How NerdWallet Canada Evaluates and Selects Financial Products
Our credit card evaluation philosophy
What’s helpful to know about our credit card evaluations:
Evaluations are based on proprietary formulas that take into account the value of a card’s benefits, the costs of carrying and using the card, the complexity of the card’s benefits structure and other factors that affect its usefulness to the consumer.
Different categories of cards are evaluated using different formulas. The factors that make something a great cash-back card, for instance, are different from the factors that make for a great travel credit card.
Each card is evaluated according to its primary category. A cash-back card that happens to offer a balance transfer promotion as a secondary benefit, for example, would be rated as a cash-back card.
NerdWallet’s business relationships have no effect on evaluations. Many of the credit cards described on our pages are offered by NerdWallet Canada partners, but the evaluation are determined only by the features of each card.
Best credit card evaluation methodology
Scoring credit cards
The factors that go into the base score depend on the type of card being examined. The features that make something a great travel rewards card, for example, are significantly different from what makes for an excellent balance transfer card.
Best overall credit cards
To select the best credit cards in Canada, across a variety of different card types, NerdWallet Canada first gathers more than 60 data points on a pool of nearly 270 currently-available credit cards.
Cards are then evaluated on various criteria to determine their relative value or cost to the card holder. These criteria include:
- Base rewards rate (rewards earned for spending outside any bonus categories).
- Bonus category rewards (including the nature of the categories and the rewards rates in those categories).
- Promotional rewards rates.
- Limits on how much spending is eligible for rewards in a bonus category.
- Limits on the total rewards that can be earned.
- The complexity of the rewards structure (including flat-rate rewards versus bonus categories, static bonus categories versus categories that change periodically, and whether or not bonus categories require active management).
- Redemption options (including whether or not there are burdensome restrictions on redeeming rewards, and expiration dates on rewards).
- Welcome bonus (including the offer’s overall cash value and the requirements that must be met in order to claim the offer in full).
- Annual fee waiver.
- Promotional APR.
Fees and interest
- Annual fee.
- APR for purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
- Other fees (including foreign transaction fees and balance transfer fees).
Best credit card selections
Scores are generated for each set of criteria, with a maximum number of available points per section. Cards with the highest total scores are selected for inclusion on the best credit card list.
Selections are re-evaluated on a regular basis, or any time a new credit card becomes available, to ensure accuracy for our readers.