What is the best Scotiabank credit card – for every category

Charlotte Sinclair
by Charlotte Sinclair January 23, 2020 / No Comments

Scotiabank (or Scotia for short) is one of Canada’s big five banks and, according to S&P Global, the 42nd largest bank on the planet. 

Headquartered in Toronto, Scotia has a portfolio of eighteen credit cards that offer everything from travel points and cash back to low interest, and more. Scotia is also currently the only major bank in the country to have a partnership with American Express or issue credit cards with no foreign transaction fees.

Below, we breakdown the best Scotiabank credit cards in Canada – by category.

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Best Scotiabank credit cards in Canada for 2020

Scotia’s best travel credit card

Winner: Scotiabank Gold American Express

  • Annual fee: $120
  • Earn 5 points per $1 on groceries, restaurants, cafes, and entertainment
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on gas, public transit, and streaming services
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on everything else
  • Welcome Offer: Up to 20,000 bonus points
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Income required: $12,000

Read in-depth card description (+/-)

The Scotiabank Gold American Express isn’t just one of Scotia’s best rewards cards, it’s arguably the best travel credit card in Canada.

There are several features that set this card above its competition.

First, there’s its strong earn rate on everyday purchases – which lets you collect between three and five times the points per dollar across six categories (groceries, restaurants, entertainment, gas, online streaming services, and daily transit). Another exceptional benefit is the fact it doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, helping you save about 2.5% on all your card purchases made abroad in a non-Canadian currency. Finally, the card’s strong welcome bonus will earn you 20,000 bonus points provided you’re new to Scotiabank and make at least $1,000 in card purchases within your first three months.

When it comes to using Scotia points, the redemption process is super flexible. You can redeem points towards virtually any travel purchase including flight tickets with no airline, seat, or date restrictions at a rate of $0.01 per point.

In terms of travel insurance and side perks, the Scotiabank Gold AMEX offers up to $1 million in travel medical emergency coverage for 25 days, access to presale concert tickets through American Express Invites, concierge services, and a 30% discount on a Priority Pass membership.

The only real drawback of the Scotiabank Gold is that it’s issued by American Express, which means it’s not as widely accepted at certain retailers like discount groceries or smaller independently-run shops. If you pick up this card, you’ll also want to carry a debit card or backup no-fee credit card from either Visa or Mastercard in your wallet in case a merchant doesn’t accept AMEX.


Scotia’s best card for travel perks

Winner: 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 (+/-)

While the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite doesn’t boast as impressive of an earn rate as the aforementioned Scotiabank Gold AMEX, it does deserve a spot on this list for its great travel perks.

First and foremost, it comes with a complimentary membership to Priority Pass ($99 USD value) that opens up the door to over 1,000 lounges across 400 airports worldwide. You’ll also get six free passes to lounges renewed every year. For comparison, most other credit cards with lounge benefits only give you four free passes or just cover the membership fee while still requiring you to pay the $32 USD entrance fee with each lounge visit.

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite also waives its foreign transaction fees, making it the only Visa or Mastercard from one of Canada’s big banks to do so. That translates to instant savings for frequent travellers, who would otherwise have to pay a 2.5% fee on every card purchase made in a non-Canadian currency.

Perks aside, this card is noteworthy for its lucrative welcome bonus. New Scotiabank accountholders are eligible to receive 30,000 Scotia Rewards points (up to $300 value) after spending $1,000 within the first three months of receiving the card. In terms of everyday rewards, the Scotia Passport Visa infinite offers 2 points per $1 on eligible grocery, restaurant, entertainment and transit-related purchases (including taxis and public transit) and 1 point per $1 on everything else. Your Scotia points can be redeemed for almost all travel costs including flights from any airline and purchases from third-party travel websites at a rate of $0.01 per point.

The card also offers a roster of insurance benefits ranging from travel emergency insurance for up to 25 days, trip cancellation coverage, baggage loss insurance, and rental car coverage.


