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Discover the Best Credit Cards in Canada

Looking for a new credit card? Find one that matches your lifestyle.

Select your priority

Select your rewards preference

Select your annual fees

How to find your best Credit Card at RATESDOTCA

1

Choose between Rewards or Low Interest

Rewards Cards are the best bet for people who pay off their balance and don't pay interest every month.

Low Interest Cards are helpful for individuals who are working to pay off their credit card balance.

2

Choose between Cash + or Travel Rewards

Cash+ cards reward you with cashback, statement credits or points that can be exchanged in retail stores.

Travel cards reward you with points to be used for travel purchases and may come with travel perks like complimentary lounge visits.

3

Are you willing to pay a fee?

Fee cards often offer superior rewards to no-fee cards, but we understand fees may not be for everyone. If you select "I Don't Mind" we will show you the best fee and no-fee cards.

View and compare your cards!

Use our tool to select the card that best fits your lifestyle, compare the potential rewards or savings based upon your spending habits and the Perks and Insurance that come with each card.

The Best of Finance 2021

Every year, RATESDOTCA audits and evaluates Canada's top credit cards, helping you find the best value based on your personal spending habits. This makes your search for the best credit card in Canada easy!

Our annual Best of Finance Awards include the industry's leading credit card rewards programs with top perks, benefits and insurance coverage, all categorized for you convenience. Using the Best of Finance methodology, we deeply analyze over a hundred credit cards to determine the list of winners. Every credit card is carefully compared by converting miles and points into cash value to assess its ranking fairly. Our dedicated team considers all interest rates, welcome bonuses, annual fees, rebates and waivers — scanning the fine print for you.

The Best of Finance Winners for 2021: Best Credit Cards in Canada

  First year value* Credit score required Winner
$1,874 Fair American Express Cobalt™ Credit Card
$1,536 Excellent CIBC Aventura® Visa Infinite™ Card
$1,244 Good Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card
$1,874 Fair American Express Cobalt™ Credit Card
$353 Good CIBC Select Visa* Card (First year waived)
$181 Good True Line® Gold Mastercard®
$717 Excellent Scotia Momentum® Visa Infinite* Card
$383 Good BMO CashBack® Mastercard®*
$503 Good MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard®
$0 No credit No Fee Home Trust Secured Visa* Card
$364 Good BMO CashBack® Mastercard®* for students
$476 Fair President’s Choice Financial® World Elite Mastercard®
$1,244 Good Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card
$1,874 Fair American Express Cobalt™ Credit Card

Best Overall Rewards Credit Card

Most credit cards can be rewarding, offering cardholders travel points, cash back or low interest rates for making day-to-day purchases. However, some rewards programs stand out in the crowd with countless redemption options and more ways for cardholders to save money.

Our top picks feature flexible reward programs available to help cardholders maximize the value of their daily spending. Additionally, extra perks and benefits provide users with access to comprehensive travel insurance coverage, exclusive deals and, most importantly, high earn rates for everyday purchases like gas and groceries.

We compared the leading rewards credit cards using our Best of Finance methodology and ranked the cards with the highest first-year value, the most flexible rewards and robust benefits.

Winner: American Express CobaltTM Credit Card

The American Express CobaltTM Credit Card is one of the most rewarding cards on the market, and it has a unique feature: a monthly fee. Cardholders pay a budget-friendly $12.99 a month to access top-tier rewards and exclusive offers.

Earn five points for every $1 spent on eligible restaurant, grocery, and food delivery purchases in Canada. Get three points for every $1 spent on eligible streaming subscriptions. Earn two points for every $1 spent on eligible travel and transit purchases and get one point for every $1 spent on all other purchases. Cardholders should notice their reward balance growing steadily from their usual everyday purchases.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian would earn a staggering $1,874 in rewards in the first year.

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$875
+ Annual rewards
$1155
- Annual fee
$156
Total first year value
$1874
American Express CobaltTM Credit Card

card image
Welcome bonus
$875
AMEX Rewards points
Annual rewards
$1155
AMEX Rewards points
Annual fees:
$156
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases • 21.99% on cash advances
2021 Winner – Best Overall Rewards Credit Card, Best Credit Card for Young Professionals, and Best Credit Card for Earning Travel Points.
Particularly great for individuals who live in the city, eat out often or order in.
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$875
Annual rewards
$1155
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$875
+ Annual rewards
$1155
- Annual fee
$156
Total first year value
$1874
Annual fees:
$156
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases
21.99% on cash advances
2021 Winner – Best Overall Rewards Credit Card, Best Credit Card for Young Professionals, and Best Credit Card for Earning Travel Points.
Particularly great for individuals who live in the city, eat out often or order in.
Details at a glance Collapse details

Want to learn more about how the American Express CobaltTM Credit Card stands up against the competition? Read more from our "In the Ring" series:

In the Ring: American Express Cobalt Credit Card vs. Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

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Back to the winners

Best Overall Travel Credit Card

While travel still seems like a distant dream right now, it will be back one day. When the world opens back up, people will be making up for lost time and experiencing great food and culture once again.

In the meantime, cardholders can continue to build their reward balances for better days. Earn rewards for everyday purchases and redeem them for flights, hotel stays and vacation packages.

