The best credit cards in Canada for online shopping

Hyder Owainati
by Hyder Owainati May 8, 2020 / No Comments

While many rewards credit cards offer bonuses on everything from groceries and gas to travel, online shopping is a bit of a different story.

Online shopping isn’t a common bonus category on rewards credit cards, which means you’ll usually earn the standard 1 point per dollar or 0.5% to 1% cash back on items in your virtual shopping cart. Yes, those rewards add up, but if you regularly scour the web for deals and prefer shopping from home as opposed to going out to stores (even before the current status quo), you can stretch your spending and maximize rewards with the right credit card.

Below are our picks of the best credit cards for online shopping, some of which offer double the returns versus the competition. Just remember, our list focusses on rewards, so these are ideal matches for your wallet if you keep on budget and regularly pay off your balance in full. If you anticipate you’ll carry a balance, a low interest credit card should be your go-to option.

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The best credit cards for online shopping

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SimplyCash Preferred from American Express

  • Annual fee: $99
  • Earn 2% cash back on all purchases
  • Welcome offer: Get 10% cash back on eligible purchases for the first four months (up to $400 cash back)
  • Income required: No specific amount

One of the best cash back credit cards in Canada, period, the SimplyCash Preferred from American Express easily climbs to the top of this list. In a nod to its name, the card keeps things simple by offering straightforward cash back and a flat 2% on everything you buy including online purchases – doing away with tiered earned rates and bonus categories. The card also comes with one of the most competitive welcome offers out there, letting you earn an accelerated 10% for your first 4 months up to $400 in cash back.

As an AMEX Cardholder, you’ll also get access to AMEX Offers – a mini online shopping portal available from the card’s app that’ll earn you discounts from a rotating list of retailers (though, admittingly, choices can be limited). The SimplyCash Preferred from American Express comes with all of the bells and whistles you’d expect from a premium rewards card – like comprehensive travel insurance – for a below average annual fee of $99.


MBNA Rewards World Elite

  • $120 annual fee
  • Earn 2 MBNA points (2% in travel points) on all purchases
  • Receive up to 30,000 bonus points
  • Income requirement: $80,000

The MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard’s flat rewards rate has landed it on multiple best of lists – including the top credit cards for Costco – and now it makes an appearance here.

At 2 points per dollar on everything you buy, the MBNA Rewards World Elite offers twice as many points on online shopping than most other travel cards. It also comes with a lucrative two-tiered welcome bonus for new cardholders: you’ll get 10,000 points just for going paperless and enrolling for e-statements, and another 20,000 points for making at least $2,000 in card purchases within your first 90 days of signing up. In total, that can add up to $300 worth of rewards.

First and foremost a travel credit card, MBNA points can be redeemed for flights on virtually any airline at a rate of 1,000 points for $10 (or 1 point for 1 cent). Points won’t expire as long as your account is open and you make your monthly minimum payments, so you can hold onto points until travel is inevitably an option again.

The MBNA Rewards program also offers great value on gift cards.

You can redeem points for gift cards from everywhere from Amazon and eBay to Rakuten, Hudson’s Bay, and more. 1 point is worth around 0.9 cents on gift card redemptions, which is nearly the same value you’d get when using points for flights. That’s rare for a travel card.


ECHO Cashback Mastercard from National Bank

  • $30 annual fee
  • Earn 1.5% cash back on online purcahses, gas and groceries (up to $25,000 annually)
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on everything else
  • Apply for your cash back as soon as you accumulate $25

The Echo Mastercard from National Bank immediately stands out for being virtually the only credit card to have online purchases as its own bonus category. You’ll earn 1.5% cash back when shopping online from websites like Amazon. Though there is a small caveat: online travel bookings and recurring bills don’t count towards this category and will earn you the default 1% cash back.

The card also comes with an annual fee of just $30 and extremely flexible redemptions, letting you cash out rewards at any time once you accumulate at least $25. Many other cash back cards aren’t as flexible in comparison and only offer your cash back once every calendar year.


