No-fee doesn’t equal no reward. Many no-fee credit cards (without an annual fee — sorry, it doesn’t mean no-interest) offer plenty of cash back or reward points, as well as insurance coverage and perks. However, the value is typically less than credit cards with an annual fee.

No-fee credit cards can be an asset to your wallet as a primary or secondary credit card, and you don’t have to worry about another annual expense. You can use the card as much or as little as you like without having to justify if it is worth it.

We compared the top no-fee credit cards using our Best of Finance methodology and ranked the cards that provided the highest first-year value.

These are the best no-fee credit cards for 2020.

Our top pick
Credit card Great features Annual fee
1. MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard®
  • Flexible MBNA Rewards redeemable for travel or statement credits

$0

Runners-up
Credit card Great features Annual fee
2. SimplyCashTM Card from American Express
  • Cash back
  • Travel accident insurance
$0
3. Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
  • Cash back
$0

1. MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard®

Apply for the MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard® and get four times the MBNA Rewards points per dollar you spend on gas, groceries and restaurant purchases for the first 90 days, up to the $5,000 annual spending cap in each of in these categories.

Plus, earn 5,000 bonus points when you make at least $500 in eligible purchases within the first 90 days. Get another 5,000 bonus points when you sign up for paperless e-statements within the same period. Redeem your rewards through the MBNA Rewards Catalogue for travel, merchandise and more.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian will see $510 in MBNA Rewards points within the first year.

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 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 any existing credit cards for the past three months.

Annual fee:

$0

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Earn 4X the MBNA Rewards points per dollar you spend on eligible gas, grocery and restaurant purchases for the first 90 days, subject to an annual cap of $5,000 in total purchases in each category.
  • Get 5,000 bonus points when you make your first $500 in purchases within 90 days of opening the account. Get another 5,000 when you enroll in paperless e-statements within the same period.

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

Rewards:

  • Earn one point per dollar everywhere 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 12-month period.

Rewards earned over a 12-month period = 51,000 MBNA Rewards points
Monetary value= $510
Annual fee = $0
Total earned over the first year (rewards minus annual fee) = $510

You can redeem your points for:

  • Travel
  • Merchandise
  • Gift cards
  • Statement credit

Insurance:

  • Purchase assurance
  • Extended warranty

Other perks:

  • Save on rental cars with AVIS Rent A Car and Budget Rent A Car across the U.S. and Canada.
  • Feel some peace of mind with the Away from Home feature, including lost document and ticket replacement, lost luggage assistance, and legal assistance.
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2. SimplyCashTM Card from American Express

New cardmembers of the SimplyCashTM Card from American Express can earn 2.5% cash back on purchases for the first three months, up to $150 back. After the promotional period, get 1.25% cash back, with no limit to how much you can earn.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian will see $375 back within the first year.

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 for the first three months on up to $6,000 in total purchases.

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

Rewards:

  • Earn 1.25% cash back, with no limit to how much you can earn.

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 12-month period.

Rewards earned over a 12-month period = $375
Annual fee = $0
Total earned over the first year (rewards minus annual fee) = $375

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 Plan
  • Purchase Protection® Plan

Other perks:

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

3. Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card allows cardholders to switch up where they earn their rewards, choosing between 10 categories. Earn 2% cash back in up to three categories of your choice. Start with two selections and get a third when you decide to deposit your rewards into a Tangerine Savings Account. Receive 0.50% back on all other purchases, with no limit to how much cash back you can earn.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian will see $309 back within the first year.

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 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 any existing credit cards for the past three months.

Annual fee:

$0

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • New cardmembers can take advantage of a 1.95% promotional interest rate on balance transfers made within the first 30 days of opening the account for six statement periods. A 1% balance transfer fee does apply.

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

Rewards:

Earn 2% cash back in up to three categories of your choice. Start with two categories and earn a third when you choose to deposit your rewards into a Tangerine Savings Account. Earn 0.50% back on all other purchases.

Tangerine Money-Back Reward categories:

  • Grocery
  • Furniture
  • Restaurants
  • Hotel-motel
  • Gas
  • Recurring bill payments
  • Drug store
  • Home improvement
  • Entertainment
  • Public transportation and parking

Switch up your categories to suit your spending habits.

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 12-month period.

Rewards earned over a 12-month period = $309
Annual fee = $0
Total earned over the first year (rewards minus annual fee) = $309

*Assuming the cardholder chooses to deposit their rewards into a Tangerine Savings Account, earning the third category. The categories selected were groceries, recurring bill payments and gas.

You can redeem your points for:

  • Rewards can be deposited into a Tangerine Savings Account each month.
  • Rewards can be applied as a statement credit at the end of each month.

Insurance:

  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty
  • Zero Liability

Other perks:

  • Enjoy free supplementary cards for authorized users.

Best of Finance 2020 Methodology Infographic

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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