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What's the best cash back credit card in Canada?

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Best cash back credit cards in Canada

Compare Canada's best cash back credit cards

The best cash back cards for

any annual fee
CardBest used forAnnual feeRewards

Food & transit

$120

  • 5 pts/$1 for gas, groceries, restaurants
  • 1 pts/$1 for other

Everyday spending

$99

  • 2% all purchases

Groceries & bills

$120

  • 4% bills, groceries
  • 2% gas, Public transit, taxis, and rideshares
  • 1% other

Free gift card

Everyday spending

$0

  • 1.25% all purchases

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Ratehub's best credit cards for May 2021

Cash back credit cards FAQ

What's the best overall cash back credit card in Canada?

What's the best cash back card for gas and groceries?

What's the best no fee cash back card in Canada?

How do cash back credit cards work?

When can I redeem my cash back?

How much can I earn on a cash back credit card?

How can I maximize cash back rewards?

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In-depth: The best cash back credit cards in Canada for 2021

Best flat-rate cash back credit card

SimplyCash Preferred from American Express 

  • Annual fee: $99
  • Current welcome offer: Earn 10% cash back for the first four months or on up to $4,000 in purchases - whichever comes first.
  • Everyday rewards: Earn 2% cash back on every dollar spent.
  • Income required: None

Why it made our Best Of list: If you’re looking for a no-nonsense rewards credit card and don’t want to think about bonus categories or tiered earn rates, the SimplyCash Preferred from American Express is right up your alley. This card will earn you an unbeatable flat earn rate of 2% cash back on no matter what you buy - whether it’s groceries, flight tickets, electronics, or clothes. The card also comes with a welcome bonus that’ll let you pocket 10% on everything for your first four months (up to $400).

Aside from its impressive rewards and welcome bonus, the card does stand out for a few other reasons. For one, unlike most other premium cards, the SimplyCash Preferred has an annual fee of just $99 versus the standard $120 fee. It’s also free to add authorized users (not an extra $50 every year like with other premium cards) and you won’t need to meet any specific income requirements to get approved. Additionally, it’s got some great benefits including up to $5 million in out of province travel medical insurance for trips up to 15 days, entertainment perks like access to ticket pre-sales through American Express Invites, concierge services, and more. Since this card is issued by American Express, you’ll want to consider carrying a back-up debit or no fee Visa or Mastercard just in case a store or restaurant doesn’t accept Amex.

 


Best cash back credit cards with no annual fee

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Everyday rewards: Earn 2% cash back in 2 categories of your choice (or 3 when you also open a free Tangerine Savings Account), and 0.5% on everything else.
  • Income required: $12,000 

Why it made our Best Of list:  Ever since it was launched in 2016, it’s been a no brainer to include the Tangerine Money-Back Card in our annual rankings of the best cash back credit cards in Canada. The card has no annual fee, no limits or caps on the amount of rewards you can earn, and offers 2% in up to three spending categories. All that and we haven’t even touched on the biggest advantage the Tangerine Money-Back has over other credit cards: flexible bonus categories.

While most cash back credit cards lock you into earning higher rewards on the same typical bonus categories (think groceries, gas, and bills), Tangerine actually lets you pick up to three of your own from a broad selection that includes: restaurants, groceries, gas, drugstores, entertainment, home improvement, hotels/motels, recurring bills, public transportation and parking (including taxis and rideshares). Since you’re not stuck with any pre-set bonus categories, you can customize your card to align with your particular spending habits and earn more cash back. You can even change your bonus categories at any time on the Tangerine app (though changes will take about one statement period to process). For all your purchases that don’t fit under one of your bonus categories, you’ll earn 0.5%.

The fact the Tangerine Money-Back has no annual fee and offers the unique ability to pick your own bonus categories also makes it a great option for pairing with another credit card. For instance, while a credit card like the TD Cash Back Visa Infinite excels by offering 3% on groceries it earns just 1% on dining. If you also carried the Tangerine Money-Back Card, you could choose restaurants as one of your bonus categories and double your returns whenever you eat out without owing any additional annual fees.

Like many no fee cards, the Tangerine Money-Back Card offers few frills (outside of the conventional card benefits like purchase protection and complimentary extended warranties). But if you do earn an annual income of at least $60,000, you could automatically be referred to the higher-tier Tangerine World Mastercard and receive additional perks like mobile device insurance and up to $60,000 in rental car collision/loss/damage/waiver insurance.

 

American Express SimplyCash

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Welcome offer: 2.5% cash back for the first 3 months (up to $150)
  • Everyday rewards: Earn 1.5% cash back on everything
  • Income required: None specified

Unlike the Tangerine Money-Back Card covered above, the American Express SimplyCash earns a flat and even 1.25% cash back across the board on everything you buy. That means you’ll earn more cash back on all types of spending, including in those categories that don’t conventionally fall under pre-defined bonus categories like online shopping, clothes, consumer electronics, and furniture. Depending on your spending habits, that can mean you’ll net a higher return with the American Express SimplyCash versus cards with traditional bonus categories.

