No fee credit cards have come a long way. It used to be that premium benefits were only available to cardholders who paid an annual fee. Today, no fee doesn’t necessarily mean no perks: there are several great credit cards that offer strong cash-back returns and rewards, with no annual fee.
To be fair, cards with fees shouldn’t automatically be disqualified. Paying an annual fee can be worth it, but only if you earn enough rewards (ie. spend enough money on your credit card) to at least break even. If you don’t use credit cards often, if you’re budget-conscious, or if you’re a university student or new graduate, no fee credit cards are the smarter choice.
If you’re looking for a second or back-up credit card that offers different features or rewards from your primary one, a credit card with no annual fee also makes a good companion—even if you don’t end up using it that often, it won’t cost you.
Here are Ratehub.ca’s picks for the best no fee credit cards in Canada for 2017:
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Cardcheck eligibility
Earn an extra 10% back on up to $1,000 in everyday purchases within the first 2 months. Must apply by May 2, 2023. Click "check eligibility" to get an additional $100 Amazon gift card 🎁 upon approval.
- 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
- 10 spending categories to choose from: groceries, gas, drugstore, furniture, hotels and motels, home improvement, parking, recurring bills, and restaurants
- No limit on how much cash back you can earn
Not only do we consider the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card to be one of the best credit cards in Canada, its bevy of features earned it a spot on several of our 2017 best-of lists. For a card with no annual fee, it has surprisingly few restrictions: it offers 2% cash back on purchases in two spending categories of your choice, and 0.5% cash back on everything else, with no cap on the amount of cash back you can earn.
With a total of 10 diverse spending categories to choose from (including groceries, gas, entertainment, home improvement, recurring bills, and hotels/motels), you can change them at any time to meet your needs. The biggest advantage this card has over others is it refunds cash back rewards monthly, rather than annually. If you choose to have your cash back deposited into a Tangerine Savings Account, you’ll get a third category earning 2% cash back.
SimplyCash Card from American Express
SimplyCash® Card from American Expresscheck eligibility
In your first 10 months as a new SimplyCash® Card from American Express Cardmember, you can earn a $10 statement credit for each monthly billing period in which you spend $300 in purchases on your Card. This could add up to $100 in statement credits in the first 10 months
- No annual fee
- Earn 5% cash back on eligible purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants for the first 6 months (up to $250)
- Earn 1.25% cash back on all other purchases once welcome rate ends
- 0% interest rate on all balance transfers for the first 6 months
- No limit on the amount of cash back you can earn
The SimplyCash Card from American Express has one of the best introductory cash-back rates currently on the market. For the first six months, you can earn 5% cash back on eligible grocery, gas, and restaurant purchases (up to $250), and 1.25% on all purchases thereafter, with no limit on how much cash back you can earn. While some cards offer higher returns in particular categories (groceries, gas, and drugstore are the most common), the 1.25% return rate for all purchases is actually the highest one out there.
If you’re carrying debt on another credit card, SimplyCash also offers an introductory 0% interest rate on balance transfers within the first six months (subject to a 1% balance transfer fee) for new cardholders who apply online.
Scene Visa Card
Scotiabank® Scene+™ Visa* Cardcheck eligibility
Earn 10,000 bonus Scene+™ points within your first year
- No annual fee
- Earn 1 Scene point for every $1 spent on the card
- Earn 5 Scene points for every $1 spent at Cineplex Theatres
- Earn and redeem points at Sport Chek, as well as the following restaurants: Swiss Chalet, Harvey’s, Montana’s, Milestones, Bier Markt, East Side Mario’s, Kelsey’s, Fionn MacCool’s, D’Arcy McGee’s, Paddy Flaherty’s, and Tir nan Òg
With Scotiabank’s Scene Visa Card, film fanatics can earn points toward free movie tickets even faster through Cineplex’s Scene rewards program. With this card, you’ll earn five points for every dollar spent at Cineplex Odeon theatres, and one point per dollar on everything else. The card has a low threshold for redemption, with a movie ticket starting at 1,000 points, plus the option to redeem for concession combos and night out packages.
When paired with your free Scene membership card, you can also earn and redeem points at SportChek, as well as several restaurant chains, including Swiss Chalet, Harvey’s, Montana’s, and Milestones. Redeem 1,000 points, and you’ll get $10 off your purchase.
With no annual fee and a low threshold for redemption, this card is attractive for people who want rewards they can redeem quickly and frequently, without spending a lot of money.