Best Mastercard Credit Cards in Canada in 2018
Of the major credit card processors in Canada, Mastercard is popular for its near universal acceptance rate and wide array of useful features. Mastercard credit cards also have exclusive deals with major retailers, and are a necessity for those who often shop at Costco or Walmart, where Visa and Amex are not accepted. In terms of the cards that Mastercard offers to Canadians, there is a variety to suit nearly every income level, habitual purchase category, and reward type preference. Mastercard also provides some default perks and protections, including ID theft protection, extended warranties on purchases and more.
Best Balance Transfer Mastercard
For cardholders carrying high-interest balances with other banks, the MBNA Platinum Plus Mastercard can be a game-changer. Regardless of the types of debt in question or their total amount, MBNA allows you to consolidate them and transfer them to the Platinum Plus credit card, which offers 0.00% interest on balance transfers for twelve months. There’s a 1.00% transfer fee, but the amount that cardholders save over the interest-free year is much more significant.
Cardholders have this year-long promotion to pay off their single balance, and can more effectively reduce the principal amount. Note that after the promotion is over, the interest rate increases to 21.99%, and the card should not be used to accumulate and carry other balances, as the purchase and cash advance interest rates are a high 24.99%. Additionally, balances cannot be transferred from MBNA or TD accounts.
You can learn more about the card by reading our complete MBNA Platinum Plus Mastercard review.
Best Travel Rewards Mastercard
Frequent travellers will appreciate the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard for its simple point collecting power, exclusive travel perks and solid introductory bonus. Though the card is accompanied by an annual fee of $120, it will save much more each year, as you earn 1 Air Mile for every $10 in spending. During the first year, the annual fee is waived for those who spend $3,000 in the first three months. Meeting this milestone also earns new members a 3,000 Air Miles bonus—with 1,000 for just the first purchase (offer valid through April 30th, 2018).
Those that charge $5,000 a month to the card will collect over 9,000 Air Miles in their first year, including the bonus, which is the equivalent value of a flight to Hawaii. While on their travels, cardholders will also enjoy a Priority Pass membership to the world’s various VIP airport lounges, as well as World Elite travel and medical protection.
You can learn more about the card by reading our complete BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard review.
Best Hotel Rewards Mastercard
Those who like to travel and enjoy new experiences in comfort can check all their boxes and simultaneously earn rewards points with the help of Best Western and MBNA. The versatile Best Western card accrues 1 point per dollar in eligible purchases, but accelerates this rate to 5 points per dollar when spending on Best Western properties. Your first purchase earns you Gold Status with Best Western, boosting the earnings rate by an additional 10.00% per stay. Spend $10,000 during the year and get Platinum Status, achieving an additional 15.00% alongside multiple other thoughtful perks.
Your first eligible purchase also yields a 20,000-point bonus—an amount that’s equivalent to a free night’s stay. Those that have outstanding debt with other banks and want to enjoy Best Western’s magnified travel benefits can transfer their balance to the card and enjoy 1.99% interest for ten full months.
You can learn more by reading our complete Best Western Rewards Mastercard review.
Best Cash Back Mastercard
The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card is perfect if you want to choose the kinds of purchases you’ll earn cash back with, without paying extra for this valuable privilege. Cardholders pay no annual fee and will choose two categories where their purchases earn 2.00% cash back—groceries, furniture, restaurants, hotels and motels, gas, recurring bills, drug stores, home improvement, entertainment, and public transit/parking make up the wide array of categories to choose from. And by setting up automatic contributions to a Tangerine savings account, you can choose a third category with 2.00% cash back. On all other purchases, cash back accrues at 0.50%.
The flexible redemption process is another area where the Tangerine card shines, with cardholders able to credit their cash directly to any month’s statement. You can learn more about the card by reading our complete Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card review.
