icon

2021's Best Reward Credit Cards for Canadians

Compare the best rewards credit cards to get the perks you actually want.

Select your priority

Select your rewards preference

Select your annual fees

Rewards credit card 101

Looking to get more out of your credit card? Rewards credit cards help you earn back valuable cash rewards, point rewards, travel rewards, or a combination on every purchase you make through your credit card. Find out which of these credit card rewards match your lifestyle and compare the best Canadian rewards credit cards on RATESDOTCA.

The Best of Finance Winners for 2021: Best Rewards Credit Cards

  First year value* Credit score required Winner
$1,874 Fair American Express Cobalt™ Credit Card
$1,244 Excellent Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card
$476 Fair President’s Choice Financial® World Elite Mastercard®
$1,874 Fair American Express Cobalt™ Credit Card

*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 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.

  First year value* Credit score required Top features
$1,874 Fair Flexible Membership Rewards® program + travel insurance
$1,244 Excellent Flexible Scotia Rewards program + no foreign transaction fees + travel insurance
$1,536 Excellent Priority Pass Membership with four free lounge passes annually + NEXUS application fee rebate + travel insurance
$686 Excellent Earn 25% more rewards with an authorized user + get a $200 annual lifestyle credit + travel insurance
$1,420 Good Air Canada benefits + mobile device insurance + travel insurance

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

Runners-up: Best Overall Rewards Credit Card

Back to the top.

Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card

The Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card offers similar accelerated rewards categories to the American Express CobaltTM Credit Card, with a few rare features of its own. Earn five Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on grocery, restaurant, food delivery, food subscription and entertainment purchases. Get three Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on gas, daily transit and streaming services, and one Scotia Rewards point for every $1 spent everywhere else.

This card also features excellent travel benefits. Get the Best Price Guarantee on airfare through the Scotia Rewards Travel Service. Access a full line of travel insurance coverage. Plus, pay no foreign transaction fees, usually around 2.5% of foreign currency purchases. 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.

Annual fee:

$120

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Earn up to 50,000 Scotia Rewards points in the first year. Get 30,000 Scotia Rewards points when you spend at least $1,000 in the first three months. Get another 20,000 Scotia Rewards points when you spend at least $7,500 in the first 12 months. Plus, pay no annual fee for the first year, including on supplementary cards.

Offer expiry date: November 21, 2021

Rewards:

  • Earn five Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on eligible grocery, restaurant, food delivery and entertainment purchases.
  • Earn three Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on eligible gas and daily transit purchases, as well as select streaming services.
  • Earn one Scotia Rewards point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

CIBC Aventura® Visa InfiniteTM Card

For a limited time, new cardholders of the CIBC Aventura® Visa InfiniteTM Card can earn 35,000 Aventura Points, a travel value of up to $800. Cardholders regularly earn two points for every $1 spent on travel purchased through the CIBC Rewards Centre, 1.5 points for every $1 spent at eligible gas stations, grocery stores and drugstores, and one point for every $1 spent everywhere else.

Cardholders also get a complimentary Priority Pass Membership with four free lounge passes annually, a NEXUS application fee rebate every four years and a comprehensive list of travel insurance.

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

Annual fee:

$139

Interest rate:

  • Purchase – 20.99%
  • Cash Advance – 22.99% (21.99% for QC residents)
  • Balance Transfer – 22.99

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Earn up to 35,000 Aventura Points. That is a travel value of up to $800. Get 20,000 Aventura Points when you make your first purchase using the card. Get an additional 1,250 Aventura Points for each monthly statement period you spend at least $1,000 on the card for 12 months. Plus, get an annual fee rebate for the first year.

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

Rewards:

  • Earn two points for every $1 spent on travel through the CIBC Rewards Centre.
  • Earn 1.5 points for every $1 spent on gas, groceries and drugstore purchases.
  • Earn one point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

BMO eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege* Card

The BMO eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege* Card is a relatively new card with a release date of late 2020. However, it came on the scene with fresh features, unlike any other card currently on the market. Cardholders get a $200 annual lifestyle credit to spend however they want.

