If you are in search of a travel, cash back, or similar rewards card, you may expect to pay a large annual fee. But that is not always the case. There are many no annual fee credit cards that can offer exactly what you are looking for, at no additional cost. Although the earn rate may be lower, you can still benefit from travel perks or receive money back for making everyday purchases. These cards won’t charge you to access the features they provide, yet they offer real rewards that you can spend the way you want to.

Also, a credit card with no annual fee can be used as a secondary credit card to complement or make up for perks that are not included on a cardholder’s primary card. Cardholders using a Mastercard may also want to use a Visa, or vice versa, as a backup card. By using the best features of each, consumers have more choice and may even earn more rewards when making purchases on their credit card.

To get you started, we have selected the top six credit cards with no annual fee in Canada.

Our top picks

Credit card Great features Annual fee

1. MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard®

MBNA Rewards $0

2. CIBC Aventura® Visa* Card

Aventura Points, travel  $0

3. SimplyCash™ Card from American Express

Cash back  $0

4. Tangerine World Mastercard®

Cash back   $0

5. President’s Choice Financial® Mastercard®

PC Optimum points, groceries   $0

6. SCENE®* VISA* Card

SCENE points, movie tickets   $0

1. MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard®

MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard® cardholders can earn rewards on everyday purchases as well as bonus rewards on gas, grocery, and restaurant purchases. When you are ready to redeem, browse the rewards catalogue for travel and merchandise, or apply your rewards toward a statement credit.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian will see $594.75 in rewards in the first two years.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Good: You’ve had a credit card, or loan for at least six years. You've had good credit for the last seven years (no bankruptcies or no defaults on credit as a result of failing to pay debts back to creditors). You haven't opened a new credit card account, loan, or line of credit in the last nine months. You've made the minimum payments on my existing credit cards for the past three months.

Annual fee:

$0

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Earn four times the MBNA Rewards Points per dollar spent on eligible gas, grocery, and restaurant purchases made within the first 90 days.
  • Collect 5,000 bonus points after you make at least $500 in purchases within the first 90 days.
  • Score 5,000 more points once you enroll for paperless e-statements within the first 90 days.

If you meet all the requirements, you can earn up to 10,000 bonus points. That’s a $100 travel value.

Sign-Up Bonus Expiry Date: April 30, 2020

Rewards:

  • Earn 2 MBNA Rewards Points for every dollar spent on eligible gas, grocery, and restaurant purchases, until you reach the $5,000 annual spend cap per category. According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian will only reach the capped amount in the grocery category.
  • Earn 1 MBNA Rewards Point per dollar spent on everything else.

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 24-month period.

Rewards earned over a 24-month period = 59,475 MBNA Rewards Points
Monetary Value = $594.75
Annual fee (x2 for 24-month period) = $0
Total earned over a 24-month period (rewards minus annual fee) = $594.75

*Assuming the cardholder has registered for e-statements, earning the welcome bonus. The points redemption amount may differ per option chosen. The rewards value illustrated here is based on travel redemption.

You can redeem your points for:

  • Travel
  • Credit card statement credit
  • Charity donations
  • Merchandise
  • Gift cards

*Rewards can be redeemed through the rewards catalogue.

Insurance:

  • Purchase assurance
  • Extended warranty
  • Mastercard Zero Liability

Other perks:

  • Enjoy discounts at Avis Rent A Car and Budget Rent A Car locations across Canada and the U.S.
  • Cardholders have access to a series of support options when away from home, from lost documents and ticket replacement, lost luggage assistance, pre-trip information and even legal assistance.

2. CIBC Aventura® Visa * Card

For a limited time the CIBC Aventura® Visa * Card offers cardmembers up to 2,500 bonus Aventura Points when they complete five welcome activities, from signing up for e-statements to adding an authorized user. Cardholders can earn an additional 2,500 bonus points by spending $500 within the first four months.

