Shopping for the right credit card doesn’t have to be a chore. From cash back cards to travel rewards cards to low-interest cards, we’ve done extensive research, compared the Canadian credit card market, and hand-selected our top choices for the best credit cards in Canada.
What Canadian Credit Card Is Best For You in 2021?
|Credit Card||Best For||More Info|
|Scotia Momentum® Visa Infinite* Card||Best Cash Back Credit Card||Read On|
|Tangerine World Mastercard®||Best No Annual Fee Credit Card||Read On|
|Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card||Best For Travel Rewards||Read On|
|The American Express Cobalt™ Card||Best For Groceries and Dining Out||Read On|
|MBNA True Line® Gold Mastercard® credit card||Best Low Interest Rate Credit Card||Read On|
|Refresh Financial Secured Card||Best For Improving Credit Score||Read On|
|CIBC Select Visa* Card||Best For Balance Transfers||Read On|
|American Express Business Edge™ Card||Best Business Credit Card||Read On|
Best Credit Card for Cash Back: Scotia Momentum® Visa Infinite* Card
Everyone loves cash back, so why not the best bang for your buck with the Scotia Momentum® Visa Infinite* Card? When you sign up, you’ll get 10% cash back on all purchases for the first three months. There’s a limit of $2,000 in purchases, but that works out to $200 in cash back. Once the promotional period is over, you’ll still get an incredible 4% back on groceries, and recurring payments, 2% for gas and daily transit while all other purchases earn you 1% cash back. The annual fee is $120, but that’s waived for the first year.
The extra perks you get are also fantastic. It comes with a great travel insurance package, mobile device insurance, purchase protection, extended warranty, and even concierge service.
- Annual fee: $120 (first year waived)
- Income Eligibility: Minimum annual income of $60,000 or a minimum household income of $100,000 or a minimum assets under management of $250,000
- Credit Score Required: Good to Excellent
- Welcome offer: Earn 10% cash back on all purchases for first three months (up to $2,000 in total purchases).
- Earn Rate: 4% cash back on recurring bills, grocery purchases, and subscription services, 2% on gas and transit purchases, and 1% on everything else.
- Additional benefits: Comprehensive travel insurance, mobile device insurance coverage, luxury hotel privileges, complimentary concierge services 24/7
- Purchase APR: 20.99% | Cash Advance APR: 22.99%
Best Credit Card With No Annual Fee: Tangerine World Mastercard®
Considering it’s a no annual fee credit card, the Tangerine World Mastercard® sure has a lot to offer cardholders. For one, you can earn up to 2% unlimited cash back on everyday purchases, which is excellent by itself. How it works: select two of Tangerine’s money-back categories in which to earn 2% cash back. After choosing, you’ll earn 2% cash back on everything charged onto your card that falls into these categories. All purchases made outside of your chosen categories will earn 0.5% cash back.
Your cash back rewards are also paid out monthly – a big bonus considering you have to wait for an annual payout with other credit cards. Your money back rewards are automatically deposited into the account of your choice every month, or can be credited back onto your credit card statement. If you choose to deposit your rewards into Tangerine Savings account, you’ll get a third 2% cash back category, allowing you to earn even more!
If that’s not enticing enough, there’s an awesome promotion right now: apply for the Tangerine World Mastercard® by October 4, 2021 and earn an extra 10% back (up to $100) when you spend up to $1,000 in everyday purchases within your first 2 months.* There’s some easy money to be made just by signing up and it won’t cost you a thing!
In addition to earning cash back, the Tangerine World Mastercard® cardholders also get a suite of complimentary benefits, such as shopping protection, rental car loss/damage insurance, new mobile device insurance, and a complimentary membership to the Mastercard® Airport Experiences Provided by LoungeKey at $32 USD per visit.
The only downside is the minimum income eligibility requirement for this card is a bit steep for some: you must earn $60,000 per year as an individual or $100,000 per year as a household, or have a total balance of $250,000 or more in Tangerine Savings Account(s) and/or Investment Fund Account(s). If this is too high, take a look at the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card instead. It offers the same great rewards and no annual fee, but only requires an annual income of $12,000 to qualify.
