The Best Credit Cards in Canada for 2019

Ratehub.ca
by Ratehub.ca August 1, 2019 / 10 Comments

Every year, Ratehub.ca rounds up the best credit cards in the country to help Canadians wade through the financial weeds to find the card most suited to their spending habits and lifestyle.

Like clothing, credit cards aren’t one-size-fits-all. We’ve said this before — the best one for you depends on your financial situation and maybe one that saves you money via a low interest rate, balance transfer offer or cash back, or provides value through rewards points that can be redeemed for travel and merchandise.

Alongside a few standout new entrants to the market, several of the best credit cards in Canada for 2018 have also made it on our list for 2019 because they continue to offer competitive rewards. To see how the cards below fit with your individual spending profile, compare multiple credit cards side-by-side with Ratehub.ca’s credit card calculator.

Summary (+)

The best credit cards in Canada for 2019


Best rewards card for everyday spending

The Scotiabank Gold American Express

  • Annual fee: $120
  • Earn 5 Spoints per dollar spent on groceries, restaurants, cafes, and entertainment
  • Earn 3 points per dollar spent on gas, public transit, and streaming services
  • Earn 1 point per dollar spent on everything else
  • Limited-time offer: Get a $100 gift card when you apply through Ratehub and are approved
  • Welcome Offer: Upto 30,000 bonus points (value: $300); 25k points after $1,000 in spent on the card in the first 3 months and another 5k after $10,000 is spent by the first year
  • No foreign transaction fees

The Scotiabank Gold American Express has a rich rewards structure and offers five Scotia Rewards points for every dollar spent on groceries, entertainment and restaurants (the equivalent of a 5% return in travel rewards) and 3 points on gas, daily transit, and eligible streaming services. For all other purchases, you get one point per dollar. Scotia Rewards can be redeemed for travel (including flights from any airline, hotels, and vacation packages) and the card waives its foreign transaction fees.

Why we like it:

The Scotiabank Gold American Express is arguably the complete package as far as rewards cards go: it offers between 5X to 3X the points on several common spending categories (including groceries and gas), it doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, has a flexible points program, and comes with a sizeable welcome bonus valued at upwards $300.

Travel insurance benefits:

The Scotiabank Gold American Express card’s insurance coverage is extensive and includes $1,000,000 in travel medical and $500,000 in travel accident insurance, $1,000 for lost or delayed baggage coverage per trip, and more.

Additional perks:

The card includes a 30% discount to VIP airport lounges worldwide with a Priority Pass membership (total: $65USD; $32USD fee also applies per visit) and 24/7 complimentary concierge services.


Best travel points card

American Express Cobalt


  • Annual fee: $120 (charged at $10 monthly)
  • Earn 5 points per dollar on restaurants, coffee shops, bars, grocery stores, and food delivery
  • Earn 2 points per dollar on flights hotels, gas, taxis, and public transit
  • Earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
  • Welcome Offer: 2,500 points every month you spend $500 in your 1st year (total value of $300)

The American Express Cobalt retains its spot as one of the best credit cards in Canada for two years running for its wide variety of rewards categories. With this card, you’ll earn five Membership Rewards points per dollar on “eats and drinks” (groceries, restaurants, bars, cafés, and food delivery), two points per dollar on “travel and transit” (flights, hotel stays, public transportation, taxis and Uber), and one point per dollar on everything else. Membership Rewards points are also redeemable for gift cards, merchandise from retailers such as Amazon.ca or Ticketmaster.ca.

Why we like it:

The Cobalt offers the same 2X points bonus on flights and hotels as it does for public transit and taxis, and the card’s unique rolling bonus structure lets you earn up to 30,000 free points in your first year. The card’s $120 annual fee is charged at a more manageable $10 a month. Plus, travel redemptions are flexible as you can either: redeem points for hotels or flights on any airline at a flat rate of 1,000 points for $10; leverage AMEX’s Fixed Points Travel Program to take advantage of special travel rates; or even transfer your points to the Marriott Bonvoy program.

