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The Best No-Fee Cash Back Credit Cards from the Big Banks

June 18, 2012
4 mins
A pile of credit cards, Canadian banknotes and coins

Does it feel like you’re being bombarded with cash back credit card options from all sides lately? Well that’s because you are – pretty much every lender out there has an option designed to send a percentage of your purchase spending straight back to your pocketbook. And yes, when you apply those incremental rewards to your everyday spending, there really is a payback.

Picking your cash back card, however, presents a whole new slew of challenges. First of all, you’ll need to factor in your spending habits to find your best match. Second, it seems nothing comes for free these days – a bunch of these cash back credit cards come shackled to an annual fee. For those of you looking for no-strings-attached spending, we’ve rounded up offerings from the big banks.

Who offers the best payoff? Let’s take a look:

Big bucks and no fee: RBC Cash Back Mastercard

You’ll be feasting on rewards with the 2% cash back offered by this card on groceries (it offers 1% on everything else). With over 50 participating grocery stores, you’ll be hard pressed to find a merchant who doesn’t participate in this rewards program.

There are also big benefits to switching – introductory interest rates of 1.9% for both balance transfer and cash advance for 10 months can do wonders for helping you pay down that balance – which is important as this card packs a 19.9% interest rate.

Your accrued cash back is also easy to access – simply contact RBC any time it exceeds $25 to receive it in full, or let the amount accumulate for a great boost come your January income statement.

Awesome low interest: Scotia Momentum No Fee Visa

Looking to score a low interest rate along with no-fee cash back rewards? This card is a great option, offering an introductory interest rate of 7.99% for the first six months – an offer that extends to cash advance as well.

The cash back options also offer great flexibility, offering up 1% on all grocery, gas and drugstore purchases, as well as any recurring bill payments. You’ll also score 0.5% back for everything else. With a balance transfer rate of 21.99%, though, you’ll want to make sure your current balance is in decent standing if you’re considering a switch.

Fantastic flexibility: TD Rebate Rewards Visa

This card provides great flexibility with 0.5% cash back on all your purchases – that is, up until $3,000. After that, you’ll be rewarded with a bigger payoff, receiving a 1% cash reward on purchases exceeding that amount.

With a 19.99% interest rate though, you’ll want to ensure you’re keeping your balance in check – and with $21.5% interest, you’ll want to use the cash advance option sparingly. Another bonus: Avid travellers will also benefit from a preferred rate from Budget Rent-A-Car.

Basic bonuses: BMO CashBack Mastercard

This cash back credit card keeps things simple n’ sweet, offering 0.5% cash back on all purchases, with no fee. Period. With no limit on the amount that you can earn, this card is also a great option for the commuter – you’ll be earning 1.5% cash back at all Shell locations.

So, let’s say you’re spending the usual $100 at the pump a week – that’s an extra $75 back at the end of the year. You’ll also receive $1 for every $200 spent annually. Those looking to rent a car will also reap the same payoff , receiving 1.5% cash back when using National Car Rental and Alamo Rent a Car services – not to mention the 25% discount you’ll also receive as a cardholder.

This card does come with an interest rate of 19.5% - but if you decide to forgo your no-annual fee perk, you can lower it to 12.9% for a yearly $45 fee. The card also features 19.5% balance transfer and cash advance interest rates, respectively.

Easy daily spending: CIBC Dividend Visa

You’ll be scoring 1% back on all purchases with this credit card, making it a great choice for daily convenience. To qualify, though, you’ll need a household income of $15,000 – and be able to cope with the standard interest rate of 19.99%.

With a 21.5% interest on balance transfers and cash advances, this card may be less of an ideal solution for those looking to pay down their debt. Perks include three supplementary cards, as well as a 25% discount at participating Avis and Budget rental services. Looking for even more CIBC credit cards?

The verdict

So who’s the cash back king of the big banks? Well, I have to go with the card that puts its money where its mouth is – the RBC Cash Back Mastercard would score a slot in my wallet.

You can’t argue with the numbers – the 2% cash back on groceries just makes good mathematical sense. The concept of accessing my cash back amount any time further sweetens the deal, rather than having to wait until the year is through to get my balance back.

Though I have to admit – the Scotia Momentum No Fee Visa came in a close second. It’s amazing how a 7.99% interest rate packs the power of persuasion.

Penelope Graham

A first-time homeowner and newbie investor, Penelope Graham is the quintessential millennial, navigating the world of personal finance and wealth management. A self-professed monetary policy nerd, she follows the often-controversial housing market closely and specializes in mortgage, credit card and personal finance news.

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