What credit cards are you carrying in your wallet? This list of the best no annual fee cash back credit cards in Canada is worth your consideration if you want to earn free rewards from your card while paying no fees.
Premium credit cards that come with a hefty annual fee offer a variety of benefits to the holder that may include juicy cash back rewards, executive travel perks, insurance coverages, and more.
That said, the annual fees you would pay on these cards on an annual basis may not be worth it. This is because you will need to spend up to a certain amount to recoup your annual fee cost to break even. If you do not spend heavily using your credit card, your overall returns may be minimal.
No-fee credit cards are not without benefits. If you choose the right no-annual-fee cash back card, you may be able to generate more rewards than you would with one that comes with a hefty fee.
A zero-fee card is attractive when you are averse to shelling out $120 up-front for a credit card that you may not use enough times to cover its cost.
Best Canadian Credit Cards with No Annual Fee
There are no-fee cards that offer unlimited cash back and travel rewards, attractive balance transfers, low purchase and cash advance rates, 0% foreign exchange fees, extended warranty, fraud protection, and lots more.
You do not have to pay an annual fee on a credit card to take advantage of the many benefits they offer.
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 10% cash back on up to $1,000 in spending in the first 2 months ($100 value); 1.95% balance transfer rate for 6 months.
Interest rates: 19.95% for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances.
Annual fee: $0
KOHO Prepaid Mastercard
Rewards: Earn 1% cash back on groceries and transportation; Up to 5% cashback at select partners; Earn 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 rate fee: 0%
Annual fee: $0
Neo Credit Mastercard (Standard)
Rewards: Average of 5% cash back at 10,000+ partners and a minimum of 0.50% 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% – 29.99% on purchases; 22.99% – 31.99% for cash advances.
Annual fee: $0
SimplyCash Card from American Express
Rewards and benefits: Earn up to 2% cash back on gas and groceries; 1.25% cash back on all other purchases; travel accident insurance.
Welcome offer: Earn a $10 statement credit each month you spend $300 in purchases on your Card in the first 10 months (up to $100 value).
Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases and 21.99% on cash advances.
Annual fee: $0
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 10% cash back on up to $1,000 in spending in the first 2 months ($100 value).
Interest rates: 19.95% for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances.
Annual fee: $0
1. Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
The Tangerine Money-Back Credit card qualifies as one of the best no-fee cards for cash back rewards.
Benefits of this card include:
- No annual fee
- 10% promotional cash back rate for a limited time ($100 value)
- Earn a regular 2% cash back on up to 3 categories of spending of your choice, including groceries, entertainment, home improvement, gas, recurring bill payments, drugstore purchases, transportation, etc. Money-back categories can be changed to suit your spending habits at any time
- Earn 0.5% cash back on other purchases
- Cash back is automatically paid out monthly
- No limit on the amount of total cash back you can earn
- Free 90-day purchase protection
- 1-year extended warranty
- Balance transfer promotion rate of 1.95% for 6 months when transferred within 30 days of activating your card
I like the Tangerine Money-Back card because it does not place spending caps on the 2% cash back categories. In addition, you do not have to wait for an entire year to enjoy your rewards. It is paid out monthly as real cash!
If you deposit the cash back directly into your Tangerine Savings Account, you get three 2% categories. Otherwise, you are eligible for just two.
You can read my full review of the card.
2. KOHO Prepaid Mastercard
The KOHO Easy Prepaid Mastercard has no annual fee. In addition, you get 1% when you spend on groceries, gas and transportation and up to 5% when shopping at its partners.
With the Premium account, you get 2% cash back on three spending categories and other perks like no FX fees. There is also an optional credit-building service for $7 to $10 per month, depending on your plan.
KOHO accounts also include:
- Access to a savings account that earns up to 2% interest
- Budgeting app
- Automatic roundup feature for saving toward a financial goal
- 0% interest rate
There’s no credit check or minimum income requirement for this card.
3. Neo Financial Mastercard
The Neo Financial Mastercard (Neo Card) is one of the best no-annual-fee credit cards in Canada for earning cash back when you shop.
