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Top 5 credit cards for online shopping this holiday season

Nov. 22, 2023
5 mins
Credit cards for online shopping.jpg

Advertiser disclosure: 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. Read our full disclaimer.

With the upcoming holiday season, you may be making your lists and checking them twice. But as high inflation continues to tug on everyone’s pockets, it can be tricky to keep your finances in check without coming off as a Scrooge. And you’re not alone – in fact, 78% of Canadians are planning to cut back on their holiday spending, while 77% say they plan on shopping around for the best deals and discounts.

If your strategy is not to skimp, but instead, to snap up deals and stretch your dollar, you might already be browsing gifts online. With more retailers offering flash sales and discount-unlock codes at sign-up, shopping from your computer makes it easier to pre-plan your shopping cart, compare prices and hit Checkout when you’re ready to buy.

But browsing deals is just one aspect of saving money. The right credit card can offer steeper discounts at popular retailers, offer cashback on coveted categories, and reward you with points on future travel (say, that flight home for the holidays). You could say it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Read more: How do cashback rewards work on a credit card?

What makes a credit card great for online shopping?

Signing up for a new credit card can be intimidating, particularly if it’s one outside your primary bank. That’s why you’d only want to make the switch if it makes sense for you – which means, if the value you get out of it is significantly greater than the annual fee that you’ll be paying for it.

Credit card providers understand that. To entice new customers, they’re upping the ante and offering an evolving range of benefits, suited to every type of need and lifestyle.

If you’re looking to make the most of your holiday online shopping, you’ll want to make sure you get the most cash back or reward points towards categories like online or in-app purchases, subscriptions, and on-demand services, like Amazon and Uber Eats. You may also make sure that your desired credit card has partnerships with grocery chains, department stores or popular retailers — places that you’ll not only shop at once, but return to, again and again.

Many credit card programs also have reward marketplaces where cardholders can use their points towards electronics, beauty products, gift cards, and more. Often, these marketplaces will also feature their own in-app discounts or cashback codes for specific retailers that you can load on your card and earn more as you spend. Some examples include RBC Avion, Scene+, American Express, and Neo.

Lastly, many credit cards offer price protection coverage. For example, if you’ve already purchased an air fryer, but find a cheaper deal, you may be eligible for a refund for the purchase made on the credit card. Zero liability insurance also helps ward off fraudulent charges – which is particularly useful this time of year.

RATESDOTCA looked at top features and perks, and here’s our pick of the best credit cards for online shopping this holiday season.

Our top picks

Credit card

Top features for online shopping

Annual fee

First-year value*

1. SimplyCash® Preferred Card from American Express

  • Earn 2% cashback on all purchases.
  • Get shopping insurance, travel and mobile device coverage.

$119.88 ($9.99 per month)

$940

2.MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard® Cards

  • Earn 5 MBNA points for every $1 spent on digital media and memberships, and 1 MBNA point for retail purchases.
  • Get price protection service.

$120

$924

3.Tangerine World Mastercard®

  • Earn 2% cashback on purchases in three categories of your choice.
  • Get shopping insurance coverage and mobile device coverage.

$0

$534

4.National Bank® ECHO® Cashback Mastercard®

  • Earn 1.5% cashback on online purchases.
  • Get shopping insurance coverage.

$30

$255

5.Neo Credit

  • Earn 5% cashback on purchases made at more than 10,000 Neo online and retail partners.
  • Get Zero liability protection.

$0

$240

*The RATESDOTCA Best of Finance methodology assumes the cardholder spends an average of $2,000 a month on their card to determine the first-year value. The calculation includes all welcome bonuses and promotional offers at the time of publishing.

1.SimplyCash® 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

American Express is better known for their travel rewards program, but their cash back cards hold their own, too. The SimplyCash® Preferred Card from American Express offers a $40 statement credit for each monthly billing period in which you spend $750 in purchases on your card. This could add up to $400 in statement credit in the first 10 months of using the card.

There are also some great shopping insurance benefits – purchase protection for up to 90 days and an extended warranty for a year. And coverage of up to $1,000 per insured person for the loss, theft or accidental damage to your mobile device.

Cardholders also get access to Amex Offers, American Express’ online rewards portal, which unlocks even more deals with popular retailers and travel partners.

