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Published November 28, 2022

25 Best Rewards Credit Cards in Canada of 2022

Compare the best rewards credit cards in Canada across numerous rewards categories, including travel, cash back and more.

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.

Nearly to 88% of Canadian credit cards offer some type of rewards program, according to a 2021 report from Payments Canada. This is good news considering over 60% of Canadians said the ability to earn loyalty rewards or discounts was one of their top reasons for using a credit card, according to the same report.

Compare our picks for the best rewards credit cards in Canada, offering travel rewards, cash back, gift cards and more so that you can find the optimal card for your goals and spending habits.

Best rewards credit cards in Canada

Best overall rewards card

American Express Cobalt® Card

American Express Cobalt® Card
  • Annual Fee
    $155.88
  • Interest Rates
    20.99% / 21.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    1x-5x Points
  • Intro Offer
    Up to 30,000 Points
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    The American Express Cobalt Card boasts high rewards rates on everyday spending, a generous welcome bonus, comprehensive travel insurance coverage, flexible point redemption and plenty of specialty perks to keep things interesting all year long.

    Pros
    • Earn 150,000 points in the first year by spending up to $30,000 on eats, drinks and groceries. Combined with the 30,000 point intro offer, you could earn 180,000 points in your first year, which you could redeem for travel and more.
    • Easily transfer the points you earn to popular airline and hotel loyalty programs, such as Aeroplan and Marriott Bonvoy.


    Cons
    • Airport lounge access isn’t provided, which may disappoint some frequent travellers.
    • No travel medical coverage for cardmembers over the age of 65.
  • Product Details
    • In your first year as a new Cobalt Cardmember, you can earn 2,500 Membership Rewards® points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $500 in net purchases on your Card. This could add up to 30,000 points in a year. That’s up to $300 towards a weekend getaway or concert tickets.
    • Earn 5x the points on eligible eats and drinks in Canada, including groceries and food delivery.
    • Earn 3x the points on eligible streaming subscriptions in Canada.
    • Earn 2 points for every $1 spent on eligible transit & gas purchases in Canada and eligible travel purchases. That's 2X the points on purchases that get you from point A to B.
    • Earn 1 point for every $1 in Card purchases everywhere else. We won't tell you where to spend, we'll just reward you on your Card purchases.
    • Transfer points 1:1 to several frequent flyer and other loyalty programs.
    • Cobalt Cardmembers receive regular Perks such as bonus reward offers and access to great events.
    • Access Front Of The Line® Presale & Reserved Tickets to some of your favourite concerts and theatre performances and special offers and events curated for Cardmembers with American Express® Experiences.
    • American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details, current product information and Terms and Conditions, click the Apply now link. Conditions Apply.
Best overall business rewards card

American Express® Business Edge™ Card

American Express® Business Edge™ Card
  • Annual Fee
    $99
  • Interest Rates
    19.99% / 21.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    1x-10x Points
  • Intro Offer
    Up to 67,000 Points
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    There’s a lot of value packed into the American Express Business Edge Card: a manageable annual fee, impressive earn rates on common business purchases, and a wide range of perks and special offers, such as business and expense management tools and payment flexibility.

    Pros
    • The generous welcome offer and 1,000-point monthly spend bonus should be attainable for many businesses.
    • A healthy earn rate on several everyday business purchases, like office supplies, electronics and gas.
    • Ability to add up to 99 supplementary cards — and up to $100,000 in coverage in case of employee misuse.


    Cons
    • Not all retailers accept American Express.
    • Because of the relatively low spending limits associated with the 10x and 3x earn rates, the increased rewards may not be in effect for long for some businesses.
    • Limited insurance coverage included.
  • Product Details
    • Earn up to 67,000 welcome bonus Membership Rewards® points.
    • Earn 45,000 Welcome Bonus points when you charge $5,000 in purchases to your Card in your first three months of Cardmembership.
    • Plus, earn 10x the points for every $1 spent on eligible business essentials including office supplies & electronics, rides & gas, eats & drinks within 6 months of Cardmembership, up to a maximum of 10,000.
    • You can earn an extra 1,000 Membership Rewards points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $3,000 in purchases on your Card. This could add up to 12,000 extra points in a year.
    • That’s $670 in statement credits that can be reinvested in your business.
    • Earn points that you can redeem in a variety of ways.
    • Earn 3x the points for Card purchases on eligible business essentials including office supplies & electronics, rides & gas, eats & drinks when your Welcome Offer ends. Caps and other conditions may apply.
    • Earn 1x the points on all other purchases charged to the Card.
    • Use points to offset business expenses. Membership Rewards® allows you to offset business expenses by covering the cost of purchases made on your Card, in full or in part. Redeem points for statement credits and to book flights, hotels, and car rentals.
    • Transfer points to frequent flyer and hotel programs, including one-to-one to Aeroplan®* and Avios.
    • Make the most out of a full suite of business management tools that give you more control over your business - anytime and anywhere.
    • Leverage your cash flow with the option of carrying a balance or paying in full each month.
    • Employee Card Misuse Protection is a benefit created specifically for business owners and it provides coverage of up to $100,000 per Basic Cardmember in the event an employee misuses their Supplementary Card for unauthorized charges.
    • Access coverage that can protect your business purchases when you charge the full price of eligible items to your American Express Business Edge™ Card.
    • Protect your eligible purchases against accidental physical damage and theft for up to 90 days with Purchase Protection® Plan.
    • Double the manufacturer’s original warranty up to one additional year with Buyer’s Assurance® Protection Plan.
    • 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.
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Best for travel rewards

Best overall travel card

TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card

TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card
  • Annual Fee
    $139
    Waived first year
  • Interest Rates
    20.99% / 22.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    1x-1.5x Points
  • Intro Offer
    Up to 50,000 Points
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    The TD Bank Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card provides access to exclusive food, golf and drink experiences, making it an excellent choice for shoppers with a taste for the finer things. The $7,500 spending target in the first year should put the introductory point offers within reach for many cardholders.

    Pros
    • A low annual fee and unique perks, including 10% off car rentals at Avis and Budget.
    • Earn points twice when you provide your Aeroplan number.


    Cons
    • Opportunities for earning more than 1.5x the points are rather limited.
    • Some perks, like a once-every-four-years NEXUS rebate, might not blow your hair back.
  • Product Details
    • Intro offer details: Earn up to 50,000 Aeroplan points†. Plus, first year no Annual Fee†. Conditions Apply. Must apply online by January 3, 2023.
    • To receive the first-year annual fee rebate, you must activate your Card and make your first Purchase on the Account within the first 3 months after Account opening and you must add your Additional Cardholders by January 4, 2023.
    • Earn 1.5 points† for every $1 spent on eligible gas, grocery and direct through Air Canada® purchases (including Air Canada Vacations®) made with your card.
    • Earn 1 point† for every $1 spent on all other Purchases made with your Card.
    • Earn points twice when you pay with your Card and provide your Aeroplan number at over 150 Aeroplan partner brands and at 170+ online retailers via the Aeroplan eStore (www.aeroplan.com/estore).
    • Interest Rates: 20.99% on purchases and 22.99% on cash advances.
    • Earn big rewards on the little things: Earn 50% more Aeroplan Points and 50% more Stars at participating Starbucks® stores. Simply link your TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card to your Starbucks® Rewards account. Conditions apply.
    • Your Aeroplan Points do not expire as long as you are a TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Cardholder in good standing.
    • Travel lightly through the airport and save on baggage fees†: Primary Cardholders, Additional Cardholders, and travel companions (up to eight) travelling on the same reservation will all enjoy their first checked bag free (up to 23kg/50lbs) when your travel originates on an Air Canada flight.
    • Complimentary Visa Infinite Concierge†: On-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the Visa Infinite Concierge can help with any Cardholder request — big or small, to help you get the most out of life whenever you travel, shop and use your Card.
    • Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection†: Receive seven exclusive benefits when you book your stay through the Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection featuring over 900 of the world’s most intriguing properties.
    • Travel Medical Insurance†: Up to $2 million of coverage for the first 21 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.
    • Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance†: For Trip Cancellation coverage of up to $1,500 per insured person, with a maximum of $5,000 for all insured persons, and for Trip Interruption coverage of up to $5,000 per insured person, with a maximum of $25,000 for all insured persons on the same covered trip.
    • To be eligible, a $60,000 annual personal income or $100,000 household annual income is required. You must also be a Canadian resident and be 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.