These cards also feature great additional perks, like shopping coverage, mobile device insurance and exclusive offers.

We compared the top travel credit cards using our Best of Finance methodology and ranked the cards that provided the highest first-year value.

Winner: CIBC Aventura® Visa InfiniteTM Card

Cardholders of the CIBC Aventura® Visa InfiniteTM Card can access loads of travel perks, from four free annual airport lounge passes to a NEXUS application fee rebate every four years. This card also features travel insurance and Visa Infinite benefits, such as complimentary breakfast at over 900 properties worldwide and exclusive tours of Wine Country.

Pay no booking fees through the Aventura Travel Assistant and use points to cover airfare costs, including taxes and fees.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian would earn around $1,536 in rewards in the first year.

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Best Credit Card With No Foreign Transaction Fees

Travellers can forgo the foreign currency exchange line and pack a much smaller wallet for their next trip. These credit cards offer no foreign transaction fees on purchases, sparing cardholders the extra 1.5% to 3% providers typically charge. Only the exchange rate applies.

Cardholders also get the added convenience of tracking all their transactions from little trips to the grocery store, tours and excursions all in one place. Plus, travellers won’t get stuck with extra foreign coins and bills at the end of their trip.

These credit cards also feature various benefits and travel insurance to help make trips more comfortable and carefree. Spend points on flights, rental cars, hotel stays or merchandise and get the most out of your next adventure.

We compared the top credit cards with no foreign transaction fees using our Best of Finance methodology and ranked the cards that provided the highest first-year value.

Winner: Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card

The Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card offers a great return on spending. Earn five Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on groceries, restaurant, food delivery and entertainment purchases. Get three Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on gas, daily transit purchases and select streaming services and earn one Scotia Rewards point for every $1 spent everywhere else.

Cardholders pay no foreign transaction fees on foreign currency purchases, typically around 2.5%. Only the exchange rate applies. Plus, access discounts through the Scotia Rewards Travel Service and get a wide range of travel insurance through the card.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian would earn around $1,244 in rewards in the first year.

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$400
+ Annual rewards
$744
- Annual fee (First Year Waived)
0
Total first year value
$1144
Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card

card image
Welcome bonus
$400
Scotia Scene+ Points
Annual rewards
$744
Scotia Scene+ Points
Annual fees:
$120 (First Year Waived)
Interest rates:
19.99% on purchases • 22.99% on cash advances
2021 Winner – Best Credit Card With No Foreign Transaction Fees for Long Stay Travellers, and Best Credit Card for Staying Home and Ordering In
Strong travel perks and 0% foreign transaction fees compliment great reward value
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$400
Annual rewards
$744
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$400
+ Annual rewards
$744
- Annual fee (First Year Waived)
0
Total first year value
$1144
Annual fees:
$120 (First Year Waived)
Interest rates:
19.99% on purchases
22.99% on cash advances
2021 Winner – Best Credit Card With No Foreign Transaction Fees for Long Stay Travellers, and Best Credit Card for Staying Home and Ordering In
Strong travel perks and 0% foreign transaction fees compliment great reward value
Details at a glance Collapse details

Want to learn more about how the Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card stands up against the competition? Read more from our "In the Ring" series:

In the Ring: American Express Cobalt Credit Card vs. Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

Back to the BoF winners

Back to the winners

Best Credit Card for Earning Travel Points

Travel programs typically offer the best redemption value of all the rewards credit cards. Whether they offer rewards, points or miles, these cards will always provide more value than cash back cards. However, cardholders get the best value for their rewards when redeeming for travel rather than gift cards or statement credits — though the flexibility is nice to have.

Most programs allow members to redeem rewards for flights, vacation packages, upgrades and other travel savings. Some programs also allow point conversions to other popular travel programs. Additionally, many of our top picks feature insurance coverage and exclusive offers like lounge access or benefits at hotels and resorts.

We compared the best credit cards with travel points using our Best of Finance methodology and ranked the cards that provided the highest first-year value.

Winner: American Express CobaltTM Credit Card

The American Express CobaltTM Credit Card is one of the best cards for amassing rewards, offering cardholders five points for every $1 spent on restaurants and food deliveries, three points for every $1 spent on eligible streaming subscriptions, two points for every $1 spent on eligible travel and transit and one point for every $1 spent anywhere else.

Not only that, but the Membership Rewards® program is incredibly flexible, allowing members to redeem points for almost anything — travel, merchandise and more. Eligible cards, including the American Express CobaltTM Credit Card, can access the Fixed Points Travel Program and American Express Travel Online for travel offers and special rates. Cardholders can even use Membership Rewards® to pay for taxes, fees and carrier surcharges.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian could earn around $1,874 in rewards in the first year.

