Best Cash Back Credit Card Rankings in Canada For 2016

Best Cash Back Credit Card CanadaLooking for the best cash back credit card with unparalleled rewards? There’s never been a better time to get a cash back credit card in Canada than now. Reward rates have skyrocketed and programs are easier to use than ever.

With so many strong no fee & premium cash back credit options, there’s no reason not to get rewarded for every purchase you make.

Whether you spend a lot or a little, cash back credit cards offer superb value. They offer the simplicity and transparency lacking in many points programs and stellar earnings, making them outstanding primary and back-up credit cards.

Here’s the summary of the top ranked Canadian cash back credit cards:

Best Cash Back Credit Card Rankings for Canada 2016

Best Bonus Category Cash Back Credit Card Winners:
The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card (no fee, 2% cashback on up to 3 categories, 1% elsewhere)
The Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Credit Card (first year free, up to 4% cashback)

Best Flat-Rate Cash Back Credit Card Winners:
SimplyCash Card from American Express (no fee, 1.25% cashback on everything, 5% promo)
MBNA Rewards World Elite (first year free, 2% cashback on everything, $100 welcome bonus)

Best Specialty Cash Back Credit Card Winners:
Rogers Platinum MasterCard (no fee, 1.75% cashback on everything, no foreign transaction fees)
President’s Choice MasterCard World Elite (no annual fee, 3% cashback at Loblaw, Shoppers & 3 cents off at Esso)

Best Promotion Cash Back Credit Card Winner:
BMO Cash Back MasterCard (no fee, 2% cash back on ALL spend for 6 months, 1% thereafter)

A full review of each of the top ranked Canadian cash back credit cards as follows:

Best Bonus Category Cash Back Credit Card in Canada:

A Bonus Category cash back credit card offers extra cash back in one or more merchant categories such as gas, groceries, pharmacies, restaurants, etc… If you spend a lot in one of those categories, they can be excellent opportunities to maximize your cash back – especially if you combine cards with different bonus categories!

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

Tangerine Cash Back Credit Card

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Why It’s A Winner: The Tangerine cash back credit card is an absolute beast! There’s no annual fee, you earn UNLIMITED 2% cash back in up to 3 bonus categories of your choice. You earn 1% cash back on ALL of your remaining spend – no limits.

For a limited time you get 4% cash back on your selected bonus categories for the first 3 months – no limits!

The card is both the richest no fee cash back credit card in Canada, and the most consumer friendly. You can choose up to 3 bonus categories from gas, groceries, pharmacies, restaurants, recurring spend, entertainment, public transport, hotel/motel, furniture & home improvement. You can also alter your categories to suite your changing spending habits.

Tangerine will either automatically credit your statement monthly or deposit your cash back into a Tangerine savings account – making it hassle free! Also, foreign transaction fees (non-Canadian purchases) are only 1.5%, instead of the 2.5% charged by most banks!

No minimum income requirement.

Scotia Momentum VISA Infinite Card

scotia momentum visa infinite card

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Why It’s A Winner: The Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite card offers more cash back in everyday spending categories than any other credit card in Canada. You earn 4% cash back on gas & groceries, 2% cash back on recurring spend & pharmacies and 1% everywhere else.

The first year annual fee of $99 is waived for accounts opened by October 31, 2016. However, even with the annual fee of $99, the rich cash back rate still make this card more valuable than almost any other credit card in the country. Also, the card also comes with travel medical insurance, trip interruption, flight delay and car rental insurance – making it a good replacement for your travel credit card.

If you use your card for gas & groceries, this card can’t be beat. It will only take $205 of gas & grocery spend a month, to break even on your $99 annual fee.

Minimum personal income of $60K, or household income of $100K

Best Flat Rate Cash Back Credit Card in Canada:

Flat rate cash back credit cards offer the same cash back rate on all your credit card spend with no caps, tiers or categories. You’ll get the same value everywhere, all the time.

The SimplyCash card from American Express

SimplyCash Card From American Express Cash Back

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Why It’s A Winner: If you’re looking for superb value and simplicity, The SimplyCash card from American Express can’t be beat. It has no annual fee & offers 1.25% cash back on all spend, no limits.

But here’s where the card gets really interesting. The SimplyCash card from American Express gets you 5% cash back on all eligible purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants in Canada (up to $250 cash back or $5,000 in spend) for the first 6 months.

With no annual fee, it’s worth it just to take advantage of the 6 month 5% cash back promo. At the end of the promo period you can decide to keep using the card or not. There’s no cost to you either way.

No minimum income required. American Express can also be used with Apple Pay!

