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 winners of the 2020 Best of Finance Awards, 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

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

$10 per month ($120 per year)

$1,560

2. Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card

  • Scotia Rewards
  • Travel insurance, no foreign transaction fees

$120

$824

3. Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card

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

$139

$515

4. TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Credit Card

  • Aeroplan Miles
  • Travel insurance, Air Canada perks

$120 (Waived year 1)

$1,110

5. TD First Class Travel®Visa Infinite* Card
  • TD Points
  • Travel insurance
$120 (Waived year 1) $532

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®
Best of Finance methodology: How we chose the best credit cards

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, with the top rewards credit cards, it’s not only about the cash back earned or points acquired. We compared every detail down to the insurance coverages and the eligibility requirements to determine the card that would be victorious.

credit card mascot.png

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

Learn more: Best Rewards Credit Card in Canada for 2020

Best no-fee credit card

  • 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

  • Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card
    • First-year value = $824.00

Learn more: Best Travel Credit Card in Canada for 2020

Best cash back credit card

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 = $355.80

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

Best credit card for rebuilding credit

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

Best credit card for young professionals

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

Best credit card for students

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

Best credit card for frequent flyers

  • Scotiabank PassportTM Visa Infinite* Card
    • First-year value = $515.00

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

Best credit card for snowbirds or cross-border shoppers

  • Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card
    • First-year value = $824.00

Learn more: Best Credit Card for Snowbirds or Cross-Border Shoppers in Canada for 2020

Best credit card for newcomers to Canada

Learn more: Best Credit Card for Newcomers to Canada for 2020

Best credit card for families

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

Best of Finance methodology: How we chose the best credit cards

Rewards credit cards

To calculate the first-year value on each Canadian rewards credit card, we assumed a total monthly spend on the card of $2,000*, divided into the following categories:

  • Groceries: $500.00
  • Gas: $250.00
  • Drugstore: $150.00
  • Travel: $200.00
  • Restaurants: $250.00
  • Entertainment: $150.00
  • Recurring bills: $300.00
  • Retail store: $100.00
  • Local transit: $50.00
  • Other: $50.00

Additional assumptions:

  • The credit card balance was paid in full each month, with no interest charges accrued.
  • The consumers always use the card at partnered retailers, if applicable (e.g. all gas purchased at Shell locations or entertainment purchased at Cineplex.com).
  • All points and miles were calculated into a cash value to compare cards equally.
  • Spending was calculated over a 12-month period, considering all signup bonuses, welcome offers, good standing bonuses, first-purchase bonuses, annual fees and waivers.

The Best of Finance methodology assumes the cardholder redeems their rewards for the highest point value. The RATESDOTCA comparison tool assumes the user redeems their points for travel when “travel” is selected and statement credits when “cash+” is selected to determine the first-year value.

*Source: Statistics Canada

Best rewards credit card

To calculate the best overall rewards credit card, we weighed the perks, bonuses, and benefits of each card.

Each category was weighted as follows:

Best of Finance rewards credit card methodology

Weight Category

35%

Net rewards ($2,000 monthly spend – annual fee)

10%

Welcome offer

10%

Benefits

15%

Flexibility of rewards (How easy rewards are to redeem)

20%

Insurance coverages

5%

Eligibility requirements

5%

Interest rates

Low-interest credit cards

To calculate the first-year value of low-interest credit cards, we assumed the following:

  • The cardholder is starting with a credit card balance of $2,000.
  • The interest paid on the balance over the 12-month period is compared to that of the average credit card with a 19.99% APR. The value of low-interest credit cards is how much you will save.
  • Total card value considers all signup bonuses, welcome offers, good standing bonuses, first-purchase bonuses, annual fees and waivers.

Balance transfer credit cards

To calculate the value of low balance transfer credit cards, we assumed the following:

  • The cardholder is starting with a credit card balance of $2,000.
  • The cardholder has transferred the balance from another card to activate the promotional balance transfer interest rate.
  • The interest paid on the balance over the 12-month period is compared to that of the average credit card with a 19.99% APR.
  • Total card value takes into account all signup bonuses, welcome offers, good standing bonuses, first-purchase bonuses, annual fees and waivers.
RATESDOTCA Team

The RATESDOTCA editorial team are experienced writers focused on sharing stories and bringing you the latest news in insurance and personal finance. Our goal is to provide Canadians with the information and resources they need to make better insurance and financial decisions.

Recent News Articles
Exploding Home Prices Making Mortgages Harder to Qualify For
Existing homeowners may be rejoicing at the fact average home prices are headed for the stars. Would-be purchasers, on the other hand, are curling up in the fetal position as their homeownership dreams turn nightmarish.
What Is an Auto Insurance Endorsement Form?
Auto insurance endorsement forms can increase or reduce your coverage. Learn about the most common endorsements in Ontario and Alberta.
The Cost of Lying on Your Mortgage Application
When it comes to mortgage applications, there’s no such thing as a little white lie. Even for applicants who think they may only be fudging a trivial part of the application, such indiscretions are still be considered fraud, and it can cost them.