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’Tis the Season for a Flat-Rate Rewards Credit Card

Dec. 7, 2021
7 mins
A couple sit in front of their laptop with a credit card in hand and garlands on the table

According to Deloitte’s most recent holiday retail outlook, Canadians remain optimistic about holiday shopping and plan to spend an estimated $1,841 on the holidays this year, a 31% boost from 2020. Consumers expect to pay for these purchases primarily with credit cards (66%), debit (18%) and cash (10%).

But supply chain issues both online and in-store promise to make holiday shopping an even more gruelling experience than usual — if you haven’t already, the time to start planning your holiday spending is now.

While you’re at it, give some forethought to the types of credit cards you use. Being deliberate with your credit cards during periods of increased spending is a good long-term strategy, as the right ones will safeguard your purchases and reward you with points or cash back.

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Choose the right credit card for your holiday shopping

When it comes to holiday shopping, you’ll find yourself making purchases from various stores and buying several different items. For this reason, using a flat-rate credit card may be your best bet this season.

A flat-rate credit card rewards you for shopping no matter the category, simplifying your spending and providing you with the best value. Unlike a typical travel rewards credit card, which may reward you with an accelerated rate for buying gas, groceries, flights, or entertainment, a flat-rate cash back or rewards credit card provides cardholders with one earn rate for all purchases.

For example, the Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card offers five points per dollar spent on eligible grocery and entertainment purchases, three points per dollar spent on eligible transit and gas purchases and select streaming services, and one point per dollar on everything else. On the other hand, the SimplyCash™ Preferred Card from American Express offers 2% cash back on everything you buy.

Here is a comparison of three leading credit cards using the average Canadian holiday budget of $1,841. We’ve broken the spending down by the average food and alcohol budget for a holiday party ($286), travel (an estimated $104), and miscellaneous items/all other purchases ($1,451).

Holiday spending**

Travel credit card:

Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card

Grocery rewards card:

President’s Choice Financial® World Elite Mastercard®

Flat-rate rewards card:

SimplyCash™ Preferred Card from American Express

Groceries earn rate: 5 points per $1 ($286 average spend)

Travel earn rate: 3 points per $1 ($104 average spend)

Other earn rate: 1 point per $1 ($1,451 average spend)

Groceries earn rate: 30 points per $1 ($286 average spend)

Travel earn rate: 30 points per $1 ($104 average spend)

Other earn rate: 10 points per $1 ($1,451 average spend)

Earn rate: 2% on all purchases ($1,841)

Holiday value = $29.85

Holiday value = $26.20

Holiday value = $36.82

**To find the holiday value, the above calculations do not account for annual fees or welcome promotions. We convert all points into a cash value to compare cards equally. Compare credit cards using the RATESDOTCA credit card marketplace to see a year-over-year value.

Since holiday spending can vary drastically, using a flat-rate rewards card can help you earn rewards without keeping track of categories. However, if you have a primary and secondary credit card, carefully selecting which payment option to use for each purchase can maximize your earning.

Pro-Tip: Use a rewards credit card that offers the most points for groceries or gas to buy those items, and then a flat-rate reward card with a universal earn rate for purchasing toys, gifts, and other miscellaneous items. It can provide you with the best value overall.

You can use this tactic to get the most rewards or cash back all year round. A flat-rate reward card can help you earn points or cash back when purchasing birthday presents, furniture, and other miscellaneous items — regardless of the season.

Here are four excellent flat-rate rewards credit cards that can help you earn big as you shop.

WestJet RBC® World Elite Mastercard

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$600
+ Annual rewards
$372
- Annual fee
$119
Total first year value
$853
WestJet RBC® World Elite Mastercard

card image
Welcome bonus
$600
WestJet dollar Rewards
Annual rewards
$372
WestJet dollar Rewards
Annual fees:
$119
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases • 22.99% on cash advances
Includes comprehensive insurance, access perks and unique travel benefits
Great welcome offer for WestJet dollar collectors!
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$600
Annual rewards
$372
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$600
+ Annual rewards
$372
- Annual fee
$119
Total first year value
$853
Annual fees:
$119
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases
22.99 on cash advances
Includes comprehensive insurance, access perks and unique travel benefits
Great welcome offer for WestJet dollar collectors!
Details at a glance Collapse details

The WestJet RBC® World Elite Mastercard offers up to 450 welcome WestJet dollars in the first year. Get 250 WestJet dollars after making your first purchase and another 200 WestJet dollars when you charge at least $5,000 in purchases to your card within the first three months.

Regular features and benefits of this card include:

  • Annual fee: $119
  • Annual fee for additional cards: $59
  • Earn 1.5% WestJet dollars on everyday purchases.
  • Earn an extra 0.5% in WestJet dollars on WestJet flights or WestJet Vacations packages using your card.

Get travel perks, including travel insurance, an annual World Elite round-trip companion voucher, and savings on baggage fees on WestJet flights for you and up to eight guests. Also, access Mastercard Experiences provided by LoungeKey for exclusive offers and lounge access (fees apply for lounge visits).

