Figuring out the best cash back credit cards in Canada should be an easy process, but it can be complicated. Every credit card has different earn rates for specific categories, so you need to go through all the rewards credit cards to narrow down your choices. To further complicate things, many of the best of lists out there are a bit biased and have too much information, so it leaves you more confused than when you started.
After much feedback from my readers, I’ve come up with an updated list of the best cash back credit cards in Canada. Instead of focusing on specific spending categories, I’ve broadened the list so it’ll quickly help you decide which card is best for you. Admittedly, I also have some bias, but I feel these selections are the best for average Canadians.
|Credit card||Best cash back card for|
|BMO CashBack® World Elite®* Mastercard®*||Overall spending|
|PC Financial World Elite Mastercard||Groceries|
|Tangerine Money-Back Card||Flexibility|
|American Express Cobalt Card||Travel and rewards|
|American Express SimplyCash Card||No annual fee|
|Wealthsimple Cash Card||No foreign transaction fees|
|Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite Card||Insurance|
|Triangle World Elite Mastercard||Roadside assistance|
Best cashback card for overall spending
As mentioned, you want to pick a credit card that gives you the highest earn rates on your regular spending habits. Who cares about streaming services, pharmacy, and recurring payments when you mostly charge groceries, gas and daily transit to your card. Overall, there’s one card that stands out.
BMO CashBack® World Elite®* Mastercard®*
- $120 Annual fee – First year free*
- 10% cash back on all purchases for three months (up to $200)
- 5% cash back on grocery purchases
- 4% cash back on transit purchases
- 3% cash back on gas and electric vehicle charging
- 2% cash back on recurring bill payments
- 1% cash back on all other purchases
The BMO CashBack® World Elite®* Mastercard®* often gets overlooked as one of the best cash back credit cards in Canada but it recently had some major changes for the better. The earn rate is now 5% on groceries, 4% on transit, 3% on gas, 2% on recurring bills, and 1% on all other everyday purchases.
There is a catch. The 5% cash back on groceries only applies to the first $500 in purchases for each statement. For transportation, your 4% cash back is capped on the first $400. Once you reach the caps, you earn the base earn rate of 1%. If you typically spend more than that, the American Express Cobalt Card or Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite card would likely be better choices.
You do get some great additional benefits with this card including lounge access (no passes), roadside assistance, concierge service, travel insurance, and extended warranty.
Best cash back card for groceries
With grocery prices on the rise, many people are looking to save money where they can. Focusing your cash back on grocery purchases can be an effective way to save money. Admittedly, the best cash back card for groceries will depend on where you shop, but I think the PC Financial Mastercards are a great choice if you shop at Loblaws’ owned stores.
PC Financial World Elite Mastercard
- No annual fee
- Earn 45 PC Optimum Points per $1 dollar spent at Shoppers Drug Mart
- Earn 30 PC Optimum Points per $1 spent where PC Products are sold and at PC Travel
- Earn at least 30 PC Optimum Points per litre at Esso/Mobil locations
- Earn 10 PC Optimum Points per $1 spent on all other purchases
Let’s be clear, the PC Financial World Elite Mastercard doesn’t have the highest earn rate for groceries. It caps at 30 PC Optimum points per $1 spent at Loblaws’ owned stores. That works out to 3% in cash back. However, the fact that you’re earning PC Optimum points is where the real value comes in.
With PC Optimum, you can redeem your points for groceries and merchandise. The regular redemption rate is 10,000 PC Optimum points for $10 off. However, Shoppers Drug Mart often runs bonus redemption events where you can get increased value. For example, you might be able to redeem 50,000 points for $65 off or 250,000 points for $400 off. If you’re maximizing PC Optimum, then you can save big.
Best cash back card for flexibility
The most annoying thing about the best cash back credit cards in Canada is that they all have different earn rates. Rarely do you find a card that perfectly lines up with your spending so you can maximize your return. That said, there’s actually a card that lets you choose your bonus categories.
