The Best Cash Back Credit Cards In Canada

December 6, 2019
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Get ready to start getting some cash back from your credit card purchases. Cash-back cards have gained an impressive amount of popularity lately, because they represent the easiest to understand and use rewards system. Cash-back cards are as popular as they are numerous, counting dozens that go from no-fee to high-fee cards, cards with high cash-back rates for specific categories, credit cards for new cardholders or students and more. In the following post, you’ll see how these cards compare to each other and how to choose the right one for you.

Overall, we believe that the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card offers the best balance between earn rate and category flexibility at no annual fee, so it’s the best choice for most Canadians. The CIBC Visa Dividend Infinite Card, on the other hand, is a better choice if you spend most of your money on groceries or gas.

Using your credit cards and being rewarded for it sounds perfect, right? Especially if you’re getting cash back from every purchase you make. In this post, we’ve rounded up the best deals on cash back cards available for Canadians right now, and to make things even easier for you, we picked the best ones depending on different lifestyles.

So, whether if you are a student looking for a cash back card, you want to save up some money on groceries and gas, or even if this will be the first credit card you ever had, you can use this post to see which one suits you best.

In this post, you’ll find:

Best Cash Back Cards for New Cardholders

If you just turned 18 and you’re looking to have your very first credit card, sometimes it can be difficult to meet some banks’ requirements. The following cards give you the option to apply for them with no minimum personal income requirements and they do not have an annual fee to add up to your expenses, making them the best option for new cardholders.

The top three cards in this category are:

Card Annual Fee Min. Personal Income Additional Perks Purchase IR Cash Advance IR Recommended Credit Score
MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus Mastercard $0.00 $0.00 Travel Accident Insurance. Car rental collision / loss damage waiver. Trip interruption. Baggage loss 19.99% 24.99% 660
SimplyCash Card from American Express $0.00 $0.00 Travel Accident Insurance. Car rental collision / loss damage waiver 19.99% 22.99% 660
Scotia Momentum Mastercard Credit Card $0.00 $0.00 N/A 19.99% 22.99% 660

Why we recommend them

MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus Mastercard - The best cash back cards for new cardholders

First, the MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus Mastercard has the highest cash back rate of this category at 2% for gas and groceries and a 0.5% rate for other eligible purchases. Additionally, it also comes with a welcome rate of 5% on gas and groceries for the first 6 months (up to $500), and it includes extra travel insurance advantages that are very welcome in case of a trip.

The runner up, the SimplyCash Card from American Express, is also a good option when considering what card to apply for, since it offers a flat rate of 1.25% on all purchases with no limit on what you can earn back. Additionally, it has a welcome rate of 2.5% on all purchases for the first three months (up to $150), and it also includes limited travel insurance coverage (up to $100,000 in AD&D coverage) and a purchase protection plan for additional benefits.

Finally, the Scotia Momentum Mastercard Credit Card offers a 1% cash back on eligible gas, groceries and drugstore purchases, and recurring bill payments, and a 0.5% cash back on all other eligible everyday purchases. There’s also no limit to what you can get back. However, what really got it on this list is the 7.99% interest rate on eligible purchases for the first 6 months! There are also several benefits to the card like a zero liability program, a 25% discount on car rentals, and a very comprehensive insurance package, all without paying an annual fee.

Best Cash Back Cards for Students

So, you are still in school and want to manage some personal finances? You may have a low personal income and a very tight budget. Well, these cards will help you with a little bit of extra credit while you build your credit score to become eligible for better options:

Card Annual Fee Min. Personal Income Additional Perks Purchase IR Cash Advance IR Recommended Credit Score
Desjardins Student Cash Back Visa $0.00 $0.00 Travel emergency medical. Trip cancellation. Baggage loss. Baggage delay. Zero liability protection. 19.90% 19.90% 560
Meridian Visa Cash Back Card $0.00 $0.00 Mobile device insurance. Travel accident insurance. 19.50% 21.99% 660
National Bank Mycredit Mastercard $0.00 $0.00 Mobile insurance for two years 20.99% 22.99% 660

Why we recommend them

Best cash back cards for students - The Desjardins Student Cash Back Visa

Both the Desjardins Student Cash Back Visa and National Bank Mycredit Mastercard have the same offer of 1% cash back on preauthorized payments, and 0.5% cash back on all purchases. The main difference lies in the credit score required in order to apply for it. With a lower recommended credit score, the Desjardins card is the best option for students, especially if it is to be their first card.

The Meridian Visa Cash Back Card offers 1% cash back on gas, grocery and pharmacy store purchases and utility bill payments. It also offers a 0.5% cash back rate on all other eligible purchases with no cap on your earnings. With no annual fee, this is also a very flexible option for a student cash-back card.

These cards also have additional benefits that sweeten the deal like a mobile insurance in case of theft or damage, travel medical insurance and zero liability protection.

Best Cash Back Cards for Building Credit Score

If you have been hesitant to get a credit card before and therefore haven’t had the chance to build your credit score, here are some cash back options that will help. They will also be useful when requesting a loan or a bigger credit line.

