The Best Credit Cards in Canada for 2021

Photo of author

by Enoch Omololu

Updated

Advertiser Disclosure

Looking for the best credit cards in Canada to maximize your rewards this year?

We have carefully sifted through the numerous cards on the market and provided you with the best credit card options for travel rewards, cash back rewards, zero annual fees, students, low-interest rates, balance transfers, bad credit, and more.

Use this list of the best Canadian credit cards to trim down your credit card options for 2021.

Canada’s Best Credit Cards in 2021

CategoryCredit CardFeaturesAnnual Fee
Best No-Fee Credit CardTangerine Money-Back Card2% cashback on 3 categories, 1.95% balance transfer; 15% promo cash back offer ($150 value)$0
Best Cash Back Credit CardScotia Momentum Visa Infinite4% grocery & bills, 2% gas & daily transit; comp. insurance$120; waived 1st year
Best Credit Card for Travel Rewards #1Scotiabank Gold American Express50,000 bonus points, 5 pts/$1 grocery, dining & ent., 3pts/$1 gas, Travel emerg. med. 25 days;
$0 FX fees
$120
Best Travel Credit Card #2American Express Cobalt Card50,000 bonus points, 5pts/$1 grocery & dining, 3pts streaming; 2pts/$1 gas & transport$155.88
Best Prepaid Credit CardKOHO Prepaid VisaNo FX-markup fee, up to 2% cash back, access to early paycheque (+$20 bonus)$0
Best No-FX fee Credit CardScotiabank Passport Visa Infinite40,000 bonus points, 2pts/$1 grocery, dining, transport & entertainment, $0 FX markup$139
Best Credit Card for Roadside AssistanceTriangle World Elite MastercardFree roadside assistance (Gold Plan), 4% cash back at Canadian Tire, 3% groceries$0
Best Low-Interest Rate Credit CardAmerican Express Essential Card12.99% APR$0
Best Balance Transfer Credit CardMBNA True Line Mastercard8.99% APR on purchases and balance transfers$39
Best Student Credit CardBMO CashBack MastercardUp to 3% cash back (monthly limits apply)$0
Best Credit Card for Bad CreditRefresh Financial Secured CardGuaranteed approval, minimum $200 security deposit$48.95
Best Aeroplan Credit CardTD Aeroplan Visa PlatinumUp to 20,000 bonus points, 1 pt/$1 grocery, gas &
drug store, 1 pt/$1.50 all others
$89; waived 1st year
Best Air Miles Credit CardBMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard2,000 bonus miles, 1 mile/$10 all purchases$120; waived in 1st year

Best No Fee Credit Card

1. Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

  • Promo: 10% cash back; 1.95% balance transfer
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Welcome offer: Extra 15% cash back on purchases (up to $150 value – limited time offer)
  • Minimum income eligibility: $12,000 annually

Not ready to pay an annual fee for a card? You can still earn significant cash back rewards with the Tangerine Money-Back Credit card. This card allows you to choose up to 3 specific categories of spending and earn an unlimited 2% cash back when you make purchases.

Some of the available money-back categories include grocery, gas, entertainment, home improvement, public transportation, hotel/motel, restaurants, and recurring bill payments.

For a limited period, new cardholders earn an extra 15% cash back on top of the 2% regular rate when they spend $1,000 in the first 2 months. This offer is worth an additional $150 in cash back.

For all other purchases outside of your favourite categories, you get 0.50% in cash back.

For a card that has no annual fees, the unlimited 2% cash back is awesome. In addition, you also get:

  • 1.95% interest rate (for 6 months) on balance transfers
  • Free additional cards
  • Purchase protection (90 days from when you purchase) and extended warranty (up to an additional 1 year)
  • Cashback is paid out monthly so you don’t have to wait till the end of the year to use your rewards

Note that the 2% cash back is generally available in two spending categories. However, if you open a free Tangerine Savings Account and deposit your cash back inside it, you automatically qualify for an additional money-back category, for a total of three 2% categories.

Tangerine Cash Back Credit Card

Apply for the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card.

Tangerine recently introduced the Tangerine World Mastercard® which is an upgrade on the Tangerine Money-Back card and also has zero fees.

In addition to the up to 2% cash back on three categories of spending, the Tangerine World Mastercard® also offers:

  • No annual fee
  • 15% bonus cash back offer
  • 1.95% balance transfer rate for 6 months
  • Rental car collision/loss damage insurance
  • Mobile device insurance
  • Mastercard Airport Experiences Provided by Loungekey
  • Purchase protection and extended warranty

If you have a personal income of $60,000 or more, you can easily qualify for the no-fee Tangerine World Mastercard. If your income is lower, the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card offers the same level of cash back rewards and no annual fee.