Travel insurance benefits:

The card includes a suite of insurance benefits including travel emergency medical ($5,000,000 for 15 days) and travel accident ($500,000), $500 for flight interruption and baggage loss/delay, as well as car rental collision/loss damage waiver for vehicles up to $85,000.

Additional perks:

Through American Express Invites, cardholders get access to ticket presales and reserved seats for concerts, movie screenings and culinary events, along with other special offers.


Best travel credit cards for frequent flyers

TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite

  • Annual fee: $120 (waived for the first year)
  • Welcome offer: Get 20,000 TD Points ($100 value) after you make your first purchase and an additional 10,000 points when you add an authorized user by December 1, 2019
  • Earn 9 TD Points per $1 on travel through ExpediaforTD
  • Earn 3 TD Points per $1 on everything else
  • Get 2X the points on all your purchases for the first 3 months (up to 60,000 points)

As its name clearly suggests, the TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite is designed for frequent travellers in mind. For every dollar spent on travel booked via ExpediaforTD.com (which includes the same wide array of airline and hotel options as Expedia.ca), this card will earn you 9 TD points. All other purchases made on this card will give you 3 TD points per dollar. For reference, 1 TD point = $0.005, so that adds up to 4.5% in rewards on Expedia spending and 1.5% on everything else.

As a bonus, for the first three months, you’ll earn 2X the point on all your purchases (which works out to a 9% return per $1 spent on Expedia and 3% on everything else).

New applicants who meet the card’s income requirements ($60,000 per individual or $100,000 per household) will also have the annual fee waived for the first year and can earn up to a total of 90,000 TD bonus points (provided you hit certain spending minimums).

Why we like it:

As far as travel credit cards go, few offer as many rewards (4.5% back per dollar) on airfare, hotels, and vacation packages as the TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite. So, if you’re a frequent flyer who spends big on travel, this card could be the right fit for you. Through the ExpediaforTD website, cardholders also have the choice to pick flights from hundreds of airlines as opposed to only a handful of partner carriers.

The card’s welcome offer is also undeniably enticing and delivers up to $570 in additional value when factoring for the annual fee waiver and the points bonus.

Travel insurance:

This card includes an extensive suite of travel insurance benefits including $1,000,000 in emergency medical out of province coverage, up to $1,500 in trip cancellation coverage per person, $500,000 in common carrier travel accident insurance, and more.

Additional perks:

This card offers between 5% and 10% off car rentals from Avis and Budget locations, concierge services, as well as a 20% discount on annual Priority Pass airport lounge memberships.


BMO World Elite MasterCard


  • $150 annual fee (waived for the first year)
  • Earn 3 BMO Rewards points per dollar on travel, dining and entertainment purchases; 2 points per dollar on everything else
  • Earn 35,000 bonus points (value: $250) after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • VIP lounge access with the included Mastercard Airport Experiences membership, plus 4 complimentary passes per year ($140 value)

With the BMO World Elite MasterCard, you’ll earn three BMO Rewards points for every dollar spent on travel, dining and entertainment purchases and two points per dollar on everything else. Points can be redeemed for travel (flights, hotels, vacation packages, car rentals), gift cards or merchandise. This card also has one of the most generous welcome offers on the market: as you’ll get 35,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on the card in your first three months. The card’s $150 annual fee is waived for the first year.

Why we like it:

From perks to flexibility, the BMO World Elite MasterCard is one of the most rewarding travel credit cards on the market. The card’s welcome offer is one of the strongest of any travel card on the market and delivers new cardholders with a combined $400 in value in the first year. BMO Rewards points can be used to cover travel taxes and fees, and you can fly on any airline with no blackout dates. The card also includes an annual Mastercard Airport Experiences membership for VIP airport lounge access around the world, plus four complimentary passes per year ($140 value).