SimplyCash from American Express

  • No annual fee
  • Earn 1.25% cash back on all purchases
  • Welcome offer: Earn 2.5% cash back on your purchases for the first 3 months (up to $150)
  • Up to $100,000 in travel accident insurance
  • Income required: None specified

While many no fee cash back cards earn 0.5% on most everyday purchases (including online shopping), the SimplyCash from American Express offers a flat 1.25% on everything you buy. If you’re a regular online shopper, that 0.75% difference can add up.

Thanks to the card’s welcome offer, you’ll get an earnings bump and collect 2.5% cash back for your first three months or on your initial $6,000 in purchases (whichever comes first).

Like with other AMEX cards, you’ll gain access to AMEX Offers that’ll hook you up with limited-time discounts and deals from a curated (albeit limited) list of retailers. You’ll also get fraud protection guarantee built-in, including for online purchases, so you won’t be on the hook for fraudulent transactions charged to your card.


Home Trust Preferred Visa

  • No annual fee
  • 0% foreign transaction fees
  • Earn 1% cash back on all Canadian purchases
  • Complimentary roadside assistance membership
  • Not available to residents of Quebec
  • Income required: No specific amount

The reason the HomeTrust Preferred Visa has made it on this list has less to do with its rewards and more to do with the fact it waives foreign transaction fees (though, it does offer a solid 1% cash back).

If you regularly shop from international websites that sell items in USD, Euros, or any other non-Canadian currencies, this card will save you the 2.5% in foreign transaction fees that you’d otherwise be charged for when using almost any other credit card. The Home Trust Preferred Visa is one of only a dozen or so credit cards in Canada to waive its foreign transaction fees, and even better, it doesn’t charge an annual fee either.

There are a few quirks with this card you’ll want to be aware of though: you’ll only earn cash back on purchases in Canadian dollars, you can make a maximum of ten transactions on the card each day, and if you don’t use the card at least once every year, you’ll owe a $12 inactivity fee. But, all things considered, these are small drawbacks from one of the most compelling no fee credit cards on the market.


Brim Financial Mastercards

  • Annual fees: $0 – $199
  • Rewards: 1% – 2%
  • No foreign transaction fees

After a rocky launch and some delays, Brim Financial’s portfolio of Mastercards is now widely available to Canadians. All three of Brim’s credit cards – Brim Mastercard ($0 annual fee), Brim World ($99 annual fee), and Brim World Elite ($200 annual fee) – waive their foreign transaction fees and earn 1%, 1.5%, and 2% back in points respectively. Brim points act like cash back and can be redeemed in increments of 100 points for 1 cent. The combination of no foreign transaction fees and their flat reward rates make them a compelling package for regular online shoppers.


Honourable Mentions

Aeroplan and Air Miles

If you carry either an Aeroplan or Air Miles credit card (or are even just a loyalty member of either program), you’ll want to check out their respective shopping portals anytime you want to buy something online.

Both Airmilesshops.ca and the Aeroplan e-store are filled with deals that’ll help you either rack up bonus miles, earn discounts, or receive free gifts when shopping online from major retailers like Adidas, Apple, Sephora, Indigo, Rakuten, and more. Just be sure to look into the offer details since these online deals sometimes only apply to certain items.


Amazon.ca Rewards Mastercard

  • Annual fee: $0
  • 2.5% on Amazon.ca (for Prime Members); 1.5% for non-Prime Members
  • 1% on all purchases in a Canadian currency
  • No foreign transaction fees

If you’re a loyal Amazon shopper and Prime Member, the Amazon Rewards.ca Mastercard should be on your radar.

Prime Members earn an impressive 2.5% back on Amazon purchases and at Whole Foods. The only drawback is if you’re not a paying Prime Member (which costs either $7.99 a month or $79.99 every year), rewards will be scaled back and you’ll earn 1.5% on Amazon.ca. When shopping online from any website other than Amazon, you’ll earn the default 1%.

The card offers 2.5% back on international purchases, which serves to offset its foreign transaction fees and help you break even when shopping from websites that don’t let you purchase items in Canadian currencies. While the card doesn’t technically earn cash back, it does offer the next best thing – Amazon Rewards. You can redeem 2,000 Amazon Rewards points for $20 (works out to 1 point = 1 cent) and they can be claimed for Amazon.ca gift cards.


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