Best Low Income Credit Cards in Canada

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by Enoch Omololu

Updated

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What credit cards are best for low income earners in Canada?

No one likes to start the application process for a credit card only to be denied shortly after because they do not meet the minimum income requirements.

While your credit score may be great and all, credit card issuers often set a personal or household income threshold you must meet in order to qualify.

You can avoid this hassle by applying instead for a credit card that has low or no minimum income requirements.

This list of the easiest credit cards to get approved for includes both entry-level and premium cards and may have no annual fees which is great for your wallet.

What is a Low Income Credit Card?

Some credit card networks and brands have a minimum income requirement by default regardless of the bank issuing the card.

For example, a World Elite Mastercard requires a minimum personal income of $80,000 or $150,000 for a household.

If you opt for a Visa Infinite branded card, the minimum personal income requirement is $60,000 or $100,000 for household income.

Low income credit cards have a much lower income threshold such that the average income earner or student can apply for them.

In general, you are good to go with a $12,000 to $15,000 annual income. Some even have no income requirements.

What qualifies as income?

In addition to your paycheque, eligible income includes investments, retirement income (e.g. CPP and OAS), government benefits like the CCB, child support, rental income, and employment insurance.

Best Low Income Credit Cards in 2021

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

Rewards: Earn up to 2% cash back on everyday purchases (10% promo cash back for a limited time).

Welcome offer: 10% extra cash back when you spend up to $1,000 in the first 2 months ($100 value); 1.95% balance transfer for 6 months.

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

Min. income required: $12,000

Annual fee: $0

The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card has a minimum income requirement of $12,000/year.

Cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back on 2-3 categories of spending including groceries, gas, restaurants, entertainment, and recurring bill payments.

On all other purchases outside of your chosen 2% categories, you earn 0.5%.

For a limited time, new users of the Tangerine Credit Card earn an extra 10% cash back when they spend up to $1,000 in the first 2 months. This promo offer is valued at $100 in real cash back.

This card has no annual fees so you don’t need to worry about paying a hefty fee, and you can take advantage of a low balance transfer rate in the first 6 months.

Apply for the Tangerine Credit Card or read our review.

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

Rewards: Earn up to 5 points per dollar; no foreign transaction fees.

Welcome offer: Up to 50,000 bonus points in your first year ($500 value).

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

Min. income required: $12,000

Annual fee: $120

The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card is one of the best credit cards in Canada in several categories (travel rewards, no FX fees, and more).

While it is definitely a premium card, you can apply with a personal income as low as $12,000 per year.

It offers 5 points per $1 on eligible food and entertainment purchases; 3 points per $1 on gas and transit purchases, and 1 point per dollar on everything else.

This card is one of a few credit cards to waive the 2.50% foreign currency transaction fees and users enjoy comprehensive travel insurance benefits (8 types).

New cardholders also get 30,000 points ($300 value) after spending at least $1,000 in the first 3 months, and an extra 20,000 points when they spend $7,500 or more in the first year.

Apply for the Scotiabank Gold AMEX Card or read our Review.

American Express Cobalt Card

Rewards: Earn up to 5 points $1.

Welcome offer: Get up to 50,000 Membership Rewards points ($500 value).

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

Min. income required: N/A

Annual fee: $155.88

The American Express Cobalt Card is one of the most prestigious credit cards in Canada which makes it surprising that it has no income requirement.

It has a reward rate of 5 points per $1 on food and drink purchases; 3 points/$1 for streaming services; 2 points/$1 on transit and gas purchases, and 1 point/$1 on everything else. You can easily redeem your points to cover eligible purchases with your card.

Cardholders enjoy premium perks including comprehensive travel insurance coverage, car rental insurance coverage, and more.

You earn a bonus of 30,000 points in the first year when you spend at least $500 each month, plus 20,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months (total of 50,000 bonus points).

