Canada’s best credit card promotions and sign up bonuses for 2020

Hyder Owainati
by Hyder Owainati February 6, 2020 / No Comments

From points bonuses and cash back offers to annual fee waivers, there’s no shortage of credit card promotions out there on the market.

Designed to spur interest and entice applications, promotional offers can also help those on the hunt for a new credit card quickly amass hundreds of dollars in bonus rewards. So, while an offer alone shouldn’t be a deciding factor and is just one piece of the puzzle that goes into choosing a credit card, there’s no denying it can make an already great credit card even better.

It’s with that in mind that Ratehub.ca listed the top promotions available from some of the best credit cards in Canada. Remember, when reading through these offers make sure to also look into which credit card would make a good long-term fit for your personal spending habits.

Summary (+/-)

The best credit card promotions and offers in Canada as of July 2020

Credit Card Card Promotion Annual Fee
TD CashBack Visa Infinite (VIEW) 10% cash back on all purchases for 3 months $120 (Waived for 1st year)
TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card (View) 20,000 TD Points ($100 value) $120 (Waived for 1st year)
MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus (VIEW) 10,000 points ($100 value) $0
BMO World Elite Mastercard (View) 35,000 points ($250 value) $150 (Waived for 1st year)
American Express Cobalt (VIEW) Up to 30,000 bonus points (+$300 value) $120
Scotiabank Gold American Express (VIEW) 20,000 points ($200 value) $120
SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express (VIEW) 5% cash back on all purchases for 6 months $99
Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite (VIEW) Up to 30,000 bonus points ($300 Value) $139
Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card (VIEW) 50,000 Bonvoy Points $120

TD CashBack Visa Infinite

  • Credit Card Promotional Offer: Earn 10% cash back on every purchase you make for the first three months or on your initial $2,000 in purchases (whichever comes first). The $120 annual fee for the primary cardholder is waived for the first year as well as the $50 annual fee for authorized users.
  • Value of Offer: $350
  • Offer End Date: September 8, 2020
  • Annual fee: $120 (waived for first year)
  • Once offer ends, get 3% cash back on gas, groceries and recurring bills
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Complimentary roadside assistance and travel insurance benefits

Read in-depth card description (+/-)

This is one of the strongest cash back promotions in Canada, letting you earn returns in the double digits for your first three months. The TD CashBack Visa Infinite‘s promotion also includes a first year annual fee waiver for the primary cardholder as well as up to one authorized user. When considering the cost of adding an authorized user, that’ll save you an additional $50 if you were planning on opening a joint account with your partner or family member.

In terms of everyday rewards once the three-month promotion ends, the TD CashBack Visa Infinite offers 3% cash back on groceries, recurring bill, and gas – a combination of the most frequent purchases incurred by Canadian households. It’s also packed with side perks like roadside assistance coverage and up to $2 million in medical emergency travel insurance for 10 days.


TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite

  • Credit Card Promotional Offer: 20,000 TD bonus points after making your first purchase. The $120 annual fee for the primary cardholder is waived for the first year as is the $50 annual fee for one authorized user.
  • Value of Offer: Up to $220
  • Offer End Date: September 8, 2020
  • Annual fee: $120 (waived for the first year)
  • Earn 9 TD Points per $1 on travel booked online through the ExpediaforTD website
  • Earn 3 TD Points per $1 on your everyday purchases
  • Income required: $60,000

Read in-depth card description (+/-)

Between the upfront point bonus and first-year annual fee waiver, the TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite offers one of the easiest to attaindeals for new cardholders.

Along with its welcome bonus, this card comes with all of the bells and whistles that you would expect from a premier travel card issued by one of Canada’s biggest banks, including flexible redemption options through ExpediaforTD and a lucrative 9 TD points per dollar spent on travel (the equivalent of a 4.5% return). The one downside of this card is it doesn’t offer point multipliers on popular spending categories such as gas and groceries. To learn whether this card is right for you, make sure to read our full TD First Class Visa Infinite review.


MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus

  • Credit Card Promotional Offer: Receive 5,000 bonus points after making $500 in eligible purchases within the first 90 days of account opening and another 5,000 bonus points when you enroll for e-statements within the first 90 days. Plus, earn 2X the points on bonus categories for the first 90 days.
  • Value of Offer: +$100
  • Offer End Date: Not specified
  • No annual fee
  • Earn 4 points per $1 spent on eligible gas, groceries and restaurant purchases during the first 90 days
  • After 90 days, get 2 points‡ per $1 on eligible gas, groceries and restaurant purchases ($5,000 annual cap on each category).
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on everything else
  • Income required: None specified

Read in-depth card description (+/-)

The MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus should be on the radar of anyone who’s looking for a travel card but wants to avoid paying an annual fee. Why? Simple. It offers some of the best returns on your everyday purchases for a no fee points card.