Card Annual Fee Min. Personal Income Additional Perks Purchase IR Cash Advance IR Recommended Credit Score
SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express $99.00 $0.00 Travel emergency medical Travel Accident Insurance. Flight Delay. Bagagge Loss 19.99% 22.99% 660
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card $0.00 $12,000.00 Money-Back Rewards are earned automatically and paid monthly, and can either be applied towards your Credit Card balance or redeemed into your Savings Account. 19.95% 19.95% 660
BMO CashBack MasterCard $0.00 $15,000.00 Car rentals discounts.1.99% introductory interest rate on Balance Transfers for 9 months, 1% fee applies to balance amounts transferred. 19.99% 22.99% 660
Shell CashBack MasterCard from BMO $0.00 $15,000.00 N/A 19.99% 22.99% 660

Why we recommend them:

The first card in this category is the SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express. The main highlights are a 2% return on all purchases, no limits on earning potential, and it has a welcome rate of 5% cash back on all eligible purchases (up to $300 cash back) for the first 6 months of cardmembership. Its only downside is a $99 annual fee.

In second place, we present the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card. It’s definitely one of the best options to consider since it offers a 2% cash back rate on up to 3 categories of your choice. Moreover, the card comes with an introductory rate of 4% on the previously mentioned categories for the first three months. It doesn’t have an annual fee, but in order to qualify for a this credit card you must have a minimum personal income of $12,000, which is more than manageable for most Canadians.

Meanwhile the BMO CashBack MasterCard requires a $15,000 personal income in order to be eligible for it, and it doesn’t have an annual fee either. As for the cash backs, it offers a 1% rate on all purchases with no limit on how much you can earn. Additionally, it has one of the best welcome rates you’ll find, with 5% cash back for the first three months. This is definitely one card to consider.

As for the Shell CashBack MasterCard from BMO, the benefits are 1.5% cash back for every purchase made at Shell locations in Canada and a 0.5% on other purchases (also in Canada). There is, however, a welcome rate of 1% on all purchases for the first six months and a $50 Bonus when signing up, which is a net win, considering the fact that the card doesn’t have an annual fee.

Best Cash Back Cards for Saving on Groceries and Gas

In case you’re looking for an additional card that helps you save up on regular, everyday expenses like gas and groceries, there are a number of options available. Here are our top choices.

Card Annual Fee Min. Personal Income Additional Perks Purchase IR Cash Advance IR Recommended Credit Score
CIBC Dividend Platinum Visa Card $99.00 $15,000.00 Travel Accident Insurance. Car rental collision / loss damage waiver 19.99% 22.99% 660
MBNA Smart Cash World Mastercard $39.00 $60,000.00 A suite of comprehensive insurance 19.99% 22.99% 660
Meridian Visa Infinite* Cash Back Card $99.00 $60,000.00 Travelling benefits. 19.50% 21.99% 725

Why we recommend them 

Since the whole point is to get as much cash back from gas and grocery purchases, we will present these cards from the one with the highest benefits in these categories, to the lowest.

The winner is the CIBC Dividend Platinum Visa Card, which gives you a 4% return on gas and groceries and 1% on other purchases. Additionally you get a 10% cashback for the first 4 months (up to $200) as a welcome rate. With an annual fee of $99 and $15,000 minimum personal income to be eligible for one, this is definitely the best choice.

The runner up is the MBNA Smart Cash World MasterCard, whichstarts at 2% return on groceries and 1% on other eligible purchases. The upside to this card is that it has an introductory rate of 5% for gas and groceries for the first six months (up to $500), which has the potential to earn you more than twice of what you’d get with the former card. However, it does have a $39 annual fee, and it requires a $60,000 minimum personal income, which makes it a lot harder to get than the CIBC Dividend Visa.

As for the Meridian Visa Infinite Cash Back Card, the cash back rates are: 4% on gas and groceries (up to $1000); 2% on pharmacy and utility bill payments (up to $500) and 1% on all other purchases. This cash back rate is at least as good as the one on the CIBC Dividend Platinum Visa, but unlike in the former case, those earn rates here are capped, limiting your earning potential. While there’s a $99 annual fee, the first year is waived. Additionally, keep in mind that you also need a minimum annual income of $60,000.

Best All-Round Cash Back Credit Cards

After considering their potential and rewards, their pros and cons and everything else, we believe that the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card is the best all-round choice, as it offers the best balance between earn rate and flexibility with no annual fee. The 2% cash-back rate on up to three categories of your choice, and double that during the first 3 months of cardmembership, can save you a lot of money, especially if you don’t spend most of your money in groceries and gas.

If you do spend most of your budget on groceries and gas, it’s best to choose a card that’ll give you more bang for your buck. The best choice in this case is the CIBC Visa Dividend Infinite Card, which gives you 4% cash back at the gas station and grocery stores and 1% on other purchases with no limit to how much you can get back. To top it off, the welcome rate is 10% for the first 4 months (up to $200), so you shouldn’t have any problems outweighing the $99 annual fee.