15 Best First Credit Cards in Canada for 2022

Are you looking to apply for your first credit card in Canada? This guide covers some of the best first credit cards for beginners, credit card requirements and types in Canada, and how to apply for a credit card.

A credit card can be a great addition to your wallet. They facilitate convenient payments, help you earn rewards, and offer one of the easiest ways to build a credit history.

On the flip side, credit cards can also amplify bad money management skills and get you into debt.

Read on to learn about some of the best entry-level credit cards in 2022.

Best First Credit Cards in Canada

Credit CardBest ForAnnual Fee
Tangerine Money-Back Credit CardCash back rewards (no-annual-fee and balance transfer)$0
Neo Financial MastercardCash back rewards$0
SimplyCash Card from AmexFlat-rate cash back rewards$0
Tangerine World MastercardCash back rewards + some premium perks$0
Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa CardStudent credit card$0
KOHO MastercardBest prepaid card + savings account$0
SCENE Visa CardStudent credit card$0
PC Financial MastercardGrocery rewards$0
NBC mycredit MastercardCash back rewards$0
BMO Cash Back MastercardStudent credit card$0
MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus MastercardNo-fee travel credit card$0
Scotia Momentum Visa InfiniteBest cash back card + premium perks$120
American Express Cobalt CardPremium travel card$155.58
Scotiabank Gold American ExpressPremium travel card + No FX fees$120
TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite CardTravel card$120

Credit Card Requirements in Canada

The following factors will determine whether your application for a credit card is approved.

Age: You must be at least the age of the majority in your province or territory. That is at least 18 years of age in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Quebec, and Prince Edward Island.

The age of the majority is 19 in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Yukon, and Nunavut.

Credit Score: Your credit score is a reflection of your credit history and how you have managed debt so far. It is a 3-digit number ranging from 300 to 900.

Most credit card companies require a 660+ credit score and some premium cards are in the 760+ credit score range.

If you are applying for your first credit product, it may be easier to qualify for an entry-level credit card like the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card which accepts credit scores as low as 600. You could also consider getting a secured credit card like the Neo Secured Mastercard.

Credit card and loan options are also available for 400 and 500 credit scores.

Income: Some credit cards have no income requirement (including most American Express Cards), while others have a minimum income threshold you must meet.

Residency: To qualify for a credit card in Canada, you will need to show you are a permanent resident or citizen of Canada. There are also credit cards for foreign workers and international students.

Social insurance number: You will need to provide your social insurance number during the application process.

Bankruptcy: If you have an undischarged bankruptcy on your credit report, your application for an unsecured credit card will be denied.

Other negative information that can impact your application includes court judgements, liens, consumer proposals, collections, etc.

Best Credit Cards For Beginners

There are some of the best credit cards for first-timers. We have divided them into two categories: no-annual-fee credit cards and premium cards with an annual fee.

1. Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card is one of the best cash back credit cards in Canada.

With a 600+ credit score requirement and an income threshold of just $12,000, this card is super easy to qualify for.

It is also competitive on the cash back front, with unlimited 2% cash back on purchases in two categories of spending (or three if you deposit your rewards in a free Tangerine savings account) and 0.50% unlimited cash back on everything else.

If you have a balance on other credit cards, you can transfer them over and get a low 1.95% balance transfer rate for 6 months (a 1% balance transfer fee applies).

This card also offers purchase protection and extended warranty coverage on your purchases.

Learn more about it in this review or take advantage of the welcome offer below.

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

Rewards: Earn up to 2% unlimited cash back in up to 3 spending categories and 0.50% on all other purchases.

Welcome offer: Get an extra 15% cash back on up to $1,000 in spending in the first 2 months ($150 value).

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

Annual fee: $0

2. Neo Financial Mastercard

The Neo Mastercard (Neo Card) is a top rewards credit card without the annual fee.