The fact MBNA points can be redeemed for a straight 1% for travel means you’ll earn between 2% and 1% back on all your spending on this card.

The card’s welcome offer is also great since it lets you easily rack up $100 worth of travel points just for making $500 in purchases and for signing up for e-statements within the initial 90 days of opening your account. The icing on the cake: you’ll earn double the points (4%) on your bonus categories for the first 90 days. The only drawback is the card’s travel medical insurance coverage isn’t as comprehensive as most other annual fee rewards cards (and coverage is important if you happen to travel a lot).


BMO World Elite Mastercard

  • Credit Card Promotional Offer: 30,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on the card in the first three months and another 10,000 bonus points after your first year. The card’s $150 annual fee is also waived for the first year.
  • Value of Offer: $435
  • Offer End Date: The points bonus is available until October 31, 2020.
  • $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
  • VIP lounge access with the included Mastercard Airport Experiences membership, plus 4 complimentary passes per year ($140 value)
  • Income required: $80,000

Read in-depth card description (+/-)

The BMO World Elite Mastercard is a premium credit card with a sign-up bonus to match. The card’s stacked promotional offer (which includes an annual fee waiver) delivers cardholders up to $400 in value provided certain spending minimums are hit.

The BMO World Elite Mastercard is a great match for frequent flyers and will earn you 3 BMO Rewards points on travel (including flights and hotels), restaurants and entertainment, and 2 points on all other purchases. Points are flexible and can be redeemed for flights on any airline (1 point = 0.7%), which means you won’t be subjected to blackout dates or seat restrictions. This card is also notable for its roster of premium travel perks that include access to over 1,000 airport lounges through Mastercard Airport Experiences and robust travel medical insurance coverage.

It’s important to note the minimum income required to be approved for this card is $80,000 (or a household income of $150,000). Plus, after the first year of card membership, you’ll be on the hook to pay the card’s annual fee of $150. You’ll want to ensure this card is right for you in the long-term based on your spending habits, priorities, and financial standing before you apply.


American Express Cobalt

  • Credit Card Promotional Offer: 2,500 bonus points for every month you spend at least $500 on the American Express Cobalt. This offer is applicable for the first twelve months and can add up to 30,000 points.
  • Value of Offer: $25 each month, up to +$300
  • Offer End Date: Not specified.
  • Annual fee: $120 (charged at $10 monthly)
  • Earn 5 points per dollar on restaurants, coffee shops, bars, grocery stores, and food delivery
  • Earn 2 points per dollar on gas, taxis, public transportation and travel (air, water, rail, or road transport, plus hotels)
  • Earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
  • Income required: None specified

Read in-depth card description (+/-)

A quick glance at the American Express Cobalt and it’s easy to see who this credit card was made for: millennials and those who spend big on food.

One of Canada’s best travel credit cards, the AMEX Cobalt offers an earn rate of 5X on all food-related purchases (including restaurants, groceries and cafes). For those who rely on public transit to get around, the card offers 2X the points on taxis, public transit, and rideshare services such as Uber. The card’s desire to appeal to millennials extends to its unique fee structure, which is charged monthly at a rate of $10 instead of as an upfront $120 annual fee – mirroring the subscription pricing models of Netflix and Spotify.

The AMEX Cobalt also has plenty of wide appeal thanks to its earn rate of 2X the points on gas and travel (including flight tickets and hotels) and its flexible rewards program with points that can be redeemed for flights on any airline. The card also provides access to AMEX’s lucrative Fixed Points Travel Program, early-bird tickets to concerts through American Express Invites, and top-notch travel medical insurance.

In terms of its sign-up bonus, the AMEX Cobalt will offer you 2,500 bonus points for every month you spend $500 on the card during your first year. If you don’t spend at least $500 in a particular month, you’ll lose out on 2,500 bonus points but you’ll still be eligible to earn bonus points in the next month. If you hit the $500 spending threshold for all twelve months in a row, you’ll rack up a total of 30,000 bonus points.


Scotiabank Gold American Express

  • Credit Card Promotional Offer: 20,000 bonus points for new cardholders who spend at least $1,000 on the card within their first three months.
  • Value of Offer: $200
  • Offer End Date: Point bonus ends on August 31, 2020.
  • Annual fee: $120
  • Earn 5 Scotia Rewards points per dollar spent on groceries, restaurants, cafes, and entertainment
  • Earn 3 points per dollar spent on gas, public transit, ride share services, taxis, and streaming services
  • Earn 1 point per dollar spent on everything else
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Income required: $12,000

Read in-depth card description (+/-)

The Scotiabank Gold American Express is one of the most widely-appealing rewards credit cards in Canada, offering between 3X and 5X the points on a range of common spending categories including everything from restaurants and groceries to gas and transit. That adds up to a ton of points on your everyday purchases. On top of all that, the card’s welcome offer gives you the opportunity to walk away with up to $200 in bonus rewards.

