Best Cash Back Credit Cards in Canada for 2021

Photo of author

by Enoch Omololu

Updated

Advertiser Disclosure

The best cash back credit cards in Canada give you back a percentage of your spending on purchases. For example, a card with a 2% cash back rate pays you $2 cash back if you spend $100 on an eligible purchase.

Depending on how the credit card’s cash-out options work, you may be able to withdrawal the cash back earned or redeem it as a statement credit to lower your card balance.

Read on to learn about the best cash back credit cards in Canada today.

Best Canadian Cash Back Credit Cards 2021

Credit CardCash Back RewardAnnual Fee
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card2% unlimited cash back in up to 3 spending categories; 0.5% on everything else$0
Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card4% cash back on groceries, recurring bills, and subscriptions; 2% cash back on gas/transit; 1% cash back on everything else$120 (waived 1st year)
SimplyCash Card from American Express1.25% unlimited cash back on all purchases$0
SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express2% unlimited cash back on all purchases$99
CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite Card4% cash back on gas and groceries; 2% on dining and recurring bills; 1% on everything else$120 (waived 1st year)
Meridian Visa Infinite Cash Back Card4% cash back on gas and grocery; 2% cash back on pharmacy and utilities; 1% cash back on everything else$99 (waived 1st year)
Scotiabank Gold American Express Card5% back on groceries, restaurant, food delivery and entertainment; 3% back on gas; 1% back on everything else$120 (waived 1st year)

Best No-Fee Cash Back Credit Card

Opposed to paying annual credit card fees, but want to earn a decent cash back rate?

The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card offers a flexible cash back regime that puts you in control so you can choose where best to maximize your earnings.

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

Cash back rate: Up to 2% on 3 categories of purchases; 0.5% on everything else.

Welcome Offer: 15% cash back (up to $150) when you spend up to $1,000 in the first 2 months.

Interest rates: 19.95% for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances

Annual fee: $0

The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card tops our list of the best no-fee credit cards in Canada.

It has no annual fees and you get to choose your rewards categories.

This card gives you 2% unlimited cash back in 2 categories of spending including everyday expenses such as groceries, gas, entertainment, recurring bill payments, and more.

If you deposit your cash back into a Tangerine Savings Account, you get a third 2% category.

All other purchases earn 0.50% unlimited cash back.

While it is not often marketed as a balance transfer card, the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card has a low 1.95% balance transfer rate for the first 6 months.

In addition, this card provides purchase protection and an extended warranty average.

For a limited time, new cardholders enjoy a 15% cash back rate worth up to $150 when they spend at least $1,000 in the first 2 months.

Cash back redemption: Cash back is automatically paid out once every month.

Income eligibility: You need a minimum annual personal income of $12,000 to qualify.

Apply for the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card.

Bonus: Tangerine World Mastercard

If your annual personal income is $60,000 or more, you may qualify for the Tangerine World Mastercard and enjoy more benefits.

Like the Tangerine Money-Back Card, it has no annual fees and pays 2% unlimited cash back on 3 spending categories.

It also offers:

  • Rental car insurance
  • Mobile device insurance
  • Boingo Wi-Fi at over 1 million hotspots worldwide
  • Mastercard Airport Experience provided by LoungeKey

Best Cash Back Credit Card for Groceries and Recurring Bills

The overall best credit card in Canada shines the most when you consider its cash back rate for groceries and recurring bill payments.

Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card

Cash back rate: Up to 4% cash back on groceries, recurring bill payments, and subscriptions.

Welcome offer: Annual fee is waived in the first year.

Interest rates: 20.99% for purchases; 22.99% for cash advances.

Annual fee: $120; the first year is waived.

The Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card offers some of the best cash back rates in Canada with:

  • 4% cash back on groceries and recurring payments
  • 2% cash back on gas and daily transit purchases
  • 1% cash back on everything else

This premium card also provides comprehensive travel insurance coverage (8 types) as well as new mobile device insurance, purchase security, and extended warranty coverage benefits.

Cash back redemption: Cash back is credited to your account statement once per year in November.

Income eligibility: You need a minimum annual income of $60,000 or $100,000 in household income to qualify.

Apply for the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card.

Best No Fee Flat-Rate Cash Back Credit Card

If you prefer to earn the same cash back rate on all purchases, the SimplyCash Card from American Express is worth looking at. It also has no annual fees.

SimplyCash Card from American Express

Cash back rate: 1.25% on all purchases.

Welcome offer: 4% cash back on up to $5,000 in purchases in the first 6 months ($200 value).

Interest rate: 19.99% on purchases; 21.99% on cash advances.

Annual fee: $0

The SimplyCash Card from AMEX pays a flat 1.25% rate on all purchases without a cap on how much you can earn.

