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Best of Finance Winners: The Best Credit Cards for 2020

Dec. 7, 2020
7 mins
RATESDOTCA Best of Finance 2020

RATESDOTCA aims to help Canadians make better money decisions by recognizing the best credit cards in Canada at its 9th annual Best of Finance Awards.

Canadians’ spending behaviours are evolving during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent survey by RATESDOTCA, suggesting a long-term shift toward e-commerce and contactless payment choices.

One such payment method is the credit card, a safe and often rewarding choice. Most cards allow users to make contactless payments through the physical card or a virtual e-wallet and typically offer an extra layer of protection when shopping online. Many credit cards also offer cash back, rewards, savings and perks.

To help consumers find the best money products, we annually audit and analyze the leading credit cards on the Canadian market, so you don’t have to. The Best of Finance Awards acknowledges some of the top products in the finance industry and weeds out the average contenders. We aim to help consumers—like you—find the right fit year-over-year.

At RATESDOTCA, we believe your credit card should match your lifestyle and spending needs, which is why we have revamped our awards categories. Our award winners focus on unique profiles, from the young professional to snowbirds and those looking to pay down their balance.

Our category nominees showcase the top benefits and perks from the best credit card providers in Canada. They feature a range of insurance coverages, flexible rewards redemption options, security features and countless extra perks. Not only that, but the Best of Finance methodology can tell you the first-year value of each card in the winner’s circle, whether it’s the return on rewards or savings in your pocket.

To carefully compare and select the 2020 Best of Finance Awards winners, we converted miles and points into cash values, so every card was on equal terms. All interest rates on purchases and balance transfers were considered. To come up with the total first-year value of each card, the team scoured annual fees, promotional offers and each product’s fine print, deciphering the smallest of details. The credit cards that offered the highest first-year value ranked at the top of each category, except for one or two cards we couldn’t help but feel outweighed their competitors with their special qualities.

So, without further ado, here are the 2020 Best of Finance winners:

Best of Finance Winners 2020

Best rewards credit card
Credit card Great features Annual fee First-year value

1. ★ American Express Cobalt™ Card

  • Membership Rewards®
  • Travel insurance, flexible rewards redemption

$12.99 per month ($155.88 per year)

$1,361

2. Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card

  • Scotia Rewards
  • Travel insurance, no foreign transaction fees

$120

$874

3. Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card

  • Scotia Rewards
  • Travel insurance, no foreign transaction fees, six free lounge visits per year, price protection

$139

$415

4. TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Credit Card

  • Aeroplan points
  • Travel insurance, Air Canada perks

$139 (Waived year 1)

$962

5. TD First Class Travel®Visa Infinite* Card
  • TD Points
  • Travel insurance
$120 (Waived year 1) $732

Best no-fee credit card
MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard®
Best travel credit card
Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card
Best cash back credit card
TD Cash Back Visa Infinite* Card
Best premium perks credit card
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Best credit card for paying down your balance
HSBC +Rewards™ Mastercard®
Best credit card for rebuilding credit
Home Trust Secured Visa*
Best credit card for young professionals
American Express Cobalt™ Card
Best credit card for students
BMO® CashBack® Mastercard®* for Students
Best credit card for frequent flyers
Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card
Best credit card for snowbirds or cross-border shoppers
Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card
Best credit card for newcomers to Canada
BMO® CashBack® Mastercard®*
Best credit card for families
President’s Choice Financial® World Elite Mastercard®

The number one rewards credit card

This year we’ve highlighted the best rewards card in Canada and the four runners-up. It is clear to see that the American Express CobaltTM Card offers members an extraordinary amount of rewards within the first year. However, it’s not only about the cash back earned or points acquired with the top rewards credit cards. We compared every detail down to the insurance coverages and the eligibility requirements to determine the card that would be victorious.

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Compare the best credit cards on RATESDOTCA

Find the best credit card for your lifestyle today!