Travel insurance benefits:

This card has you covered with World Elite travel insurance, which includes $2.5 million in travel medical (up to 21 days, under age 65) and $5,000,000 in travel accident coverage, up to a maximum of $5,000 in trip cancellation coverage, and more.

Additional perks:

The BMO World Elite MasterCard’s most stand-out perk is easily the fact it offers a free Mastercard Airport Experiences membership with four complimentary passes per year. Additionally, it also comes with concierge services, purchase protection, and extended warranty on most card purchases.


Best cash back credit card

TD Cash Back Visa Infinite Card


  • Annual fee: $120 (waived for first year)
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 10% cash back on all purchases for first 3 months up to $200
  • Once offer ends, get 3% cash back on gas, groceries and recurring bills
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Complimentary roadside assistance and travel insurance benefits

The TD Cash Back Visa Infinite Card offers a strong return rate on common household spending. With this card you’ll earn 3% cash back on gas, groceries, and recurring bill payments, and 1% on all other purchases. The card has a $120 annual fee, but it’s waived for the first year for new applicants. You can redeem and apply your rewards to your credit card statement anytime at your request starting from increments of $25.

Why we like it:

First and foremost: the card’s two-tiered welcome bonus. Valued at $320, this offer lets you earn 10% cash back on all your spending for your first three months and includes a first-year fee waiver. The card also offers stellar perks like built-in roadside assistance and access to Visa Infinite benefits, which include complimentary concierge services and access to the Visa Infinite Dining Series.

Additional perks:

Even though it’s a cash back card, it has a strong travel insurance package that includes emergency medical and accident, trip interruption, baggage loss/delay and car rental collision/loss insurance.


Best flat-rate fee cash back credit card

SimplyCash Card Preferred from American Express


  • Annual fee: $99
  • Earn 5% cash back on all purchases for the first 6 months (up to $300 cash back)
  • Earn 2% cash back on all other purchases once welcome rate ends

The SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express offers a lucrative 2% cash back on every purchase. For the first six months, new cardholders can even earn a welcome rate of 5% cash back (up to $300) on all their spending. Cash back is refunded once a year as an account credit.

Why we like it:

At 2%, the SimplyCash Preferred from AMEX offers the highest flat cash back rate on the market. Since it offers the same cash back on everything, its rewards are easy to understand and you won’t have to think about bonus categories, merchant codes, or strategically shopping based on earning multipliers.

This card also comes with a special welcome rate (5%), which while not unique, does last for up to the first six months of card membership. Typically, most cash back welcome rates only last for up to three months.

Additional perks:

If you need to pay down existing debt, the SimplyCash Preferred Card offers a special 1.99% introductory interest rate on transferred balances in the first six months. There’s no balance transfer fee charged, but the offer is only available at time of online application. The card includes also 24/7 customer service, travel accident insurance coverage, a free supplementary card and access to American Express Invites.


Best no fee cash back credit card

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

  • No annual fee
  • Welcome offer: Get 4% cash back on your bonus categories for the first 3 months
  • Earn 2% cash back on purchases in up to three categories of your choice, and 0.5% cash back on everything else
  • No limit on how much cash back you can earn

The Tangerine Money-Back Card earn you 2% cash back in two chosen spending categories (or three categories when you also open a Tangerine Savings Account) and 0.5% on everything else. There’s a total of 10 categories to choose from including restaurants, gas, groceries, hotel stays and more.

Why we like it:

Two percent is one of the richest return rates for a no fee credit card. The freedom to choose your bonus spending categories is also great, as is the fact your cash back is refunded on a monthly basis (instead of the standard annual reimbursement).

Additional perks:

This card offers a 1.95% promotional interest rate on balance transfer for new cardholders for the first six months. Aside from that, this card is a true no-frills card and offers little in terms of side perks.


