Almost every big retailer offers online shopping, which makes getting the items you want easier than ever. Even small at-home businesses can have global reach with online portals like Shopify or Etsy.

Some sites offer special perks with memberships but most you can use without. However, you can’t use cash from the comfort of your own home, so you’ll need a good credit card to shop on the web. On top of being more rewarding when you shop online, many credit cards also offer protection for your purchases. Typically credit cards add security by making it easier to dispute transactions as well as providing a barrier between potential fraudsters or thieves and your bank account.

From retail store cards to big earners, here are our top five credit cards for online shopping.

Our top picks

Credit card Great features Annual fee

1. American Express Cobalt™ Credit Card

Membership Rewards, travel insurance  $120 ($10 per month)

2. Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card

Scotia Rewards, travel insurance  $120
3. President's Choice Financial® World Mastercard® PC Optimum points, groceries $0

4. Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

Cash back  $0

5. Triangle™ Mastercard®

Canadian Tire Money  $0

1. American Express CobaltTM Credit Card

Apply for the American Express CobaltTM Credit Card and you can earn up to 30,000 bonus points in the first year. That is a $300 monetary value. Not only that, this card has incredible earning potential. Collect five times the points at coffee shops, bars, restaurants, grocery stores, and food delivery. Earn two times the points on travel, transit, and gas; and earn one point for every dollar on everything else.

Based on our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian will earn nearly $1,300 in rewards in the first two years of card membership. Once you have the minimum redemption value of 1,000 points, you can start to redeem them for almost anything. Cardholders can even shop with their points on Amazon.ca.

This card offers peace of mind when shopping online with the Purchase Protection Plan, Buyers Assurance, and fraud protection. This means, your purchases may be covered in event of physical damage or theft, and they may be eligible for extended warranties.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Fair: You’ve had a credit card or loan for one or more years. For the last two years, you’ve paid back debts to creditors (with no defaults). You haven’t missed more than two payments on your credit in the last three months.

Annual fee:

$120 ($10 per month)

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • In the first year, earn 2,500 Membership Rewards® points for each month in which you make at least $500 in net purchases on your card. This could add up to 30,000 points in a year.

Rewards:

  • Earn five points for every $1 spent at grocery stores, restaurants, bars, cafes, and food delivery.
  • Earn two points for every $1 spent on transit, gas, and other eligible travel purchases.
  • Earn one point for every $1 spent 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 = 153,820 Membership Rewards Points
Monetary value = $1,538.20
Annual fee (x2 for 24-month period) = $240.00
Total earned over a 24-month period (rewards minus annual fee) = $1,298.20

You can redeem your points for:

  • Streaming services.
  • Movie tickets.
  • Dining out.
  • Retail purchases.
  • Flights through the Fixed Points Travel Program.
  • Other travel through American Express Travel Online.ca events.
  • Purchases on Amazon.ca.

Insurance:

  • Emergency medical (for when you travel out of province/Canada).
  • Flight delay.
  • Baggage delay.
  • Hotel/motel burglary.
  • Lost or stolen baggage.
  • Car rental theft and damage.
  • $250,000 travel accident.
  • Purchase protection.
  • Extended warranty.

Other perks:

  • Cardholders enjoy exclusive benefits at over 600 hotels and resorts. These benefits include credits for hotel amenities, and complimentary room upgrades when available.
  • American Express Invites® program, featuring advanced and reserved ticket access, special offers, and exclusive experiences.

2. Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card

New Scotiabank Gold American Express Card cardholders are eligible for up to 30,000 bonus rewards within the first year. That is a $300 value. Continue to earn Scotia Rewards points on everything from food subscriptions, entertainment purchases, rideshare services, and Netflix.

Much like the CobaltTM, the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card offers the average Canadian a significant return on rewards within the first two years. According to our Best of Finance methodology, this card could put an extra $1,241.59 in your pocket.