Scotia’s best cash back credit card

Winner: Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite

  • Annual fee: $120 (waived for first year)
  • Earn 4% cash back on groceries and recurring bills
  • Earn 2% cash back on gas and daily transit
  • Get 1% cash back on everything else
  • Welcome offer: Get 10% cash back on all purchases for the first three months (up to $200)
  • Mobile device insurance
  • Income required: $60,000

Read in-depth card description (+/-)

The Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite is one of the best cash back credit cards in Canada – period – thanks in big part to its welcome offer and strong earn rate on everyday household expenses.

It offers 4% cash back on eligible grocery store and recurring bill payments (think internet and cable bills), 2% cash back on gas and public transit (including taxis and rideshares), and 1% cash back on everything else.

While the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite does have a $120 annual fee, you can avoid the fee for your first year. Plus, you’ll earn 10% cash back on all your purchases for the first three months (up to $200) as a new Scotiabank cardholder.

Even after the welcome offer ends and the annual fee kicks in, with 4% cash back on groceries alone, the average family who spends $100 a week on restocking the fridge would earn about $210 annually, which more than recoups the cost of the annual fee. Factor in bills, gas, transit and all other purchases and it’s easy to see how the rewards can add up in your favour.

The Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite also features a roster of travel insurance benefits, which means you’ll be covered on vacation provided you pay for the trip with your card. It offers $1 million in emergency medical insurance for up to 15 days, car rental insurance, baggage loss coverage, and more. Lastly, the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite comes with mobile device insurance that’ll cover your smartphone against damage or loss up to a maximum of $1,000.


Scotia’s best no fee travel credit card

Winner: Scotiabank American Express Card

  • No annual fee
  • Earn 1 Scotia Rewards point per $1 on all purchases
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points with your first $500 in purchases in first 3 months
  • Redeem for travel, merchandise, gift cards, or statement credit
  • Income required: No specific amount

Read in-depth card description (+/-)

While the majority of the best travel credit cards in Canada have an accompanying annual fee, the Scotiabank American Express Card is an exception. For every $1 in purchases you make with this no fee card, you earn 1 Scotia Reward point – which can be redeemed for a variety of travel-related rewards from flight tickets and hotel stays to car rentals and vacation packages. Points can also be applied to flight ticket purchases retroactively (so you can buy travel tickets first and redeem your points at a later date), a benefit that several annual fee travel cards fail to offer.

Despite being a no-fee card, the Scotiabank American Express doesn’t skimp on insurance coverage. Cardholders are eligible to receive up to $1 million in travel emergency insurance for eight days of consecutive travel, travel accident insurance, trip interruption insurance up to $2,500 per person, and rental car insurance.


Scotia’s best no fee cash back card

Winner: Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa

  • No annual fee
  • Earn 1% cash back on gas, groceries, pharmacy purchases, and bills
  • 0.5% cash back on all other purchases
  • Income required: No specific amount

Read in-depth card description (+/-)

While Scotiabank has great cards for virtually every other category and spending personality, when it comes to no fee cash back cards, its offering admittedly isn’t all that impressive. The Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa offers just 1% cash on bonus categories and 0.5% on everything else.

If you’re set on getting a no-fee cash back card, we’d recommend checking out the Tangerine Money-Back Card (which offers 2% on bonus categories) or looking into our full list of the best no fee credit cards in Canada.

Also consider:

Tangerine Money-Back

  • No annual fee
  • Earn 2% cash back on purchases in up to three categories of your choice, and 0.5% cash back on all other purchases
  • No limit on how much cash back you can earn
  • Income required: $12,000

Scotia’s best card for low interest and balance transfers

Winner: 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

Read in-depth card description (+/-)

If you’re looking to eliminate credit card debt, the Scotiabank Value Visa does double duty as the best low interest credit card and best balance transfer credit card Scotiabank has to offer.

To help consolidate your debt and fast-track your debt repayment plan, this card features an introductory rate of 0.99% on balance transfers for the first six months with no additional transfer fee.