When you apply for the standard card, you earn an average 4% instant cash back when you shop at more than 7,000 partner brands and retailers. Across all purchases, you earn at least 1% cash back and receive a top-up if your cash back earn rate falls below this level (on up to $5,000 spend per month).

New cardholders also get a 15% cash back welcome bonus when they make their first purchase at most partners.

The one downside to note for this card is that it does not offer purchase security or extended warranty insurance.

Learn more in this review or sign up below.

Neo Mastercard (Standard)

Rewards: Average of 5% cash back at partners and a minimum of 1% cash back across all purchases

Welcome offer: Get 15% cash back on your first purchases; plus a $25 welcome cash bonus.

Interest rates: 19.99% – 24.99% on purchases; 21.99% – 26.99% for cash advances.

Annual fee: $0

3. SimplyCash Card From American Express

The SimplyCash Card from Amex simplifies cash back rewards like no other.

You earn 1.25% cash back on all purchases and don’t have to worry about spending categories.

This card has no annual fee and there is no minimum income requirement. That said, you will need a very good to excellent credit score to qualify (725+).

Cardholders also enjoy travel accident insurance with coverage up to $100,000, purchase protection, and extended warranty insurance.

Learn more in this review or get the welcome bonus below.

SimplyCash Card from American Express

Rewards and benefits: Earn 1.25% cash back on all purchases; travel accident insurance.

Welcome offer: 4% cash back in your first 6 months (valued at $250).

Interest rates: 19.99% on purchases and 21.99% on cash advances.

Annual fee: $0

4. Tangerine World Mastercard

If you have an annual income of $60,000 or higher (or $100,000 in household income), you will get more out of the Tangerine World Mastercard.

This no-annual-fee credit card also offers unlimited 2% cash back in 2-3 categories of spending and 0.50% cash back on all other purchases.

In addition, cardholders enjoy access to car rental, mobile device, purchase protection, and extended warranty insurance coverage.

You also get complimentary membership in Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey with access to over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide (costs $32 USD per visit).

Learn more in this review or take advantage of the welcome offer below.

Tangerine World Mastercard

Rewards: Earn up to 2% unlimited cash back in up to 3 spending categories and 0.50% on all other purchases; VIP perks.

Welcome offer: Get an extra 15% cash back on up to $1,000 in spending in the first 2 months ($150 value).

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

Annual fee: $0

5. Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa Card

The Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa works well as an entry-level credit card for beginners. It is also a great student credit card.

This card has no annual fee and offers:

  • 4% cash back on restaurant, bar, and coffee shop purchases (on up to $5,000 spent/year)
  • 1.50% cash back on gas, groceries, drugstore, and recurring bill payments (on up to $15,000 spent/year)
  • 0.50% unlimited cash back on all other purchases

Cardholders also get purchase security and extended protection insurance.

Learn more about the Simplii Financial credit card in this review or take advantage of the welcome offer below.

Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa Card

Rewards: Earn 4% cash back at restaurants; 1.5% on gas & groceries, and 0.5% elsewhere.

Welcome offer: 10% cash back at restaurants & bars for the first 4 months (valued at $50).

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

Annual fee: $0

6. KOHO Prepaid Mastercard

The KOHO Mastercard prepaid card is not a credit card.

That said, it offers many of the same benefits, including cash back rewards and an easy way to build or rebuild credit history if you subscribe to its credit building service.

This free card offers 0.50% cash back on all purchases and up to 10% cash back at select partners.

KOHO users get unlimited debit transactions and Interac e-Transfers®.

When you set up a direct deposit to your account, you earn a high interest savings rate (1.20%) on your balance, and can access part of your paycheque 3 days early.

KOHO offers many other benefits and is one of Canada’s best virtual cards.

Get a $20 cash bonus when you sign up here, use our referral code CASHBACK, and make your first purchase.

KOHO Prepaid Mastercard (formerly KOHO Visa)

Rewards: Earn 0.50% cash back on all purchases; Up to 5% cashback at select partners; Earn 1.20% savings interest on your balance*.