Apply for the Tangerine World Mastercard.

Best Cash Back Credit Card

2. Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card

  • Promo: First year fee is waived
  • Annual fee: $120, waived in 1st year
  • Minimum income eligibility: $60,000

The Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite qualifies as a solid cash back card and comes with juicy premium benefits at a reasonable fee. The biggest attraction is its regular 4% cash back on groceries and recurring bill and subscription payments, 2% cash back on gas and daily transit; and 1% cash back on everything else.

Other benefits of the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite:

  • The $120 annual fee is waived in the first year
  • Travel benefits including travel emergency medical insurance of up to 15 consecutive days if you are under 65 years, trip interruption, flight delay, travel accident, delayed and lost baggage insurance
  • Mobile device insurance for up to $1,000
  • Purchase security and extended warranty
  • Rental car collision loss/damage insurance

The cash back rewards you can earn using this card are significant. Note that if you need supplementary cards, a $30 fee applies (also waived in the first year).

Scotia momentum visa infinite

Apply for the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite card.

Best Credit Card for Travel Rewards #1

3. Scotiabank Gold American Express

  • Promo: 50,000 bonus points ($500 value)
  • Annual fee: $120
  • Minimum income eligibility: $12,000

The Scotiabank Gold American Express is one of the best travel rewards credit cards in Canada. In addition to its high reward rate on popular spending categories (i.e. groceries and entertainment), this card offers an extraordinary level of travel insurance benefits. Here’s what you get:

  • 5 points (5% rewards rate) on every $1 spent on groceries, dining, and entertainment
  • 3 points for every $1 you spend on gas, daily transit, and streaming services
  • No foreign transaction fees (a savings of 2.5%)
  • 1 point on every $1 spent on everything else
  • 30,000 bonus points ($300 travel value) when you spend up to $1,000 in the first 3 months, and an additional 20,000 bonus points when you spend $7,500 or more in the first year
  • 0% promotional balance transfer for first 6 months
  • Comprehensive travel insurance including travel emergency medical up to $1 million for up to 25 consecutive days (under 65 years) and up to 3 consecutive days (over 65 years), trip cancellation/interruption, delayed and lost baggage, travel accident (up to $1 million per incident), and hotel/motel burglary insurance
  • Rental car collision loss and damage waiver (up to 48 consecutive days and $65,000 MSRP)
  • Purchase security and extended warranty
  • 35% discount on Priority Pass membership
  • Easy to redeem travel rewards at 100 points = $1

For a card with an average annual fee, the Scotiabank Gold American Express does offer well-above-average benefits. You can read our full review.

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

Apply for the Scotiabank Gold American Express.

Best Travel Credit Card #2

4. American Express Cobalt Card

  • Promo: 50,000 bonus points
  • Annual fee: $155.88
  • Minimum income eligibility: N/A

The American Express Cobalt card is one of a kind, and if you are looking to earn significant travel rewards from your everyday spending, this card delivers that!

To start, you earn 5 points for every $1 spent on groceries and dining out. This covers purchases at restaurants, bars, cafes, and even food delivery. You get 3 points per $1 spent on streaming subscriptions; 2 points per $1 spent on transportation and gas; and 1 point for every $1 spent on everything else.

The regular 5% cash back earning on groceries and dining is a top-of-the-line reward rate for this category of spending in Canada.

Additionally, for every month you spend at least $500, you get an extra 2,500 points for up to 30,000 bonus points in the first year. Plus, 20,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.

These bonuses alone are worth up to $500 in travel rewards!

Other benefits of the American Express Cobalt card are:

  • Travel insurance benefits including emergency medical (up to a maximum of $5 million per insured person for 15 consecutive days), flight delay, baggage delay, hotel/motel burglary, lost or stolen baggage, and travel accident insurance (up to $250,000).
  • Car rental theft and damage insurance with coverage for up to $85,000
  • Purchase protection and extended warranty
  • Front of The Line Access through AMEX Invites
  • Ability to redeem your points for just about anything, including cash to pay for your purchases (statement credit).

Redeeming your points for travel rewards is your best option since 1,000 points are equivalent to $10 as opposed to a $7 statement credit when you redeem for other purchases.

amex cobalt new card

Apply for the American Express Cobalt card.

