The Best Credit Cards in Canada for 2018 – 2019

Ratehub.ca
by Ratehub.ca January 2, 2019 / 10 Comments

A new year means a new opportunity to find the best credit cards in Canada for your spending habits and reward preferences. There’s no single “best” credit card — the best one for you depends on your financial situation and may be one that saves you money via a low interest rate, balance transfer offer or cash back, or provides value through rewards points that can 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.

Best credit cards in Canada for 2018 – 2019

Credit card Best credit card in Canada for Credit card rewards
Scotiabank Gold American Express (VIEW) Everyday spending 4 points per dollar on gas, groceries, restaurants and entertainment
American Express Cobalt Card (VIEW) Eating out and transit 5 points per dollar on food purchases and 2 points for travel and transit
 Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite (VIEW) Cash back 10% cash back on all purchases for 3 months; 4% on gas and groceries thereafter
SimplyCash Card from American Express (VIEW)  No annual fee, flat-rate cash back 2.5% cash back for 3 months; 1.25% on all purchases thereafter
Tangerine Money-Back Card (VIEW) No annual fee cash back  2% cash back in up to 3 categories and 0.5% on everything else
BMO World Elite Mastercard (VIEW)  Travel rewards and insurance 3 BMO points per dollar on travel, dining and entertainment purchases
True Line® Mastercard® (VIEW) Balance transfers, no annual fee Cardholders could get 0% promo rate on balance transfers for 6 months
  Scotiabank Value Visa (VIEW) Balance transfers 0.99% promo rate on balance transfers for 6 months
 Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite (VIEW) No foreign transaction fees and premium travel perks 2 points per dollar on food, entertainment and transit
 Home Trust Preferred Visa (VIEW) No foreign transaction or annual fees 1% cash back on all purchases
 Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express (VIEW) Hotel stays 5 points per dollar on eligible hotel bookings


Best rewards card for everyday spending

Scotiabank Gold American Express


  • Annual fee: $99
  • Earn 4 points per dollar on gas, groceries, entertainment, and restaurants; 1 point per dollar on everything else
  • Earn 15,000 bonus points (value: up to $150) when you make $1,000 in everyday purchases in the first 3 months (For new accounts opened by February 28, 2019)

The Scotiabank Gold American Express has a rich rewards structure and offers four Scotia Rewards points for every dollar spent on gas, groceries, entertainment and restaurants (the equivalent of a 4% return in travel rewards). For all other purchases, you get one point per dollar. Scotia Rewards can be redeemed for travel (flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, vacation packages), gift cards, and merchandise from major retailers like Best Buy and Apple. The card has an annual fee of $99. For new accounts opened by Feb. 28, 2019, you can earn 15,000 bonus points (value: up to $150) when you make $1,000 in everyday purchases in the first three months.

Why we like it:

Along with offering quadruple the points on several common spending categories (including gas and food purchases), this card has a truly flexible points program. Scotia Rewards points can be used to cover all taxes, fees and surcharges for travel, there are no blackout dates, and you can fly on any carrier. Trips can be booked through Scotia’s full-service travel agency or booked on your own. When it’s time to pay, points can be used to cover the cost up front, or you can charge the cost to your card and pay it off later with points. Scotia Rewards points can also be converted to Scene points (and vice versa), which are redeemable for movie tickets, snacks and downloads through Cineplex.

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 rewards card for eating out and transit

American Express Cobalt Card


  • 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 gas, taxis, public transportation and travel (air, water, rail, or road transport, plus hotels)
  • 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)

After debuting to a lot of buzz, the American Express Cobalt Card has retained a spot as one of the best credit cards in Canada for 2019 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” (public transportation, taxis and Uber, hotels, or travel by air, rail, water, or road transport), 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:

First and foremost, the unique and lucrative rolling bonus structure. For the first year of card membership, you can earn 2,500 bonus points for each month you spend at least $500 on the card — up to 30,000 points (the equivalent of $300 in free points). The card also offers one of the highest returns on food purchases (5% back in travel rewards) and is among the few to offer bonus points on taxis and public transit purchases. The $120 annual fee is charged at a more manageable $10 a month. Plus, redeeming for hotels and flights is easy, with the ability to use points to cover taxes and fees and fly on any airline with no blackout dates or seat restrictions.