The best credit cards of 2020

Best rewards credit card

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$362
+ Annual rewards
$1155
- Annual fee
$156
Total first year value
$1361
American Express Cobalt® Credit Card

card image
Welcome bonus
$362
AMEX Rewards points
Annual rewards
$1155
AMEX Rewards points
Annual fees:
$156
Interest rates:
21.99% on purchases • 21.99% on cash advances
2024 Winner – Best Overall Rewards Credit Card, Best Credit Card for Young Professionals, and Best Credit Card for Earning Travel Points and Best American Express Credit Card.
Particularly great for individuals who live in the city, eat out often or order in.
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$362
Annual rewards
$1155
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$362
+ Annual rewards
$1155
- Annual fee
$156
Total first year value
$1361
Annual fees:
$156
Interest rates:
21.99% on purchases
21.99 on cash advances
2024 Winner – Best Overall Rewards Credit Card, Best Credit Card for Young Professionals, and Best Credit Card for Earning Travel Points and Best American Express Credit Card.
Particularly great for individuals who live in the city, eat out often or order in.
Details at a glance Collapse details

Learn more: Best Rewards Credit Card in Canada for 2020

Best no-fee credit card

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Cash bonus
$100
+ Welcome bonus
$205
+ Annual rewards
$340
- Annual fee
$0
Total first year value
$645
MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard®

card image
Welcome bonus
$205
MBNA Rewards points
Annual rewards
$340
MBNA Rewards points
Annual fees:
$0
Interest rates:
19.99% on purchases • 24.99% on cash advances
Get a $100 Cash Bonus from RATESDOTCA (Offer ends June 28, 2024)
2024 Winner - Best No-Fee Travel Credit Card
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$205
Annual rewards
$340
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Cash bonus
$100
+ Welcome bonus
$205
+ Annual rewards
$340
- Annual fee
$0
Total first year value
$645
Annual fees:
$0
Interest rates:
19.99% on purchases
24.99 on cash advances
Get a $100 Cash Bonus from RATESDOTCA (Offer ends June 28, 2024)
2024 Winner - Best No-Fee Travel Credit Card
Details at a glance Collapse details

  • MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard®
    • First-year value = $510.00

Learn more: Best No-Fee Credit Card in Canada for 2020

Best travel credit card

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Cash bonus
$75
+ Welcome bonus
$400
+ Annual rewards
$744
- Annual fee
$120
Total first year value
$1099
Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card

card image
Welcome bonus
$400
Scotia Scene+ Points
Annual rewards
$744
Scotia Scene+ Points
Annual fees:
$120
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases • 22.99% on cash advances
Get a $75 CashSurge from RATESDOTCA
2024 Winner – Best No Foreign Transaction Fees Credit Card for Long Stay Travellers and Best Credit Card for Subscriptions
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
+ Cash bonus
$75
+ Welcome bonus
$400
+ Annual rewards
$744
- Annual fee
$120
Total first year value
$1099
Annual fees:
$120
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases
22.99 on cash advances
Get a $75 CashSurge from RATESDOTCA
2024 Winner – Best No Foreign Transaction Fees Credit Card for Long Stay Travellers and Best Credit Card for Subscriptions
Details at a glance Collapse details

  • Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card
    • First-year value = $874.00

Learn more: Best Travel Credit Card in Canada for 2020

Best cash back credit card

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$284
+ Annual rewards
$492
- Annual fee (First Year Rebated)
$0
Total first year value
$776
TD Cash Back Visa Infinite* Card

card image
Welcome bonus
$284
TD Cash Back Dollars
Annual rewards
$492
TD Cash Back Dollars
Annual fees:
$139 (First Year Rebate)
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases • 22.99% on cash advances
Cash back rewards will never expire
Includes complimentary travel perks and benefits
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$284
Annual rewards
$492
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$284
+ Annual rewards
$492
- Annual fee (First Year Rebated)
$0
Total first year value
$776
Annual fees:
$139 (First Year Rebate)
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases
22.99 on cash advances
Cash back rewards will never expire
Includes complimentary travel perks and benefits
Details at a glance Collapse details

Learn more: Best Cash Back Credit Card in Canada for 2020

Best premium perks credit card

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express
    • First-year value = $305.00

Learn more: Best Premium Perks Credit Card in Canada for 2020

Best credit card for paying down your balance

  • HSBC +RewardsTM Mastercard®
    • First-year value = $405.80

Learn more: Best Credit Card for Paying Down Your Balance in Canada for 2020

Best credit card for rebuilding credit

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$0
+ Annual savings
$100
- Annual fee
$59
Total first year value
$41
Home Trust Secured Visa Card

card image
Welcome bonus
$0
None
Annual savings
$100
None
Annual fees:
$59
Interest rates:
14.9% on purchases • 19.8% on cash advances
Low interest Secured card in exchange for a small fee
Great stater card for students, newcomers to Canada, or those looking to repair their credit score
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$0
Annual savings
$0
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$0
+ Annual savings
$100
- Annual fee
$59
Total first year value
$41
Annual fees:
$59
Interest rates:
14.9% on purchases
19.8 on cash advances
Low interest Secured card in exchange for a small fee
Great stater card for students, newcomers to Canada, or those looking to repair their credit score
Details at a glance Collapse details

