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The best rewards credit cards in Canada for 2023

Natasha-M 1
Natasha Macmillan, Business Unit Director - Everyday Banking

September 26, 2023

Rewards credit cards are the most popular type of credit card in Canada, and for good reason: they offer tons of benefits in the way of points, cash back, travel perks, and insurance. Continue reading to discover our top rewards and points credit cards.

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Natasha Macmillan

The best rewards credit cards in Canada for 2023

Earning loyalty rewards and discounts is a definite perk of using a credit card for many Canadians. Whether you're looking for a rewards card to make the most of your travel or one that can help you maximize earnings on everyday purchases, we have the perfect match for you. 


Best rewards credit card's take

For the third year in a row, we have selected the American Express Cobalt as the Best Overall Rewards Credit Card in Canada. The American Express Cobalt is the perfect choice for a rewards card that delivers for both everyday spending and travel. The card offers a flexible point redemption system, strong travel insurance policy, and a generous welcome bonus. With its top-notch rewards system, cardholders earn 5 times the points on eligible restaurants and food delivery purchases, 3 times the points on eligible streaming services, and 2 times the points on travel and daily transit. This card includes:

  • Generous welcome bonus - earn 2,500 points for each month you spend $500, up to a maximum of 30,000 points.
  • Flexible point redemption options for travel, gift cards, merchandise, or purchases
  • High earning potential for restaurants and takeout compared to other cards
  • Front of the Line Presale and Reserved ticket access to events and special offers
  • Strong travel insurance with up to $5,000,000 in travel emergency medical coverage
  • No fee for additional authorized users (an average fee of $30 - 50 on other comparable cards)


  • Monthly fee of $12.99 (coming to an annual fee of $156, which is higher than most other rewards cards) 
  • American Express isn’t as widely accepted in Canada compared to Visa and Mastercard
  • Travel insurance package does not cover trip cancellation or medical coverage for cardholders over the age of 65
  • Airport lounge access isn’t provided, which may be disappointing to frequent travels


Best travel rewards credit card's take

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card is the ultimate travel credit card, with valuable benefits that set it apart from others. With no foreign transaction fees, its one of the few Canadian credit cards that save you 2.5% on all your foreign purchases. Plus, it comes packed with perks, including: 

  • Generous Scene+ points for every dollar spent on groceries, dining, entertainment, and more
  • Access to airport lounges worldwide (with 6 free visits per year) via Priority Pass
  • Luxury hotel stays and dining experience through the Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection and Dining Series
  • Avis Preferred Plus membership 
  • Comprehensive travel insurance for peace of mind on trips
  • Flexible point redemption
  • Welcome bonus - earn up to $1,100+ in value in the first 12 months, including up to 35,000 bonus Scene+ points. Offer ends 31 October 2023.


  • Annual fee of $150 is higher than the average for cards of this calibre
  • Lower return than other cards with comparable annual fees

Best no-fee rewards credit card's take

The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card is the perfect choice for those who value true flexibility and customization in their rewards program. With no annual fee, you get to choose the bonus categories that align with your spending habits and earn 2% cash back per dollar spent. This is a rare feature in the credit card market, allowing you to avoid being stuck with bonus spending categories that don’t work for you and your spending habits.  Some of the standout features of this amazing credit card include: 

  • Customizable bonus categories: choose up to three from a list of 10 options to earn 2% cash back on; you can change your categories at any time to make the most of your rewards 
  • Cash back is refunded monthly (instead of the standard annual reimbursement), allowing you to enjoy the benefits of your cash back faster 
  • Enjoy the convenience of using your card almost anywhere, including popular retailers like No Frills and Costco
  • Extended warranty and purchase protection
  • Free supplementary cards for authorized users


  • For all purchases that aren’t categorized under one of your chosen bonus categories, you’ll earn just 0.5% cash back
  • No travel medical insurance or any substantial side perks
  • Not as many perks as other rewards cards

Best no foreign transaction fees rewards credit card's take

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card is the ultimate travel credit card, with valuable benefits that set it apart from others. With no foreign transaction fees, its one of the few Canadian credit cards that save you 2.5% on all your foreign purchases. Plus, it comes packed with perks, including: 

  • Generous Scene+ points for every dollar spent on groceries, dining, entertainment, and more
  • Access to airport lounges worldwide (with 6 free visits per year) via Priority Pass
  • Luxury hotel stays and dining experience through the Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection and Dining Series
  • Avis Preferred Plus membership 
  • Comprehensive travel insurance for peace of mind on trips
  • Flexible point redemption
  • Welcome bonus - earn up to $1,100+ in value in the first 12 months, including up to 35,000 bonus Scene+ points. Offer ends 31 October 2023.