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$875
+ Annual rewards
$1155
- Annual fee
$156
Total first year value
$1874
American Express CobaltTM Credit Card

card image
Welcome bonus
$875
AMEX Rewards points
Annual rewards
$1155
AMEX Rewards points
Annual fees:
$156
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases • 21.99% on cash advances
2021 Winner – Best Overall Rewards Credit Card, Best Credit Card for Young Professionals, and Best Credit Card for Earning Travel Points.
Particularly great for individuals who live in the city, eat out often or order in.
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$875
Annual rewards
$1155
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$875
+ Annual rewards
$1155
- Annual fee
$156
Total first year value
$1874
Annual fees:
$156
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases
21.99% on cash advances
2021 Winner – Best Overall Rewards Credit Card, Best Credit Card for Young Professionals, and Best Credit Card for Earning Travel Points.
Particularly great for individuals who live in the city, eat out often or order in.
Details at a glance Collapse details

Want to learn more about how the American Express CobaltTM Credit Card stands up against the competition? Read more from our "In the Ring" series:

In the Ring: American Express Cobalt Credit Card vs. Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

Back to the BoF winners

Back to the winners

Best Balance Transfer Credit Card

It is time to pay off your high-interest credit card debt; carrying a balance only costs you money.

Cardholders with outstanding debt can typically transfer their existing balance to another card with a balance transfer promotion to take advantage of lower interest rates.

Some introductory rates can be as low as 0% for a set time, anywhere from a few months to a year. Conditions apply, however. New purchases typically incur standard interest rates, and misuse, like missing payments, may forfeit the offer.

Cardholders must typically pay a balance transfer fee of around 1% for the service. However, the cost is generally less than the interest charges on a standard credit card with a 19.99% interest rate. If used responsibly, cardholders can focus on payments and reduce their debt faster.

We compared balance transfer rates in Canada using our Best of Finance methodology and ranked the cards that provided the most savings.

Winner: CIBC Select Visa* Card

The CIBC Select Visa* Card offers one of the best promotional balance transfer rates on the market. New cardholders can get a 0% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for up to 10 months with a 1% transfer fee. This special offer can help cardholders pay down their balance quicker and avoid spending as much on interest charges.

Based on our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian would spend around $353 less in interest charges on a $2,000 balance when compared to a standard credit card with a 19.99% interest rate.


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Best Low Interest Credit Card

The best way to avoid paying costly interest charges is to pay off your credit card balance in full each statement period. However, that is not always possible, and sometimes, you may carry a balance month-over-month. In that case, interest would start to accrue on the unpaid balance at a set rate, compounded daily.

Most credit cards charge a standard annual interest rate of around 19.99% on purchases, which can add up quickly.

Although the welcome offers and perks of some credit cards can be enticing, the mounting interest charges can outweigh any advantages if you carry a balance. Switching to a low interest credit card may offer cardholders the opportunity to tackle their debt faster and pay less interest. This decision can put cardholders in a healthier financial position for the future.

We compared low interest credit cards in Canada using our Best of Finance methodology and ranked the cards that provided the most potential savings.

Winner: True Line® Gold Mastercard® credit card

The True Line® Gold Mastercard® offers cardholders an 8.99% standard annual interest rate on balance transfers and purchases for an annual fee of $39.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, this low interest credit card would save the average Canadian around $181 in interest in the first year.

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$0
+ Annual savings
$220
- Annual fee
$39
Total first year value
$181
True Line® Gold Mastercard® credit card

card image
Welcome bonus
$0
Annual savings
$220
Annual fees:
$39
Interest rates:
8.99% on purchases • 24.99% on cash advances
2021 Winner – Best Low Interest Credit Card
Low annual fee card includes complimentary shopping insurance
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$0
Annual savings
$0
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$0
+ Annual savings
$220
- Annual fee
$39
Total first year value
$181
Annual fees:
$39
Interest rates:
8.99% on purchases
24.99% on cash advances
2021 Winner – Best Low Interest Credit Card
Low annual fee card includes complimentary shopping insurance
Details at a glance Collapse details

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Best Overall Cash Back Credit Card

Cash back credit cards are straightforward: cardholders earn a small percentage of each purchase back in rewards. Still, there are differences between the two types of cash back cards:

  • Category cash back: This type of card rewards the user for shopping in specific spending categories like gas or groceries at an accelerated rate — for example, 4% cash back for some purchases and 1% back on everything else. Routine shoppers can maximize their rewards with a category card.
  • Flat-rate cash back: This type of card rewards the user for all their purchases, no matter the category, at one rate. For example, earn 1.25% cash back on everything you buy. Cardholders who shop broadly may benefit the most from this type of card.

Cash back is usually applied as a statement credit every month or once per year on a specific date. It can also be deposited directly into a savings account.

We compared the top cash back credit cards using our Best of Finance methodology and ranked the cards that provided the highest first year value.

Winner: Scotia Momentum® Visa Infinite* Card

New cardholders of the Scotia Momentum® Visa Infinite* Card can earn 10% cash back on up to $2,000 in purchases in the first three months. Regularly earn 4% cash back on grocery purchases, recurring bill payments and subscription services. Get 2% cash back on gas and daily transit and 1% back on everything else.

This card also features travel insurance, mobile device insurance and concierge services.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian would earn roughly $717 in rewards in the first year.

