Best Cash Back Credit Card Rankings in Canada for 2018
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 Flat-Rate Cash Back Credit Card Winners:
- SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express (5% cash back in first 6 months, 2% cash back after that)
- MBNA Rewards World Elite (2% cashback on everything, $100 welcome bonus)
Best Annual Fee Cash Back Credit Card Winner:
- TD Cash Back Visa Infinite* Card (6% cash back for first 3 months on all spend, 1st year annual fee rebate)
- The Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Credit Card (5% cashback for 1st 3 months, $99 fee waiver 1st year)
- RBC Cash Back Preferred World Elite Mastercard (1.75% cashback 1st 6 months on everything, 1.5% after)
Best No-Fee Cash Back Credit Card Winners:
- The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card (no fee, 2% cashback in 3 categories, 0.5% elsewhere)
- BMO Cash Back Mastercard (no fee, 1% cashback on all spend, 4% promo!)
Best Specialty Cash Back Credit Card Winners:
- Rogers Platinum Mastercard (no fee, 1.75% cashback, 4% cashback on foreign transactions)
Best “Same-as-Cash” Cash Back Credit Card Winners:
- Scotiabank Gold American Express Card (no fee 1st yr, up to 4% cashback, $200 credit)
A full review of each of the top ranked Canadian cash back credit cards as follows:
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 Preferred Card from American Express
Why It’s a Winner: The SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express has a $99 annual fee, but this is made up for with its high, flat cash back rate of 2% on all spend. Cardholders can easily earn back the $99 fee by spending a pittance of $165 per month during the promotional period, and $412.5 per month after that. The card also comes with a range of insurance coverage, including: card rental, travel accident, out of province/country emergency medical, baggage and flight delay. Purchases made on the card automatically have their manufacturer’s warranty period doubled (up to one additional year) and are insured against damage and theft.
And like all Amex cards, the SimplyCash Preferred has no minimum income requirement whatsoever. So while its high-level benefits may make it seem like a premium, elitist piece of plastic, it’s actually a good fit for anyone that spends $300-$400 a month or more on expenses.
MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard® credit card
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.
Best Annual Fee Cash Back Credit Card Winner:
TD Cash Back Visa Infinite* Card
Why It’s A Winner: The new TD Cash Back Visa Infinite card offers a giant cash back rate through March 1st, 2018: 6% on all spend during the first three months after approval. The card’s $120 annual fee is also rebated entirely for the first year.
The card offers impressive cash back rewards outside the promotional period as well. Cardholders receive 3% for eligible purchases at grocery stores, at the gas pump, and on recurring bills. All other purchases receive 1% cash back, with no spending/earning cap.
Most importantly, the TD Cash Back Visa Infinite card offers flexibility when it comes to redeeming accrued cash back. Instead of having to wait a full year for a statement, you can redeem what you’ve earned at any time to pay down existing account balances.
The card also features great travel and concierge benefits as well, making it a well-rounded and effective rewards credit card solution. Moreover, cardholders gain access to Visa Infinite’s Food and Wine Experiences, as well as perks when visiting any of 900 luxury hotels across the world.
Scotia Momentum VISA Infinite Card
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 5% cash back on everyday purchases for first 3 months of use, 4% cash back on gas & grocery, 2% cash back on recurring spend & pharmacies and 1% everywhere else. That’s a great opportunity to earn 4% cashback – especially in the non-bonus categories, where you otherwise would have only earned 1%! 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 – which is waived in the 1st year anyway!.
RBC® Cash Back Preferred World Elite Mastercard®
Why It’s A Winner: Though we understand the allure of a card without an annual fee, cards that require members to pay for the privilege of using them are typically better at saving money anyway, and can quickly reimburse the cardholder’s annual fee with more frequent rewards.
