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How to Get a Credit Card With a Low Income in Canada: 5 Top Ways

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Do you need a credit card, but your low salary has prevented you from applying or even qualifying for it? 

While many banks require a minimum income, others provide options for people with low to no income, such as prepaid and secured credit cards

Learn the best credit cards for low-income individuals, who offer them and the requirements to qualify for them. 

Key Takeaways

  • Some of Canada’s best credit cards for low-income earners include the Neo Credit Card, Scotiabank Gold Amex Card, and Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card.
  • Getting a credit card with a low salary is possible through secured credit cards, prepaid credit cards, no-annual fee cards, student credit cards and joint credit cards. 
  • The best secured and prepaid credit cards are the Neo Secured Credit Card and Neo Money card, respectively. 

Can You Get a Credit Card With a Low Salary in Canada? 

Yes, you can. Some banks and lenders offer low-income earners an opportunity to get a credit card despite having a low salary. 

Depending on the financial institution, you may need to provide a security deposit to get a credit card with lower income requirements. 

With this card, rewards may be fewer, or there would be none. Interest and fees may also be higher.

Best Credit Cards for Low Income in Canada

Credit Card IssuerMinimum Income RequirementAnnual FeeInterest ratesFeaturesRequirements
Neo Credit Card$0$019.99% – 29.99%Unlimited cashback; 5% average cashback; no hidden feesAge of majority in your home province/territory, clear of bankruptcies over the past 7 years
Scotiabank Gold American Express Card$12,000$120/yr20.99% on purchases
22.99% on cash advances
A welcome bonus worth $400 in value, no foreign transaction fees, excellent travel insurance coverage, access to special offers such as airport lounge discounts, etc.A credit score of at least 640, must be the age of majority in your home province or territory, no bankruptcies in the past 7 years
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card$12,000$019.95%Up to 2% rewards; unlimited monthly money-back rewardsAge of majority in your home province/territory, a permanent resident of Canada, clear of bankruptcies over the past 7 years
Scotiabank Momentum No-Fee Visa Card$12,000$019.99% on purchases
22.99% on cash advances
1% cash back on everyday purchasesCanadian citizen or permanent resident, be the age of majority in your province/territory, no declared bankruptcy in the past 7 years
American Express Cobalt Card$0$155.8820.99% on purchases
21.99% on funds advances
Earn 5x points on food and beverage, 3x points on streaming subscriptions, 2x points on travel/transit, 1x on everything elseA Canadian resident with a Canadian credit file, age of majority in the province or territory where you live

How to Get a Credit Card With a Low Income in Canada 

In summary, getting a credit card for low-income individuals can be done in several ways:

  1. Get a secured credit card.
  2. Use a prepaid credit card.
  3. Get a no-annual-fee credit card.
  4. Get a student credit card.
  5. Apply for a joint credit card.

Below is a more detailed take on how to apply for a credit card with low to no income. 

Get a Secured Credit Card

A secured credit card requires you to put down a cash deposit (usually equal to your credit limit) when you open an account. The deposit works as collateral each time you use the card for spending.

It also minimizes the risk to the credit card provider. This is why secured credit cards are the ideal low-income credit cards in Canada. It is also available to individuals with bad or no credit. 

Use a Prepaid Credit Card

A prepaid credit card works similarly to a debit card. It requires you to deposit funds onto the card before you can use it and spend only what you deposited. 

What makes prepaid credit cards ideal for low-income individuals is that they do not require a credit check to apply. Prepaid credit cards also offer cash back on purchases and can be reloadable.  

Get a No-Annual Fee Credit Card

As the name suggests, a no-annual-fee credit card lets you enjoy the benefits of a credit card without the yearly fee. 

But, compared to a card with an annual fee, a no-fee credit card has fewer perks and rewards. It builds your credit history without paying exorbitant yearly fees. 

Depending on the provider, a no-annual-fee credit card enables individuals with no earnings to get a credit card with no income requirement in Canada. 

Get a Student Credit Card

Student credit cards typically come with low or no income requirements and no annual fees to help individuals establish a credit history. 

Many of these cards have lower interest rates and do not provide rewards but offer opportunities to save through points or cash back. To qualify, you must be the age of majority in your province. 

Apply For a Joint Credit Card

Another way to get a credit card if you have a low salary is by applying for a joint credit card. Consider this method if your spouse or partner has a higher credit score or income that meets the requirements. 

Joint credit cards have several benefits, such as credit-building opportunities and simplified money management for both cardholders. 