Including this promotional offer and based on our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian will earn just over $350 in Aventura Points in just two years. Cardholders can cash in their points for travel, activities, merchandise, or a statement credit on the account. However, the points value may fluctuate based on the redemption option. The value here is based on a travel redemption.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Good: You’ve had a credit card, or loan for at least six years. You've had good credit for the last seven years (no bankruptcies or no defaults on credit as a result of failing to pay debts back to creditors). You haven't opened a new credit card account, loan, or line of credit in the last nine months. You've made the minimum payments on my existing credit cards for the past three months.

Annual fee:

$0

Limited time offer/bonus:

Earn up to 2,500 bonus Aventura Points when you complete the following activities within 60 days of account approval:

  • Share your email address with CIBC
  • Sign up for e-statements
  • Add an authorized user to your account
  • Hold any eligible CIBC Chequing Account
  • Add your card to a select mobile wallet (Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, or Android Pay)

Collect an additional 2,500 Aventura Points when you spend at least $500 in your first four monthly statements.

Rewards:

  • Earn one Aventura Point per dollar spent at gas stations, grocery stores, or drug stores, on the first $6,000 spent in these categories annually. After the limit is reached, earn one point for every two dollars spent on gas, grocery, and drug store purchases.
  • Earn one Aventura Point per dollar on travel purchased through the CIBC Reward Centre.
  • Earn one Aventura Point per two dollars spent on all other 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 24-month period.

Rewards earned over a 24-month period = 30,916 Aventura Points
Monetary value = $359.17
Annual fee (x2 for 24-month period) = $0
Total earned over a 24-month period (rewards minus annual fee) = $359.17

*Assuming all private transportation is booked through the CIBC Rewards Centre, and all welcome activities have been completed (5,000 bonus Aventura Points acquired).

You can redeem your points for:

  • Travel through CIBC Reward Centre
  • Hotel stays
  • Vacation packages
  • Merchandise
  • Gift cards
  • Activities
  • A credit on your account statement
  • Select CIBC financial products

Insurance:

  • Auto rental collision and loss damage insurance
  • $100,000 common carrier accident insurance
  • Purchase security and extended protection insurance
  • CIBC Payment Protector (optional)

Other perks:

  • This card qualifies for the CIBC Pace It feature, an installment plan option available for most large purchases made the card. However, additional fees and conditions do apply. Pace It is not available to residents of Quebec.
  • Enjoy up to three supplementary cards for free.
  • Access Aventura Travel Assistant for personalized travel booking with no booking fees.

3. SimplyCash™ Card from American Express

Apply for the SimplyCash™ Card from American Express and earn 2.5% cash back in your first three months of card membership, up to a maximum spend of $6,000 ($150 cash back). After the welcome rate expires, earn 1.25% everywhere you shop. This could put an extra $540 in your wallet according to our Best of Finance methodology.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Good: You’ve had a credit card, or loan for at least six years. You've had good credit for the last seven years (no bankruptcies or no defaults on credit as a result of failing to pay debts back to creditors). You haven't opened a new credit card account, loan, or line of credit in the last nine months. You've made the minimum payments on my existing credit cards for the past three months.

Annual fee:

$0

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Earn 2.5% cash back on all purchases made within the first three months, up to a maximum spend of $6,000 ($150 cash back).

Sign-Up Bonus Expiry Date: N/A (subject to change without notice)

Rewards:

  • Earn 1.25% cash back on all eligible purchases after the welcome rate expires

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 24-month period.

Rewards earned over a 24-month period = $540.00
Annual fee (x2 for 24-month period) = $0
Total earned over a 24-month period (rewards minus annual fee) = $540.00

You can redeem your points for:

  • Cash back is applied as a statement credit in September of each year

Insurance:

  • $100,000 Travel Accident Insurance
  • Buyer’s Assurance Protection (extended warranty)
  • Purchase Protection Plan
  • Fraud Protection Guarantee

Other perks:

  • Enjoy all that American Express Invites has to offer including exclusive tickets, seats, and access, as well as special offers and experiences.

