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What Credit Card Should You Have at Your Income Level?

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Last updated on August 5, 2022 Comments: 2

Credit cards have become a necessity in our increasingly cashless world. We need them to book, buy, make deposits, establish our financial trustworthiness, and sometimes prove our identity. But with so many credit cards available now in Canada, it can be hard to select the right one for you. Not only do you need to consider the most attractive card features, but you also need to determine if you qualify in the first place. After all, many credit cards come with minimum income requirements, not to mention annual fees that may or may not fit your budget. This article will guide you to the right card based on your income level.

Credit card income requirements in Canada are generally broken down into three different annual earning brackets: $0-$59,999, $60,000-$79,999, and $80,000+. The cards with a higher income requirement typically come with more benefits but may also come with a higher annual fee. Here are our top credit card suggestions based on your annual income.

Best Credit Cards for Low-Income Earners (< $59,999)

There are plenty of options within this bracket, some offering comprehensive rewards programs and benefits and others just covering the basics. As long as you have a good credit score and meet the income requirement, you’ll likely qualify for one of our suggested best credit cards for low-income earners.

Credit CardMinimum Income Level NeededAnnual FeeKey FeatureApply Now
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card$12,000$02% cash back on 2-3 spending categories you selectApply Now
PC® Mastercard®N/A$030 points per litre at Esso™ and Mobil™ stations in CanadaApply Now
MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus® Mastercard®N/A$05% intro cash back for first six months on gas and groceries (conditions apply)Apply Now

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

Apply Now
Who’s Eligible?
– Minimum Credit Score: Fair-Good
– Minimum Income: $12,000
– Age: 18+/Age of majority
– Residency: Canadian Citizen/Permanent Resident
– Other: No bankruptcy for the past 7 years

The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card offers unusual flexibility, allowing cardholders to choose 2 merchant categories in which they will receive 2% cash back. The categories you can choose from include groceries, restaurants, gas, drug stores, recurring bill payments, and more. You can earn a third 2% category if you deposit your cash back directly into a Tangerine bank account. All other purchases will earn 0.5% cash back, and there are zero limits, caps, or tiers for this cashback program.

There is no annual fee for the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card, but you do need an annual income of at least $12,000 to apply. Even though this credit card is classified as a low-income choice, it’s really a great cash back option for any income bracket, given the ability to tailor its money-back rewards.

Click here to apply or learn more by reading our Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card review.

PC® Mastercard®

Apply Now
Who’s Eligible?
– Minimum Credit Score: Fair-Good
– Minimum Income: N/A
– Age: Age of majority in your province or territory
– Residency: Resident of Canada

Another great credit card option for those in the low-income category is the PC Financial® Mastercard. Like the other two cards we’ve highlighted in this income bracket, the PC® Mastercard® has no annual fee and the required annual income is quite low. Despite the minimal application requirements, it’s a great credit card for those who spend a lot on gas. Cardholders will receive 30 PC Optimum™ points per litre purchased at any Esso™ or Mobil™ gas station, in addition to 25 points for every dollar spent at Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix; 20 points for every dollar spent on PC travel services; and 10 points for every dollar spent elsewhere.

New cardholders who sign up for the PC® Mastercard® can earn 20,000 bonus points after making a purchase with their new card at a Shoppers Drug Mart, Pharmaprix, Loblaw banner store, or at an Esso™ or Mobil™ station in Canada. The purchase must be made within six months of account approval to qualify. 10K PC Optimum™ points minimum can be redeemed for $10 worth of groceries, housewares, or other products at stores that participate in the PC Optimum™ program like Loblaws, No Frills, and Real Canadian Superstore, so the 20K bonus is worth $20.

Click here to apply or learn more by reading our complete PC® Mastercard® review.

Sponsored advertising. President’s Choice Financial® Mastercard® is provided by President’s Choice Bank. The PC Optimum™ program is provided by President’s Choice Services Inc. President’s Choice Bank is not responsible for the contents of this site, including any editorials or reviews that may appear on this site. For complete information on this PC® Mastercard® credit card, please click on the “Apply Now” button.

MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus® Mastercard®

Apply Now
Who’s Eligible?
– Minimum Credit Score: Fair/Good
– Minimum Income: N/A
– Age: Age of majority in province/territory
– Residency: Canadian resident
– This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For residents of Quebec, please click here.

The MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus® Mastercard® is a great option for those who spend a lot on gas and groceries and prefer a card with no annual fee. It features an impressive welcome offer for new cardholders: 5% cash back on gas and groceries for the first 6 months, up to a monthly maximum of $500 in combined grocery and gas spending (that equals a monthly total of $25 cash back, and a 6-month total of $150 cash back). When the 6-month promotion period ends, you’ll get 2% cash back on gas and groceries, again up to $500 spent. After crossing the $500 threshold in gas/grocery spending each month, the card will earn 0.5% cash back in those categories until a new month begins, which is also the cash back rate for all card purchases outside the gas and grocery category.

Though it does have a somewhat confusing stratified earning structure, the MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus® Mastercard® offers very respectable cash back rates overall. It also features a few other basic benefits like purchase assurance, extended warranty on purchases, and discounts of at least 5% at select car rental companies. Interest rates are 19.99% for purchases; 24.99% for cash advances; and 22.99% for balance transfers.

Click here to apply.

Sponsored advertising. MBNA is a division of The Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) and TD is not responsible for the contents of this site, including any editorials or reviews that may appear on this site. For complete information on this MBNA credit card, please click on the “Apply Now” button.

Best Credit Cards for Middle-Income Earners ($60K-$79,999)

In terms of credit cards, middle-income earners are generally classified as individuals who make between $60,000- $79,999 annually or who have a combined household income of $100,000 or more. The types of credit cards that fall into this category tend to have more perks and benefits, higher welcome bonuses, and high annual fees. These are our top credit card picks for middle-income earners.

Credit CardMinimum Income Level NeededAnnual FeeKey FeatureApply Now
TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card$60,000 individual or $100,000 household$139 (First Year Rebate)1.5 Aeroplan points per $1 spent on eligible gas, grocery, and direct through Air Canada® purchasesApply Now
American Express
Cobalt® Card
N/A$155.88 ($12.99 monthly fee)5 points per $1 spent on eligible groceries, restaurants, and food delivery (conditions apply)Apply Now
Scotia Momentum® Visa Infinite* Card$60,000 individual or $100,000 household$120 (first year annual fee waiver)4% cash back on eligible grocery store purchases, recurring bill payments, and subscription purchases.Apply Now

The offer for the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card is not available for residents of Quebec. For Quebec residents, please click here.

Terms and conditions apply.

TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card

Apply Now
Eligibility Criteria:
– Standard Purchase APR: 19.99%
– Balance Transfer APR: 22.99%
– Cash Advance APR: 22.99%
– Current Promotion Expires: September 5, 2022
– Credit score required: Good-Excellent
– Min personal income required: $60,000
– Annual fees: $139 (Annual Fee Rebate the first year)

New TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* cardholders can capitalize on a huge sign-up bonus. Earn up to $1,400 in value including up to 50,000 Aeroplan points, no annual fee for the first year and additional travel benefits. Must apply online by September 5, 2022.

  • Earn a welcome bonus of 10,000 Aeroplan points when you make your first purchase with your new card
  • Earn 20,000 Aeroplan points when you spend $1,500 within 90 days of Account opening
  • Plus, earn an additional 20,000 Aeroplan points when you spend $7,500 within 12 months of Account opening
  • Enroll for NEXUS and once every 48 months, get an application fee rebate, and share free first checked bags
  • Plus, get an annual fee rebate for the first year.

To receive the first-year annual fee rebate, you must activate your card and make your first Purchase on the Account within the first three months after Account opening, and you must add your Additional Cardholders by September 6, 2022.

Cardholders will also earn 1.5 Aeroplan points for every $1 spent on eligible gas, grocery, and direct through Air Canada® purchases (including Air Canada Vacations®) made with your card. Earn 1 point† for every $1 spent on all other Purchases made with your Card. Additional benefits and perks include a free first checked bag for cardholders and travel companions (up to eight) travelling together (when travel originates on an Air Canada flight), Travel Medical Insurance of up to $1M for 21 days (4 days for those 65 and over), Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption insurance, Flight/Trip Delay Insurance and a full suite of other great travel insurances and safeguards. If your income level meets the requirements for this card and you’re a frequent Air Canada passenger, this might just be your best companion.