MBNA Rewards World Elite® MasterCard® credit card 

MBNA Rewards World Elite MasterCard credit card

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Why It’s A Winner: The MBNA Rewards World Elite MasterCard is a hidden gem. It’s Canada’s richest and most convenient flat rate cash back credit card. No contest.

It offers a flat 2% cash back rate on ALL spend – no limits, no categories. To help you give it a try, the $89 annual fee is waived in the first year, and MBNA is dumping a $100 welcome bonus into your account – all you have to do is activate your card. That’s a free $100 just for getting the card.

Besides the phenomenal 2% cash back rate, MBNA makes it really easy to redeem your cash back when and how you want. At any time, you can redeem your cash back by having MBNA send you a check, deposit your earnings into your bank account or apply your cash back against your statement.

Minimum personal income of $70K, or household income of $120,000

Best Specialty Cash Back Credit Card in Canada:

Not every card fits neatly into a defined category. The cash back cards below offer superb value, in some cases, better than those above. Check them out to see what they can do for you.

The Rogers Platinum MasterCard

Rogers MasterCard

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Why It’s A Winner: The Rogers Platinum MasterCard may just be the richest no-fee flat rate cash back card in Canada – whether you’re a Rogers customer or not.

You get 1.75% cash back on ALL spendnot just at Rogers. Rogers customers can redeem for Rogers services and products at any time. Or, if you’re not a Rogers customer you can have Rogers apply your cash back earnings as a statement credit against ANY spend on your credit card.

The Rogers MasterCard also sets itself apart with no foreign transaction fees! Where most cards charge 2.5% on foreign purchases over and above the exchange rate. Rogers charges nothing. Not only that, you’ll continue earning 1.75% cash back on those foreign purchases as well! That’s like earning 4.25% on foreign transactions.

There is a welcome bonus of $35. The annual fee is waived in the first year. Thereafter, you can have your annual fee waived if your Rogers bill is set up as a pre-authorized payment. For all others, the annual fee is only $29. With no annual fee in the first year, and a $35 welcome bonus, you’re getting the card free for 2 years, if you’re not a Rogers customer.

This is also the best no fee cash back card to shop at Costco with. You will earn 1.75% cash back on Costco purchases (more than what you would earn with the Costco MasterCard itself shopping at Costco, which is less than 1%!)

No minimum income required.

President’s Choice World Elite MasterCard

PC Financial World Elite MasterCard

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Why It’s A Winner: The President’s Choice Financial World Elite MasterCard is the first World Elite level credit card, with no annual fee! It offers 3% cash back at Loblaw stores and Shoppers/Pharmapix and 3 cents/litre off at Esso stations, and 1% everywhere else.

The 3% cash back rate is stellar compared to the 2% rate offered by Tangerine for its bonus categories. But you have to be willing to shop at Loblaws, Shoppers and Esso. On the other hand, you can earn 4% at the grocery store with the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite card, but you’d have to pay a $99 annual fee, and you’d only get 2% at the drugstore.

The PC World Elite MasterCard is also one of the only no-fee credit cards in Canada to offer out-of-province and out-of-country travel medical insurance. With no annual fee, that should be reason enough for many people to get the card – you don’t even have to book your travel with the card to get the travel medical coverage.

Minimum income of $70,000 or household income of $120,000.

Best Promotion Cash Back Credit Card Winners:

The BMO Cash Back MasterCard 

cash back credit card bmo mastercard

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The no-fee BMO Cash Back MasterCard is a flat rate cash back credit which currently offers a great promotion of 2% unlimited cash back on all spend for the first 6 months. After the 6 month promotion expires, you get 1% on all spend.

At 2% on all spend for 6 months, it’s a great opportunity to complement another cash back credit card that may not offer as much in non-bonus categories. It’s also a great opportunity to get 2% cash back at Costco for 6 months.

Cash Back Strategy

There are a multitude of strategies to help you maximize your cash back. One of our favourites is called stacking. Essentially, you combine a multitude of cash back cards and use the one that provides you the most cash back for any given purchase. By doing so you maximize your total cash back earnings.

For example, if you wanted to do it with a series of no fee cash back cards, you could use the President’s Choice MasterCard World Elite to earn 3% at Loblaw’s and Shoppers Drugmart & 3 cents at Esso, your Tangerine card to earn 2% at restaurants, public transit and recurring spend and your Rogers MasterCard to earn 1.75% everywhere else and to avoid the 2.5% foreign transaction fee. All with no annual fees.

This is what it might look like visually:

cash back credit card optimization

The cells highlighted in green are short term promotions that are higher than any standard category bonus. So you might want to take advantage of them during their promo period. By way of example, despite PC MasterCard World Elite’s 3% cashback rate, you’d get 5% using Amex’s SimplyCash card for the first 6 months.

Cash Still Reigns Supreme!