Its top features include:
- No annual fee and $25 welcome bonus after approval
- Up to 5% unlimited cash back at 10,000+ participating retailers and brands
- Easily redeem cash back rewards towards your credit card balance at any time
- 15% cash back welcome bonus at several stores when you make your first purchases
- Also includes a virtual card so you can make payments using your smartphone
- Access to a savings account (Neo Money) and free unlimited bill payments and Interac e-Transfer transactions
- 19.99% to 26.99% purchase interest rate
The Neo Mastercard also doubles as a student credit card and does not have a minimum income requirement. Learn more in this review.
If you have bad credit, you can apply for the guaranteed approval Neo Secured Credit card.
4. SimplyCash Card from American Express
The SimplyCash Card from American Express is one of the best no-fee credit cards for fixed-rate cash back rewards.
Benefits of this card include:
- No annual fee
- $10 statement credit each month you spend $300 in purchases on your card in the first 10 months (up to $100 value)
- 2% cash back on groceries and gas ($300 annual cash back cap)
- 1.25% cash back on all other purchases
- No limit on the cash back rewards you earn
- $100,000 travel accident insurance
- 1 year extended warranty
- Free purchase protection plan
- Special entertainment access with American Express Experiences
The 1.25% fixed cash back rewards offered by the SimplyCash Card are easy to understand, and there are no caps on your annual cash back rewards.
5. Tangerine World Mastercard
The Tangerine World Mastercard is Tangerine’s latest credit card and definitely one of the best no-fee credit cards in Canada.
Benefits of this card include:
- No annual fee
- 2% unlimited cash back on three categories of spending, including grocery, entertainment, gas, restaurants, recurring bill payments, public transportation, hotel/motel, and several others
- Earn 0.50% cash back on all other categories
- 1.95% balance transfer rate for 6 months
- Car Rental Collision/Loss Damage Insurance for 31 consecutive days
- Mobile device insurance with coverage up to $1,000
- Mastercard Airport Experiences Provided by Loungekey with access to exclusive dining, retail and spa offers at over 1,000 lounges in 400 airports worldwide
- Purchase Protection and Extended Warranty
The Tangerine World Mastercard is a step up over the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card and offers additional free perks.
The only reason it’s not #1 on this list is that it requires a minimum personal income of $60,000 per year. The Money-Back card has a minimum income requirement of $12,000.
You can read my full review of the Tangerine World Mastercard.
6. Triangle World Elite Mastercard
If you do a lot of shopping at Canadian Tire or Sport Chek or pay for Roadside Assistance, the Triangle World Elite Mastercard offers some excellent rewards.
Benefits of the card include:
- No annual fee
- Earn 3% in CT Money when you spend on groceries (on up to $12,000 per year). Excludes Costco and Walmart
- Earn 4% in CT Money on purchases made at Canadian Tire, Sport Chek, and participating Mark’s/L’Equipeur and Atmosphere stores
- Collect 5-7 cents per litre in CT Money when you buy fuel at Gas+ locations
- Free Roadside Assistance (Gold Plan)
- Car rental collision/loss damage waiver insurance
- Extended warranty
- Purchase protection
- No fee and interest financing on qualifying purchases of $200 or more at participating stores
- Redeem your CT Money easily at Canadian Tire, Sport Chek, and participating Mark’s/L’Equipeur and Atmosphere locations
The combined rewards offered by the Triangle World Elite Mastercard are almost unbelievable for a no-fee store card.
You can read my complete Triangle World Elite Mastercard review.
7. Scotiabank American Express Card
This card from Scotiabank has no annual fees and helps you to earn Scene+ points.
You can earn 3x points per $1 spent on eligible grocery purchases, 2x points on dining, entertainment, gas and streaming purchases, and 1x points on everything else.
Cardholders also get special offers and discounts with American Express Invites, plus mobile devices and basic shopping insurance.
Learn more about the Scotiabank American Express Card.
8. American Express Green Card
The American Express Green Card allows you to earn American Express points that you can redeem to get discounts on almost anything.
You can earn points for all your spending and additional points for eligible hotel and car rental purchases. There are no limits on rewards, and it is easy to redeem points. You can also transfer them to several other loyalty programs.
9. MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard
The MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard is one of the best no-fee cards in the cash back and travel category.
