The Best Credit Cards in Canada for 2019

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best credit cards canadaCredit card details are up to date as of June 3rd, 2019. For the most accurate and up to date information, visit the issuer's website.

Shopping around for the best credit cards in Canada can be daunting. With so many options, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when making a decision. There’s a lot to consider including:

How much are you willing to pay annually?

What type of credit card are you looking for?

Does the credit card offer a welcome bonus or a rewards program?

Are there special perks or benefits for cardholders?

Luckily, Young and Thrifty is here to help make your decision a cinch. From cash back cards to travel rewards cards to low-interest cards to the best card for balance transfers, we’ve scoured the market and selected the best credit cards in Canada for 2019. After extensive research, these eight credit cards stand out as the winners.

Remember, there is no such thing as one “best” credit card. You should pick a credit card that most suits your needs and lifestyle. With that in mind, here are our recommendations for the best credit cards in Canada.

Summary of the Best Credit Cards in Canada 2019

Credit CardBest For
Scotia Momentum® Visa Infinite*Cash Back on Gas & Groceries
TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite*Aeroplan Members
BMO® World Elite®* Mastercard®*Travel Rewards
Best Western Mastercard®Hotel Rewards
American Express Essential™ Credit CardLow-Interest Rate
MBNA True Line® Mastercard®Balance Transfers

Scotia Momentum® Visa Infinite*: Best for Cash Back on Gas & Groceries

scotia momentum visa

Credit score required: Good to excellent
Income Eligibility: $60,000 personal annual income
Annual fee: $99 (first year free)

For cash back on your gas and grocery purchases, then look no further than the Scotia Momentum® Visa Infinite* Card. With this card, Canadians can regularly earn 4% back on gas and groceries – a substantial amount that adds up over time.

Meanwhile, you can also get 2% cash back on drug store purchases and recurring bill payments, as well as 1% cash back on everything else. As a welcome bonus, new cardholders can earn 10% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months (up to $2,000 in total purchases), which is pretty awesome.

While there is a cap on each category ($25,000), it's still one of the most generous cashback offerings on the market. Cardholders also receive the benefit of travel insurance, car rental collision insurance, and purchase insurance. There is a $99 annual fee (waived for the first year) and a minimum annual income of $60,000+ is required to apply.

What we like: 4% back on gas and groceries makes it one of the most generous cash back credit cards in Canada.

What we don’t like: High mandatory income requirement and supplementary cards come with an annual fee.

The Details:

  • 4% cash back on gas and groceries
  • 2% cash back on any drug store purchases and recurring bill payments
  • 1% cash back on anything else purchased on this credit card
  • New cardholders will earn 10% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months (up to a value of $2000)

Click here to apply for the Scotia Momentum® Visa Infinite* Card.


TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite*: Best for Aeroplan Members

td aeroplan visa

Credit score required: Good to excellent
Income Eligibility: $60,000 personal or $100,000 household annual income
Annual fee: $120 (first year free)

*This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For Quebec residents, please click here.

Aeroplan collectors will definitely want the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* in their wallet. New cardholders get a generous welcome bonus of 25,000 miles – 15,000 after you make your first purchase and an additional 10,000 after you spend $2,000 in the first 90 days. That’s equivalent to a long-haul roundtrip flight reward!

Cardholders also earn 1.5 Aeroplan Miles for every dollar spent on eligible grocery, gas, drugstore and Aircanada.com purchases – everyday spends that rack up quickly and easily. Plus, earn 1 mile for every dollar spent on everything else, and you can earn double the rewards on purchases made at participating Aeroplan partners and online retailers via the Aeroplan eStore.

The card also offers some awesome travel perks, such as travel insurance, car rental insurance, and exclusive VIP benefits, like priority boarding/check-in, 24-hour concierge services, and a free guest lounge pass. The annual fee of $120 is a bit steep, but new cardholders can take advantage of the first year rebate. Check out our comprehensive TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* review.

If you want to take advantage of the welcome bonus and annual fee rebate, you must apply online by September 3, 2019. It's a time-limited offer.

