The Best Mastercard Credit Cards in Canada for 2019 – 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 / Balance Transfers $0 – $39
PC Financial / Triangle World Elite Cards (VIEW) Groceries $0
Shell CashBack World Mastercard (VIEW) Cash Back on Gas $79
MBNA Rewards World Elite (VIEW) Costco $120

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
  • Welcome offer: Get 4% cash back on your bonus categories for the first 3 months (ends July 31, 2019)
  • 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).

Welcome offer: Last but not least, if you apply for the card by July 30, you can earn double the cash back (4% instead of 2%) on your selected bonus categories for the first three months.

Best Mastercard for: Travel points with no annual fee

MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard®

  • No annual fee
  •  2 points‡ for every $1 spent on eligible gas, groceries and restaurant purchases ($5,000 annual cap on each category, afterwhich you’ll earn 1 point)
  •  1 point‡ for every $1 spent on everything else
  • Receive 5,000 bonus points†† after your first eligible purchase within the first 90 days of account opening
  • Receive 5,000 bonus points†† once enrolled for e-statements within the first 90 days of account opening
  • A suite of comprehensive insurance**

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: Once you make your first purchase on the card and enroll to receive e-statements, you’ll earn 10,000 bonus points ($100). That’s a strong welcome offer for a no fee card. Not to mention, it’s considerably easy to get as there’s no minimum spending requirement.

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 and balance transfers

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® 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. 12.99% rate applies thereafter
  • Around the clock protection against fraudulent charges
  • Note: Balance transfer offer and fixed interest rate varies 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.

The card also comes with a balance transfer offer of 0% APR for the first ten months. So, you can transfer your debts from your other credit cards to the MBNA True Line and pay them off without spending a cent on interest for ten months (though, you’ll have to pay a 3% balance transfer fee).

MBNA True Line® Gold Mastercard®

  • $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 6 months. 8.99% rate applies thereafter
  • Around the clock protection against fraudulent charges
  • Note: Balance transfer offer and fixed 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.

The MBNA True Line Gold also has a six-month balance transfer offer of 0%, so you can consolidate your debts from your other credit cards to the MBNA True Line Gold and pay nothing in interest for half a year (note, however, you will have to pay a 3% transfer fee).

Best Mastercards for: Groceries

As far as which Mastercards offer the most rewards on groceries, the two that stand out happen to be store credit cards.

Both the PC Optimum World Elite and Triangle World Elite from Canadian Tire offer an impressive 3% back in rewards at a number of grocery stores and charge no annual fee. As World Elite Mastercards, they’re also premium cards with steep income requirements. You’ll need to earn $80,000 annually in order for your application to go through successfully.

PC Optimum 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.

Triangle World Elite Mastercard

  • No annual fee
  • Get 4% in Canadian Tire Money at Canadian Tire, Sport Chek, and participating Mark®/L’Équipeur and Atmosphere locations
  • Get 3% in Canadian Tire Money on groceries (on the first $12,000 per year; excludes Costco and Walmart)
  • Get 1% everywhere else
  • Free roadside assistance membership
  • Income requirement: $80,000

Triangle Rewards, the latest iteration of Canadian Tire’s loyalty program, was launched in 2018, and with it came the release of the Triangle World Elite Mastercard.

This card offers 3% in Canadian Tire Money at almost every major grocery store and supermarket chain in Canada, including Longo’s, No Frills, Loblaws, Sobeys, and more. The only real exceptions are Costco and Walmart, in which case the card will earn you a flat 1%.

All other rewards: The Triangle World Elite Mastercard offers a lucrative 4% on all purchases from Canadian Tire, as well as affiliated stores like Sports Chek, Marks, Hockey Experts, and Sports Rousseau. You’ll also collect between 7 and 5 cents in Canadian Tire Money per litre at Gas+/Essence+ locations and select Husky stations. For all your other purchases on this card, you’ll net 1% in Canadian Tire Money.

Where you can redeem: It goes without saying that you can redeem your rewards at Canadian Tire locations. Considering the huge array of products sold at the department store, and the fact there are over 490 Canadian Tire stores across the country, we consider that a win. You can also cash in your Canadian Tire Money at Sport Chek, Gas+, as well as select Mark’s and Atmosphere locations. Overall, however, compared to PC Optimum points, there are far fewer places where you can redeem your Canadian Tire Money.

Best Mastercard for: Cash back on gas

Shell CashBack World MasterCard

  • $79 annual fee
  • 3% cash back at Shell gas stations
  • 1.5% cash back everywhere else
  • Free roadside assistance membership ($69 value)

If you’re a car owner who spends a lot on refilling your gas tank every month and prefer straight cash back over points, you’ll want to consider the Shell CashBack World MasterCard from BMO.

One of the best credit cards for drivers, this card will earn you 3% cash back for every dollar you spend at Shell gas stations – which is among the highest returns for gas spending of any Mastercard. With an estimated 1,300 Shell-branded gas stations in Canada, you’ll never find yourself too far from a Shell station during your commute. If you can’t manage to find a Shell station, you’ll still earn 1.25% cash back at other stations as well as on all your other purchases.

The card also comes with free Roadside Assistance coverage from the Dominion Automatic Association (DAA), which on its own is valued at $69, and will cover you for battery boosts, emergency gas delivers, flat tire changes, towing if your car suddenly break down, and more.

Best Mastercards for: Costo

MBNA Rewards World Elite®

  • $120 annual fee
  • Earn 2 MBNA points (2% in travel points) on all purchases
  • Receive 15,000 bonus points†† after your first eligible purchase within the first 90 days of account opening
  • Receive 5,000 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.