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2023's Best Cash Back Credit Cards for Canadians

Earn guaranteed cash back when you make everyday purchases with a cash back rewards credit card.

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What is a cash back credit card?

A cash back credit card is a rewards credit card that allows you to earn a small percentage (usually around 1-4%) of your purchase back in cash, helping you save money on everyday purchases. Cash back rewards can be based on a flat-rate, bonus, or flexible bonus structure. Each structure has its own benefits.

Most cash back cards allow you redeem your cash reward as either a deposit into your bank account or a statement credit that reduces how much you owe on your credit card statement. Start saving money by finding the best cash back credit card today.

Best Credit Cards for 2023: Best Cash Back Credit Card

  First year value* Credit score required Winner  
$745 Excellent BMO CashBack World Elite* Mastercard*

*The RATESDOTCA Best of Finance methodology assumes the cardholder spends an average of $2,000 a month on their card to determine the first-year value. The calculation includes all welcome bonuses and promotional offers at the time of publishing.

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. Shoppers who routinely purchase items in privileged categories can maximize their rewards with a category card.
  • Flat-rate cash back: This type of card rewards the user for all purchases at one rate and does not privilege certain types of purchases. For example, an earn rate of 1.25% cash back on everything you buy. 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 chequing or 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.

  First year value* Credit score required Top features  
$745 Excellent Great cash back rates and welcome bonus. Includes great travel perks such as travel insurance and airport lounge access.
$784 Excellent Great introductory cash back rates. Includes comprehensive travel insurance as well as mobile device insurance.
$940 Good Earn 4% cash back on gas and groceries and 2% cash back on all other purchases.

Winner: BMO CashBack World Elite* Mastercard*

The BMO CashBack World Elite* Mastercard* allows you to earn 5% cash back on groceries, 4% cash back on transit, and 3% cash back on gas. The cash back rewards and welcome bonus can potentially net you $745, according to our Best of Finance methodology.

Additional benefits include complimentary roadside assistance, discounts at select car rental companies, as well as travel and medical insurance.

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$150
+ Annual rewards
$594
- Annual fee (First Year Waived)
$0
Total first year value
$744
BMO CashBack World Elite* Mastercard*

card image
Welcome bonus
$150
BMO Cash Back Rewards
Annual rewards
$594
BMO Cash Back Rewards
Annual fees:
$120 (First Year Waived)
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases • 23.99% on cash advances
2023 Winner – Best Overall Cash Back Credit Card
Strong cash back reward rates in a variety of categories 
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$150
Annual rewards
$594
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$150
+ Annual rewards
$594
- Annual fee (First Year Waived)
$0
Total first year value
$744
Annual fees:
$120 (First Year Waived)
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases
23.99 on cash advances
2023 Winner – Best Overall Cash Back Credit Card
Strong cash back reward rates in a variety of categories 
Details at a glance Collapse details

Annual fee

$120

Limited time offer/bonus

  • Get up to 10% cash back in your first 3 months and the $120 annual fee waived in the first year*.

Offer expiry date: July 31, 2023

Rewards

With this card, you can earn the following:

  • 5% cash back earn spent on groceries
  • 4% cash back earn spent on transit
  • 3% cash back earn spent on gas
  • 2% cash back earn spent on bills
  • 1% cash back earn spent on other eligible purchases

Earning potential

How does this card stack up to other rewards credit cards? We crunched the numbers using our Best of Finance methodology to see how much an average Canadian could earn over a 12-month period.

Rewards earned over a 12-month period + Welcome bonus = $594 + $151 = $745
Annual fee = $120 (waived the first year)
Total earned over a 12-month period (rewards minus annual fee) = $745

You can redeem your points for:

  • Redeem your rewards annually as a statement credit.
  • Have your rewards deposited into your BMO InvestorLine account.
  • Deposit your rewards into your BMO chequing or savings account.

Benefits

  • Complimentary Lounge Key Mastercard Airport Experiences membership
  • Complimentary roadside assistance
  • Access over 1 million Wi-Fi hotspots around the world - all at no added cost, and no added fees or roaming charges
  • Access to 24/7 Concierge Service
  • Up to 25% off at National Car Rental and Alamo Rent a Car locations worldwide
  • Unlock Mastercard Travel Rewards cashback offers when you travel and shop outside of Canada

Insurance

  • Purchase protection - 180 days
  • Extended warranty - 2 Year
  • Travel accident - $500,000
  • Emergency medical term - 8 days
  • Trip interruption - $2,000
  • Flight delay - $200
  • Baggage delay - $750
  • Lost or stolen baggage - $500
  • Hotel burglary - $750
  • Rental car theft
  • Rental car accidents - $200,000

Runners-up: Best Overall Cash Back Credit Card

CIBC Dividend® Visa Infinite* Card

Apply for the CIBC Dividend® Visa Infinite* Cardto earn 4% when you buy groceries and gas.

With all the rewards for new cardmembers, you could have an extra $784 in your wallet within the first 12 months of owning the card, or $462 during a regular year, according to our Best of Finance methodology.

Annual fee

$120 (rebated the first year)

Limited time offer/bonus

  • 10% Cash back earn on all purchases for the first 4 months up to $2,500.
  • Annual Fee rebated for the first year.