  • Annual fee of $150 is higher than the average for cards of this calibre
  • Lower return than other cards with comparable annual fees

Best premium rewards credit card and best rewards credit card for travel perks's take

When it comes to extra perks, the American Express Platinum Card is in a class all its own and is very easily classified as the best premium credit card in Canada. While its annual fee isn't cheap, the American Express Platinum Card offers all the bells and whistles and benefits that make it worthwhile making it a traveler’s dream credit card.  The perks offered with this card include: 

  • Very lucrative welcome bonus - earn up to 100,000 rewards points ($1,000 value).
  • High earn rate on dining and travel purchases 
  • No minimum income requirement - a rarity for a card of this caliber
  • Complimentary airport lounge access with unlimited passes to Priority Pass and Centurion lounges 
  • Dedicated 24/7 concierge service
  • Annual $200 travel credit
  • Best in class travel insurance coverage and VIP benefits at Toronto Pearson Airport including access to Pearson Priority Security Lane, free valet parking (usually a $25 fee), and 15% discount on parking as a statement credit
  • Upgraded gold hotel status with Marriott Bonvoy, Radisson Rewards and Hilton Honors and car rental privileges with Hertz and Avis 
  • Transfer point 1:1 to several frequent flyer programs


  • A very high annual fee of $799, which can be seen as $399 after the annual $200 travel credit and the $200 dining credit
  • American Express isn’t as widely accepted in Canada compared to Visa and Mastercard

Best rewards card for gas and groceries's take

Unlock a world of rewards with the CIBC Dividend® Visa Infinite. This card offers the best rewards for everyday essentials, with a 1% earn rate for all purchases and an industry-leading 4% cash back on both groceries and gas purchases – two of the most common spending categories for Canadian households. Thanks to CIBC’s new Cash Back on demand feature, you can choose to redeem rewards any time, starting at just $25. Here are some additional features you can expect with this card: 

  • Supercharged savings with higher earn rates on groceries and gas (4% cash back)
  • Flexibility to redeem your cash back whenever you need it, in increments of $25
  • Access to CIBC’s Pace It program, allowing you to pay off large purchases in monthly increments
  • Excellent digital-only welcome bonus -  Earn 10% cash back welcome bonus of up to $200 (first 4 statements). Offer not available to QC residents. Conditions apply.
  • Experience exclusive dining events and hotel perks through the Visa Infinite Program


  • Annual fee ($120) and personal income requirements ($60000) may be prohibitive 
  • Insurance coverage isn’t as comprehensive as other similar rewards cards (if insurance is a priority for you, consider the cards featured on our list of best credit cards for travel insurance)

Best retail rewards credit card's take

  • The Triangle Mastercard is another popular credit card with no minimum income requirements. This card offered by Canadian retailer Canadian Tire offers rewards on all purchases with 4% back in CT Money on eligible purchases made at Canadian Tire, SportChek, and 0.5% back on all other purchases. 