If you’re hosting some big holiday parties this season, you can take advantage of the 4% cash back on groceries (and gas), and 2% cash back on all other purchases.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Good. You’ve made minimum payments or fully paid off your credit card over the past three months. And not just credit cards, but also your phone and internet bills, mortgages, and loans. You have had no bankruptcies or defaults in the past seven years.

It’s worth noting that American Express has recently increased its penalty Annual Percentage Rate (APR). So, if you make late payments on this card or plan on holding the balance, you’ll be charged a penalty APR of 24.99%.

Annual fee:

The annual fee is $120, and there is no additional fee for extra cards.

Limited time offer or bonus:

For the first 10 months of using SimplyCash® Preferred Card from American Express, you can earn a $40 statement credit for each monthly billing period during which you spend $750 in purchases on your card. This could add up to $400 in statement credits in the first 10 months.

Offer expiry date: N/A (Subject to change without notice)

Rewards: 

  • Get 4% cash back on gas and grocery purchases.
  • Get 2% cash back on all other purchases.

Earning potential: 

How does this card stack up to other cash back credit cards? We used 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 = $1,060 in Amex Cashback rewards

Annual fee = $120

Total earned over the first year (rewards minus annual fee) = $940

You can redeem your points for:

  • Statement credits.

Insurance: 

  • Purchase protection coverage.
  • Extended warranty for one year.
  • Travel accident coverage.
  • Emergency medical insurance.
  • Flight delay insurance.
  • Baggage delay insurance.
  • Hotel burglary insurance.
  • Rental car theft and damage insurance coverage.

Other perks:

  • Access events and special offers curated for cardmembers with American Express® Experiences.

2. MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard®

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$300
+ Annual rewards
$744
- Annual fee
$120
Total first year value
$924
MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard®

card image
Welcome bonus
$300
MBNA Rewards points
Annual rewards
$744
MBNA Rewards points
Annual fees:
$120
Interest rates:
19.99% on purchases • 24.99% on cash advances
2024 Winner – Best Overall Mastercard
Includes a great insurance package and unique benefits
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$300
Annual rewards
$744
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$300
+ Annual rewards
$744
- Annual fee
$120
Total first year value
$924
Annual fees:
$120
Interest rates:
19.99% on purchases
24.99 on cash advances
2024 Winner – Best Overall Mastercard
Includes a great insurance package and unique benefits
Details at a glance Collapse details

Winner of the 2023 Best Overall Mastercard, the MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard® gives you five points for every dollar spent on digital media and memberships like Netflix or Spotify, as well as groceries and dining out. And you can reap reward points on all other purchases as well.

The MNBA Rewards marketplace also lets you redeem your points on everything from wearable tech and countertop kitchen appliances to clothing and beauty items and more.

This one offers great insurance coverage packages too. There’s purchase protection (that covers you for repair or replacement on an item purchased on the card) so that you don’t have to shell out additional money for an extended warranty on that Fitbit you got for dad. And price protection insurance, where you may be eligible for a refund if a purchase made on the credit card decreases in price.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Good. You’ve made minimum payments or fully paid off your credit card over the past three months. And not just credit cards, but also your phone and internet bills, mortgages, and loans. You have had no bankruptcies or defaults in the past seven years.

Annual fee:

The annual fee is $120, and $50 for additional cards.

Limited time offer or bonus:

Cardholders can receive up to 30,000 MBNA Rewards points when they sign up (that’s $300 in value)

  • Earn 20,000 bonus points† ($200 in travel value or $165 cash back value) when you make $2,000 or more in eligible purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.
  • Earn 10,000 bonus points† ($100 in travel value or $80 cash back value) when you enroll for paperless e-statements within the first 90 days of opening your account.

This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For residents of Quebec, please click here.

Offer expiry date: N/A (Subject to change without notice)

Rewards: 

  • Get five MBNA reward points for every $1 spent on groceries, restaurants, digital media and memberships, and household utilities.
  • Get one MBNA reward point for every $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.

Earning potential: 

How does this card stack up to other cash back credit cards? We used 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 = 125,783 MBNA reward points

Monetary value = $1,044

Annual fee = $120

Total earned over the first year (rewards minus annual fee) = $924

You can redeem your points for:

  • Travel.
  • Gift cards.
  • Brand name merchandise.