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$0
+ Annual rewards
$564
- Annual fee (First Year Waived)
0
Total first year value
$564
Scotia Momentum® Visa Infinite* Card

card image
Welcome bonus
$0
Scotia Cash Back Rewards
Annual rewards
$564
Scotia Cash Back Rewards
Annual fees:
$120 (First Year Waived)
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases • 22.99% on cash advances
2021 Winner – Best Overall Cash Back Credit Card
Includes comprehensive travel insurance and rare mobile device insurance
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$0
Annual rewards
$564
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$0
+ Annual rewards
$564
- Annual fee (First Year Waived)
0
Total first year value
$564
Annual fees:
$120 (First Year Waived)
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases
22.99% on cash advances
2021 Winner – Best Overall Cash Back Credit Card
Includes comprehensive travel insurance and rare mobile device insurance
Details at a glance Collapse details

Want to learn more about how the Scotia Momentum® Visa Infinite* Credit Card stands up against the competition? Read more from our "In the Ring" series:

In the Ring: Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card vs. BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard

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Best No-Fee Cash Back Credit Card

Just because a card charges no fee doesn’t mean it offers no value. Many no-fee credit cards offer hundreds of dollars in cash back for making everyday purchases and feature additional benefits like shopping coverage or exclusive offers.

We compared the top no-fee cash back credit cards using our Best of Finance methodology and ranked the cards that provided the highest first-year value.

Winner: BMO CashBack® Mastercard®*

The BMO CashBack® Mastercard®* offers cardholders up to 5% cash back on all purchases for the first three months, up to $2,500 in spending. After the first three months, get 3% cash back on the first $500 in grocery purchases and 1% back on the first $500 in recurring bill payments monthly. Get 0.5% unlimited cash back on all other purchases.

This card rewards cardholders for buying everyday essentials and features basic shopping coverage, all for no annual fee.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian would earn around $383 cash back in the first year.

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$95
+ Annual rewards
$288
- Annual fee
$0
Total first year value
$383
BMO CashBack Mastercard®*

card image
Welcome bonus
$95
BMO Cash Back Rewards
Annual rewards
$288
BMO Cash Back Rewards
Annual fees:
$0
Interest rates:
19.99% on purchases • 22.99% on cash advances
2021 Winner - Best No-Fee Cash Back Credit Card
Cash back rewards include the freedom to redeem anytime
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$95
Annual rewards
$288
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$95
+ Annual rewards
$288
- Annual fee
$0
Total first year value
$383
Annual fees:
$0
Interest rates:
19.99% on purchases
22.99% on cash advances
2021 Winner - Best No-Fee Cash Back Credit Card
Cash back rewards include the freedom to redeem anytime
Details at a glance Collapse details

Best No-Fee Travel Credit Card

Find the best top travel rewards programs with these no-fee cards. While they feature slightly lower earn rates than their counterparts with a fee, they still provide excellent value and great perks.

Plus, these cards can slide into your wallet as a primary or secondary credit card, and you don’t have to worry about another annual expense. You can use the card as often or sparingly as you like without having to justify its worth.

We compared the top no-fee travel credit cards using our Best of Finance methodology and ranked the cards that provided the highest value while also considering additional complimentary travel perks and benefits.

Winner: MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard®

The MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard® offers cardholders four points for every $1 spent on eligible grocery, restaurant, digital media, membership, and household utility purchases for the first 90 days, up to the $10,000 annual spend cap in each category. After, earn two points for every $1 spent in these categories until the $10,000 cap is met annually and one point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

This card also features $1,000,000 travel accident insurance, unexpected return home insurance and car rental accident insurance.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian could earn around $503 in rewards in the first year.

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$163
+ Annual rewards
$340
- Annual fee
$0
Total first year value
$503
MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard®

card image
Welcome bonus
$163
MBNA Rewards points
Annual rewards
$340
MBNA Rewards points
Annual fees:
$0
Interest rates:
19.99% on purchases • 24.99% on cash advances
2021 Winner – Best No-Fee Travel Credit Card
Flexible rewards redeemable for travel or cash back
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$163
Annual rewards
$340
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$163
+ Annual rewards
$340
- Annual fee
$0
Total first year value
$503
Annual fees:
$0
Interest rates:
19.99% on purchases
24.99% on cash advances
2021 Winner – Best No-Fee Travel Credit Card
Flexible rewards redeemable for travel or cash back
Details at a glance Collapse details

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Best Secured Credit Card for Building Credit

It can be challenging to get approved for credit, particularly if you have little or no credit history. But to build a credit history, you often need access to credit. So, what is a person to do?

A secured credit card is an excellent first step. This handy little product can benefit those who are new to credit or need to improve their credit, and it works much like a standard credit card. Cardholders can usually pay bills, purchase items in-store and online, and access a credit limit. However, the credit limit is determined by a deposit set by the cardholder and is secured on the card.

The cardholder is responsible for paying their statement each month and will also owe interest if they carry a balance. With each payment made on time, the positive information is reported to the credit bureaus in Canada and should slowly build or increase the cardholder's credit score.

Over time, the cardholder may qualify for unsecured products and should be able to get their initial deposit back.

We compared secured credit cards in Canada using our Best of Finance methodology and ranked the cards that provided the highest value. Though, in this case, we felt that annual rewards and savings were not the most important benefits. Cardholders would get the best value from a no-fee card that focused strictly on building credit.