Best low interest / balance transfer credit cards

True Line® Mastercard® Gold


  • $39 annual fee
  • 8.99% purchase interest rate
  • Cardholders could get a 0% promotional annual rate on balance transfers (plus a 3% fee or a minimum of $7.50) for the first six months
  • Around the clock protection against fraudulent charges
  • Note: Balance transfer offer and fixed interest rate varies for residents of Quebec

If you carry a balance on your credit card from month to month, you shouldn’t be chasing rewards — you also shouldn’t be paying a high interest rate. The True Line Gold MasterCard from MBNA currently offers the lowest fixed interest rate for purchases in Canada at 8.99%, which is half the interest rate of the typical rewards credit card. This card also comes with a 0% interest rate for balance transfers for the first six months (plus a 3% fee charged on the amount transferred). This card does have a $39 annual fee.

Why we like it:

This card stands out for two reasons: 1.) it offers the lowest fixed interest rate on purchases in the country, and 2.) it currently has the lowest promotional interest rate for balance transfers. So, whether you anticipate you’ll carry a balance or are looking to consolidate and pay off high-interest debt from other cards, the True Line Gold MasterCard can help you save a considerable amount of money on interest.

Additional perks:

Fraud protection and access to 24/7 customer service.


True Line® Mastercard®


  • No annual fee
  • 12.99% purchase interest rate
  • Cardholders could get a 0% promotional annual rate on balance transfers (plus a 3% fee or a minimum of $7.50) for the first 10 months
  • Around the clock protection against fraudulent charges
  • Note: Balance transfer offer and fixed interest rate varies for residents of Quebec

The True Line MasterCard is the no fee version of the Gold card mentioned above. This no fee card offers a super low 0% promotional interest rate on balance transfers for the first ten months when signing up (there’s a 3% fee charged on the amount transferred). It also has a fixed interest rate on purchases of 12.99%.

Why we like it:

This card offers a chance to consolidate and pay off debt with the lowest promotional interest rate on balance transfers on the market for a ten-month period and charges no annual fee. Plus, the promotional rate stands for up to 90 days after your account is opened, granting you some time to plan out your debt consolidation strategy. Moreover, the interest rate increases to 12.99% after the ten-month promotional period is up (not 19.99% like several other credit cards).

Additional perks:

Fraud protection and access to 24/7 customer service.


Low interest / balance transfer runner-up:

Scotiabank Value Visa

  • Annual fee: $29
  • Low 12.99% interest rate on purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers
  • Special introductory 0.99% interest rate on balance transfers within the first six months

To help consolidate and pay off credit card debt, the Scotiabank Value Visa offers a special introductory interest rate of 0.99% on balance transfers for the first six months. The interest rate for purchases, cash advances and balance transfers is 12.99% across the board.

Why we like it:

Even with an annual fee of $29, the card can still save you money by offering one of the lowest balance transfer rates currently available on the market in Canada. And unlike other cards, where the interest rate spikes to as high as 25% after the introductory period ends, the Scotiabank Value Visa balance transfer interest rate will only go up to 12.99% after the first six months are up.

Additional perks:

Get discounts of up to 25% at participating AVIS car rental locations worldwide.


Best no foreign transaction fee credit cards

Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite


  • Annual fee: $139
  • Earn 2 Scotia Rewards points on every $1 spent on eligible grocery stores, dining, entertainment purchases, and transit purchases
  • Earn 1 point per dollar on all other eligible purchases
  • Welcome offer: Get 25,000 bonus points ($250 value) with your first $1,000 in everyday purchases in the first 3 months and 10,000 additional points if you spend $40,000 annually – offer available for new accounts
  • Includes Priority Pass airport lounge membership with 6 free visits per year
  • No foreign transaction fee

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite gives you two Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on eligible grocery stores, dining, entertainment (including movie theatres, musicals/plays, orchestras, concert tickets) and daily transit purchases (including buses, subways, taxis, limos, trains, and ferries), and one point per dollar on all other purchases. New cardholders can earn 25,000 bonus points (value: $250) when you make $1,000 in everyday purchases within the first three months.

