Cash back credit cards are a popular choice for those who are looking for simplicity and practicality in their choice of credit card. While other types of rewards cards let you accumulate points, which in turn can be redeemed for things like store-specific merchandise or plane tickets, cash back credit cards give you a percentage of your purchases back to you. If you don’t travel often or do most of your shopping at the same few places, then a cash back credit card might be a good option for you.
We’ve put together a list of the 5 best cash back credit cards in Canada and used the following spending profile to compare them:
Check out our rankings from highest to lowest return:
|Card||Annual fee||Cash back rewards||Bonuses||First-year rewards|
|MBNA Rewards World Elite||$89||• 2% cash back on all purchases||• Annual fee waived in first year
• 10,000 bonus points ($100 value)
|Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite||$99||• 4% cash back on all gas and grocery purchases
• 2% cash back on drug store purchases and recurring bills
• 1% cash back on everything else
|$100 signup Bonus||$565|
|SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express||$79||• 1.5% cash back on all purchases||• 5% cash back on all purchases for the first 6 months (up to $400)||$561|
|SimplyCash Card from American Express||$0||• 1.25% cash back on all purchases||• 5% cash back on all gas, grocery and restaurant purchases for the first 6 months (up to $250)||$488|
|BMO CashBack MasterCard||$0||• 1% cash back on all purchases||• $75 in rewards||$315|
1. MBNA Rewards World Elite
If you make frequent purchases, MBNA Rewards World Elite can provide you with excellent returns. This card gives you 2% cash back on all eligible purchases and even though it has an annual fee of $89, it gets waived in the first year and you actually receive 10,000 bonus points (value of $100) after you make your first purchase.
2. Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite
The Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite is incredibly diverse. It offers you 4% cash back on the first $25,000 you spend on gas and groceries every year, and 2% cash back on the first $25,000 you spend on drug store purchases and recurring bill payments. All other purchases that don’t fall in either of those two categories, or that are after your first $25,000, get you 1% so you don’t stop earning. On top of this, if you apply for this card by Feb. 29 and make at least $500 in purchases within 3 months of getting it, you’ll receive a $100 statement credit.
3. SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express
Up next we have the SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express. This card offers incredible returns for the first 6 months: Earn 5% cash back on all purchases within the first 6 months of getting this card (up to $400 cash back), and earn 1.5% on your purchases thereafter with no limit to that amount. This 1.5% is earned only on the first $100,000 that you spend in a year, and then it’s down to 1.25% after that. Finally, if you refer a friend to this card, you could earn a bonus of $200 cash back if they get approved!
If you’re a new Cardmember and you currently carry a balance, you’ll have the option to transfer your other credit balances to this card at the time of online application. In doing so, you’ll receive a 0% interest rate on all balance transfers for the first six months. This is a great bonus feature to the SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express.
4. SimplyCash Card from American Express
This is the original SimplyCash Card from American Express. As its name suggests, it might not sound as preferred as the other SimplyCash card but it does have its benefits. While the Preferred card has a $79 annual fee, this one has no annual fee and allows you to earn 5% cash back on all purchases made at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants within the first 6 months of getting the card. This is limited to $250 cash back and after that you earn 1.25% on all purchases when the Welcome Rate ends. Similar to the Preferred card, getting a friend to apply for this card can earn you a $100 cash back bonus.
This card also offers an optional balance transfer offer. You’ll receive a 0% interest rate on all balance transfers for the first six months if you choose to transfer your current credit balances at the time of online application. This is a great feature to have if you currently carry a balance on your credit cards.
5. BMO CashBack MasterCard
Finishing off our list is the BMO CashBack MasterCard and is the most straightforward one of our top 5. This card has no annual fee and earns you 1% cash back on all purchases with absolutely no restrictions. What’s more is that a current promotion offers you $25 in CashBack rewards if you apply for this card by April 30 and another $50 in CashBack rewards if you spend at least $1,500 in the first 3 months of getting it!
Advantages of Cash Back Programs
One of the biggest advantages of using a cash back credit card is that you don’t have to change your spending habits. With store cards, you’re limited to redeeming your earned points at specific places and with travel cards you are committed to a particular travel supplier. What makes cash back credit cards so appealing is that you know you’re earning a percentage back on every transaction you make. As mentioned in the list above, there are a few things you’ll want to take into account when picking a cash back credit card:
Fees—some cards come with an annual fee which typically means that they offer a higher return than those that don’t (such as the two SimplyCash cards above). Some cards also charge fees for additional cardholders.
Signup/spending bonuses—these are designed to entice you to apply for the card with the idea in mind that you won’t be spending as much on it in the first year as you will in the following years. These perks can come in the form of waived annual fees and higher returns for a short period of time.
Categories—if you make a lot of purchases in certain categories, such as drug store purchases, gas or entertainment, then some cards may be better suited to you.
Returns—this is probably the most important feature of the cash back credit card. The most common return out there is 1% (such as the BMO CashBack MasterCard above) so it’s a good figure to use as a benchmark when comparing different cards.
What’s your favourite cash back credit card? Did we miss any? Let us know!
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