Best Prepaid Credit Card

5. KOHO Visa

  • Promo: $20 cash bonus when you sign up here
  • Annual fee: $0 for regular account
  • Minimum income eligibility: $0

The KOHO Visa is a reloadable prepaid card that functions like a debit card and is usable worldwide wherever Visa is accepted. This card does come with lots of benefits and can save you a lot of money, especially if you frequently travel abroad.

  • No foreign currency exchange fees (a savings of 2.5% upfront – KOHO Premium)
  • No ATM withdrawal fees
  • 0.50-2% instant cash back on all your purchases
  • 1.20% interest on your entire account balance when you set up a direct deposit
  • Free budgeting app and automated roundup savings feature
  • A premium fancy metal card (optional) 
  • Access to early paycheque
  • Access to a credit building service

Read our complete KOHO review.

Apply for the KOHO Visa card (promo code CASH BACK is automatically applied).

KOHO Premium App and Card

Best Credit Card for No Foreign Transaction Fees

6. Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card

  • Promo: 40,000 bonus points ($400 value) 
  • Annual fee: $139
  • Minimum income eligibility: $60,000

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card offers up to $400 in bonus points in your first year! This card is popular among travellers for many good reasons that include:

  • 2 points for every $1 spent on groceries, dining, entertainment, and daily transit
  • 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Zero (0$) foreign currency conversion markup
  • 30,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in your first 3 months and an additional 10,000 points if you spend at least $40,000 annually, for a total of $400 in travel rewards
  • Complimentary Priority Pass membership plus 6 free airport lounge access per year ($379 value/year)
  • Comprehensive travel insurance benefits (very similar to the Scotiabank Gold AMEX)
  • Rental car collision loss/damage waiver
  • Purchase security, price protection, and extended warranty

While the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite costs about $20 per year more than its sibling (Scotiabank Gold American Express), the higher introductory offers and free lounge access more than cover the higher fee.

Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card

Apply for the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card.

Best Credit Card for Roadside Assistance

7. Triangle World Elite Mastercard

  • Highlight: Free roadside assistance membership
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Minimum income eligibility: $80,000

If you shop regularly at Canadian Tire, the Triangle World Elite Mastercard is an absolute must-have with 4% cash back (Canadian Tire Money) on your purchases at Canadian Tire, Sport Chek, Mark’s and Atmosphere stores, 3% on groceries, and 1% on everything else.

Other benefits that come with the card:

  • Free Gold Plan roadside assistance
  • Get up to 7 cents per litre when you purchase fuel at Gas+ locations
  • Car rental collision/loss damage waiver insurance
  • Purchase security and extended warranty
  • No-fee, no-interest financing for up to 24 months when you make purchases of $200 or more

The main reason why I obtained the Triangle World Elite card was for the free roadside assistance. This saves me at least $100 in CAA membership annually and covers Canada and the United States with 5 service calls of up to 250 km and unlimited tows to any Canadian Tire auto shop.

If you are looking to get this card, note that the 3% cash back on groceries excludes purchases at Walmart and Costco.

Apply for the Triangle World Elite Mastercard.

Best Credit Card for Balance Transfers

8. MBNA True Line Mastercard

  • Promo: 0% balance transfer for 12 months
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Minimum income eligibility: N/A

The MBNA True Line Mastercard offers a low rate of 12.99% on purchases and balance transfers, and a 24.99% interest rate for cash advances.

New cardholders enjoy a 0% balance transfer rate for the first 12 months and 12.99% after the promotional period ends.

If you are looking to consolidate your credit card debt, this card offers some of the best balance transfer rates available in Canada.

Worthy mention: The Tangerine Money-Back Card offers a 1.95% balance transfer rate for 6 months and has no annual fees!

MBNA True Line Gold Mastercard

Apply for the MBNA True Line Mastercard.

Best Credit Card for Bad Credit

9. Refresh Financial Secured Card

  • Annual fee: $48.95
  • Income eligibility: $0

The Refresh Financial Secured Card is your go-to card if your credit score has tanked and you need a credit card to help you build back your credit profile. Approval for this card is pretty much guaranteed as long as you have the security deposit of at least $200 and do not have an existing Refresh credit card.

The Refresh Financial Visa is secured which means that your credit line is equivalent to your security deposit. You pay a $12.95 annual fee and $3 every month, for a total of $48.95 per year.

To get the most out of this card, you should pay off your card balance in full within the grace period so you can get your credit score back into positive territory as soon as possible.

Worthy mention: An alternative to the Refresh Financial Secured Visa is the Home Trust Secured Visa. Depending on the version of this card you qualify for, you may get 19.99% APR on purchases and a $0 annual fee, or 14.90% APR on purchases and a $59 annual fee.