Cardmembers can redeem their rewards through the Scotia Rewards website for merchandise, exclusive travel offers, or gift cards for groceries, coffee, and more. Not only that, Scotia Rewards can be converted into SCENE points and redeemed for movies and further merchandise.

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:

$120

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Earn up to 30,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points within your first year of card membership. To qualify for the initial 25,000 bonus rewards you must open a new credit card by December 20, 2019, and make at least $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months. Earn an additional 5,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points when you spend at least $10,000 on eligible purchases using your Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card, within the first year.

Rewards:

  • Earn five times the Scotia Rewards points for ever dollar spent on eligible grocery, restaurant, fast food, and food delivery subscription purchases.
  • Earn five times the Scotia Rewards points on eligible entertainment purchases.
  • Earn three times the Scotia Rewards points on eligible gas and daily transit, including taxis and rideshare services.
  • Earn three times the Scotia Rewards points on select streaming services.
  • Earn one Scotia Rewards point 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 = 148,158.72 Scotia Rewards points
Monetary value = $1,481.59
Annual fee (x2 for 24-month period) = $240.00
Total earned over a 24-month period (rewards minus annual fee) = $1,241.59

You can redeem your points for:

  • Merchandise.
  • Gift cards.
  • Travel including flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises and more.
  • SCENE points (after you convert).
  • Towards the balance on your card.

Insurance:

  • Emergency medical (for when you travel out of province/Canada).
  • Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance.
  • Flight delay.
  • Baggage delay and lost baggage coverage.
  • Travel accident insurance.
  • Rental car collision loss and damage insurance.
  • Hotel/motel burglary.
  • Purchase protection.
  • Extended warranty.

Other perks:

  • Cardholders enjoy benefits through the Scotia Rewards Travel Service, an exclusive travel agency.
  • American Express Invites® program, featuring advanced and reserved ticket access, special offers, and exclusive experiences. Cardmembers also have access to Amex Offers® and Amex Front Of the Line® perks.

No fee alternative:

The SCENE®* VISA* Card has no annual fee. While the rewards potential is significantly lower, it is a great card for movie lovers.

3. President's Choice Financial® World Mastercard®

The President’s Choice Financial® World Mastercard® rewards loyal PC shoppers when they make purchases at participating grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations, as well as online at PC Travel, the Beautyboutique.ca, JoeFresh.ca and PC Express websites.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian could see a return of over $700 within their first two years of card membership. That’s a lot of free groceries!

These points can be used in minimum increments of 10,000 or $10, for free products, groceries, or at any participating store. This card also offers free purchase protection and free extended warranty, so you can shop online with confidence.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Fair: You’ve had a credit card or loan for one or more years. For the last two years, you’ve paid back debts to creditors (with no defaults). You haven’t missed more than two payments on your credit in the last three months.

Annual fee:

$0

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • No welcome offer.

Rewards:

  • Earn 20 points for every dollar spent at PC Financial stores.
  • Earn 35 points per dollar spent at Shoppers Drug Mart.
  • Earn at least 30 PC Optimum points per litre with Esso Mobil.
  • Earn 20 points per dollar spent on PC Travel.
  • Earn 10 points per dollar 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 = 714,678 PC Optimum Points
Monetary value = $714.68
Annual fee (x2 for 24-month period) = $0
Total earned over a 24-month period (rewards minus annual fee) = $714.68

*Assuming all groceries are purchased at PC Financial stores, all pharmacy products are purchased at Shoppers Drug Mart, private transportation is through PC Travel, and gas is purchased through Esso Mobil.

You can redeem your points for:

You can cash in your points as soon as you have 10,000 ($10 monetary value) for:

  • Merchandise at participating stores.
  • Online at Beautyboutique.ca, JoeFresh.ca, and Pc Express.

Insurance:

  • Purchase assurance.
  • Extended warranty.