Click here to apply or learn more by reading our complete TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card review.

This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For Quebec residents, please click here.

Terms and conditions apply.

American Express Cobalt® Card

Apply Now
Who’s Eligible?
– Minimum Credit Score: Fair-Good
– Minimum Income: N/A
– Age: Age of majority in province/territory
– Residency: Canadian resident

If you love good food and enjoy dining out, then the American Express Cobalt® Card should be on your radar. The card awards 5 Amex Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on groceries, restaurants, and food delivery. Cardholders will also earn 3 points per $1 spent on streaming subscriptions; 2 points per $1 spent on eligible travel expenses, ground transit, and gas; and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else. Aside from these strong regular earn rates, the Cobalt® has competitive bonus incentives for new cardholders. Those newly approved for the card can earn 2,500 points awarded for each month in which you spend at least $500 (up to 30,000 points in the first year). Terms and conditions apply.

Points can be redeemed for travel, a variety of merchandise, or toward paying off your statement. The American Express Cobalt® Card doesn’t have a minimum income requirement per se, but you do need a good credit score to be approved, and there’s a fee of $155.88 ($12.99 monthly fee) per year.

Click here to apply or learn more by reading our complete American Express Cobalt® Card review.

Scotia Momentum® Visa Infinite* Card

Apply Now
Who’s Eligible?
– Minimum Credit Score: Good-Excellent
– Minimum Income: $60,000
– Age: 18+/Age of majority in province
– Residency: Canadian Citizen/Permanent Resident

Middle-income earners looking for a great cashback card will want to consider the Scotia Momentum® Visa Infinite* card. Cardholders earn 4% back on grocery purchases, recurring bill payments, and subscriptions for up to $25,000 in annual spend (spending above this limit will earn 1% cash back). Furthermore, cardholders will earn 2% cash back on gas and daily transit (again, up to $25,000, then the earn rate changes to 1%). Any other eligible purchase will see a return of 1% cash back, with no spending limit. There is an annual fee of $120 for the Scotia Momentum® Visa Infinite* Card, but there is a Welcome Offer for new cardholders: Earn 10% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months (up to $2,000 in total purchases). No annual fee in the first year, including on supplementary cards. Must apply by August 31, 2022. Terms and conditions apply.

Click here to apply or learn more by reading our complete Scotia Momentum® Visa Infinite* review.

Best Credit Cards for High-Income Earners ($80K+)

Our final category is for high-income earners who make $80,000+ annually as individuals or who have a combined annual household income of $150,000+. High-income credit cards typically come with an attractive array of benefits and tend to have higher rewards earning potential and larger welcome bonuses. Unsurprisingly, these credit cards also normally come with a hefty annual fee. However, the benefits and perks that come with premium cards can be worth the annual fee. These are our top picks for high-income level credit cards.

Credit CardMinimum Income Level NeededAnnual FeeKey FeatureApply Now
BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®*$80,000 individual or $150,000 household$150Complimentary membership in Mastercard Travel Pass provided by DragonPass,* with four annual complimentary passes.Apply Now
Rogers World Elite Mastercard$80,000 individual or $150,000 household$03% cash back on USD; 1.5% cash back on CADApply Now
The Platinum Card®N/A$699Annual $200 CAD travel creditApply Now

BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®*

Apply Now
Who’s Eligible?
– Minimum Credit Score: Excellent
– Minimum Income: $80,000 personal/$150,000 household

The BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®* is a travel rewards card with a good earn rate and strong overall value for those interested in using their points toward flights. New cardholders will get up to 60,000 points and the annual fee waived in the first year for both the primary cardholder and authorized users.*. The earn rate is 5x the points for every $1 spent on eligible travel purchases,* 3x the points for every $1 spent on eligible dining and entertainment purchases and recurring bill payments,* 1 point for every $1 spent everywhere else.* These points can be redeemed for travel or merchandise, put toward the card balance, or invested.

