The Best Cash Back Credit Cards in Canada

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A cash-back credit card is a great addition to your wallet because it lets you earn a few dollars on your regular spending while offering convenience, security, and building your credit. But with so many choices it’s hard to know what the best cash back credit cards in Canada are. I’ve done the leg work in comparing cash back offers, interest rates, income requirements and more. Here are my top 3 picks:

Read on for the details of each, and why you need to keep a cash-back card in your wallet!

Why is it important to have a cash-back credit card?

A cash-back credit card is a particularly good choice for the obvious reason: you earn cash-back on your spending. No matter how frugal you are, we all need to spend money to live. Regular bills like groceries, transportation, and utilities are realities of life. And they can all be paid with a credit card! A great way to automate your spending is to use a cash-back credit card for all your regular purchases, and then simply pay that single credit card bill every month. 

Looking for all the convenience of a cash-back credit card but don’t actually want to face the danger of racking up credit card debt? You need KOHO! KOHO provides 0.5% cash back on all purchases, or up to 2% cash back with KOHO premium. Check out our full KOHO REVIEW here

Cash-Back Credit Card Comparison

Credit CardAnnual FeeCash Back OfferInterest Rate on PurchasesInterest Rate on Balance TransferMinimum Income Required
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card$04% for 90 days, then 2% on two spending categories and 0.5% on all other purchases19.95%1.95% for first 6 months and 19.95% thereafter (1% balance transfer fee)$12,000 individual or any amount household
Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Credit Card$120 (first year free)4% on grocery stores, recurring bill payments, and subscription services, 2% on gas and daily transit, 1% on all other purchases20.99%22.99%$60,000 individual or $100,000 household
American Express SimplyCash Preferred Card$995% for first 6 months, then 2% thereafter19.99%1.99% for first 6 months, then 22.99%Not disclosed
Capital One Costco Cash Back Credit Card$03% on restaurants, 2% on gas, 0.50% 19.75%19.75%No minimum

The clear winner: Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

The Tangerine Money-Back MasterCard is the cash-back credit card everyone should have in their wallet. With no annual fee, unlimited cash back, and additional perks, there’s virtually no downside to this card. The low household income requirement also makes it one of the easier cards to qualify for. 

2% Cashback

Fast facts:

  • $0 annual fee
  • Promotion: 4% cash back in 3 spending categories for 90 days + 1.95% on balance transfers
  • 2% cash back in 2 spending categories, 0.50% cash back on all other purchases
  • 19.95% interest rate on purchases
  • 19.95% interest rate on balance transfers
  • Minimum income requirement is $12,000

If you’re just starting out and looking to build credit and earn a little cash-back on your regular expenses, the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card is it. I’ve had this card for years, and one of my favorite things is directing the cash-back I earn each month into one of my Tangerine Savings Accounts. The cash-back I earn from my Tangerine Mastercard actually feels like a true “reward” when it’s snowflaking my savings!

Downside? The cash-back rate isn’t as high as other cards, but that’s what you can expect for a no-fee card. The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card actually boasts the same cash-back rates as KOHO, the only difference being it will actually help you build your credit score. 

Need more info? Check out our complete Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card Review

Honorable Mention: Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite

If your focus is purely on maximizing the amount of cash-back you earn, the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card isn’t going to hack it. You need the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite. This card has an annual fee, but it offers the highest cash-back rates of credit cards available. 

4% Cash Back

With unlimited cashback and 4% earned on groceries, recurring bills, and subscription services, plus 2% on transportation, this card can pay for itself pretty fast. The 1% cash back on all other purchases also makes it significantly more rewarding than the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card.

Fast facts:

  • $120 annual fee
  • 4% cash back on grocery stores, recurring bill payments, and subscription services, 2% on gas and daily transit, 1% on all other purchases
  • 20.99% interest rate on purchases
  • 22.99% interest rate on balance transfers
  • Income requirement is $60,000 for individual or $100,000 for household

The downside is the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite has a personal income requirement of $60,000, or a household income requirement of $100,000. If you’re a new grad looking for your first professional job, or not yet far enough in your career to hit this income level yet, you might not be able to qualify for the card. Don’t take it personally. Income requirements for rewards credit cards are actually a good thing. They give you some indication of what your spending should be like to make the card worth it. Since the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite has an annual fee, you’ll need to charge at least $3,000 of groceries and regular bills to the card each year just to breakeven. 

