Credit Cards

The best cash-back credit cards in Canada 2018

By: Lisa Coxon on November 23, 2018

Looking at your monthly credit card statement can often feel like a whole lotta take and no give. That’s why we’ve rounded up this year’s best cash-back credit cards so you can see what they’re offering in return for all that spending, and how their rewards stack up.

The cash-back credit card space underwent a bit of a shakeup in 2018. What we considered two of the best cash-back cards last year — MBNA’s World Elite and BMO's World Elite — were either downgraded or discontinued.

Still, there are plenty of options out there to choose from. These are the ones we consider to be the best right now.

 

Top Choice: Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite

 

Why we chose it: Besides the wildly competitive introductory offer, this card gives great cash back on categories that actually matter to consumers, like groceries and gas. Depending on how much you’re spending every month in high-percentage categories, this card could send your average return rate past 2%.

How much can you earn? A $1,500 monthly spend (broken down into $500 on groceries, $280 on gas, $200 at the drug store, $180 on recurring bill payments, and $340 on all other purchases, plus the 10% cash back welcome offer) amounts to $506 annually.

The details:

Annual fee: $0 for first year, then $99.
Interest rates: 19.99% on regular purchases. 22.99% on cash advances, balance transfers, and credit card cheques.
Income requirement (annual): $60,000 personal, or $100,000 household.
Credit score requirement: Excellent (750-900).
Welcome bonus: A whopping 10% cash back on the first $2,000 in purchases for the first 3 months (up to $200). Annual fee and additional cards fee waived for first year (offer valid until October 31, 2018). That’s a value of up to $299 in the first year.
Cash-back rewards: 4% on gas & groceries, 2% on drug stores, and recurring bill payments; 1% cash back on everything else charged to your card.
Ways to redeem: Deposit rewards into a Scotiabank Canadian dollar personal chequing or savings account or have it credited to your Visa.
Additional cards: Free for first year, then $30 each.

 

Top Runner up: Rogers World Elite Mastercard

 

Why we chose it: This card has a higher flat earn rate than the Scotia Momentum, but its 4% category is pretty specific and will apply to fewer people than the Scotia’s 4% back on gas and groceries. Still, there’s a lot to like here. You’re not paying an annual fee. You’re getting back 2% on your cable, internet and phone bill and any products you buy with Rogers. A card to contend with, indeed.

How much can you earn? A $1,500 monthly spend (broken down into $200 on Rogers products/services, $300 on purchases made in a foreign currency and $1,000 on other purchases) could amount to around $402 a year in cash-back rewards.

The details:

Annual fee: $0.
Interest rates: 19.99% on purchases and 21.50% on cash advances.
Income requirement (annual): $80,000 personal, or $150,000 household.
Credit score requirement: Not provided, since requirement changes from time to time.
Welcome bonus: $25 in cash-back rewards if you make your first purchase within 3 months of receiving your card.
Cash-back rewards: 4% on purchases made in a foreign currency; 2% on Rogers products and services; 1.75% on all other eligible purchases.
Ways to redeem: Redeem on all Rogers and Fido products charged to your card (including monthly phone/internet bills), Toronto Blue Jays tickets, chatr retail stores, Today’s Shopping Choice, and Rogers Centre concessions.
Additional cards: Free.

 

Runner up : SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express

 

Why we chose it: This card has the best flat earn rate in the game. It’s not giving you any fancy flex categories. It’s just giving you pure, predictable cash back. While other cards can theoretically give you more cash back, if you’re just looking for the best return rate, get this card.

How much can you earn? A $1,500 monthly spend could amount to around $360 a year in cash-back rewards.

The details:

Annual fee: $99
Interest rates: 19.99% on purchases and 22.99% on cash advances.
Income requirement (annual): None.
Credit score requirement: Good (650-749).
Welcome bonus: 5% cash back in your first six months (up to $300). And 1.99% on balance transfers made at the time of application, for the first six months.
Cash-back rewards: Once your welcome rate ends, you get 2% cash back on all purchases. There’s no limit to how much cash back you can earn.
Ways to redeem: Cash back is applied as a credit to your account annually.
Additional cards: Free.

 

Runner up: Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

 

Why we chose it: This is the card to get if you can’t qualify for the Scotia Momentum’s income requirement. You get higher returns on choice categories — and unlike other cards, you get to choose what those choice categories are. Plus, there’s no annual fee here.

How much can you earn? A $1,500 monthly spend, broken down half into the 2% category and half into the 0.5% category, could amount to around $225 a year in cash-back rewards. Keep in mind, though, that that can go higher or lower depending on how much of that spend goes toward each category.

The details:

Annual fee: $0.
Interest rates: 19.95% on overdue balances and cash advances. 2.50% for foreign currency conversion, and 3% on balance transfers.
Income requirement (annual): None.
Credit score requirement: Good (650-749).
Welcome bonus: 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first six months
Cash-back rewards: 2% on purchases that fall under two categories of your choice. This could include groceries, gas, restaurants, and/or public transportation/parking. 0.50% on all other purchases.
Ways to redeem: Rewards, which are paid monthly, can be applied to your credit card balance or put into your Tangerine savings account. If you deposit your rewards into your savings account, you get a third 2% Money-Back category.
Additional cards: Free for authorized users on your account.

 

Card to watch: BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard

 

Why we chose it: This is a once-great card that fell from grace after BMO downgraded it.  It doesn’t beat any others when it comes to earn rate and its annual fee isn’t winning it any praise. But the ability to put your cash-back rewards into your Investorline account is a cool feature that the other cards lack. This card would definitely inch its way into the top spot if BMO just gave cardholders a bit more, like getting rid of the annual fee or bumping up the return rate close to 2%.

How much can you earn? A $1,500 monthly spend nets you $270 a year in cash-back. 

The details:

Annual fee: $120.
Interest rates: 19.99% on regular purchases; 22.99% on cash advances and balance transfers.
Income requirement (annual): $80,000 personal, or $150,000 household.
Credit score requirement: Excellent (750-900).
Welcome bonus: Annual fee waived if you apply before March 31, 2019, as well as 4% cash back for first four months.
Cash-back rewards: 1.5% on all purchases.
Ways to redeem: Deposit cash into a BMO chequing or savings account, or your BMO Investorline account, or use it as a credit on your monthly credit card statement.
Additional cards: $50/year for each additional cardholder you add to your account.

 

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