Top 5 Credit Cards for Millennials

Sure, “millennials” include everyone from a 32-year-old born in 1985 to a 17-year-old applying to university, but there are still some common factors between them – and that means credit card advice aimed at Baby Boomers isn’t always going to help millennials get the right card.

If you’re a millennial, some of these things may be true for you:

  • You’re not (yet) making the highest salary you ever will in your career.
  • You’re spending more like a student than a high-rolling Baby Boomer (especially if you are a student).
  • Saving money isn’t the easiest thing you’ve ever done, even though you know you need to do it.
  • You want to travel and live it up a little, within your budget, of course.
  • Rent and groceries are two of your biggest budget line items.

Based on these criteria, I set out to find 5 Canadian credit cards that fit what’s most important – and deliver perks and bonuses you’ll actually use and love.

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

This Tangerine Credit Card is the answer to your saving-money-is-hard millennial woes.

Here’s why:

  • It offers you 2% cash back in 2 spending categories of your choice, but if you opt to have your cash back deposited to a Tangerine savings account, you can score 2% cash back in 3 categories instead!
  • You can also shift your categories once every 90 days, so if you know you’ll be moving into new digs and dropping some money at IKEA, you can update your categories accordingly and get that sweet 2% cash back on furniture.

Plus, if you’re doing the car-free thing, you’re not locked into “Gas” being one of your required bonus categories, which many cash back cards do automatically.

Since you’re probably spending more at restaurants than you are on fuelling your non-existent car, you can choose to prioritize that as a cash back category instead.

Scotiabank American Express Gold Card

If you’re a traveller (or you wish you were), but need some extra cash to make it happen – the Scotiabank American Express Gold card is the millennial credit card of your dreams. When you sign up and spend $750 in the first 3 months, you’ll earn 30,000 Scotia Rewards points that you can redeem for $300 in cash to put towards any travel you’ve paid for with your card.

That’s right – no blackout dates, no “You have to take the flight with the 12-hour layover,”…

Just $300 to offset the cost of your jaunt to Coachella or your trip to Iceland.

Plus, you’ll earn 4 Scotia Rewards points on everything you buy in three categories:

  • gas stations,
  • grocery stores, and
  • dining and entertainment.

But cardholder beware – there is an annual fee, although they’ll waive it for the first year.

You’ll need to make sure you spend enough annually to make this card worth it as a long-term option.

PC Financial Mastercard

There are a lot of expenses that will go up – or down – as your income changes, but you always need to eat.

That’s why after housing expenses, groceries are usually one of the biggest budget line items for millennials. Especially if you don’t have a car.

If you live close enough to a Loblaw owned store (like Superstore) that you could make it your regular grocery shopping destination, or you happen to spend a fair bit at Shoppers Drug Mart (no judgement), this is the card for you. And even if you don’t, the rewards are generous enough that you could make a separate trip to redeem some points.

You’ll earn 10 PC points for every dollar you spend in most categories if you get the PC Financial card that comes with no annual fee. And as soon as you hit 20,000 points ($2,000 in spending) you’ll be able to start scoring free groceries.

National Bank ECHO Cashback Mastercard

While this card isn’t quite the bold-faced name that some of the others are, it has one hook that might make it a perfect cash-back card for millennials:

You earn 1.5% on all of your online purchases (plus groceries and gas).

Since the Amazon Rewards Visa isn’t available to new cardholders anymore, that 1.5% cashback offer from this National Bank card is a new go-to option for anyone who’s a little bit obsessed with their Amazon Prime membership.

Scotiabank SCENE Visa Card

This card obviously packs a serious rewards punch if you like movies, but even though that’s what Scene rewards are known for, you can also redeem your points for restaurant gift cards, sports gear and more.

When you’re trying to stretch your budget, but don’t want to give up the kind-of-finer things in life like seeing the new Marvel movie, or sipping Bellinis at Milestones, this is the card for you.

And it comes with a $0 annual fee, so you never have to worry about spending “enough” in a year to make the annual fee worth it.

You’ll earn 1 point per dollar you spend anywhere, and 5 points per dollar you spend at Cineplex properties – so if you’re a popcorn person, definitely make sure to put it on your card.

What’s the right card for you?

Since not all millennials are the same, one of these might be a better fit for you than the others – and no one can figure that out better than you can.

To choose the right credit card for yourself, make sure to take into account:

  • what kind of rewards you prefer,
  • how much you spend, and
  • what you spend that money on regularly.

Having this information will help you get the best card for your unique life – millennial or not!


  1. Neil Bertram on January 18, 2018 at 3:19 pm

    I was grateful to find this article. Today I received my letter from Chase telling me that my Amazon Rewards Visa account is being closed on March 15th. I just applied for the National Bank ECHO card. Thanks!

  2. Jerome on March 15, 2018 at 9:42 am

    If you have a family, I guess you may want to have a look at the Scotia Momentum Infinite card. You need a minimum income and there’s an annual fee, but if you place all purchases on it, it may worth it. Even over Tangerine’s card for me.

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