Learn more: Best Credit Card for Rebuilding Credit in Canada for 2020

Best credit card for young professionals

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$362
+ Annual rewards
$1155
- Annual fee
$156
Total first year value
$1361
American Express Cobalt® Credit Card

card image
Welcome bonus
$362
AMEX Rewards points
Annual rewards
$1155
AMEX Rewards points
Annual fees:
$156
Interest rates:
21.99% on purchases • 21.99% on cash advances
2024 Winner – Best Overall Rewards Credit Card, Best Credit Card for Young Professionals, and Best Credit Card for Earning Travel Points and Best American Express Credit Card.
Particularly great for individuals who live in the city, eat out often or order in.
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$362
Annual rewards
$1155
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$362
+ Annual rewards
$1155
- Annual fee
$156
Total first year value
$1361
Annual fees:
$156
Interest rates:
21.99% on purchases
21.99 on cash advances
2024 Winner – Best Overall Rewards Credit Card, Best Credit Card for Young Professionals, and Best Credit Card for Earning Travel Points and Best American Express Credit Card.
Particularly great for individuals who live in the city, eat out often or order in.
Details at a glance Collapse details

Learn more: Best Credit Card for Young Professionals in Canada for 2020

Best credit card for students

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$76
+ Annual rewards
$288
- Annual fee
$0
Total first year value
$364
BMO CashBack® Mastercard®* for students

card image
Welcome bonus
$76
BMO Cash Back Rewards
Annual rewards
$288
BMO Cash Back Rewards
Annual fees:
$0
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases • 22.99% on cash advances
No annual fee card that offering an attractive sign-up bonus
Students can enjoy rental car discounts and shopping insurance
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$76
Annual rewards
$288
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$76
+ Annual rewards
$288
- Annual fee
$0
Total first year value
$364
Annual fees:
$0
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases
22.99 on cash advances
No annual fee card that offering an attractive sign-up bonus
Students can enjoy rental car discounts and shopping insurance
Details at a glance Collapse details

Learn more: Best Credit Card for Students in Canada for 2020

Best credit card for frequent flyers

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Cash bonus
$60
+ Welcome bonus
$300
+ Annual rewards
$354
- Annual fee (First Year Waived)
$0
Total first year value
$714
Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card

card image
Welcome bonus
$300
Scotia Scene+ Points
Annual rewards
$354
Scotia Scene+ Points
Annual fees:
$150 (First Year Waived)
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases • 22.99% on cash advances
[[gift]]Get a $60 CashSurge from RATESDOTCA
Enjoy comprehensive travel insurance and no FX fees
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$300
Annual rewards
$354
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Cash bonus
$60
+ Welcome bonus
$300
+ Annual rewards
$354
- Annual fee (First Year Waived)
$0
Total first year value
$714
Annual fees:
$150 (First Year Waived)
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases
22.99 on cash advances
[[gift]]Get a $60 CashSurge from RATESDOTCA
Enjoy comprehensive travel insurance and no FX fees
Details at a glance Collapse details

  • Scotiabank PassportTM Visa Infinite* Card
    • First-year value = $415.00

Learn more: Best Credit Card for Frequent Flyers in Canada for 2020

Best credit card for snowbirds or cross-border shoppers

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Cash bonus
$75
+ Welcome bonus
$400
+ Annual rewards
$744
- Annual fee
$120
Total first year value
$1099
Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card

card image
Welcome bonus
$400
Scotia Scene+ Points
Annual rewards
$744
Scotia Scene+ Points
Annual fees:
$120
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases • 22.99% on cash advances
Get a $75 CashSurge from RATESDOTCA
2024 Winner – Best No Foreign Transaction Fees Credit Card for Long Stay Travellers and Best Credit Card for Subscriptions
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
+ Cash bonus
$75
+ Welcome bonus
$400
+ Annual rewards
$744
- Annual fee
$120
Total first year value
$1099