The best credit cards in Canada for 2020

Ratehub.ca
by Ratehub.ca January 2, 2020 / 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 mentions, several of the best credit cards in Canada for 2019 have also made it on our list for 2020 because they continue to offer great value.

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The best credit cards in Canada for 2020

Not sure which card to choose?

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I want my new card to:

Earn rewards
Earn travel rewards, cash back, or store credit rewards
Pay low interest
Pay less interest on my revolving or existing credit card balance
Build credit
Build or establish credit

Best rewards card for everyday spending

American Express Cobalt


  • Annual fee: $120 (charged at $10 monthly)
  • Earn 5 points per $1 on groceries and dining
  • Earn 2 points per $1 on travel, gas, taxis, and daily transit
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • Welcome Offer: Up to 30,000 points
  • Note: For a limited time until Sept 30, 2020: 1,000 points is equal to a $10 statement credit on any eligible purchases charged to your Card
  • Income required: None specified

Read in-depth card description (+/-)

The American Express Cobalt retains its spot as one of the best credit cards in Canada for three years running for its wide variety of rewards categories. You’ll earn five Membership Rewards points per dollar on groceries, restaurants, bars, cafés, and food deliveries, two points per dollar on flights, hotel stays, public transportation, taxis and Ubers, and one point per dollar on everything else.

The card’s $120 annual fee is charged at a more manageable $10 a month. As a new cardholder, you can also get 2,500 bonus points each month you spend at least $500 for your entire first year.

Why we like it:

Along with the card’s strong every day earn rate and welcome bonus, the American Express Cobalt stands out for its flexible travel redemption options. You can either: Redeem points for hotels or flights on virtually any airline at a flat rate of 1,000 points for $10; leverage AMEX’s Fixed Points Travel Program to get special redemption rates and earn up to 50%-75% more value out of your points on round trip flights out of Canada; or transfer your points to select hotel partners like Marriott Bonvoy.

Travel insurance benefits:

The card provides a suite of insurance benefits including travel emergency medical ($5 million 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 no fee cash back credit card

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
  • Income required: $12,000

Read in-depth card description (+/-)

The Tangerine Money-Back Card earns 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 bonus categories to choose from – including everything from groceries and gas, to restaurants, public transit, hotel stays and more.

Why we like it:

Two percent on bonus categories is one of the richest return rates for a no fee credit card. The freedom to choose your bonus 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 transfers for new cardholders for the first six months. If you state that you earn at least $60,000 during the application process, you’ll get bumped up to the higher-tier Tangerine World Mastercard and get additional benefits like mobile device insurance and rental car coverage.


Best flat-rate cash back credit card

SimplyCash Card Preferred from American Express


  • Annual fee: $99
  • Earn 2% cash back on all other purchases
  • Welcome offer: Earn 5% cash back on all purchases for the first 6 months (up to $300 cash back)
  • Income required: None specified

Read in-depth card description (+/-)

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 low interest credit card

MBNA True Line® Gold Mastercard®


  • $39 annual fee
  • Standard annual interest rate of 8.99% on purchases and balance transfers
  • You could get a 0% promotional annual interest rate for 6 months on balances transferred within the first 90 days (plus a 3% fee or a minimum of $7.50)
  • Interest rate of 24.99% on cash advances
  • Around the clock protection against fraudulent charges
  • Note: Balance transfer offer and fixed interest rate varies for residents of Quebec

Read in-depth card description (+/-)

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.


Best balance transfer credit card

MBNA True Line® Mastercard®


  • No annual fee
  • Standard annual interest rate of 12.99% on purchases and balance transfers
  • You could get a 0% promotional annual interest rate for 10 months on balances transferred within the first 90 days (plus a 3% fee or a minimum of $7.50)
  • Interest rate of 24.99% on cash advances
  • Around the clock protection against fraudulent charges
  • Note: Balance transfer offer and fixed interest rate varies for residents of Quebec

Read in-depth card description (+/-)

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. The promotional rate even stands for up to 90 days after your account is opened, granting you some time to plan out your debt consolidation strategy. Plus, 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.


