December 4, 2023

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The 16 best credit cards in Canada for August 2023

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Canada’s 16 best credit cards for 2023

Finding the right credit card could save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a year. Whether you’re looking for lower fees, more rewards or simply valuable perks like travel medical insurance or rental car savings, every dollar counts. If you use your credit card wisely, pay off your balance monthly and find the right rewards program for you, you are sure to come out ahead. There’s a slew of credit card options out there, and it can be challenging to find the best one—our list of best credit cards in Canada is here to help.

Our picks for the 16 best credit cards in Canada

To view all the information in the chart below, use your mouse or two fingers to slide the columns right or left. Tap or click on a credit card name for more details.


Best overall cash back credit card

Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite*

Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite

First, the obvious reason this is MoneySense’s top card for cash back: It has damn good earn rates. Cardholders get impressive cash back rewards on popular spend categories, including 4% on groceries and recurring bills and 2% on gas and transit (including Uber), and a 1% base rate on everything else. Next, the not-so-obvious reasons for our pick? The fine print reveals very worthy perks for travel, insurance, experiences and more.

  • Annual fee: $120 (waived for the first year)
  • Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances, 22.99% on balance transfers
  • Earn rate: 4% on groceries and recurring bills; 2% on gas and daily transit; 1% on everything else
  • Welcome offer: You can earn 10% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months (up to $2,000 in total purchases). No annual fee in the first year, including on additional cards. Offer ends October 31, 2023.
  • Annual income requirement: Personal income of $60,000 or household income of $100,000
  • Additional benefits: Mobile device insurance, travel emergency medical and travel accident coverage, car rental damage/loss waiver, flight interruption and delayed and lost baggage insurance, and access to Visa Infinite experiences
  • Recommended credit score for approval: 660 or higher

Pros

  • The highest earn rate for popular spending categories in Canada make choosing this card a no-brainer.
  • Comes with a lot of travel perks, making this a perfect card for travellers who enjoy cash back rewards.
  • The welcome offer is very competitive, too, with a double-digit earn rate.

Cons

  • The annual fee is a steep one (after the first year), but that is easily made into cash back in your wallet, especially if you spend $1,200 in your first three months of having the card.
  • The cash back rewards are not accessible all year round—cash back is paid out once a year.
  • If travel rewards are more your thing, consider a travel credit card instead.

Best no fee cash back card

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card*

At a glance: The Tangerine Money-Back card delivers unlimited cash back rewards at generous earn rates—all with no annual fee. You can earn 2% cash back on two categories of your choice, or three categories if you deposit rewards into a Tangerine savings account instead of back onto your credit card. Cardholders earn 0.5% back on all other spending areas. Plus, your earnings across these categories are unlimited, and cash back rewards are automatically deposited into your chosen account each month.

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rates: 19.95% on purchases, 19.95% on cash advances, 19.95% on balance transfers
  • Welcome offer: You can earn an extra 10% back on up to $1,000 in everyday purchases within the first 2 months. Must apply by October 31st, 2023.
  • Earn rate: Earn 2% cash back on up to 3 bonus categories of your choice (when your rewards are deposited into a Tangerine Savings Account); 0.5% on all other purchases.
  • Annual income requirement: $12,000
  • Additional benefits: Purchase assurance and extended warranty
  • Recommended credit score for approval: 660 or higher

Pros 

  • Offer personalization in the rewards program with no earn limits.
  • The $12,000 annual income requirement makes the card an accessible option with competitive perks.
  • Features a 1.95% promotional balance transfer interest rate for new cardholders on six consecutive credit card statements, and a 1% balance transfer fee during this period. 

Cons

  • The card does not have insurance coverage, lacking options for auto, mobile device and travel medical expenses. 
  • The 0.5% base earn rate is low, although you can earn more rewards in your designated categories.

