Rewards credit cards allow you to earn cash back or points for making everyday purchases. In recent years, credit cards have adapted to include strong rewards offers on subscription services like Netflix and rideshare services like Uber, as well as the typical categories like gas and groceries. More credit cards are offering these unique rewards and providing additional perks, which can make choosing the right card challenging.

However, when you find the perfect card to fit your lifestyle, it can be even more rewarding. Tailoring your credit card to match your spending habits can mean you’ll earn more rewards and ultimately save more money.

To do this, you’ll need to break down your monthly expenses to see where you are spending your hard-earned paycheque. Rewards credit cards typically have accelerated rewards categories (places where you can earn more points or cash back), for purchases like gas or groceries, for example. Knowing where your money goes can help you select a credit card that can reward you for those spending behaviours.

We compared the leading rewards credit cards using our Best of Finance methodology and ranked the cards that provided the highest first-year value.

These are the best rewards credit cards for 2020.

Our top pick
Credit card Great features Annual fee
1. American Express CobaltTM Credit Card
  • Flexible Membership Rewards® redeemable for travel or statement credits
  • Travel insurance

$10 per month

($120 per year)
Runners-up
Credit card Great features Annual fee

2. Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card

  • Flexible Scotia Rewards redeemable for travel or statement credits
  • Travel insurance, no foreign transaction fees

$120

3. Scotiabank PassportTM Visa Infinite* Card
  • Flexible Scotia Rewards redeemable for travel or statement credits
  • Travel insurance, no foreign transaction fees, six free lounge visits annually
$139
4. TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite
  • Aeroplan Miles
  • Travel insurance, Air Canada benefits
$120 (Waived year 1)
5. TD First Class Travel®Visa Infinite* Card
  • Flexible TD Points redeemable for travel or statement credits
  • Travel insurance
$120 (Waived year 1)

1. American Express CobaltTM Credit Card

Cardmembers of the American Express CobaltTM Card can earn up to 30,000 bonus Membership Rewards® in the first year. Earn 2,500 points each month you spend at least $500 on the card. That is equal to a $300 statement credit toward travel. This card is great for earning rewards on everyday purchases, and redemption is made easy. Cardholders can redeem their rewards for almost anything. Plus, members can shop directly through Amazon.ca using their rewards.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian will see $1,560 in Membership Rewards® points in the first year.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Fair: You have had a credit card or loan for one or more years. For the last two years or more, 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.

Monthly fee:

$10

($120 per year)

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • New cardmembers can earn up to 30,000 extra Membership Rewards® in the first year. Get 2,500 points for each monthly billing period you spend at least $500 on your card.

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

Rewards:

  • Earn five points per dollar in eligible grocery, dining, and food delivery purchases.
  • Earn two points per dollar in travel and transit, including gas, public transportation, rideshare services and travel bookings.
  • Earn one point per dollar you spend 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 12-month period.

Rewards earned over a 12-month period = 96,000 Membership Rewards® points
Monetary value= $1,680
Annual fee = $120
Total earned over the first year (rewards minus annual fee) = $1,560

*The $10 monthly fee was multiplied by 12 months to get the annual fee.

You can redeem your points for:

  • Travel
  • Fixed Points Travel Program
  • Merchandise
  • Gift cards
  • Purchases through Amazon.ca
  • Statement credit

Insurance:

  • Out of province/country emergency medical
  • Flight delay
  • Baggage delay
  • Hotel/motel burglary
  • Lost or stolen baggage
  • Car rental theft and damage
  • $250,000 travel accident
  • Purchase Protection® Plan
  • Buyer’s Assurance® Plan

Other perks:

  • Enjoy exclusive offers through Cobalt Perks.
  • Access presale tickets, exclusive offers and events through American Express Invites®.
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Compare the best credit cards on RATESDOTCA.

Find the best credit card for your lifestyle today!

2. Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card

Apply for the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card and earn 20,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points when you spend at least $1,000 within the first three months. Enjoy no foreign transaction fees on purchases made abroad or online at foreign merchants and a variety of travel insurance coverages.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian will see $824 in Scotia Rewards points in 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:

$120

Each supplementary card has an annual fee of $29.

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • Earn 20,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points when you spend at least $1,000 in the first three months.

Offer expiry date: August 31, 2020

Rewards:

  • Earn 5X the Scotia Rewards points per dollar on eating and entertainment. Earn rewards for grocery, restaurant, fast food, food delivery and food subscription purchases, as well as on entertainment like movies and tickets.
  • Earn 3X the Scotia Rewards points per dollar on transportation and select streaming services, including gas, public transit, taxis, rideshare, Netflix, and more.
  • Earn 1X the Scotia Rewards point per dollar 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 12-month period.

Rewards earned over a 12-month period = 94,400 Scotia Rewards points
Monetary value= $944
Annual fee = $120
Total earned over the first year (rewards minus annual fee) = $824

You can redeem your points for:

  • Travel
  • Experiences
  • Merchandise
  • Gift cards
  • A statement credit
  • Converted to SCENE points

Insurance:

  • Travel emergency medical insurance
  • Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance
  • Flight delay insurance
  • Delayed and lost baggage insurance
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Rental car collision loss/damage insurance
  • Hotel/motel burglary insurance
  • Purchase security
  • Extended warranty
  • Scotia Credit Card Protection (optional)

Other perks:

  • Enjoy all that American Express Invites has to offer, including exclusive access to events, presale tickets, and deals.
  • Get the Best Price Guarantee on airfare when you use the Scotia Rewards Travel Service for your next booking.
  • Enjoy no foreign transaction fees on purchases made abroad or online in foreign currency.
  • Save time with the 24/7 complimentary concierge service.
  • Receive a preferred discount on the Priority Pass membership and access airport lounges worldwide.

3. Scotiabank PassportTM Visa Infinite* Card

For a limited time, the Scotiabank PassportTM Visa Infinite* Card is offering new cardmembers 30,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points when they spend at least $1,000 in the first three months. Plus, earn 10,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points when you spend $40,000 annually.

Enjoy six free lounge visits per year with the complimentary Priority PassTM membership. Cardholders can also enjoy no foreign transaction fees and a wide selection of travel insurance coverage.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian will see $515 in Scotia Rewards points in the first year.

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:

$139

The first supplementary card is free. Each additional card has a $50 annual fee.

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • New cardmembers can earn 30,000 Scotia Rewards points when they make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first three months.
  • Get an additional 10,000 Scotia Rewards points when you spend at least $40,000 annually.

Offer expiry date: August 31, 2020

Rewards:

  • Earn two Scotia Rewards points per dollar on eligible grocery, dining, entertainment, and daily transit purchases, including buses and subways.
  • Earn one Scotia Rewards point per dollar 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 12-month period.

Rewards earned over a 12-month period = 65,400 Scotia Rewards points
Monetary value= $654
Annual fee = $139
Total earned over the first year (rewards minus annual fee) = $515

You can redeem your points for:

  • Travel
  • Experiences
  • Merchandise
  • Gift cards
  • A statement credit
  • Convert to SCENE points

Insurance:

  • Travel emergency medical insurance
  • Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance
  • Flight delay insurance
  • Delayed and lost baggage insurance
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Rental car collision loss/damage insurance
  • Hotel/motel burglary insurance
  • Purchase security
  • Extended warranty
  • Feel reassured (optional)

Other perks:

  • Cardholders can access the Price Protection Service. If an eligible item has a price drop within 60 days of your purchase, you can claim the price difference up to $100 per item and $500 a year. Other conditions apply.
  • This card features no foreign transaction fees, so you won’t see a foreign currency conversion mark-up typically charged by providers. The exchange rate still applies.
  • Enjoy six free airport lounge visits per year with complimentarily Priority Pass Membership and get an Avis Preferred Plus membership for discounts and upgrades on rental cars.
  • Benefits include the Visa Infinite Concierge services, Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection, and the Visa Infinite Wine Country Program.

4. TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite

Earn 15,000 Aeroplan Miles when you make your first purchase using the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Credit Card. Plus, TD will waive the annual fee for both the primary cardholder and one authorized user for the first year.

Enjoy Air Canada benefits, including priority check-in and boarding when you use your Aeroplan Flight Rewards and access a full list of travel insurance coverage.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian will see $1,110 in Aeroplan Miles in 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:

$120

Supplementary cards have a $50 annual fee.

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • New cardmembers can earn 15,000 bonus Aeroplan Miles when they make their first purchase using the card. Plus, TD will waive the annual fee for both the primary cardholder and one additional cardholder for the first year.

Offer expiry date: September 8, 2020

Rewards:

  • Earn 1.5 miles per dollar you spend on eligible gas, grocery and drug store purchases, as well as aircanada.com.
  • Earn one mile per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Double-dip on rewards when you present your Aeroplan Membership Card at participating retailers.

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 = 44,400 Aeroplan Miles
Monetary value= $1,110
Annual fee = $0
Total earned over the first year (rewards minus annual fee) = $1,110

*The $120 annual fee is waived for the first year.

You can redeem your points for:

  • Travel
  • Hotels
  • Flights
  • Car rentals
  • Vacation packages
  • Merchandise
  • Gift cards
  • Events
  • Convert your miles to other popular loyalty program rewards

Insurance:

  • Travel medical
  • Trip cancellation
  • Trip Interruption
  • Delay and lost baggage
  • Common carrier travel accident
  • Auto rental collision/loss damage
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty

Other perks:

  • As the primary cardholder, you can enjoy benefits through the Air Canada banner of brands, including Air Canada Rouge® and Air Canada Express®. When you use your Aeroplan Flight Rewards, you get one complimentary checked bag, priority check-in and priority boarding, and a one-time guest access benefit to an Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge annually.
  • Save on rental cars with Avis Rent A Car and Budget Rent A Car across the U.S. and Canada.
  • Benefits include complimentary Visa Infinite* Concierge, the Visa Infinite* Luxury Hotel Collection and the Visa Infinite* Food and Wine Experiences.

5. TD First Class Travel®Visa Infinite* Card

Apply for the TD First Class Travel®Visa Infinite* Card and earn 20,000 bonus TD Points when you make your first purchase using the card. That is a $100 travel value. Plus, TD will waive the annual fee for both the primary and secondary cardholders for the first year.

Members can earn three TD Points per dollar on everyday purchases and redeem their rewards for travel, merchandise and more. The TD First Class Travel®Visa Infinite* Card offers users extensive travel insurance coverage and no travel blackout dates or seat restrictions.

According to our Best of Finance methodology, the average Canadian will see $531 in TD Points within the first year.

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:

$120

Each supplementary card has a $50 annual fee.

Limited time offer/bonus:

  • New cardholders can earn 20,000 TD Points when they make their first purchase. Plus, TD will waive the annual fee for both the primary ($120) and secondary ($50) cardholders for the first year.

Offer expiry date: September 8, 2020

Rewards:

  • Earn three TD Points per dollar you spend on everyday purchases.
  • Earn nine TD Points per dollar you spend on travel through Expedia for TD online.

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 = 106,400 TD Points
Monetary value= $532
Annual fee = $0
Total earned over the first year (rewards minus annual fee) = $532

*The $120 annual fee is waived for the first year.

You can redeem your points for:

  • Travel
  • Merchandise
  • Gift cards
  • Statement credit
  • Redeem for education

Insurance:

  • Travel medical
  • Trip cancellation
  • Trip interruption
  • Common carrier travel accident
  • Delayed and lost baggage
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty

Other perks:

  • Save on rental cars with Avis Rent A Car and Budget Rent A Car across the U.S. and Canada.
  • Receive a discount on a Priority Pass Membership and access airport lounges worldwide.

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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