    • No annual fee and no income requirements, making it accessible to a wider range of customers
    • Easy to earn rewards
    • Qualifying purchase of $150 or more at a Canadian Store is eligible for no fee, no interest financing (financing will be spread out over 24 months and will be charged to your credit card in equal payments every month)


    • Low earn rate at stores other than Canadian Tire, SportChek and participating Marks. To overcome this, consider combining it with another cash back credit card
    • No insurance, such as purchase protection and extended warranty coverage. Most other no annual fee credit cards would include these basic insurance types's take

If you’re a loyal shopper with a particular retailer, it’s usually wise to take advantage of their store rewards card if offered (especially if it comes with no annual fee). Using a retail rewards card is a great way to save big on regular, everyday purchases, and the best example of this is the PC Financial World Elite Mastercard. You could easily rack up big savings with no annual fee taking away from your rewards at Loblaws banner grocery stores (Loblaws, No Frills, Valu-Mart, and more), Shoppers Drug Mart and Esso Mobil stations. Some additional features with this card include

  • High earn rate potential at all Loblaws-owned grocery stores and PC Travel, Shoppers Drug Mart locations and Esson Mobil stations
  • Access to Mastercard World Elite benefits (Boingo WiFi, Dragonpass airport lounge access, plus more)
  • Point redemption is easy and straightforward - as soon as you have 10,000 points, you can redeem them for $10 off at any Loblaws-owned retailers
  • No annual fee
  • Extra travel insurance perks
  • Easy-to-understand point redemption


  • Can only redeem points in increments of 10,000
  • High $80,000 personal income requirement which could be prohibitive to many
  • Points cannot be transferred to other loyalty programs 
  • Very strict redemption rules - points cannot be used to pay for purchases at non-Loblaws retailers or redeemed against a statement balance. Plenty of other rewards cards on the market offering more flexibility

Best rewards credit card for Aeroplan's take

Aeroplan clients and frequent Air Canada fliers searching for a card to help them earn more on travel should look no further than the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite. The card’s limited-time welcome offer is impressive: earn up to 35,000 Aeroplan points. Conditions apply. Account must be approved by January 3, 2024.. Users can earn 1.5 points for every dollar spent on eligible gas, grocery and direct through Air Canada purchases (including Air Canada Vacations) and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Plus, this card comes with some great perks , including:

  • Aeroplan points can be redeemed for flights on Air Canada or over 27 Star Alliance member airlines (including United Airlines and Lufthansa, to name a few)
  • Access to Air Canada perks: first bag checked free on Air Canada flights for the primary cardholder and up to eight travel companions (up to $30 in savings per traveler on flights across Canada and the US) plus the ability to earn credits towards achieving elite airline status
  • Up to $100 in Nexus Membership reimbursements available every 48 months; allowing for smoother cross-border travel within Canada or between the US
  • Comprehensive travel insurance benefits with up to 21 days of out-of-province/country medical emergency coverage, flight delay insurance, lost/delayed baggage insurance, and even hotel/motel burglary insurance for stays within the US and Canada
  • Can get double the Aeroplan points when using this card in conjunction with your Aeroplan card at participating retailers


  • The card’s annual fee is $139 versus the $120 typically found on comparable rewards cards
  • The Aeroplan points program isn’t the most straightforward, and navigating your way around the program’s quite elaborate rewards chart / understanding how to best maximize points can require considerable effort
  • Aeroplan points can’t be redeemed on any airline but only on Air Canada and Star Alliance Members

Best rewards credit card for Air Miles's take

For those who collect Air Miles, the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard offers a generous welcome bonus -  earn up to $518 in new Samsung gear plus up to 2,000 AIR MILES Bonus Miles and annual fee waived in the first year!. Beyond that, this card will also earn you a solidly competitive three Air Miles for every $12 you spend at participating retailers (arguably the best bang for your buck among Air Miles cards on the market), two miles for every $12 spent at any eligible grocery store, one mile for every $12 spent anywhere else, and a 15% discount on all Air Miles flights in North America with no blackout dates. Key features of this card include:

  • Three Air Miles per $12 spent at partnered retailers and two Air Miles for every $12 spent at any eligible grocery store
  • 15% discount on all North American Air Miles flights
  • As Air Miles is one of the larger loyalty programs on the market, redemption options are wide and varied (flights, car rentals, hotels, cash, merchandise, etc.)
  • Excellent insurance package including trip cancellation/interruption, emergency medical, and more
  • Complimentary lounge pass with Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey, and free access to over a million Wi-Fi hotspots around the world
  • Complimentary membership in Mastercard Travel Pass provided by DragonPass and an exclusive 25% discount on one worldwide Air Miles flight redemption during the calendar year


  • Annual fee of $120
  • While the card’s income requirement of $80,000 (or $150,000 per household) may be prohibitive to some, there isn’t much question that this card is the best choice for Air Miles loyalty members.
  • Despite having the best earn rate for Air Miles of any card on the market, the card’s standard rewards value is generally lower than others

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Rewards credit cards guide:

What is a rewards credit card?