Best rewards card for everyday spending

Scotiabank Gold American Express*

scotiabank gold american express

At a glance: A long-time favourite credit card for Canadians, the Scotiabank Gold American Express gets you 6 Scene+ points per $1 spent on groceries at Sobeys banner stores (including Sobeys, Safeway, FreshCo and Foodland), 5 points per $1 spent on dining, entertainment and purchases at all other grocery stores, 3 points per $1 on gas, public transit and eligible streaming services, and 1 point per $1 on everything else. Good, right? There’s more…

  • Annual fee: $120 (waived for the first year)
  • Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances, 22.99% on balance transfers
  • Welcome offer: You can earn up to $650 in value in the first 12 months, including up to 40,000 bonus Scene+ points. Must apply by October 31, 2023.
  • Earn rate: 6 Scene+ points per $1 spent on groceries at Sobeys banner stores (including Sobeys, Safeway, FreshCo and Foodland), 5 points per $1 spent on dining, entertainment and purchases at all other grocery stores, 3 points per $1 on gas, public transit and eligible streaming services, and 1 point per $1 on everything else
  • Annual income requirement: $12,000
  • Additional benefits: Travel emergency medical, trip cancellation and interruption, flight delay, lost or delayed baggage, travel accident, and rental car collision coverages; hotel-motel burglary insurance; no foreign transaction fees; Amex Offers, Amex Front of the Line, and American Express Invites; and discounted Priority Pass membership
  • Recommended credit score for approval: 660 or higher

Pros

  • You will save on foreign transactions since this card doesn’t charge FX fees. It’s pretty much a 2.5% bonus (the amount usually charged) on all purchases in currencies that aren’t Canadian, both for shopping online and in-person when travelling.
  • The travel insurance is top-notch, covering emergency medical, flight delay, lost baggage and car rental.
  • Get access to American Express programs, such as Amex Front of the Line and American Express Invites.
  • Its low income requirement makes it very accessible for many Canadians.

Cons

  • Access to airport lounges isn’t complimentary. Instead, you’re offered a discount to Amex’s Priority Pass lounge membership.
  • The annual fee is comparatively high, so make sure the spend categories and earn rates make sense for your credit card habits.
  • Not accepted at some retailers, including Costco.

Best card for travel rewards

American Express Cobalt*

amex-cobalt-review

At a glance: The earn rate, welcome offer and dead-simple redemption program make this card a leader for travel rewards. How does this sound? Earned rewards can be used at a rate of $10 per 1,000 points for any flight. On any airline. With no blackout dates. Points can also be used for other things like groceries, too.

  • Annual fee: $156
  • Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases, 21.99% on cash advances
  • Earn rate: 5 points per $1 spent on dining out and groceries; 3 points per $1 on eligible streaming subscriptions, 2 points per $1 on travel and transit and 1 additional point per $1 on American Express Travel bookings; 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • Welcome offer: You can earn 2,500 points for each month you spend $500, up to a maximum of 30,000 points.
  • Annual income requirement: None
  • Additional benefits: Travel insurance; American Express Invites
  • Recommended credit score for approval: 660 or higher

Pros

  • The redemption rate is straightforward and flexible: $10 per 1,000 points for any flight with any airline, and there are no blackout dates. Points can also be used toward the American Express Fixed Points Travel or the American Express Hotel programs, or for everyday expenses at eligible stores that accept American Express.
  • The earn rate is just as easy to follow: 5 points per $1 spent on food (dining and groceries); 3 points per $1 on eligible streaming subscriptions; 2 points per $1 spent on travel and transit; 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases plus 1 extra point on American Express travel bookings
  • The income requirement is comparatively low, making it an accessible credit card for most Canadians.

Cons

  • The annual fee is charged monthly, and it’s higher than most other cards (but if it’s the right card for you, you should be able to earn it back).
  • While the travel perks are pretty sweet, it’s not as comprehensive as other travel cards, as it doesn’t offer airport lounge access.
  • If you are 65 or older, know that the travel insurance does not include medical coverage or trip cancellation for your age group.
  • Not accepted at some retailers, including Costco.

Best no-fee card for travel rewards

MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard*

At a glance: This no-fee card rewards users with a generous welcome offer and cash back points on everyday purchases. The welcome bonus, worth $50, is earned when cardholders spend at least $500 in eligible purchases in the first 90 days of having the card and sign up for paperless statements. You will also earn double the points on restaurant, grocery, streaming, membership and utility purchases in the first three months. After the offer period, your earn rate will return to 2 points per $1 on these spending categories, and 1 point per $1 on everything else. Your points are worth double for travel purchases, at 100 points for $1, whereas it takes 200 points to claim $1 in other areas.

