Many prefer being rewarded in cash back rather than travel points because cash back is simple. No funny math, no redemption small print; just cash deposited in your account at a predetermined time frame.
The Top Six Cashback Cards in Canada
|Scotiabank Momentum Infinite Visa||3 month 10% ($200 limit)||4% gas, groceries; 2% drugs, recurring bills, 1% everything else||$99, first year rebate|
|TD Cash Back Visa Card||3 months 6% ($210 limit)||3% on gas, groceries, recurring bills; everything else 1%||$120, first year rebate|
|Rogers World Elite Mastercard||$25||4% foreign, 1.75% domestic. Redeemable only on Rogers products.||Free|
|SimplyCash Preferred American Express||3 months 5% ($300 limit)||2%||$99|
|American Express Simply Cash||3 months 2.5%||1.25%||Free|
|Tangerine Money Back||N/A||2 or 3 2% categories; .5% everything else||Free|
Top Cashback Cards in Canada Per Bank
Every bank offers a line of cashback cards that vary in terms of the cashback methodology, insurance packages, fees, and income requirements. We break all the cards from all of Canada’s major issuers below.
- MBNA Cash Back Credit Cards
- Scotia Bank Cash Back Credit Cards
- TD Cash Back Credit Cards
- BMO Cash Back Credit Cards
- American Express Cash Back Credit Cards
- Rogers Cash Back Credit Cards
- CIBC Cash Back Credit Cards
MBNA is most well known for excellent low-interest cards, but its suite of cash back credit card offerings are worth a look. We compare the three different MBNA cash back cards on offer, all of which are Mastercards: the MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus, the MBNA Smart Cash, and the MBNA Smart Cash World.
Both the Platinum Plus and the Standard Smart Cash cards are considered platinum cards, which the Smart Cash World belongs to the more exclusive World category of cards. The differences in benefits are minimal, and MBNA Mastercards all share the same obvious omission – travel health coverage.
|Smart Cash World||Platinum Plus and Smart Cash|
|Common Carrier Accidental Death||$1,000,000||$1,000,000|
|Unexpected Return Home||$2,000||$2,000|
|Rental Collision Damage Waiver||Covered||Covered|
|Rental Vehicle Accidental Death||$200,000||$200,000|
|Personal Effects||$1,000 per insured up to $2,000 per account||$1,000 per insured up to $2,000 per account|
|Purchase Assurance||Lifetime total allowed: $60,000||Lifetime total allowed: $60,000|
|Extended Warranty (Manufacturer’s Warranty Doubled, Up to)||One Year||One Year|
|Price Protection||Covered||Not Covered|
So the only difference between the world and platinum cards are that the former offers Price Protection and concierge services. Nice, but not massive.
Annual Interest Rates
These cards all cater towards rewards users, which means balances should be paid off monthly. The AIR on tardy payments across all the MBNA cards reviewed here are as follows:
- 19.99% on standard charges
- 22.99% on balance transfers
- 24.99% on cash advances
If you ever carry a balance forward on a card, you should be using a low-interest card for your purchases.
The cash back rate is .5% on everything else. After the spending caps are hit in the special categories, the rate kicks in at .5%.
The MBNA Smart Cash card is categorized as platinum, and eligible for the associated insurance benefits.
- World class cards enjoy concierge services and Price Protection, which allows for a low price guarantee on purchases for 90 days post transaction.
- Standard purchases – not gas or groceries – is 1% as opposed to .5% on the standard card.
We suppose this is worth the $39 annual fee, provided you meet the income requirement of either $60,000 individual or $100,000 household.
We are cool with the cashback rates – 5% promotional six month period on gas and groceries, and 2% thereafter – but turned off by the $500 combined monthly spend cap – though the 1% standard rate is ok.
MBNA points should be of interest to those valuing flexibility – they can be used for travel, for cash back, or for merchandise. If you are planning on using them for cash back however, the rate of return is 50% as compared to travel rewards, 200 points to the dollar rather than 100, or a .5% cash back on most purchases. In other words, you sign up bonus equals $50 in travel rewards, or $25 in cash back – better than nothing, but not very exciting.
The card does offer, however, double earning potential on gas, groceries, and restaurant purchases, or 1% cashback. However, if you are a devoted cash backer, you are better off choosing one of the two smart cash cards, both of which offer more competitive rates.
As described above, Platinum Plus holders are eligible for the Platinum Mastercard benefits package.
TD offers two cards, the standard TD Cash Back Visa, and the TD Cash Back Visa Infinite. Both cards offer the cash back dollars upon request into your account, a minimum of $25 being the only requirement.