The card also includes a strong welcome offer that’ll let you rack up an accelerated 2.5% cash back on all your purchases for your first 3 months (up to $150). The card doesn’t include any income requirements and even offers extra perks including: up to $100,000 in travel accident insurance, access to pre-sale tickets to major live events and concerts through Amex’s Front of the Line service, and the ability to snag special discounts from a range of retailers with Amex Offers.

When considering the American Express SimplyCash has no annual fee and an above-average flat earn rate of 1.25%, it also makes for a great card to pair with another to further maximize your rewards. For instance, if you carry both the Tangerine MoneyBack Mastercard and American Express SimplyCash, you could use the former to earn 2% in up three bonus categories (think groceries, gas, and dining) and the latter to rack up 1.25% on everything else. Combined, you’ll earn more cash back than you would by using just one of those cards individually.

 


Best cash back card for groceries and gas

CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite

  • Annual fee: $120 (rebated for the first year)
  • Welcome offer: 10% cash back for your first four statement periods (up to $200)
  • Everyday rewards: Earn 4% cash back on groceries and gas, 2% on dining, daily transit, and recurring payments. Get 1% on everything else.
  • Income required: $60,000 (or $100,000 as a household)

The CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite was revamped on February 1st, 2021 and now earns more cash back across a wider spectrum of bonus categories than ever before.

Its most popular feature - 4% cash back on both groceries and gas - remains, but now it also earns 2% cash back on dining (including food deliveries), recurring bill payments, and daily transit (from Uber rides to public transit). The card’s redemption system has also become more flexible. Previously, cash back was redeemed only once per calendar year in December and now cardholders can access their rewards at any time in increments of at least $25. The card’s beefed-up earn rate does come at a cost in the form of an annual fee increase (from $99 to $120) and some scaled back travel insurance benefits (flight delay and baggage insurance have now been scrapped), but when considering how much more potential cash back you can rack up every year, we consider the changes an overall win. Not to mention, if you bundle bank accounts with CIBC and open the CIBC Smart Plus Account, you can have the card’s annual fee rebated on an ongoing basis (though, it’ll only really be worth your while if you can maintain a minimum chequing account balance of $6,000 to avoid all monthly banking fees). 

 


Best cash back card for no FX fees

Home Trust Preferred Visa

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Everyday rewards: 1% on all Canadian-dollar purchases
  • Income required: None specified

The Home Trust Preferred Visa charges no annual fee and earns a flat 1% cash back on everything you buy in a Canadian currency. That on its own is a pretty decent offering, but what really sets this card apart is the fact it also waives its foreign transaction fees.

Unlike most other cards in Canada, you won’t rack up an additional 2.5% fee for making a purchase in a foreign currency. That makes the Home Trust Preferred Visa a great card to use for online shopping (in case you purchase from e-commerce sites that only accept USD) or for travelling abroad. Since it’s a Visa Card, it's widely accepted overseas. Just one small caveat: the Home Trust Preferred has what's known as an inactivity fee; a $12 charge that'll kick in if you don't make at least one transaction on the card over a consecutive 365-day period. So, just be sure to swipe the card at least once every year, even if it's just for a small purchase.

 


Best cash back card for household spending

TD CashBack Visa Infinite

  • Annual fee: $120 (waived for the first year)
  • Current welcome offer: Earn 6% cash back for the first three months or on up to $2,000 in purchases - whichever comes first (offer ends May 30, 2021).
  • Everyday rewards: Earn 3% cash back on groceries, gas, and recurring bills. Get 1% on everything else.
  • Income required: $60,000 (or $100,000 as a household)

Why it made our Best Of list: When describing what makes the TD CashBack Visa Infinite so great, it’s hard to ignore the value of its welcome offer. It'll earn you 6% cash back on all your spending for the first three months (up to $200) and includes a first year annual fee waiver for not only the primary cardholder but for an authorized user as well. If you’re new to TD, that’s up to $350 in added value in just your first year.

Aside from the welcome offer, this card has three regular bonus categories -  gas, groceries, and recurring bills - which each earn 3%. To top it off, the TD CashBack Visa Infinite also offers drivers the added benefit of a complimentary roadside assistance membership that can help you save on everything from road towings and battery replacements to emergency gas deliveries, and more. Plus, you’ll have 24/7 access to an emergency roadside assistance hotline.

This card also comes with built-in travel insurance coverage and access to Visa Infinite benefits (i.e. concierge services).

Summary (+/-)

Mikael Castaldo, Senior Business Manager of Everyday Banking

Mikael is a Senior Business Manager at Ratehub.ca and the driving force behind our Everyday Banking Team. He knows everything there is to know about the best credit cards and bank accounts, and works closely with Canada’s top financial institutions - from banks to credit unions - to help ensure our over 1,200,000 monthly users get matched with the right plastic. A numbers guy at heart, having worked as a strategy consultant at the Boston Consulting Group, he’s found himself right at home as a personal finance expert at Ratehub.ca.

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