Best travel credit cards for frequent flyers

TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite

  • Annual fee: $120 (waived for the first year)
  • Earn 9 TD Points per $1 on travel booked online through the ExpediaforTD website
  • Earn 3 TD Points per $1 on your everyday purchases
  • Welcome offer: Get 20,000 TD Points (up to $100 value) after you make your first purchase on the card
  • Get a 15,000 point boost each month (within your first three months) you spend at least $1,000 – up to 45,000 points
  • Income required: $60,000

Read in-depth card description (+/-)

As its name clearly suggests, the TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite is made with frequent flyers 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. For all your other everyday purchases, you’ll get 3 TD points per dollar. For reference, 1 TD point = $0.005 when redeemed on the ExpediaforTD website, so that adds up to 4.5% in rewards on travel and 1.5% on everything else.

New applicants who meet the card’s income requirements will also have the $120 annual fee waived for the first year and earn 20,000 TD bonus points after making their first purchase.

As a further bonus, the card offers a 15,000 point boost each month you spend at least $1,000 within your first three months up to a max of 45,000 points.

Why we like it:

Few travel credit cards in comparison offer as many rewards (4.5%) on airfare, hotels, and vacation packages. If you’re a frequent flyer who spends big on travel every year, the TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite can help you rack up a ton of points faster. 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 a total of $520 in additional value when factoring for the annual fee waiver and points bonuses.

Travel insurance:

This card includes an extensive suite of travel insurance benefits including $1 million 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 $1 on travel, dining and entertainment
  • 2 points per $1 on all other purchases
  • 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)
  • Income required: $80,000

Read in-depth card description (+/-)

With the BMO World Elite Mastercard, you’ll earn three BMO Rewards points for every dollar you spend on travel, dining and entertainment and two points per dollar on everything else. When redeemed for travel rewards like flights or vacation packages, 1 BMO point = $0.007 (or 0.7%).

The premium card also comes with four free annual passes to over 1,000 airport lounges and one of the most generous welcome offers on the market. You’ll get 35,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 within your first three months and the card’s $150 annual fee waived for the first year.

Why we like it:

From perks to flexibility, the BMO World Elite Mastercard delivers on multiple fronts. BMO Rewards points can be used to cover travel taxes and fees as well as book seats on virtually any airline with no blackout dates (BMO Rewards also offer a price match guarantee on eligible flights). The card’s welcome offer also delivers up to a combined $400 in bonuses. Plus, thanks to the card’s global lounge access benefits (which on its own carries an annual value of $140), you can always travel in style.

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 million in travel accident coverage, up to a maximum of $5,000 in trip cancellation coverage, and more.

Additional perks:

While the built-in lounge access is easily the BMO World Elite Mastercard’s most stand-out perk, it also comes with concierge services, purchase protection, and extended warranty on most purchases.


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 $1 on all other eligible purchases
  • Welcome offer: Get up to 30,000 bonus points
  • Includes Priority Pass airport lounge membership with 6 free visits per year
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Income required: $60,000

Read in-depth card description (+/-)

One of just two credit cards from Canada’s big banks to waive its foreign transaction fees (the other in question being the Scotiabank Gold AMEX), the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite also offers impressive lounge access benefits and is issued by Visa so it’s more widely accepted when travelling outside of North America.

In terms of everyday rewards, the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite will earn you two Scotia Rewards points for every dollar you spend on eligible grocery stores, dining, entertainment (including movie theatres, musicals/plays, orchestras, concert tickets) and daily transit purchases (including buses, subways, taxis, trains, and ferries). For all your other purchases, you’ll get one point per dollar. As new Scotiabank cardholder, you can also earn 30,000 bonus points when you make $1,000 in everyday purchases within the first three months. 1 Scotia Rewards point is worth $0.01 when redeemed for flights on any airline.

Why we like it:

The card’s lack of foreign transaction fees (which will save you 2.5% on all your purchases made in a non-Canadian currency) is the cherry on top of a number of perks including a $300 point bonus and Priority Pass membership with six free visits per year to over 1,200 lounges worldwide. As with other Visa Infinite cards, cardholders have access to the Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection and Visa Infinite Dining Series.

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 Canadian purchases, with no limit on the amount you can earn
  • Complimentary roadside assistance membership
  • Not available to residents of Quebec
  • Income required: None specified

Read in-depth card description (+/-)

Besides the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite, the Home Trust Preferred Visa is among the select few credit cards in Canada with no foreign transaction fees. This card also doesn’t charge an annual fee and offers 1% cash back on all your purchases in Canada. 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 lack of foreign transaction fees is its main appeal, the Home Trust Preferred Visa also offers a free roadside assistance membership. Plus, with no annual fee, it’s a good card to keep on hand as a backup just for when you’re travelling abroad and need to 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

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

  • 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
  • Income required: None specified

Read in-depth card description (+/-)

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 over two dozen hotel brands including Marriott, 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 as new cardholders will earn 50,000 bonus points after making $1,500 in purchases within the first three months of account opening.