Neo Credit Card

The Neo Credit Card is another ideal credit card for low-income earners in Canada. It is a no-fee credit card with no income requirement, offers access to high-interest savings and earns a cashback rate of 5% if you make purchases at any of its 10,000 retailer partners across Canada. You can apply and get approved in minutes and earn cash back instantly. 

Neo Credit

Excellent credit card for cash back

Annual fee: $0

Rewards: Earn up to 15% cash back for first purchases at eligible partners, 5% average cash back at partner stores for subsequent purchases, and 0.5% cash back on average on all purchases.

Welcome offer: $25 bonus on approval.

Interest rates: 19.99% – 22.99% for purchases.

Minimum income requirement: None

Recommended credit score:
600
900

Fair

neocreditwithbanner

On Neo Financial’s website

  • Earn up to 15% cashback on first purchases at eligible partners.
  • Earn 5% cashback at over 10,000 merchants.
  • Earn 0.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Unlimited cashback on purchases.
  • Use Subscription Bundles to get extra cashback by choosing from selected categories, or get other rewards on insurance or subscriptions.
  • App Insights provides a clear picture of spending habits.

Earn unlimited cashback

Earn up to 15% cashback on first purchases

No annual fee

Useful app

High-interest rate

No extra perks besides cashback

The Neo Financial Mastercard is a great way to earn up to 15% cashback without paying an annual fee. Subscription Bundles give you more control over where you make the most cash back, and the easy-to-use app provides insights into your spending habits.

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card is among the best low-income credit cards in Canada. It requires only a $12,000 minimum income. It is ideal if you prefer a convenient and secure payment method for daily spending. Use it to build your credit by making minimum monthly payments. It also comes with an interest-free grace period on purchases. 

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

Best travel credit card in Canada

Annual fee: $120

Rewards: Earn up to 6x Scene+ points on groceries, 5x pts. on dining, food delivery, & entertainment, 3x pts. on gas, and 1x pts. on everything else.

Welcome offer: Get up to 40,000 bonus Scene+ points in the first 12 months.

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

Minimum income requirement: $12,000

Recommended credit score:
660
900

Good

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

On Scotiabank’s website

  • Zero foreign transaction fees when travelling overseas or shopping abroad.
  • Earn 6x Scene+ points at select grocery stores, including Sobeys and Safeway.
  • Earn 5x points on dining or food delivery at select stores and restaurants as well as select movies, theatres and ticket agencies.
  • Earn 3x points on eligible gas and transit purchases.
  • Earn 1 point for every $1 CAD spent on eligible purchases.
  • Comprehensive travel insurance benefits and extended warranty protection are included.
  • Priority Pass™ membership discount to access VIP lounges.
  • Amex Offers® including deals on shopping, travel and dining.
  • Access to Front Of The Line® presale tickets to concerts, restaurants and events.
  • Minimum annual income of $12,000 required.

Earn up to 6x Scene+ point

Lots of premium perks included

No foreign transaction fees

Low income eligibility at $12,000

Expensive annual fee

$29 fee for each additional card

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card provides a great opportunity to earn Scene+ points on all purchases and extra points on select purchases. Its zero foreign transaction fees and travel insurance coverage make it a good choice for travellers.

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card is a no-fee credit card with no minimum income requirement that lets you earn unlimited money-back rewards on daily purchases. There are no limits on the amount of money-back rewards you earn automatically and paid monthly. 

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

Best no-fee cash back credit card

Annual fee: $0

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).

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

Minimum income requirement: $12,000

Recommended credit score:
600
900

Fair to Good

Tangerine Cash Back Credit Card

On Tangerine’s website

  • No annual fee.
  • Unlimited 2% cash back in two spending categories. Get an extra 2% cash back spending category when you deposit your rewards in a free Tangerine savings account.
  • Unlimited 0.50% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Cash back earned is paid out monthly.
  • 1.95% promotional balance transfer for first 6 months; 3% balance transfer fee applies ($5 minimum).
  • Purchase assurance to cover loss, theft or damage of new items purchased using the card for up to 90 days.
  • Works with Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.
  • Extended warranty for up to one extra year.

No annual fee

High cash back rates

Low-income requirement

Cash back paid monthly

Low-interest balance transfer

No travel insurance coverage

3% balance transfer fee

The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card is one of the best cash back credit cards in Canada. It’s great for students and those who have a limited credit history. Cardholders can also enjoy no-fee chequing and a high interest savings account.

Scotiabank Momentum No-Fee Visa Card

The Scotiabank Momentum No-Fee Visa Card offers cash back on everyday purchases with no annual fee. It is a convenient and secure way to pay for your daily spending while building your credit history through timely minimum monthly payments. It also comes with an interest-free grace period on your purchases.

