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The top 6 best credit cards in Canada

With so many credit cards to choose from, finding the right one for you can feel like a chore. While we definitely encourage mindful spending—make sure you have a budget and are paying off those balances each month—getting the right card can help you save hundreds or even thousands of dollars every year.

Whether you’re looking for cash back, travel, or dining perks, here are our top 6 recommended credit cards in Canada. Use this as a starting point, and then make sure to do your own research to find the best fit for your lifestyle.

 

Best no-fee cash back card

Tangerine Money-Back Mastercard

Annual fee: none

Welcome bonus: none

Rewards: 2% cash back on up to 3 categories of your choice and 0.5% on all other purchases, unlimited money-back

Interest on purchases: 19.95%

Other benefits: purchase insurance and extended warranty

While this card doesn’t offer any fancy perks, it’s the best choice for those wanting to earn cash back without paying a monthly fee. It offers 2% cash-back on two spending categories of your choice, and you can get a third category if you opt to have that cash back deposited into a Tangerine savings account.

Tangerine also has a tracking and categorization feature that can help you keep tabs on where your money is going each month, which is great for keeping yourself accountable!

 

Best cash back card

Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite

Annual fee: $99 (your first year is free)

Welcome bonus: 10% cash back on your first $2000 of purchases in the first 3 months (a bonus of up to $200)

Rewards: 4% cash back on gas and groceries, 2% on drug stores and recurring bill payments, 1% on everything else

Interest on purchases: 19.99%

Other benefits: travel insurance, concierge service, Visa Infinite Dining and Music Series

Ranked the number one cash back rewards card by MoneySense in 2018, this is a well loved and recommended card. It offers a high cash back rate on common spending categories, the sign up bonus is pretty sweet, and it has good travel insurance—emergency medical and accidental, trip interruption, baggage loss, and car rental insurance.

 

Best travel points card

TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite 

Annual fee: $120 (waived in first year)

Welcome bonus: up to 80,000 TD Points (travel value of $400)

Rewards: 3 TD Points for every $1, 9 TD Points for every $1 spent through Expedia TD 

Interest on purchases: 19.99% 

Other benefits: travel insurance, car rental insurance

A great card for people who travel casually, it offers 3 TD Points for every dollar you spend and 9 TD Points for any travel booked through TD’s Expedia platform. It offers a variety of travel insurance—medical, trip cancellation, delayed and lost baggage, etc—and the annual fee is waived for the primary account holder in the first year.

Other runners up to consider are the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite (if you favour Aeroplan’s point program) and the BMO World Elite Mastercard (which you may prefer for its insurance coverage).

 

Best no foreign transaction fee card

Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite

Annual fee: $139

Welcome bonus: 30,000 bonus points (a $300 value) when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months plus an additional 10,000 points if you spent $40,000 annually

Rewards: 2 Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on eligible spending (groceries, dining, entertainment, transit) and 1 point per $1 on all other spending

Interest on purchases: 19.99%

Other benefits: no FX mark-up, airport lounge access, travel insurance, free additional card

This is the only no foreign transaction fee card offered by one of the big six banks right now, and Rewards Canada ranked it as the number one card. While there are some free no foreign transaction fee cards on the market, this card completely exempts you from any foreign currency transaction fees. You can also earn Scotia Rewards and take advantage of perks like VIP airport lounge status and passes.

 

Best no-fee travel card

Rogers World Elite Mastercard

Annual fee: none

Welcome bonus: none

Rewards: 4% cash back on purchases made in a foreign currency, 2% cash back on Rogers services, 1.75% cash back on all other purchases

Interest on purchases: 19.99%

Other benefits: travel insurance, car rental insurance, Mastercard Airport Experiences

A great option if you’re looking for a free travel card, the best thing about it is the 4% cash back on purchases made in a foreign currency. This will offset the foreign currency transaction fee of 2.5% and leave you with 1.5% cash back. One thing to note with this card however is that it has a high minimum personal income requirement of $80,000 annually.

 

Best dining and transit card

American Express Cobalt

Annual fee: $120 (charged as $10 monthly)

Welcome bonus: 2,500 Membership Rewards for each month of the first year that you spend $500 (up to 30,000 Bonus Points)

Rewards: 5 points for every $1 spent on groceries, dining, and food delivery, 2 points for every $1 spend on travel and transit, 1 point for every $1 spent on everything else

Interest on purchases: 19.99%

Other benefits: travel insurance, Entertainment Access

If you’re someone who eats out (or orders in!) a lot, this may be a great card for you. It has a high earn rate on all food spending, as well as pretty good rewards on transit and travel spending. Points earned can be used with American Express Fixed Points Travel Program which lets you book flights on any airline with no blackout dates. And if you’d rather use your points on accommodation, you can take advantage of American Express Hotel partners.

The only thing to keep in mind with this card is that since it’s an American Express, it may not be accepted everywhere you shop.

When looking for a credit card it’s easy to get swept up in finding the one with the most points or the best welcome bonus, but remember that the best credit card for you rewards you on the money you’re already spending. You don’t want to sign up for a card that’s going to make you feel like you have to spend more or differently each month. When the rewards you get actually fit your lifestyle, a credit card can be a very useful tool!

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