Plus, they can earn 25% more rewards with an authorized user. Cardholders regularly earn five points for every $1 spent on groceries, dining, drugstore, gas, and travel purchases and one point for every $1 spent everywhere else — or 6.25 points for every $1 in the accelerated categories and 1.25 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases with an additional cardholder.

This card also features travel insurance, mobile device insurance, shopping coverage and exclusive Visa Infinite benefits.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian would earn around $686 in the first year, despite the $499 annual fee.

Annual fee:

$499

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Earn up to 50,000 points. Get 35,000 points when you spend at least $5,000 in the first three months. Get another 15,000 points on your first account anniversary.

Offer expiry date: December 6, 2022

Rewards:

  • Earn five points for every $1 spent on grocery, dining, gas, travel and drugstore purchases.
  • Earn one point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card

The TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card is part of the revamped Aeroplan program launched in November 2020. This card has the best of Aeroplan, Air Canada Benefits, and Visa Infinite, exclusive upgrades and offers. Cardholders and their travelling companions can save on baggage fees when flying with Air Canada. But that isn’t the only shared benefit. Additional cardholders can also get a NEXUS application fee rebate when they enroll in the service.

This card also features travel insurance, mobile device insurance and shopping coverage.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian would earn roughly $1,420 in rewards in the first year.

Annual fee:

$139

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Earn up to 25,000 Aeroplan points and a bonus Buddy Pass. Earn 10,000 Aeroplan points when you make your first purchase using your card. Get an additional 15,000 Aeroplan points and a bonus Buddy Pass when you spend at least $1,000 in the first 90 days. Plus, get an annual fee rebate for the first year.

Terms and Conditions:

This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For Quebec residents, please click here.

Offer expiry date: December 5, 2021

Rewards:

  • Earn 1.5 points for every $1 spent on eligible gas, grocery and direct through Air Canada® purchases.
  • Earn one point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

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.

  First year value* Credit score required Top features
$1,244 Excellent Earn five Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on fast food, food delivery and food subscriptions + earn three Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on eligible subscription purchases like Netflix
$862 Excellent Earn five points for every $1 spent on dining in or dining out

3. The Platinum Card® - Runner-up

$783 Good Earn three points for every $1 spent on eligible dining and takeout purchases

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

Runners-up: Best Credit Card for Staying at Home and Ordering In

Back to the top.

BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card

The BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card offers cardholders five points for every $1 spent on groceries, gas, dining in or out and transit. Earn one point for every $1 spent on all other purchases. Plus, get a $50 annual lifestyle credit to use however you want.

Cardholders can earn 10% more with an authorized user. That is 5.5 points for every $1 spent in the accelerated categories and 1.1 points for every $1 spent elsewhere.

This card also features basic shopping coverage and mobile device insurance.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian would earn around $862 in rewards in the first year.

Annual fee:

$120

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Earn up to 40,000 points. Get 25,000 points when you spend at least $3,000 in the first three months. Get another 15,000 points on your first anniversary. Plus, pay no annual fee for the first year.

Offer expiry date: December 6, 2022

Rewards:

  • Earn five points for every $1 spent on grocery, dining, gas and transit purchases.
  • Earn one point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

The Platinum Card® 

The Platinum Card® offers three points for every $1 spent on eligible dining and takeout purchases in Canada. Get two points for every $1 spent on eligible travel and one point for every $1 spent elsewhere.

While this card has a steep annual fee, it offers some of the best luxury travel perks. Get a $200 annual travel credit to use toward any single travel booking of $200 or more through American Express Travel Online or Platinum® Card Travel Service. Also, access several luxury perks like the Pearson Priority Security Lane during peak times, courtesy valet services and complimentary daily breakfast for two at over 1,100 properties worldwide.

This card is a charge card. While there is no pre-set spending limit, the balance must be paid in full each month, or a 30% annual interest rate applies.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian would earn around $783 in rewards in the first year.