Best Student Mastercard
Students deserve a good credit card, but there are many that they can’t access due to high annual fees or income requirements. BMO helps them get one by offering their SPC Air Miles Mastercard, which has a $0 annual fee and solid 500-mile bonus just for making an initial purchase (offer expires April 30th, 2018). At no cost, students get an array of basic credit card perks, such as the ability to earn 1 reward mile for every $20 they spend with the card. For just $500 in spending per month, a new member can accrue at least 800 miles in their first year, which is almost enough for a flight in BMO’s rewards center.
They’ll also get the 10.00% to 15.00% off at the hundreds of stores and brands that partner with SPC—many of them perfectly suited to campus life like cheap eats and retail clothing shops. Using the card at Air Miles partners enables cardholders to earn more miles as well. To cap off the card’s benefits, cardholders can protect their new purchases with an extended warranty and additional protections.
Best No Annual Fee Mastercard
Few will argue that a solid rewards credit card isn’t worth its annual fee, but that doesn’t mean they’re happy to pay it. In this regard, cards like the BMO Rewards Mastercard offer a worthwhile array of benefits but also exemption from the yearly fee, which might run upwards of $50 on similar cards. Cardholders can earn a solid promotional bonus of up to 20,000 BMO rewards points: 10,000 for a single initial purchase and another 10,000 for spending just $1,000 in the first three months (offer valid through October 31st, 2018).
In the meantime, the card accrues BMO rewards points at a rate of 1 for every dollar spent, with a special rate of double points plus 25.00% off the price of car rentals at National Car Rental and Alamo Rent a Car locations across Canada. Even without the accelerated rate, if you spend an average of $2,000 per month, you can earn around 45,000 rewards points in your first year. Points are redeemable on flights, hotels, and merchandise.
Best Mastercard for Costco
While Costco in Canada only accepts Mastercard purchases, big box stores are not considered to be part of the ‘grocery’ category, so you shouldn’t shop at Costco with a Mastercard that earns accelerated cash back or rewards for groceries and assume that your purchases there will qualify. The best cards to use at Costco are those with high cash back or rewards rates and no purchase category requirements, like the MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard. Useful for any type of shopping, Costco included, the card earns 2 points per dollar on all expenses, which can be redeemed for travel, merchandise, or cash back at the same ratio.
If you choose to apply your cash back rewards to your statement, you can do so monthly instead of waiting a year like with some other cards. For travel rewards, MBNA will price match arrangements from AirCanada.com and WestJet.com, or you can book via sites like Expedia, Travelocity or Priceline and pay with points retroactively. With some light travel and purchase protections, the low annual fee of $89 is more than worth it.
You can learn more by reading our complete MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard review.
Best ‘No Foreign Transaction Fee’ Mastercard
Travellers are often unfortunately familiar with the dreaded foreign transaction fee, which averages 2.50% for purchases made in a currency other than Canadian dollars. Whether ordering online or flying abroad, eliminating these fees means you can reduce your trip expenses significantly.
Full disclosure: the Rogers Platinum Mastercard does not waive foreign transaction fees, but it does subsidize them in its own way. 3.00% cash back is awarded for each eligible foreign purchase—netting the cardholder 0.50% cash back after the 2.5% foreign transaction fee is factored in. Additionally, the card earns 1.25% on purchases domestically, meaning that no matter where you are, you’re always accumulating cash back.
For no annual fee, the Rogers Platinum Mastercard is easy and inexpensive to set aside in one’s wallet just for use abroad. Rogers will even give new members a $25 cash back bonus when they make an initial purchase in the first three months, with cash back redeemable once yearly in a lump sum statement credit.
You can learn more by reading our complete Rogers Platinum Mastercard review.
Best Mastercard from RBC
The Royal Bank of Canada offers several popular Mastercards, but we’ve determined which represents the best deal for the average cardholder. The winner is RBC’s Cash Back Mastercard, which has no annual fee and allows unlimited cash back accrual. You’ll earn 2.00% on groceries and 1.00% on all other eligible purchases. For such a competitive cash back rate, it’s nice that RBC doesn’t demand an annual fee, or a fee for additional cardholders, and that the minimum income requirement is a manageable $15,000.