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rates: 19.99% on purchases, 24.99% on cash advances, 22.99% on balance transfers
  • Welcome offer: You can earn 10,000 bonus points ($50 in cash back value) (Not available for residents of Quebec.)
  • Earn rate: Earn 2 points for every $1 spent on eligible groceries and restaurants ($5,000 max annual spend per category) and 1 point per $1 on everything else
  • Additional benefits: Purchase assurance and extended warranty
  • Annual income requirement: None
  • Recommended credit score for approval: 660 or higher

Pros 

  • The card has a generous welcome offer that is fairly easy to earn. 
  • The $0 fee and lack of income requirements make this card an accessible option for many. 
  • Cardholders get an annual birthday bonus, worth 10% of the points earned in the year before your birthday month (maximum of 10,000 bonus points). 

Cons

  • The redemption rate for points on everyday purchases other than travel is moderate, as points earned for everyday purchases like groceries, restaurants and subscriptions are worth 0.5 cents. 
  • The maximum spend amount for each rewards category is set at $10,000.

Best Visa travel credit card

BMO eclipse Visa Infinite*

At a glance: Not everyone can make the most out of grocery or gas rewards, especially if you’re young, single, retired or living an urban lifestyle. And this card rewards those Canadians. Earn five times the BMO Rewards points on your spending at restaurants (including delivery and takeout) and on your transit costs, like gas, public transit and rideshares, as well as groceries. Other categories earn at a rate of 1 point per $1. You can redeem points for travel, gift cards and select products.

  • Annual fee: $120 (waived for the first year)
  • Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases, 23.99% on cash advances, 23.99% on balance transfers
  • Welcome offer: You can earn up to 70,000 points ($467 value), 5 times the points on gas, dining, groceries and transit for the first year, and 10% more points when you add an authorized user. Also, earn a $50 lifestyle credit.
  • Earn rate: 5 BMO Rewards points per $1 on food purchases, including groceries, restaurants and delivery, as well as gas and transit purchases including taxis and rideshares; 1 point per $1 on everything else
  • Annual income requirement: Personal income of $60,000 or household income of $100,000
  • Additional benefits: Visa Infinite privileges
  • Recommended credit score for approval: 725 or higher

Pros

  • Impressive earn rate for dining, groceries, gas and transit, making this a valuable option because of its wide range of spending categories. 
  • Earn even more—10% more—with an additional cardholder.
  • Visa Infinite programs are useful for those who travel and love eating out.

Cons

  • Accelerated earn rate is capped at $50,000 in annual purchases. After that, you will earn 1 point per $1 spent regardless of spend category.
  • The annual income requirement may make this card out of reach for many Canadians.

Best Aeroplan card

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite*

At a glance: Aeroplan members will be well rewarded with the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite card. This card boasts an impressive welcome offer and considerable earn rate on everyday purchases, helping you get closer to making your vacation dreams a reality. You can redeem your points for flights, accommodation, car rentals and more. Cardholders receive a solid earn rate of 1.5 points per $1 on gas, grocery and Air Canada purchases, and 1 point per $1 on all other spending areas. Users can also earn two times the points by shopping through the Aeroplan eStore using their credit card and Aeroplan account number.

  • Annual fee: $139
  • Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances, 22.99% on balance transfers
  • Welcome bonus: You can earn up to 50,000 Aeroplan points. Conditions apply. Must apply by September 5, 2023. Plus, as an anniversary bonus, earn 20,000 Aeroplan points when you spend at least $7,500 within 12 months of opening the account.
  • Earn rate: 1.5 Aeroplan points per $1 spent on gas, groceries and direct through Air Canada purchases (including vacations), 1 Aeroplan point per $1 on everything else
  • Additional benefits: Free checked bags, travel insurance, mobile device insurance, enroll in Nexus and get an application fee rebate every 48 months (conditions apply)
  • Annual income requirement: Personal income of $60,000 or household income of $100,000
  • Recommended credit score for approval: 660 or higher

Pros 

  • Redeem points on a variety of travel purchases, not just flights. 
  • Offers robust insurance coverage; cardholders benefit from travel medical insurance, trip cancellation or delay insurance, auto rental collision coverage and more. 
  • Perks include savings on car rentals and 50% more Stars at Starbucks, as well as 50% more Aeroplan rewards.
  • Access seven exclusive programs, including the Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection—which can help you get perks and even lower prices when you stay at eligible hotels. 

Cons

  • While the perks and extras are extensive, the earn rate on everyday purchases is a bit lower than other cards on this list, and restricted to two categories (groceries and gas).
  • For those over the age of 65, the default travel medical insurance is quite limited—applicable only to the first four days of your trip.