Annual fee:

$699

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points when you spend at least $5,000 on the card in the first three months.

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

Rewards:

  • Earn three points for every $1 spent on eligible dining and takeout purchases.
  • Earn two points for every $1 spent on eligible travel purchases.
  • Earn one point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

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.

However, we felt that the President’s Choice Financial® World Elite Mastercard® was the best credit card for families — despite not having the top value. Sometimes, there are other, more important, characteristics that make a credit card great.

This card has no annual fee, free supplementary cards and offers families the ability to combine their PC Optimum points into a household pool through the loyalty program. Families can earn and spend their rewards together.

  First year value* Credit score required Top features
$476 Fair Free additional cards + combine points with family
$1,244 Excellent Flexible Scotia Rewards program + pay no foreign transaction fees
$745 Excellent Cash back + roadside assistance

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

Runners-up: Best Family Credit Card for Gas and Groceries

Back to the top.

Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card

The Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card offers plenty of rewards and benefits, perfect for any family. Get rewarded for meal kits like HelloFresh and Chefs Plate or streaming services like Netflix.

Earn five Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on grocery, fast food, food delivery, food subscription and entertainment purchases. Earn three Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on gas, transit purchases and select streaming services. Get one Scotia Rewards point for all other purchases.

This card also features travel insurance and no foreign transaction fees — fantastic perks for a family vacation.

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

Annual fee:

$120

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Earn up to 50,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points in the first year. Get 30,000 Scotia Rewards points when you spend at least $1,000 in the first three months. Get an additional 20,000 Scotia Rewards points when you spend at least $7,500 in the first 12 months. Plus, pay no annual fee for the first year, including on supplementary cards.

Offer expiry date: November 21, 2021

Rewards:

  • Earn 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 eligible gas and daily transit purchases, as well as select streaming services.
  • Earn one Scotia Rewards point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

BMO CashBack World Elite* Mastercard*

The recently revamped BMO CashBack World Elite* Mastercard* offers a fantastic cash back rate for some of life’s most essential purchases. Earn 5% cash back on groceries; 4% back on ground transportation, including rideshare services; 3% back on gas, including electric vehicle charging; 2% back on recurring bill payments, and 1% back on all other purchases.

This card also features roadside assistance, shopping coverage and travel perks.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian would earn around $745 in rewards in the first year.

Annual fee:

$120

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Get up to 10% cash back for the first three months. Conditions apply. Plus, pay no annual fee for the first year.

Offer expiry date: December 6, 2022

Rewards:

  • Earn 5% cash back on your first $500 in groceries each month.
  • Earn 4% cash back on your first $300 in ground transportation each month, including taxis and rideshare services.
  • Earn 3% cash back on your first $300 in gas purchases each month, including electric charging.
  • Earn 2% cash back on your first $500 in recurring bill payments each month.
  • Earn 1% cash back for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

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 dining, entertainment and transportation 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
$1,874 Fair Flexible Membership Rewards® program + travel insurance + exclusive perks
$862 Excellent BMO Rewards + mobile device insurance + $50 annual lifestyle credit
$717 Excellent Cash back + travel insurance + mobile device insurance

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

Runners-up: Best Credit Card for Young Professionals

Back to the top.

BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card

Cardholders of the BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card earn five points for every $1 spent on groceries, gas, transit and dining purchases. Get one point for every $1 spent everywhere else. Plus, earn 10% more rewards with an authorized user — that’s 5.5 points for purchases like gas and groceries and 1.1 points on all other purchases.

Cardholders also get a $50 annual lifestyle credit to use however they like.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian would earn around $862 in rewards in the first year.

Annual fee:

$120

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Earn up to 40,000 points. Get 25,000 points after you spend at least $3,000 in the first three months. Get another 15,000 points after your account anniversary. Plus, pay no annual fee for the first year.