Winner: No Fee Home Trust Secured Visa* Card

The No Fee Home Trust Secured Visa Card* allows cardholders to build or rebuild their credit for no annual fee. Cardholders can set their credit limit based on a deposit ranging from as low as $500 to as high as $10,000. Shop online, pay bills and use the card anywhere Visa is accepted — just like an unsecured card.

If you keep up with the payments, your credit rating should improve, whether you are just starting to build your credit or your credit score needs some repair.

Home Trust also offers the Home Trust Secured Visa* Card with a lower interest rate for a $59 annual fee. However, appealing as this may seem, cardholders looking to rebuild credit should aim to pay off their credit card balance in full each month. The No Fee Home Trust Secured Visa* Card is one of the safest and best options.

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$0
+ Annual savings
$100
- Annual fee
$59
Total first year value
$41
Home Trust Secured Visa Card

card image
Welcome bonus
$0
Annual savings
$100
Annual fees:
$59
Interest rates:
14.9% on purchases • 19.8% on cash advances
2021 Winner – Best Card for Rebuilding Credit
Low interest Secured card in exchange for a small fee
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$0
Annual savings
$0
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$0
+ Annual savings
$100
- Annual fee
$59
Total first year value
$41
Annual fees:
$59
Interest rates:
14.9% on purchases
19.80% on cash advances
2021 Winner – Best Card for Rebuilding Credit
Low interest Secured card in exchange for a small fee
Details at a glance Collapse details

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Best Student Credit Card

Students are often overloaded with expenses and costly fees throughout their post-secondary education — tuition, expensive; student housing, expensive; textbooks, expensive. Not to mention the mile-long list of program requirements like laptops and any newfangled technology that is all the rage that year.

The list only continues with cost-of-living expenses like groceries or transportation. Fortunately, students have a few options to score some extra cash and save money. Many grocery stores and retailers provide student discounts, typically around 10% for groceries and possibly more at events.

Students can also get cash back or points with the right rewards credit card. Student credit cards usually have no fee and few eligibility requirements. Some cards require proof of enrollment in a post-secondary institution, but typically do not require a credit check and have high approval rates.

We compared the leading student credit cards using our Best of Finance methodology and ranked the cards that provided the highest value.

Winner: BMO CashBack® Mastercard®* for students

The BMO CashBack® Mastercard®* for students rewards scholars at an accelerated rate for essential purchases like groceries and provides a straightforward introduction to credit. There is no need to decipher the value of rewards; you will get a percentage of each purchase back and have more money in your wallet.

Get up to 5% cash back for the first three months. Conditions apply. After your first three months, earn 3% cash back on your first $500 in grocery purchases and 1% cash back on your first $500 in recurring bill payments each month. Earn 0.5% unlimited cash back on everything else.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian could earn around $364 cash back in the first year.

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$76
+ Annual rewards
$288
- Annual fee
$0
Total first year value
$364
BMO CashBack® Mastercard®* for students

card image
Welcome bonus
$76
BMO Cash Back Rewards
Annual rewards
$288
BMO Cash Back Rewards
Annual fees:
$0
Interest rates:
19.99% on purchases • 22.99% on cash advances
2021 Winner – Best Student Credit Card 
No fee card that offering an attractive sign-up bonus
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$76
Annual rewards
$288
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$76
+ Annual rewards
$288
- Annual fee
$0
Total first year value
$364
Annual fees:
$0
Interest rates:
19.99% on purchases
22.99% on cash advances
2021 Winner – Best Student Credit Card 
No fee card that offering an attractive sign-up bonus
Details at a glance Collapse details

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Best Family Credit Card for Gas and Groceries

The right credit card can benefit the entire family. Whether it’s earning groceries at your favourite store or redeeming rewards for streaming services, top credit cards can save you money where you least expect it.

We compared the leading credit cards for grocery and gas purchases using our Best of Finance methodology and ranked the cards that provided the highest first-year value.

Winner: President’s Choice Financial® World Elite Mastercard®

Cardholders of the President’s Choice Financial® World Elite Mastercard® can earn points on their grocery purchases at President’s Choice banner brands including, Loblaws, No Frills, Real Canadian Superstore and Zehrs, as well as their drugstore purchases at Shoppers Drug Mart. Earn at least 30 points per litre at Esso and Mobil gas stations.

Cardholders also have two ways to earn rewards faster. The first is to present their PC Optimum card at the checkout and double dip on points. The second is by creating a “household” within the PC Optimum app and pooling points to earn and redeem rewards as a family.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian would earn around $476 in rewards in the first year.

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$20
+ Annual rewards
$456
- Annual fee
$0
Total first year value
$476
President’s Choice Financial® World Elite Mastercard®

card image
Welcome bonus
$20
PC Optimum Points
Annual rewards
$456
PC Optimum Points
Annual fees:
$0
Interest rates:
20.97% on purchases • 22.97% on cash advances
2021 Winner – Best Family Credit Card for Gas and Groceries
Great card for fans of the PC Optimum reward program looking to save even more on groceries
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$20
Annual rewards
$456
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$20
+ Annual rewards
$456
- Annual fee
$0
Total first year value
$476
Annual fees:
$0
Interest rates:
20.97% on purchases
22.97% on cash advances
2021 Winner – Best Family Credit Card for Gas and Groceries
Great card for fans of the PC Optimum reward program looking to save even more on groceries
Details at a glance Collapse details

Back to the BoF winners

Back to the winners

Best Credit Card for Staying at Home and Ordering In

Life has certainly changed a lot since March 2020, and most likely, your spending habits have as well. You may be adding items to your cart from the comfort of your couch instead of in-store and ordering more food straight to your doorstep. But what you may not realize is that it can take a toll on your reward balance.