This card also offers up to $100,000 in travel accident insurance when you pay your travel tickets in full using the card.

In addition, it provides the standard purchase protection and extended warranty coverage benefits.

For a limited time, new cardholders earn 4% cash back on spending up to $5,000 in the first 6 months. This offer is valued at $200.

Cash back redemption: Cash back is credited to your account once per year in August.

Income eligibility: No minimum income threshold is specified for this card.

Apply for the SimplyCash Card from AMEX.

Bonus: SimpleCash Preferred Card from AMEX

For a $99 annual fee tag, you could get the SimplyCash Preferred Card from AMEX and enjoy additional benefits:

  • 2% unlimited cashback on all purchases
  • Comprehensive travel insurance benefits including emergency medical, flight delay, baggage delay, hotel burglary, lost or stolen baggage, travel accident, and car rental insurance
  • Purchase protection and extended warranty benefits
  • American Express Experiences

This card also does not have a minimum income requirement.

Best Cash Back Credit Cards for Groceries and Gas

The best credit cards for grocery purchases give some relief to your wallet when you do your weekly grocery runs.

The same goes for cards that pay decent cash back when you buy gas.

CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite Card

Cash back rate: Up to 4% cash back on gas and groceries.

Welcome offer: N/A

Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases; 22.99% on cash advances.

Annual fee: $120; waived in the first year.

The CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite Card is one of CIBC’s best cash back credit cards.

Users earn 4% cash back on gas and grocery purchases; 2% cash back on transportation, dining, and recurring bill payments; and 1% back on everything else.

This card also offers the following insurance categories:

  • Mobile device insurance
  • Out of province emergency travel medical insurance
  • Common carrier accident insurance
  • Car rental insurance

Cash back redemption: Redeem your cash back anytime when your balance is $25 or more.

Income eligibility: At least $60,000 personal annual income or $100,000 for a household.

Note that the CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite Card’s 4% and 2% earn rates are limited to $20,000 worth of spending in each category and an $80,000 cap overall.

Meridian Visa Infinite Cash Back Card

Cash back rate: Up to 4% cash back on gas and grocery purchases.

Welcome offer: N/A

Interest rates: 19.50% for purchases; 21.99% for cash advances.

Annual fee: $99; the first year fee is waived.

Meridian Visa Infinite Cash Back Card
APPLY NOW

The Meridian Visa Infinite Cash Back Card is one of the best cash back credit cards in Canada.

Users earn:

  • 4% cash back on gas and grocery purchases
  • 2% cash back on pharmacy purchases and utility bill payments
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases

The card also offers comprehensive travel insurance benefits.

Note that the 4% and 2% cash back earn rates only apply to the first $25,000 in purchases. A 1% rate applies after you exceed this amount.

Cash back redemption: Cash back is credited monthly and can be redeemed starting at $50 as an account credit or for merchandise, gift cards and event tickets.

Income eligibility: You need a minimum personal income of $60,000 or $100,000 for a household.

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

Cash back rate: Up to 5% earn rate on grocery, fast food, and food delivery purchases.

Welcome offer: 30,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months ($300 value).

Interest rates: 19.99% on purchases and 22.99% on cash advances.

Annual fee: $120; waived in the first year.

The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card is not your typical cash back card. However, it is on this list based on its high earn rates, bonus offer, and ease of rewards redemption.

Cardholders earn:

  • 5 points per $1 spent on groceries, fast food, food delivery, restaurant and entertainment purchases
  • 3 points per $1 spent on gas, daily transportation, and streaming services
  • 1 point per $1 spent on everything else.

This card waives the 2.50% foreign transaction fees you normally pay when you purchase things abroad.

It also provides comprehensive travel insurance coverages (8 types) and a discounted Priority Pass membership with access to VIP airport lounges worldwide.

For a limited time, new cardholders get up to 50,000 bonus points valued at $500 when redeemed towards travel:

  • 30,000 bonus points when you spend at least $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • 20,000 bonus points when you spend at least $7,500 in the first year

Cash back redemption: Redeem points as a statement credit or for gift cards, travel purchases, or merchandise.

Income eligibility: A minimum annual personal income of $12,000 is required.

Apply for the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card.

How Do Cash Back Credit Cards Work?

Cash back credit cards give you a small portion of your spending back in cash rewards.

There are two main types: cards that offer flat-rate rewards, and those with tiered or category bonuses.

Flat-rate cash back credit cards give you the same cash back rate on all purchases. An example is the SimplyCash Card from American Express.

Cash back cards with bonus categories offer enhanced cash back rates for specific spending categories like groceries, gas, and recurring bill payments, and a base rate for all other purchases.

The best cash back credit cards also have different redemption options. For example, the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card pays out any cash back you have earned monthly.

