Top 5 Cash Back Credit Cards in Canada

Alyssa Furtado
by Alyssa Furtado January 26, 2015 / No Comments

If you regularly pay off all your credit card bills on time, you may want to consider rewarding yourself by earning cash back on every purchase you make. Cash back programs are not only easy to use but can sometimes provide better returns than a similar travel rewards credit card. Depending on the type of spender you are, a cash back credit card may be right for you.

We have included our top 5 cash back credit cards for 2015 below. These are some of the best credit cards in Canada, depending on what you’re looking for in a card. To compare the return on each one, the following spending profile has been used:

cash back credit card spending

Based on this monthly spending profile, in order of highest return to lowest, here are the top 5 cash back credit cards available:

Top 5 Cash Back Credit Cards in Canada
Card Annual Fee Cash Back Rewards Bonuses First Year Annual Net Reward
Scotia Momentum VISA Infinite $99 • 4% on gas and groceries• 2% on pharmacy and bills • 1% on everything else • $100 spending bonus $475
MBNA Rewards World Elite $89 • 2% on everything • Annual fee waived the first year • 10000 bonus points on first purchase ($100 value) $460
SimplyCash Card from American Express $0 • 1.25% on everything • 5% cash back on gas groceries and restaurants for the first six months (up to $250) $413
SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express $79 • 1.5% on everything • 5% cash back on gas groceries and restaurants for the first six months (up to $400) $370
MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus $0 • 2% on gas and groceries • 1% on everything else • 5% cash back for the first six months on gas and groceries $270

1. Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite

Scotia Momentum VISA Infinite

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  • 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

If you are a big spender, the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite can get you some of the best returns of any credit card. With it, you’ll earn 4% cash back on gas and groceries, 2% on drugstore purchases and recurring bill payments, and 1% on everything else. This card does come with a $99 annual fee, but under a current promotion you will receive a $100 statement credit after $500 in purchases. Even with the annual fee, however, this card more than pays for itself if you follow a similar spending profile like the one outlined above.

2. MBNA Rewards World Elite

MBNA Rewards World Elite

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  • Earn 2% cash back
  • 10,000 bonus points with first eligible purchase
  • $89 annual fee is waived for the first year

Second in line is the MBNA Rewards World Elite MasterCard, which lets you earn 2% cash back on every $1 spent on the card – no categories excluded. You will also earn 10,000 points when you make your first purchase, which is valued at $100. The card does have an $89 annual fee, but it’s currently being waived for the first year and will pay for itself in future years.

3. SimplyCash Card from American Express

SimplyCash Card from American Express

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  • 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

The SimplyCash Card from American Express is one of the newest credit cards in Canada, and it comes with the best introductory offer of all cash back credit cards: 5% on gas, groceries and restaurants for the first 6 months. Based on the spending profile we used, this card generates the highest return of them all in those first 6 months. Once the promotion runs up, it still ranks 3rd on this list, making it one of the best no fee cash back credit cards available.

4. SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express

SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express

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  • 0% interest on all balance transfers for the first six months
  • 5% cash back on all purchases for the first six months (up to $400)
  • No limit to the amount of cash back you can earn, after the introductory period is over
  • $79 annual fee

American Express also offers an upgraded version of this card: the SimplyCash Preferred Card. With this card, you’ll also get 5% cash back on everything for the first 6 months, then 1.5% cash back on all purchases thereafter, with a $100,000 annual spending cap (after that the rate goes down to 1.25% cash back). You will also get access to American Express’ extensive insurance coverage and 24/7 customer service.

5. MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus

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Finally, rounding out the list is the MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus. With this card, the promo offer will give you 5% cash back for gas and groceries (2% thereafter) and 1% cash back on everything else. This is a great, low maintenance card with no annual fee. Since this card is also a MasterCard, then it is accepted everywhere – specifically Costco and Loblaws.

Advantages of Cash Back Programs

The biggest advantage of using a cash back credit card is the simplicity of earning straight cash for your purchases. While some travel rewards credit cards may offer better value, receiving cash back gives you added freedom. With cash back, you don’t need to worry about flight availability, blackout dates or redemption tiers. Earning with cash back also becomes much easier. Instead of going out of your way to make purchases at specific stores, you can continue with your routine spending and be assured that you’re getting cash back on every transaction.

When choosing a cash back credit card, there are a few things you’ll want to consider:

  1. Annual Fees – Cards that do not have annual fees typically offer smaller payouts than those that do. Depending on your annual spending, it may or may not be beneficial for you to get a premium credit card that charges an annual fee.
  2. Sign-up Bonuses – Look for cards with sign-up bonuses, such as waived annual fees or introductory high cash back percentage offers. Bonuses are great perks that can offset pricey annual fees and sweeten the deal for any card.
  3. Categories – Many cash back credit cards offer better returns for spending in a particular category, such as groceries and gas. It is important to understand a cash back program completely, in order to maximize your returns.
  4. Returns – The return you get from a cash back credit card is perhaps the most important feature; this is usually expressed as a percentage of what you spend. The most common return for cash back credit cards is 1.00%, so use this figure as a benchmark when comparing cards.

What’s your favourite cash back credit card and why?

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