Best intro offer for travel rewards

TD First Class Travel® Visa Infinite* Card

TD First Class Travel® Visa Infinite* Card
  • Annual Fee
    $139
    Waived first year
  • Interest Rates
    20.99% / 22.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    2x-8x Points
  • Intro Offer
    Up to 145,000 Points
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    With a large welcome bonus and accelerated earn rate on travel booked through ExpediaForTD.com, the TD First Class Travel® Visa Infinite* Card is perfect for travellers aiming to score free flights and hotel visits.

    Pros
    • A huge welcome bonus worth $1014 — provided you take full advantage of the intro offer ($675), the annual fee rebate for yourself ($139), an additional cardholder ($50), birthday bonus ($50), and annual travel credit ($100).
    • Travel expenses eligible for redemption include more than just hotel stays and flights – baggage fees, airport parking, car rentals, cruises, travel attractions, entertainment and more are all fair game.


    Cons
    • This card doesn’t have as many travel perks as others on the list, but you can quickly earn free flights and hotel stays.
    • No free airport lounge access — you only receive an annual discount on a Priority Pass lounge membership.
  • Product Details
    • Earn up to 145,000 TD Rewards Points† plus, first year no Annual Fee for the Primary and Additional Cardholders†. Conditions Apply. Must apply by May 28, 2023.
    • Earn 8 TD Rewards Points† for every $1 you spend when you book travel through Expedia® For TD†.
    • Earn 6 TD Rewards Points† for every $1 you spend on Groceries and Restaurants†.
    • Earn 4 TD Rewards Points† for every $1 you spend on regularly recurring bill payments set up on your Account†.
    • Earn 2 TD Rewards Points For every $1 you spend on other Purchases made using your Card† plus earn an annual Birthday Bonus† of up to 10,000 TD Rewards Points.
    • No travel blackouts†, no seat restrictions† and no expiry† for your TD Rewards Points as long as your account is open and in good standing.
    • Each year, you will receive one $100.00 TD Travel Credit on your first Eligible Travel Credit Purchase of $500.00 or more made with Expedia For TD and posted to the Account in a calendar year.
    • Interest Rates: 20.99% on purchases and 22.99% on cash advances.
    • Go Places on Points: Your Points are worth more when you redeem through Expedia® For TD: Search over a million flights, hotels, packages and more! When you’re ready to book, you can redeem† your TD Rewards Points towards your travel purchase right away.
    • Redeem your TD Rewards Points towards making purchases at Amazon.ca with Amazon Shop with Points. Conditions apply.
    • Shop online through TDRewards.com Redeem your TD Rewards Points for great deals on a wide selection of merchandise and gift cards.
    • Option to purchase TD Auto Club Membership†: and be covered 24 hours a day for emergency roadside assistance services in case something goes wrong when you are out on the road.
    • Travel Medical Insurance†: Up to $2 million of coverage for the first 21 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.
    • Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance†: For Trip Cancellation, up to $1,500 of coverage per insured person, with a maximum of $5,000 for all insured persons, and for Trip Interruption, up to $5,000 of coverage per insured person, with a maximum of $25,000 for all insured persons on the same covered trip.
    • 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.

Best for hotels

Marriott Bonvoy® American Express®* Card

Marriott Bonvoy® American Express®* Card
  • Annual Fee
    $120
  • Interest Rates
    19.99% / 22.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    2x-5x Points
  • Intro Offer
    50,000 Points
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    The Marriott Bonvoy® American Express®* Card helps travellers earn free stays and experiences at some of the world’s ritziest hotels, restaurants and spas, while also providing helpful insurance options and flexibility in how Marriott Bonvoy® points can be used.

    Pros
    • Solid earn rates should help members of the Marriott Bonvoy® program score free hotel stays.
    • Marriott Bonvoy® points can be transferred to frequent flyer miles with some airlines, including Air Canada’s Aeroplan.
    • Access to American Express® Experiences and several varieties of insurance.


    Cons
    • You’ll need to be a Marriott Bonvoy® member to take advantage of the card’s most valuable benefits.
    • American Express isn’t always as widely accepted as some other credit cards, so using the Marriott Bonvoy® American Express®* — and collecting points — everywhere you go might not always be possible.
  • Product Details
    • New Marriott Bonvoy® American Express®* Cardmembers earn 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points after you charge $1,500 in purchases to your Card in your first three months of Cardmembership. Subject to change at any time
    • Earn 5 points for every $1 spent in eligible Card purchases at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®.
    • Earn 2 points for every $1 spent in all other Card purchases.
    • Receive an Annual Free Night Award for up to 35,000 points at eligible hotels and resorts worldwide every year after your first anniversary.
    • No annual fee on Additional Cards.
    • Redeem points for free nights with no blackout dates at over 7,000 of the world’s most desired hotels.
    • Automatic Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status membership.
    • Receive 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year with your Marriott Bonvoy® American Express®* Card. These can be used towards attaining the next level of Elite status in the Marriott Bonvoy program.
    • Enjoy an automatic upgrade to Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status when you reach $30,000 in purchases on the Card each year or when you combine 10 qualifying paid nights within one calendar year with the 15 Elite Night Credits from your card.
    • 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 Visa Infinite Privilege card with airline rewards

CIBC Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege Card

CIBC Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege Card
  • Annual Fee
    $599
    Annual fee rebate available
  • Interest Rates
    20.99% / 22.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    1.25x-2x Points
  • Intro Offer
    Up to 75,000 Points
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    The CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege card is loaded with enough attractive features — solid travel perks, an annual Companion Pass, low interest rates on major purchases — to make the high cost of entry worth it for some consumers.

    Pros
    • A generous introductory offer.
    • Lounge access and priority status for you and your fellow travellers can bring comfort and enhanced convenience to a long day of travel.


    Cons
    • A high annual fee and steep income requirements.
    • Qualifying for the annual Companion Pass requires a level of spending some cardholders may not be on board with.
  • Product Details
    • Intro offer details: You’ll receive 20,000 Aeroplan points when you make your first purchase, another 25,000 if you spend $3,000 or more during your first four monthly statement periods, and 30,000 more (2,500 points per month) if you charge at least $2,000 to your card each month in the first year. This offer only applies to newly approved card accounts.
    • 2x Aeroplan points on Air Canada purchases, including Air Canada Travel Vacations.
    • 1.5x Aeroplan points on gas, groceries, travel and dining, up to annual $100,000 spend.
    • 1.25x Aeroplan points on other purchases.
    • Earn points twice by providing your Aeroplan number at over 150 Aeroplan partner brands and over 170 online retailers through the Aeroplan eStore.
    • Points can be redeemed for flights, car rentals and hotel stays, as well as complete vacation packages like cruises and all-inclusive resort visits. Points can also be redeemed for gift cards and merchandise sold through the Aeroplan eStore.
    • $599 annual fee, which can be reduced by up to $139 each year if you have a CIBC Smart Plus account.
    • An annual Worldwide Companion Pass, worth up to $599, to any destination in the world that Air Canada flies when you spend $25,000 on your card.
    • Exclusive access to Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Program, Visa Infinite Dining Series and the Visa Infinite Wine Country Program.
    • Reach Aeroplan Elite status sooner by earning 1,000 Status Qualifying miles and one Status Qualifying segment for every $5,000 you spend on eligible purchases.
    • Save up to 25% on car rentals at participating Avis and Budget locations.
    • Authorized users can access travel benefits when travelling without you by linking their Aeroplan number.
    • Access to CIBC Pace It, an installment plan designed to help you pay off large or unexpected purchases over time at a lower interest rate.
    • 13 types of insurance provided, including 31-day travel medical benefits (10 days if you’re 65 or older on your departure date) — worth up to $5 million in coverage per insured person.
    • Preferred rates: 20.99% for purchases, 22.99% for cash advances.
    • To be eligible, $150,000 (individual) or $200,000 (household) annual income is required. You must be a Canadian resident who has reached the age of majority in your province or territory and who hasn’t made a bankruptcy claim in the last seven years.
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Best for cash back rewards

Best overall cash back card with a flat-rate

SimplyCash® Preferred Card from American Express

SimplyCash® Preferred Card from American Express
  • Annual Fee
    $119.88
  • Interest Rates
    20.99% / 21.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    2%-4%
  • Intro Offer
    Up to $400
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    Get rewarded at the gas station and grocery store with 4% cash back, plus enjoy a high ongoing flat-rate of 2% cash back on everything else.