Insurance: 

  • Purchase protection coverage.
  • Price protection coverage.
  • Extended warranty for one year.
  • Travel accident coverage.
  • Emergency medical insurance.
  • Rental car theft and damage insurance coverage.
  • Mobile device insurance coverage.

Other perks:

  • Earn annual Birthday Bonus Points equal to 10% of the total number of Points earned in the 12 months before the month of your birthday (maximum 15,000 Points)
  • Save when you rent with Avis and Budget Rent a Car.

3.Tangerine World Mastercard®

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$100
+ Annual rewards
$309
- Annual fee
$0
Total first year value
$409
Tangerine World Mastercard®

card image
Welcome bonus
$100
Money-Back Rewards
Annual rewards
$309
Money-Back Rewards
Annual fees:
$0
Interest rates:
19.95% on purchases • 19.95% on cash advances
2024 Winner – Best No-Fee Cash Back Credit Card
Flexible no-fee card with ability to choose what categories earns you the most cash back
Details at a glance Collapse details
Welcome bonus
$100
Annual rewards
$309
The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Welcome bonus
$100
+ Annual rewards
$309
- Annual fee
$0
Total first year value
$409
Annual fees:
$0
Interest rates:
19.95% on purchases
19.95 on cash advances
2024 Winner – Best No-Fee Cash Back Credit Card
Flexible no-fee card with ability to choose what categories earns you the most cash back
Details at a glance Collapse details

Winner of the Best No Fee Cashback Credit Card, the Tangerine World Mastercard® gives you the option of earning cash back in three categories of your choosing. If you’re an avid online shopper, there’s a 2% cash back on recurring bills, like an Amazon subscription. Moreover, you can switch categories every month. So, after you’re done reaping the rewards of your holiday online shopping, you can switch over and opt for cash back on furniture and home improvement categories for your upcoming home renovation project in the spring.

Plus, for a limited time, receive a $125 Cash Bonus from RATESDOTCA upon approval. This offer expires December 15, 2023.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Fair. You might have missed one or two payments on your credit card or loans over the last three months.

Annual fee:

There is no annual fee on this card, and no fee for additional cards either.

Limited time offer or bonus:

  • Earn an extra 10% back* (up to $100) when you spend up to $1,000 in everyday purchases within your first two months*.
  • Plus, during your first month, transfer balances and pay only 1.95% interest on the transferred balance for the first six months (and 19.95% after that)†

Offer expiry date: Apply by January 31, 2024.

Rewards: 

  • Get 2% cash back on purchases in three categories of your choice, including furniture and home improvement.
  • Get 0.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Earning potential: 

How does this card stack up to other cash back credit cards? We used 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 = $409 in cashback rewards

Cash Bonus from RATESDOTCA = $125

Annual fee = $0

Total earned over the first year (rewards minus annual fee) = $534

You can redeem your points for:

  • Statement credits.

Insurance: 

  • Purchase protection coverage.
  • Extended warranty for one year.
  • Rental car theft and damage insurance coverage.
  • Mobile device insurance coverage.

Other perks:

  • Cardholders have access to unique experiences with the Mastercard Priceless Cities and World Experiences program.
  • Cardholders have access to the Mastercard Travel Pass by DragonPass that provides access to over 1,300 lounges for only $32 per visit.
  • Access to Wi-Fi at Boingo Wi-Fi for Mastercard®* at hotspots around the world.
  • Special offers for on-demand apps and subscription services.
  • Zero Liability Fraud protection against unauthorized use of your account

4. National Bank® ECHO® Cashback Mastercard®

With the National Bank® ECHO® Cashback Mastercard®, you can get instant cash back on your everyday purchases. Especially beneficial for the holiday season, the card offers 1.5% cash back on online purchases and shopping insurance coverage too. You can also receive 1.5% cash back on gas and grocery purchases, and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

In addition to cash back on online purchases, there’s the added benefit of secure online purchases through the Mastercard Zero Liability policy and Mastercard® ID CheckTM service, which protects you against fraud or unauthorized transactions when making online purchases.

The holidays are prime time for scammers, so this additional credit card protection is in your favour.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Good. You’ve made minimum payments or fully paid off your credit card over the past three months. And not just credit cards, but also your phone and internet bills, mortgages, and loans. You have had no bankruptcies or defaults in the past seven years.