Other perks:

  • Cardholders enjoy a 24/7 concierge service to make reservations, deliver gifts, and more.
  • Mastercard Global Service has cardholders covered in the event of an emergency, replacing lost or stolen cards within 48 hours from anywhere in the world.

A similar option:

For those who may not meet the income requirement for this card, the President’s Choice Financial® Mastercard® is also a great choice for loyal PC shoppers. It has many of the same benefits but with a little less earning power.

4. Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

Flexible cashback 

Cashback credit card with flexible bonus categories.

The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card is unique in the fact it offers cardmembers the option to choose the categories that can reward them the most. The best part, if those categories no longer suit your spending habits, you can change them. This means no matter what you need, from furniture to entertainment, you can be earning money back.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian can earn an additional $479.34 over the first two years. Points are applied to the next month's statement or deposited in your Tangerine Savings Account, so you can save your money or treat yourself.

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 category by choosing to have their Money-Back Rewards deposited into a Tangerine savings account.

Sign-Up Bonus Expiry Date: January 31, 2020

Rewards:

Aside from the welcome offer, the average earn rate for this card is 2% on your two chosen categories and 0.5% on everything else. However, if you choose to have your Money-Back Rewards deposited in your Tangerine savings account, you are eligible for a third castigatory with a more favourable earn rate of 2%.

The best part—you can change your selected Money-Back categories to suit your spending habits, which could increase your earning potential.

The 10 Tangerine Money-Back Rewards categories are as follows:

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

*Assuming three categories have been selected and include groceries, pharmacy, and gas.

You can redeem your points for:

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

Insurance:

  • Purchase assurance.
  • Extended warranty.

Other perks:

  • Supplementary cards are free and are great if you want to earn more rewards as a household.

5. Triangle™ Mastercard®

Finally, the Triangle™ Mastercard® is great for the handyperson, athlete, or homeowner who wants to cash in on home improvement or sports equipment. This card earns Canadian Tire Money on everything you buy. Collect 4% in Canadian Tire Money at participating stores and earn five cents per litre at Gas+ and participating Husky stations.

Receive personalized offers and cash in on merchandise from Canadian Tire, Sport Chek, Atmosphere, Sports Rousseau, Hockey Experts, L’Entrepôt du Hockey, and participating Mark’s/L’Équipeur and Sports Experts stores.

Based on our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian will earn just over $250 in rewards in just two years. This line of credit cards also features the Triangle™ World Mastercard®, and the Triangle™ World Elite Mastercard®, which may offer higher earning power and many of the same benefits.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Unknown.

Annual fee:

$0

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • No welcome offer.

Rewards:

  • Earn four percent back in Canadian Tire Money at Canadian Tire, Sport Chek, Sports Rousseau, Hockey Experts, L’Entrepôt du Hockey and participating Mark’s/L’Équipeur and Sports Experts stores.
  • Earn five cents per litre in Canadian Tire Money at Gas+ and participating Husky gas stations.
  • Collect Canadian Tire Money everywhere else you shop.

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 = $257.17 Canadian Tire Money
Annual fee (x2 for 24-month period) = $0
Total earned over a 24-month period (rewards minus annual fee) = $257.17

*Assuming $100 a month is spent on the card monthly at eligible retailers.

You can redeem your points for:

  • Merchandise at Canadian Tire stores and select partner locations such as Mark’s and Sport Chek.

Insurance:

  • Not applicable.

Other perks:

  • Access member-only events and receive personalized offers from some of your favourite brands.

Pick Rewards to Suit Your Shopping Habits

Many retailers have partnered with credit card companies, creating special offers and rewards for their loyal customers. If you choose a credit card well suited to your shopping habits, you may be able to save money and indulge yourself with some of your favourite brands.

Compare credit cards at Rates.ca and find the best rewards credit card for you. Whether you are an avid traveller, a handyperson, or love binge-watching Netflix, there is a credit card that can treat you for your hobbies and spending style.

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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