If you’re frustrated with your points or miles card, now’s a great opportunity to try a cash back card and see if you like it.

If you currently use a debit card, you’re short-changing yourself. There is simply no reason to use a debit card. You either end up paying for your debit transaction through your checking plan, or on every transaction. Why pay to use your own money, when you can get rewarded for it?

To help you find the best cash back credit card for you, you can also use our tool, which shows you how much each card will earn you based on your individualized spend.

There’s never been a better time to get a cash back card than now. Take advantage of the rich promotional offers, no fee cards and first year fee waivers – the banks are giving away tons of value to earn your business – don’t be afraid to take advantage!

 

8 comments

  1. Hi. Just noticed this post. Great stuff as always.

    A question though, If the Scotia momentum Card has no fee the 1st year & gives 4% back on gas & groceries, while it cant be used at No Frills (owned by Loblaws) it still is a better bet in all other Loblaw grocery stores & all gas stations. More than Tangerine as well, after the 90 days , so why wouldn’t this be a good choice for stacking or on the grid above. Is the 2 cents per litre discount on gas offered by PC World Elite more lucrative r than 4% cash back?

    Robert

    P.S. With all these options of travel points, cash back, Insurance , Free luggage on flights etc….It is virtually impossible to figure out which cards to use & when.

    P.P.S. Unrelated question : Trip interruption , loss baggage perks given by various credit cards are only if you booked the ticket with that credit card . Is that correct?

    • Hi Robert,

      We didn’t add the Scotia Momentum card to the stacking grid because of the annual fee. Sometimes the annual fee promo is in market other times it’s not.

      Correct, trip cancellation, interruption and lost baggage are typically available only if you book your ticket with the card that offers the coverage. The only exception is travel medical insurance, which covers even if you don’t book your travel with that card. You could drive to the U.S. and you, your spouse and dependents will be covered.

      GreedyRates Staff

  2. Rogers card will be good for who have rogers products and to waive annual fee you have to pay rogers, fido, chatr bill. Therefore, better for recurring bill with rogers mastercard. And PC mastercard gas points are 2 cents per liter unless fill with supreme. Only supreme will get 3 cents per liter or 3% back.

    • Hi Calvin,

      Thanks for the insight. The Rogers MasterCard gets you 1.75% on ALL purchases, and you can redeem once a year as a statement credit against ANY purchases, so it’s actually a really rich general cashback card. The annual fee is free for the first year for everyone, plus the welcome bonus of $35 off-sets the second year annual fee of $29 for non-Rogers customers – making it effectively free for 2 years.

      Of course nothing beats the no-fee PC Financial World Elite MasterCard’s 3% cashback in Loblaw owned stores. Combine the Rogers MasterCard with the PC Financial World Elite and Tangerine’s no-fee cashback card which gives you 2% in up to 3 categories of your choice and you have yourself a formidable trio of cashback options to optimize your rewards.

      GreedyRates Staff

  3. Something to note with the PC Financial World Elite card is that although the points are only available at Loblaws stores, they sell Gift certs to just about every major retail outlet out there. I believe they also sell pre-paid credit cards. So although it’s not as good as cash back, it’s the next best thing.

    • Hi Seglo,

      Good observation. So on the redemption side, using gift cards allows you to effectively redeem for more than just Loblaw goods, because you can redeem your cashback for an itunes, home depot or amazon gift card.

      Thanks!

      GreedyRates Staff

  4. How come the Costco MasterCard is not on this list of the best?

    • Hi Libby,

      The Costco card may be good if you wanted to use it exclusively to earn 3% cashback in restaurant purchases, in combination with other cashback or rewards cards that earn more on all other purchases. Otherwise, it’s value is matched or exceeded by many, if not most, other no fee cashback cards in Canada.

      Here are the reasons it did not make our list. First it’s base cashback rate is one of the worst in Canada. You get .5% cashback on your first $3,000 of spend, and then 1% thereafter. 1% is the minimum base cashback rate available on every credit card in our rankings. That means one can get DOUBLE the cashback, even on Costco purchases, using their Tangerine or BMO no fee cashback MasterCard over Costco’s own MasterCard on the first $3,000 of spend.

      Second, while Costco’ 3% cashback on restaurants and 2% on gas is good, there are plenty of options, which we believe are as good or better, which have much better base cashback rates (although we won’t take anything away from the 3% cashback on restaurants). Tangerine offers 2% cashback in up to 3 categories of your choice (you get to choose from 10 categories), offering 4% for the first 90 days in your selected categories. Amex offer 5% cash back on gas, groceries & restaurants for the first 6 months and 1.25% cashback on all other spend all the time. BMO’s offering 2% cashback on all spend for the first 6 months, etc…

      Hope that helps,

      GreedyRates Staff

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