Best Air Miles credit card

BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard*

At a glance: Prepare to be wowed by the extensive range of perks and rewards offered by the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard. The base earn rate of 1 mile per $12 spent is boosted to three times the Miles when shopping with Air Miles partners, and two times the Miles when spending on groceries. Users can choose where to store their Miles, and the allocation for both—Dream Miles go towards travel and other experiences, and Cash Miles can be used to redeem cash back in-store. Cardholders benefit from a suite of travel benefits, including insurance, discounts on rental cars, and a 25% off discount on one flight redemption anywhere in the world.

  • Annual fee: $120 (waived for the first year)
  • Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases, 23.99% on cash advances, 22.99% on balance transfers
  • Welcome bonus: You can earn 3,000 AIR MILES Bonus Miles and have the $120 annual fee waived for the first year.
  • Earn rate: 1 Mile for every $12 spent, three times the rewards at Air Miles partners and two times at eligible grocery stores
  • Additional benefits: Up to 15 days of out-of-province/out-of-country emergency medical protection worth up to $5 million, trip cancellation/interruption coverage, baggage and personal effects insurance, and rental car insurance
  • Annual income requirement: Personal income of $80,000 or household income of $150,000
  • Recommended credit score for approval: 760 or higher

Pros 

  • Travellers under the age of 65 will be well protected with the host of insurance coverage options. 
  • There are numerous earning opportunities for cardholders to take advantage of, and there is some personalization available so you can choose where you put your Miles. 
  • The card offers some notable perks like the Mastercard Travel Pass membership for airport lounge access at a reduced price, and discounts on car rentals. 

Cons

  • The card’s annual income requirement puts it out of reach for some. 
  • Once you set your rewards allocation between the two categories, you cannot transfer already-earned Miles between them. 
  • Travel medical insurance for out-of-province or international travel does not apply to those over the age of 65.

Best low-interest credit card

MBNA True Line Gold Mastercard*

Image of MBNA True Line Mastercard - links to site

At a glance: The MBNA True Line Gold Mastercard’s low standard rate on purchases makes it ideal for those who want to cut down on interest costs. If you carry a balance from another credit card, you could take advantage of the low balance transfer rate on the card as well. This low-interest credit card also offers some perks like car rental discounts through Avis and Budget, purchase assurance on most items, extended warranty, trip and legal assistance, which is rare for cards in this category.

  • Annual fee: $39
  • Interest rates: 8.99% on purchases, 24.99% on cash advances, 8.99% on balance transfers
  • Annual income requirement: None
  • Recommended credit score for approval: 660 or higher

Pros 

  • Access low interest rates and balance transfer rates for a low annual fee. 
  • Transfer available credit on your account to a chequing account or to pay off the balance of up to three other credit cards. 

Cons

  • The card doesn’t offer anything in the way of rewards or cash back. 
  • It doesn’t offer travel medical insurance or mobile device insurance. 

Best credit card for gas

CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite

At a glance: This card is a top choice for commuters, allowing you to earn 4% cash back on gas and even save $0.10 per litre at the pump with Journie Rewards. The higher-than-average 4% earn rate also applies to groceries. You’ll get 2% back on daily transportation—including ridesharing services—takeout food and restaurants, and pre-authorized recurring bill payments. After you reach the annual limit of $80,000 in these two categories, all purchases earn at the base rate of 1%.

  • Annual fee: $120 (waived for the first year)
  • Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances (21.99% for Quebec residents), 22.99% on balance transfers
  • Earn rate: 4% cash back on gas and EV charging, 4% on groceries, 2% on dining, daily transit and recurring bills, and 1% on everything else.
  • Welcome bonus: You can Earn 10% cash back welcome bonus of up to $200 (first 4 statements). Offer not available to QC residents. Conditions apply.
  • Additional benefits: Emergency travel medical; car rental collision and loss damage insurance; mobile device insurance; plus save up to $0.10 per litre at participating Chevron, Ultramar and Pioneer gas stations when you link your card with Journie Rewards
  • Annual income required: Personal income of $60,000 or household income of $100,000
  • Recommended credit score for approval: 725 or higher

Pros 

  • This card offers a higher earn rate in everyday spending categories compared to others on this list, and the annual spending limits are quite high. 
  • Get additional savings on gas with Journie Rewards.
  • Cardholders can benefit from a range of travel and mobile insurance coverage. 