This card has a $12.99 monthly fee and will cost you a total of $155.88 per year which places it in the premium category.

Apply for the American Express Cobalt Card or read our review.

Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa Card

Rewards: Earn up to 1% cash back on everyday purchases.

Welcome offer: 5% cash back on up to $2,000 in purchases for the first 3 months ($100 value); 1.99% promotional balance transfer for first 6 months.

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

Min. income required: $12,000

Annual fee: $0

The Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa is an entry-level credit card that is easy to qualify for. It offers 1% cash back on gas, grocery, drugstore purchases, and recurring bill payments.

All other purchases earn at a 0.50% rate.

New cardholders earn 5% cashback on all purchases in the first 3 months of account opening, and you can earn up to $100 from this alone.

This card has no annual fee and a base income of $12,000 is all you need to qualify income-wise.

Apply for the Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa or read our review.

SimplyCash Card From AMEX

Rewards: Earn 1.25% cash back on all purchases.

Welcome offer: Earn 4% cash back in your first 6 months (up to $200 cash back).

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

Min. income required: N/A

Annual fee: $0

The SimplyCash Card from American Express is one of the best no-fee cash back credit cards in Canada.

Like the Amex Cobalt Card, it has no minimum income requirements.

Cardholders earn a 1.25% flat-rate cash back on all purchases, and new applicants enjoy a promotional 4% cash back rate in the first 6 months that’s worth up to $200.

This card offers travel accident insurance, purchases protection, and extended warranty coverage.

You can also opt for its premium version, the SimplyCash Preferred Card from AMEX, and earn a 2% standard cash back rate (has a $99 annual fee).

Apply for the SimplyCash Card from AMEX or read our review.

MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard

Rewards: Earn up to 2 points per $1.

Welcome offer: Earn 4 points per $1 spent on grocery, restaurants, membership, and utility purchases.

Interest rates: 19.99% on purchases; 24.99% on cash advances.

Min. income required: N/A

Annual fee: $0

This MBNA credit card has no minimum income requirement.

You earn 2 points per dollar spent on grocery, restaurant, digital media, household utility, and membership purchases; and 1 point per dollar spent on everything else.

Instead of 2 points per $1, new cardholders earn 4 points per dollar on eligible purchases in the first 90 days. You also get 5,000 bonus points after spending at least $500 in the first 90 days ($25 value).

This no-fee card offers a rare mobile device insurance, purchase protection, and extended warranty.

You can easily redeem your MBNA Rewards points for travel (100 points = $1) or cash (200 points = $1).

Apply for the MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard.

PC Financial Mastercard

Rewards: Earn 10 PC Optimum points per $1 spent at Loblaw stores.

Welcome offer: 0.97% promo balance transfer for 6 months.

Interest rates: 20.97% on purchases; 22.97% on cash advances.

Min. income required: N/A

Annual fee: $0

The PC Financial Mastercard is one of three credit cards offered by the President’s Choice Bank.

The other two are:

The entry-level PC Financial Mastercard is a great card option if you regularly shop at Loblaws stores including No Frills, Real Canadian Superstore, Shoppers Drug Mart, and PC Express.

You earn PC Optimum points everywhere you use your card including at Esso/Mobil gas stations and can redeem your points for free groceries.

Cardholders can also take advantage of a low balance transfer rate of 0.97% in the first 6 months.

This card has no annual fees or minimum income requirement and is a great student credit card.

Apply for the PC Financial Mastercard or read our review.

BMO Cash Back Mastercard

Rewards: Earn up to 3% cash back on groceries.

Welcome offer: Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your first 3 months (up to $100 value).

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

Min. income required: $15,000

Annual fee: $0

The BMO Cashback Mastercard qualifies as an excellent low income or student credit card.

You earn 3% cash back on grocery purchases, 1% cash back on recurring bill payments, and 0.50% on everything else.

To qualify, a minimum income of $15,000 per year is required.