Rewards credit cards offer “rewards” in the form of cash back, points or miles for every dollar you spend. You can use these rewards to offset your statement balance or for purposes like travel, purchasing merchandise and gift cards, and more (depending on the issuer). 

The ideal user for a rewards card is someone who consistently pays off their monthly statement in full. This is because carrying a credit card balance generates interest charges, which can erode any potential savings gained from accumulating rewards. 

It's important to note that popular credit cards offer additional rewards for specific types of purchases. Merchant category codes play a critical role in helping cards distinguish between money spent at a grocery store versus a restaurant. 

Types of credit card rewards

1. Cash back rewards

Cash back rewards are precisely what they sound like - a percentage of cash back you’ll get for each purchase made with your card. You can apply this cash back to reduce your statement balance or save on upcoming purchases. Most cash back rewards cards offer higher percentages for select spending categories such as groceries, restaurants, or travel. This means you can earn more if your card aligns with your spending habits. One of the key advantages of cash back is its simplicity - unlike points, your cash back balance is straightforward and expressed in dollars and cents. 

2. Points-based rewards

Points-based rewards work similarly to cash back but require a bit more calculation to determine their true value (for more details, refer to FAQ section). Like cash back, points-based rewards cards allow you to earn points based on your spending. You typically earn more points for specific types of purchases. Once you’ve collected enough points to redeem, you can usually do so through the provider’s online portal or app. Redemption options may vary, ranging from merchandise and gift cards to travel and statement credits, depending on the issuer. 

3. Travel rewards

Travel rewards cards offer an opportunity to earn miles, which are rewards associated with co-branded credit cards like the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite or BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard. With every dollar you spend on cards like these, you collect “miles” that can be redeemed for discounts on air travel or even a free flight, depending on the number of miles you've earned. It is important to note that the number of miles you collect doesn’t represent how far you can travel for free. Instead, it simply signifies how many points you’ve earned. The average value of a mile is around $0.01, although the specific value may vary depending on the card's point system. 

4. Gas rewards

Gas rewards cards offer a unique advantage for those who frequently find themselves at the pump. These cards allow you to earn rewards, typically in the form of points or cash back, every time you fill up your car’s tank. You can accumulate rewards with each purchase which can then be redeemed for discounts on future gas purchases. Over time this can lead to significant savings, making gas rewards cards an excellent option for commuters and drivers looking to offset their gas costs. One important thing to note with gas rewards cards, is they may also provide additional benefits such as discounts on roadside assistance, vehicle maintenance or other vehicle related purchases. 

5. Hotel rewards cards

Hotel reward cards cater to avid and frequent travelers who often stay at hotels. These cards allow you to earn points for every dollar spent on eligible hotel stays. The accumulated rewards can be used for complimentary hotel nights, room upgrades, and even free stays at participating hotels within the card’s network. Additionally, many hotel rewards credit cards offer perks such as early check-in, late check-out, complimentary breakfast, access to exclusive hotel amenities, and more. 

6. Store / brand rewards credit cards 

Store or brand reward cards can help shoppers save and improve your shopping experience with a specific retailer. These cards allow you to earn rewards, such as loyalty points or discounts, with each purchase from the specified retailer. These cards are a great choice for frequent shoppers at a retailer who wish to take advantage of exclusive deals and savings. 

Popular credit card reward programs in Canada 

Credit card reward programs hold strong appeal. Given that there are a multitude of options available, it is important to understand how each reward program works before selecting your card of choice. A high level understanding of your card can help you better use your points. Here is a brief overview of some of the most popular rewards and loyalty programs in Canada: 

Air Miles Rewards

Chances are you’re well aware of the Air Miles rewards program, as this program has been around for a long time and has nearly 10 million active accounts in Canada. This program offers members Air Miles rewards, when they make purchases at partner retailers using an Air Miles co-branded credit card. These miles can then be redeemed for a wide array of products, such as free flights, hotel stays, gift cards, merchandise, and more. 

