Best Credit Cards in Canada 2018
If you’re looking to bathe yourself in points, miles, cash or simply bask in the glory of 0% interest rates, Greedyrates.ca’s latest picks for Canada’s Best Credit Cards for 2018 should get you lathered-up into a frenzy!
You can stick with the card you have in your wallet, but do so at your own risk. Click the navigation links below to get to your preferable credit category quicker:
Summary of Best Credit Cards in Canada in 2018
Best Credit Card for People Looking for Cash Back
Cardholders receive 4% cash back on eligible grocery and gas purchases—one of the highest regular rates in Canada for these purchase categories. This is capped at a very high annual spend limit of $25,000 ($1,000 cash back). The card also returns 2% cash back at pharmacies and automated recurring bills. All other purchases generate 1% cash back.
This may seem like enough, but Scotia’s Visa Infinite card also offers entry to fine dining experiences and music performances, and provides perks at luxury hotels. To add even more value, cardholders gain access to an around-the-clock concierge service for all their planning and reservation needs. Finally, the Scotia Momentum card offers excellent travel benefits including several kinds of travel insurance like medical, trip interruption, flight delay, and more.
All of this is sweetened by the fact that the card waives its annual fee for the first 12 months (only for new accounts opened by June 30th, 2018).
For more cash back categories, visit our page of the Best Cash Back Credit Card Rankings in Canada for 2018.
Best Credit Card for Flexible Cash Back
Cash back is a pretty straightforward perk, but even a straightforward perk should ideally be tailored to a cardholder’s interests. With the Tangerine Money-Back card, it’s easy for cardholders to choose two purchase categories where they’ll earn 2.00% cash back. The card breaks up purchases into different groups: grocery, furniture, restaurants, hotel-motel, gas, recurring bills, drug store, home improvement, entertainment, and public transit and parking. Cardholders simply need to do an analysis of where they spend the most each month before picking the relevant cash back categories to begin earning.
By choosing to send all or a portion of their cash back to a Tangerine Savings Account, cardholders will earn the right to choose a third cash back category. On purchases not from a chosen category, cash back accrues at 0.50%. The way that cash back is redeemed is also flexible: you’re given your cash back monthly and can decide to apply it to your balance or send it to a savings account.
As an additional perk, other authorized users on your account can receive supplementary cards for free and enjoy earning cash back alongside you. You’ll also enjoy protection for new items purchased with the card and extended manufacturer’s warranties where applicable.
Best Credit Card for Going Out
A night out on the town in Canada is rarely cheap. But with the new Cobalt card from American Express, cardholders can earn accelerated reward points on all their restaurant spend, and then redeem these points on travel and entertainment.
The card’s standout feature is its massive earning rate on food: 5 points per $1 spent on dining out (and in!). This includes restaurants, bars, takeout, and even groceries. Points are also earned on travel in all its forms, with 2 points accrued per $1 spent on taxis, ridesharing, rail, gas, and airfare.
A great system for earning rewards on what you spend is complemented by Amex’s generous bonus offer. The introductory promotion allows new cardholders to get up to 30,000 points in their first year – just for spending $500 per month. 1 rewards point is equal to $0.01, giving the first-year bonus a potential value of $300. Cardholders can redeem their rewards by treating themselves to concerts, sport events, theatre, or any other Ticketmaster event they like. Or, if they prefer to get out of town, they cash in the rewards for a long-haul flight to virtually anywhere in Canada or the continental United States.
Best Credit Card for People Looking For Free Travel
The card comes with a great welcome bonus. First, it comes with a 25,000-point welcome bonus (as long as you spend $1500 on the card in the first 3 months). The great thing about the welcome bonus is that you can either use it as a $250 credit against any travel expense on your credit card statement. Or, you can convert it to Aeroplan miles 1:1 at no extra cost, meaning it effectively becomes a 25,000 bonus Aeroplan miles!
The Amex Gold Rewards card also happens to be a great rewards earner, but more than that, the highest earning Aeroplan credit card in the country. You get 2 points per dollar spent in grocery, gas, pharmacy and all travel purchases and 1 point everywhere else. Remember, if you convert your points to Aeroplan that’s 2 Aeroplan miles in gas, grocery, pharmacy and all travel! The best any other Aeroplan credit card does is offer 1.5 miles per dollar spent!
With 25,000 points that can be converted into a $250 travel credit or 25,000 Aeroplan miles, you can redeem for a return flight to anywhere in North America from any Canadian city!
Best Credit Card for Household Expenses
Families that spend significant amounts monthly on groceries, gas, home and garden maintenance, and other household bills will benefit immensely from the huge earn rate of 3% in Canadian Tire Money on purchases in participating grocery stores. There’s also 4% back on transactions in Canadian Tire, Mark’s, Prok Chek, and Atmosphere, and 5 cents back per litre in Canadian Tire Money at Gas+ locations. The advantage of earning Canadian Tire Money, as opposed to other rewards cards, is that you can spend it like cash at the participating stores. So, first you earn Canadian Tire Money on your groceries, then you use it to pay the bill.