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


    Cons
    • The bonus rewards rate on gas and groceries drops down to 2% after a $30,000 annual spend.
  • Product Details
    • In your first 10 months as a new SimplyCash® Preferred Card from American Express Cardmember, you can earn a $40 statement credit for each monthly billing period in which you spend $750 in purchases on your Card. This could add up to $400 in statement credits in the first 10 months.
    • Earn accelerated earn rates on eligible gas and grocery purchases.
    • Earn 4% cash back on eligible gas station purchases in Canada, 4% cash back on eligible grocery store purchases in Canada (up to $1,200 cash back annually) and 2% cash back on all other purchases.
    • Access events and special offers curated for Cardmembers with American Express® Experiences.
    • 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.

Scotia Momentum® Visa Infinite* Card

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: Earn 10% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months (up to $2,000 in total purchases). No annual fee in the first year, including on supplementary cards. Offer ends April 30, 2023.
    • 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.

Best overall cash back rewards card

BMO CashBack® World Elite® Mastercard®

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.

Best no-fee cash back card

MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus® Mastercard®

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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Best rewards cards for no credit or bad credit

Best rewards card for fair credit + great for balance transfers

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

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.

Best secured card for cash back

Neo Card™ (Secured)

Neo Card™ (Secured)
  • Annual Fee
    $0
  • Interest Rates
    19.99%-26.99%
  • Min. Deposit
    $50
  • Maximum Deposit
    $10,000
  • Our Take
    The Neo Card™ (Secured) 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 26.99% for some users.
    • While Neo plans to report card activity to TransUnion, the company has confirmed that this function isn't fully operational yet, so the credit-building benefits of this card will be delayed.
  • Product Details
    • Earn a 0.5% cash back guarantee, an average of 5% unlimited cash back at thousands of Neo partners, and up to 15% cash back on your first purchase at participating partners.
    • 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 “Secured Card” as the type of credit you are looking for.
    • Hard credit checks are not made on applications.
    • Guaranteed approval, as long as you meet eligibility requirements.
    • Ability to upgrade to an unsecured rewards credit card.
    • Link your account to a Neo Money™ account and earn 2.25% interest on savings.
    • Purchase rates range from 19.99%-26.99%. 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 rewards card for Canadian newcomers

Scotia Momentum® Mastercard®* Credit Card

Scotia Momentum® Mastercard®* Credit Card
  • Annual Fee
    $0
  • Interest Rates
    20.99% / 22.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    0.5%-1%
  • Intro Offer
    N/A
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    For shoppers looking to build their credit and earn cash back, the Scotia Momentum® Mastercard®* has them covered.

    Pros
    • A low introductory interest rate for six months if you apply by January 3, 2023.
    • No annual fee.
    • A 1% cash back earn rate on everyday purchases.


    Cons
    • Forgetting when the introductory interest rate expires could result in higher interest charges than anticipated.
    • Few perks to speak of, so those looking for a more robust offering of perks or rewards may need to keep searching.
  • Product Details
    • Special Offer: 7.99% introductory interest rate on purchases for the first 6 months (20.99% after that).
    • No annual fee.
    • Earn 1% cash back on all eligible gas station, grocery store, drug store purchases and recurring payments.
    • Earn 0.5% cash back on all other eligible purchases.
    • Redeem cash back as a statement credit in November.
    • Save up to 25% off base rates at participating AVIS locations and at participating Budget locations in Canada and the U.S.
    • 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.

Best prepaid rewards card

KOHO Premium Reloadable Prepaid Mastercard

KOHO Premium Reloadable Prepaid Mastercard
  • Annual Fee
    $84
  • Rewards Rate
    0.5%-8%
  • Min. 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 $10 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 $10/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 rewards card for students

Simplii Financial™ Cash Back Visa Card

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.
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Best for points and lifestyle rewards

Best rewards card with no pre-set spending limit + great for 1:1 point transfers

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Annual Fee
    $699
  • Interest Rates
    Varies
  • Rewards Rate
    1x-3x Points
  • Intro Offer
    Up to 80,000 Points
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    This precision-cut and engraved metal Platinum Card boasts a generous intro offer, strong earn rates on rewards, and an impressive array of premium benefits and perks.

    Pros
    • From special reservations to insider tips, you can enhance your travel experiences with complimentary, personalized service from Platinum Concierge — available 24/7.
    • Benefit from a full suite of Platinum-level travel perks, such as worldwide airport lounge access, the Global Dining Collection, and more.


    Cons
    • Unless you plan to travel a lot, it may be difficult to offset the high $699 annual fee.
    • No travel medical coverage for cardmembers over the age of 65.
  • Product Details
    • Unlock special experiences with the Platinum Card®.
    • Earn up to 80,000 Membership Rewards® points - that’s up to $800 towards a weekend away.
    • New Platinum® Cardmembers, earn 60,000 Welcome Bonus points after you charge $6,000 in net purchases to your Card in your first 3 months of Cardmembership.
    • Plus, earn 20,000 points when you make a purchase between 14 and 17 months of Cardmembership.
    • Earn 3 points for every $1 in Card purchases on eligible dining and food delivery in Canada, 2 points for every $1 in Card purchases on eligible travel, and 1 point for every $1 in all other Card purchases.
    • You will have access to a $200 CAD Annual Travel Credit to use towards any single travel booking of $200 or more charged to your Platinum Card and made on www.americanexpress.ca/travel or through Platinum Card® Travel Service.
    • Take full advantage of The American Express Global Lounge Collection™ which unlocks access to over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide. This includes The Centurion® Lounge network, Plaza Premium Lounges, and hundreds of other domestic and international lounges designed to enhance your travel experience.
    • Enjoy flexible ways to use your points such as statement credits for any eligible purchase charged to your Card, new travel purchases booked on American Express Travel Online through the Flexible Points Travel Program, and eligible flights through the Fixed Points Travel Program.
    • Transfer points 1:1 to several frequent flyer and other loyalty programs.
    • Enjoy complimentary benefits that offer an average value of $550 USD at over 1,000 extraordinary properties worldwide when you book Fine Hotels + Resorts.
    • Platinum Cardmembers can enjoy access to special events and unique opportunities.
    • Enjoy premium benefits at the Toronto Pearson Airport such as discount on parking.
    • You will also have access to many leading hotel and car rental companies’ loyalty programs. Our partners include Marriott International, Hilton Hotels and Resorts, Radisson Hotel Group Americas, Hertz and Avis.
    • Interest applies in accordance with your Cardmember Agreement, Information Box, and Disclosure statement if the total New Balance is not paid by the Payment Due Date each month. All payments must be received by the Payment Due Date shown on the monthly statement.
    • 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 rewards card + great for students

American Express® Green Card

American Express® Green Card
  • Annual Fee
    $0
  • Interest Rates
    20.99% / 21.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    1x-2x Points
  • Intro Offer
    10,000 Points
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    The American Express Green Card has a simple rewards program with an accelerated earn rate on hotel and rental car bookings, and it’s easy to transfer your points to other loyalty programs for maximum redemption value. Oh, and the card itself is made from 99% recycled plastic.

    Pros
    • No limits on rewards spending, and more ways to redeem your points than other no-fee rewards credit cards on this list.
    • Cardholders who enjoy VIP treatment will enjoy access to a multitude of perks through American Express Experiences.


    Cons
    • Reward earn rates are lower than some other no-fee credit cards.
    • Lacks some of the travel perks and insurance options offered by other cards.
  • Product Details
    • Get the Card that lets you live in the moment while getting ready for the future.
    • The American Express® Green Card lets you go for it with every swipe or tap of your Card.
    • As a new American Express® Green Cardmember, you can earn a Welcome Bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards® points when you charge $1,000 in purchases to your Card in the first 3 months of Cardmembership. That’s $100 towards groceries or concert tickets.
    • Earn 1x the points on Card purchases.
    • Charge an eligible purchase to your Card and redeem your Membership Rewards points for a statement credit (All eligible purchases: 1,000 points = $10 statement credit).
    • With American Express Experiences and Front Of The Line®, American Express Cardmembers get access to amazing events in Canada.
    • Transfer points 1:1 to several frequent flyer and other loyalty programs.
    • 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 low-rate rewards card + great for no FX fees

Scotiabank Platinum American Express® Card

Scotiabank Platinum American Express® Card
  • Annual Fee
    $399
  • Interest Rates
    9.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    2x Points
  • Intro Offer
    Up to 70,000 Points
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    With low rates and a generous rewards program, the Scotiabank Platinum American Express card is a unicorn for frequent travellers seeking luxury perks, premier travel benefits and exceptional interest rates on purchases and cash advances.