This card has no annual fees and you can learn about its features in our detailed BMO Cashback Mastercard review.

Prepaid Cards With No Income Requirements

The best prepaid credit cards in Canada have no income requirements and they are handy if you want to spend cash and earn rewards at the same time.

KOHO Prepaid Visa

Rewards: Earn up to 2% cash back on everyday purchases.

Welcome offer: Get a $20 bonus when you sign up.

Interest rates: Not applicable.

Min. income required: N/A

Annual fee: $0 for a regular KOHO account or $84 per year.

The KOHO Prepaid Visa has no annual fee and earns 0.50% cash back on all purchases.

You can reload your card at any time and your balances earn a 1.20% interest rate if you set up a direct deposit to your KOHO account. This makes KOHO both a great prepaid card as well as a high interest savings account.

New KOHO users who enter our promo code CASHBACK get a $20 welcome bonus.

You can also upgrade to a KOHO Premium account and pay $84 per year in fees while earning up to 2% cash back (plus other premium perks).

Mogo Visa Platinum Prepaid Card

  • Rewards: Earn 2% Bitcoin cash back on all purchases.
  • Interest Rates: Not applicable.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Minimum Income Required: N/A

The MogoCard is free and pays 2% cash back on all purchases. You earn cash back in the form of Bitcoin and can sell the crypto via MogoCrypto if you prefer to earn real cash.

Mogo Prepaid Card users can also access their free credit scores and identity fraud protection service using the Mogo app.

This card also offsets your CO2 footprint at a rate of 1 pound of CO2 per dollar spent.

Apply for the Mogo Visa Platinum Card or read our review.

What To Look For in a Low Income Credit Card

While low or no income requirement credit cards are easy to be approved for, you should watch out for the following:

  • Interest Rates: Pay attention to how much interest you will be paying if you carry a balance from month to month, or withdraw cash from an ATM. A low-interest credit card will save you money over time.
  • Reward Rate: Whether it is real cash back or points you can redeem for travel, merchandise or a statement credit, make sure you are getting the best rewards available.
  • Welcome Offer: Credit card promotions can be very rewarding and may even cover annual fees for a year or longer. Compare the welcome bonuses available and the eligibility requirements to qualify.
  • Annual Fees: If you are not a heavy credit card user and don’t need travel insurance, paying a hefty annual fee may not be worth it. Take a look at the no-fee cards on this list.
  • Income Requirements: Read the fine print to see whether you need a minimum income to qualify.

Benefits of a Low Income Requirement Credit Card

The main benefit of low income credit cards is that you don’t need to be a high earner to qualify. This makes it easy for students, newcomers to Canada, and those transitioning between jobs to qualify.

All the low income cards on our list offer rewards when you pay using the card.

Also, many of them offer insurance coverage and benefits that can be worth a lot when you actually need them. For example, comprehensive travel insurance coverage, purchase protection, extended warranty, and more.

Downsides of a Low Income Credit Card

The perks you enjoy are limited if you carry a no-fee credit card. With premium or VIP benefits, you are probably going to pay annual fees.

This also applies to the level of rewards you earn, although, it should be noted that the cash back rates offered by some of the cards above rival some premium cards.

A low income credit card may have higher interest rates and could cost you if you don’t pay off your balance every month.

Lastly, while a card may have no minimum income requirement, you may still need a good credit score to qualify, unless it is a secured credit card.

FAQs

Can I get a credit card with a low income?

Yes, there are many credit cards in Canada you can qualify for with a $12,000 to $15,000 annual income.

Can I get a credit card with poor credit in Canada?

There are credit cards designed specifically for people with bad credit. They are also known as secured credit cards and you may qualify after depositing security funds or collateral.

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.

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 offered in as fast as 5 minutes.

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

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Author

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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 Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, MSN Money, Financial Post, Winnipeg Free Press, CPA Canada, Credit Canada, Wealthsimple, 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.

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