At GreedyRates, we’re obsessed with credit cards, the differences between them, and how to select the one most suitable for any situation. But it’s often valuable to take a step back and examine the same subject from another perspective – we focus so much on the cards, but what about the banks issuing them?
These days, banks and credit cards are commonly mentioned in the same breath, and many know that a bank is only as good as its best card. Besides providing customers with a way to access and easily use their funds – whether at home or across the world – the best credit cards now come with a plethora of bonuses and benefits meant to bring extra value to the cardholder.
Here we consider the best banks in Canada, and the cards their customers love. There will be a few familiar names, but also some unique nominees that may surprise. Whether for travel bonuses, cash back or another enticing bonus category, all the best Canadian banks and their credit cards are here to square off.
Keep in mind, the best bank in Canada is tough to qualify, so this list does not put them in any particular order. You can quickly navigate to your bank of choice by clicking on any of the following names:
- RBC Royal Bank
- Rogers Bank
- BMO Bank of Montreal
- National Bank of Canada
- PC Financial
- Canadian Tire Bank
- TD Canada Trust Bank
Scotiabank brings an array of unique credit cards to the table, many of which do not stick to a single bonus niche but rather add value in multiple ways. They are the third largest bank in Canada, and one of the best, rising quickly through the ranks in recent years by constantly releasing innovative and exciting offers, much like the card mentioned below.
Scotiabank’s Best Credit Card:
The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card
Combining a worthwhile instant bonus and point accrual rate, this double-edged card is a strong addition to any wallet. For no annual fee and an instant travel credit of $250, it saves hundreds right from signup. However, its strengths are in its everyday use: even before customers spend $750 in the first three months and receive their lump-sum credit, points accrue at a rate of 4 per $1 spent on gas, groceries, dining and even entertainment. Then, these expenses can be paid off with the very same points!
- 30,000 Scotia rewards points (offer expires October 31, 2017)
- First year annual fee waived
- 4% earn rate on gas, groceries, dining, and entertainment
- Pay off purchases with points
Click here for Scotiabank’s best chequing & savings accounts!
RBC Royal Bank
The Royal Bank of Canada, or RBC, is the largest financial establishment in the country. They place a high importance on community, and this value reveals itself in many of their offerings. One of the quality products that has become a first choice amongst RBC clientele with families is the one covered below.
RBC’s Best Credit Card: The WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard
MasterCard and WestJet have teamed up with the Royal Bank of Canada to produce one of the most useful travel tools we have encountered – the World Elite credit card. Many of the hassles and obstacles inherent in traveling with family are addressed by this feature-heavy card, including the extremely valuable annual companion flight voucher. This lets cardholders purchase a round-trip companion flight ticket for just $99 to anywhere within North America. Other excellent benefits are an immediate $250 travel voucher (useable with the same companion flight!) and a free checked bag for the primary cardholder and up to eight companions. This alone has the potential to save up to $240 in baggage fees, assuming it costs $30 per bag. The addition of travel medical insurance for the family wraps up one of the best credit card deals seen lately in Canada.
- $250 travel voucher
- $99 companion flight voucher
- Free travel medical insurance
- Free checked bag for you and up to 8 companions
A relatively new player on the scene, Rogers was founded in 2013 and quickly became a popular domestic bank for Canadian citizens. Like other banks, it offers rewards cards with appealing bonuses, but their best offering suits those customers who do business internationally.
Rogers Bank’s Best Credit Card:
The Rogers™ Platinum MasterCard®
This unique cash back card is a true powerhouse when used by prolific shoppers, which is one reason why it has garnered the number one spot on our list. The other reasons concern the magnitude of the bonuses provided, including a competitive 1.75% cash back on all purchases made in Canadian dollars. The better bonus, however, is a remarkable 4% unlimited cash back on all purchases made in a foreign currency. This could mean travel expenses from your business trip or your latest online shopping spree. On top of exemption from the first year’s annual fee, there are few reasons not to apply for this great card.
- $54 in instant savings ($29 annual fee waiver, $25 first purchase bonus)
- 75% cash back on purchases in CAD
- 4% cash back on purchases in foreign currencies
BMO Bank of Montreal
Like many banks, BMO understands that technology and new innovations are driving their industry in a different direction, and they have decided to go with the flow. An institution that puts special focus on the personal side of a digital world, much of what BMO offers is aimed at the next generation.
BMO’s Best Credit Card: The BMO SPC MasterCard
The credit card we have chosen as BMO’s best may not be as exclusive as its peers, but a unique combination of easy approval and great bonuses provides those who may be getting their first card a taste of what bigger competitors offer. Targeted primarily at students, there is no minimum annual income or annual fee, giving young cardholders access to a line of credit for virtually nothing. It also grants 10-15% off at hundreds of retailers across Canada (on top of existing student discounts that they may offer), plus one of two other benefits chosen at the cardholder’s discretion. They can either receive a $60 welcome bonus and 1% cash back or a welcome bonus of 500 Air Miles with no additional fees.