Some other stand-out features: the points you earn on the Scotiabank Gold American Express are flexible and can be redeemed for free or discounted flights on any airline at a rate of 1 point for 1%. The card comes with a full suite of travel insurance benefits. Plus, it has no foreign transaction fees, so you’ll avoid those pesky ancillary credit card charges when using your card across the border.


SimplyCash Preferred from American Express

  • Credit Card Promotional Offer: 5% cash back on every purchase you make for the first six months or on your initial $6,000 in purchases (whichever comes first).
  • Value of Offer: $300
  • Offer End Date: Not specified.
  • Annual fee: $99
  • After welcome offer ends, earn 2% cash back on all purchases, with no limit on how much you can earn
  • Income required: None specified

Read in-depth card description (+/-)

The SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express offers the highest flat cash back rate in the market, letting cardholders pocket 2% on everything. That simple and lucrative cash back rate means: 1. you won’t have to think about bonus categories, and 2. you’ll earn twice as many rewards on otherwise generic everyday purchases when compared to most rewards cards. The kicker: the card’s annual fee is $99, which is a notch lower than the $120 found on most other premium rewards cards.

The SimplyCash Preferred’s welcome offer is particularly enticing because it lasts for up to your first six months of card membership, which is twice as long the three month promotional period typically found on most other cash back cards.


Below, we provide a quick snapshot of some other noteworthy credit card promotions you’ll want to consider in your hunt for some new plastic to add to your wallet.


Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite

  • Credit Card Promotional Offer: New cardholders earn 30,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first three months
  • Value of Offer: Up to $300
  • Offer End Date: August 31, 2020
  • Annual fee: $139
  • Pay no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn 2 Scotia Rewards points on every $1 spent on eligible grocery stores, dining, entertainment, and transit purchases
  • Earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
  • Income required: $60,000

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

  • Credit Card Promotional Offer: New cardholders earn 50,000 bonus Bonvoy points after spending $1,500 in the first three months.
  • Value of Offer: The equivalent of 3 free nights at select Category 2 hotels.
  • Offer End Date: Not specified.
  • Annual fee: $120
  • Earn 5 points in eligible Card purchases at participating Marriott Rewards hotels and 2 points on all other purchases
  • Automatic Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite Status
  • Income required: $60,000

6 Important considerations when looking at credit card promotions

1. While it may be tempting to apply for a credit card on the merit of its promotional offer alone, it’s important to evaluate whether it would make a good long-term fit for your personal spending habits. Unless you’re accustomed to churning cards on the regular, odds are you will keep a credit card after its promotional offer ends and when its regular earn rate or annual fees kick in.

So, if one of the best credit cards for gas has a particularly strong promotional offer but you don’t own a car, you may want to consider an alternative credit card – even if its welcome offer is lacking in comparison.

2. A credit card promotion may be an efficient way to amass bonus rewards, but it’ll rarely scratch your instant gratification itch. Whether it’s a points offer or accelerated cash back, in most cases, card issuers won’t provide your bonus immediately and you’ll have to wait several weeks before your rewards are redeemable.

3. It’s important to note credit card promotional offers often have terms and conditions that can impact your eligibility. In the case of a points bonus for instance, you will often be required to meet a minimum spending threshold in order to unlock the offer (i.e. spending a minimum of $1,000 during your first three months of card membership). In other instances, you’ll need to maintain an account in good standing to avoid losing out on the bonus. You also typically won’t be eligible for a card’s welcome bonus if you already have an account open with the card issuer. For instance, Scotiabank card welcome offers explicitly exclude anyone who is currently a primary or secondary cardholder of a Scotia credit card or had a Scotia account opened within the previous two years.

4. Any credit card you apply for – whether it has a promotional offer or not – can affect your credit score. While a credit card application may only temporarily impact your credit score by a few points, you may want to keep this in mind in case you have a big financial decision to make in the near future that will require a credit check (such as a rental or mortgage application).

5. Credit card promotions can offer hundreds of dollars worth in bonus rewards, but that’ll be in vain if you don’t pay off your balance in full. If you’re driven to overspend just to qualify for the welcome offer in time, you can end up racking up a large balance and owing more in interest. The best credit card promotions have qualification terms that can be met by your regular spending habits.

6. Credit card promotions usually exclude “manufactured spending.” If you make a big-ticket purchase just to hit a card promotion’s spending requirement and return that item soon after, that won’t count. For instance, the BMO World Elite offers 35,000 bonus points if you spend at least $3,000 within your first three months but its terms and conditions specifically state “refunds, credit or debit adjustments” are excluded.