Last in the pack: American Express SimplyCash Preferred Card

American Express cards have many perks. The brand itself is typically associated with high rewards and a life of luxury (think: the American Express Centurion) partly because they’re so expensive to maintain. The American Express SimplyCash Preferred Card doesn’t quite live up to the exclusive stereotype. With an annual fee of only $99, it’s actually cheaper than the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite listed above, but it also offers lower cash back.

Fast facts:

  • $99 annual fee
  • PROMOTION: 5% for first 6 months + 1.95% balance transfer
  • cash back 2% on all purchases
  • 19.99% interest rate on purchases
  • 22.99% interest rate on balance transfers

The American Express SimplyCash Preferred Card offers a promotional cash back rate of 5% on all purchases for the first 6 months, which is pretty grand. However, this drops to a flat rate of 2% once the promotional period ends. Keep in mind that KOHO Premium will give you 2% cash back on all purchases for a lower annual fee. 

The major drawback of the American Express SimplyCash Preferred Card is the same as all American Express cards: it’s not accepted everywhere. Most retailers take Visa and MasterCard, but plenty don’t accept American Express. Having a cash back card you can’t use for all purchases  

Are any of these worth it for credit card churning? 

“Credit card churning” is the practice of signing up for a high rewards credit card to capture all the perks, then canceling card before you have to pay any fees. Because my credit cards offer 3 or 6 month promotional periods and waive the annual fee for the first year, essentially you would plan to sign up for a credit card and then cancel it within one year. 

Looking at the list above, American Express SimplyCash Preferred Card will provide you the most benefits in credit card churning. Capturing the 5% cash back for 6 months, then canceling the card is the easiest to way to reap the rewards assuming your credit score can take the hit. The Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite might be worth the effort to churn, given that you’ll have a whole year to use the card before the annual fee comes due. Since the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card doesn’t have an annual fee and offers less competitive cash back rates, it’s a better fit for a permanent place in your wallet rather than a quick turnaround. 

Final thoughts

I always make room in my wallet for a cash back credit card, but I’m frugal enough that it’s always been the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card. Since writing this post I’m eyeing the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite, but I’m not sure I’m ready to make the switch yet. 

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Money After Graduation Inc. is a financial literacy website dedicated to helping Millennials and Gen Z pay off debt, invest in the stock market, and afford the life they want!

7 Comments

  1. Nice post, although personally I’m fond of my Capital One Costco MasterCard. It has no annual fee (besides the fact that you need a Costco membership to get one), you can use it anywhere, and you get I think it’s 1% on regular purchases, 2% on fuel, 3% on restaurants. Also I got it while I was a student, so I think the minimum household income is decently low as well. It doubles as your Costco membership card so when I go in there, I don’t need to pull out the actual membership card. Win win!

  2. Elizabeth Taylor on

    I have the Scotia Momentum Visa and it’s been very good to me for the last 4 years! Unfortunately they bumped down gas from 4% to 2% and I do most of my grocery shopping at Walmart (free pickup) which they don’t recognize as a grocery store… so I’m looking at switching to the PC mastercard instead when my annual fee comes up for renewal. Whether we switch or not I really like using my cash-back to pay for Christmas presents each year 🙂

    • Oh no!! This post tempted me to sign up, though I’m still eyeing the RBC WestJet Mastercard…

      I currently have the Scotia World Elite and they’ve made so many changes to the program, it’s not as good as it used to be. It was my favorite travel card for years but I miss the old points system so much.

  3. After a credit card darn near ruined me when I was younger I try to stay away from them. What is funny is that people who have credit cards are more than likely to spend more money than those who only use cash.

  4. Rogers World Elite is the best cashback card in Canada in my opinion. 1.75% back on everything and 4% back while travelling (1.5% exchange fee gives you 2.5% back). Great insurance and cash out any time.