Offer expiry date: December 6, 2022

Rewards:

  • Earn five points for every $1 spent on grocery, dining, gas and transit purchases.
  • Earn one point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

Scotia Momentum® Visa Infinite* Card

The Scotia Momentum® Visa Infinite* Card rewards cardholders for their everyday purchases, like groceries, streaming services and Uber rides. Get 4% cash back for every $1 spent on grocery purchases, recurring bill payments and subscriptions; earn 2% cash back for gas and daily transit purchases, including buses and taxis; get 1% back on all other purchases.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian would earn around $717 cash back in the first year.

Annual fee:

$120

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Earn 10% cash back on up to $2,000 in purchases for the first three months. Plus, pay no annual fee for the first year.

Offer expiry date: November 21, 2021

Rewards:

  • Earn 4% cash back for every $1 spent on groceries, recurring bill payments and subscription purchases.
  • Earn 2% cash back for every $1 spent on gas and daily transit purchases.
  • Earn 1% cash back for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

*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.

Compare cashback and reward points to see which one suits your needs

Both cashback and rewards/travel points have benefits. This table breaks down some of the pros and cons for both types of cards.

Rewards Type Cashback Rewards/ Travel points
 Pros
  • Versatile - Use cashback to pay off your credit card bill or make new purchases
  • Holds a 100% cash value, meaning that you can use the instant cashback as money
  • Cashback can be based on a fixed flat-rate or bonuses for certain categories like gas, groceries etc.
  • Earn more cashback on regular purchases like groceries and gas
  • Rewards points are usually more valuable that cashback, because you can only use them for certain purchases
    May offer accelerated ways to earn in loyalty programs you may be using already (For example, PC Optimum)
  • Rewards are accumulated in your rewards account
  •  Allows you to access perks like discounted travel tickets, gift cards, credit card partner services like SCENE points, etc., depending on the card
  • Some of the redeemable rewards are hard to get otherwise such as the Priority Pass, which allows you to access the airport lounges around the world
 Cons
  • Cashback cards often have less perks such as travel insurance or access to discounted companion airfare tickets
  • Can only be redeemed on items/services that are part of the rewards program

What type of credit card rewards can I earn?

Each rewards credit card comes with a unique rewards program. Depending on the card, the rewards points can be redeemed for travel rewards, instant cashback, gift cards and much more. The type of rewards credit card you choose greatly depends on the kind of rewards you want to ultimately redeem for.

Here are the most popular credit card rewards and perks:

  • Travel rewards: If you’re a frequent traveler, travel rewards will be highly useful to you. A travel rewards credit card can earn you Air Miles or points that can be redeemed for flights, train tickets, hotel stays, travel upgrades and much more. See our travel cards.
  • Cash back rewards: Cashback rewards are great for the thrifty shopper. These cards give you instant cashback based on a specific percentage of your retail purchases, instantly saving you money. Cashback rewards can be based on a flat-rate, bonus, or flexible bonus structure. Learn more about cashback rewards.
  • Gift rewards: Some banks offer credit card rewards programs that allow you to use your points to redeem gift cards or items from their catalogues such as perfumes, vacuum cleaners, tablets etc. If you like to cash in your rewards frequently, you can use your points for multiple smaller rewards, like movie tickets or gifts cards for a dinner out. For example, the Scotiabank Rewards Points program allows you to browse through their rewards product catalogue to redeem your rewards points and select anything from coffee makers to a Swiss Chalet gift card.
  • Gas rewards: Do you spend a lot on gas every month? A gas rewards credit card can help you earn rewards or get cashback on your gas purchases. You can find two categories of gas rewards credit cards on the market: a rewards credit card with gas rewards or a loyalty gas credit card. A rewards credit card with gas perks allows you to purchase gas from anywhere and earn rewards each time you buy gas. In contrast, a loyalty gas rewards credit card will be tied to a specific gas retailer, allowing you to only earn rewards if you fill up your gas at their specified locations.

Credit card perks

In addition to rewards, you can also enjoy a variety of perks from most rewards credit cards.

