The Best Credit Cards in Canada in 2021

You likely already have a credit card. Credit cards are extremely important in a world where e-commerce is so common and you need a good credit score to make any big life decision, like buying a house. You might have shopped around for the right one for you, but if you are like me, you might just have whatever the bank sent you. However, there is a whole world of credit cards out there, with incredible promotions, terms, and rewards plans with some serious pay offs.  

Whether looking to build credit or repair credit, or to earn serious rewards or pay as little as possible, you have come to the right place. We did the research, reviewed and compared the best credit cards in Canada for a range of needs, so you can see your money pull more work for you.  

Read on for a full comparison of the top credit cards in Canada.

Best credit cards in Canada: comparison chart

Card Annual Fee / Interest Rate Key Features Apply for Card
Best Air Miles credit card:

American Express AIR MILES Reserve Credit Card

$299 / 20.99% Earn up to 7,500 Rewards Miles if you sign up now (i) View Details
Best business credit card:

American Express Business Edge

$99 / 19.99%  3x the points on common business expenses View Details
Best rewards card for day-to-day life:

American Express Cobalt Card

$0 / 19.99% 5x the points on restaurant and food delivery View Details 
Best flat-rate cash back credit card:

American Express SimplyCash Preferred

$99 / 19.99% 2% cash back on everything, with no limit View Details
Best premium credit card:

American Express Platinum Card

$699 / None: charge card Many premium and exclusive benefits View Details
Best student credit card:

BMO CashBack Mastercard for students

$0 / 19.99% Accessible student card with good cash back on groceries and bills View Details 
Best credit card for Costco:

Capital One Costco Cash-Back Credit Card

$0 / 19.75%  Solid cash back on restaurant and gas purchases View Details
Best balance transfer credit card:

CIBC Select Visa Card

$29 (first year rebated) / 13.99% Transfer balance promotion for 0% interest for 10 months View Details
Best secured credit card:

Home Trust Secured Visa

Choice between $0 and $59 / 19.99%-14.90% Variable limit, interest rate, and fees on a secured card View Details 
Best low interest credit card:

HSBC +Rewards Mastercard

$25 / 11.9% Good combo of low interest and rewards points View Details
Best prepaid credit card:

KOHO Prepaid Visa

$0 / N/A Pre-paid card that earns cash back and interest back View Details 
Best credit cards for hotel stays:

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

$120 / 19.99% Earn points for hotel stays on eats and drinks View Details
Best credit card for Loblaws:

PC Financial Mastercard

 $0 / 20.97% Earn points on PC grocery stores & Shoppers Drug Mart View Details
Best credit card for groceries:

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

 $120 / 19.99% Earn 5x the points on food and entertainment View Details
Best cash back credit card:

Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite

 $120 / 20.99% Earn 4x the points on groceries and bills View Details
Best credit card without foreign transaction fees:

Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite

 $139 / 19.99% Earn 40,000 bonus Scotia Rewards in your first year (i) View Details
Best no-fee cash back credit card:

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

 $0 / 19.95% Choose 2 different categories to receive 2% cash back on View Details 
Best travel credit cards for frequent flyers:

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card

 $139 / 19.99% Earn 20K Aeroplan points and a Buddy pass when you sign up (i) View Details

 

How to choose the best credit card?

Firstly, you need to prioritize certain things over others. Think about what your goals with your credit card are going to be. Do you want to get rewards on your spending, or would you prefer low fees and interest rates? Are you looking at accumulating points for your next vacation? Build your credit score? Or save some money with some cash back? There are a lot of different factors you should consider, with different applications.  

Accessibility – Not everyone can apply for a certain credit card. Credit card application relies on you meeting the eligibility requirements for said card, which almost always involves your credit score, and very frequently involves your annual individual or household income. There can be other factors too: we listed a credit card that requires you to be in post-secondary education to receive it, and another that requires you to have a Costco membership. When shopping for credit cards you should consider your financial standing and other factors that may apply, since applying for too many credit cards in a short period of time could impact your credit score.  

Annual fees– Many, but not all, of the best credit card deals feature annual fees that are part of the terms. However, many promotions will waive the first-year fee. When looking at a card that has an annual fee, consider if you think the rewards will make up for those fees. If you have your doubts, there are plenty of cards with solid rewards plans that are also free.  

Insurance – Some credit cards feature travel or purchase insurance as a bonus. Knowing the terms and extent of these insurances can really help you decide on which card you want. Purchase insurances typically only applies to purchases made on the card but can help protect you from damage and extend the warranty. Travel insurance may or may not be extensive and will likely only apply if you paid for aspects like the flights on your credit card.  

Interest Rate – Around 20% is a standard interest rate credit cards will charge on outstanding bills. Since it is always best practice to spend within your means and pay off your credit card every month, this is unlikely a make-it or break-it factor on most cards. However, if you are looking to improve your ability to pay off credit card debt or you plan on making a big purchase that might take an extra month to pay off, you might find it worthwhile to acquire a card that has a lower interest rate. There are also balance transfer cards, which help when your balance on one card might be too overwhelming to pay with rapidly accruing monthly interest and soften the financial blow with more agreeable interest rate and promotional deals which can help you pay the card off faster.   