Offer expiry date: January 5, 2022

SimplyCashTM Preferred Card from American Express

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$400
+ Annual rewards
$660
- Annual fee
$120
Total first year value
$940
SimplyCash® Preferred Card from American Express

card image
Welcome bonus
$400
AMEX Cashback Rewards
Annual rewards
$660
AMEX Cashback Rewards
Annual fees:
$120
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases • 21.99% on cash advances
2024 Winner – Best Overall Cash Back Credit Card
Earn accelerated earn rates on eligible gas and grocery purchases
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$400
Annual rewards
$660
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$400
+ Annual rewards
$660
- Annual fee
$120
Total first year value
$940
Annual fees:
$120
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases
21.99 on cash advances
2024 Winner – Best Overall Cash Back Credit Card
Earn accelerated earn rates on eligible gas and grocery purchases
Details at a glance Collapse details

Apply for the SimplyCash™ Preferred Card from American Express to earn 10% cash back for the first four months, up to $4,000 in total purchases. That is up to $400 cash back in your pocket.

Regular features and benefits of this card include:

  • Annual fee: $99
  • Annual fee for additional cards: $0
  • Earn 2% cash back on everything you buy.

Access American Express® Experiences for exclusive offers, presale tickets, and curated events. This card also features travel and shopping insurance, perfect perks for the holiday season.

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

SimplyCashTM Card from American Express

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$100
+ Annual rewards
$368
- Annual fee
$0
Total first year value
$468
SimplyCash® Card from American Express

card image
Welcome bonus
$100
AMEX Cashback Rewards
Annual rewards
$368
AMEX Cashback Rewards
Annual fees:
$0
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases • 21.99% on cash advances
No annual fee cash back card with no limits on how much you can earn
Includes insurance and access perks
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$100
Annual rewards
$368
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$100
+ Annual rewards
$368
- Annual fee
$0
Total first year value
$468
Annual fees:
$0
Interest rates:
20.99% on purchases
21.99 on cash advances
No annual fee cash back card with no limits on how much you can earn
Includes insurance and access perks
Details at a glance Collapse details

If you are looking for a similar no-fee option, the SimplyCash™ Card from American Express offers 4% cash back for the first six months, up to $5,000 in total purchases. This could add up to $200 cash back.

Regular features and benefits of this card include:

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Annual fee for additional cards: $0
  • Earn 1.25% cash back on everything you buy.

Get shopping insurance, including extended warranty and purchase protection, with this card. Also, access American Express® Experiences for exclusive dining, retail, and event offers.

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

Home Trust Preferred Visa Card

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$0
+ Annual rewards
$240
- Annual fee
$0
Total first year value
$240
Home Trust Preferred Visa Card

card image
Welcome bonus
$0
Home Trust Cash Back Rewards
Annual rewards
$240
Home Trust Cash Back Rewards
Annual fees:
$0
Interest rates:
21.99% on purchases • 21.99% on cash advances
Great for travellers looking to avoid Foreign Transaction Fees
Some insurance perks
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$0
Annual rewards
$240
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$0
+ Annual rewards
$240
- Annual fee
$0
Total first year value
$240
Annual fees:
$0
Interest rates:
21.99% on purchases
21.99 on cash advances
Great for travellers looking to avoid Foreign Transaction Fees
Some insurance perks
Details at a glance Collapse details

Pay no foreign transaction fees with the Home Trust Preferred Visa Card. Shop internationally in-store or online and pay no exchange fees (only the exchange rate applies). Most credit cards charge 2% to 3% on foreign currency purchases. Foreign transactions are not eligible for cash back, however.

Regular features and benefits of this card include:

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Annual fee for additional cards: $0
  • Earn 1% cash back on all eligible purchases.

This card also features purchase security insurance for protection items against theft or damage for up to 90 days from the date of purchase.

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

Tips for holiday shopping

Take a close look at your credit card details to understand the benefits and perks your card provides.

Many credit cards offer shopping insurance like extended warranty and purchase protection for a little extra peace of mind as you shop. If your delivery is lost or damaged, you may be able to get a refund or replacement.

Lastly, if you already have a travel rewards credit card, you may find that the loyalty program offers some unique benefits to earn points faster or help spread holiday cheer.

Some features may include:

  • Partnered brands: Aeroplan, for example, allows members to earn points when shopping at popular brands through the e-Store. For instance, Aeroplan members can get one point per $1 spent on Amazon purchases; however, some exclusions apply. It doesn’t cost extra, and it can be very rewarding.
  • Pay with points: Programs like AIR MILES or BMO Rewards offer ways for cardholders to pay with points, which can help reduce your holiday spending.
  • Make donations: Many rewards programs allow members to donate points to worthy causes.

Remember to start your shopping early this year and stick to your holiday budget.

Rates, product information and reward estimates are subject to change at any time and do not constitute financial advice. This post was not sponsored. RATESDOTCA may receive a referral fee from our partners or affiliate links featured on the site; however, our editorial choices are objective and free from bias. The opinions expressed in this article are purely those of RATESDOTCA; thus, the credit card issuers and partners are not responsible for any editorials or reviews that may appear. Please visit the associated brand’s website for complete and current terms and conditions on any product or service mentioned. The information in this article is accurate as of the date of this posting, December 7, 2021. Read our full disclaimer.

Hayley Osmond

Hayley Osmond is an editor and writer in the personal finance space, where she uses her eight years of media and marketing experience to bring content to life. She specializes in money products, including mortgages, home and auto insurance, and credit cards. Hayley holds a Broadcast Journalism diploma from Sheridan College and was awarded the Shaw Media Journalism and Media Award for graduating at the top of her class. Her work has appeared in Global News and diverse digital corporate training materials behind the scenes.

Hayley is passionate about making complex subjects, such as home buying and financial literacy, concise and intriguing. Her work has garnered media coverage from The Globe and Mail, blogTO, Yahoo! News, and CityNews 680 and has been syndicated across other publications.

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