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.
Summary of the top ranked Canadian cash back credit cards in 2018
|Credit Card||Cash Back Earnings||Annual Fee||Card Review||Apply for Card|
|SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express||5% cash back for first 6 months|
2% cash back after that
|$99||Read More||Apply Now|
|MBNA Rewards World Elite||2% cash back|
$100 welcome bonus
|$89||Read More||Apply Now|
|The Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Credit Card||4% cash back on gas and groceries||$99||Read More||Apply Now|
|RBC Cash Back No Annual Fee||2% cash back on groceries|
0.50% on the rest
|$0||Read More||Apply Now|
|RBC Cash Back Preferred World Elite Mastercard||1.75% cash back for first 6 months|
1.5% after that
|$99||Read More||Apply Now|
|Home Trust Preferred Visa||1% cash back on all domestic purchaes|
0% foreign transaction fees
|$99||Read More||Apply Now|
|The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card||2% cashback in 3 categories|
0.5% everywhere else
|$0||Read More||Apply Now|
|BMO Cash Back Mastercard||4% cash back for first 4 months|
1% cashback after that
|$0||Read More||Apply Now|
|Rogers Platinum Mastercard||3% cash back on foreign transactions||$0||Read More||Apply Now|
|Rogers World Elite Mastercard||4% cash back on foreign transactions||$0||Read More||Apply Now|
|Scotiabank Gold American Express Card||4% cash back on selected categories|
1% everywhere else
|$99||Read More||Apply Now|
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 No Annual Fee Cash Back Credit Card Winner
RBC Cash Back Mastercard
RBC offers one of the most competitive cashback rates available for those who spend a substantial amount on groceries, coming in at 2.00% cash back for grocery purchases made with their Cash Back No Fee Mastercard.
After spending $6,000 annually on groceries, the 2.00% cash back rate decreases to 1.00%, though cash back is unlimited and will never expire. It goes back up to 2.00% at the beginning of the next year. Cardholders earn 0.50% initially on all other purchases outside the grocery category, which increases to 1.00% after spending $6,000—all in all a non-traditional bonus scheme.
Cardholders will appreciate the addition of purchase protection and extended warranties for the items bought with their Cash Back Mastercard. The former protective benefit covers damage and theft for new items for 90 days, while the latter extends the original manufacturers’ warranties on products for another year. In addition, Petro-Points members will save an additional 3 cents on gas if they link their card to the program. Finally, those individuals interested in additional protections like roadside assistance and travel insurance can add them to their account for a reasonable price.
Best Annual Fee Cash Back Credit Card Winner
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 virtually any other credit card in Canada. You earn 4% cash back on gas & grocery, 2% cash back on recurring spend & pharmacies and 1% everywhere else. 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 for accounts opened by June 30th, 2018.
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 Cash Back/Travel Hybrid Card
While there’s nothing wrong with using one card in Canada and another card when travelling overseas, some might prefer to keep life simple and use a single card for both.
Home Trust Preferred Visa Card
Why It’s a Winner: By reducing foreign transaction fees to 0.00% and offering 1.00% cash back on top, using the card abroad or for buying from foreign websites is a savvy strategy. But the limitless, flat 1% cashback rate is also great for domestic spending as well.
Compare this to the Rogers Platinum Mastercard, which offers 3.00% cash back on foreign purchases (but no fee exemption), and the Home Trust Preferred Visa comes out ahead with 1.00% net cash back abroad, versus Rogers’ 0.50%.
To round out an already impressive package, Home Trust protects its cardholders with complimentary Roadside Assistance. At any time of the day or week, cardholders can call and request emergency towing services, gas delivery, and locksmith, tire, or battery services. A similar membership from CAA costs over $50 per year. Finally, Home Trust members have standard purchase insurance for new items bought with the card, and rental car collision and damage insurance courtesy of Visa.
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 is one of the richest no-fee flat rate cash back rewards cards in Canada – whether you’re a Rogers customer or not.
You get 1.25% cash back rewards on ALL spend – not just at Rogers. Rogers customers can redeem their cash back for Rogers services and products. Or, if you’re not a Rogers customer you can have Rogers apply your cash back rewards earnings as a statement credit against your credit card.
The Rogers Mastercard also sets itself apart with 3% cash back rewards on ALL purchases made in a foreign currency! That means, with a 2.5% foreign transaction fee, you’re netting 0.5% cash back rewards 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.
Considering the card’s cash back rewards rates, plus its lack of an annual fee and a $25 welcome bonus (after you make your first purchase with the card), this is also one of the best no-fee cash back cards to use at Costco. With the Rogers Mastercard, you will earn 1.25% cash back rewards on ALL Costco purchases.>
The Rogers World Elite Mastercard
Veteran travellers know to expect foreign transaction fees while they’re abroad on vacation or business trips, which accrue when they make purchases in a foreign currency. These are 2.50% and sometimes more, so reducing your exposure to foreign transaction fees is one of the best ways to save money while travelling. Like its cousin the Platinum Mastercard, the Rogers World Elite Mastercard has a 2.5% foreign transaction fee, but also earns cash back in excess of that fee and then some.
Cardholders will earn 4.00% cash back on each of their purchases made using a foreign currency, which nets them 1.50% after factoring out the foreign transaction fee. At home and on any other purchase, the cash back rate is 1.75%. And like the Platinum Mastercard the Rogers World Elite card has no annual fee. However, it also requires a higher annual income for approval, at $80,000 for an individual applicant or $150,000 for a household.
In addition to the higher cashback rate, Rogers World Elite members will enjoy purchase protection and extended warranties, emergency travel medical insurance, and coverage for rental car damage and collisions, plus trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance.
Best “Same-as-Cash” Cash Back Credit Card
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” credit card in this category is the Scotia Amex Gold card. You earn the equivalent of 4% on gas, grocery, restaurants and entertainment – some of the most popular merchant categories of all. Earn the equivalent of 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 healthy welcome bonus of 15,000 points if you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months (only for new accounts opened by June 30th, 2018).
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 1.25% everywhere else and get 3% 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!
Using a cash back card is the most direct way to save money on your biggest expenses, but you shouldn’t get one unless it’s the card that you can squeeze the most value from. Though they might look similar on paper, differences from one card to the next can be significant. If you’re still not sure which blend of cash back, perks, and fees matches your needs, use our cash back reward calculator to help you narrow it down.