Benefits of the card include 2 MBNA (1% cash back) points for every $1 spent on groceries, gas, and restaurant purchases (on up to $5,000 per category), 1 MBNA (0.50% cash back) point for every $1 in eligible purchases, car rental insurance coverage, and travel accident insurance coverage.
Points can be redeemed for various rewards, including travel, gift cards, cash back, merchandise, and charitable donations.
With a maximum earnings rate of 2% on up to $15,000 per annum and 1 % on all general spending, this card is among the best in its category.
10. PC Financial World Elite Mastercard
This store card does not provide cash back, and instead, you can use it to earn PC Optimum points everywhere you use your card.
For example, you can earn 30 points for every $1 spent at partner grocery stores, including Loblaws and Valu-Mart, 45 points at Shoppers Drug Mart and 10 points everywhere else.
1,000 PC Optimum points are equivalent to $1.
There is a high personal income requirement of $80,000 or a household income of $150,000.
11. Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa
The Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa has a standard cash back rate of 0.5% with no limit on your earnings. You earn 1.5% on groceries, drugstore, and gas purchases up to $15,000 per year. And you can earn 4% cash back on coffee shop, bar and restaurant purchases up to $5,000 per year.
It also has a low minimum household income requirement of $15,000.
12. Home Trust Preferred Visa Card
The Home Trust Preferred Visa Card offers cash back rewards in addition to free roadside assistance and no-foreign transaction fees!
Benefits offered by this card include 0% foreign currency transaction fees, 1% cash back on all purchases with no limit on how much you can earn annually, and purchase protection.
The 0% foreign currency conversion charge on purchases you make when travelling abroad is one of the main attractions of this card. This is normally a 2.5% cost.
13. BMO CashBack Mastercard
The BMO Cash Back Mastercard offers a combination of competitive cash back on all purchases and balance transfers.
Benefits offered by the card include no-annual fee, 3% cash back on groceries (up to $500/month), and 1% cash back on recurring bill payments (up to $500/month), and 0.50% on all other purchases.
You can deposit your cash back rewards in your savings or chequing account, invest it, or use it to pay down your credit card balance.
14. Amazon.ca Rewards Mastercard
The Amazon.ca Rewards Mastercard is a good choice for anyone who regularly shops at Amazon. You can earn 1.5% cash back on purchases at Amazon.ca and Whole Foods for non-Prime members, while Prime members get 2.5%.
You can also earn 1% cash back on eligible purchases anywhere else you can use your card. In addition, Prime members also get 2.5% back on eligible FX transactions, and some travel insurance coverage is included.
Savvy New Canadians ranks the best no-fee cash back credit cards based on their no-annual-fee status, cash back rewards, the ease of redeeming rewards, welcome bonuses, top features, categories, insurance coverage, and other perks. We carefully evaluate each credit card and place more weight on the value of the long-term rewards it offers. Visit the credit card issuer’s website using the links to confirm each product’s terms and conditions before applying.
Best No Fee Cash Back Credit Cards Compared
|Cards||Annual Fee||APR Purchases||APR Cash Advances||Rewards|
|Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card||$0||19.95%||19.95%||Unlimited cash back of up to 2%|
|KOHO Prepaid Mastercard||$0||N/A||N/A||Cash back 0.25% to 5%|
|Neo Card||$0||19.99% to 26.99%||22.99% to 28.99%||Cash back up to 5%|
|SimplyCash Card from Amex||$0||20.99%||21.99%||Cash back up to 2% (unlimited at 1.25%)|
|Tangerine World Mastercard||$0||19.95%||19.95%||Unlimited cash back of up to 2%|
|Triangle World Elite||$0||19.99%||22.99%||Up to 4% in CT Money|
|Scotiabank American Express Card||$0||19.99%||22.99%||Up to 3x Scene+ points per $1 spent|
|American Express Green Card||$0||20.99%||21.99%||Earn American Express points|
|MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard||$0||19.99%||24.99%||Cash back up to 1%|
|Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa||$0||19.99%||22.99%||Cash back 0.5% to 4% (with spending caps)|
|Amazon.ca Rewards Mastercard||$0||19.99%||22.99%||Cash back 1% to 2.5%|
|PC Financial World Elite Mastercard||$0||20.97%||22.97%||Up to 45 PC Optimum points per $1 spent|
|BMO CashBack Mastercard||$0||20.99%||22.99%||Cash back up to 3% (with spending caps)|
|Home Trust Preferred Visa Card||$0||19.99%||19.99%||1% Cash back|
What Is a Cash Back Credit Card?
Cash back credit cards are simply credit cards that you use as normal to make your everyday purchases, but they give you back cash as a percentage of what you spend.
So, if you spend $200 using a cash back credit card with a 2% cash back rate, you would receive $4 back.
Depending on the credit card, you may be able to cash in your cash back at any time, or you may only be able to do so after you reach a limit or once a year.
No-fee cash back credit cards are the same but do not charge an annual fee. You may, however, have to pay other types of fees like FX fees.
Bear in mind that the best credit cards often have higher annual fees. That usually means a higher rate of cash back or better rewards. But no-fee credit cards can still have excellent rewards.
Types of Cash Back Credit Cards
There are several types of cash back credit cards you can get in Canada, including the following options:
No-Fee Cash Back Credit Cards
No-fee cash back credit cards do not charge an annual fee to use them. However, you may have to pay over-the-limit fees, FX fees, and more.
Premium Cash Back Credit Cards
Premium cash back credit cards often have fairly high annual fees, which could be several hundred dollars. However, these often have higher rates of cash back and premium perks like travel insurance coverage and discounts.
Store Cash Back Credit Cards
These are simply standard cash back credit cards issued by a store. They work the same way, but the ability to earn cash back may be limited to your purchases in the store.
Prepaid Cash Back Credit Cards
These are not exactly credit cards in that you have to deposit your own money into the card, which you can use as you would a normal credit card. However, as you make your purchases, you earn cash back simultaneously. Learn about prepaid cards.
Flat-Rate Cash Back Credit Cards
Some credit cards offer a single rate of cash back, which is often 0.5% or 1% on all eligible purchases.
Flexible Cash Back Credit Cards
Many cash back credit cards in Canada offer a flat rate and higher cash back rates for spending in certain stores or specific categories.
For example, you may earn 1% cash back on standard purchases and 3% on eligible groceries, gas, entertainment or travel purchases.
Some cards even let you choose the categories where you want to earn the most cash back.
How Do Cash Back Credit Cards Work
Cash back credit cards are quite straightforward. The issuer will clearly state the percentage of cash back you can earn for different purchases. For example, 1% for standard purchases, 3% for grocery purchases, etc.
There may also be limits on how much you can earn. For example, there may be a set limit on the amount you can earn on the higher rates of cash back, like a maximum of $500 per year on cash back at 3%. The lower rate of cash back on standard purchases may be unlimited.
As you spend on your card, you can normally see how much cash back you have earned at any given time.
Depending on the card you use, you may be able to cash in your cash back at any time that suits you. For example, you may need to wait until you have earned a specific amount, like $20, or it may be automatically used to pay your balance once a year.
Points vs Cash Back Rewards
While many no-free credit cards allow you to earn cash back, others may provide you with rewards instead.
No-fee rewards credit cards will let you earn points like American Express points or Scene+ points for all your spending. In addition, they may have the option to earn more rewards for purchases in certain categories like gas and groceries, just like the cash back cards do.
The big difference is that these credit cards do not provide you with cash you can use on anything. Instead, you can use the rewards to get discounts on purchases within that rewards scheme, so they are often more limited.
Pros and Cons of Cash Back Credit Cards
There are several advantages and disadvantages of using cash back credit cards in Canada:
- Earn money in return for making your everyday purchases.
- You can often earn higher rates for purchases in certain categories.
- No-fee cash back credit cards are free to use.
- Some cash back credit cards only let you redeem points when you meet an earnings threshold.
- General purchases’ cash back rates can be quite low, especially with no-fee credit cards.
- You may only be able to earn cash back for purchases in specific stores or categories of purchases, which can make them more restrictive.
How to Apply for a No-Annual-Fee Cash Back Credit Card
Applying for a no-annual-fee cash back credit card is a straightforward process. First, you must choose the credit card you want to apply for. You can start by checking the credit cards covered in this guide to get started and compare cash back rates, APR and any perks provided.