Welcome offer: Get a $20 bonus when you load and make your first purchase (use promo code CASHBACK during sign-up).

Interest rates: 0%

Annual fee: $0

7. Scotiabank SCENE Visa Card

The SCENE Visa Card is one of Scotiabank’s student credit cards. It also works well for beginners.

This card offers 5 Scene+ points per $1 spent on purchases at Cineplex theatres or Cineplex.com and 1 Scene+ point per $1 spent on everything else.

You can redeem Scene+ points for travel, food, entertainment, banking, and other rewards.

Note that this card lacks free insurance coverage. Learn more in this review or apply here.

8. PC Financial Mastercard

If you are a regular shopper at the Real Canadian Superstore, Shoppers Drug Mart, and other Loblaw stores, this card may be for you.

The PC Financial Mastercard has no annual fee and it offers:

  • 25 PC Optimum points per $1 spent at Shoppers Drug Mart
  • 30 points per 1 litre of gas purchased at Esso/Mobil stations
  • 20 points per $1 spent on purchases at PC Travel
  • 10 points per $1 spent elsewhere

You can earn even more rewards if you meet the income eligibility requirements for the PC Financial World Mastercard ($60,000 per year) or PC Financial World Elite Mastercard ($80,000 per year).

9. National Bank mycredit Mastercard

The NBC mycredit Mastercard is a no-fee cash back credit card that pays unlimited 1% cash back on restaurant purchases and pre-authorized payments, and 0.50% cash back on all other purchases.

This card also includes mobile device, purchase protection, and extended warranty insurance coverage.

It has a 20.99% purchase interest rate and for cash advances, the interest rate is 24.49%.

Here are other National Bank credit cards.

10. BMO CashBack Mastercard

The BMO Cash Back Mastercard is another credit card that’s well-suited for students.

This card has no annual fee and offers:

  • 3% cash back on groceries (on up to $500 spend/month)
  • 1% cash back on recurring bills (on up to $500 spend/month)
  • 0.50% cash back on all other purchases

Cardholders can also access purchase security and extended warranty coverage.

This card has a 19.99% purchase interest rate and 22.99% for cash advances. Learn more in this review.

11. MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard

The MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard is a good travel credit card without an annual fee.

Cardholders earn 2 points per $1 spent on grocery, digital media, restaurant, utilities, and membership purchases ($10,000 annual spend limit per category).

And on all other purchases, the cash back rate is 1 point per dollar spent.

You can redeem MBNA points for cash back, gift cards, travel, and merchandise.

This card has a 19.99% purchase interest rate and 24.99% interest rate for cash advances. Learn more in this MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard review.

Premium First Credit Cards in Canada

The following credit cards have an annual fee in exchange for higher cash back rewards and VIP perks.

12. Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card

The Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite card is the best cash back credit card in Canada.

It has a $120 annual fee, and you will need a minimum annual income of $60,000 or $100,000 for a household to qualify.

Its cash back benefits include 4% cash back on groceries, recurring bill payments, and subscription purchases; 2% cash back on gas and daily transit; and 1% cash back on everything else.

This card provides comprehensive travel insurance coverage with travel emergency medical, rental car, travel accident, delayed baggage, and flight delay insurance to name a few.

Cardholders also get access to Visa Infinite exclusive benefits.

For a limited time, you also get a 10% cash back welcome bonus ($200 value).

13. American Express Cobalt Card

The American Express Cobalt Card is an exceptional credit card with top-tier rewards spanning cash back, travel, and more.

This card has a $155.58 annual fee (paid as $12.99 per month) and has no minimum income requirement.

You earn 5 points per dollar spent on restaurants and food delivery; 3 points per $1 spent on streaming subscriptions; 2 points per $1 spent on travel and daily transit; and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else.

On the insurance front, cardholders are covered with comprehensive travel coverage including a $5 million emergency medical insurance.