Offer expiry date: Ongoing offer

Rewards

  • 4% on Groceries and Gas categories.
  • 2% Cash back on eligible transportation, dining purchases and recurring bill payments.
  • 1% Cash back on all other purchases

SimplyCash® Preferred Card from American Express

The SimplyCash® Preferred Card from American Express offers a $40 statement credit for each monthly billing period in which you spend $750 in purchases on your Card. This could add up to $400 in statement credits in the first 10 months.

Cardholders can also access travel and shopping coverage and exclusive offers through American Express® Experiences like presale tickets and curated events.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian could earn around $940 in rewards in the first year.

Annual fee

$119.88 ($9.99 per month)

Limited time offer/bonus

  • In your first 10 months as a new SimplyCash® Preferred Card from American Express Cardmember, you can earn a $40 statement credit for each monthly billing period in which you spend $750 in purchases on your Card. This could add up to $400 in statement credits in the first 10 months

Offer expiry date: N/A subject to change without notice

Rewards

  • Earn 4% on gas and grocery purchases.
  • Earn 2% cash back on all purchases.

What are the different types of cashback credit cards available?

Different cashback credit cards offer different perks. Here are the three different type of cashback offers you can expect to find in a credit card rewards program:

  • Category: Category cashback credit cards are the most popular cashback cards. They offer you cashback bonuses on purchases that fall under certain categories such as groceries, gas, and bill payments. Purchases outside these category may have a fixed cashback rate.
  • Flat-rate category: A flat-rate cashback card offers you a fixed cashback rate on all purchases. This is a good option for you if your purchases fall into miscellaneous categories rather than “bonus” categories like groceries and gas. A flat-rate cashback will help you earn the same rate of cashback on each and every purchase.
  • Flexible category: A flexible bonus cashback credit card allows you to choose your cashback bonus category, allowing you to align the card with your spending habits. Choosing a flexible bonus cashback card is great for people who to customize their cashback options. These bonus categories can be groceries, hotels, entertainment, public transportation and parking etc. See the best cashback credit cards in Canada today.

Interested in earning cash back rewards? Here’s what you need to know.

What are the benefits of a cash back rewards credit card?

Using a cash back credit card allows you to earn a percentage of your money back when you make your purchases, meaning you don’t have to change any of your spending habits to start earning credit card rewards. Cash back rewards are just as good as cash because the cash back credit is instantly applied to your credit card statement. You have the flexibility of using your cash back rewards for anything you want.

Cash back cards do have their potential cons. Like most rewards credit cards, cash back credit cards may also come with a higher annual fee averaging $100-$120, so make sure that the cash back rewards structure helps you earn the maximum rewards on your day-to-day purchases (and offsets the annual fee). Also, many cash rewards programs have an annual maximum limit, meaning your cash back rewards will be capped at a certain amount.

How does a cash back credit card work?

Cash back credit cards usually work on a percentage formula. For example, if your cash back credit card promises you 3% instant cash back on grocery purchases, and you decide to purchase $500 worth of groceries with your card, you will earn $15 back into your credit account. This means you save 3% from your total amount spent.

If the same card promises you a bonus cash back of 5% on entertainment purchases and you purchase movie tickets for $200, you’ll receive an instant cash back of $10.

How can I redeem my cash back rewards?

When it comes to redeeming your cash back rewards, most credit card providers pay you the cash back in the form of a credit on your monthly statement. If you hold a bank account with the same credit card provider, you can also receive cash back deposits into your chequing account. The frequency of your cash back rewards payments depend on your credit card provider and the card itself. Some credit card providers allow you to redeem your cash back credit at intervals such as monthly, quarterly or annually, while others may set up an automatic redemption whenever you reach a certain balance, or even allow you to redeem whenever you choose.

Your credit card lender may also give you the option of receiving a cheque with your total cashback credit at the end of the calendar year.

Cash back credit cards rewards structure

Every cash back card has its own rewards structure, allowing you to earn cash back rewards in different ways. Here are the three different types of cash back rewards structures you’ll see when you start comparing cash back credit cards:

Bonus cash back: Bonus cash back credit cards are the most popular cashback credit cards. A bonus cash back credit card offers you cashback bonuses on purchases that fall under certain categories such as groceries, gas, entertainment, and bill payments. Typically, the cash back rate on purchases in these categories are much higher than the flat rate you might earn on other cards. This specialization makes bonus cash back cards excellent choices for individuals who know they spend predominantly in these everyday categories. If all of your purchases don’t fall in one of the “bonus” categories, don’t despair. Purchases outside these categories will reward you at a lower fixed cash back rate, so you earn no matter what!

Flat-rate cash back: A flat-rate cashback credit card offers you a fixed cash back rate on every purchase. This is a good option for you if most of your purchases don’t tend to be focused around certain categories such as groceries or if you aren’t sure of your monthly purchases.

Flexible bonus cash back: A flexible bonus cash back credit card is customizable. It allows you to choose your cash back bonus category, helping you align your rewards with your spending habits. Your bonus categories can be anything from groceries, hotels, entertainment, to public parking.

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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