Why we like it:

Unlike Scotiabank’s other no foreign transaction fee credit card (the stellar Scotiabank Gold American Express, the Scotiabank Passport is a Visa Card and therefore more likely to be accepted internationally outside of North America. It’s the cherry on top of a number of perks including a 25,000 points bonus and Priority Pass membership with six free visits per year to lounges worldwide. As with other Visa Infinite cards, cardholders have access to the Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection and Visa Infinite Dining Series. In addition to the hearty welcome bonus, if you spend at least $40,000 in purchases annually on your Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite account, you’ll earn an additional 10,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points.

Additional perks:

The card includes travel emergency medical and travel accident insurance, trip cancellation, trip interruption, flight delay, baggage delay and loss insurance, and car rental collision/loss damage waiver. You can also pick up one free supplementary card.


Home Trust Preferred Visa


  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fee charged on purchases abroad
  • Earn 1% cash back on all purchases, with no limit on the amount you can earn
  • Not available to residents of Quebec

Besides the Scotiabank Passport card, the Home Trust Preferred Visa is one of the only other cards currently available in Canada that doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee. This card also doesn’t charge an annual fee and offers 1% cash back on all purchases. This card isn’t available to residents of Quebec and has a limit of 10 authorized transactions per day.

Why we like it:

While the no foreign transaction fee is its main appeal, the Home Trust Preferred also offers a free roadside assistance membership. Plus, with no annual fee, it’s a good card to keep on hand if you make a lot of purchases in foreign currencies.

Additional perks:

Car rental collision insurance and roadside assistance at no extra cost.


Best credit card for hotel stays

  • Annual fee: $120
  • Earn 5 points in eligible Card purchases at participating Marriott Rewards hotels and 2 points on all other purchases
  • Welcome Bonus: 50,000 points when you make $1,500 in purchases in the first 3 months
  • Automatic Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite Status

The Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card is specifically made for hotel rewards, making it an excellent card for frequent travellers. With this card, you’ll earn five points for every $1 spent on eligible purchases at all Marriott properties, and two points per dollar on all other purchases. Points can be redeemed for free nights at more than 7,000 hotels and resorts worldwide. The card has an annual fee of $120. As a bonus, new cardholders can earn 50,000 bonus points after making $1,500 in purchases on the card within the first three months.

Why we like it:

The recent merger between SPG and Marriott’s rewards programs means there are more than 7,000 hotels worldwide under this loyalty program, so you’ll definitely be able to find somewhere to stay. Hotel brands include Marriott Hotels, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, W Hotels, St. Regis, Ritz Carlton, Sheraton and Delta. The card’s strong welcome points bonus also helps to cement the card’s place on this list.

Additional perks:

On the anniversary of opening your account, you’ll receive one free night at eligible hotels and resorts worldwide. If you make $30,000 in purchases on the card annually, you’ll also be upgraded to Marriott Bonvoy Gold status.

Overview: The best credit cards in Canada

Credit card Best credit card in Canada for Annual fee
Scotiabank Gold American Express (VIEW) Everyday spening $120
American Express Cobalt Card (VIEW) Travel points $120
TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite (VIEW) Frequent flyers $120
BMO World Elite Mastercard (VIEW)  Frequent flyers $150
 TD Cash Back Visa Infinite Card (VIEW) Cash back $120
SimplyCash Card Preferred from American Express (VIEW)  Flat-rate cash back $99
Tangerine Money-Back Card (VIEW) No annual fee cash back $0
True Line® Mastercard® (VIEW) Balance transfers $0
 True Line Gold® Mastercard® (VIEW) Low interest $39
 Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite (VIEW) No foreign transaction fees $139
 Home Trust Preferred Visa (VIEW) No foreign transaction fees $0
 The Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card (VIEW) Hotel stays $120

Also read: