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Published August 4, 2022

20 Best Cash Back Credit Cards in Canada of 2022

Compare the best cash-back credit cards in Canada across categories like no-fee, flexible rewards options and premium perks.

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

When it comes to the complex world of credit card rewards, there are few words as simple — or as sweet — as “cash back.”

If you’re looking for a cash back credit card in Canada, you have plenty of choice. Of the 88% of credit cards in Canada that provide rewards programs, 41% of them offer cash back, according to 2021 report by Payments Canada.

But not all cash back cards are created equal, and picking the right one requires a little research. Our picks for the best cash-back credit cards in Canada include top contenders across numerous card categories so you can choose the right one for your spending habits and financial goals.

Best cash back credit cards

Best overall flat-rate cash back card

SimplyCash™ Preferred Card from American Express

  • Annual Fee
    $99
  • Interest Rates
    19.99% / 21.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    2%-10%
  • Intro Offer
    Up to $400
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    A high flat rewards rate of 2% makes it easy to earn cash back on every purchase — no need to keep track of bonus categories, spending limits or tiered and rotating structures.

    Pros
    • An unlimited 2% cash-back earn rate is among the highest we evaluated.
    • You can earn up to $400 in the first four months.


    Cons
    • Other cards on this list offer a higher cash-back rate on specific spending categories and might be a better fit if you’re comfortable keeping track of tiered rewards structures.
  • Product Details
    • New SimplyCash™ Preferred Card from American Express Cardmembers can earn 10% cash back on all eligible purchases (up to $400 cash back) for the first 4 months of Cardmembership.
    • Earn 2.0% cash back when your Welcome Rate ends.
    • No limit to the amount of cash back you can earn after your Welcome Rate ends.
    • Access to memorable experiences with American Express Invites®.
    • Extensive insurance coverage and 24/7 Customer Service.
    • American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details and current product information click the Apply now link. Conditions apply.

Best overall cash back card

BMO CashBack® World Elite® Mastercard®

  • Annual Fee
    $120
    Waived first year
  • Interest Rates
    20.99% / 23.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    1%–10%
  • Intro Offer
    Up to $260
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    You won’t need a strategy to make the most out of this bonus-category card. The BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard spends like a flat-rate card thanks to stellar rates on four popular daily spending categories.

    Pros
    • Score generous cash-back rates for popular spending categories: 5% on groceries, 4% on transit, 3% on gas, 2% on recurring bills, and 1% on everything else.
    • Feel protected with 13 types of insurance and fantastic travel benefits.


    Cons
    • Spending categories come with easily-hit spending caps, but the 1% base rate still earns you value once you hit your monthly bonus rate limits.
    • The $120 annual fee is pretty steep. While we think you’ll more than make up for it through cash back savings, the no-fee BMO CashBack Mastercard is a great alternative.
  • Product Details
    • 5% on groceries, 4% on transit, 3% on gas and electric vehicle charging, and 2% on recurring bills, up to $500 each on every statement cycle.
    • 1% on everything else.
    • Redeem your cash back as a statement credit, or directly deposit it into a BMO Chequing, Savings or InvestorLine Account.
    • $120 annual fee.
    • Mastercard World Elite Benefits, including Mastercard Travel Rewards, Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey and Boingo Public Wi-Fi.
    • Cash back when you travel outside of Canada with the Mastercard Travel Rewards program.
    • 13 types of insurance provided, including eight-day out-of-province/out-of-country emergency medical benefits — up to $2 million coverage.
    • Preferred rates: 20.99% for purchases, 23.99% for cash advances.
    • To be eligible, $80,000 (individual) or $150,000 (household) annual income is required. Also, you must have a Canadian credit file and be a Canadian resident of the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.
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Best cash back for travel

Best for a high ongoing rate + our pick for comprehensive travel insurance

Scotia Momentum® Visa Infinite* Card

  • Annual Fee
    $120
    Waived first year
  • Interest Rates
    20.99% / 22.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    1%-10%
  • Intro Offer
    Up to $200
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    Earn up to $1,000 in cash back on grocery shopping and recurring bill payments with a 4% rewards rate in both categories.

    Pros
    • It’s rare for a credit card to offer 4% cash back on two major spending categories. It’s even rarer to set a $25,000 annual limit to that 4% — a $1,000 value — before reverting to the healthy 1% base rate.
    • You can waive the $120 annual fee every single year by using the Scotiabank Ultimate Package.


    Cons
    • The cash back earned is hands-off. You have to wait until November, and then it’s only redeemable as a statement credit. If you have a Scotiabank account, that annual payout can be deposited into your bank account.
    • The 4% rate won’t mean much to you if you don’t buy a lot of groceries or often buy your food at somewhere that Visa doesn’t classify as a grocery store or supermarket, such as Canadian Tire, FreshCo, London Drugs, Walmart and No Frills.
  • Product Details
    • SPECIAL OFFER: No annual fee in the first year, including on supplementary cards.
    • SPECIAL OFFER: Earn 10% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months (up to $2,000 in total purchases).
    • Earn 4% for every $1 you spend on grocery store purchases, recurring bill payments, and subscription purchases.
    • Earn 2% for every $1 you spend on gas purchases and daily transit purchases.
    • Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases with no cash back limit.
    • Redeem cash back as a statement credit in November.
    • Visa Infinite benefits, including Visa Infinite* Concierge, Visa Infinite* Luxury Hotel Collection, Visa Infinite* Dining Series, and entertainment and lifestyle offers.
    • Save up to 25% off base rates at participating AVIS locations and at participating Budget locations in Canada and the U.S.
    • Access to Scotia SelectPay™.
    • To be eligible, $60,000 (individual) or $100,000 (household) annual income is required, or $250,000 minimum assets under management. Also, you must have a Canadian credit file and be a Canadian resident that is the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.
    • Terms and Conditions Apply. Click 'Apply Now' for complete details.

Great for cash back on gas, groceries and recurring payments + travel perks

TD Cash Back Visa Infinite* Card

  • Annual Fee
    $120
    Waived first year
  • Interest Rates
    20.99% / 22.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    1%-10%
  • Intro Offer
    Up to $290
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    The TD Cash Back Visa Infinite Card is a smart card for families who spend a lot on gas, groceries and automatic monthly purchases.

    Pros
    • Fantastic welcome offer with a $460 value.
    • Up to $2 million of Travel Medical Insurance coverage for the first 10 days of your trip (four days if you or your spouse are over the age of 65).


    Cons
    • A $120 annual fee often comes with more perks and insurance. However, you can waive this cost every year if you’re a TD member with an All-Inclusive Chequing Account holding a minimum balance of $5,000.
    • There’s a $15,000 annual spending cap on bonus rewards, which means the most you can earn in any category is $450.
  • Product Details
    • Limited Time Offer: Earn 10% Cash Back on all Purchases for the first 3 months† up to a total spend of $2,000. Plus, first year no Annual Fee for the Primary and Additional Cardholders†. Must apply online by September 5, 2022.
    • Earn 3% in Cash Back Dollars on eligible grocery Purchases and gas Purchases†, and on regularly recurring bill payments† set up on your account.
    • Earn 1% Cash Back Dollars on all other Purchases made with your Card.†
    • Redeem your Cash Back Dollars to help pay down your Account balance whenever you please - the choice is yours!†
    • Your Cash Back Dollars never expire as long as your account is open and in good standing.
    • Interest Rates: 20.99% on purchases and 22.99% on cash advances.
    • Travel Medical Insurance† - Up to $2 million of coverage for the first 10 days. If you or your spouse is aged 65 or older, you are covered for the first 4 days of your trip. Additional top-up coverage is available.
    • Delayed and Lost Baggage Insurance† - Up to $1,000 overall coverage per insured person toward the purchase of essentials such as clothes and toiletries if your baggage is delayed more than 6 hours or lost.
    • Emergency Travel Assistance Services† - Help is just a call away. Toll-free access to help in the event of a personal emergency while travelling.
    • Complimentary Visa Infinite* Concierge†: On call, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help you get the most from life whenever you travel, shop and use your Card.
    • Emergency Road Services with Deluxe TD Auto Club Membership, valued at $79.00†, is included with the product.
    • To be eligible, $60,000 (individual) or $100,000 (household) annual income is required. Also, you must have a Canadian credit file and be a Canadian resident of the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.
    • †Terms and conditions apply.
    • This offer is not available for residents of Quebec.
    • The Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) is not responsible for the contents of this site including any editorials or reviews that may appear on this site. For complete and current information on any TD product, please click the Apply Now button.

Great for gas, groceries and travel perks

CIBC Dividend® Visa Infinite Card

  • Annual Fee
    $120
    Waived first year
  • Interest Rates
    20.99% / 22.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    1%-4%
  • Intro Offer
    N/A
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    You can earn some extremely attractive rates on gas and groceries with the CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite Card — up to a $3,200 cash-back value.

    Pros
    • Flexible and easy redemption. You can redeem cash back anytime through CIBC Online and Mobile Banking.
    • Generous cash back rates on five popular spending categories.


    Cons
    • You’ll only earn 1% cash back after spending $80,000 across bonus categories. Most credit cards have specific limits for each category, but the CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite collectively caps all bonus rates with an $80,000 limit.
    • Insurance offerings are limited compared to what you might expect from a card with a $120 annual fee. However, you can avoid this cost every single year with a CIBC Smart Plus™ Account.
  • Product Details
    • 4% on groceries and gas, and 2% on transportation, dining and recurring payments. Accelerated rates apply to the first $80,000 spent per year.
    • 1% on everything else, and after spending $80,000.
    • 0.25% cash back for every $1 spent on a CIBC Global Money Transfer, with no foreign transaction fees.
    • Redeem a minimum of $25 cash back at any time through CIBC Online and Mobile Banking.
    • $120 annual fee.
    • Visa Infinite benefits, including Visa Infinite Concierge, Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection, Visa Infinite Dining Series, and entertainment and lifestyle offers.
    • Save up to 10 cents per litre at Chevron, Ultramar and Pioneer gas stations when you link your card with Journie Rewards.
    • Access to CIBC Pace It.
    • Five types of insurance provided, including 10-day out-of-province/out-of-country emergency medical benefits — up to $5 million in coverage.
    • Preferred rates: 20.99% for purchases, 22.99% for cash advances.
    • To be eligible, $60,000 (individual) or $100,000 (household) annual income is required. Also, you must have a Canadian credit file and be a Canadian resident of the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.
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Best no-fee cash back cards

Great for accelerated earn rates and online purchases

HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard®

  • Annual Fee
    $0
  • Interest Rates
    20.99% / 22.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    0.5%-14%
  • Intro Offer
    Up to $125
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    An accelerated cash back rate on online purchases means those that prefer to shop online will get the most bang for their buck — up to an annual spend of $6,000. And the inclusion of mobile device insurance provides peace of mind should your phone be damaged, lost or stolen.

    Pros
    • Mobile device insurance.
    • Earn cash back on all purchases.


    Cons
    • You can only earn cash back rewards for up to $6,000 in online purchases annually.
  • Product Details
    • Special offer: Earn an additional 12.5% cash back on all purchases for the first 180 days (up to $1,000 in total purchases). Must apply by Oct 31, 2022. Conditions apply.
    • For the first 180 days, earn up to: 14% cash back on eligible online purchases, 13.5% cash back on eligible gas, grocery and drugstore, 13% cash back on all other everyday purchases.
    • 1.5% cash back on up to $6,000 of your online purchases (including streaming services, online subscriptions and food delivery).
    • 1% cash back on your gas, grocery and drugstore purchases.
    • 0.5% cash back on (almost) everything else you buy with your card.
    • Redeem sooner – You only need to reach $25 in cash back to redeem.
    • Redeem when you want – Redeem for cash back as a statement credit online. See how easy it is at rewards.hsbc.ca.
    • Redeem to pay down or save up – Use your cash back for a credit towards your residential mortgage account, or credit card, or to top up your savings account.
    • Primary cardholder annual fee: $0
    • Annual Interest on Purchases: 20.99%.
    • Authorized User Annual Fee: $0 Per Card.
    • *Terms and Conditions Apply.
    • ®/TM Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated. Used pursuant to license.

Best for a low introductory interest rate

Simplii Financial™ Cash Back Visa Card

  • Annual Fee
    $0
  • Interest Rates
    19.99% / 22.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    0.5%-10%
  • Intro Offer
    Up to $500
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    The $0-annual-fee Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa Card earns bonus cash-back on the purchases you make almost every day.

    Pros
    • New cardmembers can earn a 9.99% introductory annual interest on purchases for the first six months.


    Cons
    • The 0.5% base rate isn’t exactly impressive, but it only applies after you hit the annual spending limits of bonus categories.
    • It only includes purchase security and extended protection insurance.
  • Product Details
    • 4% on restaurant, bar and coffee shops, up to $5,000 per year.
    • 1.5% on gas, groceries, drugstores and pre-authorized payments, up to $15,000 per year.
    • 0.5% on everything else.
    • Plus, for your first 4 months, enjoy 10% bonus cash back at restaurants and bars up to $500 spend. Get 4% cash back after that.
    • Redeem cash back as a statement credit in December.
    • No annual fee.
    • Cash back when you send money abroad with a Simplii Financial Global Money Transfer. No transaction fees and no interest charges.
    • Purchase security and extended protection insurance provided.
    • Preferred rates: 19.99% for purchases, 22.99% for cash advances.
    • To be eligible, a $15,000 (individual) annual income is required. Also, you must have a Canadian credit file and be a Canadian resident (excluding Quebec) that is the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.

Great for gas and groceries

MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus® Mastercard®

  • Annual Fee
    $0
  • Interest Rates
    19.99% / 24.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    0.5%-5%
  • Intro Offer
    Up to $150
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    The MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus Mastercard is a no-frills cash back card that can help cardholders earn a useful amount of rewards on gas and grocery purchases.

    Pros
    • The welcome offer, 5% cash back on gas and groceries, can help cardholders save more during the first six months of activity. The 2% cash back earn rate after that isn’t bad, either.
    • No annual fee, which applies to a maximum of nine additional cards.


    Cons
    • The 2% cash back earn rate on gas and groceries only applies to the first $500 spent every month.
    • The interest rate on cash advances is higher than what many other cards charge.
  • Product Details
    • Welcome offer: Earn 5% cash back on gas and groceries for the first six months, up to $500 in applicable purchases per month.
    • Earn 2% on gas and groceries once the welcome offer expires, up to a $500 monthly spending cap.
    • Earn 0.5% cash back on all other eligible purchases.
    • No annual fee.
    • Add up to 9 authorized users with no additional annual fee for each user added.
    • Access to emergency services, including emergency card replacement, trip assistance and legal assistance.
    • Purchase assurance, which covers most items purchased with an MBNA credit card for the first 90 days. Lifetime limit of $60,000 per account.
    • Extended warranty benefit: doubles the written warranties for up to one additional year on most new purchases made with an MBNA credit card.
    • When using an MBNA credit card to rent vehicles at participating Avis Rent A Car and Budget Rent A Car locations, save a minimum of 10% off the base rates in Canada and the U.S. and a minimum of 5% off the base rates internationally.
    • Mastercard Zero Liability protection prevents cardholders from being held responsible for unauthorized purchases mad by telephone or online. Some conditions apply.
    • Access to installment payments through the MBNA Payment Plan.
    • Preferred rates: 19.99% on purchases, 24.99% on cash advances, 22.99% on balance transfers and access cheques.
    • Eligibility: Must be a Canadian resident of the age of majority in the province/territory of residence.
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Canada's Best Cash-Back Credit Cards

Best for flexible rewards + our pick for fair credit and balance transfers

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

  • Annual Fee
    $0
  • Interest Rates
    19.95%
  • Rewards Rate
    0.5%-15%
  • Intro Offer
    Up to $150
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    You can earn unlimited cash back at a 2% rate in up to three categories of your choice — all while earning 0.50% back on everything else.

    Pros
    • You can tailor the 2% rewards to your spending by choosing up to three categories from Tangerine’s list of 10, which includes basics like gas and groceries as well as unusual picks like furniture and home improvement.
    • Transfer balances within your first 30 days and pay only 1.95% interest on the transferred balance for the first six months (19.95% after that).


    Cons
    • 2% cash back is a competitive rate, but many cards offer double the rewards on specific categories.
    • Tangerine is a virtual bank with no physical bank branches.
  • Product Details
    • 2% on two categories of your choice: grocery, furniture, restaurants, hotel-motel, gas, recurring bill payments, drug store, home improvement, entertainment, or public transportation and parking.
    • Get a third cash-back category by choosing to have your rewards deposited into a Tangerine Savings Account.
    • 0.50% on everything else.
    • Redeem cash back monthly as a statement credit or deposited into a Tangerine Savings Account.
    • No annual fee.
    • Transfer balances within your first 30 days and pay only 1.95% interest on the transferred balance for the first six months (19.95% after that). 1% balance transfer fee applies to the amount transferred.
    • Get free cards for any authorized users on your account.
    • It only includes purchase assurance and extended protection insurance. For more insurance, consider the Tangerine World Mastercard which requires a minimum personal income of $60,000. If you meet this requirement, you will automatically be considered for the World card if you apply for the Money-Back card.
    • Preferred rates: 19.95% for purchases and cash advances.
    • To be eligible, a $12,000 (individual) annual income is required. Also, you must have a Canadian credit file and be a Canadian resident of the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.

Great for gas, groceries and pharmacy purchases

Meridian Visa Infinite Cash Back Card

  • Annual Fee
    $99
    Waived first year
  • Interest Rates
    19.50% / 21.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    1%-4%
  • Intro Offer
    N/A
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    Not only does this card offer up to 4% cash back on popular spending categories, but the Meridian Visa Infinite Cash Back Card also comes with impressive insurance coverage.

    Pros
    • The card includes 11 different types of insurance, including $5,000,000 in emergency health care coverage for up to 48 days for up to ages 75. It even comes with Intergenerational Insurance Coverage, which covers grandchildren travelling with grandparents.
    • Price protection insurance for 60 days.


    Cons
    • There’s no welcome bonus for additional cash back.
    • Accelerated bonus rates are limited to a $25,000 annual spend.
  • Product Details
    • 4% on gas and groceries, up to $25,000 per year.
    • 2% on pharmacy purchases and utility bill payments, up to $25,000 per year.
    • 1% on everything else.
    • Redeem cashback for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise and event tickets.
    • $99 annual fee.
    • Visa Infinite benefits, including Visa Infinite Concierge, Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection, Visa Infinite Dining Series, and Canada’s Visa Infinite Wine Country Program.
    • 11 types of insurance provided, including 48-day emergency medical benefits — up to $5 million in coverage.
    • Intergenerational Insurance Coverage extends specific insurances to grandchildren travelling with grandparents.
    • Preferred rates: 19.50% for purchases, 21.99% for cash advances.
    • To be eligible, $60,000 (individual) or $100,000 (household) annual income is required. Also, you must have a Canadian credit file and be a Canadian resident of the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.

Best World Elite card with cash back on restaurants and entertainment

Desjardins Cash Back World Elite® Mastercard®

  • Annual Fee
    $100
  • Interest Rates
    19.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    1%-4%
  • Intro Offer
    N/A
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    You can earn cash back at impressive rates in four spending categories with no limit to how much you can collect.

    Pros
    • The bonus category rates have unlimited earning potential, so there’s no need to worry about annual spending caps.
    • Collect cash back when you travel outside of Canada with the Mastercard Travel Rewards program.


    Cons
    • You have to earn $100 before redeeming cash back. Even then, it only appears as an account credit.
    • Limited insurance coverage, with trip insurance only covering three days.
  • Product Details
    • 4% on groceries, 3% on restaurants, entertainment and public transportation.
    • 1% on everything else.
    • Redeem cash back as a statement credit after earning $100.
    • $100 annual fee.
    • Mastercard World Elite Benefits include Mastercard Travel Rewards, Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey, Mastercard’s Priceless Cities program and Boingo Public Wi-Fi.
    • Cash back when you travel outside of Canada with the Mastercard Travel Rewards program.
    • Up to 25% off Hertz car rentals and up to 10% off Thrifty or Dollar rentals.
    • Access to Accord D Financing and cash advances up to $5,000 a day at a rate of 19.9%.
    • Four types of insurance provided, including three-day travel insurance — up to $5 million in emergency health care coverage.
    • Preferred rates: 19.99% for purchases and cash advances.
    • To be eligible, $80,000 (individual) or $150,000 (household) annual income is required, or $400,000 minimum assets under management. Also, you must have a Canadian credit file and be a Canadian resident that is the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.
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Best cash back in stores

Best for in-store shopping

Triangle™ World Elite Mastercard®

  • Annual Fee
    $0
  • Interest Rates
    19.99% / 22.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    1%-4%
  • Intro Offer
    N/A
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    The Triangle™ World Elite Mastercard® is the ideal choice for shoppers hoping to collect and redeem as much Canadian Tire Money as possible. The roadside assistance package cardholders get access to is a nice perk, too.

    Pros
    • Solid Canadian Tire Money earn rates on groceries, sports equipment and other merchandise at participating stores.
    • No annual fee.
    • Access to various insurance plans.


    Cons
    • Not much added value if you don’t shop at Canadian Tire or its affiliated stores.
    • Large families could burn through their accelerated earn rates on groceries sooner than they’d like.
    • Earning Canadian Tire Money on gas purchases could be challenging if you don’t live near an eligible gas station.
  • Product Details
    • Collect 3% in Canadian Tire Money on the first $12,000 spent at eligible grocery stores per year and 1% on eligible grocery purchases after that.
    • Collect 4% in Canadian Tire Money on qualifying purchases at Canadian Tire, Sport Chek, Mark’s/L’Equipeur, Atmosphere, Party City, Sports Rousseau, Hockey Experts, L’Entrepot du Hockey and participating Sports Experts stores.
    • Collect 7 cents in Canadian Tire money per litre of premium fuel, and 5 cents per litre on all other fuel types purchased at Gas+/Essence+ locations.
    • Canadian Tire Money can be redeemed at Canadian Tire, Sport Chek, Atmosphere, Sports Rousseau, Hockey Experts, L’Entrepot du Hockey and participating Mark’s/L’Equipeur and Sports Experts stores.
    • No fee, no interest financing on qualifying purchases of $150 or more at participating stores. Conditions apply.
    • No-receipt returns at participating stores.
    • Access to member-only events and personalized offers.
    • Priority queuing when calling the Triangle call centre.
    • Enrollment in the Triangle World Elite Mastercard Roadside Assistance Gold Plan, which includes 5 service calls per year and unlimited tows to any Canadian Tire Auto Service Centre within towing limits.
    • Car rental collision/loss damage waiver insurance.
    • Extended warranty insurance for eligible purchases.
    • Eligibility: Must be a Canadian resident and the age of majority in the province/territory of residence.
    • No annual fee.
    • No fee for obtaining a supplementary card on the same account.
    • Interest rates: 19.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash transactions (21.99% in Quebec).

Best for US dollar purchases

Rogers™ World Elite® Mastercard®

  • Annual Fee
    $0
  • Interest Rates
    19.99% / 22.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    1.5%-3%
  • Intro Offer
    $25
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    The Rogers World Elite Mastercard is a no-fee card with an easy-to-understand cash-back rewards program with an accelerated earn rate on U.S. dollar purchases. And unlike some no-fee cards, it still offers valuable perks for those who like to travel.

    Pros
    • Rewards are easy to understand, $1 in cash-back rewards = $1 toward an eligible purchase or bill credit, and you can redeem rewards instantly using the Rogers Bank app.
    • Attractive travel benefits are included, like access to over 1,000 LoungeKey airport lounges, free Boingo Wi-Fi at over 1 million hotspots worldwide, and several types of travel insurance.


    Cons
    • A more modest intro offer than some cards, at just $25 in cash-back rewards when you make your first purchase.
    • You must spend at least $15,000 each year to maintain the card.
  • Product Details
    • 1.5% in unlimited cash-back rewards for eligible regular purchases.
    • 3.5% in unlimited cash-back rewards for eligible U.S. dollar purchases.
    • Cash-back rewards can be redeemed for purchases or applied directly to your Rogers, Fido, or chatr mobile phone bill. Cash-back rewards can be redeemed using the Rogers Bank app or Pay with Rewards app. You must accrue at least $10 in cash-back rewards before you can redeem them on a purchase, and redemptions do not count toward minimum payment amounts.
    • $0 annual fee.
    • Earn unlimited cash-back rewards anywhere Mastercard is accepted.
    • Free Boingo Wi-Fi for Mastercard® Cardholders at over 1 million hotspots worldwide.
    • Access to over 1,000 LoungeKey airport lounges in over 100 countries with Mastercard Airport Experiences.
    • No charge to add additional cardholders.
    • Security features like transaction monitoring and alerts, zero liability for unauthorized use and balance protection.
    • Eight types of insurance provided, including 10-day travel medical benefits for those up to age 64 — up to $1 million in coverage. Three days of medical benefits are provided for those age 65 to 75.
    • Preferred rates: 19.99% for purchases, 22.99% for cash advances.
    • To be eligible, $80,000 (individual) or $150,000 (household) annual income is required. Also, you must have a Canadian credit file and be a Canadian resident of the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.

Best for Costco in-store shopping

CIBC Costco® Mastercard®

  • Annual Fee
    $0
  • Interest Rates
    19.75% / 21.49%
  • Rewards Rate
    1%-3%
  • Intro Offer
    $20
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    This card is ideal for Costco members with its cash back program that rewards everyday spending with cash back rewards that can be redeemed at Costco.

    Pros
    • Can serve as your Costco membership card.
    • Payment plans available for purchases of $100 or more.


    Cons
    • Must have an existing Costco Wholesale membership to be eligible.
    • Cash back gift certificates are only issued once annually.
  • Product Details
    • Previous cardholders who receive the new CIBC Costco Mastercard will get a $20 Welcome Bonus after making an initial purchase.
    • 3% cash back at restaurants and at Costco gas.
    • 2% cash back at other gas stations and at Costco.ca.
    • 1% cash back on all other purchases, including at Costco.
    • No annual fee.
    • Pay for purchases of $100 or more with CIBC Pace It low-rate Installment Plans, spreading payments over a fixed term. Take advantage of special Installment Plan interest rates with no installment fees on eligible Costco purchases in Canada and at Costco.ca.
    • Make quick and secure payments using Apple Pay®, Google Pay™ and Samsung Pay® when you add your new card to your mobile wallet.
    • Redeem your annual cash back gift certificate at any Canadian Costco warehouse.
    • Get 0.25% cash back for every $1 spent on a CIBC Global Money Transfer™. There are no transaction fees, and interest won’t be charged, as long as the balance is paid by the payment due date.
    • Preferred rates: 19.75% for purchases, 21.49% for cash advances.
    • To be eligible, you must have a Canadian credit file and be a Canadian resident of the age of majority in the province or territory where you live. You must also have a valid Costco Wholesale membership.
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Best cash back for students

Best no-fee cash back card for students + our pick for balance transfers

Scotia Momentum® No-Fee Visa* card

  • Annual Fee
    $0
  • Interest Rates
    19.99% / 22.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    0.5%-1%
  • Intro Offer
    Up to $100
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    The Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa Card doesn’t provide any bells or whistles, but it also doesn’t charge an annual fee, making it an option for people looking to build credit while earning cash back on everyday purchases.

    Pros
    • No annual fee.
    • Benefit from a 0% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (22.99% after that).
    • Earn up to 1% cash back on eligible purchases and recurring bill payments.
    • Opportunity to earn 5% cash back for a limited time with new cards opened by August 31, 2022.