What we like: Welcome bonus of 25,000 Aeroplan Miles, double miles on participating Aeroplan partner spends, VIP perks, 1st year Annual Fee Rebate for Primary Cardholder

What we don’t like: High annual fee

The Details:

  • A sign-up bonus of up to 25,000 Miles
  • 1.5:$1 spent on gas, grocery, drugstore, and purchases on AirCanada.com
  • 1:$1 spent on all other purchases
  • Twice the miles earned when you use your card at over 150 Aeroplan partners and more than 120 online retailers
  • Your Aeroplan Miles don’t expire as long as you’re a TD Aeroplan Credit Cardholder

Click here to apply for the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite*


BMO® World Elite®* Mastercard®*: Best for Travel Rewards

bmo world eliteCredit score required: Excellent
Income Eligibility: $80,000 individual or $150,000 household annual income
Annual fee: $150 (first year free)

One of the best credit cards in Canada for travellers is the BMO® World Elite®* Mastercard®*. The excellent welcome bonus of 35,000 points (after spending $3000 in the first 3 months) is enough to cover a return flight from Toronto to Montreal. For perks, travellers also love the four free airport lounge passes annually and the comprehensive travel insurance included in the cardholder benefits.

All purchases made with the BMO® World Elite®* Mastercard®* will earn 2 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent and you can earn an accelerated rate of 3 points per dollar with eligible travel, dining, and entertainment purchases. This is only valid up to a maximum spend amount of $50,000 annually, but that’s still very reasonable. Also, the points you accumulate can be used for any airline and can cover all flight charges and taxes, and there are no blackout dates — incredibly enticing features.

The BMO® World Elite®* Mastercard®* has plenty of great perks, but keep in mind that it comes at a price. There is an annual fee of $150 (but it's waived for the first year) and a minimum income of $80,000 to apply. 

What we like: Welcome bonus of 35,000 points, 4 free airport lounge passes per year, accelerated earning rate for eligible merchants, annual fee is free for first year

What we don’t like: High annual fee and high-income requirement to apply

The Details:

  • Welcome bonus of 35,000 points (when you spent 3000 in the first 3 months)
  • Annual fee waived for first year
  • 2 BMO points for every $1 spent
  • 3 BMO points at eligible travel, dining, and entertainment merchants (maxed out at $50,000 per year)
  • 4 free airport lounge passes per year

Click here to apply for the BMO® World Elite®* Mastercard®*


Best Western Mastercard®: Best for Hotel Rewards

mbna best westernCredit score required: Fair to good
Income Eligibility: None
Annual fee: $0

*This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For residents of Quebec, please click here.

While not an all-around travel credit card, the Best Western Mastercard® is ideal for cardholders who frequent hotels and are looking to score some free stays.

Cardholders earn 5 Best Western Rewards® points for every $1 spent at Best Western hotels and 1 BWR® point for every $1 spent elsewhere. BWR® points can then be redeemed for future stays, dining, or even gift cards.

Other enticing perks: new cardholders earn a welcome bonus of 20,000 BWR® points (that’s enough for 1 free night!). For travellers, there's also car rental insurance coverage included on this card, saving you even more dough. This credit card fast-tracks you to Gold Status after your first eligible purchase, entitling you to an extra 10% in BWR® bonus points for eligible stays as well as perks like room upgrades (when available) – all you have to do is make a qualifying purchase with the card. If you spend $10,000 or more in one year on eligible purchases, you'll get bumped to Diamond Status, which gives you an extra 30% in BWR® bonus points for eligible stays.

Above all, the Best Western Mastercard® is ideal for budget travellers, as there is no annual fee and no minimum income requirement to apply. 

What we like: Welcome bonus of 20,000 Best Western Rewards® points, no annual fee, no minimum income requirement

What we don’t like: limited rewards program compared to other travel cards

The Details:

  • Welcome bonus of 20,000 Best Western Rewards® points is enough for a free 1-night stay
  • Every $1 spent at Best Western properties earns you 5  Best Western Rewards® points
  • Every $1 spent elsewhere earns 1 Best Western Rewards® point

Click here to apply for the Best Western Mastercard®


American Express Essential™ Credit Card: Best for Low-Interest Rates

american express essential credit cardFor a low-interest credit card, the American Express Essential Credit Card is your best bet. With a firm interest rate of 8.99%, the American Express Essential™ Credit Card has one of the lowest interest rates in Canada. It's the perfect piece of plastic if you're trying to get out of debt or carrying a balance, and it comes with some decent cardholder benefits. For more details about this card, visit the issuer's website.

What we like: Low-interest rate

What we don’t like: No rewards

The Details:

  • Lowest interest rate: 8.99% makes this one of the lowest credit card interest rates you’ll find in Canada, outside of promotional rates.
  • Purchase protection: get purchase protection after purchase and buyer's assurance which doubles the manufacturer's warranty.
  • Insurance: Flights booked with this credit card are covered by travel accident insurance.

For more details about this card, visit the issuer's website.


MBNA True Line® Mastercard®: Best for Balance Transfers

mbna truelineCredit score required: Fair to good
Income Eligibility: None
Annual fee: $0

*This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For Quebec residents, please click here.