Additional perks with this credit card include a very comprehensive insurance package, 4 free airport lounge passes per year, and purchase protection. The BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®* has an annual fee of $150 (the first year is waived)* and requires an Excellent credit score and minimum annual personal income of $80,000 to apply.

Apply here or learn more by reading our complete BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®*.

*Terms and conditions apply.

Rogers World Elite Mastercard

Apply Now
Who’s Eligible?
– Minimum Credit Score: Good-Excellent
– Minimum Income: $80,000
– Age: 18+/Age of majority
– Residency: Canadian Resident

The Rogers World Elite Mastercard is a no-annual fee credit card that’s made a reputation for itself by offering competitive cashback rewards rates on both foreign and domestic purchases. Cardholders will receive 3% cashback rewards on U.S. dollar purchases and 1.5% cashback on all other Canadian dollar purchases. The best part? These earnings are unlimited and there are no spending caps. Anyone interested in this credit card will want to note that there is a 2.5% foreign transaction fee. However, thanks to the 3% cashback rewards on U.S. dollar purchases, some foreign purchases still come out ahead. Those who want to apply for the Rogers World Elite Mastercard should have a good credit score and a minimum annual income of $80,000.

Click here to apply or learn more by reading our complete Rogers World Elite Mastercard review.

The Platinum Card®

Apply Now
Eligibility Criteria:
– Credit score required: Good-Excellent
– Min personal income required: N/A
– Annual fees: $699

The Platinum Card® is one of the few premium cards that does not technically have a minimum income requirement. However, given its hefty annual fee of $699, we’re classifying it as a high-income card. Interest applies in accordance with your Cardmember Agreement, Information Box, and Disclosure statement if the total New Balance is not paid by the Payment Due Date each month. All payments must be received by the Payment Due Date shown on the monthly statement.

The Platinum Card® is a popular premium card in Canada, thanks to its many top features. These include a $200 CAD annual travel credit, unlimited airport lounge access within the extensive Amex lounge network, hotel status upgrades, and comprehensive travel insurance. New cardholders can also receive a signup bonus of up to 110,000 Membership Rewards® points – that’s up to $1,100 towards your next flight, or a weekend away at the spa. Terms apply. Membership Rewards® points are earned for every purchase with the card’s standard earn rates: 3 points for every $1 in Card purchases on eligible dining and food delivery in Canada, 2 points for every $1 in Card purchases on eligible travel, and 1 point for every $1 in all other Card purchases. You can also transfer your points to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio or to Marriott Bonvoy at a 1:1.2 ratio.

Click here to apply or learn more by reading our complete review of The Platinum Card®.

This post was not sponsored. The views and opinions expressed in this review are purely my own.

American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details and current product information, click the Apply now link. Conditions apply.

BMO is not responsible for maintaining the content on this site. Please click on the Apply now link for the most up-to-date information

 

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Author Bio

Hannah Logan
Hannah Logan is a freelance finance and travel writer/blogger based in Ottawa. Her stories have appeared on Fodor’s Travel, Livestrong, World Nomads, Intrepid Travel, and more. You can keep up with her at Eatsleepbreathetravel.com or follow her on Twitter and Instagram: hannahlogan21.

Article comments

2 comments
Ambre says:

Hi there I have a question.
I had a high income and was laid off due to lack of work and currently on EI. My credit is not great tho at 655 with very little credit history. My SO still has a high income and a few credit cards. He has a complementary platinum Amex under my name but I understand that doesn’t help towards my credit. We are not married but have been living together for a while just never done our taxes as living partners yet. What are my options to build credit if I’m on EI ? I also have quite a bit of savings (about 45k). Only 4500 of that is in tsfa tho the rest just stupidly in a chequing account. Only debt is student loan that I’m paying minimum on monthly

Aaron Broverman says:

Hi Ambre,

If you don’t want to have to prove your income and don’t want to wait until your E.I. runs out or you get another job, just apply for a secured card with a low limit like $500. Just pay whatever you want your limit to be upfront and that will become your limit on a secured card you can then use the card to make purchases and pay back the used balance by the due date as you normally would. This can help you build your credit and if you make your payments on time, you should get an offer for an unsecured card after a few months.