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Figuring out what the best cash back credit cards in Canada should be an easy process right? You take a look at what’s the earn rate for each card and then you apply for it right? Well, that’s one of the factors that would help you pick a card, but you also need to think about the additional benefits such as insurance or experiences that are offered before you put in an application. To help you narrow down your choices, I’ve compiled a list of the best cash back credit cards in Canada.

Credit cardAnnual feeEarn rate
Scotia Momentum VISA Infinite Card$120 - First year free4% groceries & bills, 2% gas & tranist, 1 % all else
Tangerine Money-Back Card$02% on 3 categories, 0.5% all else
Tangerine World Mastercard$02% on 3 categories, 0.5% all else
BMO Cashback World Elite Mastercard$120 - First year free10% on all purchases for 3 months, 1.5% after
Meridian Visa Infinite Cash Back Card$99 - First year free4% gas & grocery, 2% pharmacy & bills, 1% all else
Amex SimplyCash Preferred Card$995% on all for 6 months, 2% after
Rogers World Elite Mastercard$03% on USD purchases, 1.50% on everything else

Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card

  • $120 annual fee – first year free
  • 10% cash back on all purchases for 3 months (up to $2,000 in spending)
  • 4% cash back on groceries and recurring bill payments
  • 2% cash back on gas and transit purchases
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Comprehensive travel insurance
  • Mobile device insurance
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty
  • Concierge service

The Scotia Momentum VISA Infinite Card is extremly popular since it’s one of the best Scotiabank credit cards in Canada. The current sign up offer is 10% cash back for three months on all purchases up to $2,000 in spending ($200 in cash back). The regular earn rate is 4% cash back on groceries and recurring bills, 2% on gas and transit purchases, and 1% on all other purchases which is fantastic. The additional benefits include travel insurance, mobile device insurance, purchase protection and extended warranty. You can read my full Scotia Momentum VISA Infinite card review to find out why .

Tangerine Money-Back Card

  • No annual fee
  • 2% money-back on up to 3 categories
  • 0.5% cash-back on all other purchases
  • Automatic monthly redemption with no minimum balance required
  • Instantly pause your card
  • Adjust your credit limit online
  • Automatic pay my balance feature
  • Purchase assurance and extended warranty

What makes the Tangerine money-back card unique is that you have the option to select up to three categories where you can earn 2% cash back. No other credit card in Canada allows you to pick your categories so this card be extremely valuable depending on the categories you choose. What’s also nice is how the cash back rewards can be applied immediately to your statement or deposited directly into your Tangerine account. If you want to learn more about the Tangerine money-back card, you can read my review here.

Tangerine World Mastercard

  • No annual fee
  • 2% cash back on up to 3 categories
  • 0.5% cash back on all other purchases
  • Automatic monthly redemption with no minimum balance required
  • Optional 1.95% on balance transfers for six months
  • Rental car collision/loss damage insurance – 31 days
  • Mobile device insurance up to $1,000
  • Mastercard Airport Experiences Provided by LoungeKey
  • Purchase assurance and extended warranty
  • Priceless cities, exclusive experiences and offers

The Tangerine World Mastercard is one of the best cash back credit cards in Canada since it’s an upgraded version of the Tangerine Money-Back Card and it still has no annual fee. There are two major differences when you compare the Tangerine World Mastercard to the Tangerine Money-Back Card. With the World version, you get added benefits such as mobile device insurance, rental car collision/loss damage insurance, Mastercard Airport Experiences Provided by LoungeKey (no passes) and priceless cities, exclusive experiences and offers. The other major difference is the minimum income requirement to qualify for the card. With the original Tangerine Money-Back Card, you only need a personal income of $12,000, but for the Tangerine World Mastercard, you need to have a personal income of $60,000 or a household income of $100,000.

BMO Cashback World Elite Mastercard

  • $120 annual fee – First year free
  • 5% cash back on all purchases for three months 
  • 1.5% cash back on all card purchases
  • Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey
  • Complimentary roadside assistance program
  • Some travel insurance
  • Price protection
  • Extended warranty

The BMO Cashback World Elite Mastercard often gets overlooked as one of the best cash back credit cards in Canada but that would be a huge mistake. The regular earn rate of 1.5% on all card purchases is good, but there’s often a promotion where you’ll earn 5% cash back on all your purchases for the first three months. You could argue that the included roadside assistance is the best benefit since it’s worth about $150, which is more than the annual fee of $120. Although this card comes with some travel insurance, it’s pretty limited. If travel insurance is important to you, consider one of the best credit cards with travel assistancebest credit cards with travel assistance.