Scotiabank Momentum No-Fee Visa Card

Rewards: Earn 1% cashback on gas, groceries & drugstore purchases; 0.50% cashback on everything else.

Welcome offer: Earn 5% cashback in the first 3 months on up to $2,000 spent ($100 value); introductory 0% interest on balance transfers for the first 6 months.

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

Annual fee: $0

American Express Cobalt Card

The American Express Cobalt Card is a rewards credit card with no credit card minimum income requirement. It lets you earn membership rewards points with every purchase. As a Cobalt card member, you receive regular perks like offers of bonus rewards and access to events. You can also transfer membership rewards points to various frequent flyer and other loyalty programs. 

American Express Cobalt Card

Best for travel rewards and perks

Annual fee: $155.88 (in monthly payments of $12.99)

Rewards: Earn up to 5X points on high-spend categories.

Interest rates: 20.99% on purchases and 21.99% on cash advances.

Minimum income requirement: No minimum income or credit limit requirements.

Recommended credit score:
660
900

Good

amex cobalt new card

On Amex’s website

  • Earn 5X points on food and drink purchases, including delivery.
  • Earn 3X points on streaming subscription bills.
  • Earn 2X points on travel and transit purchases.
  • Earn 1X points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Get 1 additional point for every dollar you spend on hotel or rental car bookings through American Express Travel.
  • Redeem points on travel with 1:1 transfers to several frequent flyer programs.
  • Enjoy exclusive access to tickets, virtual events, live performances, and more through American Express Experiences.
  • Access various travel insurance benefits, including emergency medical ($5M), travel accident ($250K), flight delay, baggage delay, hotel burglary, and rental car insurance.
  • No minimum income or credit limit requirements.

Attractive point redemption options

Comprehensive travel coverages

No minimum income requirement

5x points category is limited

High purchase APR at 20.99%

The American Express Cobalt Card offers a competitive points system with attractive point redemption options. With no minimum income requirement, it is an accessible option for those interested in a strong rewards system with comprehensive travel benefits.

Best Secured Credit Card in Canada 

Neo Secured Credit Card

The Neo Secured Credit Card is the best credit card for low-income individuals in Canada. It requires no income and comes with no monthly or annual fees. It also lets you earn cashback of up to 15% with leading brands and a guaranteed minimum of 0.5% cashback each month. It requires no credit check, and approval is guaranteed whether you have a good, low or no credit score. 

Neo Secured Credit

Best secured credit card for bad credit

Annual fee: $0

Rewards: Earn up to 15% cashback on first purchases at eligible partners, 5% cash back at partner stores, and 0.5% unlimited cashback on everything else.

Welcome offer: $25 bonus

Interest rates: 19.99%-22.99% for purchases, 22.99%-28.99% for cash advances.

Minimum income requirement: None

Recommended credit score:
N/A

None

neosecuredwithbanner

On Neo Financial’s website

  • Earn up to 15% cashback on first purchase at eligible partners.
  • Earn 5% unlimited cashback at partner stores.
  • Earn 0.5% unlimited cashback on everything else.
  • Create Subscription Bundles to get extra cashback, insurance, or subscriptions.
  • Choose your own credit limit.
  • Minimum security fund requirement of $50.
  • No overlimit fees.
  • Use auto-pay to avoid missing payments.
  • Guaranteed approval and no hard credit checks.

Earn up to 15% cashback

Good rewards for a secured card

No annual fee or overlimit fees

Guaranteed approval

High-interest rate

Few additional perks

If you have a bad credit score or no credit history, the Neo Secured Mastercard gives you a way to start improving your score while earning up to 15% cashback. We also like that it has no annual or monthly fees and offers guaranteed approval.

Best Prepaid Credit Card for Low Income in Canada

Neo Money card

The Neo Money Mastercard is a free spending and savings account that lets you earn up to 5% cash back and 2.25% interest on your entire balance. It is a prepaid reloadable credit card with no income requirement, no fees or interest, and no annual fees.

Neo Money Account

Monthly fee: $0

Free transactions: Unlimited debits, Interac e-Transfers, bill payments, and deposits.

Sign-up bonus: $20 welcome bonus (after funding and making your first purchase), up to 15% cash back on your first purchases at partner stores.