  • Travel perks: Travel rewards credit cards often offer travel related perks such as discounted airfare prices and VIP airport lounge access with membership to services such as Priority Pass or LoungeKey. Almost every travel card also includes additional travel insurance perks which can save you time, money and peace of mind on short trips. Travel rewards over all make travel much more convenient and can save you a lot of money use all these features.
  • Insurance perks: Your rewards credit card can also come with a variety of insurance coverages such as travel, auto and accidental insurance. These can come in handy when you face unexpected situations like trip cancellations and roadside car issues. If you rent cars often, you might want to look for a rewards credit card that offers car rental insurance. As somebody who loves to travel, find a rewards credit card with travel insurance perks like trip cancellation insurance. Here’s an example of a credit card that comes with several insurance benefits:

Tip: You can also use a combination of rewards credit cards to take advantage of multiple rewards programs. For example, you can use a bonus cashback card and a travel rewards card to save money and at the same time earn travel rewards for your trips. This strategy will help you maximize your annual credit card rewards and perks.

Trying to figure out which rewards will work for you? These common questions about rewards credit cards can help you decide.

How do I know which rewards credit card is for me?

When choosing a rewards credit card, remember to look for rewards and perks that complement your lifestyle. There are many different types of rewards cards. Some offer travel rewards, while others cater to cashback, retail discounts, gift cards and much more. Look for cards that have rewards and ways to earn that better suit your financial and lifestyle goals.

Two things to consider when choosing a rewards card

1) How will I earn points/cash back (Or what / where do I spend money): Cards have different earn rates on different spend categories – get a card with a high rate on the thing you buy the most (if you are a big family, maybe this is groceries – if you are a young urbanite, maybe this is entertainment)

2) What do I want to spend (redeem) my points on: Some credit card users want cash back or statement credits because it’s the most flexible. However, cards that offer only cashback usually have lower reward rates than say their travel point counterparts. Even if the card has a flexible points rewards option (you can redeem earned points for cashback or travel) it is common for the redemption value of cash reward to be less than if the points were redeemed on travel.

To be eligible for most rewards credit cards, you must have good to excellent credit. If you need to work on your credit score, opting for a low interest credit card or a no-fee credit card can help you get there.

What is the annual fee for a rewards credit card?

Rewards credit cards typically come with an annual fee ranging anywhere from $100-$200. Some credit card companies waive the first year fee. Choose your rewards card strategically so the advantages outweigh the annual fee.

Why do rewards credit cards have annual fees?

Most rewards credit cards come with an annual fee due to the high-value benefits that come with the card. When choosing a rewards program, pick one that will help you get the most out of your credit card. For example, say you choose a cashback rewards credit card that has an annual fee of $100, comes with a 2% instant cashback on groceries and gas purchases, and 0.5% on other purchases. If you spend an average of $900 a month on groceries and gas alone, you’ll earn at least $216 in cashback by the end of the year, which offsets the annual credit card fee.

Similarly, most travel rewards credit cards come with bonuses. For example, say you choose a travel rewards card that comes with a welcome bonus of 2,000 Air Miles and a promise of an additional 4,000 Air Miles when you spend more than $10,000 in the next six months. You also can earn one Air Mile for every $10 spent. This offers you the potential to earn more than 6,000 Air Miles within six months of holding the card. These Air Miles are worth a few or more domestic trips, helping you save up on travel costs.

Looking for great offers on rewards credit cards? Check out the latest offers on credit cards.

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.

Latest credit card articles

Best Credit Card Welcome Offers for December 2021
December is typically the most expensive month of the year; however, it can also be the most rewarding. Check out the best credit card welcome offers for December.
Learn More
13 mins read
3 Ways to Protect Your Wallet This Black Friday
Travelling south for the spending frenzy? Ensure you have the right auto and credit card coverage.
Learn More
3 mins read
Tangerine Mastercard Review
The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card and the Tangerine World Mastercard offer flexible reward categories to match cardholders’ spending habits.
Learn More
6 mins read