    Cons
    • No premium perks or benefits.
    • The balance transfer promotional period cannot be used to transfer a balance from another Scotiabank Account.
  • Product Details
    • Special Offer: Earn 5% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months (up to $2,000 in total purchases).
    • Special Offer: Get a 2.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (22.99% after that).
    • No annual fee.
    • Earn 1% cash back on all eligible gas stations, grocery stores, drug stores purchases and recurring payments.
    • Earn 0.5% cash back on all other eligible purchases.
    • Save up to 25% off base rates at participating AVIS locations and at participating Budget locations in Canada and the U.S.
    • Preferred rates: 19.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances.
    • To be eligible, $12,000 (individual) annual income is required. Also, you must have a Canadian credit file and be a Canadian resident that is the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.
    • Terms and Conditions Apply. Click 'Apply Now' for complete details.

Best no-fee flat-rate cash back card for students

SimplyCash™ Card from American Express

  • Annual Fee
    $0
  • Interest Rates
    19.99% / 21.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    1.25%-4%
  • Intro Offer
    Up to $200
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    A flat rewards rate of 1.25% makes it easy to earn cash back on every purchase — no need to keep track of bonus categories, spending limits or tiered and rotating structures.

    Pros
    • An easy-to-understand 1.25% flat rate on every purchase.
    • Cardholders enjoy exclusive access, special offers and events, and more through American Express Experiences and Front of the Line Reserved tickets and presales.


    Cons
    • Cash-back rate than other cards with specific spending categories and tiered rewards structures.
  • Product Details
    • New SimplyCash™ from American Express Cardmembers can earn 4% cash back on purchases (up to $200 cash back) for the first 6 months of Cardmembership.
    • Earn 1.25% cash back on purchases when your Welcome Rate ends.
    • No limit to the amount of cash back you can earn after your Welcome Rate ends.
    • Access virtual events and special offers curated for Cardmembers with American Express® Experiences.
    • Insurance coverage and 24/7 Customer Service.
    • American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details and current product information click the Apply now link. Conditions apply.

Best no-fee student cash back card for groceries

Student BMO CashBack® Mastercard®

  • Annual Fee
    $0
  • Interest Rates
    19.99% / 22.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    0.5%–5%
  • Intro Offer
    Up to $125
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    The Student BMO CashBack Mastercard has impressive earn rates — including 3% on groceries — and valuable perks, all without an annual fee.

    Pros
    • Earn flexible and easy-to-redeem cash rewards on everyday purchases.
    • There’s no minimum threshold for redeeming your cash-back rewards. Redeem as little as $1 if you want.


    Cons
    • Accelerated earn rates for groceries and recurring bills are capped at $500 per billing cycle.
    • Insurance is limited to extended warranty and purchase protection.
  • Product Details
    • Earn 3% in cash back on grocery purchases, up to $500 in spending per billing cycle.
    • Earn 1% in cash back on recurring bill payments, such as streaming services, subscriptions or monthly utilities, up to $500 in spending per billing cycle.
    • Earn 0.5% in cash back on all other purchases, including grocery purchases and bill payments that exceed the $500 threshold.
    • Cash-back rewards earned can be redeemed as statement credits, or placed in a BMO chequing, savings or InvestorLine account. Student BMO CashBack Mastercard holders can also use the Pay with Points option to redeem points to cover transactions made in the last 30 days. $1 minimum redemption and points do not expire.
    • $0 annual fee.
    • Save up to 25% on rentals at participating National Car Rental and Alamo Rent a Car locations.
    • Get 15% off admission to Cirque du Soleil shows touring Canada, and 20% off resident shows in Las Vegas.
    • Helpful security features include transaction monitoring and alerts, zero liability for unauthorized use and Mastercard Identity Check.
    • Two types of insurance are provided: extended warranty and purchase protection.
    • Preferred rates: 19.99% for purchases, 22.99% for cash advances.
    • To be eligible, you must be a student between the ages of 18 and 24 at a recognized post-secondary school, earn annual income from employment, scholarship/grant, student loan or family allowance, and have reached the age of majority in the province in which you live. International students can apply for a BMO credit card by visiting a branch.
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Best cash back for no credit or bad credit

Best prepaid card for cash back

KOHO Premium Reloadable Prepaid Mastercard

  • Annual Fee
    $84
  • Rewards Rate
    0.5%-8%
  • Minimum Deposit
    $0
  • Maximum Deposit
    $200,000
  • Intro Offer
    Free 30-day trial
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    KOHO offers two tiers of prepaid cards: a standard card and a premium card. Both combine the benefits of a debit card and a credit card with cash back rewards, limited fees and the ability to build credit. Plus, KOHO doesn’t charge interest — instead, they let you earn interest on every dollar you save in your KOHO account.

    Pros
    • An app that tracks your spending, helps with budgeting, offers free financial coaching, and the ability to earn 1.2% interest on your entire account.
    • Access to a credit building service that reports your payments for only $7 per month — a rare feature for a prepaid card.


    Cons
    • KOHO is a tech-focused company, so if you’re uncomfortable with digital banking, it may not be the right choice.
    • KOHO isn’t a credit card, which means you can’t borrow any money. You can only access the funds already in your account.
  • Product Details
    • Up to 8% cash back at select KOHO partners.
    • 2% cash back on transportation, groceries and restaurants.
    • 0.5% cash back on everything else.
    • Cash back is instantly added to your KOHO Savings account.
    • $9 monthly fee/$84 annual fee, + a 30-day free trial.
    • No foreign exchange fees.
    • 1 free international ATM withdrawal per month.
    • Subscribe to Credit Building for $7/month in-app.
    • Earn 1.2% interest on every dollar you save in your KOHO account.
    • A new look. Get an optional snappy new vertical Premium card! Accepted everywhere Mastercard is.
    • Price match. We offer in-app price protection to get the absolute lowest possible price on your Purchases
    • Priority customer support. Premium users always skip the line
    • Personalized financial coaching on demand. Ask our in house certified financial coach any money question you have.
    • To be eligible, you must be a Canadian resident of the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.

Best secured card for cash back

Neo Card with Credit Builder

  • Annual Fee
    $0
  • Interest Rates
    19.99%-24.99%
  • Minimum Deposit
    $50
  • Maximum Deposit
    $10,000
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    The Neo Card with Credit Builder is a no-fee secured credit card that earns cash back rewards, builds credit, and offers access to high-interest savings.

    Pros
    • A small $50 minimum deposit makes this card accessible to consumers of all budgets.
    • Earn up to 15% cash back on purchases with select Neo partners.