Perks – By perks, we are referring to any credit card bonus that does not rely on you using the credit card a certain amount and are added bonuses. Some perks include admission to exclusive Airport lounges, access to presale tickets, discounts on partner companies, and more.  

Rewards – There are two types of rewards worth talking about: promotional rewards, and standard rewards, with the only difference being that rewards offered through promotion are likely only offered during a given period, and the standard rewards do not have a time limit and can be relatively static through holding the card. First, check out any promotions that are offered when you are shopping around for a new credit card. These can be huge factors and getting a good promotion that you can meet the criteria for can really benefit you. Some people even shop around often for cards to get promotions available at each time – but this is a risky tactic. You also can look at the standard rewards that will be available after any promotion ends – either in rewards points or cash back. Rewards points can make flying, hotel stays, and even certain products more accessible, but a solid cash back system will give you more control over what you can do with your rewards. 

Best low interest credit card

HSBC +Rewards Mastercard

The HSBC +Rewards Mastercard is a nice credit card with solid rewards, but with its low interest rate on top of these factors, it is the best low interest credit card in Canada. HSBC currently has a special offer until September 27th, 2021, offering 20,000 points if you spend $2,000 in the first 180 days, as well as a rebate on the 1st year fee.  

The HSBC +Rewards Mastercard has a low annual fee of $25 per year, and a low interest rate of 11.9%. While the fees and interest low, the rewards are on the minimal side: 2 points on every dollar spent on eligible dining or entertainment purchases, and 1 point for every dollar spent on your other everyday purchases can add up quickly. What to do with your HSBC rewards points? Travel, gift cards and other financial rewards are all available with enough points. 

Another benefit of this card is the insurances it offers: a bonus year of extended warranty, 90-day coverage of purchase assurance, and price protection service that can refund the difference if you find a better deal on a purchase up to 60 days afterwards.  

Pros
  • Low interest rate and annual fees. 
  • Earn 2 points per dollar on dining and entertainment and 1 point per dollar spent on other everyday purchases.  
  • Extended insurance and other protections.  
Cons
  • Not the greatest rewards program, but low interest and fees make up for it.  

Best rewards card for day-to-day life

American Express Cobalt Card

The American Express Cobalt card is an excellent rewards card. For new card members, users of the American Express Cobalt Card can earn 2,500 Membership Rewards points for each month they spend over $500 on the card.  

The American Express Cobalt Card has a $10 monthly fee and a standard interest rate of 19.99%. Where the American Express Cobalt Card really shines is in its rewards system: you earn 5 points per every dollar on food, whether restaurant or grocery store, you earn 2 points for every dollar spent on travel, ranging from air travel, transit, gas and beyond, and 1 point for every dollar spent on other valid purchases. These points will really start to add up and can be used on a wide range of purchases, from airfare and accommodation to Amazon purchases.  

The AmEx Cobalt also has a wide range in terms of protections, from a wide range of traveler’s insurance to shopping protection including purchase protection and buyer’s assurance protection.  

Pros
  • Excellent membership rewards.
  • 5x points on restaurant dining, food deliveries and groceries, up to the first $30,000 spent.  
Cons
  • No first-year fee rebate for new card members. 

Best flat-rate cash back credit card

American Express SimplyCash Preferred

If you want cash back, but your spending is diverse, or you just do not want to deal with different cash back categories, the American Express SimplyCash Preferred Card is a top choice. With 2% cash back on all your purchases with no limit, the cash back from this card can seriously add up.  

This AmEx card features a $99 annual fee, and 19.99% annual interest rate, making it standard in expenses, if not on the lower side of things. Right now, new card holders can enjoy an impressive 10% cash back reward for the first 4 months, for up to $4000 dollars in spending. Additionally, you can earn $100 in statement credit when you charge $4,000 in net purchases to your card in your first 4 months of membership.  

Like many other cards, you receive travel and shopping coverage, for added protection. You are also eligible to many other American Express perks, like Front of the Line presale tickets for concerts and special events, as well as other Dining, Retail, and Wellness experiences. 

Pros
  • Solid flat rate on all purchases at 2%.  
  • Access to American Express Experiences, which provide access to an excellent selection of perks.
  • Additional cards available at no additional fee.  
Cons
  • This card does not excel at any particular thing.  

Best cash back credit card

Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite

For a top-tier cash back credit card, we are big fans of the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card, and now is a great time to get one. If you open a new account by August 31st, 2021, you can earn 10% cash back on the first $2,000 you spend within the first 3 months from your account opening.  

With the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card, you have standard annual fee of $120 and a standard interest rate of 20.99%. In terms of cash back, this Scotiabank card features 4% cash back on every dollar you spend for groceries and recurring bill payments, including Netflix. You also earn 2% cashback on gas and daily transit, and 1% cash back on all other purchases with no cash back limit.  