- No minimum income
- No annual fee
- Save 10-15% in eligible retailers
- Get 1% cash back and $60 or no fees and 500 Air Miles
National Bank of Canada
Headquartered in Montreal, the National Bank of Canada serves millions of Canadians in a socially responsible and beneficial manner. The great bonuses featured on many of their cards focus on protecting customer to the utmost, and it so happens that the card we have chosen as their best is cut from the same cloth.
National Bank of Canada’s Best Credit Card: The National Bank World Elite MasterCard
Providing peace of mind for cardholders is the modus operandi of this powerful piece of plastic. Customers enjoy a two-pronged bonus that entails a high earnings rate on points and almost every kind of insurance under the sun. Those who travel abroad with their families will appreciate the airtight protection brought by the National Bank World Elite MasterCard, which provides free out-of-province medical and hospital insurance, trip cancellation, trip interruption, flight delay, baggage insurance and even insurance on a rental vehicle. Moreover, customers earn points at an impressive rate of 2.5 per $1 spent alongside a rebate worth $250.
- 5 points per $1 spent
- $250 rebate on travel fees
- Travel medical insurance
- Trip and flight protection
- Rental vehicle coverage
PC, or President’s Choice bank, is brought to customers by Loblaw Companies, a giant in the Canadian food and pharmacy industries. Accordingly, rewards offered by PC credit cards are firmly cemented in these sectors, but are handed out at a much better rate than the competition. One of the best examples is the number one PC Financial card that we have included on this list.
PC Financial’s Best Credit Card:
The PC Financial World Elite MasterCard
The sheer amount of rewards accrued for using this great credit card puts it leagues ahead of the competition, specifically on some of the biggest monthly bills of any household. Customers who shop at eligible grocery stores such as Loblaw or Shopper’s Mart get 3% of their purchases back as rewards points, which can then be used to pay for groceries right at the checkout counter. Cardholders also receive a 3% earn rate on eligible travel purchases, 3 cents back per litre at eligible gas stations and 1% back on everything else. Besides the fact that almost all purchases enjoy these rewards, free travel medical and car rental insurance seals the deal – especially considering that there is no annual fee!
- No annual fee
- 00% back at Loblaw and Shopper’s Drug Marts
- 00% back on eligible travel purchases
- 3 cents per litre at eligible gas stations
- 00% back on all other purchases
- Pay grocery bills directly with points
- Free travel medical, car rental insurance and more
Canadian Tire Bank
Operated by the Canadian Tire retailer, one of the biggest and most commonly found franchises in Canada, rewards from Canadian Tire cards are redeemable for the daily life necessities of most customers. They say that no Canadian lives further than 15 minutes from a Canadian Tire, so you do not have far to look when searching for a way to spend those points.
Canadian Tire Bank’s Best Credit Card:
The Canadian Tire Options MasterCard
Remarkable for its high rate of bonus accrual, customers who use this MasterCard at their local Canadian Tire earn Canadian Tire ‘Money’ at a significant 10x rate every day. They also collect these rewards points elsewhere at a lower rate, redeemable for purchases at any Canadian Tire franchise in the country. The many locations and wide range of products sold at Canadian Tire makes this bonus ecosystem highly valuable for its members, who can purchase automotive, sports, leisure, home, toys and food products with their points (and earn at the same time). The integral function that Canadian Tire serves in providing for many Canadian families, plus the bonus program that is designed to save hundreds or thousands of dollars each year, makes the Canadian Tire Options MasterCard a perfect addition to any family’s financial toolset.
- Earn 10x rewards points at Canadian Tire every day
- Collect rewards points elsewhere as well
- Redeem points for a wide range of necessities
- No annual fee
TD Canada Trust Bank
TD Canada Trust is a customer-focused bank headquartered in Toronto that provides financial services to thousands of small businesses and individuals across the country. It has become a trusted name among customers who enjoy its plethora of credit cards with advantageous travel benefits.
TD Canada Trust’s Best Card:
The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Credit Card
The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite is designed for those who love to travel, and accordingly it brings a healthy number of relevant bonuses. These include a healthy introductory bonus of 30,000 Aeroplan miles: the first 15,000 just for making a single purchase (it could be a pack of gum), then 10,000 for keeping an account in good standing and 5,000 for authorizing a second user.
Alongside the $120 rebate on the annual fee (offer expired on May 16th, 2017), the immediate savings brought to customers who fly, whether for business or pleasure, are immense. Do note, however, that a prospective customer with a weaker credit score may not be eligible.
- 30,000 bonus Aeroplan miles
- Extensive travel insurance
- 1.5 miles per $1 spent on gas and groceries