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 pre-sales and reserved seats for concerts, movie screenings and culinary events, along with other special offers.


Best cash back credit card

Scotia Momentum VISA Infinite


  • Annual fee: $99 (waived for first year)
  • Welcome Offer: Get 10% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months (up to $200)
  • Once welcome offer ends, earn 4% cash back on gas and groceries, 2% cash back on drug store purchases and recurring bill payments, and 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Receive VISA Infinite benefits

The Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite offers a strong return rate on common household spending categories. With this card you’ll earn 4% cash back on gas and groceries, 2% on drugstore purchases and recurring bill payments, and 1% on all other purchases. As a special offer, earn 10% cash back on everyday purchases for the first three months (up to $200). The card has a $99 annual fee, but it’s waived for the first year for new applicants. Cash back rewards are refunded once a year and can be applied to your credit card statement or deposited into an eligible Scotiabank chequing account or savings account.

Why we like it:

Cash back credit cards are popular for a reason — the rewards are tangible. The card’s tiered earn rate rewards anyone who spends a big portion of their budget on some of the most common everyday expenses like gas, groceries, recurring bills and drugstore purchases. This card also has the best cash back welcome offer on the market with 10% back on all purchases for the first three months (up to $200) and includes several perks offered to Visa Infinite cardholders such as complimentary concierge service 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 no annual fee cash back credit cards

SimplyCash Card from American Express


  • No annual fee
  • Earn 2.5% cash back on eligible purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants for the first 3 months (up to $150 cash back)
  • Earn 1.25% cash back on all other purchases once welcome rate ends

Even with no annual fee, the SimplyCash Card from American Express still manages to offer a respectable 1.25% cash back on all purchases. For the first three months of card membership, earn a special rate of 2.5% cash back on purchases (up to $150 cash back). Cash back is refunded once a year as an account credit.

Why we like it:

Once the 2.5% welcome rate ends, there’s no limit to the amount of cash back you can earn at the 1.25% rate. The flat cash back rate is easy to understand, and cards with no annual fee make great secondary or companion cards.

Additional perks:

If you need to pay down existing debt, the SimplyCash 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.


Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

  • No annual fee
  • 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 yous 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 travel rewards credit card

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
  • Limited-time offer: Get a $100 bonus when you spend $100 on travel related purchases in your first 6 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 as well as a $100 bonus when you spend $100 on travel-related purchases within your first six 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 $500 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 $5000,000 in travel accident coverage, up to a maximum of $5,000 in trip cancellation coverage, and more.


Best low interest credit card

American Express Essential Credit Card


  • No annual fee
  • Low interest rate of 8.99% on purchases and cash advances
  • For new cardholders: special 1.99% introductory rate on balance transfers for the first six months (available only at time of online application)
  • Access to American Express Invites

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 American Express Essential Credit Card has no annual fee and currently offers the lowest fixed interest rate for purchases and cash advances at 8.99%, less than half the interest rate of the typical rewards credit card.

Why we like it:

Along with having no annual fee, this card stands out for offering the lowest fixed interest rate on purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers in Canada at 8.99%. While many low interest credit cards are skimpy on perks, this card includes ticket pre-sales and reserved seats for concerts, movie screenings, and culinary events, plus other special offers through American Express Invites and 24/7 customer service.

Additional perks:

Pay off high-interest credit card debt with a competitive 1.99% interest rate on balance transfers for the first six months. If you’re travelling on a common carrier (plane, train, bus, or ship) and charge your tickets to the card, you’ll get up to $100,000 in travel accident insurance.