With the Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite card, you also receive a wide selection of insurance coverages courtesy of Visa. Included insurances include insurance on your new mobile device, trip cancelation or interruption insurance, travel emergency & accident insurance, and purchase security protection with an extended warranty up to 1 year. There are also two extended insurance packages you can opt into for further protection. 

Pros
  • Excellent cash back rewards for groceries and recurring payments.  
  • Access to Visa Infinite insurance coverage and additional perks.
  • Solid promotion waives fee and can earn you up to $200 in cash back.
Cons
  • $5,000 minimum credit limit.  

Best no-fee cash back credit card

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

The Tangerine Money-Back Mastercard is also our choice for the best Mastercard credit card. 

Tangerine is a virtual bank that has a suite of financial products that we think are definitely worthwhile. Their Money-Back Mastercard is a solid choice for those who want some cash back on their purchases without paying extra fees. If you sign up for the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card before August 16th, 2021, you can earn 10% cash back when you spend up to $1,000 within the first 60 days.  

With no fees, and an average interest of 19.95%, this card is on the more inexpensive side of cash back cards available. In terms of cash back rewards, Tangerine offers 2% back on purchases made in two categories of your choice, with 0.5% back on all your other everyday purchases. If you opt to have your cash back deposited into a Tangerine Savings Account, you can choose a 3rd category to get 2% back on. The categories are useful too: choose grocery, restaurants, hotels, gas, entertainment, and many more, to get your 2% back on. Best of all, there are no limits on money back rewards you earn, outside of the promotional deal.  

On top of this solid money back plan, you get some other benefits you will likely see from other cards as well: Purchase assurance protects your insured purchases from loss, theft, or damage within 90 days of purchase, and an extended warranty can double your warranty up to a maximum of one year.  

One thing to note with this card is a 2.5% fee on foreign currency conversions, so if you plan to travel a lot, this is not the card to bring along with you.  

Pros
  • No annual fees.  
  • Choose where you want to earn more cash back in 2 or 3 specific categories.  
Cons
  • Fees on foreign currency conversion. 

Best credit card without foreign transaction fees

Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite

For Canadians looking to travel when they can, getting a credit card with solid rewards plus no foreign transaction fees is like hitting two birds with one stone. The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card fits that description. If you sign up for the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite before October 31st, 2021, you can earn 30,000 points (equivalent to around $300) if you spend $1,000 in eligible purchases within your first 3 months – getting you a little bit closer for your next holiday. 

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite has an annual fee of $139, and an interest rate of 19.99%, so it measures up well in those factors – however you can have the annual fee waived in your first year. For every dollar spent on groceries, dining out, entertainment and transit, you can earn 2 Scotiabank points, and 1 point per dollar spent on other eligible purchases. If you spend over $40,000 on eligible purchases annually, you can also earn an extra 10,000 points as a bonus! 

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite is meant for travel, as it has zero fees on foreign currency purchases, whether made online or outside of Canada. Other benefits the card comes with is Scotia Rewards Travel Service, which offers a best price guarantee on airfare, a complimentary Avis Preferred Plus membership, and free access to up to 1,300 Airport lounges worldwide. You also get the typical insurance benefits from cards of this type, including travel emergency, Travel Accident, Lost Baggage, and Trip Cancellation insurance, among more.  

Pros
  • Solid promotion allows users to earn points worth up to $400 points towards travel and waive the fee in the first year.  
  • Solid travel perks, including access to over 1,300 Airport Lounges worldwide, plus Avis Preferred Plus membership. 
Cons
  • Outside of the promotional deal, there are cards that have a much better rewards system.  
  • $5,000 minimum credit limit.  

Best travel credit cards for frequent flyers

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card

The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card is also our choice for the best Visa credit card. 

For those looking to collect Aeroplan points, the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite is a great credit card that can get you in the air quickly. If you apply by August 16th, 2021, you can earn up to 20,000 Aeroplan points, as well as a one-time Buddy Pass for an extra economy ticket if you fly within the next year.  

The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite features an annual fee of $139 as well as an interest rate of 19.99%, however if you sign up within the special offer period, you get the first year free. As soon as you make your first purchase, you will see 10,000 Aeroplan points on the current special offer. Then, if you spend $1,000 within 90 days of opening the card, you can gain an additional 10,000 points. You can earn 1.5 Aeroplan points for every dollar spent on eligible gas, grocery and Air Canada purchases made on your card, as well as 1 point per every dollar spent everywhere else. At certain Aeroplan partnered brands and retailers, you can earn double the points you would if you provide your Aeroplan number. You also never have to worry about your Aeroplan points expiring while you hold a TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card in good standing.  

There are several benefits you unlock with this card. You get your first checked bag free on Air Canada flights, save on rentals with Avis Rent A Car and Budget Rent A Car, and receive access to a whole host of Visa Infinite exclusive benefits that are suited to your lifestyle. You also receive several travel benefits, like Travel Medical Insurance, Trip Cancellation Insurance, Lost Baggage Insurance and more.