These small lifestyle changes may decrease the number of rewards or cash back you would otherwise see in your wallet. Luckily, our top picks reward cardholders for their takeout and delivery purchases and offer some great perks for staying at home.

We compared the best credit cards for delivery and takeout purchases using our Best of Finance methodology and ranked the cards that provided the highest first-year value.

Winner: Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card

The Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card rewards cardholders for their everyday purchases, from takeout and delivery to streaming services. Get five Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on eligible grocery, fast food, food subscription and entertainment purchases. Earn three Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on gas, transit and select streaming services, like Netflix. Get one Scotia Rewards point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

Rack up rewards quickly and redeem them for thousands of options, including travel, merchandise, gift cards and statement credits. Plus, pay no foreign transaction fees on purchases made abroad or online in foreign currency. Only the exchange rate applies.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian would earn around $1,244 in rewards in the first year.

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$400
+ Annual rewards
$744
- Annual fee (First Year Waived)
0
Total first year value
$1144
Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card

card image
Welcome bonus
$400
Scotia Scene+ Points
Annual rewards
$744
Scotia Scene+ Points
Annual fees:
$120 (First Year Waived)
Interest rates:
19.99% on purchases • 22.99% on cash advances
2021 Winner – Best Credit Card With No Foreign Transaction Fees for Long Stay Travellers, and Best Credit Card for Staying Home and Ordering In
Strong travel perks and 0% foreign transaction fees compliment great reward value
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$400
Annual rewards
$744
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$400
+ Annual rewards
$744
- Annual fee (First Year Waived)
0
Total first year value
$1144
Annual fees:
$120 (First Year Waived)
Interest rates:
19.99% on purchases
22.99% on cash advances
2021 Winner – Best Credit Card With No Foreign Transaction Fees for Long Stay Travellers, and Best Credit Card for Staying Home and Ordering In
Strong travel perks and 0% foreign transaction fees compliment great reward value
Details at a glance Collapse details

Want to learn more about how the Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card stands up against the competition? Read more from our "In the Ring" series:

In the Ring: American Express Cobalt Credit Card vs. Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

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Best Credit Card for Young Professionals

Often, young professionals are tech-savvy, ambitious individuals looking to make their mark on the world — working hard during the day and spending as much time as they can with friends in the evenings (albeit virtually these days).

Our top picks reward cardholders who are trying to do it all. Earn cash back or rewards for everyday purchases like trips to the store, rideshares to meetings and interviews, takeout and even binge-watching movies or TV shows on Netflix.

We compared the best credit cards for young professionals using our Best of Finance methodology and ranked the cards that provided the highest first-year value.

Winner: American Express CobaltTM Credit Card

The American Express CobaltTM Credit Card rewards cardholders for their busy lifestyles. Get five points for every $1 spent on restaurant and food delivery purchases in Canada. Earn three points for every $1 spent on eligible streaming subscriptions. Get two points for every $1 spent on eligible travel and transit, including rideshare services. Earn one point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

Members can access Cobalt Perks and American Express® Experiences for exclusive offers, presale tickets and curated events.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian would earn around $1,874 in rewards in the first year.

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$875
+ Annual rewards
$1155
- Annual fee
$156
Total first year value
$1874
American Express CobaltTM Credit Card

card image
Welcome bonus
$875
AMEX Rewards points
Annual rewards
$1155
AMEX Rewards points
Annual fees:
$156
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases • 21.99% on cash advances
2021 Winner – Best Overall Rewards Credit Card, Best Credit Card for Young Professionals, and Best Credit Card for Earning Travel Points.
Particularly great for individuals who live in the city, eat out often or order in.
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$875
Annual rewards
$1155
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$875
+ Annual rewards
$1155
- Annual fee
$156
Total first year value
$1874
Annual fees:
$156
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases
21.99% on cash advances
2021 Winner – Best Overall Rewards Credit Card, Best Credit Card for Young Professionals, and Best Credit Card for Earning Travel Points.
Particularly great for individuals who live in the city, eat out often or order in.
Details at a glance Collapse details

Want to learn more about how the American Express CobaltTM Credit Card stands up against the competition? Read more from our "In the Ring" series:

In the Ring: American Express Cobalt Credit Card vs. Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

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Back to the winners

Pros and cons of credit cards in Canada

With Canadian credit cards, the benefits you receive depends on the type of credit card you choose.

Here are some of the most common features and benefits of Canadian credit cards.

1. Rewards: Most top Canadian rewards credit cards can give you hundreds of dollars in rewards and in some cases thousands of dollars in cash back, or points to trade for cash equivalent rebates on purchases. More credit card providers are now coming out with flexible rewards that you can use to pay down your credit card bill (like a cash back card) or use the points to trade for gift cards, merchandise, flights, and hotel stays.