Best balance transfer credit cards

True Line® Mastercard®


  • No annual fee
  • Cardholders could get a 0% promotional annual rate on balance transfers (plus a 1% fee or a minimum of $7.50) for the first six months. 12.99% rate applies thereafter
  • 12.99% purchase interest rate
  • Around the clock protection against fraudulent charges

A newer addition to our best-of list, cardholders of the no annual fee True Line® MasterCard® could get a super low 0% promotional interest rate on balance transfers for the first six months when signing up by March 29, 2019 (there’s a 1% fee charged on the amount transferred). This card also offers a low fixed interest rate of 12.99% on purchases and balance transfers (24.99% for cash advances).

Why we like it:

The card offers a chance to consolidate and pay off debt with the lowest promotional interest rate on balance transfers on the market for a six 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, after the six month promotional period is up, the interest rate increases to 12.99% (not 19.99% like several other credit cards).

Additional perks:

Fraud protection and access to 24/7 customer service.


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
  • Earn 25,000 bonus points (value: $250) with your first $1,000 in everyday purchases in the first 3 months
  • 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. For new accounts opened by Jan. 31, 2019, you 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:

It’s currently the only no foreign transaction fee credit card issued by one of Canada’s Big Six banks. 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

The Starwood Preferred Guest from American Express

  • Annual fee: $120
  • Earn 5 points in eligible Card purchases at participating SPG and 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 SPG Silver Elite Status

The Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express 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 Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) and Marriott properties, and two points per dollar on all other purchases. Points can be redeemed for free nights at more than 6,500 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 6,500 hotels worldwide under the combined brand, so you’ll definitely be able to find somewhere to stay. Hotel brands include 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 Starwood Gold Elite status.

Also read:


  • Daniel Beauchemin

    Still the best card after the January 15th changes. Total travel credit dropped 40%. Not a peep from you guys? Still rated top card?

    • Ratehub.ca

      Hi Daniel,
      I presume you’re talking about the BMO World Elite Mastercard. We link to an in-depth post mentioning the changes directly from the credit card review. You can find the discussion here.

      Despite the chances to the BMO Rewards Program, the card still offers strong features with regard to travel insurance, access to VIP airport lounges, and several other features. We believe that, despite the changes to the BMO Rewards Program, it still is an excellent travel reward card option.

    • Ratehub

      Hi Daniel,
      I presume you’re talking about the BMO World Elite Mastercard. We link to an in-depth post mentioning the changes directly from the credit card review. You can find the discussion here: https://www.ratehub.ca/blog/changes-to-the-bmo-rewards-program-what-you-need-to-know/.

      Despite the chances to the BMO Rewards Program, the card still offers strong features with regard to travel insurance, access to VIP airport lounges, and several other features. We believe that, despite the changes to the BMO Rewards Program, it still is an excellent travel reward card option.

  • FM

    Don’t get the Hometrust VISA, they tell you on the phone that they support Pre-Authorized Debit to pay your card balance, but when you actually try to set it up they only allow you to pay the Minimum monthly balance. In order to pay your actual full monthly balance and avoid paying interest, you have to manually remember to do this every month, what a scam, not consumer friendly at all. I don’t get why our Consumer protection agencies and the FCAC don’t mandate that every credit card issuer must allow the credit card holder to pay their monthly balance in full from their chequing account in an automatic manner, this one single action would help a lot of people better manage their debt.

  • Sim

    Hi,

    Is there a time of year that credit card companies tend to have their sign up bonus? We are looking to get a new credit card and can hold out for a better month anytime in the year if this is the case. Thanks!

    • Ratehub

      Hi Sim,

      Thanks for the comment! Unfortunately, there isn’t really a specific time that companies tend to have sign up bonuses.

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  • Daniella Anyang

    For me, i think Scotia credit card is one of the best if not the best. Glance through it’s benefits https://momsall.com/scotia-momentum-visa-infinite-card-scotia-credit-card/

    • Ratehub

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Daniella! Scotiabank does indeed offer some strong credit card options.