- Annual Fee: $0
- Minimum Income Eligibility: $60,000 individual or $100,000 household per year OR total balances of $250,000 or more in Tangerine Savings Account(s) and/or Investment Fund Account(s)
- Credit Score Required: Good to Excellent
- Rewards: 2% cash back in up to 3 categories, 0.50% on everything else
- Additional Perks: Airport lounge access, mobile device insurance, rental car collision insurance, zero liability, extended warranty, purchase protection
- Purchase APR: 19.95% | Cash Advance APR: 19.95%
- Welcome offer: Apply for the Tangerine World Mastercard® by October 4, 2021 and earn an extra 10% back (up to $100) when you spend up to $1,000 in everyday purchases within your first 2 months.*
Best Credit Card for Travel Rewards: Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card
If you’re looking for an all-in-one travel credit card, then the Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card may appeal to you. First off, you’ll earn Scotia Rewards points with this card. You can use those points for merchandise and gift cards, however you’ll get the most for your points when you redeem for travel. The travel insurance package included is quite generous, so you’ll know you’re protected whenever you travel. To top things off, the card has no foreign transaction fees, so you can save big whenever you make a purchase that’s not in Canadian dollars.
The current welcome bonus is worth up to 40,000 Scotia Rewards points, which have a value of $400. As for the earn rate, you’ll get 2 Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on eligible grocery stores, dining, entertainment purchases, and daily transit purchases. All other purchases get you 1 point per dollar spent.
There is an annual fee of $139, but you also get a complimentary Priority Pass membership with 6 free annual passes. That’s worth more than the annual fee. Pro-tip: the annual fee is waived when you sign up for the Scotiabank Ultimate Package.
- Annual Fee: $139
- Minimum Income Eligibility: Minimum annual income of $60,000 or a minimum household income of $100,000 or a minimum assets under management of $250,000
- Credit Score Required: Good to Excellent
- Welcome Offer: Up to 40,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points in your first year
- Other Perks: Priority Pass membership and no foreign exchange fee markup
- Purchase APR: 19.99% | Cash Advance APR: 22.99%
Best Credit Card for Groceries and Dining Out Rewards: The American Express Cobalt™ Card
The American Express Cobalt™ Card is an essential card for food lovers who enjoy dining out frequently. Cardholders earn a whopping 5 Membership Rewards® points for every $1 in card purchases at eligible grocery stores, restaurants, bars, cafés, and food delivery in Canada. Membership Rewards® points can be redeemed for travel, concerts and events, gift cards, merchandise, and more. Or just get a statement credit, so you can put points toward anything you purchase with your card.
The value of your points will change, depending on what you redeem them for. Typically, your points are worth the most on travel, followed by gift cards and merchandise. Occasionally, American Express runs promos where your points are worth more when using them for statement credits, so keep an eye out. You can also transfer points 1:1 to several frequent flyer and other loyalty programs.
You’ll also earn 3 points on eligible streaming services for every $1 spent, 2 points for every $1 spent on eligible transit & gas purchases in Canada and eligible travel purchases and 1 point for $1 spent on everything else. The welcome bonus is generous since new cardholders can earn up to 50,000 bonus points.
- Annual Fee: $155.88 ($12.99 monthly fee)
- Minimum Income Eligibility: N/A
- Credit Score Required: Fair to Good
- Welcome Bonus: Earn up to 50,000 Membership Rewards® points in the first year
- Additional Perks: Travel insurance, shopping coverage, exclusive entertainment access, access to VIP benefits at the Hotel Collection from American Express®
- Purchase APR: 20.99% | Cash Advance APR: 21.99%
Best Credit Card With Low-Interest Rate: MBNA True Line® Gold Mastercard® Credit Card
What makes the MBNA True Line® Gold Mastercard® credit card our top choice for the best low-interest rate credit card in Canada? This card has a very low annual interest rate on purchases of 8.99%. That’s one of the lowest rates on the market, and the annual fee is only $39. It’s a good choice if you aren’t sure you can pay off your balance every month, potentially saving you dough on interest charges, which usually start at 19.99% for most other cards. But be careful with cash advances: the interest rate on those is a whopping 24.99%.
