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2021's Best No Fee Credit Cards for Canadians

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No fee credit cards on RATESDOTCA

With the sheer volume of choices available to credit card users, trying to settle on one specific card is a tough decision. You'll be tempted to get a card with rewards, air miles, cash back or various other perks offered by credit card companies.

As you start comparing credit cards, you'll notice that many of the rewards credit cards come with annual fees, and some of these may cost you over $100 yearly. If one intends to use a credit card often, the rewards collected will often justify the fee. What if you want to use the credit card occasionally or carry it just for emergencies?

In such cases, a no annual fee credit card will make sense. As you continue to shop for the best credit card for your needs, you'll likely notice no annual fee credit cards sometimes do offer some incentives and also have competitive interest rates. It is possible to get a credit card that combines some good features such as cash back rewards without paying an annual fee.

However, be aware that some no annual fee credit cards may just waive the fee for a limited amount of time. For example, there are credit card companies that will offer you a no annual fee for a year and charge you fees after that time is up. You may also find your fee is waived annually due to a special promotion or discount offer.

It is also important to check for a suitable rate of interest. You don't necessarily want to save on the annual fee only to be charged a higher interest rate. You'll have to decide if the interest rate combined with the savings on the annual fee makes financial sense for your spending habits.

By carefully examining the terms and conditions of these no annual fee cards, and comparing them to alternatives, credit card shoppers will be able to make the right choice.

Check out these unique cards:

Tangerine World Mastercard® / Money-back Credit Card

Many credit cards offer great rewards for purchases like travel, groceries, gas, and recurring bill payments. Credit cards like these make sense, as most people spend a significant amount of their monthly budgets in these categories — that is, most of the time. However, expenses can change month-over-month, and so can spending habits. Will your credit card reward you for your next home renovation or road trip? How about your daily parking fees or transportation costs? A versatile credit card that can keep up with your lifestyle can help you maximize your cash back.

That's where the Tangerine Mastercards shine. Tangerine is the only major bank in Canada that offers a credit card with bespoke reward categories. WIth both cards, every month, you have the option to choose which spending categories will earn you the most cash back rewards on your card, and all for no fee.

Learn more about the Tangerine World Mastercard® and Tangerine Money-back Credit Card below or use the RATESDOTCA Credit Card Marketplace to compare cash back cards to see how they stack up.

First Year Value is the estimated dollar amount of benefits you will accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
Welcome bonus
$100
Annual rewards
$309
Annual fee
$0
Total first year value
$409
Tangerine World Mastercard®

card image
Welcome bonus
$100
Money-Back Rewards
Annual rewards
$309
Money-Back Rewards
Annual fee
$0

Flexible no fee card that gives you the ability to choose what categories earn you the most cash back
Includes rare mobile device insurance
Details at a glance Collapse details
First Year Value is the estimated dollar amount of benefits you will accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
Welcome bonus
$100
Annual rewards
$309
annualFee
$0
Total first year value
$409
Welcome bonus
$100
Annual rewards
$309
Flexible no fee card that gives you the ability to choose what categories earn you the most cash back
Includes rare mobile device insurance
Details at a glance Collapse details
First Year Value is the estimated dollar amount of benefits you will accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
Welcome bonus
$100
Annual rewards
$309
Annual fee
$0
Total first year value
$409
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

card image
Welcome bonus
$100
Money-Back Rewards
Annual rewards
$309
Money-Back Rewards
Annual fee
$0

Flexible no-fee cashback card with ability to choose what categories earn you the most cash back
No limits to cash back that can be earned
Details at a glance Collapse details
First Year Value is the estimated dollar amount of benefits you will accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
Welcome bonus
$100
Annual rewards
$309
annualFee
$0
Total first year value
$409
Welcome bonus
$100
Annual rewards
$309
Flexible no-fee cashback card with ability to choose what categories earn you the most cash back
No limits to cash back that can be earned
Details at a glance Collapse details

The Best of Finance Winners for 2021

Click any of the categories below to snap to that section.

  First year value* Annual fee Winner
$383 $0 BMO CashBack® Mastercard®*
$510 $0 MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® 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 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.

  First year value* Annual fee Top features
$383 $0 Earn 3% cash back on your first $500 in groceries monthly
$465 $0 Earn 1.25% cash back on all purchases
$309 $0 Earn 2% cash back in up to three categories of your choice

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.

First Year Value is the estimated dollar amount of benefits you will 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 fee
$0

Winner - Best No-Fee Cash Back Credit Card
Cash back rewards include the freedom to redeem anytime
Details at a glance Collapse details
First Year Value is the estimated dollar amount of benefits you will accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
Welcome bonus
$95
Annual rewards
$288
annualFee
$0
Total first year value
$383
Welcome bonus
$95
Annual rewards
$288
Winner - Best No-Fee Cash Back Credit Card
Cash back rewards include the freedom to redeem anytime
Details at a glance Collapse details

Runners-up: Best No-Fee Cash Back Credit Card

Back to the top.

SimplyCash™ Card from American Express

Cardholders of the SimplyCash™ Card from American Express earn 1.25% cash back on all purchases, no matter the category. That means cardholders can earn more on miscellaneous purchases like gifts and technology — items that usually fall outside the accelerated spending categories found on most credit cards.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Candian would earn around $465 cash back in the first year.