Pros
  • Earn up to 20,000 Aeroplan points quickly on the current new offer.  
  • Wide range of travel benefits via Air Canada and Aeroplan.
  • Buddy Pass allows you to save on travelling with a friend or your partner. 
Cons
  • Additional card holders will cost you $75.  

Best credit cards for hotel stays

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

While some travelers might look at credit cards that will maximize the value of their airfare, others might prefer to opt for a card that can help them stay in some of the nicest hotels each city has to offer. If you sign up for the Marriot Bonvoy American Express card before August 3rd, 2021, you can earn up to 105,000 Marriott Bonvoy points if you play your cards right. Or should we say, use your card, right? 

The Marriott Bonvoy AmEx has an annual fee of $120 dollars, and an annual interest rate of 19.99%. If you open your account within the time period, you open yourself to 3 distinct ways to earn points, up to a cumulative total of 105,000. Firstly, if you spend $3,000 in purchases on your card within the first 6 months of card membership, you can earn 65,000 points. Secondly, if you make a purchase between your 14th and 17th month of card membership, you can earn 15,000 additional points. Finally, within the first 6 months, you earn 5x the points on eligible food and beverage purchases, up to 25,000 points. On top of the promotional deal, you earn 5x the points on Marriott purchases, and 2x the points per every dollar spent on other card purchases. 

With this AmEx card, you automatically receive Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status. You also receive a free night in a Marriott hotel after your card anniversary each year, although conditions do apply. You also receive benefits typical of American Express cards, including travel coverage including flight and baggage delay insurance, and shopping coverage in the way of extended warranty from their buyer’s assurance protection plan and purchase protection to ensure your purchases last beyond 90 days.   

Pros
  • Current promotion offers 105,000 Marriot Bonvoy points.
  • Enjoy a free stay at Marriott hotels once per year after your card anniversary.  
Cons
  • Read the conditions thoroughly and double check if the hotel has rooms compatible with these rewards before booking.
  • No rebate on the first year’s fee.  

Best Air Miles credit card

American Express AIR MILES Reserve Credit Card

Air Miles can be a solid rewards program you can opt for, for either travel benefits or monetary benefits. If you are looking for a solid rewards card so you can earn Air Miles, we recommend the American Express Air Miles Reserve card. If you sign up before August 3rd, 2021, you can earn a potential 7,500 reward miles. 

With the American Express Air Miles Reserve credit card, you get an annual fee of $299 and an annual interest rate of 20.99%. These are a little bit on the high side, so this card is best if you have big plans with your air miles. There are three ways that you can earn lots of Air Miles on the current promotion. Firstly, you can earn up to 4,000 Air Miles if you charge $6,000 on your card within the first 6 months of Card membership. You can also earn a bonus 1,000 Air Miles when you make a purchase between your 14th and 17th month of holding this card. Finally, earn 5x the Miles on eligible food and beverage purchases, up to 2,500 Miles. You can also earn 1 mile for every $10 spent at any Air Miles partner stores, grocery stores, gas stations and drugstores within Canada, and 1 Mile for every $15 dollars spent on card purchases anywhere else. If you have both an AmEx Air Miles card and an Air Miles card, you can earn double points at participating Air Miles partners.  

There are a handful of other benefits that make this Air Miles credit card worthwhile. Once a year, you can book an extra seat up to a maximum of 1,700 Air Miles on the same flight when you redeem points with the Air Miles Flight program. You also get access to Worldwide Airport Lounges with Priority Pass.  

You are also covered with travel protection including flight and baggage delay insurance, and $100,000 dollars in travel accident insurance, and protected with shopping coverage in the way of buyer’s assurance and purchase protection.  

Pros
  • Promotion allows you to receive up to 7,500 Reward Miles.
  • Ability to earn plenty of Reward Miles at Air Miles partners.  
Cons
  • High yearly fee with no first year.

Best student credit card

BMO CashBack Mastercard for students

Getting the right credit card as a student can be a real lifesaver. We think the BMO CashBack Mastercard for students is the right one for many, with a solid cash back plan that will help many students out. If you sign up before October 31st, 2021, you can earn 5% cash back on your first 3 months, on spending up to $2,500.  

The BMO CashBack Mastercard for students has no fees like most student credit cards do, and 19.99% interest. This card also features cash rewards we feel students can get the most on: 3% cash back on grocery purchases, 1% cash back on recurring bill payments like phone bills and streaming services, and 0.5% cash back on every other purchase. While these cash back rewards do pale in comparison to some of the other cash back cards, for zero annual fees and a low barrier of entry, this card is very accessible to young adults.  

The BMO Cashback Mastercard features a wide range of tools to bolster an understanding of credit and finance with their mobile app. You get 24/7 access to CreditView to see how you are doing in building credit, financial insights to how you are doing with your money, and the ability to lock, unlock or report a lost or stolen card at any time. With a range of security options like Mastercard SecureCode and BMO alerts, you do not need to worry too much about the scary world of credit card fraud. 