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 always find somewhere to stay.

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.


Best Air Miles credit card

Air Miles World Elite Mastercard

  • $120 Annual fee (waived in the 1st year)
  • Earn 1 Air Mile for every $10 in credit card purchases
  • Welcome Offer: Get up to 3,000 bonus Air Miles
  • VIP Airport Lounge Access – 2 free annual passes to Mastercard Airport Experiences from LoungeKey
  • Income requirement: $80,000

Read in-depth card description (+/-)

If you’re an avid Air Miles collector, you can rack up significantly more rewards with the BMO Air Miles World Elite in your wallet and get some premium travel perks to boot. The card offers a lucrative 0.1 Miles per dollar, over a dozen types of insurance, and airport lounge access with two free passes every year.

The Air Miles World Elite also includes a sign up bonus for new cardholders that includes a first year annual fee waiver and up to 3,000 bonus miles: 1,000 Miles after making your first purchase on the card and another potential 2,000 Miles if you hit a minimum spend of $3,000 within your first three months of activating your account.

Why we like it:

When shopping at Air Miles Partners (like Rexall, Metro, Sobeys, and more), you can rack up Miles twice by paying with this credit card and showing your Air Miles Collector Card at the same time. The Air Miles World Elite also offers arguably the best insurance of any other Air Miles credit card period, with up to $2 million in out of province medical insurance along with personal effects coverage (the latter of which is rarely offered by credit cards). The built-in membership to Mastercard Experiences will also open up the door to over 1,000 airport lounges for free twice a year, and last but not least, the sign up bonus is enough to let you book up to two short-haul flights within North America.

Additional perks:

Cardholders get a 15% discount on flights booked using Miles within North America.


Best Costco credit Card

MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard

  • $120 annual fee
  • Earn 2 MBNA points on all purchases
  • Receive up to 30,000 bonus points as a new cardholder
  • Income requirement: $80,000 (or $150,000 as a household)

Read in-depth card description (+/-)

If you’re a firm believer in the advantages of buying in bulk, odds are, you do a fair share of your shopping at Costco and are already well aware that the warehouse retailer only accepts Mastercard.

Enter the MBNA Rewards World Elite.

This Mastercard will earn you a flat 2 points per dollar on all your purchases, including at Costco. When redeemed for travel on any airline, 2 MBNA points equals $0.02 – some of the best rewards you’ll get for shopping at Costco. In fact, it’s double what you’d earn at Costco compared to if you were using the retailer’s own co-branded card with Capital One.

You can also earn up to 30,000 bonus points as a new MBNA cardholder, provided you do the following within your first 90 days: Enroll for online e-statements and make at least $2,000 in card purchases.

Why we like it:

Simple. At 2 points per dollar, the MBNA Rewards World Elite will earn you more rewards at Costco than virtually any other card in the market – easily taking the top spot on our list of the best credit card for shopping at Costco. The card’s $300 welcome bonus isn’t too shabby either.

It’s worth calling out that Costco isn’t recognized as a grocery, so if you have another Mastercard credit card with groceries as a bonus category, you won’t earn any bonus rewards when swiping your card at Costco (which isn’t a concern with the MBNA Rewards World Elite since it offers the same 2 points on everything).

Additional perks:

Unlike most premium rewards cards, the MBNA Rewards World Elite doesn’t charge an additional fee for adding authorized users, so you can get a supplementary card for your partner or family member and rack up points faster together at no extra cost. The card also comes with rental car insurance, trip interruption insurance, and price protection.



Overview: The best credit cards in Canada

Credit card Best credit card in Canada for Annual fee
American Express Cobalt Card (VIEW) Everyday spending $120
TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite (VIEW) Frequent flyers $120
BMO World Elite Mastercard (VIEW)  Frequent flyers $150
 Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite (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 FX fees + lounge access $139
 Home Trust Preferred Visa (VIEW) No FX fees $0
 The Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card (VIEW) Hotel stays $120
 Air Miles World Elite (VIEW) Air Miles $120
 MBNA Rewards World Elite (VIEW) Costco $120

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