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How Rewarding are Canadian Rewards Credit Cards?

Sept. 10, 2019
2 mins
A woman looks at her credit card while holding her smartphone

Canadians are reaping the benefits of their rewards cards in large numbers, according to a recent survey by RATESDOTCA. Currently, there are over 74 million active credit card accounts in Canada, with the average Canadian owning two credit cards and 8 in 10 holding a rewards credit card. Of those households, 85 percent are seeing returns from their purchases in the form of cash back and other rewards. 

Retirees Lead the Way   

Older Canadians have taken to credit card rewards in greater numbers than their younger compatriots. Just 73 percent of Canadians aged 18-34 own a rewards card compared to 83.5 percent of those aged 65 and over. It’s not just uptake where older Canadians are leading the way either, nearly 15 percent (14.8) of older Canadians with a rewards card have redeemed more than $1,000 worth of rewards. Only 6.7 percent of those aged 18-34 can say the same.   

Rewards by the Numbers  

The payoff from rewards credit cards can be substantial, with 12 percent of survey respondents saying they have redeemed over $1,000 worth of rewards. A further 19 percent have redeemed between $500 and $999 worth of cash or rewards, while a majority of respondents (34 percent) redeemed between $100 and $499.  

Not all Canadians are maximizing their returns, however, as the survey found 20 percent of rewards credit cardholders have redeemed less than $100 in rewards, and 10 percent have yet to redeem anything.  

Income Brackets Affect Usage   

Rewards cards are also more likely to be held by higher-income earners, with 90 percent of Canadians whose household income is over $80,000 owning at least one. That number drops to 79 percent for Canadians who earn between $40,000 and $79,000 each year and drops to 61 percent for people with a household income under $40,000.   

What is the Most You Can Get from a Rewards Card?  

The actual amount available from a rewards card is determined by individual spending habits and the type of card a consumer carries. During the annual Best of Finance awards, RATESDOTCA used the median household spending from Statistics Canada to calculate a likely available return from Canada’s leading cards. That study showed that consumers could earn over $1,200 from certain rewards cards.  

Choosing the Right Card Matters   

Whether it is fuel, travel, groceries or even movie tickets, the type of rewards a consumer is interested in can affect which card they should choose. A credit card rewards calculator can help you determine how much you could earn during a year and help you pick the best rewards card for your family.  


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.

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