Annual fee:

The annual fee is $30, and there’s no fee for additional cards.

Limited time offer or bonus:

There is no welcome offer at this time.

Offer expiry date: N/A 

Rewards: 

  • Get 1.5% cash back on online purchases, with an annual limit of $25,000. Additionally, get 1.5% cash back on grocery and gas purchases.
  • Get 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Earning potential: 

How does this card stack up to other cash back credit cards? We used 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 = $285 in cashback rewards

Annual fee = $30

Total earned over the first year (rewards minus annual fee) = $255

You can redeem your points for:

  • Statement credit
  • Online shopping
  • Gift cards

Insurance: 

  • Purchase protection coverage.
  • Extended warranty for one year.

Other perks:

  • Cardholders have access to unique experiences with the Mastercard Priceless Cities and World Experiences program.

5.Neo Credit

The estimated dollar amount of benefits you’ll accumulate based on your monthly spending and rewards preference
+ Cash bonus
$50
+ Welcome bonus
$0
+ Annual rewards
$240
- Annual fee
$0
Total first year value
$290
Neo Credit

card image
Welcome bonus
$0
Cashback
Annual rewards
$240
Cashback
Annual fees:
$0
Interest rates:
19.99% on purchases • 22.99% on cash advances
[[gift]]Get a $50 CashSurge from RATESDOTCA
Earn instant, unlimited cashback at over 10,000 partners
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
+ Cash bonus
$50
+ Welcome bonus
$0
+ Annual rewards
$240
- Annual fee
$0
Total first year value
$290
Annual fees:
$0
Interest rates:
19.99% on purchases
22.99 on cash advances
[[gift]]Get a $50 CashSurge from RATESDOTCA
Earn instant, unlimited cashback at over 10,000 partners
Details at a glance Collapse details

The Neo Credit Card gives you 5% cash back on purchases made with 10,000 Neo partners including Amazon, Netflix, Walmart, and Hudson’s Bay, and 0.5% cash back on general purchases made elsewhere. There’s also Zero Liability insurance coverage that protects you in the event of unauthorized or fraudulent charges or your credit card – again, a must for the typically high-fraud holiday season.

Credit score requirement for approval:

Fair. You might have missed one or two payments on your credit card or loans over the past three months.

Annual fee:

There is no annual fee on this card, and no fee for additional cards either.

Limited time offer or bonus:

  • Earn up to 5% cash back on first-time purchases at more than 10,000 Neo partners, which includes online stores, clothing, and retail partners.
  • Earn 0.5% cash back everywhere else.

Offer expiry date: N/A (Subject to change without notice)

Rewards: 

  • A guaranteed minimum of 0.5% cash back everywhere.

Earning potential: 

How does this card stack up to other cash back credit cards? We used 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 = $240 in cashback rewards

Annual fee = $0

Total earned over the first year (rewards minus annual fee) = $240

You can redeem your points for:

  • Statement credit.

Insurance: 

  • Zero liability insurance.

Other perks:

  • Get up to $10,000 credit limit.
  • Sign up and start using your virtual card right away.
  • Freeze and unfreeze your card anytime from the Neo app.
  • Upgrade your card by adding flexible monthly subscriptions for travel, gas, grocery, dining, and more.
  • Get up to 4% cash back on all purchases at Shell gas stations and convenience locations when you use your card.

As the year ends, it’s a good time to review the APR and terms and conditions on your current credit card or compare credit cards to see what might be better suited for your lifestyle and needs.

Rates, product information and reward estimates are subject to change at any time and do not constitute financial advice. 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 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, November 22, 2023. Read our full disclaimer.

Read more: The best credit card welcome offers for November 2023

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Shaistha Khan

Shaistha Khan is an editor and writer at RATESDOTCA. She is a journalist, writer, and communications specialist with 13 years of experience across the personal finance, business and professional development, oil and gas, and travel and tourism industries. She has worked as a content editor and writer in seven countries, with Canada being the most recent.

She holds a Master of Business Administration degree (MBA) and a diploma in Public Relations and Reputation Management.

Experience
  • Credit Cards
  • Travel Insurance
  • Car Insurance
Education
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA)
  • Diploma in Public Relations and Reputation Management
Featured in
  • USA Today
  • New Canadian Media
  • BBC Travel
  • Fast Company Middle East
  • Entrepreneur Middle East

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