Pros
  • Solid cash back rewards that prioritize groceries and bill payments.
  • Protection from fraud and lost cards help first-time card owners.
  • No annual fee. 
Cons
  • Standard credit card interest means you still need to be careful with what is likely your first credit card. 

Best balance transfer credit card

CIBC Select Visa Card

Staying on top of your credit card is sometimes easier said than done. Credit card debt happens, and with interest rates on average of around 20%, getting out of credit card debt is easier said than done. A balance transfer card can help get out of credit card debt, allowing you to transfer your credit card debt to a card with a more agreeable interest rate and promotional offers, in exchange for a balance transfer fee. During the special offer for the CIBC Select Visa Card, you can transfer your credit card balance to get 10 months of 0% interest, among other perks that make this an attractive option for a balance transfer credit card.  

With an annual fee of $29 dollars, and an interest rate of 13.99%, the CIBC Select Visa is a great choice for paying off debt even before the promotional perks. However, this is made even better with the first-year fee rebated. When you are approved for a balance transfer, you will be charged a fee of 1% of the amount charged to your account, which is not too much. With a minimum annual income of $15,000 for this card, most households will be able to use this card to some extent to get a better financial footing. 

However, balance transfer cards have plenty of limitations that you will need to be careful of. Firstly, you can only transfer up to 50% of your assigned credit limit with the promotional rate and going above it may make you illegible for the promotional interest rate. If you make any purchases on this card, you will also face the full interest rate on the purchases, even if you currently apply for the 0% interest rate. All in all, this card has several perks that can help you overcome financial difficulties but being in a situation where you need to look into a balance transfer credit card means you should probably do significant research and understand the fine print, as these types of cards have many conditions that you should be aware of.  

Pros
  • Promotional interest rate of 0% for 10 months, granted that you transfer your balance into the card.  
  • Promotion comes with a first-year fee rebate.
  • Annual fee of $29 dollars and 13.99% interest rate makes this overall a cheap card to use.
Cons
  • Can only use 50% of your assigned credit limit for balance transfers.

Best secured credit card

Home Trust Secured Visa

The Home Trust Secured Visa is also our choice for the best credit card to build credit. 

A secured credit card essentially is a credit card that requires a deposit to be paid, which becomes your credit limit. A secured credit card then functions normally like a credit card would, and you are expected to pay for any charges you make. This allows for banks and credit card companies to give credit cards to people with low credit scores relatively risk free and allows people with poor credit to build up their credit score. Once you have proved yourself with a solid credit score, you can generally get that deposit back, and be upgraded to an unsecure card.  

The Home Trust Secured Visa is a solid secured credit card for building credit.  It has a variable limit from between $500 and $10,000, as well as options of low interest or low annual fees. You can either choose a 14.90% interest rate with a $59 annual fee, or 19.90% interest with no annual fee 

With the Home Trust Secured Visa, you get the versatility that a typical Visa card has, including secure payment in over 200 countries. You also get purchase security against theft or damage of items you have bought within 90 days of purchase.  

Pros
  • A great way for anyone to build or rebuild credit.
  • Versatile options allow users to use the card how they want.
  • Serviced anywhere Visa is used. 
Cons
  • Unavailable in Quebec. 

Best credit card for Costco

Capital One Costco Cash-Back Credit Card

Costco members have a solid option for a cash back card with this option from Capital One. This Mastercard not only has the versatility worldwide that Mastercard’s do, but it also doubles as your Costco membership card! 

This card exclusive for Costco members has an annual interest rate of 19.75% with no annual fee, which really is not bad for a cash back card. You earn 3% cash back at restaurants, 2% cash back on gas purchases, and 1% everywhere else, which is not bad, but we do find it a little strange that grocery purchases are not boosted above 1%, especially in Costco of all places. There is no cap on the amount of cash back you can receive, however you only earn the cash back every January, which might be a while from applying for and using the card.  

Being in the Mastercard family, you also have additional benefits aligned with other Mastercard memberships. You get shopping benefits like price protection within 60 days if you find a better deal elsewhere, purchase assurance within 120 days of purchasing an item, and an impressive extended warranty that can automatically double the original manufacturer’s warranty up to two years. You also get travel benefits including travel accident insurance, car rental insurance, baggage delay insurance, and further travel assistance automatically. 

Pros
  • Costco membership card and Capital One Mastercard all in one.
  • Earn 3% cash back from restaurants and 2% cash back from gas purchases with no limits.
  • Solid shopping and travel protection.  
Cons
  • You only earn your cash back each January.  
  • No grocery cash back benefits.  

Best credit card for groceries

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

The Scotiabank Gold American Express card is also our choice for the best American Express credit card.  

While it is certainly good for groceries, there is few applications that the Scotiabank Gold American Express card is not good for. If you sign up before August 31st, 2021, you could earn 50,000 Scotia Rewards points within your first year.  

