travel rewards. 

Earn Rate: 5 points for $1 spent on groceries, food, and entertainment; 3 points for $1 spent on gas, public transport, or specific online streaming services. 1 point for $1 spent on other purchases.

Annual Fee: $120. 

Welcome Bonus: 20,000 Scotia Reward Points as a welcome bonus on spending $1,000 cumulatively in your first 3 months of getting the card. This welcome bonus translates to $200 in travel benefits that can be used for your trips!

Income requirement: $12,000 personal income per annum.

5. MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard

The MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus credit card is the card for you if you want to earn reward points while maintaining your shopping habits. The card also has no real restrictions on redeeming rewards and is a very easy card to use. Alongside other redeemable varieties, 100 points equates to $1 eligible for use on travel benefits and 200 points to $1 of cash back.

You can also redeem your reward points to use for gift cards from participating retailers and charitable donations. Holders of the card also have access to insurance benefits and as a new card holder, making your first $500 in purchases within your first three months earns you 5,000 reward points. Signing up for the MBNA e-statements also gifts you another 5,000 reward points.

Earn rate: For $1 spent on dining, groceries and gas, you get 2 points at a $5,000 cap per year after which it drops to 1 point per dollar spent. For $1 spent on other purchases, you get 1 point.

Annual Fee: None. 

Welcome bonus: When you spend $500 on dining, groceries and gas within 3 months of getting the card, you receive 5,000 bonus points and as soon as you sign up to get paperless e-statements, you get another 5,000 bonus points (for a total welcome bonus of $10,000).

Income Requirement: No specified amount.

6. BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard

The BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard is the Air Miles card with the best sign-up bonus and earn rates which makes the card a really attractive proposition for new cardholders. The welcome bonus of 2,000 miles after $3000 in spending is also an attainable threshold, and with the first year free, this card’s rewards structure is one of the best on the market.

Of course, the best way to utilize these rewards is for travel for which you can convert 1 mile to 17.2 cents when you use Dream Miles. If you decide to go with Cash Miles, you’ll get 10.5 cents per mile to use at selected Air Miles sponsors or you can also redeem your Cash Miles for gift cards at participating retailers.

Earn Rate: 1 mile goes for every $10 spent anywhere, and 2 miles for every $10 spent at Alamo and National.

Annual Fee: $120, although the first year is free. 

Welcome Bonus: 2,000 Miles for the first $3,000 spent within 3 months.

Income Requirement: $80,000 personal income per annum or $150,000 per annum for a household.

7. Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite is a widely accepted credit card with great benefits. Holders of the card get 30,000 bonus points on their first $1,000 spent, and the card does not have the usual 2.5% foreign transaction fees.

Holders of this card have access to over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide, and you can also choose to redeem your reward points for flights regardless of the carrier. The earning rate is $0.01 per point. Users of the card are also entitled to travel insurance and a car rental collision waiver.

Earn Rate:  2 points per $1 spent on supported transit purchases, entertainment, dining, and grocery stores. 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.

Annual Fee: $139. 

Welcome Bonus: 30,000 bonus points for $1,000 spent within the first three months.

Income Requirement: $60,000 personal income per annum. 

Comparing Travel Credit Cards

Credit Card Name Earn RateWelcome BonusAnnual FeeIncome Requirement
TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card 1.5 Miles per $1 spent on purchase of groceries, gas, drugs, and when using aircanada.com. 1 Mile per $1 spent on anything else 15,000 Aeroplan Miles on your first purchase using the card, and extra Aeroplan Miles earned through regular spending for the first year $120 with a rebate of annual fees in 1st year$60,000 personal income per annum or $100,000 household income per annum 
TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card 3 points for $1 spent on everyday purchases; 6 points for each dollar spent on travel booked through a phone; 9 points for each dollar spent on online purchases made through Expedia for TD 20,000 welcome bonus points on your first purchase using the card, which equates to a travel value of $100$120 with a rebate of annual fees in 1st year$60,000 personal income per annum or $100,000 household income per annum 
American Express Cobalt Card 5 points for $1 spent on groceries/eating out, 2 points for $1 spent on travel, 1 point for $1 spent on all other purchases 30,000 welcome points distributed as 2,500 points monthly provided a minimum of $500 is spent on the card in the first year $120 ($10 monthly) $12,000 personal income per annum 
Scotiabank Gold American Express 5 points for $1 spent on groceries, food and entertainment; 3 points for $1 spent on gas, public transport or specific online streaming services; 1 point for $1 spent on other purchases20,000 Scotia Reward Points as a welcome bonus on spending $1000 cumulatively in your first 3 months of getting the card. This welcome bonus translates to $200 for travel$120 $12,000 personal income per annum
MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard For $1 spent on dining, groceries, and gas, you get 2 points at a $5,000 cap per year, after which it drops to 1 point per dollar spent. For $1 spent on other purchases, you get 1 point When you spend $500 on dining, groceries and gas within 3 months of getting the card, you receive 5,000 bonus points and as soon as you sign up to get paperless e-statements, you get another 5,000 bonus points (for a total welcome bonus of $10,000) NoneNo specified amount 
BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard 1 mile goes for every $10 spent anywhere, and 2 miles for every $10 spent at Alamo and National2,000 Miles for first $3,000 spent within 3 months$120, with the first year being free $80,000 personal income per annum or $150,000 household income per annum  
Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite 2 points per $1 spent on supported transit purchases, entertainment, dining, and grocery stores. 1 point per $1 on all other purchases30,000 bonus points for $1,000 spent within the first three months $139 $60,000 personal income per annum 