    Cons
    • Interest rates could be as high as 24.99% for some users.
    • Neo Financial only reports to TransUnion, so you won’t build credit history with both credit bureaus.
  • Product Details
    • Earn a 1% minimum, and a 4% cash back average, on purchases with Neo partners through the Standard rewards plan. Upgrade to Plus ($2.99/month) or Ultra ($8.99/month) rewards plans to increase your earn rate.
    • No annual fee for the Standard rewards plan.
    • $50 minimum security fund deposit required.
    • $10,000 maximum security fund deposit.
    • To apply, visit member.neofinancial.com and create an account. Select “Credit”, pick either the Neo Card or the Hudson’s Bay Mastercard, and then choose “Credit Builder” as the type of credit you are looking for.
    • To apply, visit member.neofinancial.com and create an account. Select “Credit”, pick either the Neo Card or the Hudson’s Bay Mastercard, and then choose “Credit Builder” as the type of credit you are looking for.
    • Hard credit checks are/are not made on Neo Credit Builder applications.
    • Credit activity is reported to TransUnion, one of the two major consumer credit bureaus in Canada.
    • Guaranteed approval, as long as you meet eligibility requirements.
    • Ability to upgrade to an unsecured rewards credit card.
    • Link your Credit Builder account to a Neo Money account and earn 1.45% interest on savings — one of the highest rates in Canada.
    • Purchase rates range from 19.99%-24.99%. The standard rate on purchases and cash advances is dependent on Neo Financial’s assessment of your credit application, credit profile, and your province.
    • To be eligible, you must be able to provide security funds and be a Canadian resident of the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.

Best no-fee cash back card for newcomers to Canada

BMO CashBack® Mastercard®

  • Annual Fee
    $0
  • Interest Rates
    19.99% / 22.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    0.5%-3%
  • Intro Offer
    Up to $125
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    The BMO CashBack Mastercard offers attractive earn rates on everyday purchases like groceries and utility bills, making it easy to quickly rack up rewards that you can turn into cold hard cash.

    Pros
    • Attractive introductory offer, especially if you’re interested in a balance transfer.
    • No minimum threshold for redeeming your cash-back rewards. Redeem as little as $1 if you want.


    Cons
    • Accelerated earn rates for groceries and recurring bills are capped at $500 per billing cycle, a ceiling that might be easy to hit if you have a family or higher monthly balances.
    • Offers fewer travel perks and types of insurance than some other cards.
  • Product Details
    • Earn 3% in cash back on grocery purchases, up to $500 in spending per billing cycle.
    • Earn 1% in cash back on recurring bill payments, such as streaming services, subscriptions or monthly utilities, up to $500 in spending per billing cycle.
    • Earn 0.5% in cash back on all other purchases, including grocery purchases and bill payments that exceed the $500 threshold.
    • Cash-back rewards earned can be redeemed as statement credits, or placed in a BMO chequing, savings or InvestorLine account. BMO CashBack Mastercard holders can also use the Pay with Points option to redeem points to cover transactions made in the last 30 days. $1 minimum redemption and points do not expire.
    • $0 annual fee.
    • No charge to add additional cardholders.
    • Get 15% off admission to Cirque du Soleil shows touring Canada, and 20% off resident shows in Las Vegas.
    • Save up to 25% off rentals at participating National Car Rental and Alamo Rent a Car locations.
    • Security features like transaction monitoring and alerts, zero liability for unauthorized use and Mastercard Identity Check.
    • Two types of insurance provided: extended warranty and purchase protection.
    • Preferred rates: 19.99% for purchases, 22.99% for cash advances.
    • To be eligible, you must have a Canadian credit file and be a Canadian resident of the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.
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Methodology to identify the best cash-back credit cards

NerdWallet Canada selects the best cash-back credit cards based on overall consumer value as well as their suitability for specific kinds of consumers. Factors in our evaluation include each card’s cash-back earning rates, rewards structure (such as flat-rate or bonus categories), annual fee, redemption options, promotional APR period for purchases, bonus offers for new cardholders, and noteworthy features such as insurance, loyalty bonuses or the ability to choose one’s own rewards categories.

Summary of the best cash-back credit cards in Canada

Best overall cash back credit cards

Best cash back for travel

Best no-fee cash back cards

Best cash back on everyday spending

Best cash back in stores

Best cash back for students

Best cash back for no credit or bad credit

Best Credit Cards in Canada

Compare all different credit cards side-by-side and find out the best card that will meet your need with special perks and benefits

 

How cash-back credit cards work in Canada

By Barry Choi and Clay Jarvis

Before deciding which cash-back credit card is right for you, it’s helpful to understand how the cash-back redemption process works, the many categories cash-back rewards can fall into, and how cash-back cards compare to other types of credit cards.

What is a cash-back credit card?

Overall, cash-back credit cards are pretty straightforward. You use them as you would any other credit card, and in exchange for making eligible purchases, you get a certain percentage of what you’ve spent back in cash.

How you get cash back with a credit card

Earning process

Let’s say you have a card that offers 2% cash back on groceries. If tomorrow’s weekly run to the supermarket winds up costing you $100 and you pay with your card, you’ll earn $2 in cash-back rewards. The running total of how much cash you’ve earned should be easy to find on your monthly statement or via your online account.

It’s important to look closely at your cash-back credit card’s details to find out just how much you can earn on your purchases. Earn rates can vary based on time, like when an introductory offer provides a higher rate of rewards, and on what kinds of products you purchase. Tangerine’s World Mastercard, for example, pays 2% cash back on up to three categories of items, but only 0.5% on all other purchases.

Redemption process

Although it’s called “cash-back,” these rewards can come in several forms

In many cases, you can use cash-back rewards to pay down your credit card balance, but rules may apply. Some cards require you meet a minimum threshold of cash-back rewards before redemption. If you don’t have enough points available, you’ll have to sit on them until you do.

Some bank-issued credit cards may be able to deposit cash back rewards directly into your linked savings account — a convenient way to turn rewards into actual cash.

Pros and cons of a cash-back credit card

Pros: Why a cash-back card may be worth it

  • Simplicity; Cash-back cards make it easy to earn valuable rewards.
  • Welcome bonuses and introductory offers can be quite generous.
  • Accumulated rewards can help pay down your card balance.
  • High earn rates for items you buy regularly can yield big rewards.

Cons: Why a cash-back card might not be worth it

  • You may not typically buy items that yield above-average earn rates.
  • Amassing rewards can be slow depending on how much you spend each month, and whether you pay your bill in full.
  • Bonus and introductory offers tend to come with conditions, including spending minimums, which may be challenging to meet.

Types of cash-back credit cards to choose from

All cash-back credit cards work similarly, but even minor differences are worth noting as they can affect your earn rate.

Flat rate

These types of cash-back credit cards earn you the same cash back rate for all purchases made.

Bonus categories

Some cash-back credit cards offer an increased earn rate on select spending categories, such as groceries and restaurants.

Flexible bonus cash back cards

Some cards allow you to choose the spending categories on which you’ll earn your bonus rewards. By selecting categories that align with the types of items you buy frequently, you can maximize your cash back rewards.

NerdTip: Many cash-back credit cards offer higher earn rates for only one or two spending categories. One card might pay an elevated earn rate on gas and travel while another pays extra for groceries and dining out, for example. Holding multiple cash-back credit cards that align with different categories is one strategy that can ensure you’re earning cash no matter how you spend.