    Pros
    • Low interest rates, no foreign transaction fees, and an impressive insurance package that includes comprehensive travel insurance coverage and newly-added mobile device insurance.
    • Luxury travel privileges include 10 free VIP airport lounge visits per year with a complimentary Priority Pass membership.


    Cons
    • The $399 annual fee is quite a bit higher than other rewards cards, but frequent travellers seeking a low rate on purchases and cash advances can easily make the yearly cost worthwhile.
  • Product Details
    • Earn up to $2,250* in value in your first 14 months, including up to 70,000* bonus Scene+ points. Offer ends January 3, 2023.
    • You will not pay 2.5% foreign transaction fees on any foreign currency purchases, including online shopping and when travelling abroad. Only the exchange rate applies.
    • Earn 2X Scene+™ points for every $1 CAD you spend on all your eligible purchases.
    • Scene+ points can be redeemed for travel purchase, merchandise and other non-travel rewards such as gift cards and prepaid cards.
    • You must redeem a minimum of 5,000 points per travel-related rewards redemption, equivalent to $50 in travel savings. Points must be redeemed within 12 months of the purchase date.
    • $399 annual fee.
    • Redeem points for any flight, any time through Scene+ Travel, a full-service travel agency. Plus, take advantage of a best price guarantee on airfare.
    • Get a Hertz #1 Club Gold membership for special privileges and rental car benefits at over 8,500 locations in 147 countries.
    • Enjoy culinary events and experiences, entertainment, luxury fashion, tours, and more through American Express benefits, including American Express Invites, Platinum VIP offers and access to 24/7 premium concierge services for restaurant reservations, show tickets, and gift purchases.
    • Lounge access at over 600 VIP airport lounges around the world with a complimentary Priority Pass membership, which includes 10 free visits per year.
    • 12 types of insurance provided, including 31-day travel medical benefits — up to $2 million in coverage — for you, your spouse and any dependent children under the age of 65. 10-day coverage available for those over the age of 65.
    • Preferred rates: 9.99% for purchases, 9.99% 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.
    • Terms and Conditions Apply. Click 'Apply Now' for complete details.

Best for rewards on pre-authorized debits and everyday purchases

Laurentian Bank Visa Infinite card

Laurentian Bank Visa Infinite card
  • Annual Fee
    $130
  • Interest Rates
    19.99% / 21.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    1x-2x Points
  • Intro Offer
    N/A
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    The Laurentian Bank Visa Infinite card has a straightforward and generous rewards program, flexible redemption options, and comprehensive travel insurance coverage for the whole family.

    Pros
    • Rewards points won’t expire, and there are no spending caps on rewards and no limit to the number of points you can earn.
    • Impressive travel insurance coverage includes up to $5 million in out-of-province coverage, with clients aged 66 to 75 covered for up to 15 days — much longer than the industry average.


    Cons
    • No intro offer or bonus points.
    • A lack of premium travel perks, like airport lounge access or annual travel credits.
  • Product Details
    • Earn 2 points per dollar spent on pre-authorized debits, grocery, gas, travel and transportation.
    • Earn 1 point per dollar spent on everything else.
    • No limit to the number of points you can accumulate, and points don’t expire.
    • Redeem points to book a trip or for cash back, gift cards, merchandise and Laurentian Bank financial products.
    • Cashback starts at 10,000 points, and 10,000 points = $100 cashback on a Laurentian Bank Visa Infinite account.
    • $130 annual fee.
    • Travel insurance includes up to a $5 million out-of-province coverage, for the cardholder and family: maximum of 15 days for clients aged 66 to 75, or a maximum of 31 days for clients aged 65 and under.
    • Trip Cancellation, Delayed Baggage, Public Transportation Vehicle Accident, Auto Rental Collision/Loss Damage Insurance, Purchase Insurance, extended warranty, and Visa Zero Liability are also included.
    • Complimentary Concierge Service available 24/7.
    • Luxury Hotel Collection (benefits at over 900 prestigious properties worldwide.
    • Dining Series (extraordinary dining experiences at the country’s most highly anticipated new restaurants).
    • Visa Infinite Experiences (entertainment benefits and exclusive sports experiences).
    • Personalized service with the Reward Zone Program agency (Vision Travel): Book a trip, hotel or flight directly through the Reward Zone travel agency, and get 25% more points on every transaction made through the agency, and 24/7 assistance service for any changes to your itinerary.
    • 21-day interest-free payment deferment until the date shown on your statement.
    • Visa payWave* to quickly settle small purchases.
    • Card accepted in more than 200 countries.
    • No need to tell us when you are travelling, thanks to our advanced fraud detection systems.
    • Cash advances and withdrawals available from more than 1 million ABMs affiliated with the Visa, Interac and PLUS networks, 24 hours a day, worldwide.
    • Preferred rates: 19.99% for purchases, 21.99% for balance transfers, cash advances and Visa cheques.
    • Eligibility requirements: $60,000 personal or $100,000 household annual income. Must also be a Canadian resident of the age of majority in the province or territory of residence.Earn 2 points per dollar spent on pre-authorized debits, grocery, gas, travel and transportation.

Best rewards card for USD purchases

CIBC U.S. Dollar Aventura® Gold Visa* Card

CIBC U.S. Dollar Aventura® Gold Visa* Card
  • Annual Fee
    $35 USD
    Waived first year
  • Interest Rates
    20.99 / 22.99
  • Rewards Rate
    0.5x-1x Points
  • Intro Offer
    Up to 10,000 Points
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    Skip foreign currency conversion fees on USD purchases and earn flexbile rewards when shopping U.S. retailers in-store or online.

    Pros
    • Make payments in USD with no foreign transaction fees.
    • Flexible rewards redemption options.
    • Car rental, purchase security and common carrier accident insurance included.


    Cons
    • Foreign currency conversion fees still apply to purchases made in other international countries, so this card only benefits Canadians who frequently make USD purchases.
  • Product Details
    • Welcome offer: Get up to 10,000 Aventura Points (up to $100 in travel value). Get 500 Aventura Points for completing each of the following activities within 60 days of CIBC Aventura® Visa* card account approval: share your email address with CIBC, sign up for Aventura Visa card eStatements, add an authorized user on the Aventura Visa card, hold any eligible CIBC Chequing Account, and add the Aventura Visa card with Apple Pay® or Samsung Pay® or Google Pay™. 7,500 Aventura Points after you make your first purchase. Plus, get a one-time annual fee rebate ($35 US) for you (the primary cardholder) if your account is in good standing and you hold an eligible CIBC premium personal credit card and either the CIBC US$ Personal Account or the CIBC Bank USA Smart Account (offered by CIBC Bank USA), in good standing.
    • Earn 1 Aventura travel point for every $1 spent on travel purchased through the CIBC Rewards Centre.
    • Earn 1 Aventura travel point for every $2 spent on all other purchases.
    • Redeem Aventura Points for airfare, hotel stays, merchandise, gift cards and more.
    • Use your Aventura Points to help pay down your credit card balance or contribute them to select financial products.
    • $35 USD annual fee. One-time annual fee rebate available in your first year as a cardholder.
    • No currency conversion fees for USD purchases.
    • If your new purchase is lost, stolen or damaged within the first 90-days, your purchase may be protected by Purchase Security Insurance.
    • Preferred rates: 20.99% for purchases, 22.99% for cash advances (21.99% for Quebec residents).
    • Get Avis® and Budget® auto discounts.
    • Travel insurance and purchase protection are included with your card.
    • No foreign transaction fees.
    • To be eligible, $15,000 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 for loyalty program rewards

Best for Scene+ points + great for no FX fees

Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card

Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card
  • Annual Fee
    $120
    Waived first year
  • Interest Rates
    20.99% / 22.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    1x-6x Points
  • Intro Offer
    Up to 45,000 Points
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    Not only does the Scotiabank Gold American Express card reward you with impressive rates in six popular spending categories, but it also comes with no foreign exchange fees.

    Pros
    • No foreign exchange fee on any foreign currency purchases while travelling abroad or shopping online — you just have to pay the exchange rate.