- Annual Fee: $39
- Minimum Income Eligibility: N/A
- Credit Score Required: Fair to Good
- Additional Perks: Low annual interest rate
- Interest on Purchases: 8.99% | Interest on Cash Advances: 24.99% | Interest on Balance Transfers & Access Cheques: 8.99%
This offer is not available for residents of Quebec.
Best Credit Card to Repair Credit: Refresh Financial Secured Card
Got no credit history or a bad credit score? No problem! The Refresh Financial Secured Card can help you boost your credit rating in as little as 30 days. Here’s how it works: secure your card with your own funds and then choose a credit limit that suits your financial situation (between $200-10,000). Refresh Financial makes monthly reports to the TransUnion and Equifax, so if you use this card responsibly, you’ll gradually see your score improve in a short period of time. Another bonus: the interest rate on purchases is 17.99%, which is lower than most credit cards. To apply, there’s no minimum income, credit score, or guarantor required, meaning getting approved is essentially guaranteed. However, you have to be the age of majority in your province/territory to apply.
- Annual Fee: $48.95 ($12.95/annual fee + $3/maintenance fee per month)
- Minimum Income Eligibility: None
- Credit Score Required: Bad to Poor
- Welcome Offer: None
- Additional Perks: None
- Other Card Info: Purchase APR: 17.99%
*This card is owned and issued by DirectCash Bank pursuant to license by Visa International. The Visa Brand is a registered trademark of Visa International.
Best Credit Card for Balance Transfers: CIBC Select Visa* Card
Anyone who’s looking to reduce the amount of interest they’re paying should consider the CIBC Select Visa* Card. Right now, you’ll pay 0% interest for up to 10 months when you do a balance transfer at the time of application. Although there’s a 1% fee for balance transfers, it’s a small price to pay for the overall savings you’ll get. After the promotional period ends, you’ll pay just 13.99% interest which is still lower than most credit cards.
The annual fee is just $29, but it’s rebated for the first year, so there’s a lot of potential to save money with this card. As a balance transfer card, you’re not going to get many extra perks. All you really get is travel accident insurance and up to 25% off at participating AVIS locations.
- Annual Fee: $29 (first-year annual fee rebate)
- Income Eligibility: $15,000 household
- Credit Score Required: Good
- Welcome Offer: Transfer your credit card balance and get 0% interest for up to 10 months with a 1% transfer fee† + a first-year annual fee rebate†
- Additional Benefits: Low-interest rate on purchases and cash advances; common carrier accident insurance coverage; three free additional cardholders
- Interest on Purchases: 13.99%| Annual Interest on Cash Advances: 13.99%
Best Business Credit Card: American Express Business Edge™ Card
Small business owners and freelancers are smitten with the American Express Business Edge™ Card, primarily because you can earn extra points on categories that actually matter to you. You’ll get 3 points for every $1 spent on office supplies, electronics, rides, gas, eats, and drinks. Everything else gets you 1 point for every $1 spent. The rewards add up!
Plus, the welcome bonus is very generous. You’ll get 45,000 points when you charge $5,000 to your card in your first three months of card membership. In addition, you can earn another 1,000 points when you charge $3,000 to your card each billing cycle. That’s a total of 57,000 points you could earn in the first year. There is an annual fee of $99, but supplementary cards are free.
The additional benefits are sweet, too. Business management tools will be available as a cardholder so you can manage your funds. You’ll also get car rental insurance for vehicles with an MSRP of up to $85,000. The included buyer’s assurance doubles your manufacturer’s warranty up to one additional year, while purchase protection covers your purchases from theft, loss, and damage for 90 days.