Cashback Credit Cards

Just as the name implies, cash back credit cards are run on the system that gives back a certain predetermined percentage of money spent to the cardholder.

The percentages are usually small and in single digits, but these cash rewards are generally flexible and can be spent on anything of your choice.

Just like the Travel Reward Credit cards, there are quite a number of credit cards to choose from if you’re interested in cashback credit cards, which is why we have put together a list of different cashback credit cards and their benefits for you. 

1. Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

The first credit card on our list, Tangerine Money Back credit card, is one of the easiest credit cards to use. It has no attendant fees and is very easy to understand.

Using this card, you are able to choose three spending categories from which you get 2% cash back, and you can raise it to four categories if you open a free Tangerine savings account and have your cash back deposited into it. If not, all other purchases outside your three categories will earn you a 0.5% cash back rate.

Cash Back Amount: Without a free Tangerine savings account: 2% on three spending categories, 0.5% for the rest.

With a free Tangerine savings account: 2% on four spending categories, 0.5% for the rest.

Annual Fee: There is no annual fee for this cash back card.

Income Level: $12,000 personal income per annum.

2. Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card

This cash back card features one of the highest cash back rates, going as high as 4% on groceries. This makes the Scotia Momentum card a very economical cash back card if you spend heavily on groceries. The cash rewards are paid out every November.

Scotiabank’s decision to waive the first year’s annual fee is another outstanding feature as it makes it a really attractive proposition for people who aren’t really sure about the card but are willing to give it a try to see if it suits them.

Cash Back Amount: 4% on recurring bills and groceries, 2%  on gas and daily transit, and 1% on all other purchases.

Annual Fee: $120, free for the first year.

Income Level: $60,000 personal income per annum.

3. TD Cash back Visa Infinite Card

One of the instantly attractive features of the TD Visa Infinite card is the 10% cash back available for the first three months of use, up to $2000. After that, using this card allows you to get a 3% cash back reward on groceries, gas, and recurring payments.

The card also offers bonuses such as emergency medical assistance for card holders over 65 and a 24/7 access to concierge service.

Cash Back Amount: 3% on groceries, gas, and recurring bills.

Annual Fee: $120, free for the first year.

Income Level: $60,000 personal income per annum.

4. BMO Cash Back Credit Card

The BMO CashBack Credit card has evolved to be a credit card with great returns on groceries, illustrated with a 3% cash back rate on monthly grocery purchases up to a cap of $500. This cap resets every month.

You can also access your cash back rewards at any time of the year, provided they have reached the very small threshold of $1.

Cash Back Amount: 5% for the first 3 months, capped at $500;  3% on groceries and 1% on recurring bills, all with a cap of $500 each; drops to 0.5% on all other spending. 

Annual Fee: There is no annual fee.

Income Level: $15,000 personal income per annum.

5. CIBC Dividend Cash Back Credit Card

The CIBC Dividend Cash Back Credit Card provides you with a generous welcome offer that enables you to get a 10% cash back on all purchases within the first four months, with a cap of $2000.

The credit card also includes insurance, something that other cash back cards typically don’t include as a feature. 

Cash Back Account: Welcome offer of 10% cash back for the first 4 months, up to $2000; 4% cashback on supported gas and groceries spending; 2% cashback on spending with Tim Horton’s and TELUS purchases; 1% cashback on all other spending. 

