Looking 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 No-Fee Cash Back Credit Card Winners:
- The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card (no fee, 2% cashback in 3 categories, 1% elsewhere, 4% promo!)
- BMO Cash Back MasterCard (no fee, 1% cashback on all spend, $75 sign-up welcome bonus!)
- Best Flat-Rate Cash Back Credit Card Winners:
- Best Specialty Cash Back Credit Card Winners:
- Best Annual Fee Cash Back Credit Card Winner:
- The Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Credit Card (first year free, up to 4% cashback)
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!
Why It’s A Winner: The Tangerine Money Back credit card, has made a dramatic impact on Canada’s no fee cash back credit card scene. The card offers the most refreshingly innovative, transparent and lucrative cash back program.
There’s no annual fee, and you get your cash back credited to your account every month – no waiting to redeem at the end of each year. You earn 4% cash back in up to 2 bonus categories of your choice for the first 3 months (3 categories if you deposit your cash back into a Tangerine account), 2% cash back in those categories thereafter, and 1% on all other purchases. There are no tiers, caps or limits. No fine print.
The card has the highest no fee cash back earn rate in the Canadian market. There is no other credit card without an annual fee that offers as much as 1% cash back as a base rate, and 2% cash back in up to 3 merchant categories of your choice (grocery, gas, restaurant, pharmacy, entertainment, recurring bills, etc…).
By comparison, RBC’s no fee cash back MasterCard offers 2% cash back on grocery store purchases, with a cap of $6,000 in spend and 1% everywhere else. The CIBC no fee Dividend Visa card offers 2% on groceries and only up to 1% everywhere else.
With no annual fee, the richest cash back rate and the most user friendly redemption process, this card is great as your primary no fee rewards card, or in combination with other category based cash back cards.
$15K minimum income requirement
Why It’s A Winner: The no-fee BMO Cash Back MasterCard is refreshingly simply, transparent and reliable – and offers the RICHEST sign-up bonus of $75 of any no fee cash back credit card in Canada (the $75 welcome bonus is a limited time offer until January 31, 2017)!
You earn 1% unlimited cash back on ALL purchases, with no caps or fine print. There’s no annual fee – ever. With no annual fee, the $75 sign-up bonus is absolutely risk free money. It’s yours for the taking. Even if you already have a cash back card, this could make a great back-up card for your wallet in case the other one is lost, stolen, declined or frozen. Or, you could just apply to get $75 free!
$15K minimum income requirement
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.
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.
$15K minimum income requirement
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, it has a really low $89 annual fee in the first year, which is more than offset by a $100 welcome bonus – which you get by simply activating your card with a purchase, no minimum spend is required. That essentially makes the richest flat rate cash back credit card free to try for the first year.
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.
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 spend – not 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 4% cash back on ALL purchases made in a foreign currency! That means, with a 2.5% foreign transaction fee, you’re netting 1.5% cash back on foreign purchases with Rogers. You will be losing 1.5% to .5% (rewards rate of 1% to 2%, minus the 2.5% foreign transaction fee) with most other Canadian credit cards on foreign purchases. That’s a huge savings on foreign purchases for most Canadians.
There is a welcome bonus of $25. 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 $25 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 – even better than the CapitalOne Costco MasterCard itself, where you will earn less than 1%! With the Rogers MasterCard, you will earn 1.75% cash back on ALL Costco purchases.
$15K minimum income requirement
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! Although not a pure-play cashback credit card, you get the equivalent of a 3% earn rate per dollar spent at Loblaw banner stores and Shoppers/Pharmapix, and 1% everywhere else.
Every 10,000 PC points is worth $10 in free groceries. You get 30 PC points per $1 spent in Loblaw, Shoppers Drug Mart, Pharmaprix, pctravel.ca and PC mobile, which provides you with the equivalent of a 3% cash rebate when redeeming against your groceries. You get 10 PC points on all other spend, the equivalent to a 1% cash rebate.
If you shop at Loblaw branded stores, there is no cash back credit card without an annual fee that will offer you more than the 3% cash back equivalent earn rate offered by the PC Financial World Elite MasterCard. Tangerine offers a maximum of 2% cashback in grocery stores, and Scotia and CIBC offer as much as 4% in grocery, but only 2% in pharmacies, but you have to pay a significant annual fee. As long as you’re ok redeeming your points for groceries in a Loblaw branded store, this card will get you the most bang for your back!
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 $80,000 or household income of $150,000.
Best Annual Fee Cash Back Credit Card Winner:
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
Summary of Best Cash Back Credit Card Rankings in Canada
|Credit Card||Base Cash Back||Bonus Cash Back Categories||Welcome Bonus||Annual Fee|
|Tangerine Money Back MasterCard||1.00%||2% in 3 categories||4% for 90 days||$0|
|Amex SimplyCash||1.25%||1.25% flat||5% for 6 months||$0|
|Scotia Momentum Infinite Visa||1.00%||4% in gas, groceries||None||$99 / Waived 1st Year|
|MBNA Rewards World Elite||2.00%||2% flat||$100 credit||$89|
|Rogers MasterCard||1.75%||4% on foreign purchases||$25 credit||$0|
|PC Financial World Elite||1.00%||3% in Loblaw’s||None||$0|
|BMO CashBack||1.00%||1% flat||$75 credit||$0|
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 get 4% on foreign transactions All with no annual fees.
This is what it might look like visually:
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!