    Cons
    • The bonus rewards rates drop down to the 1x flat rate after a $50,000 annual spend. This sounds like a lot, but much of your daily spending is probably included in the six bonus categories, so you might hit the limit faster than you’d think.
    • Your points will expire if you don’t use them within 12 months of the purchase date.
  • Product Details
    • Earn up to $850* in value in the first 12 months, including up to 45,000 bonus Scene+ points and first year annual fee waived¹ . Offer ends April 30, 2023.
    • You will not pay 2.5% foreign transaction fees on any foreign currency purchases, including online shopping and when travelling abroad. Only the exchange rate applies.
    • Earn 5X Scene+ points for every $1 CAD spent on eligible grocery stores, restaurants, fast food, and drinking establishments. Includes popular food delivery and food subscriptions.
    • Earn 5X Scene+ points for every $1 CAD spent on eligible entertainment purchases. Includes movies, theatre, and ticket agencies.
    • Earn 3X Scene+ points for every $1 CAD spent on eligible gas and daily transit. Includes rideshare, buses, taxis, subway, and more.
    • Earn 1X Scene+ point for every $1 spent on every other purchase.
    • You’ll earn 6X Scene+ points for each $1 CAD 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.
    • You must redeem a minimum of 5,000 points per travel-related rewards redemption, equivalent to $50 in travel savings. Points must be redeemed within 12 months of the purchase date.
    • Discounted Priority Pass™ membership, which grants you access to over 1200 VIP lounges around the world.
    • Score deals on shopping, dining, travel and more with Amex Offers®, and experience special events and discounts with American Express Invites®.
    • Access to Amex Front Of The Line® presale and reserved tickets.
    • To be eligible, $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.
    • Terms and Conditions Apply. Click 'Apply Now' for complete details.

Best for Aeroplan rewards + great for fair credit

American Express® Aeroplan® Reserve Card

American Express® Aeroplan® Reserve Card
  • Annual Fee
    $599
  • Interest Rates
    20.99% / 21.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    1.25x-3x Points
  • Intro Offer
    Up to 85,000 Points
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    Comprehensive travel insurance, Air Canada benefits, impressive earn rates and unlimited rewards make the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card a strong choice for frequent travellers.

    Pros
    • Strong earn rates with unlimited rewards.
    • Air Canada airport benefits, like Maple Leaf Lounge access, a free checked bag, Priority Airport Check-In, Priority Boarding for you and up to eight travel companions.


    Cons
    • A high $599 annual fee.
    • The highest earn rate only applies to Air Canada travel purchases, so this card might not be a good fit if you prefer another airline.
  • Product Details
    • New American Express® Aeroplan®* Reserve Cardmembers can earn up to 85,000 Aeroplan points:
    • Earn 55,000 Aeroplan points after spending $6,000 in net purchases on your Card within the first 6 months of Cardmembership.
    • Plus, you can also earn 5,000 Aeroplan points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $1,000 in purchases on your Card for the first 6 months of Cardmembership. That could add up to 30,000 Aeroplan points.
    • New Cardmembers: Earn up to $2,700 in value within your first year. Spend applies to bonus point offers valued at up to $1,700.
    • New Cardmembers: Receive up to $100 CAD in statement credits every four years when a NEXUS application or renewal fee is charged to your American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card.
    • Standard Earn Rate: Earn 3X the points on eligible purchases made directly with Air Canada®* and Air Canada Vacations®*.
    • Standard Earn Rate: Earn 2X the points on eligible Dining and Food Delivery purchases in Canada.
    • Earn 2X the points on eligible purchases with Rocky Mountaineer®**. Plus, you could receive a Complimentary Hotel Room Category Upgrade, on the first and last night, and a Complimentary Upgrade from SilverLeaf to GoldLeaf class of service when you book directly with Rocky Mountaineer using your Aeroplan Reserve Card.
    • Standard Earn Rate: Earn 1.25X the points on everything else.
    • Get through the airport quicker with Air Canada Priority Check-In, Air Canada Priority Boarding and Air Canada Priority Baggage Handling.
    • Receive one Annual Worldwide Companion Pass when you spend $25,000 in net purchases prior to your Card anniversary date; your Pass entitles you to buy an accompanying Air Canada economy class ticket for a companion at a fixed base fare from $99 to a maximum of $599 CAD (plus taxes, fees, charges, and surcharges).
    • Enjoy access to select Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges™* and Air Canada Café™ in North America for you and a guest, with a same day ticket on a departing Air Canada or Star Alliance flight.
    • Enjoy your eligible first checked bag free for up to 9 people travelling on the same reservation on Air Canada flights.
    • Roll over any unallocated Aeroplan Elite™* Status Qualifying Miles and unused eUpgrade Credits to the following year to enjoy during your travels.
    • American Express® Experiences opens doors for you to access a number of special events, including special dining experiences, VIP parties, advance film screenings and more.
    • Get more from your travel experience at Toronto Pearson International Airport with:
    • Access to Pearson Priority Security Lane.
    • Complimentary valet service at the Express Park and Daily Park.
    • 15% discount on parking rates at the Express Park and Daily Park.
    • 15% discount on Car Care Services.
    • Get access to more than 1,200 Priority Pass™ airport lounges and enjoy an oasis of comfort before your flight, regardless of your airline or cabin class.
    • 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 for AIR MILES rewards

BMO AIR MILES® World Elite® Mastercard®

BMO AIR MILES® World Elite® Mastercard®
  • Annual Fee
    $120
    Waived first year
  • Interest Rates
    20.99% / 23.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    0.08x-0.25x Miles
  • Intro Offer
    2,000 Miles
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    With airport perks, travel benefits, 24/7 concierge access, and an impressive standard earn rate — 1 AIR MILE for every $12 spent — the BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard offers frequent flyers a luxury travel experience at a great value.

    Pros
    • Airport lounge access with a complimentary membership in Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey.
    • Strong insurance policy, including up to $2 million in out-of-province/out-of-country emergency medical insurance.


    Cons
    • This card doesn’t offer accelerated earn rates on certain spending categories.
  • Product Details
    • Intro offer: Receive 2,000 Bonus Miles when you spend a minimum of $3,000 (less refunds and excluding cash advances, cash-like transactions, interest charges, fees, credit or debit adjustments) in net card purchases within the first three (3) months from the Credit Card open date. The primary cardholder annual fee of $120 will be waived in the first year and will appear as a fee and a credit on the primary cardholder's first statement. Offer is limited to new accounts. Applications must be received by July 31, 2023 to be eligible for these offers.
    • Get 1x AIR MILE for every $12 spent on your card.
    • Get 3x the Miles for every $12 spent at participating AIR MILES Partners and 2x the Miles for every $12 spent at any eligible grocery store*.
    • $120 annual fee, eligible to be waived during the first year.
    • BMO AIR MILES World Elite Travel and Medical Protection offer 15 days of out-of-province / out-of-country emergency medical protection up to $2 million, collision damage waiver on rental cars, and more.
    • Treat yourself to airport lounge access with a complimentary membership in Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey. For a complete list of open and eligible lounges, please visit airport.mastercard.com.
    • Enjoy free access to over one million Wi-Fi hotspots around the world with Boingo Wi-Fi for Mastercard Cardholders. Connect today by registering and activating your complimentary Boingo account.
    • Enjoy free 24-hour access to our experienced concierge staff.
    • Discover a world of Mastercard Travel Rewards cash back offers when you shop, dine and relax with our partners outside of Canada.
    • Access valuable benefits and offers for digital everyday services from a variety of on-demand apps and subscription services.
    • Shop confidently with an extended warranty and purchase protection.
    • Save up to 25% off rentals at participating National Car Rental and Alamo Rent a Car locations.
    • Collect Miles twice at participating AIR MILES Partners when you show your AIR MILES Card too.
    • Preferred rates: 20.99% on purchases and 23.99% on cash advances (21.99% for Quebec residents).
    • 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 Aventura rewards

CIBC Aventura® Visa Infinite Privilege* Card

CIBC Aventura® Visa Infinite Privilege* Card
  • Annual Fee
    $499
  • Interest Rates
    20.99% / 22.99%
  • Rewards Rate
    1.25x-3x Points
  • Intro Offer
    Up to 60,000 Points
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    A metal credit card equipped with all the bells and whistles of a high-end travel card: accelerated points on travel spending, air fare redemption options, airport lounge access and more.

