The Best no fee Credit Cards in Canada

**This post may contain affiliate links. I may be compensated if you use them.

What are the best no fee credit cards in Canada? The best travel credit cards and best cash back credit cards in Canada are extremely popular, but most of them come with an annual fee. This isn’t a big deal if you believe the benefits are worth it, but what about credit cards with no annual fee, are they any good? The short answer is yes, but your options are much more limited.

The good thing is that some of the best no fee credit cards come packed with benefits and are usually the ideal card for specific situations. Read my guide on the best no fee credit cards now to find out which ones you should apply for.

Credit cardBest for
American Express Green CardTravel
Tangerine Money-Back Credit CardCash back
PC Financial World Elite MastercardGroceries
Scotiabank SCENE Visa CardStudents
STACK MastercardNo forex fees
KOHOPrepaid

American Express Green Card

  • No annual fee
  • 10,000 Membership Rewards points welcome bonus
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all purchases
  • Earn 1 Additional point per $1 spent on American Express Travel
  • Buyer’s assurance and purchase protection

The best no fee credit card in Canada for travel is the American Express Green Card. You get 2 points per $1 spent on Amex Travel books, while all other purchases get you 1 point per $1 spent. That works out to a 2% return on travel purchases. However, there are ways to potentially increase your value.

With American Express Membership Rewards, you can transfer your points to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio or Marriott Bonvoy at a 1:1.2 ratio. With Aeroplan, it’s not hard to get a value of at least 2 cents per point. As for Marriott Bonvoy, it does require a bit more work, but you can get good value there too.

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

  • No annual fee
  • 15% cash back up to $1,000 in spending ($150 cash back) for the first 2 months – Until Dec. 31, ’21
  • 2% cash back on up to 3 categories
  • 0.5% cash back on all other purchases

People love the Tangerine money-back credit card since it allows you to choose up to three categories where you’ll earn 2% cash back. In addition, you’ll earn 0.5% cash back on all other purchases, which is why this is one of the best no fee credit cards.

The nice thing about the Tangerine Money-Back credit card is that you can have the cash back earned applied directly to your monthly statement or deposited into your Tangerine account. Note that Tangerine also introduced the Tangerine World Mastercard which comes with a few additional benefits. 

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

The PC Financial World Elite Mastercard is ideal for people who collect PC Optimum points. Since PC Optimum points can be earned at grocery stores where President’s Choice products are sold, Shoppers Drug Mart and Esso gas stations, this card is extremely useful.

It takes 10,000 PC Optimum points to claim $10 in groceries which means you can earn up to 4.5% in points when using this card per $1 spent. That said, Shoppers Drug Mart often has bonus points redemption events where you can get even more value for your points. E.g. $140 for 100,000 points. In addition, if you sign up for PC Insiders, you can earn even more points. That’s pretty sweet for one of the best credit cards with no annual fee.

Scotiabank SCENE Visa Card

  • No annual fee
  • 5,000 Scene+ points when you spend $750 in the firs 3 months
  • Earn 5 Scene+ points for every $1 you spend at Cineplex theatres or at cineplex.com
  • Earn 1 Scene+ point for every $1 you spend on all other purchases

The Scotiabank SCENE Visa Card is one of the best student credit cards in Canada because it has no annual fee and it allows you to earn SCENE points. Those points can be used for free movies, which is something many students love. Interestingly enough, Scotiabank recently announced that SCENE is merging with Scotia Rewards. That means you’ll be able to use your points on travel, merchandise, and more.

The earn rate is pretty generous if you watch a lot of movies. You’ll get 5 SCENE points for every $1 you spend at Cineplex theatres or at cineplex.com. All other purchases get you 1 point per $1 spent.

STACK Mastercard

  • No annual fee
  • $25 free when you sign up with my referral link (must click with a mobile device) and fund your account with $300
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No foreign ATM fees
  • 20% cash back on select hotels with STACK Travel
  • Discounts on a variety of merchants

With the STACK Mastercard, there are no foreign transaction fees whatsoever. That means that when you pay for your purchases in a foreign currency, you’re always guaranteed the lowest rate. What makes STACK appealing is that you also won’t pay any fees when using foreign ATMs with the exception of any one-time fees that they may charge.

Regular banks usually charge a 2.5%-3.5% markup when using foreign ATMs. For regular foreign purchases, you’re paying 2.5% on average, so you can save quite a bit with STACK. If you sign up to STACK with my exclusive referral link, you’ll get $25 for free when you deposit $300 to your card. Note that you must click this link via your mobile device for it to work.

KOHO

  • No annual fee
  • $20 for free when signing up with a referral link
  • 0.5% cash-back on all purchases
  • 1.2% interest on your spending and savings accounts with direct deposit set up
  • Automated savings goals
  • Real-time spending insights

KOHO has quickly become one of the best prepaid credit cards in Canada. Although you won’t build your credit score when using this card, it does help you manage your money. So why is this one of the best no annual fee credit cards in Canada? A lot of people are attracted to the automatic saving goals and how the app can round up your purchases. You also get real-time updates whenever you spend so you can really get an understanding of where your money goes. If you use my referral link, you’ll get $20 for free when you sign up.

Why get a no fee credit card?

If you’re looking at the list of the best no free credit cards in Canada, then you obviously don’t want to pay an annual fee. Although paying $99 – $150 a year for a credit card can be beneficial, for a lot of people, it’s not worth it. If you don’t use your credit cards regularly or if you don’t think you’ll be able to use the additional benefits, then getting a no fee credit card makes sense.

Advantages of a no fee credit card

Besides not having to pay an annual fee, no fee credit cards can be useful for many reasons including:

  • Building your credit – Your credit score is important if you ever want to get a loan in the future. Using a no fee credit card and paying your bills in full and on time will show lenders that you’re creditworthy.
  • You can make purchases – You can obviously make purchases with any credit card, but a no fee credit card is best suited for people who don’t use credit often. Get a no fee card and keep it in your wallet so you have access to credit when you need it.
  • It can be a backup card – If you already have one of the best travel credit cards in Canada, then getting one of the best no fee credit cards in Canada can complement your spending. For example, American Express isn’t accepted anywhere so you can use your no fee card instead.

Disadvantages of a no fee credit card

No fee credit cards are great for casual users but quote often your earn rate is much lower compared to cards with an annual fee. How much lower? A 50% decrease wouldn’t be uncommon and the applies to both cash back and travel rewards credit cards. In addition, you typically get limited benefits with no fee cards. You won’t get things such as extended travel medical insurance, mobile device insurance, lounge access or travel credits.

Final thoughts

No fee credit cards can definitely be useful, but they come with limited benefits. If you get one, always pay your bills on time and in full so you don’t incur any interest charges.

The Best no fee Credit Cards in Canada

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

Leave a Comment





Get a FREE copy of Travel Hacking for Lazy People

Subscribe now to get your FREE eBook and learn how to travel in luxury for less