Cons

  • Out-of-province travel insurance is a bit limited compared to other cards on this list, with coverage only lasting up to 10 days for those aged 64 and under.

Best credit card for groceries

Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite*

At a glance: The Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite rewards go beyond a cookie-cutter cash back program, helping users earn on spending for popular streaming services and subscriptions in addition to everyday purchases. Cardholders can earn a high rate of 4% back on groceries; Netflix, lifestyle or other subscriptions; and recurring bill payments. Daily transportation spending, including Uber, is eligible for a 2% earn rate. These high-earning categories are limited to an annual spend of $25,000 each, after which point they will get you 1% cash back at the card’s base rate.

  • Annual fee: $120 (waived for first year)
  • Interest rate: 20.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances, 22.99% on balance transfers
  • Welcome bonus: earn 10% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months (up to $2,000 in total purchases). No annual fee in the first year, including on additional cards. Offer ends October 31, 2023.
  • Earn rate: 4% cash back on groceries, 4% cash back on recurring bill payments, 2% on gas, public transit, taxis and rideshares, and 1% on everything else
  • Additional perks: Complimentary membership in Mastercard Travel Pass provided by DragonPass; exclusive 25% discount on one worldwide Air Miles flight redemption during the calendar year; travel emergency medical coverage; travel accident, trip cancellation, trip interruption and flight delay insurance, and delayed or lost baggage protection; car rental loss or damage insurance; mobile device insurance
  • Annual income requirement: Personal income of $60,000 or household income of $100,000
  • Recommended credit score for approval: 660 or higher

Pros 

  • Get high earn rates on common expenses that may not be covered under other cash back programs.
  • Offers a host of insurance coverages.

Cons

  • Cash back redemption lacks flexibility as the cash back is only deposited once a year. 
  • The base earn rate of 1% is fairly low, and the spending cap for rewards categories is moderate.

Best student credit card

BMO CashBack Mastercard for students*

At a glance: For students who want a no-fee credit card that helps them earn a little extra cash, the BMO CashBack Mastercard is a strong contender. It comes with one of the highest earn rates on groceries among cards with no annual fee, and you’ll also earn some cash back on recurring bills and all other purchases. Plus, the simplicity of cash back is perfect for busy students who don’t want to spend time making sense of a complicated points system or tiered earn rates.

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances, 22.99% on balance transfers
  • Welcome offer: You can earn 5% cash back in your first 3 months. Conditions apply.
  • Earn rate: 3% cash back on groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments, 0.5% on everything else
  • Additional benefits: Extended insurance on purchases made with the card; up to 25% off car rentals at eligible Alamo and National locations
  • Annual income requirement: None
  • Recommended credit score for approval: 660 or higher

Pros 

  • With an annual income requirement of $15,000, this card is accessible to students who want to make this their first credit card and use it to build a credit history. 
  • The 3% earn rate on groceries (up to a maximum of $500 per statement) is the highest among no fee cash back credit cards in the country. 
  • Cash back can be redeemed for as little as $1, meaning you get your money when you need it. Plus, there’s flexibility in how you can redeem—get your cash back as a recurring payment, lump sum or statement credit, or deposit it in a BMO chequing, savings or investing account.

Cons

  • The impressive earn rate on groceries is capped at the first $500 you spend on purchases per month. After that, you’ll earn the base rate of 0.5% until the cap resets the following month. 
  • Like many other no-fee cards, this one doesn’t come with travel insurance or other perks.
  • Cardholders receive only the base earn rate of 0.5% for other expensive categories, like gas and transportation (including Uber).

Best hotel card

Marriott Bonvoy American Express*

At a glance: Travellers who frequently book with Marriott Bonvoy properties can reap hefty rewards with the Marriott Bonvoy American Express. Cardholders get 5 points per $1 spent at Marriott properties and 2 points per $1 everywhere else, plus travel insurance coverage and an annual free night’s stay in a Marriott hotel. And the flexibility with which you can redeem points is hard to beat: Use them on stays offered at more than 7,000 hotel properties worldwide, flights and rental cars, gift cards, merchandise or event tickets—or transfer them to more than 40 airline programs, including Aeroplan.