Refresh Financial Secured Visa Card

Apply for the Refresh Financial Secured Card.

Best Credit Card for Low-Interest Rates

10. American Express Essential Credit Card

  • Promo: N/A
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Minimum income eligibility: N/A

The American Express Essential card is a no-fee credit card that offers one of the lowest rates you will find for cash advance and purchase balances in Canada at 12.99%.

Other benefits are the purchase protection/extended warranty and travel accident insurance up to $100,000

This card is noteworthy when you consider that many other paid credit cards charge an annual interest rate of 19.99% or higher on purchases and cash advances. However, note that to take advantage of these rock-bottom rates, you must be making your minimum payments on time.

Worthy mention: The MBNA True Line Gold Mastercard also offers an 8.99% rate on purchases and balance transfers and 24.99% on cash advances. The card has a $39 annual fee.

American Express Essential Credit Card

Apply for the American Express Essential card.

Best Student Credit Card

11. BMO CashBack Mastercard

  • Promo: 5% cash back 3 months ($100 value)
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Income requirement: None

The BMO CashBack Mastercard affords students an opportunity to establish a credit history while earning some rewards. Even better, it is a no-fee credit card.

Benefits of this card include:

  • Limited time 5% cash back on purchases up to $2,000 ($100 value) in your first 3 months
  • 3% cash back on groceries; 1% recurring bills; and 0.50% on all other purchases
  • Purchase protection and extended warranty
  • Free access to BMO Extra Deals

You can apply for this card even if you have no income or credit history which makes it a top-rated credit card in the student category. Note that the 1% and 3% cash back categories have a monthly limit.

Worthy mention: Another great student credit card is the SCENE Visa card. It has no annual fees and you earn SCENE rewards you can redeem for free movies and food at participating restaurants.

Here is a list of the best student credit cards in Canada.

BMO Cashback Mastercard

Apply for the BMO CashBack Credit Card.

Best Aeroplan Credit Card

12. TD Aeroplan Visa Platinum

  • Promo: Up to 20,000 Aeroplan Points
  • Annual fee: $89, waived in 1st year
  • Minimum income eligibility: N/A

The TD Aeroplan Visa Platinum is a top-notch credit card for earning Aeroplan points. You get:

  • Up to 20,000 bonus Aeroplan points
  • The annual fee of $89 is waived in the first year
  • 1 point for every $1 spent on eligible grocery, gas, and drug store purchases
  • 1 point for every $1.50 spent on all other purchases
  • 2 x points when you use your card with the Aeroplan membership card at participating retailers
  • Travel insurance including delayed and lost baggage, flight delay, and travel accident insurance
  • Auto rental collision/loss damage with coverage up to 48 consecutive days
  • Purchase security and extended warranty

The 10,000 bonus Aeroplan points are awarded when you make your first purchase with the card.

Lastly, this card gets you a discount when you rent a car at participating Avis and Budget locations.

TD Aeroplan Visa Platinum

Apply for theTD Aeroplan Visa Platinum card.

Best Air Miles Credit Card

13. BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard

  • Promo: 2,000 bonus AIR MILES
  • Annual fee: $120, waived in 1st year
  • Minimum income eligibility: $80,000

The BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard is the best Air Miles credit card in Canada. To start, you get 2,000 bonus miles when you spend at least $3,000 in the first 3 months. The annual $120 fee is also waived in year one.

You also get:

  • 1 Air Mile for every $10 spent on all purchases
  • 15% discount on all Air Miles flights in North America
  • Complimentary membership in Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by Loungekey, plus two free annual passes
  • Comprehensive travel insurance benefits
  • Rental car collision/damage insurance
  • Purchase protection and extended warranty
  • 25% discount on car rentals at participating National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car locations, plus 2x the reward miles

The BMO Air Miles World Elite is a well-rounded credit card for the savvy traveller and best-in-class if the Air Miles collection is part of your travel hacking strategies. 

Apply for the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard.

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 is 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 are available in as fast as 5 minutes.

Low-interest rates start at 1.99% and terms from 4-60 months.

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 “The Best Credit Cards in Canada for 2021”

  1. It would be more useful if you included the income requirement. Not many of us reading this have 60k but many of these cards require it. For some strange reason when I type in the Name and Email fields below its all capitalized no matter if Caps are on or off. No problem here.

    • @Me: Good point. Will keep this in mind for when I update this post. Yes, on the frontend, the text input box sometimes capitalizes names and emails.

Leave a comment

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

69 Shares
Share
Pin
Tweet
WhatsApp
Reddit