    Pros
    • Six complimentary airport lounge visits, two NEXUS application fee rebates every four years, and a $200 annual travel credit.
    • Comprehensive travel insurance includes $5 million of out-of-province emergency travel medical coverage — 31-days for ages 65 and younger, and up to 10-days for ages 65 or older. You don’t even have to charge your trip to the card.
    • Flexible redemption options with points that never expire.


    Cons
    • Steep $499 annual fee.
    • High annual income requirement of $150,000 per individual or $200,000 per household.
  • Product Details
    • Welcome offer: Get a total of up to 60,000 Aventura Points (up to $1,200 in travel value) during the first year: 30,000 Aventura Points when cardholders spend $3,000 or more in the first 4 monthly statement periods; 30,000 Aventura Points when cardholders spend $2,000 or more each monthly statement during the first year.
    • Effective July 1, 2022: Receive 6 complimentary visits at 1,200+ lounges globally through Visa Airport Companion Program: over $250 value. Get a $200 annual Travel Credit. Plus, get a NEXUS™ Application Fee rebate: a $100 value.
    • Earn 3 points for every $1 spent on travel purchased through the CIBC Rewards Centre.
    • Earn 2 points for every $1 spent on eligible dining, entertainment, transportation, gas and groceries.
    • Earn 1.25 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
    • Earn 1.25 Aventura Points for every $4.00 spent on a CIBC Global Money Transfer™. There are no transaction fees and no interest charged as long as the balance is paid by the payment due date.
    • Redeem points for airline tickets, merchandise, gift cards and more.
    • Apply points toward a CIBC Aventura credit card balance or select CIBC financial products.
    • $499 annual fee.
    • Unwind at the airport in a relaxing lounge with 6 complimentary visits at 1,200+ lounges globally through Visa Airport Companion Program. Speed up border crossings with 2 NEXUS application fee rebates every 4 years.
    • Access business class bookings exclusive to this card for a future getaway.
    • Enjoy dedicated taxi and limo services, exclusive dining and wine experiences, VIP benefits at luxury hotels and more with Visa Infinite Privilege.
    • Get up to 25% off auto rentals at participating Avis® and Budget® locations worldwide when you pay with your Aventura card.
    • Link a Journie Rewards card to save on every fill-up at participating Pioneer, Fas Gas, Ultramar and Chevron gas stations.
    • Preferred rates: 20.99% for purchases, 22.99% for cash advances (21.99% for cash advances if you live in Quebec).
    • To be eligible, $150,000 (individual) or $200,000 (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 PC Optimum™ points

President’s Choice Financial World Elite Mastercard

President’s Choice Financial World Elite Mastercard
  • Annual Fee
    $0
  • Interest Rates
    20.97% / 22.97%
  • Rewards Rate
    10x-45x Points
  • Intro Offer
    N/A
  • Our Take
    Why we like it

    This card offers incredible accelerated earn rates on spending at the types of retailers people use every day — drug stores, grocery stores and gas stations — in addition to a high earn rate on trips booked through President’s Choice Travel.

    Pros
    • Quickly rack up points toward free groceries, gas, drug store purchases and travel.
    • A rare World Elite Mastercard with no annual fee.


    Cons
    • Points can only be earned and redeemed at participating Loblaw-owned stores, Shopper’s Drug Mart/Pharmapix, and Esso gas stations. You must wait until you have at least 10,000 points before redeeming rewards, and you can’t transfer them to other loyalty programs.
    • No airport lounge access, despite being a World Elite card.
  • Product Details
    • 45x PC Optimum points per dollar on Shoppers Drug Mart purchases.
    • 30x PC Optimum points per dollar on Loblaw-brand grocery store purchases.
    • 30x PC Optimum points per dollar per litre of gas purchased at Esso Mobil.
    • 30x PC Optimum points per dollar on PC Travel purchases.
    • 10x PC Optimum points per dollar on all other purchases.
    • Redeem a minimum of 10,000 points for free products and groceries at participating stores (in person and online).
    • No annual fee.
    • 24/7 concierge service to make dinner reservations, reserve event tickets, deliver gifts and more.
    • Access to identity theft services to help you avoid identity theft or restore your identity if stolen.
    • Four types of insurance provided, including 10-day travel medical benefits for those under age 65.
    • Preferred rates: 20.97% for purchases, 22.97% 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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Methodology

NerdWallet Canada selects the best general rewards credit cards based on overall consumer value. Factors in our evaluation include each card’s annual fee, foreign transaction fees, rewards earning rates, ease of use, redemption options, domestic and international acceptance, promotional APR period, bonus offers, insurance offers, and cardholder perks. Cards eligible for this list earn rewards through points or as rewards program dollars, which are redeemable for merchandise, gift cards, experiences and more, sometimes including travel.

Summary of the best rewards credit cards

Best overall rewards 

Best for travel rewards

Best for cash back rewards

Best for points and lifestyle rewards

Best for loyalty program rewards

Best rewards cards for no credit or bad credit

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How rewards credit cards work in Canada

By Barry Choi and Shannon Terrell

With so many choices out there, selecting a rewards credit card can quickly become overwhelming.

Do you go for a credit card that rewards you for shopping at a particular store, a card that has accelerated earn rates on a category that fits your lifestyle, a card that has flexible redemption options, or something else?

Knowing how rewards work before and after you apply for a rewards credit card can help you decide.

What is a rewards credit card?

With rewards credit cards, you can earn points or miles on just about every purchase you make. The type of rewards you get depends on the credit card you have. Additionally, how you can use your rewards depends on the loyalty program set up by the issuer.

What makes rewards credit cards appealing is the idea that everyday purchases could be transformed into something you really want, like tickets to a concert or a free first-class flight.

How rewards credit cards work

As far as usage is concerned, rewards credit cards are similar to any other credit card. You charge your purchases, and then you get your statement when your monthly billing period is up. It is especially important to pay off your balance with rewards cards because interest charges can erode the rewards you earn.

In other words, as long as you’re on top of your bills, you can earn some sweet rewards without doing anything extra.

Types of rewards credit cards

There are dozens of rewards cards out there, but generally speaking, you can break them down into five different categories. Knowing what’s typically included within each category is essential since it’ll help you determine what card is best for you.

Flexible-points credit cards

Most major financial institutions have a general rewards credit card. The points you earn can typically be redeemed for a variety of lifestyle rewards, such as entertainment, merchandise, gift cards or financial rewards, as well as travel purchases.

Unlike travel rewards cards, general rewards credit cards might not offer the same travel perks and benefits expected by frequent travellers, such as comprehensive travel insurance or free airport lounge visits. But, foregoing these perks often means a lower annual fee.

Airline rewards credit cards

Airline credit cards allow you to earn points or miles for a specific airline. What’s interesting about airline credit cards is that the points you earn can usually be used on any airline that’s part of its network.

For example, Aeroplan is the loyalty program for Air Canada. Even if you don’t have one of the best Aeroplan credit cards, or you can use your points for a flight on any carrier that’s part of the Star Alliance network. There are also some general travel rewards programs, such as Air Miles, that also earn miles and can offer some additional value.

Depending on the tier of your airline rewards credit card, you may get additional perks such as free checked bags, priority boarding and increased status. Having an airline credit card is highly lucrative if you frequently fly with one airline or network.

Hotel rewards credit cards

While some people love the idea of free flights, getting a luxury stay at a nice hotel appeals to other people. Some would argue that hotel rewards are better than airline rewards since some hotel chains have a greater reach. For example, Marriott has over 7,000 properties in 130+ countries, so no matter where you’re travelling, it won’t be hard to find a room where you can use your points.

Hotel rewards credit cards will also typically include benefits that will make your stay more comfortable. For instance, you could get early check-in and late check-out. You could also get free high speed Wi-Fi or enhanced status.

Travel rewards credit cards

If you’re not loyal to one specific airline or hotel chain, then a general travel rewards program is something that will interest you. The points you earn can typically be used for any type of travel redemption, such as airfare, hotels, car rentals, cruises, and even vacation packages. Since your points don’t belong to one specific program, you have more options.

Some travel credit cards only allow you to use your points when booking travel through their online portal, while others let you use your points for any travel purchases you charge to your card.

Store or brand rewards credit cards

Many major retailers have their own loyalty programs and some even have a co-branded credit card. If you were to sign up for their store credit card, you would usually earn more points on in-store and online purchases.

Admittedly, the overall rewards you earn with a store credit card may not be as lucrative compared to travel rewards, but they can still be valuable. For example, many store cards offer an immediate bonus when you apply. You may also get an immediate welcome bonus when you apply, such as 15% off on first-day purchases. Plus, most store credit cards don’t have an annual fee, so one could make sense if you frequently shop at the same store.