4. Tangerine World Mastercard®

The Tangerine World Mastercard® allows cardholders to earn additional cash back in up to three categories of their choice. Earn 2% in the chosen Money-Back categories and 0.5% on everything else. The Tangerine World Mastercard® is a well-rounded credit card with no annual fee, offering additional perks including Mastercard Airport Experiences, rental car collision insurance, and even mobile device insurance.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian can save an additional $479.34 over the first two years if they choose to deposit their rewards into a Tangerine Savings Account and select grocery, pharmacy, and gas as their Money-Back categories.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Excellent: You've had a credit card, or loan for at least 10 years. You've had good credit for the last seven years (no bankruptcies or no defaults on credit as a result of failing to pay debts back to creditors). You haven't opened a new credit card account, loan, or line of credit in the last nine months. You've made the minimum payments on your existing credit cards for the past six months.

Annual fee:

$0

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Earn 4% Money-Back Rewards in up to three categories for your first three months of card membership. Cardholders start with two categories but can earn the third by choosing to have their Money-Back Rewards deposited into a Tangerine savings account.
  • Take advantage of the 1.95% promotional interest rate on balance transfers made within 30 days of account opening, for six statement periods after the last balance transfer was made to the account. A 1% fee applies to amounts transferred.

Sign-Up Bonus Expiry Date: January 31, 2020

Rewards:

Earn 2% Money-Back Rewards in two chosen categories. And, if you choose to have your Money-Back Rewards deposited in your Tangerine savings account, you are eligible for a third castigatory at 2%. Switch up your selected Money-Back categories as your spending habits change to maximize your return and earn 0.5% on all other eligible purchases.

Tangerine Money-Back Rewards categories:

  • Restaurants
  • Grocery
  • Gas
  • Entertainment
  • Home Improvement
  • Furniture
  • Hotel-Motel
  • Recurring Bills
  • Drug Store
  • Public Transport and Parking

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 24-month period.

Rewards earned over a 24-month period = $479.34 Money-Back rewards
Annual fee (x2 for 24-month period) = $0
Total earned over a 24-month period (rewards minus annual fee) = $479.34

*Assuming you have earned the third category by depositing your rewards into a Tangerine Savings Account and you have chosen to earn from grocery, pharmacy, and gas purchases.

You can redeem your points for:

  • Rewards are paid out monthly and can be deposited into your Tangerine savings account or applied to your credit card bill as a statement credit.

Insurance:

  • Purchase assurance
  • Extended warranty
  • Rental car collision/loss damage insurance
  • Mastercard Zero Liability
  • Mobile device insurance

Other perks:

  • Enjoy your complimentary membership to Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey. Access exclusive dining, retail, and spa offers in airports worldwide.
  • Supplementary cards are free of charge and have no annual fee.

5. President’s Choice Financial® Mastercard®

The President’s Choice Financial® Mastercard® is fantastic for earning rewards on everyday items at the grocery store, drug store, or gas station. Cardholders can redeem their rewards when they have as little as 10,000 points, a $10 value, for merchandise or free groceries. This card is great for the young single person, to the large family — we all have to eat. An added bonus, you can earn more points if you use both your PC Optimum card and your President’s Choice Financial Mastercard in-store or online at participating retailers.

Based on our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian can earn $582.72 in PC Optimum points within the first two years of card membership.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Good: You’ve had a credit card, or loan for at least six years. You've had good credit for the last seven years (no bankruptcies or no defaults on credit as a result of failing to pay debts back to creditors). You haven't opened a new credit card account, loan, or line of credit in the last nine months. You've made the minimum payments on my existing credit cards for the past three months.

Annual fee:

$0

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Take advantage of the 0.97% promotional interest rate on balance transfer for the first six months. Balance transfers must be made within the first 90 days of account opening.

Sign-Up Bonus Expiry Date: N/A (subject to change without notice)

Rewards:

  • Earn 10 points per dollar at President’s Choice Financial stores
  • Earn 25 points per dollar at Shoppers Drug Mart
  • Earn 30 points per litre at Esso Mobil
  • Earn 20 points per dollar at PC Travel
  • Earn 10 points per dollar everywhere else

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 24-month period.