The Scotiabank Value Visa also only has a 12.99% annual interest rate on both purchases and cash advances instead of the typical 19.9% or 22.9% rate charged by most cards. That means you’ll spend less on interest charges on any unpaid balances or in emergency cases when you need to withdraw cash from your card. While it does have an annual fee, it comes in at a nominal $29.


Scotia’s best student credit card

Winner: Scotiabank Scene Visa

  • No annual fee
  • Get 2,500 bonus points (2 free movies) with your first $500 in everyday purchases over the first 3 months
  • Earn 5 Scene points for every $1 spent at Cineplex Theatres
  • Earn 1 Scene point for every $1 spent on all other purhcases

Read in-depth card description (+/-)

If you’re a student shopping for your first credit card who also happens to be a movie buff, the Scotiabank Scene Visa manages to kill two birds with one stone.

First, this card has no annual fee, offering students and credit card beginners a way to establish their credit history with no upfront financial commitment.

Second, the card offers points that can be redeemed for free movies at Cineplex Cinemas and discounts at a handful of restaurants including Swiss Chalet, Harvey’s, Montana’s, Milestones, and more. The Scotiabank Scene Card offers 5 points for every $1 spent at Cineplex Cinemas and 1 point for every $1 on all other purchases.

Another reason the Scotiabank Scene Card ranks as one of the best student credit cards in Canada is its easy-to-get welcome bonus. If you sign up for this card, you’ll earn 2,500 bonus Scene points after making just $500 in purchases within your first three months (that’s enough points for two free movie tickets).

Even if you’re not a student or already have another credit card but love watching movies on the big screen, you may want to consider picking up the Scotiabank Scene Card as a companion card. With no annual fee and the ability to redeem points for free movie tickets, it can offer considerable value at no direct cost (as long as you pay off the balance in full every month, of course).


How Scotiabank’s rewards programs work

Depending on which Scotiabank rewards card you use, you’ll earn either one of the following:

Scotia Rewards

Cards include: Scotiabank Gold American Express, Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite, Scotiabank American Express.

  • Scotia Rewards is the bank’s branded points program. When redeemed for travel, 5,000 Scotia Rewards points = $50 – which works out to $0.01 per point. In a way, it’s helpful to think of 1 Scotia point as 1% cash back on any travel purchase. Points must be redeemed in increments of at least 5,000.
  • Scotia points can be used to cover the cost of virtually any travel expense, including flights from any airline with no black-out dates as well as any associated travel fees and taxes.
  • Scotia points can be redeemed in one of two ways, either: 1. Online or over the phone using the Scotia Rewards Travel Agency, or 2. By using the “Apply Points to Travel” option, which lets you book your trip from another travel provider or website and apply your points against the purchase up to 12 months later.
  • Scotia Rewards points can also be used for non-travel redemptions (like cash to pay off your card statement or gift cards), but these options offer less value for your points. If you want to use rewards to help you save on purchases other than travel, we recommend picking up one of Scotiabank’s cash back cards instead.
  • Scotia Rewards is one of the most flexible and easy-to-understand travel points programs in Canada.

Cash back

Cards include: Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite, Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa.

  • With a Scotiabank cash back card, your rewards will be reimbursed once a year in November as a credit on your monthly statement.
  • Scotia’s cash back system is slightly less flexible when compared to some cash back programs from other banks (like Tangerine, TD, or BMO) that either reimburse your cash back monthly or allow you to redeem your rewards at anytime.

Scene Points

Cards include: Scotiabank Scene Visa.

Scene is the loyalty program of Cineplex, Canada’s largest movie theatre chain with over 160 locations across the country.

  • Scene points can be redeemed for virtually any purchase from Cineplex (in-theatre or online), including movie tickets and snacks at the concession stand.
  • Here’s how many points you would need to get a free movie ticket:
    • 1,250 points for 1 general admission or 3D ticket.
    • 2,000 points for 1 Ultra AVX or IMAX ticket.
    • 2,500 points for 1 VIP ticket.