Canadians looking for a balance transfer credit card should look no further than the MBNA True Line® Mastercard®. The big draw is that cardholders won’t have to pay any interest on balance transfers for the first ten months. After the promo period ends, the regular purchase interest rate is 12.99%, which is still considerably lower than most credit cards in Canada. This card is a great option for those seeking to pay off debt fast.

What makes the MBNA True Line® Mastercard® even more attractive is that fact that there is no annual fee and no minimum income requirement – making it easy for anyone to apply. Additional perks include around the clock fraud protection and 24/7 customer service.

What we like: No annual fee, 0% interest on balance transfers for the first 10 months, no minimum income requirement

What we don’t like: No rewards

The Details:

  • Intro APR on Balance Transfers: 0% for 10 months on balance transfers completed within 90 days of account opening, with a 3% transfer fee (minimum fee of $7.50)
  • Regular purchase interest rate of 12.99%
  • Around-the-clock fraud protection
  • Access to 24/7 customer service

Click here to apply for the MBNA True Line® Mastercard®

Comparing the Best Credit Cards in Canada

Credit CardCredit Card TypeSpecial Card Feature/BonusAnnual FeeMore Info
Scotia Momentum® Visa Infinite*Cash backPromo: 10% cash back for the first 3 months, on all purchases (up to a value of $2000)$99Learn More
TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite*Aeroplan TravelA welcome bonus of up to 25,000 Aeroplan Miles$120 (free first year)Learn More
BMO® World Elite®* Mastercard®*Rewards35,000 point welcome bonus$150 (free first year)Learn More
Best Western Mastercard®Hotel RewardsWelcome bonus points are enough for a free 1-night stay$0Learn More
MBNA True Line® Mastercard®Balance Transfer0% balance transfer rate for 10 months$0Learn More

TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite*: *This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For Quebec residents, please click here.
MBNA Best Western Rewards® Mastercard®: *This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For residents of Quebec, please click here.
MBNA True Line® Mastercard®: *This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For Quebec residents, please click here.

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.

For example, if you have existing credit card debt that you’ll like to pay off, consider a low interest or balance transfer credit card. These credit cards offer low-interest rates and make it easier to pay off high-interest debt.

If you are in the habit of paying off your credit card balance every month and avoiding interest charges, a rewards credit card will maximize your spending by letting you accrue points and giving you access to unique perks. If you love to travel, a travel rewards credit card lets you earn points towards flights and hotels. If you’d prefer a cash reward, a cash back credit card is right for you.

Not all cash back and rewards credit cards are created equally. Some offer extra bonuses for spending in different categories, and others have perks and benefits that may suit your needs, like VIP airport lounge access or rental car discounts. Some rewards credit cards have minimum income requirements or annual fees.

Deciding Between Points vs. Cash Back

Travel rewards credit card and cash back credit cards each have their own unique perks. Here are some aspects to take into consideration when deciding between the two:

Cash Back Credit Cards

All cash back credit cards pay you a percentage of your spending in cash and most reward you differently depending on which categories your spending falls in the most. It’s essential to look at the earnings rate and choose a credit card that will benefit your spending the most. For example, if you are spending hundreds of dollars per month on gas for your long commute, only consider credit cards with a high cash back reward in that spending category.

Second, make sure to consider how the annual fee will cut into your rewards, and don’t choose a credit card with a yearly fee that is higher than your potential rewards.

Finally, consider how the cash back is rewarded. Some credit cards deposit your money back earnings quarterly, and others deposit it annually. Some credit cards let you put your cash into a savings account, while others only apply the rewards against your credit card balance.

Rewards Credit Cards

Most rewards credit cards let you earn points that can be redeemed for travel rewards like hotels and flights, but some also allow you to purchase electronics, home goods, and even Blue Jays tickets. You’ll still want to consider how the rewards credit card will reward your unique spending habits as we outlined above, and you’ll need to take the annual fee into consideration. If you’re an Aeroplan or AIR MILES collector (or both!), you’ll definitely want to consider an AIR MILES or Aeroplan credit card to maximize your miles accumulation.

Finally, some travel rewards credit cards are affiliated with particular airlines or hotel chains, so if you have a preference in that area, this factor may weigh into your decision-making process.

Final Word

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:

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Hannah Logan

Hannah Logan is a freelance writer and blogger based in Ottawa. She has a passion for travel that has led her on adventures around the world and her stories have appeared online at Fodor’s Travel, Livestrong, World Nomads, Intrepid Travel, O Magazine, and more. You can keep up with her travels at Eatsleepbreathetravel.com.

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