The best credit cards in Canada all come with a specific set of features that are tailored for the individual customer. Choosing the one that fits you requires that you first analyze your own spending habits and then perform your due diligence. You ultimately want your credit card(s) to suit your lifestyle.
In this guide, we’ve broken down some of the top credit cards for 2019, along with some pointers to help you make good financial choices.
Best Credit Cards in Canada
Take a look at the credit cards that made our list.
1. Tangerine Money Back
The Tangerine Money Back is an interesting credit card because of the low barrier to entry (one only needs to make $12,000 annually to apply) as well as its unlimited money back feature. It’s cash back rewards program is also very sensible in the fact that you get to choose where you want your biggest rewards to apply and the categories are very diverse. Choose up to two categories for which 2% cash back applies. You can choose a third category if you direct deposit your cash into your Tangerine account.
Another point of interest here is the relatively low interest rate of 19.95% for balance transfers. Most other credit cards on this list have a balance transfer interest rate over 22%. Additionally, the promotion they are currently running offers a low interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months.
2. American Express Cobalt Card
The American Express Cobalt Card is an entirely new credit card.
It’s unlike any other card on the market as it is the first in Canada’s history to offer up to a 5% return for more than just the first few months. This means that you can benefit from the rewards program in ways that are just not possible with other cards.
One of the main benefits of the program is to get free round trips for popular routes taken through the flights through the Fixed Points Travel Program.
For example, you would only need 15,000 points to make a roundtrip from New York to Toronto.
3. National Bank of Canada Mastercard
The National Bank of Canada Mastercard offers several options that allow you to choose a unique credit card that meets your needs today.
Mastercards from National Bank of Canada include:
- World Elite
- Echo Cashback
Annual fees and rewards vary from card to card, but you can choose from cashback, travel and rewards cards that will help you save for the future and increase your buying power right away.
4. MBNA True Line Mastercard
The MBNA True Line Mastercard is the “handy man” of credit cards. Its low-interest rates for both purchases and balance transfers make it a great option for consolidating debt. It also becomes the best financial option for balance transfers when you pay your balance off quickly (within 10 months).
This is because of its 0% introductory rate. After that it will go back to 12.99% – which is still lower than most credit cards.
Another feature that makes this card appealing is the fact that you can withdraw cash immediately; coming in handy for many different situations. It does have a higher than average interest rate of 24.99% on cash advances.
5. Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite
The Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite is the best cash back credit card because of its low annual fee, as well as its 2% cash back rate that applies to gas stations, grocery stores, and drug stores. This makes it a great choice for cardholders that spend a good deal of money on those three categories.
Something that appeals to almost all cardholders is the 2% back on recurring bill payments. This makes it a decent option for people that want to transfer a balance to a rewards credit card.
Other additional benefits include saving on car rentals (where you can save up to 25% off on participating AVIS locations), saving time at checkout by tapping you card on your smartphone, and purchase security an extended warranty protection.
6. SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express
If you are looking for the best AMEX cash back card, then this is the card for you.
In the first 6 months there is a 5% back earn rate and this can add up to a total of $300 cash back!
After that the rate drops to 2% but there is no limit to the amount of cash back that you can redeem.
You can even get up to $2,250 for referring your friends ($150 for each)!
This means you don’t have to worry about taking the time to budget your spending in different categories.
7. MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard
The MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard went through some major overhauls in 2019.
Some of the changes were for the better; like a new 2x multiplier for purchases on gas, restaurants, and groceries.
However, some of them were for the worse: These include raising the minimum threshold to redeem your points from 5,000 points to 10,000 points and increasing the interest rate for balance transfers from 21.99% to 22.99%.
If you are someone that tends to redeem their points on travel, then the pros definitely outweigh the cons. If you spend $5,000 a year on gas, groceries, or going out to eat, then this card may appeal to you.
8. American Express Essential Credit Card
This credit card reigns supreme when it comes to interest rates across the board. This especially rings true if you are carrying a large balance on a credit card with a high-interest rate and you want to transfer your balance over to a credit card with a lower interest rate.
There are also the usual additional benefits of being an AMEX cardholder; like periodic exclusive offers as well as impressive insurance benefits.
If you already have a card and are looking to add another one (one that you would carry a balance on) you might want to consider this one. If you choose to do so, you’ll have 0% interest rate for the first 6 months. That being said, this is definitely not a card you want to miss a minimum payment on as your interest rate will skyrocket to 23.99%.
Key Consideration Points
Rewards: One of the most important factors for choosing a credit card is a credit card’s rewards program. In fact, 72% of cardholders carry at least one credit card that offers rewards, and 82% of them report it’s the key consideration point! Travel savings is at the top of the list and card carriers are eager to save money for individual and family travel. But travel isn’t the only important rewards factor; Saving money at grocery stores, gas stations, and donating to charity are all popular ways to redeem points. Taking note of your daily spending habits and aligning that with what the credit card has to offer will determine what’s right for you.
Interest Rates. Just under 60% of card carriers pay off their credit card in full each and every month, giving them a 0% interest rate. For the ~40% that often carry a balance, a low-interest rate might be a top priority. There are more than thirty cards available in Canada to consumers that carry an interest rate under 13%! The way interest rates are modeled can dramatically vary from card to card, and depending on your situation, you may want a card that offers unique interest rate features. Consider balance transfers, cash advances, and purchasing habits as the interest rates can vary for each action.
Annual Fees: Your benefits should outweigh your annual fee. You can come up with a budget plan based on your benefits package that can ensure you always come out net positive. It’s all about the math! Another tip is to check and see if there are additional fees for additional cards. This might be a point of interest if you are getting another card for someone close.
Welcome Bonuses and Special Promotions
Many credit card companies offer welcome bonuses. Popular welcome bonuses include earning extra points for a limited time (usually between 3 months to the first full year). Sometimes there will also be a special promotion that is coupled with a welcome bonus.
Common promotions include rewards points bonuses or extremely low interest rates for the welcome period.
It’s important for the long run to look at the features of the card after the welcome bonuses expire. A credit card might offer a plethora of benefits in the first year but may not measure up to when compared to other cards year over year.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you get a loan from a credit card issuer?
No, you cannot get a loan from your credit card issuer, but you can take a cash advance from the available balance on your credit card.
Can you lower your credit card interest rates?
You can lower your credit card interest rates by maintaining a good credit score and reaching out to the issuer for assistance.