Common cash-back bonus categories in Canada

Credit cards have merchant categories assigned by the credit card processing network. These categories are essential since many cash-back credit cards offer bonus cash back on purchases in select categories.

For example, the Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa Card offers higher cash back rewards when you’re dining out, while the BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard pays out more on grocery purchases.

Knowing the different cash-back categories can allow you to maximize your earnings. Here are some of the most popular merchant categories in Canada and what they typically include:

  • Grocery. Any purchase made at grocery stores, such as Loblaws, No Frills and Metro. .
  • Restaurants. This usually includes takeout and food delivery services, such as Uber Eats, DoorDash and SkipTheDishes.
  • Travel. Airline tickets, hotels, car rentals, etc.
  • Gas. Includes any purchase made at a gas station or service station, like Shell, PetroCanada and Esso.
  • Transportation. This may include taking an Uber, a taxi, or paying for public transportation.
  • Streaming services. Monthly subscriptions to products like Netflix, Disney+, Spotify, etc.
  • Drug stores. This may include purchases made at a drug store, like Shoppers Drug Mart.
  • Entertainment. This may include money you spend on tickets to the movies, theater, or a live music concert.
  • Recurring bills. Including wireless phone, internet, and utility bills paid with a credit card.

The key thing to understand is that each credit card defines its categories differently. For example, some cards may group gas and transportation. Some cards lump groceries and restaurants into a “food and drink” category.

To further complicate things, some merchants don’t fall into the categories you would think they would. For example, Costco is not considered a grocery store. As far as the credit card processors are concerned, Costco is a wholesale store.

Credit card companies do not typically reveal all of the stores associated with a merchant category publicly. Still, you should be able to contact your credit card provider’s customer service to ask about a specific store. Overall, it’s pretty easy to figure out what category your purchases will fall under, but you may need to do a little bit of trial and error.

How cash-back bonus categories work

When making purchases in specific merchant categories, often referred to as bonus categories, you’ll earn cash back at an increased rate.

For example, let’s say your credit card gives you 4% cash back on gas. If the card has a flat rate of 1%, this means you’ll earn cash back on gas with a bonus rate of 3%, making it so all your gas purchases would give you 4% cash back. Since many gas stations sell other things such as snacks, and gift cards, you’d also earn 4% cash back on any of those items, too.

Generally speaking, Canada’s best cash-back credit cards offer multiple bonus categories. It can be pretty lucrative to get a cash-back card that lines up with your spending patterns. For example, if you spend a lot on groceries, getting a cash-back credit card with an increased earn rate on groceries can significantly benefit you.

You’ll still earn the base earn rate when you make purchases that don’t fall under a bonus category or after you have reached the bonus category cash-back limit.

The base earn rate is different for each cash-back credit card, but it typically ranges between 0.5% – 2%.

How to redeem your cash-back rewards

Every credit card provider has different rules when it comes to redeeming your cash back. Some allow monthly redemption, while others pay out annually. Other providers allow redemption only after you’ve hit a certain threshold.

The following are the payout requirements for the major cash-back credit card providers:

  • American Express. All cash back earned is paid out annually on your September statement.
  • BMO. Redeem as little as $1 in cash back as a statement credit. You can also set up automatic direct deposits to your BMO chequing or savings account starting at $25.
  • CIBC. Cash-back redemptions start at $25. Any unredeemed cash back will appear on your January statement annually.
  • RBC. Once you earn $25 in cash back, you can have the balance credited to your account at any time by calling in. Alternatively, all accumulated cash back will be credited to your account every January.
  • Scotiabank. All cash back earned appears as a credit on your November statement.
  • Tangerine. Paid monthly to your savings account or applied to your credit card balance.
  • TD. You can redeem your cash back when you have a minimum amount of $25. Another option is to take your cash back annually every January where there is no minimum amount required.

When is it a good time to redeem my cash-back?

Many cash-back credit cards will allow you to redeem your rewards as soon as they reach a minimum threshold. But you can also save them up over time and cash them in for a more significant, single-shot pay-down of your credit card balance, for example.

Choosing to redeem cash rewards on a regular basis is certainly satisfying. But it could mean dipping below your minimum threshold. The next time you want — or need — to use your rewards, you may not have enough at your disposal.

Saving your cash back rewards to generate more impact — say, to ease the blow of a particularly big purchase — is a worthy strategy, too. But know that if you fail to keep your account in good standing or decide to close it suddenly, you could lose out on accumulated rewards.

How to choose a cash-back card

With dozens of cash-back credit cards available, comparing them all can be time-consuming. That said, there are a few things you should look at when considering any cash-back card.

Interest rates

It’s important to look closely at the interest rates associated with any cash-back credit cards you’re considering; many start out in the 19.99% range. Zero interest is charged on balances paid in full every month, but if you don’t, it can significantly add to your debt and erode the benefit of any cash-back rewards you earn.

If you don’t typically pay your credit card balance in full each month, you may want to seek out a cash-back credit card with a 0% introductory rate offer, or low ongoing interest rate.

Annual fee

Decide if you want to pay an annual fee or not. In most cases, paying a yearly fee means you’ll earn more cash back and get better benefits. On the other hand, no-fee cash-back cards may have a lower earn rate, but if you don’t charge much to your card, you could come out ahead compared to a card with a fee.

Some of the best cash-back cards in Canada with no annual fees include the Tangerine Money-Back credit card and the Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa card.

Welcome bonus or intro offer

Cash-back credit cards in Canada commonly offer a sign-up bonus for new applicants. The welcome bonus usually comes in the form of a higher cash-back rate for a set period. For example, you might get 10% cash back on all purchases up to $3,000 in spending. If the earn rates are similar with two cards, but one has an excellent welcome bonus, then you might as well take advantage of the promotion.

The BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard and CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite Card are two selections on our best cash-back credit card list with intro offers worth hundreds of dollars, for example.

Credit card bonus offers nearly always come with terms and conditions to be met, however, so be sure you read over the offer thoroughly and understand how much you may need to spend in order to qualify.

Bonus categories

The increased earn rate on bonus categories is arguably the most critical factor when comparing cash-back cards. It’s ideal to choose a card that gives you increased cash back on the categories where you do the most spending.

Take the Desjardin Cash Back World Elite Mastercard, for example, which offers 4% cash back on groceries, 3% on restaurants, entertainment and public transportation, and 1% cash back on everything else. This could be a great card for someone who enjoys cooking at home as well as dining out, because they’d a high rewards rate whether shopping for recipe ingredients or trying out a new brunch place.

Keep in mind that the amount you spend in bonus categories every year could potentially earn you more than any welcome bonus offered.

Credit card insurance

Many cash back credit cards offer various forms of insurance as an added perk.

While helpful, some of these offers occupy the more basic end of the insurance spectrum: rental car insurance, mobile device insurance and extended warranties on the items you purchase.

But some cards, like the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card, for example, offer more robust insurance options, like out-of-province/out-of-country emergency medical insurance for the first 15 days of a trip.

Additional benefits

Many cash-back credit cards come with additional benefits that may appeal to you.