  • Annual fee: $120
  • Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases, 21.99% on cash advances
  • Welcome offer: You can Earn 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after you charge $1,500 in purchases to your Card in your first three months of Cardmembership.
  • Earn rate: 5 points per $1 at Marriott properties, 2 points per $1 everywhere else
  • Additional perks: Travel insurance, car rental coverage, annual free night’s accommodation
  • Annual income requirement: None
  • Recommended credit score for approval: 725 or higher

Pros 

  • Points can be redeemed for free hotel stays at more than 7,000 hotels worldwide, including at Marriott, Delta, Ritz-Carlton, Courtyard properties and more.
  • Transfer your points to more than 40 airline programs, including Aeroplan. 
  • Get a free night’s hotel stay annually.

Cons

  • Marriott Bonvoy’s dynamic pricing for reward redemptions means you’ll need to book during off-peak periods to maximize your points. Booking on peak dates reduces the value of your redemptions. 
  • The annual free night’s hotel stay begins after one year of having the card and is good for a room of up to 35,000 points. 
  • The card lacks travel medical and trip cancellation insurance.

Best card for perks

American Express The Platinum Card*

At a glance: It may come with a steep annual fee of $699, but The Platinum Card from American Express offers incredible perks. With an annual $200 travel credit, unlimited access to the widest range of airport lounges, premium insurance coverage, hotel upgrades and Platinum Concierge services, it’s a standout even among other top-tier premium cards.

  • Annual fee: $699
  • Interest rates: n/a
  • Earn rate: 3 points per $1 on dining and food delivery; 2 points per $1 spent on travel; 1 point per $1 on everything else
  • Welcome offer: You can earn up to 80,000 rewards points ($800 value).
  • Additional Benefits: Unlimited free lounge access at over 1,300 airport lounges; $200 annual travel credit; travel emergency medical insurance; travel accident insurance; car rental coverage; hotel upgrades; Platinum; Concierge services; American Express Invites
  • Annual income requirement: Personal income of $40,000
  • Recommended credit score for approval: 760 or higher

Pros 

  • The generous $200 annual travel credit essentially reduces the annual fee to $499. 
  • Gain access to the Amex’s Fixed Points Travel program, which allows you to transfer points to dozens of other loyalty programs. 
  • Every four years, get a $100 credit towards a Nexus fee.

Cons

  • The Platinum Card is a charge card, which means you’ll need to pay off the balance in full every month. This explains why there is no listed interest rate.
  • For a card with such a high annual fee, the travel medical insurance could be better; you’ll have coverage for 15 consecutive days, whereas some other cards offer 20 days or more.

Best no-fee card for perks

Brim Mastercard

At a glance: You can still get a lot of perks, even if you want a no-fee card. Consider the Brim Mastercard, which lets you earn 1% back points on all your purchases, plus bonuses on spends at partner stores. Another benefit is that you won’t pay any foreign transaction fees, which with other cards can add up to 2.5% on all in-person and online purchases made in non-Canadian currency. 

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rates: 19.99% on purchases, 21.5% on cash advances, 19.99% on balance transfers 
  • Earn rate: 1 point per $1 on everything you buy, plus bonus points at partner merchants like Warby Parker, Nike, Microsoft and more
  • Welcome offer: You can earn $200 in first time bonuses when shopping at participating merchants.
  • Additional Benefits: No foreign exchange; free global wi-fi by Boingo; up to $500 in mobile device insurance; event ticket reimbursement; common carrier accident insurance; flexible payments; family cards; budgeting and tracking tool
  • Annual income requirement: None
  • Recommended credit score for approval: 725 or higher

Pros

  • Don’t pay any foreign transaction fees on cross-border purchases made in non-Canadian dollars.
  • Gain access to more than a million hotspots worldwide with a free Boingo Wi-Fi membership.
  • Unlike many no-fee credit cards, this one comes with mobile device insurance, event ticket reimbursement and common carrier accident insurance.

Cons

  • The 1% standard earn rate is less than what you can find with other cards. 
  • Whereas some cards offer accelerated earn rate categories, this one does not. However, you can boost the earn rate by shopping at partner stores.

Best secured credit card for building credit

Home Trust Secured Visa*

At a glance: The Home Trust Secured Visa is a strong option for self-employed individuals, students and newcomers to Canada—or anyone who wants to improve their credit score and may otherwise have difficulty getting approved for a credit card. Cardholders have the option of not paying an annual fee and being charged a pretty standard interest rate of 19.99% on unpaid balances, or of paying a modest $59 per year in exchange for a lower rate of 14.9%. As a secured card, your spending limit is determined by the amount you deposit upfront, which can be anywhere from $500 to $10,000.