Gas rewards credit cards

If you’re often on the road, you may want to consider a gas rewards credit card. These cards offer points or cash back rewards whenever you spend money to top up your tank at a gas station. Some gas rewards cards offer accelerated earnings when you spend money on fuel — any time, anywhere. Other rewards cards only let you earn points when you visit eligible gas station chains.

Popular credit card rewards programs in Canada

Credit card rewards programs are very appealing, but with so many different ones available, it’s important to understand how each loyalty program generally works before choosing a card. You don’t need to know the ins and outs of every program, but you do want to have a general idea of what they can do for you and how you could use your points.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular rewards and loyalty programs in Canada:

Air Miles rewards

With nearly 10 million active Air Miles accounts in Canada, there’s a decent chance you’re already familiar with the Air Miles rewards program. Members collect Air Miles rewards — also called Rewards Miles — by making purchases at partner retailers using an Air Miles credit card. Rewards Miles can be redeemed for free flight tickets, cruise tickets, hotel stays, merchandise and more.

Aeroplan rewards

Aeroplan is a travel rewards loyalty program run by Air Canada, Canada’s largest airline.

Aeroplan points can be earned by signing up for an Aeroplan credit card; flying with Air Canada or any of its partner airlines, including Air India, Lufthansa and United; or booking qualifying hotel stays, car rentals and in-store purchases with Aeroplan’s brand partners, like Avis, Home Hardware and Sephora.

Like Air Miles rewards, Aeroplan points can be redeemed for flight tickets, hotel stays, gift cards and more.

PC Optimum rewards

The PC Optimum loyalty rewards program is owned and operated by Loblaws, a Canadian retail conglomerate. Members earn points each time they make qualifying purchases at eligible stores, including Loblaws, Real Canadian Superstore, No Frills and Shoppers Drug Mart. Members can also earn points when purchasing fuel at Mobil and Esso gas stations.

The PC Optimum points system is straightforward: every 10,000 points is worth $10 and can be applied to in-store purchases at partner stores. There’s even a PC Optimum mobile app to help you track points and special weekly offers.

American Express Membership rewards

AmEx carriers, this one’s for you: the American Express Membership rewards program is only available to — you guessed it — American Express cardholders. The program offers points every time you swipe your card on an eligible purchase. Points can be redeemed for travel experiences, merchandise, gift cards — you can even use your points to pay for Amazon purchases.

Petro-Points rewards

The Petro-Points rewards program offers points for visiting Petro-Canada gas stations. The system is straightforward enough: pump 1L of gas or spend $1 in-store — earn 10 Petro-Points. Points can be redeemed for fuel, car washes, in-store purchases or online gift cards.

Petro-Canada doesn’t issue its own credit cards but some RBC credit cards offer accelerated Petro-Point earn rates.

Cineplex SCENE Rewards

If you’ve visited a Cineplex theatre in the last decade, you’ve likely heard of SCENE points. What started out as a rewards program for Cineplex ticket purchases and concession stand spending has since evolved into a robust points system with numerous ways to earn and redeem, called Scene+. This new points system is the offspring of the Cineplex SCENE program and Scotia Rewards, Scotiabank’s credit card rewards program.

You can still earn Scene+ points when you visit a Cineplex theatre, but you can also earn points when you visit Playdium, eat at partnered restaurants, shop with partnered retailers — even book travel excursions through Scene+ Travel. Earn accelerated Scene+ points with the Scotiabank SCENE Visa credit card.

Does the card network matter? Visa vs. Mastercard vs American Express

Credit card companies, commonly referred to as issuers, are the banks, credit unions and other financial providers through which you might apply for a credit card. There are dozens of credit card issuers in Canada.

Credit card networks, on the other hand, provide the technology and infrastructure that makes credit card transactions possible — and effortless — almost anywhere in the world. There are only three credit card networks in Canada: Visa, Mastercard and American Express.

The network to which your rewards credit card belongs may affect how widely the card is accepted, processing costs and cardholder benefits. Generally, however, all three of the major networks offer attractive rewards card options in Canada.

Using credit card rewards

When choosing a rewards credit card, it’s important to understand the rate at which you will earn points and what options you have for redeeming them.

How rewards credit cards earn perks

The earn rate on a rewards credit card is the number of rewards points or miles you earn on each dollar spent.

Some cards offer a flat rate, which means you earn the same amount of rewards on every purchase. For example, you may earn 2 points for every $1 you spend with your card.

Most rewards credit cards have a tiered rewards structure when making purchases. The type of structure can vary quite a bit between cards. For example, you may have an accelerated earn rate on purchases made in certain categories, such as travel, groceries, gas and drugstores, or at stores that belong to a certain brand family. All other purchases will use the lower base earn rate.

Ideally, you want to choose a credit card with an accelerated earn rate that is aligned with your spending habits.

How to calculate the value of credit card rewards

Knowing how to calculate the value of your points or miles is essential since not every redemption value is the same. By establishing a baseline value for your points, you can decide if specific redemptions are worth it — even if you’re not getting the maximum value.

The formula used to determine the value of one point is as follows:

Cash value of the redemption x 100 / number of points required = Cost per point

This formula can be applied to any redemption regardless of the loyalty program. For example, let’s say you want to redeem 13,400 points for a $100 gift card. Your formula would be the following:

$100 x 100 / 13,400 = .75 cents per point

Do rewards points ever expire?

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been a member of a loyalty program or how many points you’ve accumulated; you can lose everything if you’re not paying attention.

Generally speaking, most loyalty programs that belong to an airline or hotel have a defined expiry date of 12 – 18 months. However, that only applies if there’s been no account activity in your account during that time. If you earn or redeem just one point during that time, your clock would reset. Even if you’re not travelling anytime soon, you could make a small redemption or donate some points to ensure you don’t lose the rest of your points.

When it comes to bank credit card rewards programs, it’s unlikely your points will expire as long as your credit card account is in good standing. Your account would only fall out of good standing if it becomes delinquent or your credit card is used for fraudulent activity.

How to redeem general credit card rewards

Rewards programs offered through a bank typically have their own website where you can make redemptions. They’ll usually have separate tabs where you can choose from travel, gift cards, merchandise, and financial rewards. While this can be handy, you’re typically limited to their offerings. For example, you wouldn’t be able to book an Airbnb via their site.

That said, some general rewards programs allow you to redeem travel purchases that weren’t made through the bank’s website as long as you charge it to your credit card.

Redeeming store rewards points

Store rewards points are typically redeemable only in-store or online. When you’re checking out, have the cashier scan your loyalty card. You’ll then be able to redeem as many points as you like. If you’re making an online purchase, you’ll need to log in first. Then, when you’re paying, there should be an option to redeem your points.

Rewards credit card terms and conditions

Like all credit cards, rewards credit cards generally have a set of terms and conditions to which you must agree in order to become a cardholder. Terms and conditions specific to your credit card issuer, as well as each type of rewards card they offer, should be available online. You will also likely receive a written copy of the terms and conditions when you receive your physical card in the mail.

Common terms and conditions include:

  • The rights of your card issuer under the agreement.
  • Your rights under the agreement.
  • How you earn points.
  • Rewards categories.
  • How you can use your points.
  • How to transfer your points.
  • Under what circumstances you might lose your points.
  • When your reward points might expire.

How to pick the right rewards credit card

Every rewards credit card is good for at least one thing, so deciding on which card is best for you can be difficult. Here are some important criteria to compare and consider:

Type of rewards

Think about your short and long-term goals. For example, if you’re planning a honeymoon and want to have an epic trip, then getting a travel rewards credit card to earn a free flight might be the right thing to do. Alternatively, let’s say you want to save money on your grocery bills. Then getting a credit card with grocery rewards or a co-branded store credit card to earn discounts and in-store credit might be a better choice.

Welcome bonus

If you’re trying to decide between several cards with similar rewards, the tiebreaker can often be the sign-up bonus. Some credit cards offer a generous intro offer that is more than the annual fee or jumpstarts your earning with thousands of free points or miles.

Interest rate

When comparing rewards cards, be sure to take a look at the interest rate — and there may be more than one:

  • Promotional interest rate. Some cards offer promotional or introductory interest rates that stay in effect for a set period of time — typically six to 18 months. These rates tend to be lower than the regular rate that applies once the introductory period is over. Some cards even offer 0% introductory interest rates.
  • Purchase interest rate. This rate determines how much interest you’ll owe on any outstanding balance, which is especially important if you don’t always pay off your credit card in full.
  • Cash advance interest rate. If you withdraw cash from an ATM using your credit card, that transaction may be subject to a different interest rate than the one applied to regular purchases. This interest rate, also called a cash advance rate, may be higher than your purchase interest rate and may also be accompanied by a flat-rate transaction fee.
  • Balance transfer interest rate. Transferring an existing balance from one credit card to another may call your balance transfer interest rate into effect: an interest rate that only applies to funds relocated from another credit card.

Earn rate

Every credit card has a base earn rate, but just about all of the best rewards credit cards in Canada have an increased earn rate for specific bonus categories. For store rewards cards, you’ll usually get an increased earn rate on in-store and online purchases. However, if you have a general rewards credit card, you could earn extra points on categories such as groceries, gas, pharmacies and more. The earn rate is essential since choosing a card that lines up with your spending can quickly increase the number of points or miles you earn.

Annual fee

If you’re firmly against the idea of paying an annual fee for your credit card, then you’ll instantly narrow down your choices. That said, rewards credit cards that have an annual fee typically come with more benefits that could be worth more than that yearly fee.

Reward flexibility

Having a lot of points is meaningless if it’s hard to redeem them. Look for a loyalty or rewards program where you know you’ll be able to use your points without much trouble. What you’re looking for are programs where there are no blackout dates and many different redemptions options. You’ll also want to consider if the program has any transfer partners, as that’s another way to use your points. Additionally, knowing if and when your points expire is key to making sure you don’t lose your hard-earned rewards.

Additional benefits of reward credit cards

Besides the main categories covered by general rewards credit cards, consider the additional perks that are included. These extra perks can often be the thing that helps you choose one card over another.

Consider the following benefits that often come with rewards credit cards:

  • Rental car discounts and insurance. Certain cards will earn you cheaper rates on rental cars — even internationally — as well as some insurance coverage.
  • Security features. It’s becoming more common for rewards cards to offer things like identity theft protection, the ability to lock your card, or block foreign and online transactions, via a mobile app.
  • Mobile device insurance. In recent years, mobile device insurance has become a popular benefit. Basically, if your mobile device, including your wireless phone and tablet, is damaged, lost or stolen, you can make a claim.
  • Roadside assistance. This perk can help you out if you ever run into car troubles. Be sure to read the details of your roadside assistance plan, as the process of making a claim can be very specific.
  • Extended warranty. Many credit cards will lengthen your warranty up to one additional year as long as you charge the full cost of the purchase to your card.
  • Price protection. If you find a lower price after making a purchase, some credit cards will give you back the difference as long as it falls within a specific time period.
  • Concierge service. A credit card concierge can help you with basic tasks such as booking travel, ordering fits and securing event tickets.
  • Airport lounge access. Some credit cards include airport lounge access, plus free annual lounge passes. These benefits could easily have a value of over $300, so it can offset any annual fee you might pay.
  • Travel insurance. Depending on the credit card, an extensive travel insurance package could be included. This could cover things such as medical expenses, trip cancellation, lost luggage, and more.
  • No foreign transaction fees. Many credit cards charge a 2.5% fee when you make a purchase in any currency that’s not Canadian dollars. If your card has no foreign transaction fees, then you’re just paying the straight exchange rate.

As you can see, the list of additional benefits you can get with your rewards credit cards can be pretty extensive. Always prioritize the perks that are important to you when applying for a card.

How to get a rewards credit card

Eligibility criteria for rewards credit cards are fairly standard: you need to be a Canadian resident and you need to be the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.

Outside this, there may be credit score and annual income threshold minimums to consider, but these vary by card.

When you apply for a rewards credit card, there’s no guarantee you’ll be approved. The credit card provider needs to assess your financial profile to determine if you’re creditworthy. The application process will typically look something like this:

Steps to apply for a rewards credit card

  1. Fill out an application. This can be done online or at your financial institution. The application will ask for some basic information, such as your name, date of birth, address, social insurance number, employer and income.
  2. Your information is checked. The credit card issuer will check your credit history and verify the information that you provided.
  3. A decision is made. If you apply online, instant approval (or disapproval) is possible, but there’s also a chance the credit card issuer will ask you to contact them to provide additional information.
  4. Your card is mailed out. Your credit card will immediately be mailed out and will typically arrive within 14 business days.
  5. Activate your card. Once your card arrives, you’ll need to activate it by logging into your account or calling the number on your card. Once activated, you can use your card to make purchases.

Should you have multiple rewards credit cards?

The number of credit cards you should have ultimately comes down to your financial health, spending habits and goals.

Different rewards credit cards offer bonus or accelerated earn rates for different categories of spending. Likewise, cards vary in the types of reward they can deliver.

In some cases, it can make sense to have a rewards card that helps you capitalize on your biggest areas of spending, like one card that earns significant travel rewards and another that earns bonus points at the grocery stores.

However, multiple credit cards represent multiple opportunities for accumulating high-interest debt, so make sure you’re confident in your ability to pay the bills off in full on a regular basis. And keep in mind that each credit card application can result in a hard inquiry on your credit report, temporarily reducing your credit score.

Is a rewards credit cards worth it?

Everyone sees a different value in rewards credit cards. What works for you may not necessarily be suitable for someone else. Generally speaking, a rewards credit card is worth it in the following scenarios:

Reasons a rewards credit card might be worth it

  • No annual fee. Many credit cards with no yearly fee still come with a few benefits.
  • Rewards align with your spending. If you shop at a specific store regularly or find that a lot of your budget goes toward groceries, a card that rewards you for those behaviours is often worth it.
  • You have a goal in mind. Having a specific redemption in mind is essential since you can then apply for rewards credit cards to help you reach that goal.
  • Good welcome bonus. Sign-up bonuses and intro offers that are given to new applicants are often worth hundreds of dollars.
  • You’re looking to save money. The points you earn from a store rewards credit card can reduce the cost of your purchases.
  • You want a specific benefit. If the credit card comes with a benefit you want, such as no foreign transaction fees or roadside assistance, it could be reason enough to sign up.

Reasons a rewards credit card might not be worth it

Even though the positives are compelling, situations where it may not be worth getting a rewards credit card include:

  • You typically carry a balance. No amount of rewards are worth it if you’re paying interest.
  • You’re worried about your spending. Some people will spend more when they have access to a credit card.
  • You can’t meet the requirements. Most rewards credit cards require applicants to have a good credit score, meet certain income requirements and be the right age. If you aren’t eligible, consider a more suitable option.
  • You’re not getting value out of the annual fee. If you’re not using any of your included benefits, you may want to get a no-fee card.
  • You prefer something simple. Even though redeeming rewards can be easy, it still takes some planning. If you like simplicity, going with a cash-back card may be better.

Making the most of your rewards credit card

If you’ve decided that a rewards credit card is for you, there are a few tips you can follow to ensure you get the most out of your card.

  • Always pay your bills in full and on time, so you don’t pay any interest.
  • Make sure you meet the minimum spend requirement to get your welcome bonus.
  • Pay attention to your earn rate and use your rewards card on purchases that earn extra points.
  • Research your rewards program so you know what you can do with your points or miles.
  • Always calculate the value of your points before making a redemption.
  • See if your loyalty program has a partner network where you can earn additional points.

Although choosing a rewards credit card may require you to do some research, the value you get is often worth it. Getting free stuff on points feels great, especially if it’s something you’ve been saving a long time for.

Other types of credit cards to consider

Although cash-back cards are easy to understand, they aren’t always one of Canada’s best credit cards. Depending on your situation, you may want to consider one of the following types of credit cards instead.

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  • FAQs for rewards credit cards

    • How much are credit card reward points worth?

      The value of your rewards credit card points or miles will vary depending on the rewards program you join and what you redeem them for. If you can, go with the reward that has the highest value.

      By calculating a baseline value for your points, you can decide if specific redemptions are worth it — even if you’re not getting the maximum value.

      The formula used to determine the value of one point is as follows: Cash value of the redemption X 100 / number of points required = Cost per point.

    • Are credit card rewards taxable?

      Credit card rewards are considered a rebate/discount by the Canada Revenue Agency, so you won’t be taxed. Rewards are really no different from a coupon, which isn’t taxable. That said, if you earn cash-back rewards as part of your employment or business, it may be taxable.

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