Interest earned on deposit: 1.00% for spending account. Earn average of 5% cash back on purchases using the Neo Money card.

neologotransparent-img

On Neo Financial’s website

  • Earn 1.00% interest on your balance.
  • Earn an average of 5% cash back at thousands of Neo partners and up to 15% cash back on your first purchases.
  • Interest is calculated daily and paid monthly.
  • Transactions, including purchases, bill payments, transfers, and direct deposits, are free and unlimited.
  • No minimum deposit or balance is required.
  • Easily set up automatic bill payments.
  • Fund your account in 3 ways: Interac e-Transfer, link your existing accounts, or set up direct deposit.
  • Neo Money now comes with a Mastercard that gives you access to your balance for POS and online purchases.
  • Available throughout Canada, except Quebec.

Earn 1.00% interest on your balance

Up to 5% cash back on purchases

Easily fund your account in one of 3 ways

No minimum deposit or balance required

No free ATM withdrawals

A hybrid spending and savings account, Neo Money pays 1.00% interest on your balance with no monthly fees or balance requirements. It includes unlimited, free transactions, bill payments, payroll deposits, transfers, and more. You can easily request a Neo Money card to earn cash back.

How Strict Are Credit Card Income Requirements? 

Credit card minimum income requirements are stricter for premium cards, while basic credit cards come with lower income requirements, generally starting at $12,000 a year (before taxes). 

Credit card companies often look at personal and household income, depending on your marital status. Some credit card issuers require no minimum income. 

What Is Classified Low Income in Canada? 

A household is low income in Canada if its earnings are below 50% of the median household income. In 2021, the low-income rate in the country increased to 10.6% from 9.3% in 2020

A family is also classified as low income if it spends 20 percentage points more on essentials, including food, clothing and shelter. 

In Ontario, two factors define low income:

  • The individual adjusted net income for the year must be below $50,000
  • The adjusted family net income for the year must be below $82,500

FAQs

What is the lowest salary for a credit card? 

A $12,000 minimum income is the lowest salary for a credit card at most banks. Others do not require a minimum salary to apply for a credit card.

How can I get a credit card without proof of income? 

Find a financial institution offering credit cards with no income requirements in Canada, such as banks or alternative lenders that accept alternative forms of income like pension payments or government assistance. You must show your capability to make timely payments to avoid late payments that can lower your credit score. 

Can I open a credit card with poor credit? 

Yes, you can. If you have poor credit, a secured credit card would be one of the easiest credit cards for you to get. It requires you to make a cash deposit before you can use it. It also builds your credit because secured card issuers report it to the credit bureaus. 

Which bank credit card is easiest to get? 

The Neo Secured Credit Card is the easiest to get because it requires no credit checks. It is also the best credit card for low income individuals since it has no monthly or annual fees and only needs $50 as a minimum security deposit. Plus, it rewards you with cash back at thousands of partner stores. 

Best Credit Offers in May 2024

Get the top savings and spending account and stop paying costly bank fees ($20 Bonus)

Save on fees and access unlimited transactions, eTransfers & bill payments.

Get a $20 instant bonus after completing your first purchase.

Earn up to 5% unlimited cash back and up to 5% interest on your balance.

Guaranteed instant approval with any credit score + free budgeting app.

Get this guaranteed approval credit card for any credit score ($25 bonus)

Get an instant $25 welcome bonus.

Earn 5% unlimited average cash back at thousands of locations.

Guaranteed approval for poor and bad credit scores. Takes 3 minutes.

No monthly fees and up to 15% cashback on your first-time purchases.

Stop paying monthly fees with a free chequing account + $400 bonus

Get a $400 cash bonus when you set up a qualifying direct deposit.

Unlimited debits, online bill payments and Interac e-Transfer transactions.

No monthly or annual account fees.

Earn a high interest rate on your savings (6.00% interest rate offer).

Author

Gravatar for Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)
Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)

Enoch Omololu, personal finance expert, author, and founder of Savvy New Canadians, has written about money matters for over 10 years. Enoch has an MSc (Econ) degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School and has completed the Canadian Securities Course. His expertise has been highlighted in major publications like Forbes, Globe and Mail, Business Insider, CBC News, Toronto Star, Financial Post, CTV News, TD Direct Investing, Canadian Securities Exchange, and many others. Enoch is passionate about helping others win with their finances and recently created a practical investing course for beginners. You can read his full author bio.

About Savvy New Canadians

Savvy New Canadians is one of Canada's top personal finance platforms. Millions of Canadians use our site each year to learn how to save for retirement, invest smartly, maximize rewards, and earn extra cash. We have been featured in prominent finance media, including Forbes, Globe and Mail, Business Insider, CBC, MSN, Wealthsimple, and TD Direct Investing. Learn more about Savvy New Canadians.

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