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
- No annual fee
- 10% cash back up to $1,000 in spending ($100 cash back) for the first 2 months
- 2% cash back on up to 3 categories
- 0.5% cash back on all other purchases
The Tangerine Money-Back Card allows you to select up to three categories where you can earn 2% cash back. You get two categories, to begin with, and you earn a third category if you set your cash back to automatically deposit into your Tangerine savings account. All other purchases earn you 0.5% cash back. No other credit card in Canada allows you to pick your categories, so this card is extremely valuable depending on the categories you choose.
Admittedly, 2% isn’t as high as some other cards on this list, but it’s also higher than the base earn rate of every other card. Some people will use this card as a complement to another cash back card. That would allow them to earn at least 2% cash back on multiple categories. Alternatively, you can keep things simple and use this as your primary credit card.
It’s worth mentioning that there’s a premium version of this card in the Tangerine World Mastercard. It also has no annual fee and comes with some extra insurance. That said, the minimum income requirement for the card is higher.
Best cash back card for travel and rewards
It may seem odd to feature a cash back card that earns you points, but hear me out. American Express recently changed its membership rewards program. It now takes 1,000 points for $10 in statement credits or travel rewards. What that means is that all American Express cards are just as good for cash back, but there’s one that stands out.
American Express Cobalt Card
- $12.99 Monthly fee ($155.88 yearly)
- 2,500 monthly Membership Rewards points after charging $500 in purchases each month for a year (30,000 points total)
- Earn 5 points per $1 spent on eats and drinks
- Earn 3 points per $1 spent on streaming services
- Earn 2 points per $1 spent on travel
- Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
The American Express Cobalt Card gives you ultimate flexibility. It doesn’t matter if you’re redeeming your points for travel or a statement credit, your points are worth the same. Since you get 5 points per $1 spent on eats and drinks, that effectively gives you a 5% cash back return. Best of all, you can redeem your points for a statement credit pretty much whenever you want through your online account.
If you decided to use your points you have a lot of flexibility. You can use the American Express travel portal or you can redeem points on any travel purchase you make. Additionally, you can transfer your points to Aeroplan, Marriott Bonvoy, and other travel partners.
Best cash back card with no annual fee
There are a lot of cash back cards with no annual fee which is great for people who don’t tend to charge a lot to their cards or don’t like paying to have a credit card. Although there are some cards that offer a higher earn rate, I recommend the SimplyCash Card from American Express since you’ll earn the same flat-rate cash back on all purchases.
SimplyCash Card from American Express
- No annual fee
- 4% cash back on purchases for the first 6 months (up to $200 cash back)
- 1.25% cash back on purchases after the first 6 months
- Buyer’s assurance
- Purchase protection
The American Express SimplyCash Card consistently ranks as one the best cash back credit cards in Canada since you’ll earn a straight flat rate of 1.25% cash back on all purchases. While that may not sound like a lot, it’s pretty good for a no fee card. I like how you earn the same cash back rate no matter what. There’s no need to worry about having multiple cards to maximize your return. There is a welcome bonus of 4% cash back on all purchases for the first 6 months (capped at $200 in cash back). Additionally, you get purchase protection and buyer’s assurance.
There is one downside. As an American Express Card, it’s not accepted at every merchant. If you want a no fee card that’s accepted at most retailers, consider the Tangerine Money-Back Card instead. On a positive note, you do get Amex perks with this card such American Express Invites, dining series, and pre-sale tickets.
Best cash back card without foreign transaction fees
A lot of people don’t realize that when you make a purchase in any currency that’s not Canadian dollars, you’re charged a fee of 2.5%. Fortunately, you can get that fee waived if you have one of the best no foreign transaction fee credit cards in Canada. My top pick is a bit controversial, but let me explain why I like it.
Wealthsimple Cash Card
- No annual fee
- $10 free when you sign up
- 1% cash back on all purchases
- No foreign transaction fees on purchases
- No foreign transaction fees on ATM Withdrawals
- CDIC insurance protection
The Wealthsimple Cash Card is easily the best cash back credit card without foreign transaction fees since you earn a straight 1% cash back on all eligible purchases. This includes foreign currency purchases. In addition to having no foreign exchange fees on purchases, cardholders won’t pay any FX fees when using a foreign ATM. That said, the ATM may charge you a one-time fee of $3 to access its machines.
