Best credit card combinations: Pair these cards to maximize your rewards

Jordann Brown
by Jordann Brown January 28, 2021 / 1 Comment

Do you believe in the one?

When it comes to credit cards, I’m a firm believer that there isn’t one single best credit card out there for everyone. In fact, in some scenarios, having two different credit cards will maximize your rewards. By using multiple cards in tandem, you can boost the number of points or cash back you earn, no matter what the situation. Plus, carrying more than one card can even help your credit utilization, and in turn, boost your credit score.

Here are four winning credit card combinations that will help you maximize your rewards.

Ratehub.ca’s best credit card combinations in Canada

Best combo for everyday spending
American Express Cobalt
(VIEW)
  • Annual fee: $120
  • 5 points per $1 on groceries and dining
  • 2 points per $1 on gas, travel, and daily transit
  • 1 point per $1 on everything else
Home Trust Preferred Visa (VIEW)
  • Annual fee: $0
  • 1% cash back on all Canadian purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees

    The strategy:

  • Use the American Express Cobalt for all your everyday purchases
  • Use the Home Trust Preferred Visa where Amex isn’t accepted and for all purchases in a non-Canadian currency (like when shopping online from U.S. websites)

Best combo for families/household bills
Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite (VIEW)
  • Annual fee: $120
  • 4% cash back on groceries and recurring bills
  • 2% on gas and daily transit
  • 1% on everything else
American Express SimplyCash (VIEW)
  • Annual fee: $0
  • 1.25% cash back on everything

    The strategy:

  • Use the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite to pay for bills, groceries, and transit
  • Use the American Express SimplyCash for everything else

Best combo for no annual fees
Tangerine Money-Back Card (VIEW)
  • Annual fee: $0
  • 2% cash back in up three bonus categories of your choice
  • 0.5% on everything else
American Express SimplyCash (VIEW)
  • Annual fee: $0
  • 1.25% cash back on everything

    The strategy:

  • Use the Tangerine Money-Back Card on your three chosen bonus categories (options include groceries, gas, and dining – among others)
  • Use the American Express SimplyCash for everything else

Honourable mention
PC Finacial Mastercard
(VIEW)
  • Annual fee: $0
  • 30 PC points per $1 at Esso/Mobil gas stations
  • 25 PC points per $1 at Shoppers Drug Mart
  • 10 PC points per $1 on everything else
  • You can earn even more points if you qualify for the PC World or World Elite Mastecards
American Express SimplyCash Preferred (VIEW)
  • Annual fee: $99
  • 2% cash back on everything

    The strategy:

  • Use the PC Financial Mastercard where Amex isn’t accepted, for household purchases from Shoppers Drug Mart, and when filling up on gas at Esso/Mobil stations
  • Use the American Express SimplyCash Preferred for everything else
  • Note: if you qualify for the PC World or PC World Elite, you’ll earn more bonus points when grocery shopping at Loblaws-banner stores (including No Frills, Real Canadian Superstore, and more)

The best credit card combinations in Canada – in detail

Best combo for everyday spending:

American Express Cobalt + Home Trust Preferred Visa

One of the best credit cards in Canada, the American Express Cobalt’s strong everyday earn rate and flexible, simple-to-understand points program makes it easy to pair with virtually any other rewards card.

The American Express Cobalt earns five times the points on all your food spending (including groceries, restaurants, cafes, and food deliveries) and double the points on all modes of travel (from flights to gas, public transit, taxis, and even rideshares).

Points never expire, and you can choose to redeem for a range of rewards.

Want to hold onto points for future travel? You can redeem for flights from virtually all airlines and book a stay at any hotel in increments of 1,000 points for $10 (1 point = 1 cent), or you can leverage Amex’s Fixed Points Travel Program rewards chart to net returns of up to 1.75 cents per point on round-trip flights out of Canada. Want to use points to save now on your everyday purchases? Redeem for prepaid cards starting from 3,125 points for $25 (1 point = 0.8 cents) or cash credits (1 point = 0.7 cents).

Finally, there is the American Express Cobalt’s stacked welcome offer. You can rack up 2,500 bonus points every month you spend at least $500 on your card for your entire first year (up to 30,000 points).

Like I said before, the American Express Cobalt can be paired with basically any credit card, but our pick is the Home Trust Preferred Visa.

First and foremost, it’s a no fee Visa card, making it a great “no-commitment” card to carry as a backup in case you’re shopping somewhere that doesn’t accept American Express without the burden of having to pay another annual fee.

The Home Trust Preferred Visa also earns 1% in cash back on all Canadian purchases, so you’ll pocket the same rewards on everything you buy (unlike many other no fee cards that start earning rewards from just 0.5%) and you won’t have to think about juggling different points programs between your two cards. Finally, it waives its foreign transaction fees. So, whether you’re shopping online from a U.S. website (along with any other international website that doesn’t accept Canadian dollars) or travelling abroad, you won’t owe an additional 2.5% fee for making a foreign currency purchase like you would with most other cards.