Annual fee:

$0

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Earn 4% cash back on up to $5,000 in purchases for the first six months. You could earn as much as $200 cash back.

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

Rewards:

  • Earn 1.25% cash back on all purchases, with no limit to how much you can earn.

Tangerine World Mastercard®

The Tangerine World Mastercard® offers a rare feature only paralleled by the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card — the ability to switch accelerated earning categories to maximize rewards. Cardholders can earn 2% cash back in up to three Money-Back Categories of their choice with options including groceries, gas, furniture, home improvements and even parking. Cardholders can choose the spending categories that reward them the most and tailor them to keep up with ever-changing circumstances.

This card also features mobile device insurance and basic travel perks.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Candian would earn around $309 cash back in the first year.

Annual fee:

$0

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Get a 1.95% promotional interest rate on balance transfers made within 30 days of opening the account for six months. A 1% balance transfer fee does apply.

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

Rewards:

Earn 2% cash back in up to three categories of your choice. Start with two Money-Back Rewards Categories and earn a third when depositing your rewards into a Tangerine Savings Account. Get 0.50% unlimited cash back on everything else.

Tangerine Money-Back Categories:

  • Grocery
  • Furniture
  • Restaurants
  • Hotel-motel
  • Gas
  • Recurring bill payments
  • Home improvement
  • Entertainment
  • Public transportation and parking

Change up your categories to match your spending style and maximize your rewards.

Best No-Fee Travel Credit Card

Access the 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.

  First year value* Annual fee Top features
$510 $0 Flexible MBNA Rewards program
$527 $0 Use Aventura Points to cover airfare, taxes and fees
$343 $0 Earn more with AIR MILES Partners

Winner: MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard®

TheMBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard® offers cardholders four points for every $1 spent on eligible gas, grocery and restaurant purchases for the first 90 days, up to the $5,000 annual spend cap in each category. After, earn two points for every $1 spent on gas, grocery, and restaurant purchases ($5,000 annual cap in each category) and one point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

This card also features Away from Home services for assistance with lost documents and ticket replacement, $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 $510 in rewards in the first year.

First Year Value is the estimated dollar amount of benefits you will accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
Welcome bonus
$160
Annual rewards
$350
Annual fee
$0
Total first year value
$510
MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard®

card image
Welcome bonus
$160
MBNA Rewards points
Annual rewards
$350
MBNA Rewards points
Annual fee
$0

Winner – Best No-Fee Travel Credit Card
Flexible rewards redeemable for travel or cashback
Details at a glance Collapse details
First Year Value is the estimated dollar amount of benefits you will accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
Welcome bonus
$160
Annual rewards
$350
annualFee
$0
Total first year value
$510
Welcome bonus
$160
Annual rewards
$350
Winner – Best No-Fee Travel Credit Card
Flexible rewards redeemable for travel or cashback
Details at a glance Collapse details

Runners-up: Best No-Fee Travel Credit Card

Back to the top.

CIBC Aventura® Visa * Card

The CIBC Aventura® Visa * Card offers cardholders up to 10,000 bonus Aventura Points in the first year, a travel value of up to $100. This card also features basic travel insurance, not typically found on a no-fee card and Aventura Travel Assistant for personalized travel planning with no booking fees.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian would earn around $527 in rewards in the first year.

Annual fee:

$0

Limited time offer/bonus:

Earn up to 10,000 Aventura Points in the first year. Get 7,500 Aventura Points when you make your first purchase using the card. Get an additional 2,500 Aventura Points, 500 points for completing each of the five following activities in the first 60 days:

  • Share your email address with CIBC
  • Sign up for eStatements
  • Add an authorized user to the account
  • Hold any eligible CIBC Chequing Account
  • Add your card to Apple Pay®, Samsung Pay or Google Pay™

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

Rewards:

  • Earn one point for every $1 spent on gas, grocery and drugstore purchases.
  • Earn one point for every $1 spent on travel through the CIBC Rewards Centre.
  • Earn one point for every $2 spent on all other purchases.

BMO AIR MILES Mastercard*

New cardholders of the BMO AIR MILES Mastercard* can earn up to 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles when they spend at least $1,000 in the first three months. That is $80 in AIR MILES Cash. Regularly earn one Mile for every $25 in purchases on the card and get three Miles for every $25 spent at participating AIR MILES Partners, like Metro, Foodland and Shell.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian could earn around $343 in Miles in the first year.

Annual fee:

$0

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Earn 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles when you spend at least $1,000 on your card in the first three months.
  • Get a 1.99% promotional interest rate on balance transfers for nine months. A 1% balance transfer fee does apply.

Offer expiry date: October 31, 2021

Rewards:

  • Earn one Mile for every $25 you spend on your credit card.
  • Earn three Miles for every $25 spent at participating AIR MILES Partners.

*Rates, product information, and reward estimates are subject to change at any time and do not constitute financial advice. This post was not sponsored. The views and opinions expressed in this review are purely those of RATESDOTCA. Information in this article is accurate as of the date of this posting, May 18, 2021. Read our full disclaimer.

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