Some perks to look out for include

» NerdWallet's top choices: Canada's best credit cards for June 2022

How to apply for a cash-back credit card

Even though the benefits of a cash-back credit card are relatively simple to understand, you’ll still have to reckon with a few eligibility requirements in order to be approved for one.

Age and residency status

Most cash-back credit cards require you to be both a Canadian resident and the legal age of majority in the province where you live in order to apply for a card of your own.

The age of majority is 18 in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Saskatchewan. It’s 19 everywhere in all other provinces.

Credit score

In most cases, a good credit score is required to qualify for a cash-back credit card. In Canada, a credit score that ranges between 660 and 724 is considered good.

If you do not have a good credit score, consider a credit card designed for bad or no credit, a prepaid card, or a secured credit card instead of a cash-back credit card.

Personal or household income requirements

Some cash-back credit cards come with relatively low income requirements. Tangerine’s Money Back Credit Card, for example, only requires annual income of $12,000.

But if you want a higher-tier cash-back credit card, you’ll need a higher income. For example, World Elite cards require a personal income of $80,000 or a household income of $150,000.

Cash-back vs points: which is better?

Answering this question depends on what you’re looking to get out of your credit card card.

If you’re hoping for a little help paying your credit card bills, cash back may be the route to take. Cash-back rewards are typically easy to calculate, collect and apply toward your balance.

Credit card points, on the other hand, can generally be redeemed in a wider variety of ways, including discounts on travel or merchandise. That flexibility can be very attractive for some consumers. The value of the points you collect, however, can fluctuate, which can make tracking your points a more complicated endeavour than cash back rewards..

Cash-back vs rewards: which is better?

There are two situations where a cash-back card might not be the right choice. The obvious case is when the cash back you can earn is less than what you’ll pay in annual fees.

The other time when a cash-back card might not be worth it is if you can get a better return with a rewards credit card instead. For example, let’s say you got a travel rewards credit card and did the same spending. Would the points you earn be worth more than the cash back you could potentially earn? If so, it makes more sense to get a travel credit card.

How to maximize your cash-back credit card

There are plenty of tricks to help you get the most out of your cash-back credit cards. The more tips you adopt, the more cash back you’ll earn. That said, it’s best to only follow the advice that you’re comfortable with.

Apply for a new card ahead of major expenses

Since many of the best cash-back credit cards in Canada have a generous welcome bonus, it’s often worth your trouble to apply for a new card before you make a major purchase.

For example, let’s say you need to renew your home and auto insurance, which will cost you about $2,000. You could apply for a cash-back credit card that offers you 10% cash back as the welcome bonus. Then, when you charge your insurance to your card, you’d get $200 back.

Keep in mind that many cash-back credit cards have a limit on their sign up offer. If you have a substantial purchase, you could apply for more than one card and split up your purchase to maximize your cash back. However, if you need to pay an annual fee for the new card, it may negate the cash back you earn, so pay attention to the details.

Pay attention to the sign-up bonuses

Welcome offers are constantly changing, so watch for any current promotions. Getting 10% cash back for a set period is generous, but if the card is also waiving the annual fee for the first year, then they’re practically paying you to sign up. When you get close to 12 months of card membership, you might cancel the card before your annual fee posts. You could then apply for a new cash-back credit card with a good sign up bonus.

Carry multiple cards

Many people focus on a single cash-back credit card, but there’s nothing wrong with having multiple credit cards. In fact, having more than one card is the easiest way to maximize your cash back. Start off with a primary card that gives you an increased earn rate where you do most of your spending. You could then complement that card with a no-fee card that gives you bonus categories where your primary card doesn’t. Whenever you shop, just use the credit card that gives you the most cash back.

Buy gift cards in bonus categories

Groceries and gas are two of the most popular merchant categories where you’ll earn additional cash back. Here’s the thing: both grocery stores and gas stations sell gift cards that can be used at many retailers. That essentially allows you to earn extra cash back.

For example, let’s say your credit card gives you 5% cash back at grocery stores. You could purchase gift cards at a grocery store for restaurants, Amazon, streaming services, drug stores and gas. That would guarantee you 5% cash back. When you need to make purchases at those merchants, use the gift cards you already purchased.

Add supplementary users

Most credit cards allow you to add supplementary users. The advantage here is that all authorized cardholders also earn cash back on their purchases, including any bonus. Best of all, the cash back gets combined into a single pool, so you’ll be racking up that cash back in no time.

Use cash-back websites

Various online sites allow you to earn additional cash back whenever you shop online. First, you need to create an account. After that, you would just select the partner retailers through their online portal. When you do your shopping, eligible purchases will earn you cash back. If you pay with your cash-back credit card, you’d be earning cash back twice. That’s right, you can double dip without much work.

Cash-back credit card companies in Canada

Here are some widely known credit card issuers in Canada, along with their networks and notable cash-back cards.

Credit Card Issuer NetworkNotable Cash-Back Cards
American ExpressAmerican ExpressSimplyCash™ Preferred Card from American Express
ATBMastercard
BMOMastercardCash-Back: BMO CashBack® World Elite® Mastercard®
Brim FinancialMastercard
Canadian TireMastercard
Capital OneMastercard
CIBCVisaCash-Back: CIBC Dividend® Visa Infinite Card
Coast Capital SavingsVisa
DesjardinsVisa & MastercardDesjardins Cash Back World Elite® Mastercard®
Home TrustVisa
HSBCMastercard
ManulifeVisa
MBNAMastercard
MeridianVisaMeridian Visa Infinite Cash Back Card
National BankMastercard
Neo FinancialMastercard
PC FinancialMastercard
PlastkVisa
RBCVisa & MastercardRBC Cash Back Preferred World Elite Mastercard
Refresh FinancialVisa
RogersMastercard
ScotiabankVisa & American ExpressScotia Momentum® Visa Infinite Card
Simplii FinancialVisaSimplii Financial™ Cash Back Visa Card
TangerineMastercardTangerine Money-Back Credit Card
TD BankVisaTD Cash Back Visa Infinite Card
VancityVisa
WalmartMastercard

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  • FAQs for Canada's cash-back credit cards

    • Are there cash back limits?

      Most cash-back credit cards have limits on the cash back you can earn. Look at the terms and conditions of your card to find out the rates and limits. Most cash-back credit cards set the limit per category, but they may also lump some categories together. Additionally, the limit would factor in any purchases made by supplementary users on the account.

      Some cards give you unlimited cash back, even on bonus categories. That means you would get the full earn rate, regardless of how many purchases you put on your card. Shopping around and reviewing the terms and conditions of cards you’re interested in, will help you pick the right card.

    • Is cash back from credit cards taxable income?

      Cash back rewards are considered a rebate/discount by the Canada Revenue Agency, so you won’t be taxed. Cash back is really no different from a coupon, which is obviously not taxable.

      That said, if you earn cash as part of your employment, it may be taxable. For example, let’s say you have a company cash-back credit card. Your employer allows you to deposit the cash back earned directly into your bank account. In this case, the cash back would be taxable since it’s a form of income.

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