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rates: 19.99% on purchases, 19.99% on cash advances
  • Earn rates: None
  • Welcome offer: This card does not have a welcome bonus at this time.
  • Additional benefits: None
  • Annual income requirement: None
  • Recommended credit score for approval: 300 or higher

Pros 

  • Cardholders can choose which of the two interest rate and annual fee options best suits their needs—either an annual fee of $59 and a 14.90% interest rate or no annual fee and a 19.99% interest rate. 
  • Helps cardholders build their credit score by reporting payments to the credit agencies. 

Cons

  • The card’s purpose is to provide credit to people with bad credit and who may not otherwise get approved, so there are no perks, rewards or insurance coverage.
  • You must provide a security deposit upfront.
  • Not available to residents of Quebec.

Our methodology: How we determine the best cards

The MoneySense editorial team selects the best credit cards by assessing the value they provide to Canadians across various categories. Our best overall credit cards ranking is based on an extensive list of card details and features, including annual fees, interest rates, welcome offers, rewards earn rates and redemption options, annual income requirements, approval likelihood and speed, and perks such as insurance coverage, purchase protection, roadside assistance, rebates, discounts and airport lounge access. We have also considered the pros and cons of each card to help you determine which ones best suit your financial needs. Our rankings are an unbiased source of information for Canadians. The addition of links from affiliate partners has no bearing on the results. Read more about how MoneySense makes money.

How do credit cards work?

When you use a credit card, you’re taking out a short-term loan with a balance that comes due every month. As you pay down your balance, the credit available to you the following month starts to go back up to the maximum credit limit on your card. There are many ways you can use a credit card. For example, many cards can be used for purchases, for balance transfers and/or cash advances. As useful as they are, it’s important to understand how to use credit cards responsibly to avoid falling into financial trouble.

How does credit card interest work?

Credit card interest is expressed as an annual percentage rate, or APR. It is a fee charged for borrowing money from the credit card issuer. If you’ve paid your credit card balance in full by the end of the billing cycle, you won’t be charged any interest. But if you carry a credit card balance, interest charges begin to accumulate, and you’ll continue to pay interest until you pay your balance back in full.

Though APRs are expressed in annual terms, credit card interest is calculated daily and charged monthly. (The APR represents the total cost of borrowing money for a year.) You can figure out your daily interest rate by dividing your APR by 365 (or 366 during a leap year). For a credit card with a 19.99% APR, your daily rate is 0.0548%.

This means a $1,000 balance will incur $0.54 in interest charges in a single day. And the interest compounds daily, which means that the next day, assuming you don’t make any additional purchases, you’d be charged interest on a total of $1,000.54, and so on. Finally, at the end of the billing cycle, you’re charged interest based on the average daily balance during each one of the days in the billing cycle. So, to determine the amount of interest owed:

  1. Calculate your daily interest rate by dividing the APR by 365.
  2. Find your average daily balance by adding up the balances for each day of the billing cycle and dividing it by the number of days in your statement period.
  3. Multiply your average daily balance by the daily interest rate, and multiply this total by the number of days in the statement period.

That’s why it’s best to pay down your debt as quickly as possible. If you don’t pay off your balance in full by the date noted on your statement, you’ll owe interest, starting on the day that you made your purchase.

Federally regulated financial institutions (think major banks) are required to offer an interest-free grace period of at least 21 days, which begins on the last day of your billing period. Some issuers offer up to 30 days. (Note: This rule doesn’t apply to cash advances or balance transfers.)

What are the advantages of using a credit card?

One of the major benefits of a credit card is convenience. You can simply pay for your purchase knowing you will be billed for the outstanding balance the following month—no need to carry cash in your wallet.

Other benefits include the ability to accrue rewards and points—such as cash back or travel points—based on a percentage of your purchases each month; depending on the card you choose, it starts at 1% and goes up to 4%. You can then redeem those points for gift cards, travel or other items offered through the credit card company’s online rewards catalogue.

Credit cards can also help you build credit. Always paying on time will help you achieve a high credit score (650 plus), allowing you to borrow for a mortgage or a car loan in the future at a reasonable interest rate from a financial institution.