To sweeten the deal, cardholders will appreciate the ability to link their card to Petro-Canada and save 3 cents on each liter of fuel, all while earning Petro-Points at a 20.00% accelerated rate. Protection for purchases and extended warranties on items purchased with the card cap off one of the best deals available from RBC. You can learn more by reading our complete RBC Cash Back Mastercard review.
Best Mastercard from Scotiabank
With an impressive selection of Mastercards to choose from, Scotiabank doesn’t make it easy to choose a winner. However, after much deliberation, we’re happy to land on their Scotia Momentum Mastercard. Effortless, streamlined savings and no annual fee define the card’s strongest benefits, with 1.00% cash back in multiple purchase categories including gas stations, groceries, drug stores, and recurring bills. All other purchases collect cash back at 0.50%.
To strengthen the card’s savings power, new cardholders will get an introductory interest rate of just 7.99% on purchases for the first six months. This means that those who need to make a large initial purchase and carry their balance for a few months can do so more inexpensively than with competing cards.
You can learn more by reading our complete Scotia Momentum Mastercard review.
Best Mastercard from BMO
The biggest detriment to those who cannot make full balance payments each month is interest, which can accrue quickly and make reducing debt that much more difficult. Lessening the impact of interest is what helps the BMO Preferred Rate card take the bank’s top spot for Mastercards, by offering a solid balance transfer deal of 3.99% for nine months. Moreover, the interest rate for both purchases and cash advances is a competitive 11.99%–about half of what other comparable cards can offer.
A low annual fee of $20, plus extended warranty and purchase protection benefits cap off the deal. Overall, the BMO Preferred is one of the best Mastercard credit cards for those individuals with outstanding debt, but also ongoing financial obligations that require them to use credit.
Best Premium Mastercard
Credit cards with a higher annual fee and steeper income requirements also give cardholders a greater array of perks. There are few premium Mastercards that can rival the BMO World Elite Mastercard, which offers a massive 35,000-point bonus after spending $3,000 in the first three months, plus a waiver of the first year’s $150 fee (offer valid through April 30th, 2018). It doesn’t end there, however, as the card also accrues three BMO rewards points for every dollar spent on travel, dining, and entertainment. Two points per dollar are granted for all other purchases.
Points can be redeemed on all travel arrangements, including luxury 4-star hotels and airfare. If you can meet the income requirement of $80,000 per year, you’ll also likely spend more per month on the card. For $5,000 per month, at the end of your first year you’ll have accrued enough points to spend 7 nights in an all-inclusive 5-star resort in Mexico, or a flight all the way from Canada to Dubai. During the layover, enjoy one of your four yearly complimentary VIP lounge passes. Last, but not least, travellers and their families are protected with BMO’s World Elite Total Travel and Medical protection package.
You can learn more by reading our complete BMO World Elite Mastercard review.
Best Low-Interest Mastercard
The MBNA True Line Mastercard is true to its name, offering one of the most direct ways to save for those who also plan on carrying a balance. Depending on your credit report and other factors, you can obtain a True Line card with interest rates between just 5.99% and 14.99%, and never pay an annual fee. The low rate applies to a wide array of financial activities, including purchases, balance transfers, and access cheques as well.
Over the course of a year, having an interest rate of 5.99% instead of what most cards would offer (20.00% or more) will save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. The card also comes with some auxiliary perks including lost luggage assistance, rental car benefits, purchase assurance and travel protection. The straightforward package is good for those cardholders who don’t want to juggle complicated rewards schemes and enjoy the simple benefit of reduced interest.
You can learn more about the card by reading our complete MBNA True Line Mastercard review.
Didn’t Find Your Dream Card?
If this list of Canada’s best Mastercards hasn’t delivered what you’re looking for, please feel free to comment below or email us with some specific criteria, and we’d be happy to make some personal suggestions!