Meridian Visa Infinite Cash Back Card

  • $99 annual fee – first year free
  • Earn 4% cash back on gas and grocery purchases
  • Earn 2% cash back on pharmacy and utility bill payments
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Mobile device insurance up to $1,000
  • Comprehensive travel insurance included
  • Purchase protection and extended warranty
  • Price protection

In my opinion, the Meridian Visa Infinite Cash Back card is one of the best cash back credit cards in Canada. You get an incredible 4% cash back on gas and grocery purchases, 2% cash back on pharmacy and utility bill payments, and 1% on all other purchases. What really makes this card stand out is the insurance that’s included. The mobile device insurance covers devices up to $1,000 while the travel medical insurance is good up to 48 days per trip. You also get price protection which is not a common benefit. Read my Meridian Visa Infinite Cash Back card review now and find out why it’s one of the best Meridian credit cards.

American Express SimplyCash Preferred Card

  • $99 annual fee
  • 5% cash back on purchases for the first 6 months (up to $300)
  • 2% cash back on purchases after the first 6 months (no limit)
  • 1.99% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months
  • Earn $200 cash back for approved referrals (up to $3,000)
  • Extensive insurance coverage

The American Express SimplyCash Preferred card consistently ranks as one the best cash back credit cards in Canada since you’ll earn 5% cash back on purchases for the first 6 months and then 2% cash back on all purchases after the promotional period ends. Although you don’t get a higher earn rate for specific categories, the higher base earn rate is appealing to many people. One other benefit of the American Express SimplyCash Preferred card is the $200 cash back bonus for approved referral. The American Express SimplyCash Preferred card also comes with additional benefits which you can read about in my review.

Rogers World Elite Mastercard

  • No annual fee
  • $25 in cash back rewards after your first purchase
  • Earn 3% cash back on purchases made in U.S. dollars
  • Earn 1.50% cash back on all other purchases made in Canadian dollars
  • Mastercard Airport Experiences membership provided by LoungeKey (no passes)
  • Global WiFi for the primary cardholder via Boingo

Rounding out the list of the best cash back credit cards in Canada is the Rogers World Elite Mastercard. This card often gets overlooked but it has no annual fee, a 1.50% cash back rate on all purchases which makes this a really attractive card. In addition, you’ll earn 3% cash back on purchases made in U.S. dollars which makes this card one of the best credit cards without foreign transaction fees in Canada.

Cash back or travel rewards?

The two most popular types of credit card rewards are travel and cash back. Travel rewards can be very lucrative as the value of your points can be quite valuable depending on what you’re redeeming for. Cash back may not give you as big of a return, but it’s easy to understand. With cash back, there’s no need to worry about blackout dates, seat availability or taxes since you get paid out in cash. Which one you choose is a personal decision.

How do cash back credit cards work?

With cash back credit cards, you earn a set % back in cash on all your purchases. This isn’t physical cash that can be cashed in right away. It’s basically stored in your account until you reach a certain threshold or date where you’ll be paid out. How much cash back you earn depends on the credit card. Some credit cards give you additional cash back depending on the category of your spending, which is why you need to look at your spending when picking one of the best cash back credit cards in Canada.

The amount of cash back you can earn also varies. Despite the fact that some cards offer higher earn rates on some categories, they might cap the cash back that you can earn. For example, you may only earn 4% on the first $20,000 of spending. Generally speaking, this isn’t a huge deal, but it can make a big difference for people who spend a lot on their cards.

How to pick a cash back credit card

The best cash back credit cards in Canada can vary quite a bit so you need to establish some standards to help you narrow down your choices. Here are the things you should look out for.

  • Annual fee – Many of the best cash back credit cards come with an annual fee, but they’ll also come with a higher earn rate. This is fine if you do a lot of spending on your credit cards, but if you make limited purchases, go for a no fee credit card.
  • Welcome offer – If you have some major purchases coming up, choose a card that has a good welcome offer such as 10% cash back for the first three months can benefit you quite a bit.
  • Bonus categories – You’ll notice that just about every one of the best cash back credit cards in Canada give you extra cash back for certain categories. E.g. groceries, gas, etc. You should look for a card that lines up with your spending. If you do the most spending at grocery stores, then you want a cash back card that will earn you more cash back there
  • Base earn rate – The base earn rate is what you get for any purchases not in a a bonus category. This isn’t a big deal if most of your spending is on bonus categories, but if you do a lot of random spending, the base rate may benefit you.
  • Benefits – Finally, you’ll want to see what additional benefits come with each card to see if they’re of any interest to you. Things such as travel insurance, mobile device insurance, no foreign transaction fees and roadside assistance can be quite valuable.

When is cash back paid out?

