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Best Credit Cards in Canada

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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:

  • Best for Travel: American Express Cobalt Card
  • Most Versatile: MBNA True Line MasterCard
  • Best for Cashback: Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite
  • Runner-up for Cashback: SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express
  • Flexible Cashback Options: Tangerine Money Back
  • Best for Occasional Travelers: MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus MasterCard
  • Best for Balance Transfers: American Express Essential Credit Card
  • Best for U.S. Dollar: RBS U.S. Dollar Visa Gold

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.

Top Credit Card Choices

1. American Express Cobalt Card

American Express Cobalt Card
americanexpress.com/ca

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 the 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.

Annual Fee $120 (billed at $10 monthly)
Interest Rates 19.99% on purchases and 22.99% on funds advances
Promotion Offers a special low interest rate of 7.99% on purchases charged to your credit card within the first 6 months
Welcome BonusEarn 2,500 membership rewards points each month in which you spend $500 for the first year. This can total to up to 30,000 bonus points
Earning5x the points on eats and drinks, 2x the points on gas and travel, 1x the points on everything else
RedeemingRedeem points through Flights through the Fixed Points Travel Program, Concert and events on Ticketmaster.ca, Travel on American Express Travel Online, Gift cards and merchandise through Membershiprewards.ca, and purchases on Amazon.ca

2. MBNA True Line MasterCard

MBNA True Line MasterCard
mbna.ca

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.

Annual Fee No annual fee
Interest Rates 12.99% on eligible purchases, balance transfers, and access cheques. 24.99% on cash advances
Promotion Optional balance transfer interest rate of 0% for the first six months (1% transfer fee, $7.50 minimum)
Welcome BonusN/A
EarningN/A
RedeemingN/A

3. Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite

Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite
scotiabank.com/ca

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.

Annual Fee $39
Interest Rates 19.99% on purchases, 22.99% on balance transfers, cash advances, and Scotia Credit Card cheques.
Promotion N/A
Welcome BonusN/A
Earning2% cash back on gas, grocery, and drug stores purchases, 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases
RedeemingCash back

4. SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express

SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express

americanexpress.com/ca

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.

Annual Fee $150
Interest Rates 19.99% on purchases and 22.99% on funds advances
Promotion Optional balance transfer special introductory interest rate of 1.99% for the first 6 months.
Welcome BonusEarn 5% back on all purchases for the first 6 months (up to $300)
Earning2% cash back on all purchases when the introductory rate ends. No limit to the amount you can earn back
RedeemingCash back

5. Tangerine Money Back

Tangerine Money Back
tangerine.ca

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.

Annual Fee $0
Interest Rates 19.95% on purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers
Promotion 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (19.95% after that)
Welcome BonusN/A
Earning2% cash back on up to 3 different categories, 0.50% on everything other everyday spending category
RedeemingCash back, paid monthly

6. MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus MasterCard

MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus MasterCard
mbna.ca

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.

Annual Fee No annual fee
Interest Rates 19.99% on eligible purchases, 22.99% on balance transfers and access cheques, and 24.99% on cash advances
Promotion N/A
Welcome BonusReceive 2,500 bonus points after your first eligible purchase within the first 90 days, Receive 2,500 bonus points once enrolled for e-statements within the first 90 days
Earning2 points for every $1 spent on gas, groceries, and restaurant purchases, 1 point for every $1 spent in eligible purchases.
RedeemingCardholders can redeem points on charitable donations, gift cards from participating retailers, travel, brand-name merchandise, and cash back

7. American Express Essential Credit Card

American Express Essential Credit Card
americanexpress.com/ca

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%.

Annual Fee No annual fee
Interest Rates 8.99% on eligible purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances
Promotion N/A
Welcome BonusN/A
EarningN/A
RedeemingN/A

8. RBS U.S Dollar Visa Gold

RBS U.S Dollar Visa Gold
rbcroyalbank.com/credit-cards

The value in this credit card is very straight forward. It’s a product created for anyone who is making many transactions in U.S. funds and is looking to avoid daily currency fluctuations.

It also gives you extensive insurance coverage including trip cancellation (usually very annoying when you actually have to do it otherwise). Another great feature is that you instantly save 3 cents/L on fuel and always earn 20% more Petro-Points.

Annual Fee $65
Interest Rates 19.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances
Promotion N/A
Welcome BonusN/A
EarningEarn 1 RBC Rewards point for every U.S. $1 you spend on qualifying purchases, plus earn bonus points through purchases at selected retailers using your RBC Rewards credit card.
RedeemingRedeem your points for gift cards, merchandise, travel rewards, and RBC Financial Rewards vouchers. Start redeeming at 2,500 points

 

Credit Card

Best For

Annual Fee

Interest Rate

American Express Cobalt Card

Best Overall, Best for Travel

$120 (billed at $10 monthly)

19.99% on purchases and 22.99% on funds advances

MBNA True Line MasterCard

Most Versatile, Initial Balance Transfers

no annual fee

12.99% on eligible purchases, balance transfers, and access cheques. 24.99% on cash advances.

Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite

Cash Back

$39

19.99% on purchases, 22.99% on balance transfers, cash advances, and Scotia Credit Card cheques.

SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express

Runner Up Cash Back

$150

19.99% on purchases and 22.99% on funds advances

Tangerine Money Back

Flexible Cash Back Options

no annual fee

19.95% on purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers

MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus MasterCard

Occasional Travelers

no annual fee

19.99% on eligible purchases, 22.99% on balance transfers and access cheques, and 24.99% on cash advances

American Express Essential Credit Card

Carrying a Balance (low interest rate), Balance Transfers, Cash Advances

no annual fee

8.99% on eligible purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances

RBS U.S Dollar Visa Gold

U.S. Dollar

$65

19.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances