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Published March 26, 2024

Best Credit Cards for Newcomers to Canada for 2024

Newcomers to Canada with little to no credit history may be eligible for a credit card. Check out the best credit cards for newcomers to help narrow down your options.

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If you’re a newcomer to Canada, building your credit is likely top of mind, and credit cards can be an effective way to do this. The snag? You typically need a healthy credit history to get a credit card. This is where credit cards for newcomers come in. 

Some lenders offer secured and unsecured credit cards to newcomers with little to no credit history, allowing them to get their foot on the credit ladder.  

To help you better understand your options, NerdWallet looked at hundreds of credit cards to determine the best options for newcomers. Keep reading to see which cards made the cut. 

Best credit cards for newcomers to Canada

Best for: Cash back

BMO CashBack® Mastercard®*


$0

20.99% / 22.99%

0.5%-5%

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.
Card details
  • Welcome offer: Get 5% cash back in your first 3 months.*
  • Then get 3% cash back on grocery purchases, 1% cash back on recurring bill payments and 0.5% unlimited cash back on all other purchases!*
  • Now earn the highest cash back on groceries in Canada without paying an annual fee!†
  • Get a 0.99% introductory interest rate on Balance Transfers for 9 months, 2% fee applies to balance amounts transferred.*
  • No Annual fee.*
  • Want to get your cash back ASAP? Now you can redeem your cash back anytime through direct deposit, as a credit on your statement or into your BMO InvestorLine account.*
  • Extended Warranty.*
  • Purchase Protection.*
  • Receive a discount on car rentals.*
  • *Terms and conditions apply.
  • †Statement based on a comparison of the non-promotional grocery rewards earn rate on Canadian cash back credit cards as of January 4, 2023.
  • BMO is not responsible for maintaining the content on this site. Please click on the Apply now link for the most up to date information.

Best for: AIR MILES

BMO AIR MILES®† Mastercard®*


$0

20.99% / 22.99%

0.04x-0.12x Miles

800 Miles
Our take
Why we like it

It’s rare to find a 0.99% balance transfer offer on a dedicated travel rewards credit card, especially with a low 2% balance transfer fee. Sure, the introductory period is only for nine months, but the BBMO AIR MILES®† Mastercard®* makes it worth its while by adding an extra introductory perk: 800 bonus AIR MILES.

Pros
  • No annual fee.
  • Ability to earn unlimited rewards.


Cons
  • The introductory APR period for transfers is only nine months, so make sure you can pay off your balance during that window of time.
Card details
  • Welcome offer: Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles!* That’s enough for $80 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash.*
  • Get a 0.99% introductory interest rate on Balance Transfers for 9 months, 2% fee applies to balance amounts transferred.*
  • Get 3x the Miles for every $25 spent at participating AIR MILES Partners and 2x the Miles for every $25 spent at any eligible grocery store.*
  • Get 1 Mile for every $25 spent everywhere else.*
  • Use your BMO AIR MILES Mastercard and AIR MILES Collector Card at an AIR MILES Partner to earn Reward Miles from both.*
  • No annual fee.*
  • Receive a discount on car rentals.*
  • Extended Warranty.*
  • Purchase Protection.*
  • *Terms and conditions apply.
  • BMO is not responsible for maintaining the content on this site. Please click on the Apply now link for the most up to date information.

Honourable mention for: Cash back with no annual fee

Scotia Momentum® No-Fee Visa* card


$0

19.99% / 22.99%

0.5%-1%

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 0.99% 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 October 31, 2024.


Cons
  • No premium perks or benefits.
  • The balance transfer promotional period cannot be used to transfer a balance from another Scotiabank Account.
Card details
  • Special Offer: Earn 5% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months (up to $2,000 in total purchases). Plus, get 0.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (22.99% after that; annual fee $0). Offer expires Oct. 31, 2024.
  • 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 for: Student newcomers

BMO CashBack® Mastercard®* for Students


$0

20.99% / 22.99%

0.5%–5%

Up to $125
Our take
Why we like it

The BMO CashBack® Mastercard®* for Students 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.
Card details
  • Welcome offer: Get 5% cash back in your first 3 months.*
  • Then get 3% cash back on grocery purchases, 1% cash back on recurring bill payments and 0.5% unlimited cash back on all other purchases!*
  • Now earn the highest cash back on groceries in Canada without paying an annual fee!†
  • Get cash back every time you spend, plus start building a healthy credit history.
  • Want to get your cash back ASAP? Now you can redeem your cash back anytime through direct deposit, as a credit on your statement or into your BMO InvestorLine account.*
  • No Annual fee.*
  • Extended Warranty.*
  • Purchase Protection.*
  • Receive a discount on car rentals.*
  • *Terms and conditions apply.
  • †Statement based on a comparison of the non-promotional grocery rewards earn rate on Canadian cash back credit cards as of January 4, 2023.
  • BMO is not responsible for maintaining the content on this site. Please click on the Apply now link for the most up to date information.

Best for: Scene+ Points with no annual fee

Scotiabank® Scene+™ Visa* Card


$0

20.99% / 22.99%

1x-2x Points

Up to 7,500 Points
Our take
Why we like it

Perfect for movie-goers, you’ll earn Scene+ points on everyday spending and 2x the points each time you make a Cineplex purchase. Points can be redeemed for more than just movie tickets — rewards include merchandise, dining, entertainment, airfare and even hotel stays.

Pros
  • No annual fee.
  • Earn up to 7,500 Scene points within the first year.
  • Flexible point redemption program.


Cons
  • Insurance coverage isn’t included — it must be opted into.
  • No option to earn cash back.
Card details
  • Earn up to 7,500 bonus Scene+ points within your first 3 months¹
  • No annual fee in the first year, including on supplementary cards¹
  • Earn 2x Scene+ points¹ on every $1 you spend at Sobeys, Safeway, IGA, Foodland, participating Co-ops, Freshco and more
  • Earn 2x Scene+ points¹ for every $1 you spend on Home Hardware, Home Building Center, Home Furniture locations in Canada and online at homehardware.ca
  • Earn 2x Scene+ points¹ for every $1 you spend at Cineplex theatres or online at cineplex.com
  • Plus earn 1 Scene+ point for every $1 spent on all other eligible everyday purchases
  • Rates, fees and other information are effective as of Mar 1, 2024. Subject to change.
  • Terms and Conditions Apply. Click ‘Apply Now’ for complete details.

Best for: Scene+ Points

Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card


$150

20.99% / 22.99%

1x-3x Points

Up to 35,000 Points
Our take
Why we like it

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card offers competitive earn rates and easy-to-understand redemption on travel — 1 point equals 1 cent in travel savings.

Pros
  • Complimentary Visa Airport Companion Program membership, with six free airport lounge visits included every year, which is more than typically included with a credit card.
  • No foreign transaction fees.


Cons
  • The accelerated rate on travel purchases only lasts three months — but you can earn up to 42,500 points, worth $425 in travel savings.
  • The annual $1,000 bonus requires you to spend $40,000 per year on everyday spending on the card.
Card details
  • Earn up to $1,100+ in value in the first 12 months, including up to 35,000 bonus Scene+ points and first year annual fee waived on your first supplementary card. Offer Ends January 3, 2024.
  • The only major bank credit card offering you no foreign transaction fees, including for shopping online or abroad.
  • Your Award Winning Card For Travel.
  • Earn 2 Scene+ points on every $1 you spend on eligible grocery stores, dining, entertainment purchases, and daily transit purchases (including buses, subways, taxis and more).
  • Earn 1 Scene+ point on every $1 you spend on all other eligible purchases.
  • You’ll earn 3X Scene+ points for each dollar charged to your account on all eligible purchases¹ at Sobeys, IGA, Safeway, Foodland, FreshCo, Voilà by Sobeys, Voilà by IGA, Voilà by Safeway, Chalo! FreshCo, Thrifty Foods, IGA West, Les Marchés TradItIon, Rachelle Béry and Co-Op.
  • Airport lounge access through complimentary Visa Airport Companion Program membership, plus six complimentary lounge visits per year from the date of enrollment, providing you with access to 1,200+ airport lounges globally, including participating Plaza Premium Lounges.
  • Visa Infinite* benefits including Visa Infinite Concierge, Visa Infinite* Luxury Hotel Collection, Visa Infinite* Dining Series, and Entertainment & Lifestyle Offers.
  • Access to Scotia SelectPay™.
  • To be eligible, $60,000 (individual) or $100,000 (household) annual income is required, or a minimum assets under management of $250,000. 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. Click ‘Apply Now’ for complete details.
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Best secured credit cards for newcomers to Canada

The following cards are some of the best secured cards on the market. Instead of relying on your credit history to determine eligibility, they require a cash deposit. The deposit is typically the credit limit for the card. So, if your deposit is $1,000, for example, your credit limit will likely be $1,000. 

Best for: Cash-back rewards

Neo Secured Credit


$0

19.99%-29.99% / 22.99%-31.99%

$50

$10,000
Our take
Neo Secured Credit is a no-fee card that earns cash back rewards 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 29.99% for some users.
Card details
  • Build credit history with on-time payments.
  • Set your credit limit and get started with as little as $50.
  • Guaranteed approval with no credit score needed to apply.
  • Earn 1% cashback on all gas and grocery purchases.
  • 0.5% guaranteed monthly minimum cashback.
  • No monthly or annual fees.
  • Upgrade to Premium and earn exclusive benefits and boosted rewards, like 3% cashback on all gas and grocery and free credit monitoring.
  • Personalized Insights AI generates tailored information and recommendations designed specifically for you.

Best for: No annual fee secured

Home Trust Secured Visa (No annual fee)


$0

19.99%

$500

$10,000
Our take
Why we like it

The Home Trust Secured Visa offers a straightforward, no-frills experience for credit builders. Plus, there are two secured credit card options to fit a variety of needs: a no-fee card, and a low-interest card with a $59 annual fee.

Pros
  • No annual fee.
  • Payments are reported to both credit bureaus.


Cons
  • You’ll need to budget for the $500 minimum deposit.
  • No ability to earn rewards on purchases.
Card details
  • No annual fee.
  • Lower interest rate available for a $59 annual fee.
  • $500 minimum security fund deposit required.
  • $10,000 maximum security fund deposit.
  • Hard credit checks are made on Home Trust Secured Visa applications.
  • Credit activity, including every payment, is reported to TransUnion and Equifax, the two major consumer credit bureaus in Canada.
  • Ability to upgrade to an unsecured credit card.
  • Manage your account and billing online.
  • Cardholders can choose between a card with no annual fee and 19.99% interest or an annual fee of $59 and 14.90% interest.
  • Protection against fraud through Visa’s Zero Liability Policy.
  • Preferred rates: 19.99% for purchases and cash advances.
  • To be eligible, you must have a source of income and cannot currently be in bankruptcy. You must also be a Canadian resident of the age of majority in the province or territory where you live. The Home Trust Secured Visa Card is not available to Québec residents.

Best for: Low-interest secured

Home Trust Secured Visa Card


$0 / $59

14.90% / 19.99%

N/A

N/A

Best for: Travel insurance

Capital One Guaranteed Secured Mastercard


$59

19.80% / 21.90%

$75

$2,500
Our take
Why we like it

The Capital One Guaranteed Secured Mastercard is one of the few secured credit cards that comes with a suite of insurance benefits and premium perks.

Pros
  • Price protection, extended warranty, travel benefits and several types of insurance, including up to $250,000 in Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance are included.
  • A low $75 minimum deposit is affordable for most consumers.


Cons
  • No ability to earn rewards on purchases.
  • Your credit limit can’t surpass the $2,500 maximum security funds deposit, which is lower than what other secured credit cards typically offer.
Card details
  • $59 annual fee.
  • $75 or $300 minimum security fund deposit is required.
  • $2,500 maximum security fund deposit.
  • Hard credit checks are made on Capital One Guaranteed Secured Mastercard applications.
  • Credit activity, including every payment, is reported to TransUnion and Equifax, the two major consumer credit bureaus in Canada.
  • Ability to upgrade to an unsecured credit card.
  • Guaranteed approval, as long as you meet eligibility requirements.
  • Includes Capital One Price Protection Service, Purchase Assurance, and Extended Warranty coverage that automatically doubles the original manufacturer’s warranty for up to two years on most items.
  • Cardholders benefit from Mastercard Global Service, which includes emergency cash advances, and Zero Liability for unauthorized use of the card.
  • Access to travel benefits: Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance (up to $250,000), a Car Rental Collision/Loss Damage Waiver, baggage delay, and travel assistance.
  • Preferred rates: 19.80% for purchases and balance transfers, 21.90% for cash advances.
  • To be eligible, you must be able to provide security funds and be the age of majority in the province or territory where you live. In addition, you don’t have an existing Capital One account or a pending application for one, haven’t applied for a Capital One account more than once in the last 30 days or had a Capital One account that was not in good standing in the last year.

Best for: Small businesses

ScotiaLine® for business Visa Credit Card (Secured)


$0

Prime + 1%


Our take
Why we like it

With no annual fee and up to $500,000 of credit available, the ScotiaLine for Business VISA Credit Card (Secured) is a solid choice for business owners who do not qualify for a traditional credit card.

Pros
  • No annual fee.
  • Low interest rate.
  • Up to $500,000 credit limit.


Cons
  • No rewards.
  • No welcome offer.
Card details
  • No annual fee.
  • Free supplementary cards and personalized cheques.
  • Discounts on car rentals.
  • Low interest rate (Prime + 1%).
  • Unsecured version available.
  • Purchase protection and extended warranty coverage.
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Methodology to choose the best credit cards in Canada

NerdWallet Canada selects the best credit cards based on overall consumer value and their suitability for specific kinds of consumers. Factors in our evaluation methodology include annual and other fees, rewards rates, the earning structure (for example, flat-rate rewards versus bonus categories), redemption options, bonus offers for new cardholders, introductory and ongoing APRs, and other noteworthy features such as airline or hotel perks or the ability to transfer points. Charge cards are not included on this list.

    Summary of the best credit cards for newcomers

    Card nameBest forAnnual fee
    BMO CashBack MastercardBest for: Cash back.$0.
    BMO AIR MILES MastercardBest for: AIRMILES.$0.
    Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa cardHonourable mention for: Cash back with no annual fee.$0.
    BMO CashBack Mastercard for StudentsBest for: Student newcomers.$0.
    Scotiabank Scene+ Visa CardBest for: Scene+ Points with no annual fee.$0.
    Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite CardBest for: Scene+ Points.$150.
    SECURED CREDIT CARDS
    Neo Secured CardBest for: Cash-back reward.$0 ($4.99 a month for premium version).
    Home Trust Secured Visa Card (No Annual Fee)Best for: No annual fee secured.$0.
    Home Trust Secured Visa CardBest for: Low-interest secured.$59 for 14.90% APR ($0 for 19.99% APR) .
    Capital One Guaranteed Secured MastercardBest for: Travel insurance.$59.
    ScotiaLine for Business VISA Credit Card - SecuredBest for: Small businesses.$0.

    What to know about newcomer credit cards

    Regardless of whether you had good or bad credit in your previous country, you can’t typically transfer your credit history to Canada. So, if you’re a newcomer, you’ll need to build up your credit from scratch. Getting a credit card for newcomers is one way to do this. 

    A good credit score in Canada can help you rent a property, secure a loan (e.g., a mortgage, get credit cards with top-tier perks and even gain employment. 

    How do credit cards for newcomers work?

    Credit cards for newcomers are either directly marketed as newcomer cards or cards that don’t require credit checks, such as secured cards. 

    In many cases, you cannot apply for a credit card until you have moved to Canada and can provide a valid residential address. 

    Account requirements

    You may be required to open a newcomers bank account with an issuer before you can apply for one of its credit cards. This is particularly true with unsecured credit cards that do not require a deposit. 

    Credit limit

    Credit cards for newcomers typically have low credit limits, such as $5,000. But limits can go as high as $15,000 depending on the issuer. Secured credit card limits are based on the amount you put down as a deposit, but the issuer may set a maximum deposit, such as $10,000.   

    Newcomer eligibility

    You typically have to prove that you are new to the country to qualify for a newcomer credit card. This may mean submitting documents that reflect a landed immigrant status within the last five years. Or, as a foreign worker, you may need to provide a work permit that’s valid for at least 12 months.    

    Additional eligibility factors

    Issuers may use income, employment status, rental or mortgage information, age and other criteria to determine eligibility. You may need to provide a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to get a credit card, so if you don’t already have one, you can learn how to apply here.

    Check that you meet all of the issuer’s requirements before you submit a credit card application. Knowing if you are eligible can help you avoid any unnecessary credit denials to your Canadian credit history.    

    How to build credit with a newcomers credit card

    Here are a few quick tips for building your credit with a credit card:

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