Every cash back credit card in Canada has different rules when it comes to payouts. Some pay out in the form of a statement credit while others pay out based on a date. This date could be monthly or once a year. Some of these credit cards also have a minimum requirement before they’ll cash you out. Before you sign up for a card, make sure you find out when you get paid as it may not work for your timeline. Here are the best cash back credit cards in Canada. Here’s a quick look at when many of the best cash back credit cards pay out.

  • Scotiabank – Once per calendar year in November
  • Tangerine – Every month
  • BMO – You can choose once you meet a certain amount ($50 minimum, $10 increments)
  • American Express – Once per calendar year
  • Rogers – Once you reach $20 in cash back

Final thoughts

Picking the best cash back credit cards in Canada can be difficult since everything is subjective. Take a look at what every card is offering and see if there’s one that benefits you the most. If you already have one of the best travel credit cards in Canada, it might make sense for you to get a no fee credit card that offers cash back as a complement.

The Best Cash Back Credit Cards in Canada

17 Comments

  1. […] Overall the difference between all three cards are pretty minor so you really can’t go wrong with any of them. Once you’ve cleared your debt and have your spending under control, you can maximize your return by applying for one of the best travel credit cards or one of the best cash back credit cards. […]

  2. […] dollars. That’s pretty impressive for a no fee card which is why it’s also one of the best cash back cards in Canada. Read my review of the Rogers World Elite Mastercard for my full thoughts on the […]

  3. Nitish on April 24, 2019 at 1:30 PM

    How come the MBNA world Elite isn’t on there? Is it because they decreased the benefits recently?

    • Barry Choi on April 24, 2019 at 2:15 PM

      You got it!

      • Nitish on April 24, 2019 at 2:18 PM

        Makes sense. Thanks for the article! I’m leaning towards the Tangerine but tempted by momentum. If Costco accepted visa, momentum would be a no brainer for me.

        • Barry Choi on April 24, 2019 at 2:25 PM

          The Tangerine card is great as a no fee card. Both the Meridian and Momentum cards have great promos right now as well some good travel insurance.

  4. […] that it’s great for people who use Amazon Prime and shop at Whole Foods a lot, but compared to the best cash back credit cards in Canada and the best travel credit cards in Canada, you may be a little disappointed. Read my Amazon.ca […]

  5. Alex on July 10, 2019 at 10:48 PM

    Just signed up love this concept for getting foreign cash at a good rate upon arrival. Realistically though, there aren’t any ATM’s that won’t charge a fee on their end to withdraw cash from a prepaid MasterCard, right? Is that the only way to get money off this card?

    • Barry Choi on July 11, 2019 at 7:42 AM

      Alex,

      There are a few ATM providers that don’t charge fees. In the past, I used HSBC in Asia and Europe without fees.

  6. Tim on July 31, 2019 at 10:33 AM

    So the Meridian one has this disclosure:

    Earn 4% on gas and grocery purchases. (Applies to first $25,000 in purchases then 1% for all other purchases.)
    Earn 2% on pharmacy purchases and utility bill payments. (Applies to first $25,000 in purchases then 1% for all other purchases.)

    Does that mean after spending a total of $25K in each category above, it goes back to 1% cashback for a lifetime?

    • Barry Choi on July 31, 2019 at 3:08 PM

      Tim

      I haven’t looked at the fine print but the $25K cap applies for each category so 4% $25K on gas, $25K on grocery etc. If you spend over that amount, the cash back goes down to 1%. This usually lasts per calendar year so you would get the increased cash back on Jan. 1st.

      Again, I haven’t looked at the fine print, but that’s what it usually means.

      • Timothy Trisnadhama on July 31, 2019 at 4:31 PM

        Gotcha. Thanks

  7. Jared Riley on April 27, 2020 at 11:35 AM

    As of June 2, 2020, Rogers is reducing the rewards on the World Elite to 1.5% across the board. Foreign transactions are dropping to 3%.

    It still might be among the best if you shop a lot at Costco and you don’t want to bother with categories. Otherwise it doesn’t stand out as much as it used to.

    • Barry Choi on April 27, 2020 at 11:43 AM

      Jared,

      Yes the new changes are annoying. It’s just an okay card moving forward.

      I personally prefer to use the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard at Costco. It also has a 1.5% return rate.

  8. Rick on November 3, 2020 at 8:50 AM

    Any reason you dont have the TD Cash Back Visa Infinite?

    • Barry Choi on November 3, 2020 at 9:24 AM

      No real reason. I just think the other cards on my list are better for specific instances. That said, the TD Cash Back Visa Infinite card does come with free roadside assistance and that alone makes it worthwhile.

      • Rick on November 3, 2020 at 9:26 AM

        Sounds good, thanks. And yes, I agree RSA is a nice perk to have for sure 😉

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