Rewards earned over a 24-month period = 582, 729 PC Optimum points
Monetary value = $582.72
Annual fee (x2 for 24-month period) = $0
Total earned over a 24-month period (rewards minus annual fee) = $582.72

*Assuming all grocery purchases are made at President’s Choice Financial stores, pharmacy purchases are made at Shoppers Drug Mart, Gas is purchased at Esso Mobil, and Travel is made through PC Travel.

You can redeem your points for:

  • Redeem in-store for free groceries and merchandise
  • Redeem online at Beautyboutique.ca, JoeFresh.ca, and PC Express

*Points can be redeemed in 10,000 points ($10) increments.

Insurance:

  • Purchase assurance
  • Extended warranty
  • Optional account balance protection and Credit Alert Plus coverages are available at an additional cost per month.

Other perks:

  • Cardholders can enjoy up to four free authorized users.
  • Access the Mastercard Global Service for emergency card replacement and cash advance options.

A similar option:

  • President’s Choice Financial offers two additional no-fee cards including the President's Choice Financial® World Mastercard® and the President’s Choice Financial® World Elite Mastercard®, which offer greater rewards values but feature tougher qualifying requirements.

6. SCENE®* VISA* Card

The SCENE®* VISA* Card rewards movie lovers with free tickets by making everyday purchases. Cardholders can earn additional points when making purchases at Cineplex theatres or online at cineplex.com, as well as at the time of redemption if points are used toward movie tickets.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian could see a return of over $500 within the first two years of card membership. It only takes 1,250 SCENE points to earn a free general movie ticket. That means the average Canadian could earn around 40 general admission tickets within the first two years.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Good: You’ve had a credit card, or loan for at least six years. You've had good credit for the last seven years (no bankruptcies or no defaults on credit as a result of failing to pay debts back to creditors). You haven't opened a new credit card account, loan, or line of credit in the last nine months. You've made the minimum payments on my existing credit cards for the past three months.

Annual fee:

$0

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Earn 2,500 bonus SCENE points when you spend at least $500 in eligible purchases in the first three months.

Sign-Up Bonus Expiry Date: March 1, 2020

Rewards:

  • Earn one SCENE point per dollar spent on everyday purchases
  • Earn five SCENE points per dollar spent at Cineplex theatres and cineplex.com

*A maximum of 300 points can be earned per transaction, up to a daily maximum of 600 points. When redeeming SCENE points at the theatre, additional SCENE points are earned, up to a maximum of one adult ticket and two child tickets per transaction and two transactions per day.

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 24-month period.

Rewards earned over a 24-month period = 50,500 SCENE Points
Monetary value = $505.00
Annual fee (x2 for 24-month period) = $0
Total earned over a 24-month period (rewards minus annual fee) = $505.00

*Assuming $100 a month is spent at Cineplex theatres or cineplex.com.

You can redeem your points for:

  • Cash in 1,000 points for $10 off at participating restaurants
  • Redeem 1,250 points for a General Admission or 3D movie ticket in a regular auditorium
  • Redeem 2,000 points for a free Enhanced movie ticket including UltraAVX, IMAX, DBOX, and the 3D versions of these experiences
  • Redeem 2,500 points for a VIP Cinemas ticket

Insurance:

  • Feel Assured Protection (optional)

Other perks:

  • Add an additional supplementary card free of charge.
  • Save at participating AVIS and Budget locations.

Compare Credit Cards with No Annual Fee

Don’t judge a credit card by its fee! There are plenty of credit cards with no annual fee that feature travel rewards, cash back, insurance options, installment plan features, balance transfer options, and more. A credit card’s annual fee shouldn’t bust your budget to provide you with the services you want. Rates.ca can help you find the credit card you have been looking for. Compare the best credit cards with no annual fee in Canada.

Hayley Vesh

Hayley Vesh is a creative, resourceful, and knowledgeable content producer who is passionate about financial literacy, storytelling, and generating ideas. She writes about credit cards, savings, debt management, and personal finance. In her spare time, Hayley can be found wandering in the woods, hunting for second-hand treasures, or curled up with a steeped tea and a good podcast.

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