Next, find out the eligibility requirements and make sure you meet them. There are often requirements based on your age and residency status. There may or may not be a minimum income requirement or a minimum household income requirement.
You will also need a good credit score to apply for most no-fee cash back credit cards in Canada. If not, you may want to apply for a prepaid card or a secured credit card instead.
If you meet the requirements, you can go ahead and apply. The quickest and easiest way to do this is normally online via the credit card website, but you can often apply over the phone or in a bank branch if you prefer.
Fill out the application providing your basic information. The card issuer will check your information and credit report before making a decision, and instant approval may be possible online.
Your card will then be mailed out. You can activate it and earn cash back when you receive it.
How to Choose a No-Annual-Fee Credit Card
There are several factors to consider when choosing a no-fee credit card.
The amount of cash back you can earn is the main factor, or the rewards if you are getting a no-fee rewards card. Look at the standard amount and any categories where you can earn more cash back.
If you regularly shop at a specific store, check whether the store offers a credit card. For example, if you regularly shop at Amazon.ca, the Amazon.ca Rewards Mastercard could be a good option.
Check the requirements to find out whether you are eligible. There is no point in applying for a card you are unlikely to get. Also, applying for several cards in a short period can hurt your credit score.
Don’t forget about the interest rates. If you carry a balance, it can make a big difference in the cost of the credit card. In general, the lower the interest rate, the better.
Welcome bonuses change regularly, so check them out because you may be able to earn a much higher level of cash back for the first few months.
Finally, check any other features of the credit card that are important to you, including insurance coverage, discounts and other perks to help you choose.
How to Maximize Cash Back Rewards
Once you use a cash back credit card, you want to maximize your rewards. There are several ways to do this.
Choose your cash back categories with care if this is an option. If you normally spend more on groceries than anything else, select grocery purchases as one of your cash back earning categories.
You may want to get two or more credit cards depending on the cash back they provide for different categories. For example, one may provide a higher rate for gas purchases and another for entertainment purchases. If they are no-fee credit cards, this can be worth your while.
If your card comes with a generous welcome bonus, make a large purchase when you first receive your card and take advantage of the extra cash back.
Apply for authorized users for your partner and children. Then you can earn cash back on all their spending too.
Who Should Get a No-Fee Cash Back Credit Card?
Anyone who wants to earn cash back on their purchases should consider a no-fee cash back credit card in Canada. However, if you use your credit card a lot, you may want to look at premium cash back credit cards. They might offer a higher rate, which allows you to earn back more money to cover the cost of the card.
But if you don’t use your credit card too frequently, a no-fee card is a good option because there is no need to worry about making enough to cover the cost of the card.
A no-fee cash back card can be a good option if you regularly shop at a certain store or make a certain type of purchase (gas, grocery, travel, etc.).
These cards are probably best if you don’t carry a balance. While cash back may be tempting, if you spend more on interest payments, this can defeat the purpose.
Which One To Choose?
The Tangerine Money-Back Credit card is great for maximizing cash back for certain purchase categories, e.g. Groceries, Gas, Recurring Bill Payments, etc.
The Triangle World Elite Mastercard can save you money on a good roadside assistance service while earning 4% cash back (Canadian Tire Money) on purchases made at multiple stores.
For all general purchases, the unlimited 1.25% cash back offered by the SimplyCash Card from American Express is an excellent option.
Best No Fee Cash Back Credit Cards FAQ
The best no-fee credit card varies with your needs. In our review, the top three no-fee credit cards are the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card (for 2% unlimited cash back in three categories), the SimplyCash Card AMEX (for flat cash back rate), and the Neo Card for earning a high 5% cash back at specific retailers.
Here are the best credit cards for travel rewards. If you are looking for cash back rewards and are opposed to paying an annual fee, the options listed above are some of the best you will find for cash back. For the best overall credit cards offering a mix of insurance, travel, no-foreign currency transaction fees, and cash back rewards, click here.
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Best No-Fee Cash Back Credit Cards Canada
Read this review of the best no-fee cash back credit cards in Canada and earn free rewards from your card while paying no annual fee.