The RBC Cash Back Preferred World Elite’s $99 annual fee is relatively trivial compared to the power with which its cardholders accrue cash back, starting with a bonus rate of 1.75% for the first 6 months. That’s a comfortably long promo period, particularly given that there is no limit on how much cash back can be accrued. There are also no restrictions on eligible purchases, allowing you to simply shop as you normally would and let the cash back accumulate naturally. After the bonus period concludes, the cash back rate dips slightly to 1.5%, and then to 1% once $25,000 is spent (an amount which resets each year of membership).
While saving significantly on expenses, members can also exploit some of the value-added perks of the World Elite club. The most distinct of these benefits is a free account with Boingo, the company that runs WiFi hotspots in locations around the globe (particularly in airports). While other travelers in the terminal are paying upwards of $5.00 for an hour of service, Cash Back Preferred World Elite cardholders are surfing the web for free. Additionally, the much-loved purchase protection benefits come with a power boost: tripling existing warranties and protecting new purchases for up to 120 days. Last, but not least, the card also protects rental cars with insurance against damage and collision.
Overall, the card’s straightforward cash back benefits are great, but its added assets put it a step above the competition. The addition of an extraordinary perk—the ability to find free WiFi in remote locations—is just the icing on the cake, especially for frequent travelers.
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
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 2% cash back in 2 bonus categories of your choice (3 categories if you deposit your cash back into a Tangerine account), and 0.5% 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 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 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.
The BMO Cash Back Mastercard
Why It’s A Winner: The no-fee BMO Cash Back Mastercard is refreshingly simply, transparent and reliable – and offers a rich sign-up bonus of 4% cashback on all purchases in your first 4 months, up to $125 cashback.
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 4% cashback promo is absolutely risk free money – it’s like getting an extra $125 in your pocket (actually it’s more like an extra $93.75, since you would have gotten 1% of the 4% cashback without the bonus). 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 the 4% cash back until you reach $125 in earnings!
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
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.
Best “Same-as-Cash” Cash Back Credit Card Winner:
Scotiabank Gold American Express Card
Why It’s a Winner: More and more credit cards are now offering rewards that can be redeemed for their dollar value against specific purchases on your credit card statement. This is an increasingly popular trend in the travel rewards space, since it offers increased flexibility and transparency.
The highest earn “Same-as-Cash” cash back credit card in this category is the Scotia Amex Gold card. You earn 4% on gas, grocery, restaurants and entertainment – some of the most popular merchant categories of all. Earn 1% everywhere else. Spend $1,000 on gas, get $40 which you can then apply against any travel expense on your credit card statement. Book anywhere, anyhow. Simply apply your $40 credit against your statement.
So while not a pure play cash back credit card, it offers the same transparency and currency as cash, except it limits your cash redemption to the travel category.
The advantage that is has over a regular cash back card is that it comes with significant travel insurance, as well as a healthier welcome bonus of no annual fee in the first year and a $200 credit! With no annual fee in the first year, the $200 is completely free!
Summary of Best Cash Back Credit Card Rankings in Canada
|Credit Card||Base Cash Back||Bonus Cash Back Categories||Welcome Bonus||Annual Fee|
|TD Cash Back Visa Infinite* Card||1.00%||3% in 3 categories||6% on ALL purchases for 3 months||$120 / 1st Year Rebate|
|Tangerine Money Back Mastercard||0.50%||2% in 3 categories||None||$0|
|Amex SimplyCash||1.25%||1.25% flat||5% for 6 months||$0|
|RBC Cash Back Preferred World Elite Mastercard||1.50%||1.50% flat||1.75% on all purchases for 6 months||$99|
|Scotia Momentum Infinite Visa||1.00%||5% cashback 3 months, 4% in gas & groceries, 2% drug store & recurring bills||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|
|Scotia Amex Gold||1.00%||4% on gas, groceries, restaurants, entertainment||$200 credit, no fee 1st year||$99|
|BMO CashBack||1.00%||1% flat||4% on all purchases for 4 months||$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.
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 cash back calculator, 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!