2. Credit building: Having a credit card and using it responsibly, is an excellent way to your build credit history and increase your credit score. Credit bureaus like TransUnion and Equifax need at least 6 months of data to assign you a credit score. Building a long history of responsible credit use will help your credit score.

3. Perks and insurance: Credit cards frequently come with perks and benefits. Here are some of the best credit card perks in Canada.

  • Roadside assistance: Basic CAA membership costs $75 annually, but some credit cards include roadside assistance as a perk.
  • Companion flights: Some travel credit cards enable you to earn discounted flights for a second passenger when you buy the primary ticket with your credit card.
  • Lounge access: Some credit cards offer complimentary lounge access for free, letting you enjoy exclusive airport lounges when you waiting for your flight. Usually, such lounge passes cost $100 or more annually if you decide to buy them separately.
  • Front of the line service: Credit cards can come with exclusive memberships that allow you to access events before they open to the general public. Visa and AMEX memberships provide such front of the line services to their customers, granting you access to get the tickets before the general public.
  • Concierge service: With a credit card with concierge service, you can call and have a customer service agent help you with making travel arrangements, reservations and booking events.
  • Convenient currency conversion: Some top travel credit cards do currency conversions at no fee so you can access a great exchange rate when making payments in foreign currency while travelling or online shopping.
  • Convenience: When you use a credit card, you enjoy the flexibility of going cashless and the convenience of making payments easily online and in-store. Credit cards allow you to easily make purchases during trips, without having to worry about carrying foreign currency.
  • Security: Making payments with a credit card helps you avoid losing money if you become a victim to fraud or theft. For example, with cash, you instantly lose money. In the case of a credit card, you can immediately notify your credit card provider and restore your lost credit amount. Most importantly, credit card networks such as, Visa and Mastercard provide zero liability coverage for all unauthorized purchases, adding an additional layer of security to your credit card.

We can’t talk about the features and benefits of credit cards without touching on the downsides. Here are some pitfalls of using credit cards and some suggestions on how to avoid them.

  1. Overspending: Just because you have a credit limit doesn’t mean you have to spend all of it. Having a large credit limit is nice but maxing out your card is a bad idea. Frequently using more than 30% of your allotted credit will bring your credit score down if you miss your credit card payments and continue to carry a high balance month-to-month. The basic idea is not to spend outside your means and pay off your credit card balance responsibly.
  2. High interest rates: If you track your spending and pay the full balance every month, you probably won’t have any issue with interest rates. But for those who find it hard to rein in their spending, high interest rates on credit cards are one of the most expensive ways to borrow money in the long run. When you carry a balance on your credit card from month to month, interest charges will continue to pile on the balance, making it harder for you to pay it off.
  3. Transactional fees: Many people pay an annual fee to get a card that earns them more points faster, and this usually helps them offset the annual fee cost. Some just opt for a no annual fee credit card. But other credit card fees for services such as cash advances (using your card at an ATM) and overdrafts can easily add up, depending on how you use your card.

Frequently asked questions about finding the right credit card for you

Before beginning your credit card search ask yourself the following questions to narrow down your selection criteria

How do I find the best credit card?

When it comes to picking the best credit card for you, you must truly understand your spending habits and credit card eligibility. If you are a new credit card user, then you might want to look for a no-frills credit card to start building your credit score. If you’re a small business owner who is looking to make important business investments, then a business credit card will help you better carry out your business purchases. Frequent traveler? A travel card might be more in line with your spending habits and interests.

At RATESDOTCA, you can conveniently compare the top credit cards in Canada by sorting them by features such as interest rates, rewards type and annual fee.

How do I apply for a credit card in Canada?

Applying for a credit card in Canada is easy and simple. Whether you’re a new Canadian resident or a post-secondary student, finding the right credit card is very important.

Follow these four steps to find the best credit card today:

1) Understand your credit card needs: Decide what kind of purchases you intend to make with your credit card. Understanding your purchases can help you look for the perfect credit card that can offer you great perks such as, reward points and cashback offers.

2) Determine your eligibility: What is your credit score? Do you have a comprehensive credit history? Or are you a new credit card user in Canada? A high credit score, coupled with a fair amount of credit card experience will increase your eligibility.

3) Compare all credit cards: Compare the best credit cards by assessing the key features and benefits to see if they appeal to you and your needs. Don’t jump at the first option you find. Explore and compare different credit cards on the market and choose the one that best suits your needs.

4) Apply online: At RATESDOTCA, you can select the credit card you want and apply online on the credit card issuer’s website.

What credit score do I need to apply for a credit card Canada?

In Canada, credit scores are officially calculated by two major credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion. These credit unions assess the information in your credit file to calculate your credit score. Your credit file has information about your payment frequency, loan history, and credit card debt. Credit scores range from 300 to 900. The higher your credit score, the better your chances of being approved for a credit card. High scores indicate that you’re less likely to miss any payments.

