Guess What. Your mere existence requires you to spend lots and lots of money. Those are just the facts of life. But given those facts, we want your spending to work for you and not against you. That means using the best credit cards.
While our friends south of the border, enjoy tons of competing offers vying for your business, we Canadians can still get some good deals. That’s why today we’ll cover the Best Credit Cards in Canada.
What Makes For The Best Credit Cards in Canada?
Easy. Do they give you something for the pleasure of doing business with them?
And, as a lesson to my 20-yr old self, a box of cookies is just not enough.
What I’m NOT a fan of:
Anything with a weird scheme or annoying logins. I’m also not cool with pointless knickknacks after spending tons of my money.
I’m also not okay with fees.
What I AM a fan of:
Cashback. Cashback credit cards make the best credit cards in Canada. Period. They are simple, easy to use, and let you value your time.
Travel Rewards – Why I’m not a fan.
I also have a personal vendetta against travel reward credit cards. I used to have one. (I even paid fees for it.) The rewards you got seemed like a good deal, and I was excited about working up to a big Europe trip with my family. I used this card for work, so the points were racking up pretty quickly.
Then came the time to book the flights. I dreaded every second of those 8+ hours I wasted looking for something reasonable. Not only were there no direct flights, some of the flights had exorbitant fees – that you wouldn’t know about until AFTER booking.
We ended up just paying for the flights outright – which was actually pretty reasonable with our PC insiders (see below) and then used our points on gas station gift cards. Whatever.
What I use Now:
The cards I use are the ones in this list.
I use the PC Elite MasterCard and the Tangerine Money Back Mastercard because it covers all my bases. And I also another credit card just for travel, which I explain below.
Best Credit Cards Canada
… But first, the best credit card strategy
Before I give you the goods, here are some “finance expert” tips
- Have 2 credit cards from 2 different sources. You never know when one might get locked leaving you screwed. This used to happen to me on my travels.
- Your credit cards should be widely accepted. Everyone seems to take MasterCard, so we’re good. But big stores sometimes make backdoor deals to exclude certain credit cards.
- Focus on cashback instead of rewards. It’s just easier.
- If you travel, get another credit card with no ForEx fees. (I review those below.)
- Welcome bonuses are nice but not essential. (Don’t get lured by a box of cookies like Idid when I was 20.)
- Don’t bother comparing interest rates. You should be paying your credit cards off IN FULL every month!
While this isn’t actually a “money back” card, the PC points structure is incredibly generous and user-friendly. You have no idea how many times I’ve exclaimed “I get free groceries – AGAIN?” to the very confused cashier.
You can use your points at a bunch of Loblaw-owned grocery stores (Superstore, No Frills, etc.) as well as Shoppers Drugmart and Esso gas stations. They basically have everything covered.
Points: you get 3% back in points on gas, groceries, and travel, and 4.5% back at Shoppers Drugmart. Remember, these are points and not cash, but they’re super easy to use.
Fee: $0/yr – you know me – I like FREE!
Other perks: You get a free PC insiders membership for 1 year. It’s actually pretty sweet just for their travel agency alone (I have a full review of why I love it here.)
I love the Tangerine World card, and use it as a great supplement to my PC one. Wor
I get to choose three categories that give me 2% cash back.
(For most people that would be groceries and gas, but I use my PC card for that.)
For me, choosing my three categories was easy. Recurring bills – It’s easy to divert that to one card with minimal effort; Home improvement – because each trip to Home Depot is massive; and Restaurants – because if I’m going to be wasting money on takeout, I might as well get a kickback.
Cashback: it’s 2% back on three categories of your choice, and 0.5% back on everything else.
Other perks: None really, but Tangerine has a really nice and user-friendly online portal. I’m a sucker for stuff like that.
Best For Travel (With No Exchange Fee.)
Home Trust Preferred Visa – For Travel Around The World
If you plan on traveling all over the world, this card is the way to go.
- No annual fees
- No exchange fees
- 1% back on Canadian expenses.
I actually use this card to get cash when I’m abroad. I prepay this credit card and use the free ForEx at random ATMs. (They have great ForEx rates too.)
I prepay it because credit cards charge lots of interest on cash advances otherwise.
Rogers World Elite Mastercard – For Travel In US
Thsi is the best no foreign fee card if you go to the States a lot.
- 3% back on travel and US expenses
- No annual fee
It still charges a 2.5% ForEx fee, but you get slightly more back in cashback, so it’s okay.
Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card
Cashback: 4% back on gas and groceries.
It’s a pretty generous cashback, but it’s not that much better than the PC one AND it has a fee.
SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express
Cashback: 2% back on everything.
I really like that you get your cashback on everything and don’t have to choose categories. But My PC/Tangerine card combo covers almost everything I need without fees. So I’m good.
TD Cash Back Visa Infinite Card
Cashback: 3% back on groceries, gas, and recurring bills.
Again, this is pretty good, but I’d have to spend an extra $12,000 on recurring bills to break even compared to my PC/Tangerine credit card combo.
If you like travel rewards: Scotiabank Gold American Express
Rewards: 5% back on groceries, eating out, entertainment, 3% back on gas and travel, 1% back on everything else.
Also no ForEx fees.
This is pretty generous, but I really don’t like travel rewards. (Bad experience.) Cashback is so much easier.
TL;DR – Best Credit Cards Canada
- Personally, I use the PC MasterCard Elite and the Tangerine Money-Back MasterCard.
- I’m all about getting cashback (instead of points and rewards) and these give you the biggest bang for your buck. They’re also free.
- Technically, the PC MasterCard is not cashback, but the points are so easy to use at grocery stores, that it’s basically the same thing.
- If you travel a lot, look for credit cards with no ForEx Fees. I use the Home Trust Preferred Visa for travel around the world, but the Rogers World Elite MasterCard is awesome if you just travel to the US.