Annual Fee: $99, free for the first year.

Income Level: $60,000 personal income per annum.

6. Meridian Visa Infinite Cash Back Credit Card

The Meridian Visa Infinite Cash Back Credit Card features a number of attractive offers that make it one of the best options on the market. One of such offers is the incredibly rare mobile device insurance, topping out at $1000.

The card holder also has access to an insurance that covers beyond generations, so that grandkids can be covered by their grandparents’ insurance.

On top of offering an exemption from the $99 annual fee for the first year, this card also provides a raft of perks, particularly in the areas of travel insurance and extended warranties.

Note: This card is not available to Quebec residents.

Cash Back Amount: 4% on gas and groceries, 2% on drug stores and recurring bills, and 1% on everything else.

Annual Fee: $99, free for the first year.

Income Level: $60,000 personal income per annum.

7. Home Trust Preferred Visa Cash Back Credit Card

The Home Trust Preferred Visa Cash Back Credit Card is a bit of an outlier for cash back credit cards in Canada as it doesn’t  have any charges on international transactions. As a result, it is a credit card that appeals to travellers as it means they can avoid the extra 2.5% charges on international purchases.

Being a card holder also entitles you to a special roadside assistance package which you can access timely to help with any fault your car may have.

Cash Back Amount: 1% on all Canadian purchases.

Annual Fees: None.

Income Level: No specified amount. 

Comparing Cash Back Credit Cards

Credit Card NameCash Back AmountAnnual Fee
Tangerine Money Back Credit CardWithout a free Tangerine savings account: 2% on three spending categories, 0.5% for the rest.With a free Tangerine savings account: 2% on four spending categories, 0.5% for the rest$12,000
Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card4% on recurring bills and groceries, 2%  on gas and daily transit, and 1% on all other purchases$60,000
TD Cash Back Infinite Card3% on groceries, gas, and recurring bills$60,000
BMO Cash Back Credit Card5% for the first 3 months, capped at $500;  3% on groceries and 1% on recurring bills, all with a cap of $500 each; drops to 0.5% on all other spending.$15,000
CIBC Dividend Cash BackWelcome offer of 10% for the first 4 months, up to $2000; 4% on supported gas and groceries spending; 2% on spending with regards to Tim Horton’s and TELUS purchases; 1% on all other spending$60,000
Meridian Visa Infinite4% on gas and groceries, 2% on drug stores and recurring bills, and 1% on everything else.$60,000
Home Trust Preferred Visa1% on all Canadian purchases. No specified amount

Drawbacks of a Credit Card

Even though many of the credit cards here can reward you for spending more, if you fail to make a payment or pay off your balance in full every month, you can rack up a significant amount of interest and fees. In addition, you can potentially damage your credit score, which can impact your ability to get a mortgage or another loan or line of credit. With interest rates at 20% or higher, leaving a balance on your credit card can bring consequences that quickly outweigh any benefits you had from using a credit card in the first place. 

Credit Cards vs a Home Equity Line of Credit

If you’re planning on a larger expense like a home renovation, college, or a new car, you will likely want to consider a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) rather than a credit card. HELOCs usually have much higher credit limits that are based on your home equity, allowing you to make bigger purchases. In addition, because they are secured by your home, HELOCs have much lower interest rates at roughly 2.95% compared to 20% or more for a credit card (as of August 2020). 

Credit Cards vs a Loan

Credit cards are great for daily expenses, but if you need money for a purchase you can’t immediately afford, the interest can quickly turn things sour. In these cases, a HELOC would be the best option. Not everyone has access to their home equity, however, so the second best option is to use a traditional loan instead. Personal loans, even unsecured ones, usually have much lower interest rates than credit cards. You can calculate your loan payments and find out how much you can save if you used a loan instead of a credit card’s high interest rate of 20% or more. 

Ready to Pick Up a Credit Card?

With our curated list, we have simplified this process for you and you can decide what category and type of credit card you want depending on your needs.

If you are going to go for the Travel Reward credit cards, then you have the liberty to choose which one would be more suitable for you based on the parameters such as earn rates and annual fees.

On the other hand, if you’re going to go for the Cash Back Credit cards, then you could pick from the options we discussed based on parameters such as cash back amounts and the annual fees.

It is also very important to look through the requirements before you decide on one so you know which ones you qualify for.

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