The Scotiabank Gold AmEx comes with an annual fee of $120 (that is waived in the first year), and an interest rate of 19.99%. You can also add supplementary cards for $29 each per year. If you sign up during the current promotional period, you can earn 30,000 rewards points if you spend $1,000 in your first 3 months, and an additional 20,000 rewards points if you spend $7,500 in your first year of card membership. You also get a great, all-encompassing reward package on your spending. You earn 5x the points per dollar spent on food (from grocery stores, restaurants, drinking establishments and food delivery,) and entertainment (including movies, theatres, and money spent with ticket agencies). You earn 3x the points per dollar spent on gas and daily transit, as well as eligible streaming services. You finally earn 1x point per dollar spent everywhere else.  

There are a bevy of other benefits that you can enjoy with this credit card offer. One of the greatest such benefits is no foreign transaction fees, whether shopping abroad or online. You get AmEx Front of the Line access, which are presale tickets to concerts, theatre shows and special events. You get access to Scotia Rewards Travel, which has a Best Price Guarantee on airfare, as well as access to over 1200 VIP Airport Lounges worldwide. Finally, you get insurance coverage including extensive travel insurance, as well purchase security and extended warranty on newly purchased items. All in all, this card has an excellent selection of benefits and rewards that make it great for groceries, but many other uses as well.  

Pros
  • Excellent rewards plan which heavily rewards food and entertainment spending.
  • Access to a real nice selection of benefits from American Express.
  • No foreign transaction fees.  
Cons
  • High credit card limit and credit score mean this card is not available to all.  

Best credit card for Loblaws

PC Financial Mastercard

The PC Financial Mastercard is great for people who frequent Loblaws owned stores, including No Frills, Real Canadian Superstore, Shoppers Drug Mart, and Wholesale Club. Not only does this card have no annual fee, but PC Financials’ cards have a solid rewards program.  

The PC Financial Mastercard is a solid card with no annual fee (which is very impressive) and an overall standard interest rate of 20.97%. When you sign up, you can earn 20,000 points instantly, which equates to approximately $20 in value.   

With the PC Financial Mastercard, you can earn 10 points per dollar within Loblaws owned grocery stores, 25 points per dollar on Shoppers Drug Mart 30 points per litre filled up at Esso or Mobil, 20 pts per dollar spent on PC Travel, and 10 pts per dollar everywhere else.  

Pros
  • Instant rewards with solid value.
  • Solid balance transfer card if you are in the need, with 6 months at 0.97% interest.
  • No fee.  
Cons
  • Higher than average base interest rate.  

Best business credit card

American Express Business Edge

If you are looking for a credit card for your business expenses, from office supplies to business meetings over lunch, a solid business credit card is the American Express Business Edge. If you sign up for the Business Edge card right now, you might apply for welcome bonus points totaling a maximum of 57,000 points.  

The AmEx Business Edge features an annual fee of $99, and an interest rate of 19.99%, which will be more than affordable for your company. The Business Edge is a points card, with a solid number of ways to earn and redeem points for your staff’s benefit. You earn 45,000 points when you charge a total $5,000 in purchases to your card in the first three months of card membership. You can also earn 1,000 points for each month you spend more than $3,000 in purchases on the card, for a total of 12,000 points. On top of that, you earn 3x the points for every dollar spent on office supplies, electronics, transit & gas, and food & beverage purchases, and 1x the points per dollar on every other purchase. These points can be used to book round trips on airfare, statement credits to pay off your credit card bills, pay for Amazon purchases or a wide range of gift cards and merchandise.  

The Business Edge card features no fees on supplementary cards, up to 99 cards! This is a lot of cards, and you might be concerned with employee misuse if you were to have so many, but included is AmEx’s Employee Card Misuse Protection, which can help cover unauthorized charges on your employee cards if they are terminated and their cards are cancelled. You also get car rental theft & damage insurance, purchase protection, and buyer’s assurance. All in all, this card is tailored for businesses to run smoothly and rack up easily redeemable points.  

Pros
  • Solid rewards program with common business expenses prioritized. 
  • Up to 99 supplementary cards available for no additional charge.
  • Low fees overall for a business card.  
Cons
  • Using points for airfare is not the strong suit of this card.
  • Travel insurance is very minimal.  

Best prepaid credit card

KOHO Prepaid Premium Visa

A prepaid credit card is quite different than a regular credit card. Think of them more like a gift card, where the money on it needs to be loaded in advance. KOHO is an up-and-coming company with a different take on banking – almost like a chequing account with some of the perks of a credit card. The KOHO Prepaid premium Visa is a little different than other prepaid cards: you can spend money from your account via the prepaid Visa card, and even earn cash back! 

KOHO is designed to curb your spending: You load whatever money you might want to spend in a period, and then use the prepaid Visa almost like a debit card when you are out shopping or hitting the town. KOHO is paired with an app that prides itself in being easy to use, that can break down your spending habits that you have used on the card.  

With the standard KOHO account, you can earn 0.5% cash back instantly on every purchase. KOHO’s Premium account offers 2% cash back instantly on groceries, transportation, gas, eating & drinking, but has an annual fee of $84. You also get an interest rate of 1.2% currently, compounded monthly, in all KOHO accounts. On top of all these features, you can send unlimited e-Transfers, however not you can only receive e-Transfers from KOHO accounts.  

