The Best Mastercard Credit Cards in Canada for 2020 – by Category

Charlotte Sinclair
by Charlotte Sinclair June 26, 2019 / No Comments

Mastercard is the second most popular credit card company in Canada. It’s also the most widely accepted. From big-box retailers, like Costco, to smaller mom-and-pop shops and corner stores, Mastercard is accepted at a number of retailers where swiping a Visa or American Express credit card just won’t cut it.

Mastercards are issued in three tiers: World Elite (typically, premium rewards credit cards), World (mid-level rewards cards), and Standard Mastercards (basic no fee or low interest cards).

Below, we break down our picks of the best Mastercard credit cards in Canada based on card type and shopping preferences. It’s worth noting that Mastercard doesn’t issue its own cards, and instead, partners with banks. So, unless you really want a Mastercard for a particular reason (i.e. it’s the only card that your favourite store accepts), it can be a better move to compare credit cards from multiple banks and card companies based on their interest rates, rewards, and perks.

The best Mastercard credit cards in Canada for 2019

Credit Card Best Mastercard For Annual Fee
BMO World Elite Mastercard (VIEW) Travel Points / Perks $150 (waived for 1st year)
Tangerine Money-Back Card (VIEW) No Fee Cash Back $0
MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard® (VIEW) No Fee Travel $0
MBNA True Line Mastercards (VIEW) Low Interest $0 – $39
PC Financial (VIEW) Groceries $0
MBNA Rewards World Elite (VIEW) Costco $120
National Bank World Elite (VIEW) Travel Insurance $150

Best Mastercard for: Travel points and perks

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) when 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 requirement: $80,000

The BMO World Elite MasterCard is one of the best travel credit cards in Canada, period.

With this card, you can quickly rack up points on your everyday spending, as you’ll earn 3 BMO points (the equivalent of 2.4% in travel rewards) for every $1 you spend on travel, entertainment, and restaurants, and 2 BMO points (1.4%) for everything else.

What really makes this card so appealing, however, is its top-notch travel perks. It comes with complimentary airport lounge access and a full suite of travel insurance benefits. As a first-time BMO World Elite cardholder, you can also take advantage of its welcome offer, which has a combined value of $400.

Flexibility: You can redeem BMO points on your agenda.

BMO points can be used to book flights from the airline of your choice – without having to worry about black-out dates or seat restrictions. You can also use your points for other travel-related redemptions like hotels, cruises, and even vacation packages (along with their associated taxes).

Travel perks: Points aside, this card is great for travellers because it comes with four free annual passes to Mastercard Experiences airport lounges. There are over 800 Mastercard Experiences lounges worldwide, most of which come with free wi-fi, comfortable lounge-style seating, and complimentary snacks. You’ll also be covered whenever you travel thanks to the card’s out-of-province insurance, which includes protection in the case of medical emergencies, trip delays and interruptions, lost baggage, and more.

Welcome offer: You can get up to $400 in value just for signing up for this card. Not only is its $150 annual fee waived for the first year, but you can get 35,000 bonus points provided you spend $3,000 on the card within the first three months. Since 1 BMO point equals to $0.007, that’s about $250 in free travel rewards.

Best Mastercard for: Cash Back with no annual fee

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

If you’re looking for a cash-back card with no annual fee, the Tangerine Money-Back Mastercard might just be the perfect fit. With this card, you’ll earn 2% cash back in two spending categories of your choice (there are a total of 10 categories to pick from, including everything from groceries, restaurants, gas, and more), and 0.5% on all other purchases. Plus, if you opt to have your cash back rewards deposited into a Tangerine Savings Account, you’ll get a third category earning 2% cash back.

Flexibility: With the option to choose your own 2% cash back-categories, you can customize the card to fit with your particular spending habits. The flexibility to pick your own bonus categories is a standout feature and isn’t offered by any other credit card in Canada. Better yet, Tangerine lets you change your bonus categories at any time (though, it can take one statement period for the changes to come into effect).

Unlike most other cash back cards, which only let you redeem your cash back once every year, the Tangerine Money-Back Card will deposit your cash back every month. That means you can start taking advantage of your rewards that much sooner.

Relatively easy approval: The Tangerine Money-Back Card is one of the most accessible credit cards out there. It has no annual fee and an income requirement of just $12,000, though you’ll need to have a good credit score to be approved (generally, 660 or above is recommended).

Best Mastercard for: Travel points with no annual fee

MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard®

  • No annual fee
  • For the first 90 days, earn 4 points per $1 spent on eligible gas, groceries and restaurant purchases
  • After 90 days, get 2 points‡ per $1 on eligible gas, groceries and restaurant purchases ($5,000 annual cap on each category).
  • 1 point‡ for every $1 spent on all other eligible purchases
  • Welcome offer: Get up to 10,000 bonus points

While a no fee travel card may not boast as impressive of an insurance package or the same perks offered by one with an annual fee, with the right card, you could still amass an impressive amount of travel points. Enter the MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard.

This no annual fee card earns you 2 points per dollar (the equivalent of 2% in travel rewards) in three different bonus categories: gas, groceries, and restaurants. That’s an impressive earn rate for a no fee card, even when considering there’s a $5,000 annual cap on each bonus category. For everything else, you’ll earn 1 point per dollar.

Rewards: You can redeem points flexibly for flights on almost any airline, including for the cost of applicable taxes and fees. There are a few caveats however: you’ll need to use a minimum of 10,000 points per redemption and MBNA doesn’t offer price matching on flights.

Welcome offer: If you make $500 in purchases on the card and enrol to receive e-statements within the first 90 days of opening your account, you’ll earn 10,000 bonus points ($100 travel rewards). That’s a strong welcome offer for a no fee card.