Best prepaid cash back card
Prepaid credit cards have evolved over the years. Traditionally, people would only get them if they didn’t qualify for a traditional credit card. However, these days they come packed with benefits and are tied to an app that gives you insights into your spending. If you want to be better with your money while earning cash back, a prepaid card might make sense.
KOHO is a prepaid credit card that has no annual fees and gives you 0.5% cash back on all your purchases. Additionally, if you have a direct deposit set up, you’ll earn interest on all funds deposited into your account. Many people love this card because it teaches you to be smarter with your money. For example, you can set rounds up for all your purchases. That allows you to automatically save. Additionally, you get real-time spending insights which can be helpful if you’re trying to balance your budget.
Best cash back card for insurance
Insurance coverage is often overlooked, but there are quite a few users who swear by it. The idea with insurance is that you’ll be glad you have it if you ever need to make a claim. Although most cash back credit cards don’t come with much insurance, there’s one card that’s a winner.
Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite Card
- $120 annual fee – first year free
- Earn 10% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months (up to $2,000 in purchases)
- Earn 4% for every $1 you spend on groceries, recurring bills, and subscription purchases
- Earn 2% for every $1 you spend on gas and daily transit purchases
- Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases with no cash back limit
- Travel and mobile device insurance included
The Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card is an extremely popular rewards card since it’s one of the best Scotiabank credit cards in Canada. The included travel medical insurance covers you for 15 days if you’re under the age of 65. You also get a trip protection plan that covers things such as trip cancellation/interruption, flight delay, delayed and lost baggage, and rental car collision loss/damage insurance. In addition, you get mobile device insurance, purchase security, and extended warranty. The annual fee is typically waived for the first year, and this card often has a nice welcome bonus.
Best cashback card for roadside assistance
One often overlooked benefit is roadside assistance. With this service, you can help if you ever run into car issues at home or on the road. This type of service will typically cost you about $100 – $150 a year, but with the right card, you can get it for free.
Triangle World Elite Mastercard
- No annual fee
- Earn 4% in CT Money at Canadian Tire, Sport Chek, Mark’s/L’Équipeur, Atmosphere, Party City, Sports Rousseau, Hockey Experts, L’Entrepôt du Hockey, and participating Sports Experts stores
- Earn 3% in CT Money on grocery purchases (up to $12,000), 1% on all other purchases
- Earn 7¢ per litre in CT Money on premium fuel, and 5¢ per litre on all other fuel types at Gas+/Essence+ locations
- No fee, no interest financing available
Without a doubt, the Triangle World Elite Mastercard is the best cash back rewards card for roadside assistance. That’s because Canadian Tire’s gold roadside assistance plan comes with 24/7 service, 5 service calls a year, tows up to 200 kilometres, and more.
Keep in mind that the cash back earned on this card can only be used at participating stores such as Canadian Tire, Party City, Sport Chek. While the ability to use your cash back earned is limited, this is a no fee cashback card. That means you could sign up just for the free roadside assistance.
What is a cash back credit card?
As the name implies, a cash back gives you cash back rewards on all of your purchases. How much you’ll get depends on the earn rate. All cash back credit cards have a base earn rate, but most of them also give you an increased earn rate on select categories. For example, you might earn 5% cash back on grocery purchases, but 1% on everything else.
Generally speaking, you want to choose a cash back credit card that lines up with your spending. For example, if you do the majority of your spending on gas and transit, then pick a card that gives you a high return on those categories.
Some cash back credit cards will limit how much cash back you can earn on bonus categories. Once you’ve reached that cap, you’ll earn the base earn rate. There are also many cash back credit cards that come with a generous welcome bonus. Finally, cash back credit cards also come with additional benefits that can be quite lucrative.
When is cash back paid out?
Every cash back credit card in Canada has different rules when it comes to payouts. Some payout in the form of a statement credit while others payout 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 the best cash back credit cards in Canada pay out.
- BMO – You can choose once you meet a certain amount ($50 minimum, $10 increments)
- Tangerine – Every month
- Home Trust – Every january as a statement credit
- KOHO – Immediately
- American Express – Once per calendar year or as needed for statement credits
- Scotiabank – Once per calendar year in November
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 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.
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 compliment.
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