Pros
  • Minimum 0.5% cash back on a card you will not need to pay off, since it is already preloaded.
  • 1.2% interest rate within your KOHO chequing account.  
Cons
  • Not a real credit card, so you can only spend money you have right now.  
  • Customer service is lacking.  

Best premium credit card

American Express The Platinum Card

There are a wide number of premium credit cards available for Canadians, granted your credit score or annual income is high enough, but the Platinum Card from American Express is a real good one, especially if you plan on travelling a lot. If you sign up for the Platinum Card before August 3rd, 2021, you can earn up to 150,000 points. 

The Platinum Card is a charge card, meaning you are required to pay it off in full each month, instead of the ability to run a balance and pay the minimum payment, but you also do not have a credit card limit either. There is also a steep annual fee of $699. However, despite these downsides, the rewards you can earn are really nice. One of which is a $200 annual travel credit, so you are paying close to $500 annually, as long as you travel.  

Firstly, if you sign up within the current period, and spend $6,000 in net purchases within the first 6 months, you can earn 70,000 points. If you make a purchase between months 14 and 17 of card membership, you can earn an additional 30,000 points. During the first 6 months of card ownership, you also earn 10x the points for eligible purchases at eating & drinking establishments, up to 50,000 points. This total can add up fast. After this period ends, you earn 3x the points on eating and drinking. You also earn 2x the points per dollar spent on travel and 1x the points per dollar on everything else 

There are more benefits that the AmEx platinum card offers, including fast-tracked Gold memberships for international hotel chains, complimentary daily breakfast at an extensive list of hotels, and entry to VIP Airport lounges across the world. You also get extensive travel and shopping protections, protecting you from most things that could go wrong in these situations.  

Who is the Platinum card best suited for? This card is ideal for busy professionals who need to travel a lot for their work, or wealthy people who want to make the most out of their world travels. You also will need a Platinum card (as well as an exorbitant amount of wealth) before you would be able to be considered for the most exclusive credit card in Canada (and maybe the world), The American Express Centurion card.  

Pros
  • Absolutely huge number of benefits that can be used with this card, especially for those who travel frequently.  
  • Huge number of rewards available for the current promotions.
  • Solid rewards program, even outside of the promotional rate.  
Cons
  • The Platinum card is a charge card, so you are heavily penalized for not paying off the full charge.  
  • Very expensive annual charge.  

Our methodology

When looking at credit cards, we looked at quite a few factors across the board in terms of what might be attractive for different purposes: promotions, rewards systems, interest rate, annual fees, and accessibility. We valued credit cards with promotions that offer great cash back rewards or bonus points, but keep in mind not all reward plans are created equally. We also looked at things like minimum income requirements, as we tried to avoid many of the cards with minimum income requirements that we felt were on the higher side of the median average of Canadian households.  

We looked at a large amount of credit cards available for Canadians and compared them directly. We also looked at reviews from other sources that compared cards and considered their opinions in conjunction with what we have seen.  

How do credit cards work?

Credit cards grant you credit from the credit card company that you can spend. Whether you use your credit card on a purchase or a cash advance, you are effectively taking out a short-term loan from the credit card company.  

When you spend on a credit card, you need to repay that amount. If you pay your entire bill monthly, you will not need to pay interest on what you borrow, however, those that do not pay off their credit card bill will have to pay the credit card’s interest rate on top of the money they owe. Credit cards also have a minimum payment, which will enable you to keep your credit rating from taking a hit, even if you have outstanding debts.  

What are the types of credit cards?

There are different types of credit cards available, however they are similar except for slightly different terms or conditions that change what the card’s intended purpose is.  

One category that is common is the rewards credit card. Rewards cards feature some type of reward when you spend on eligible purchases with the credit card, that you can use for a wide range of things. Rewards cards frequently require a solid interest rate and often charge an annual fee, but many feel the rewards are worth it. There are different types of rewards cards: 

Cash-back credit cards let you collect a small percentage of the amount of money you spend on the credit card;

Travel credit cards let you collect points that you can redeem on airfare or other travel expenses;

And similarly hotel credit cards let you collect points you can redeem on hotel expenses. 

There are also credit card types that are different from other cards due to their interest rate or conditional terms that are more limiting than other cards. 

Student credit cards, for example, are an introductory credit card designed for students, that do not feature annual fees and have a low credit card limit, and are designed to introduce young adults to building credit. 

Secured credit cards require a deposit to be paid which determines the credit card limit, and while have less beneficial terms, are a lot easier to acquire if you have poor credit. 

Low-interest cards have an interest rate less than the standard 20% if you have outstanding charges on your card. 

One type of low-interest card that exists includes balance transfer cards, which are designed to make credit card debt easier to deal with, by transferring pre-existing debt onto a new card with lower interest and promotional rates, in return for certain conditions that other cards might not have.  