Insurance: While the MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus doesn’t offer travel emergency medical coverage (which is a bit of a letdown), it does provide travel accident, trip interruption and rental car insurance.

Best Mastercard for: Low interest

Even if you’re just barely familiar with how credit card interest works, you likely know that carrying a balance from one month to the next will result in interest charges. Luckily, MBNA, a subsidiary of TD Bank, has two Mastercards that can make it far easier to manage your credit card debts: the MBNA True Line Mastercard and the MBNA True Line Gold Mastercard.

MBNA True Line® Mastercards®

  • No annual fee
  • Standard interest rate: 12.99% on purchases and balance transfers
  • Interest rate of 24.99% on cash advances
  • Around the clock protection against fraudulent charges
  • Note: This offer is not available for residents of Quebec

The MBNA True Line Mastercard has no annual fee and comes with an interest rate of 12.99%. That’s notable for two reasons: 1.) 12.99% is far lower than the standard credit card interest rate of 19.99%, and 2.) almost every other low interest card from Canada’s big banks come with an annual fee while the MBNA True Line has none.

MBNA True Line® Gold Mastercard®

  • $39 annual fee
  • Standard interest rate: 8.99% on purchases and balance transfers
  • Interest rate of 24.99% on cash advances
  • Around the clock protection against fraudulent charges
  • Note: Interest rate varies for residents of Quebec

The other low interest credit card to make it on this list is the MBNA True Line Gold Mastercard. While it does have a $39 annual fee, it also has the lowest fixed interest rate of any credit card in Canada at 8.99%. No other credit card in the country, from either Visa, Mastercard, or American Express, has a fixed APR lower than that.

Best Mastercards for: Groceries

As far as which Mastercards offer the most rewards on groceries, the one that stand out happens to be a store credit card.

The PC Optimum World Elite offers an impressive 3% back in rewards at a number of grocery stores and charge no annual fee. As a World Elite Mastercard, it’s also premium cards with steep income requirements. You’ll need to earn $80,000 annually (or $150,000 as a household) in order for your application to go through successfully.

PC Financial World Elite

  • No annual fee
  • Earn 45 PC Optimum Points per $1 spent at Shoppers Drug Mart / Pharmaprix
  • Earn 30 PC Optimum Points per $1 spent where President’s Choice products are sold
  • Earn 10 PC Optimum Points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Income requirement: $80,000

With the PC Optimum World Elite, you’ll earn 30 PC Optimum points (the equivalent of 3%) at Loblaws-owned stores. While that obviously includes Loblaws branded-groceries, it also includes several others under the Loblaws umbrella – from No Frills and Fortinos to Real Canadian Superstores, and more. Unfortunately, if you use the card at groceries where PC products aren’t sold, like Sobeys or Longo’s, you’ll earn a basic 10 points (1%) per dollar.

All other rewards: This card also takes the cake as the best credit card for pharmacies, as you’ll earn 45 PC Optimum points (the equivalent of 4.5%) at Shoppers Drug Mart. That’s a big perk considering Shoppers’ huge product offering – which includes everything from health and beauty products to electronics and household items. You’ll also pocket 3 cents per dollar when refilling your gas tank at eligible Esso stations, and 10 PC Optimum points everywhere else.

Where you can redeem: You can only redeem your points at select PC stores. Luckily, since PC is associated with Loblaws, that includes over 2,500 stores that carry PC products (one of which is bound to be near you) including Loblaws and Shoppers Drug Mart. PC points can be redeemed in increments of 10,000, which is the equivalent of $10.

Best Mastercards for: Costo

MBNA Rewards World Elite®

  • $120 annual fee
  • Earn 2 MBNA points (2% in travel points) on all purchases
  • Receive 20,000 bonus points†† after you make at least $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 90 days of your account opening
  • Receive 10,000 bonus points†† once enrolled for e-statements within the first 90 days of account opening
  • Income requirement: $80,000

If you’re laser-focused on finding a card that will offer the highest return for purchases made at Costco, you’ll want to narrow down your choices to a handful of Mastercards.

The MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard is the best travel card to use at Costco, and offers 2% in travel points per dollar for all purchases made at the warehouse retailer. Meanwhile, the Rogers World Elite Mastercard is the best cash back card for Costco and offers 1.75% cash back per dollar. It’s worth noting that both these cards have annual income requirements of at least $80,000.

In terms of cards that are easier to qualify for, the MBNA Rewards Premium Plus offers 1% in travel points at Costco, and doesn’t have a specific income requirement.

Best Mastercard for: Travel insurance

National Bank World Elite Mastercard

  • Annual fee: $150
  • Earn 1.5 points for every dollar you spend up to $40,000 annually, two points for every dollar you spend up to $80,000, and 1.5 points if you spend beyond $80,000
  • Income requirement: $80,000

The National Bank World Elite makes it on our list as the best Mastercard for travel insurance due to its extensive coverage period and favourable terms for seniors.

This card provides out-of-province medical coverage for up to 60 consecutive days for those under 55 years old. That’s almost three times longer than the standard 21-day coverage period offered by most other travel cards.

Additionally, while most travel cards skimp on coverage for seniors, this card doesn’t. National Bank World Elite cardholders between 65 and 75 years old receive complimentary travel insurance for up to 15 days versus the four days of coverage typically offered to seniors. It’s worth highlighting that eligibility may be impacted in the case the cardholder has pre-existing health conditions, so you’ll want to read up on the card’s terms and contact the card’s insurance provider to be fully in the know of any possible exclusions and limitations.