One of the easiest ways to save money is to get a credit card that’s well-suited to your personal needs and spending habits so that you can get the most out of it. This can be daunting because Canadians have an overwhelming number of options when it comes to choosing a credit card.
The reality is, regardless of how you look at it, there’s no one best credit card in Canada. There are cards for frequent travellers, students, those with bad credit, and everything in between. So, we’ve put together a list of what we think are this year’s best credit cards in their respective categories.
Best Travel Rewards Credit Card
For this category, we have a tie between the BMO World Elite MasterCard and the American Express Gold Rewards Card. See below for why we think each of these cards can be the best travel credit card in Canada.
BMO World Elite™* MasterCard®*
Welcome offer: Get 40,000 points and the $150 annual fee waived in the first year ($285 travel value booked on bmorewards.com + $150 Value*)
- Receive a signup bonus of 20,000 welcome points, equal to $200 in travel rewards
- Earn two BMO Rewards points for every $1 in credit card purchases—that’s 2% back in travel rewards
- $150 annual fee
The BMO World Elite MasterCard lets you earn two BMO Rewards points for every dollar you spend with it. This means that 2% of your purchases come back to you in travel rewards, which can be redeemed through the BMO Rewards program for flights and hotel bookings with no restrictions. The great thing about BMO Rewards points is that you can redeem them for the entire flight charge, including taxes and applicable fees—most other travel rewards points will only pay for the ticket while all other associated costs needs to be paid for with cash. After making your first purchase with this card, you’ll receive a signup bonus of 20,000 welcome points which equals $200 that can be put towards travel perks. You can also add supplementary cardholders to your account free of charge, which allows you to earn more points even faster. One thing that sets this card apart from other travel credit cards is the annual Priority Pass membership that’s included. This comes with four complimentary VIP Lounge passes that you get each year, giving this perk a total value of over US$200. This membership gives you exclusive access to VIP Airport lounges in more than 400 cities in the world for only $27 per person once your 4 passes are used.
American Express® Gold Rewards Card
- $150 annual fee (waived in the first year)
- Earn a welcome bonus of 25,000 Membership Rewards points when you charge $1,500 in purchases to your card in your first three months
- Convert your Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan Miles or Avios on a 1:1 basis
Similar to the BMO World Elite, the American Express Gold Rewards Card also earns you two Membership Rewards points for every dollar you charge to it. Again, this equates to 2% of your purchases coming back to you in travel rewards. The annual fee of $150 is waived in the first year, and the signup bonus of 25,000 Membership Rewards points (worth $250) applies when you use the card to make at least $500 worth of purchases in the first three months after getting it. What makes this card special is the flexibility of the points. While other travel rewards points are only redeemable through the card provider’s rewards program, the Gold Rewards Card lets you transfer your points to other frequent flyer programs and on a 1:1 basis to Aeroplan Miles or British Airways’ Avios.
Best No Annual Fee Credit Card
SimplyCash™ Card from American Express®
New SimplyCashTM from American Express Cardmembers can earn 4% cash back on purchases (up to $200 cash back) for the first 6 months of Cardmembership
- Earn 5% cash back on gas, groceries and restaurants for the first 6 months (up to $250 cash back total)
- Earn 1.25% cash back after, and on all other purchases throughout the introductory period
- No limit to the amount of cash back you can earn, after the introductory period is over
- No annual fee
With the SimplyCash Card from American Express, not only do you get a great cash back card but you also get one of the best no annual fee credit cards in Canada. This card has an extraordinary welcome rate of 5% cash back (up to $250) on all gas station, grocery store, and restaurant purchases for the first six months after you get the card. You’ll also receive 1.25% cash back on all other purchases during this welcome period. After you hit the $250 mark or after the first six months, the gas/grocery/restaurant rate drops to 1.25% cash back with no limit on the amount of cash back earned.
Now, the SimplyCash Card from American Express also has an optional balance transfer offer. If you choose to transfer your outstanding credit balances at the time of online application, you’ll receive a special 0% introductory interest rate on all balance transfers for the first six months. Note, that there is a 1% fee on all balance transfers. Nonetheless, this is an excellent additional perk and great opportunity to begin paying down some of your credit card debt.
Best Cash Back Credit Card
Scotia Momentum® VISA Card
- Earn 4% cash back on gas and groceries, 2% cash back on drug store purchases and recurring bill payments, and 1% cash back on all other purchases
- $99 annual fee waived for the first year when you open an account before October 31, 2016
- Receive VISA Infinite benefits
Since its introduction in 2011, the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite has consistently been considered one of the best cash back credit cards available to Canadians. It offers incredible cash back rates on everyday spending allowing you to maximize your rewards through average daily purchases. Earn 4% cash back(!) on the first $25,000 you spend at grocery stores and gas stations every year as well as 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent annually at drug stores and on recurring monthly bill payments. Any other purchases after the initial $25,000 or purchases that don’t fall in either of the aforementioned categories, earn 1% cash back. If you apply for this card by Feb. 28 and charge at least $500 to it within the first three months of getting it, you’ll enjoy a $100 statement credit—cancelling out the $99 annual fee in the first year.
Best Student Credit Card
SCENE® Visa* Card
- Get 4,000 bonus points (4 free movies) with your first SCENE credit card purchase
- Earn 1 SCENE point for every $1 spent on the card
- Earn 5 SCENE points for every $1 spent at Cineplex Theatres
- No annual fee
- 19.99% interest rate
The SCENE Visa Card from Scotiabank is the best credit card for students and moviegoers alike. With no annual fee, you’ll earn 5 SCENE points for every dollar you spend at Cineplex theatres and 1 SCENE point for every $1 spent everywhere else. After making your first purchase with the card, you’ll get 2,000 bonus SCENE points (equal to two free movie tickets). You can redeem these points for free movies, popcorn, music downloads and more on the Cineplex website. You can also redeem your SCENE points at Sport Chek locations where 1,000 points get you $10 off your next Sport Chek purchase.
Best Fixed Low-Interest Credit Card
BMO® Preferred Rate MasterCard®
Welcome Offer: Get a 3.99% introductory interest rate on Balance Transfers for 9 months with a 1% transfer fee and we'll waive the $20 annual fee for the first year*
- No annual fee card with 17.5% interest rate
- $20 annual fee card with 11.9% interest rate
- Free protection from both theft and fraudulent use of your card
If you tend to carry a balance from month to month, then you’ll want to focus less on earning rewards and instead opt for the best low interest credit card. These cards allow you to pay off your bills faster because they charge lower rates than most other credit cards. The BMO Preferred Rate MasterCard has no annual fee and offers a low interest rate of 17.5% for purchases, cash advances and balance transfers. For just $20 a year, you can have the rate lowered to 11.9% and still enjoy free extended warranty and purchase protection coverage.
Best Balance Transfer Credit Card
Finally, for the best balance transfer credit card in Canada, we’ve chosen the MBNA Platinum Plus MasterCard. Why? Because it has a 0% promotional annual interest rate on balance transfers for the first 12 months after being issued. So, if you are carrying a balance on other credit cards, you can transfer all your debt to this card for a balance transfer fee of 1%, and then enjoy a 0% interest rate on the amount you transferred for the first year. Watch all your money go towards reducing your debt without any of it being lost to interest charges.
How did we choose the best credit cards for each category?
It’s important to note that these are our opinions based on the research we’ve done for each credit card. Using the various resources available on Ratehub.ca, we looked at more than just the monetary net reward each card brings. For instance, we factored in a card’s points flexibility, insurance coverage, card provider and other special card privileges like free baggage check-in or VIP airport lounge passes when deciding what we believe are the top credit cards in Canada.