Frequently asked credit card questions

What is cash back?

Cash back is a credit card benefit that reimburses a small percentage of the amount spent on certain purchases above a certain dollar amount. Cash back can be either applied to a credit card bill or can used as real cash that you can get as a cheque or a deposit into your account. Some rewards programs only work within a company’s rewards plan, so be careful you are getting the rewards right for you before signing up.   

What is cash advance?  

Do you need cash in a rush? A cash advance is a cash loan you receive from your credit card company, accessible via an ATM. Essentially, you are using your credit card as you would normally, but instead of taking out a loan on a purchase, you are taking out a loan for cash. However, cash advances are not recommended, as they have higher fees attached to them and are much more expensive than a regular purchase you would make with a credit card, with none of the benefits that spending on a credit card has. It is recommended to avoid using a cash advance if possible.   

What is a convenience cheque? 

A convenience cheque is given out by a lender like a credit card company to access a line of credit, with its own conditions and fees. Just like a credit card purchase is a short-term loan that will need repayment, a convenience cheque is a loan given in cheque form. Often, there will be a fee involved on top of any typical interest rate.  

How do I apply for a credit card in Canada? 

Applying for a credit card is pretty easy, granted you have information, like name, addresses, Identification number, employment & income information. Keep in mind that if you might need documentation on you if you walk into a bank looking for a credit card. However, applying online is an easy process, and you will e able to apply for almost any credit card online these days.   

Can I apply for a credit card if I have bad credit?  

Yes – credit cards are available for people with bad credit – although they might not necessarily be the best credit cards in terms of benefits or costs. Secured and prepaid credit cards are generally available to all because you are spending your own money – not the bank’s – and you set your limits by the refundable security deposit you pay when you open the card.   

What is the lowest credit score needed for a credit card in Canada?  

It depends on the card. There are secured credit cards that required a minimum credit score of 300 – which is as low as the typical credit card score goes. However, as we start looking into rewards cards, the minimum credit score goes up into the 600’s.   

Who are the main credit card brands in Canada? 

The three major credit cards in Canada are Visa, MasterCard and American Express. 

How many credit cards should I have?  

There is no secret formula to what is the “right” amount of credit cards. It is all down to personal preference and your spending habits. When looking to add to your collection of credit cards, consider what benefits become available with a new card, versus the costs and difficulties in paying off your credit card each month.  

By acquiring different credit cards, you could reap the benefits of a wide amount of rewards programs, optimizing the potential benefits that come with credit cards. You can figure out where a lot of your money goes each month and have credit cards to optimize rewards for where your money goes. Ultimately, the number of credit cards that is optimal for you depends on your usage and responsibility. You will need to ensure you are paying off each credit card each month, so you do not get with the high interest rate – which becomes harder the more credit cards you own.  

Keep in mind that signing up for too many credit cards at once could also negatively impact your credit score.  

How to pay off credit card debt? 

While we advise you to not overspend on your credit card and pay it off in full each month, the opposite can happen to the best of us. If you find yourself with a large bill that you cannot pay off at the moment, don’t worry! While there may be a financial impact in accumulating too much credit card debt, there are strategies that can help you get out of debt without leaving a lasting impact. 

First, stop spending on your credit card. If you keep spending, obviously you will end up owing more. However, keep in mind that you will be paying interest on top of what is owed, and this can add up quickly. Stick to cash and debit if you are trying to pay off your credit cards.  

Secondly, look at what you owe across the board and prioritize the most important things to pay off first. If you have a mortgage or vehicle payments, you should still pay those as the consequences for missing those payments can be much more severe. If you have accumulated debt on several credit cards, it might be the better idea to prioritize paying off the card with the higher interest hit. 

Finally, cut down on your spending. This is where you might need to make some sacrifices until you are out of credit card debt. Maybe skip on eating out and preparing your own food instead or wait on making any unnecessary purchases.  

You can also minimize credit card debt by looking into a credit card specifically for the purchase of balance transfers. You use credit to pay off a portion of your current debt, and use the lower interest rates to your advantage, as you will lose less money to the accumulating interest.   

What is the best Reddit subreddit on credit cards in Canada?  

We think Reddit is a great place to get advice from real people on subjects you are unsure about. For Canadians looking for further credit card advice, r/PersonalFinanceCanada is a great resource for credit cards and everything personal finance. If you want to get into maximizing reward benefits from your credit card, we also suggest checking out r/ChurningCanada.  

How old do you have to be to get a credit card?  

In Canada, you must be 18 years old, or the age of majority in your province or territory, to have an unsecured credit card in your name. However, you can get a prepaid or secured credit card as young as 13. A secured card requires you to fund the card – what you deposit is the limit. This means you do not have to worry about overspending. A typical credit card will be unsecured, and the limit is decided by your credit score and income, among other factors.  

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About the author

Sam Beetham

Sam Beetham is a writer who has accomplished his childhood dream of rating things professionally. When not gazing deeply into the LCD display, he can be found cooking, designing DND dungeons or working on music with his band.
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