There is also mobile device insurance, purchase protection, and extended warranty coverage.

Learn more about this card in this review or take advantage of the 30,000 welcome bonus points.

14. Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card is one of the best travel rewards credit cards in Canada. It is also one of a few cards that waive the 2.5% to 3% foreign transaction fees you pay when you shop abroad.

This card has a $120 annual fee, but you can apply with an annual income of $15,000.

Cardholders get 5 points per $1 spent on groceries, restaurants, food delivery, fast food, and entertainment purchases.

On gas, daily transit, and streaming services, you earn 3 points per $1 and 1 point per dollar spent on everything else.

The Scotiabank Gold Amex offers a complimentary Priority Pass membership with access to more than 1,200 VIP airport lounges.

You also get comprehensive travel insurance coverage (9 types) and access to other exclusive perks.

New cardholders can take advantage of the welcome offer worth up to $450.

15. TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card

The TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card is great for earning TD Points you can redeem for travel purchases via ExpediaForTD.com.

It has a $120 annual fee and requires a minimum personal income of $60,000.

This card offers 9 TD Points per $1 spent on travel booked through Expedia For TD and 3 TD Points per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Cardholders can access travel insurance coverage benefits, a discounted Priority Pass membership, and discounts when renting a car at participating Avis Rent A Car and Budget Rent A Car locations.

It has a 19.99% purchase interest rate and a 22.99% rate for cash advances.

Learn more about the card in this detailed review.

How To Get a Credit Card in Canada

After deciding on the credit card that meets your needs, you can proceed to the bank’s website to apply.

You will also need to meet their requirements which may include income and credit score minimum thresholds.

Complete the online application form with your details and submit it.

After reviewing your application, the bank will let you know if you are approved. In some cases, the decision is instant.

Your physical credit card is sent to you by postal mail and can take 5-10 business days.

Types of Credit Cards in Canada

The common types of credit cards in Canada include:

Cash back credit cards: These credit cards offer cash back rewards when you spend. For example, a 1% cash back rate would mean that you get $1 back when you make a purchase for $100.

Rewards credit card: Many Canadian credit cards fall in this category (including cash back cards). The rewards you earn may be in the form of loyalty points, cash, or miles.

Secured credit cards: These credit cards are designed for people with bad or poor credit rating. You will need to provide security funds or collateral to qualify. Regular credit cards don’t require a security deposit and are also known as unsecured credit cards.

Balance transfer credit card: You can use these cards to consolidate your credit card debt at a lower interest rate. This can save you money if you pay off the debt at a lower rate.

Low-interest credit card: These credit cards have a purchase interest rate that is significantly lower than the 20% charged by most credit cards.

Student credit cards: There are entry-level credit cards with low-or no-minimum income requirements and no annual fees. These credit cards also have limited perks.

Premium credit cards: Premium credit cards charge annual fees and offer premium perks in return. They are best for people who spend large amounts per month or who need access to exclusive benefits.

Related:

Best Credit Offers in August 2022

Earn up to 15% cash back for a limited time ($150 bonus)

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.

Get up to 5% cashback and grow your savings ($20 bonus)

Free prepaid reloadable Mastercard (use referral code CASHBACK during signup for $20 free).

Free budgeting app with automatic savings features.

Access to a portion of your paycheque 3 days early.

1.20% savings interest on every dollar balance.*

Compare the best personal loan rates in Canada

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.

The NeoCard pays up to 5% cash back at select retailers

Get a $25 bonus when you apply for the Card.

Up to 5% cash back at participating stores.

No annual account fees and 1% minimum cash back guaranteed.

Guaranteed instant approval credit card.

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. He has been featured or quoted in The Globe and Mail, Winnipeg Free Press, Wealthsimple, Financial Post, Toronto Star, CTV News, Canadian Securities Exchange, Credit Canada, 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.

Leave a comment

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

60 Shares
Share
Pin
Tweet
WhatsApp
Reddit