The strategy with this credit card combination is simple: use the American Express Cobalt to earn points on your everyday spending in Canada and use the Home Trust Preferred Visa when making a purchase in a foreign currency or at locations that don’t accept American Express.


Best combo for families / household bills:

Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite + SimplyCash from American Express

Regardless of the size of your family, you’ll want to capitalize on your household spending. That’s where the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite comes in. Arguably the best cash back credit card for families, the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite will earn you 4% cash back on both groceries and recurring payments (think monthly cable, smartphone, and streaming bills) – which represent two of the biggest spending categories for many households. You’ll also net 2% cash back on gas, public transit, and rideshares.

For a limited time, you can avoid paying the card’s $120 annual fee for the first year and rack up 10% cash back for your first three months (up to a maximum of $200).

In combination with the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite, you should consider adding the SimplyCash from American Express to your arsenal. This no fee credit card earns a flat 1.25% cash back on everything you buy.

The above-average 1.25% flat rate makes the SimplyCash from American Express a great option for charges that don’t fit into the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite’s four bonus categories – such as online shopping, clothes, or furniture – giving you a 0.25% earnings boost versus if you just stuck with only using the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite.

While you’ll be on the hook to pay a $120 annual fee for the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite after the first year of card membership, the SimplyCash from American Express will always be free to carry, so you won’t have to juggle annual fees on two separate credit cards with this combination.


Best combo for no annual fees:

Tangerine Money-Back Card + SimplyCash Card from American Express

If you’re looking to completely avoid paying any annual fees, you can maximize your rewards by using these two cards interchangeably.

First, the Tangerine Money-Back Card is a no fee credit card that earns you bonus cash back in your choice of any three of the following categories: restaurants, gas, groceries, public transit (including taxis and Ubers), drugstore/pharmacy, entertainment, hotels/motels, furniture, monthly bill payments, home improvement, and parking.

Once you pick your three bonus categories, you’ll earn an accelerated 2% cash back on them and 0.5% cash back on everything else. There’s no limit on the cash back you can earn, and your rewards are deposited monthly into your Tangerine savings account.

Meanwhile, the SimplyCash Card from American Express lets you earn 2.5% cash back on all purchases for the first three months (up to $150) – a limited-time offer you’ll want to capitalize on for all your purchases. Once this special welcome rate ends, you’ll earn a flat 1.25% cash back on all your spending. Therefore, you can use the SimplyCash from American Express for any purchase that doesn’t fall under one of your three Tangerine Money-Back categories to earn 1.25% as opposed to just 0.5%. And you’ll always have the Tangerine Money-Back Card ready to use in case you’re shopping from a merchant that doesn’t accept Amex.

With this pairing of no annual fee credit cards, you can earn between 2% and 1.25% on all your everyday purchases. Since both these cards offer straight-forward cash back, you also won’t have to deal with the complexities of earning points from two separate loyalty programs.


Honourable mention:

PC Financial Mastercard + SimplyCash Preferred from American Express

The PC Financial Mastercard is a versatile, no fee store credit card that’s linked to some of Canada’s largest retail chains.

You’ll earn at least 25 PC Optimum points per dollar at Shoppers Drug Mart (which sells everything from household essentials like over-the-counter medication and cleaning supplies to a range of consumer electronics) and 30 PC points per dollar at over 2,000 Esso/Mobil gas stations. Plus, if you earn an annual income of $60,000 or $80,000 respectively, you could qualify for PC Financial’s higher tier World or World Elite Mastercards and earn even more bonus points at Loblaws grocery stores (including No Frills, Real Canadian Superstore, Fortinos, and more).

Regardless of which of PC Financial’s three no fee credit card you qualify for, you’ll earn at least 10 PC Optimum points on all your everyday purchases not made at affiliated retailers. PC points can be redeemed in increments of 10,000 points for $10 in store credit.

A great card to pair with the PC Financial Mastercard is the SimplyCash Preferred from American Express. It has a below-average annual of $99 and earns a flat 2% on everything you buy – from online purchases to food deliveries and everything in between.

The logic behind this card pairing involves using the PC Financial Mastercard to earn bonus points at all affiliated locations (like Shoppers Drug Mart and Esso) while swiping the SimplyCash Preferred everywhere else to earn double the cash back. If you happen to shop at a merchant that doesn’t accept Amex, the PC Financial Mastercard makes a great backup option too considering it earns a minimum of 10 points per dollar (the equivalent of 1% in store credit) at non-affiliated retailers.

Do you use multiple credit cards to maximize your rewards? If so, share your credit card combination recommendations in the comments section below.

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