On top of this saving on your household expenses, you’ll pay $0 in annual fees, get contactless payments for small purchases, and 24/7 online account management. Canadian Tire Money doesn’t expire as long as your account is open.
It’s important to note that once you reach $12,000 in qualifying purchases, your earn rate will drop to 1%. Additionally, certain stores including Wal-Mart, Costco, and Wal-Mart Superstore aren’t included as ‘grocery’ stores for the purposes of your 3% earn rate.
Best Credit Card for Family Travel
Earning points on the Starwood Preferred Guest Card is easy. You’ll get a $250 in statement credits for charging $1,500 during the first three months of card ownership, and $200 on Starwood or Mariott properties purchases which isn’t hard for families! There are no blackout dates for booking rooms with your Starpoints.
What’s more, cardholders who spend $40,000 or more per year using their Starwood Preferred Guest Card get a free weekend night in any hotel up to category 4. It’s a nice reward for a romantic getaway without the kids.
The regular earnings rate of 2 Starpoints for every $1 spent at participating Starwood hotels helps your Starpoints accumulate quickly, as long as you choose lodgings wisely when you travel. Starwood is owned by Marriott, so the network of hotels that earn double points is very wide: Marriott, Westin, Sheraton, W Hotels, St. Regis, etc.
APR for the Starwood Preferred Guest Card is 19.99%, the annual fee is $120, and there’s no minimum income requirement to be eligible, although you do need good to excellent credit. There are no fees for supplementary cards.
For more travel categories, visit our Best Travel Credit Card Rankings in Canada page.
Best Credit Card for No Foreign Transaction Fees
While some savvy travellers save money with credit cards that earn air miles, points, and free hotel stays, others save by avoiding the bane of every Canadian traveller’s existence: the Foreign Transaction Fee. Foreign transaction fees are the extra charges that credit cards place on every purchase made in a foreign currency. The fees are typically around 2.5% of each transaction, which add up to quite a bundle over the course of a vacation or business trip.
Although the Rogers Platinum Mastercard does charge foreign transaction fees, it’s still worth a mention in this category thanks to its unusual 3% cashback rewards offer on purchases in a foreign currency. So, yes, you’ll have to pay foreign transaction fees on your travel purchases, but you will also earn more than those fees in cashback rewards. 3% cashback rewards – 2.5% foreign transaction fee = 0.5% net cashback rewards.
At the moment, the Home Trust Preferred Card is one of the select few cards in the Canadian market that waives foreign transaction fees altogether. Canadians used to have the choice of Chase’s Amazon and Marriott cards too, but those were recently cancelled. The Home Trust Preferred is an attractive card for anyone with a minimum personal income of $15,000 and a fair to good credit score. As well as zero foreign transaction fees, it has no annual fee, 1% unlimited cashback (including on purchases overseas), free roadside assistance, purchase protection, and rental car damage and collision insurance. Average APR is 19.99%.
Though the net cash back on foreign currency purchases is higher with the Home Trust Preferred card than it it is with the Rogers Platinum, the Home Trust Preferred does have some notable limitations. Home Trust currently limits cardholders to 10 transactions per day and the card is not available to Quebec residents.
In addition to the above two no annual fee cards which either waive or subsidize foreign transaction fees, we also would like to highlight a more premium travel card that waives foreign transaction fees as well.
Frequent travellers will appreciate the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite‘s complete exemption from any foreign currency transaction fees. Paying no fees on purchases saves a lot of money during a trip, but the card’s benefits also extend to travel amenities. The Passport Visa Infinite grants travellers a Priority Pass to airport lounges worldwide, which gives access at around half the price that non-members pay (around $14 per person). Cardholders often end up paying nothing, given that the card also provides 6 free lounge passes each year.
Though the annual fee is $139, which is more expensive than the free Rogers Platinum Mastercard and Home Trust Preferred card, the Scotia Passport’s features outperform each as well. For $139, you gain complete exemption from foreign transaction fees (not merely cash back like with Rogers), the ability to earn Scotia Rewards (2 per $1 spent on grocery, dining, and entertainment) and the VIP airport lounge status and passes. You’ll also gain great insurance benefits like travel medical, trip interruption and cancellation, and rental car coverage. The icing on the cake is an introductory bonus of 25,000 points for spending just $1,000 during your first 3 months as a cardholder.
Click here to learn more about Foreign Transaction Fees and how to avoid them.
Best Credit Card for People With Credit Card Debt
If you have credit card debt and you’re paying interest, there’s hope. The truth is, if your credit is fine, you can avoid paying any interest. That’s right, you can pay 0% interest for an entire year. It’s cheaper than a home equity line of credit or a personal loan.
The MBNA Platinum Plus Mastercard comes with no annual fee and offers a 0% interest rate for 12 months. The only cost is a 1% balance transfer fee.