Here’s a simple breakdown of credit scores in Canada:

  • 800 to 900: Credit scores in this range are considered excellent. You show a strong credit history.
  • 720 to 799: A credit score like this is very good. It reflects your healthy financial habits and ability to repay credit card lenders.
  • 650 to 719: This is considered a good credit score. Most people fall into this range.
  • 600 to 649: This is fair credit. You will have to show debt repayment to show a sense of financial responsibility.
  • 300 to 599: This is considered a bad credit score. You will have to repay any existing debt to improve your credit score and credit history.
  • If you have a bad credit score, you may be ineligible to apply for a new credit card with a high limit. But, you still have the option of applying for a secure credit card or a guaranteed credit card. Both types require a security deposit to ensure that any missed payments are covered. You can also consider a balance transfer credit card to pay off your credit card debt at a lower interest rate. When used correctly, these types of cards can help you build up your credit so you qualify for better credit cards down the line. Please note that prepaid credit cards will not affect your credit score.

How long does it take to get approved for a credit card in Canada?

How fast you get approved for a credit card in Canada depends on your credit report and credit score. If you have a high credit score, you can expect instant approval. Usually, credit card approvals take anywhere between 5-7 days. In some cases, it can also take up to 30 days.

Is there more than one type of credit card in Canada?

When it comes to credit cards in Canada, you have several different options to choose from. Each type of credit card offers you a unique advantage.

Learn about all the credit cards available in Canada.

  • Rewards (No-Fee) Credit Card: A no-fee credit card has a zero annual fee. Most no-fee credit cards come with minimal rewards and add-ons. This is a great option if you are just starting to build a credit history in Canada and are looking for a hassle free credit card. If you’re looking for a simple credit card and you usually spend less than $10,000 annually, then a no-fee card is perfect for you as you save on annual fee.
  • Rewards (Fee) Credit Card: A rewards credit card comes with a higher earning reward program and add-ons, such as cash-back offers, concierge services and travel insurance. Unlike a no-fee credit card, rewards credit cards come with a fixed annual fee. If you spend over $10,000 annually, getting a rewards credit card with an annual fee may be a better option, as the incremental rewards dollars will easily outweigh the annual fee - not to mention all the great perks! A rewards credit card is great for the frequent traveler and shopper as you can save lots of money on cashback offers, travel itineraries and reward points.

Pro tip: You can also use a combination of rewards credit cards to meet your lifestyle needs. A no-fee credit card can function as a great secondary card for people who want to avoid any annual fee on their second credit card.

  • Student Credit Card: All post-secondary students are eligible for a student credit card. Whether you’re an international or domestic student, building a Canadian credit history through a student credit card is very important. This will make future responsibilities such as such as renting an apartment or financing a car much easier. Most student credit cards come with a low or no annual fees.
  • Business Credit Card: A business credit card allows you to separate your business expenses from your personal expenses. This makes business accounting and bookkeeping simple and easy for business owners. By using a business credit card, you can take full advantage of the high credit limit and handle major business purchases and unexpected business costs.
  • Low Interest Credit Card: A low interest credit card allows to carry your credit card debt from month to month, at a lower interest rate. If you think you will need to take time to repay your credit card bill, a low interest credit card is a good option. It can save you money as you’ll avoid high interest charges.
  • Balance Transfer Credit Card: A balance transfer credit card allows you to transfer your existing credit card balance to another card and enjoy a lower interest rate. Some financial institutions offer balance transfer credit cards with interest rates as lows as 0%. If you have credit card debt and suffer from a high interest rate, a low balance transfer credit card is a good option to choose.
  • Secured Credit Card: If you are looking to rebuild your credit score, opting for a secured credit card is a good option. You’ll have to pay a security deposit in order to get a secured credit card. The amount of the security deposit depends on the new credit limit the secured credit card will have and your existing credit score. If you have a bad credit score, you may have to pay a full security deposit to protect you against unpaid credit card bills.
  • Guaranteed Credit Card: A guaranteed credit card promises an instant approval to all applicants, even those with a bad credit score. If your credit score is very low and you’re looking for a new credit card, applying for a guaranteed credit card is a good choice. It is important to note that guaranteed credit card limits are comparatively lower than other credit cards.

What’s the benefit of a balance transfer credit card?

A balance transfer credit card allows you to transfer your existing credit card debt to another card and take advantage of a low interest rate. The interest rate may come with a time limit of 180 days, a few month or a year. By using a balance transfer credit card, you can reduce your credit card debt at a faster rate and rebuild your credit score.

If you use your balance transfer credit card for any new purchases before you pay off your existing credit card debt, you’ll be charged a standard interest rate, most cards charge a rate of 19.99% or more.

Also, be aware of the applicable transfer fee that comes with the new card. The transfer fee can be anywhere between 3%–5% of the amount of your total credit card debt.

Who are the major credit card lenders in Canada?

Credit card lenders are financial institutions who offer credit cards to customers. They are authorized to change interest rates and rewards points on any purchases and cash advances at their discretion.

The major credit card lenders serving customers in Canada are:

RATESDOTCA may receive compensation when you click on links to those products or services. however, our content and calculations are objective and free from bias. The opinions expressed are purely those of RATESDOTCA; thus, partners are not responsible for any editorials or reviews that may appear. For current term and conditions on any advertiser or partner’s product, please visit their website.

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