- Annual Fee: $99
- Income Eligibility: N/A
- Credit Score Required: N/A
- Welcome Offer: Up to 57,000 bonus Membership Rewards® points in the first year
- Additional Benefits: Rewards on all spending, rental car insurance, free employee cards
- Interest on Purchases: 19.99% | Interest on Cash Advances: 21.99%
Canada’s Best Credit Cards in 2021 Summary
|Credit Card||Credit Card Type||Special Card Feature/Bonus||Annual Fee|
|Scotia Momentum® Visa Infinite* Card||Cash Back||10% cashback for the first 3 months (up to $2,000 in purchases)||$120 (first year free)||Visit Site|
|Tangerine World Mastercard®||Cash Back||2% cashback in up to 3 categories||$0||Visit Site|
|Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card||Travel Rewards||Welcome offer of up to 35,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points in your first year||$139||Visit Site|
|The American Express Cobalt™ Card||Rewards||Earn up to 50,000 Membership Rewards® points in the first year||$155.88 ($12.99 monthly fee)||Visit Site|
|MBNA True Line® Gold Mastercard® credit card||Low Interest Rate||Interest rate is one of the lowest in Canada||$0||Visit Site|
|Refresh Financial Secured Card||Bad credit||Help you rebuild your credit score||$48.95||Visit Site|
|CIBC Select Visa* Card||Balance Transfer||0% interest rate for up to 10 months on balance transfers with a 1% transfer fee||$29 (first-year annual fee rebate)||Visit Site|
|American Express Business Edge™ Card||Business||Up to 57,000 Membership Rewards® bonus points in first year||$99||Visit Site|
MBNA True Line® Gold Mastercard® credit card: *This offer is not available for residents of Quebec.
How Do Credit Cards Work?
It’s essential to understand how credit cards work, so you can use them to their maximum efficiency without getting into financial trouble. Access to a credit card brings many benefits, including:
Access to credit – A credit card is an ideal tool if you need to make an online purchase, transfer an existing credit balance, or access cash quickly via a cash advance. A credit card is a revolving credit tool, meaning you can continue to charge purchases while paying back the balance.
Convenience – Credit cards allow you to make purchases using just a plastic card or even your phone, so you don’t need to carry cash for your daily purchases.
Build Credit – Opening a credit account and keeping it in good standing by making your monthly payments is an excellent way to build your credit score. A high credit score gives you access to competitive mortgage and car loan rates.
Rewards and Cash Back – Certain credit cards let you earn points, like Aeroplan miles, AIR MILES, or cash back, to reward your daily spending. Points or cash back accrue when charging purchases to your credit card. Good rewards credit cards let you earn between one and five points per dollar spent, or between 1% – 5% of your purchase value as cash back rewards. You can redeem your points for hotel stays, flights, electronics, and experiences.
How to Choose the Best Credit Card
When it comes to choosing the best credit card, there isn’t a “one-size fits all” solution for everyone. Choosing the right credit card depends on your priorities and your spending habits. Consider the following factors before making a decision:
How much are you willing to pay annually?
Most premium credit cards have an annual fee, typically ranging between $99 to as much as $699. It may seem outrageous to pay for the use of a credit card, but they often include valuable perks as part of the package, which can ultimately save you money. But if affordability is more important, you may want to go for a credit card with a low or no annual fee.
What type of credit card are you looking for?
With so many types of credit cards on the market, look for one that matches your lifestyle. Do you prefer to earn rewards or cash back on your card purchases? Do you spend a lot on groceries and gas? Or is your goal to pay off your credit card debt faster? Whatever is important to you right now should inform your choice.
Does the credit card offer a welcome bonus or a rewards program?
A rewards credit card will maximize your spending by letting you accrue points and giving you access to unique perks. If you participate in a rewards program like Aeroplan or Air Miles, look for a credit card that will maximize your points-earning potential for these programs. Bonus if the card includes a welcome offer that gives you a wack of points or rewards just for signing up.
Are there special perks or benefits for cardholders?
Many credit cards come with special perks or benefits for cardholders, such as insurance coverage, access to exclusive events, hotels, or discounts, rewards-earning potential, airline lounge passes, priority treatment on certain airlines, and more. Even with an annual fee, the perks add up and can save you money — provided that you use them!
If you’re still struggling to make a decision, you can also use our comparison tool to find a credit card that suits your needs and lifestyle.
With so many credit cards on the market, finding the best one can be tricky. Just remember that there’s no “best” credit card for everyone, and finding a credit card that works for you requires a little research. Luckily, our in-depth analysis of the best credit cards in Canada will give you a bit of guidance and help you find one that suits your lifestyle.
The Best Credit Cards by Category:
- The Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards
- The Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards
- The Best Low Interest Rate Credit Cards
- The Best Cash Back Credit Cards
- The Best AIR MILES Rewards Credit Cards
- The Best Aeroplan Credit Cards
This post was not sponsored. The views and opinions expressed in this review are purely my own.