The potential savings with this card are huge. If you owe $5,500 in credit card debt at an interest rate of 19.9% you’d save over $965 in interest costs in one year alone!!! All your monthly payments will go towards paying down your debt, not interest. It’s also a great way to consolidate all of your credit card and store card debts, so that you end-up with one simple payment per month.
You can learn more about reducing credit card debt with balance transfer cards via our Best 0% Balance Transfer Credit Card Offers in Canada page
Best Credit Card to Repair or Establish Credit
As one of the best credit cards for bad credit in Canada, Refresh Financial’s Secured Visa offers purchasing power and the ability to improve one’s credit score, no matter how deeply it has fallen. Those with bad credit, no credit, or a history of bankruptcy and consumer proposals are all eligible to sign up and receive approval. The only requirement is a security deposit, which also matches the credit limit assigned to you by Refresh.
A nice part about the Refresh Financial Secured card is that its minimum security deposit is lower than most other secured cards. At just $200, it’s easy to afford, thereby lowering the barrier to entry even further. The maximum deposit is $10,000. With a secured card, cardholders can rebuild or establish a good credit score faster, because their repayment behavior is reported more frequently to credit bureaus like Equifax and TransUnion.
Once your credit score is improved, be sure to pay off the card in full to receive your security deposit back.
Visit our Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit page and find more options to repair your credit.
Best Promotional Offer
TD Cash Back Visa Infinite
The TD Cash Back Visa Infinite card is a relatively new offering that has managed to fly under the radar until now. But its new introductory bonus might make it very popular: customers who sign up by June 3rd, 2018 accrue an industry-leading 9% cash back on selected purchases (on up to $3,500 of total spend).
After the promotional period ends, 1% is earned on all purchases made with the card. That figure jumps to 3% on eligible gas, groceries, and recurring payments set up with your account (like bills). TD offers a flexible way to redeem the cash back. Instead of waiting a full year to access the cash back they collected, cardholders can redeem their rewards at any time to pay down existing balances.
TD’s Cash Back Visa Infinite card also includes free around-the-clock concierge and roadside assistance services, access to Food and Wine Experiences, as well as perks at over 900 top hotels around the world.
*Minimal income requirement: $60,000 personal or $100,000 household annual income.
Best Credit Card for Insurance Coverage
The benefits of credit card membership are not limited to merchandise rewards or airfare; another advantage offered by select cards is protection during life’s unexpected and unfortunate incidents. The BMO World Elite Mastercard is ideal for those who value these perks, as the card comes with a broad variety of travel insurance features that keep cardholders safe while they are away from home.
The BMO World Elite card includes one of the most sought after travel features for Canadians: out-of-province emergency medical insurance. Those who experience a medical emergency during their travels have $2 million-worth of coverage at their disposal designed to defray hospital and other care costs.
But medical emergencies are just one of many complications that may arise during travel, and this Mastercard extends its protective advantages to other areas of necessity. Members will enjoy insurance for rental cars, trip cancellation, trip interruption, flight delay, and baggage. The card also comes with a wealth of additional trip assistance services including emergency cash advance, lost document replacement and more. Coverage is unlimited, meaning that each of these features applies to every trip, no matter how frequent.
For an extra fee, cardholders can access balance protection as well, an insurance feature which guarantees that their balance is paid in the event of disability, job loss, loss of life or limb, and critical or terminal illness. Considering that cardholders are also exempt from the first year’s annual fee (limited time offer), receive a welcome bonus of 35,000 points, earn rewards at a lucrative 2 points per $1 on all eligible purchases, and gain VIP access to airport lounges, the BMO World Elite has set the bar very high for travel cards.
Read more on Best Travel Insurance Credit Cards.
Best Credit Card If You’re A Student
Unfortunately, not all Canadian student credit cards fit the bill. In fact, some require that you hold a part-time job and show proof of income. Not exactly friendly to the full-time student. Others require you pay an annual fee, which makes no sense.
That’s why we love the BMO SPC Student Mastercard. It comes with no annual fee, no income required, and has great perks, like 10-15% discounts at hundreds of retailers across Canada through SPC.
Lastly, you can either get the cash back or Air Miles no fee student credit card. The BMO SPC Cash back card offers a welcome bonus of 4% cash back on all eligible purchases in the first 4 months, and the no fee Air Miles card comes with a 500 Air Miles welcome bonus!
Picking the Right Companion for Your Wallet
Identifying your spending habits and unique credit card needs is crucial to narrowing down a final choice. If you’re still scratching your head, use the GreedyRates Best Credit Cards Canada Comparison Tool. After you input your unique criteria and preferences, as well as your common purchasing patterns, the tool will curate a list of cards which are suited to you personally.
Getting the best credit card is a simple matter, regardless of which card perks you desire most. Cash back, travel rewards, accelerated credit improvement and other benefits are only as powerful as their relevance to any single cardholder. Thankfully, it’s easier than ever to find the best options available on GreedyRates. If you need any further assistance when making an ultimate decision, feel free to contact us by email and we’ll give you a helping hand.
Learn more about Canada’s Best Student Credit Cards for 2018.