Aeroplan Rewards 

Aeroplan is a travel rewards loyalty rewards program operated by Air Canada, Canada’s largest airline. Accumulating Aeroplan points can be achieved by obtaining an Aeroplan credit card, flying with Air Canada or one of its partner airlines (United, Lufthansa, etc.), or making qualifying bookings or in-store purchases through Aeroplan’s brand of partners, such as Avis, LCBO, and Sephora. Aeroplan plans can be redeemed for flights, hotel accommodations, gift cards, and much more. 

American Express Membership Rewards

American Express Membership Rewards are exclusively for American Express cardholders. This reward program grants points each time you use your card for purchases. AMEX Membership Reward points are known to be easily redeemable for a variety of rewards, including flights, travel experiences, gift cards, and merchandise, including Amazon purchases. 

Aventura Rewards

Aventura Rewards is another flexible rewards program that allows cardholders to earn points with co-branded Aventura credit cards. These reward points can then be redeemed for various rewards similar to other reward programs. 

PC Optimum Rewards

The PC Optimum loyalty rewards program is under the umbrella of Loblaws which includes participating stores such as Real Canadian Superstore, No Frills, Shoppers Drug Mart, Mobil and Esso gas stations. Members earn points every time they make eligible purchases at any PC Optimum partner retailer. PC Optimum points can be redeemed in increments of 10,000 points equating to $10, which can be applied to in-store purchases.  

Scene+ Rewards

Originating as a rewards program for Cineplex, Scene+ has certainly evolved into a comprehensive points system over the past few years. Scene+ allows you to earn and redeem points from spending at Cineplex theaters to dining at partnered restaurants, shopping at partner retailers, and even booking travel through Scene+ Travel.

Additional benefits of reward credit cards

Reward credit cards can go beyond points and cash back to offer a range of additional benefits and perks. These extra benefits can enhance your overall credit card experience, adding significant value to your card membership. We have listed three common key perks to consider: 

  • Airport lounge access: Many reward credit cards provide complimentary or discounted access to airport lounges, giving you enhanced comfort while waiting for your flight. 
  • Rental car insurance: With rental car insurance coverage, these reward credit cards can save you money on insurance fees when renting a car. 
  • Exclusive discounts: Reward credit cards often come with exclusive discounts and offers from partner merchants, helping you save on everyday expenses. 


How to maximize your credit card rewards

1. Pay your bills in full and on time

It’s been said before, but it’s worth repeating: to make the most of your rewards credit card, it is critical to pay your statements in full each month. This ensures that interest charges don't outweigh the benefits of your rewards, allowing you to take advantage of your savings and really get the best out of your card.

2. Take advantage of welcome offers

Most rewards cards offer attractive welcome bonuses, allowing you to earn big if you meet a specific spending threshold within a given promotional period (usually the first three months or so). Strategically plan to make larger purchases during this period to take advantage of these offers, which can quickly boost your points or cash back earnings. 

3. Spend in accelerated categories

Many reward credit cards feature “accelerated” spending categories that offer higher-than-average points or cash back rates. These categories can include groceries, gas, travel, recurring bills, and more, depending on the card. Select a card with accelerated categories that align with your spending habits to maximize your rewards. 

4. Stack your cards

For those who can handle multiple cards, a common strategy is to carry multiple rewards cards, each serving different purposes. For example, you may keep a travel rewards card specifically for travel purchases, while an everyday cash back card offering high earning rates on gas and groceries, becomes your primary choice for weekly expenses. This approach allows you to maximize rewards in every spending category. 

5. "Double-dip" with loyalty cards

If you carry a co-branded rewards credit card in your wallet, like the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite, you can effectively “double-dip” by using it alongside your loyalty card at participating retailers. This means you'll get double the points compared to what you would typically earn, bringing you closer to a free flight or other rewards. 

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