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Discover the Best Credit Cards in Canada

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

What's your rewards preference?
Which one is more important?
Annual fees?

Credit cards 101

Credit cards not only help you make purchases and payments, but they’re also a great financial tool that can truly complement your lifestyle. Not all credit cards are the same, and the key is to choose one that matches your spending habits, financial goals, and lifestyle preferences. Whether you’re applying for your very first credit card or looking to upgrade to a credit card that better meets your credit needs, it’s important to research the market before making a decision.

At RATESDOTCA, you can compare all the top credit cards available in Canada and find the right one for you.

Best of Finance 2020 - The Best Credit Cards in Canada

Finding a credit card which complements your lifestyle and spending habits can be daunting. There are so many to choose from, and nobody has time for all that fine print! Well, nobody except for us that is. Our team analyzed over 150 credit cards across 13 categories for the best value, to help take the guesswork out of shopping for a new card.

Scroll through the categories below, or click here for the full list of Best of Finance 2020 award winners.

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

What features and benefits do Canadian credit cards have?

Each Canadian credit card comes with different terms and conditions, but all of them offer similar basic features and benefits. This applies to Canadian Mastercard, Visa and American Express credit cards.

These features and benefits include:

  • Worldwide acceptance
  • Contactless payment
  • Protection against any unauthorized purchases
  • 24/7 customer service in case your card is stolen
  • Emergency card replacement

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:

  • Affirm Financial
  • American Express®
  • BMO® Bank of Montreal
  • Canadian Tire
  • Capital One®
  • CIBC
  • Desjardins
  • Home Trust Company
  • MBNA
  • Meridian™
  • National Bank
  • President’s Choice Financial®
  • Refresh™ Financial Inc
  • RBC® Royal Bank of Canada
  • Scotiabank®
  • Tangerine
  • TD Canada Trust
  • Walmart
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