Other cards may credit your cash back balance to your credit statement once a year (e.g. Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card).

There are also cash back cards that payout when your cash back balance has reached a minimum threshold amount, such as the CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite.

How To Choose a Cash Back Credit Card

There are a number of factors you should consider when applying for a cash back credit card:

Rewards: What is the cash back earn rate on your regular purchases? While a flat rate card removes the guesswork, you could benefit more by applying for a card that pays the highest earn rates on the things you actually spend money on e.g. groceries, gas, entertainment, and recurring bills.

Annual fee: Premium cash back cards typically offer perks alongside their annual fees. That said, if you don’t need travel insurance benefits, a no-fee cash back credit card can save you on fees.

Promotions: Watch out for juicy promotional rates including those that waive annual fees for the first year.

Income eligibility: American Express cards do not have a minimum income requirement. For the Visa Infinite Cards on this list, you need to earn at least $60,000 per year to qualify.

Other perks: What other perks are available? If a cash back credit card offers comprehensive travel insurance, you may not need a travel rewards credit card.

Benefits of Cash Back Credit Cards

Cash back is easy to understand as opposed to earning points. With cash back, you know exactly how much you are getting upfront i.e $50 = $50.

The value of points varies with the redemption option you choose. For example, 5000 points may be equivalent to $50 when you redeem for travel, and $35 when you redeem at a statement credit or for merchandise.

Downsides

Many of the best cash back credit cards have hefty annual fees. Some require you to earn $60,000 or more per year, and there are those with annual spending caps on the top-tier earn rates.

Cash Back Credit Card FAQs

What is the best no-fee unlimited cash back credit card?

For unlimited 2% cash back on three spending categories, apply for the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card. The SimplyCash Card from AMEX also offers unlimited 1.25% cash back.

When can I redeem my cash back?

Some cards pay out your earnings monthly while others do so once a year. Check your credit card agreement for more details.

Is credit card cash back taxable?

No, the cash back you earn from your personal credit card is not included in your taxable income when you file taxes.

Related:

Best Cash Back Credit Cards in Canada for 2021

Best Credit Offers this month

One of the best no-fee credit cards in Canada.

Get 2% unlimited cash back on up to 3 purchase categories.

Get 0.5% unlimited cash back on all other purchases.

Get 15% bonus cash back in first 2 months ($150 value).

1.95% balance transfer offer for 6 months.

Free prepaid reloadable Visa card.

Access to a portion of your paycheque 3 days early.

Free budgeting app with automatic savings features.

Credit building available with a subscription.

1.20% savings interest on every dollar balance.*

Get the best rates from multiple lenders.

Borrow up to $50,000 regardless of your credit score.

Pre-approvals available in as fast as 5 minutes.

Low interest rates starting at 9.9% (or 1.90% for auto loans).

Retirement 101 eBook - 3D

Author

Photo of author
Enoch Omololu

Enoch Omololu is a personal finance expert and a veterinarian. He has a master’s degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School (Scotland) and has completed several courses and certificates in finance, including the Canadian Securities Course. He also has an MSc. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Manitoba and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan. Enoch has a passion for helping others win with their personal finances and has been writing about money matters for over a decade. His writing has been featured or quoted in The Globe and Mail, Winnipeg Free Press, Wealthsimple, Financial Post, Toronto Star, Credit Canada, MSN Money, National Post, CIBC, and many other personal finance publications.

His top investment tools include Wealthsimple and Questrade. He earns cash back on purchases using KOHO, monitors his credit score for free using Borrowell, and earns interest on savings through EQ Bank.

2 thoughts on “Best Cash Back Credit Cards in Canada for 2021”

  1. You seem to imply that all “SavvyNewCanadians” are poor (where public transport and groceries make up a large part of their monthly expenditure). What about the card ranking for the middle class who have a gas card and need a credit card to get money back on the bulk of their monthly expenditure? You also fail to mention Roger, Costco or Amazon cards which all rank above any of the ones you mention: but of course are not part of the BigBanks offering. So should I conclude that you only rate cards that pay you to rate them?

    • @Keith: Your assumptions are wrong. While we do have affiliate relationships with some of the issuers listed (as noted in the disclosure at the top), there are cards on the list that we do not earn affiliate income from. This article is not meant to be an exhaustive listing of all the good cards you can get in Canada. You won’t find an exhaustive list anywhere. What we have listed here are some of the best credit cards for cash back. If you visit our credit card category page, we have also written about the best cards for groceries, travel, VIP airport lounges, no-fee cash back, no-FX fees, rental insurance, and more. Perhaps you will find what you are looking for there…

      https://www.savvynewcanadians.com/credit-card/

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

6 Shares
Share
Pin
Tweet
WhatsApp
Reddit