Comparing different types of credit cards: Which one is best?

Deciding which type of credit card is best is about prioritizing your needs. If you usually carry a balance or you want to reduce your debt, you should strongly consider a low-interest credit card or a balance transfer card. If you pay off your balance in full every month, you would likely benefit more from a travel credit card or a cash back credit card, both of which are considered types of rewards credit cards. Travel cards can offer lucrative rewards, but unless you travel frequently, there may be no point in getting one—a cash back card may be the way to go. Learn more about the categories of cards available in Canada:

When it comes to rewards credit cards, the name says it all. These are cards that give you something back when you spend with them, whether it’s points, miles or cash. The more you spend, the more rewards you get. For those who pay off their balance in full every month, these cards can really add value. There are four main types of rewards cards:

Cash back credit cards

Cash back cards offer a rebate credited to your balance, usually calculated as a percentage of the dollar value of your purchases. Most of these cards have accelerated earn rates in certain categories (groceries and gas, for example), and they all have a minimum base rate for spending outside those categories. Your cash back rewards can help you save on anything you can buy with your card.

Travel credit cards

These cards offer points or miles to be redeemed towards travel-related purchases such as flights, hotels, cruises and/or vacation packages. Rewards might not be as straightforward as cash back, but travel points cards can help you save big on upcoming trips, with many offering perks including sign-up bonuses, comprehensive travel insurance and airport lounge access. 

Store credit cards

These cards gift you with points for everyday purchases that can be redeemed for discounts off items from your favourite retailer. The idea is to reward brand loyalty with valuable benefits. The PC Financial Mastercard and the Canadian Tire Mastercard credit cards are great examples. 

Hotel credit cards

Similar to travel cards, hotel credit cards reward consumers with points redeemable for hotel stays and perks. These cards are often linked or co-branded with a specific hotel brand or loyalty program, like Marriott Bonvoy or Best Western Rewards.


Picking the best card: What else to consider

Once you’ve selected the category of card that you want, consider the earn rate, additional benefits and type of points earned with each card. If you happen to spend a lot on gas and groceries, look for a card with a high earn rate for those categories. The annual fee should also be considered. There is a wide selection of no-fee credit cards in Canada. Although no one likes to pay an annual fee simply to use their card, annual-fee cards typically offer more in perks and value back—meaning you can still easily come out on top financially.

Common credit card protections

When comparing cards, it’s important to consider the protections that come with it. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Purchase protection: Many credit cards provide purchase protection that covers eligible purchases against loss, damage or theft for a specified period after the purchase is made. The coverage amount and duration can vary among credit cards, so it’s important to review the terms and conditions of your specific credit card.
  • Zero liability: In Canada, most credit cards offer zero liability protection, meaning you won’t be held responsible for unauthorized charges made on your credit card account. Nevertheless, it’s extremely important to report any suspicious transactions or unauthorized activity to your card issuer.
  • Extended warranty: Some credit cards offer extended warranty protection, which extends the manufacturer’s warranty on eligible purchases for an additional period. This can provide added peace of mind, particularly for higher-value purchases.
  • Travel insurance: Certain credit cards may include travel insurance benefits such as trip cancellation/interruption insurance, emergency medical coverage, baggage loss/delay insurance, and rental car insurance. The specific coverage and conditions vary, so review the details of your credit card’s travel insurance policy.
  • Fraud protection: Credit card issuers typically have robust fraud protection measures in place. If your credit card is lost or stolen, you can report it to your card issuer immediately, and they will usually deactivate the card to prevent unauthorized use.

Frequently asked questions

Your decision will come down to whether a cash back or travel rewards credit card suits your needs and spending habits best. Travel rewards can be lucrative, but what you earn from a cash back card can be spent on anything—or saved.

When considering a cash back card, take stock of your spending habits and pick the card that will earn you the most rewards. For example, if you spend a lot on gas, then pick a card that earns you more cash back at gas stations. High earn rates are great, but keep in mind that many of the top cards have a high income requirement.

Also note that some cash back credit cards will only give you what you’ve earned after you reach a minimum amount or once per calendar year. Find out how you’ll get paid, and make sure you’re okay with it before you apply. If you’re considering a card with an annual fee, make sure the cash back you earn is worth more than the fee. If it’s not, stick to a no-fee card.


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More of Canada’s best credit cards:

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