Though the Visa Infinite has an annual fee of $120, we strongly recommend it over the standard TD card, provided you fulfil the income requirement of either $60,000 individual or $100,000 household. We would recommend it even if that fee was not rebated in year one.
|TD Cash Back Visa||TD Cash Back Visa Infinite|
|Travel Medical||N/A||$2,000,000 10 consecutive days, four consecutive days 65+|
|Rental Vehicle Collision and Damage||N/A||Covered|
|Baggage Insurance||N/A||Up to $1,000|
|Purchase SecurityDouble the Manufacturer’s Warranty up to one year||90 days against loss or damage||90 days against loss or damage|
|Extended Warranty||Double the Manufacturer’s Warranty up to one year||Double the Manufacturer’s Warranty up to one year|
The cards are meant to be paid off monthly, and the annual interest is both high and in line with the rest of the market.
- Purchase: Standard Card 19.99%, Infinite 20.99%
- Cash Advances: Both 22.99%
Below we briefly review each card, after which we will do a bit of simple math to illustrate why the Infinite card is a no brainer.
We prefer this standard card to the standard MBNA cashback cards, as they have no spending caps and the recurring bills category is a great addition to gas and groceries. However, there is no insurance coverage, aside from the extended warranty and purchase protection.travel and rental vehicle insurances, and you can add additional card holders, who are also covered, for an additional $50 a year each.
The cash back rates are also superior. For a limited time, new enrolees get a three month promotional welcome bonus offering 6% cashback on all purchases, up to $3,500 total spend. Assuming you spend $3,500 in three months, that is $210 right there.
Additionally, the grocery, gas, and recurring bill category gets an elevated cashback rate of 3%, while everything else gets you 1%.
|Average Annual Cost||TD Cash Back||TD Cash Back Infinite||Difference|
|Recurring Utility and Internet Bills - $2,640||$26||$79||$53|
|Groceries per person - $2,400||$24||$72||$48|
|Gas - $3,000 per person||$30||$90||$60|
|Annual Travel Insurance Plan (10 day consecutive)||N/A||$71||$71|
Scale up or down depending on your personal circumstances – are you shopping for more than one? Do you have more than one car? Do you have cable and/or telephone bills to pay? Gym memberships? And of course, this does not account for all the additional spending categories, which earn at a .5% higher rate on the Infinite card.
Long story short, provided you hit the income requirement, it is hard to imagine a scenario in which the TD Cash Back Card makes more sense than the Infinite. That is doubly the case with the first year annual fee rebate.
American Express does not have the benefit of banks to act as distribution networks – and so AMEX is only able to attract customers by living up to its brand, a brand which oozes prestige, exclusivity, and value.
So what does that mean? AMEX is famous for getting it’s customers to be treated like VIPs. For instance, card members get access to blocks of tickets, restaurant bookings, special events, theater performances, etc. prior to availability to the general public. There are also special events and unique experiences that are set up for and exclusively available to AMEX holders only. There is really some great value here that is often under utilized by card holders, and if you take advantage of either of the two Cashback cards reviewed below – The SimplyCash or the SimplyCash Preferred – you will have access
The Simply Cash preferred has excellent insurance coverage, particularly their under-65 travel medical. Notably missing however is vehicle collision insurance.
|Extended Warranty||Doubles Manufacturer’s Warranty, up to one year||Doubles Manufacturer’s Warranty, up to one year|
|Purchase Protection||90 day protection against damage or theft||90 day protection against damage or theft|
|Travel Accident Insurance||$100,000||$100,000|
|Travel Insurance||N/A||Up to 15 days consecutive, $5M insured, up to 65 years|
|Car rental theft and damage||N/A||Covered|
|Lost Baggage||N/A||Up to $500|
|Flight/Baggage Delay||N/A||Up to $500 for each|
|Hotel Burglary||N/A||Up to $500|
Both cards offer an introductory balance transfer rate. Cash back cards in general have high standard rates, avoid carrying balances. Only use the balance transfer offer if you are certain it will be paid off within the six month period.
- Purchase Interest: 19.99%
- Cash Advance: 22.99%
- Balance Transfer: 1.99% for six months, 50% of credit limit up to $7,500
We like the simplicity of the SimpleCash cards. The cashback is flat rate, so you need not be concerned about different spending categories and the like. And the cashback is applied as a credit to your account once annually, so you need not take any action there as well. Just a simple, easy to understand and use, cash back scheme.
- Do you plan on traveling in the next year?
- Will you put more than $1,100 on the credit card a month?
At $13,200 annually, the annual fee is covered by cash back percentage difference. At that point it makes sense to go for the Preferred for cash back alone; if you plan on traveling out of your province more than once, the cost of travel medical on its own would cost you around $70, so the card pretty quickly becomes worth it.
For most, the Preferred SimplyCash is the better option.
BMO offers a suite of good cash back Mastercards, with rewards paid annually or upon your request. The cashback rates are reasonable and the insurance coverage is very good. All in all, a solid offering from one of Canada’s big five banks.
Cashback paid out according to your specification – annually or on upon request.
|BMO CashBack World Elite||BMO CashBack World||BMO CashBack|
|Extended Warranty||Up to two years on top of Manufacturers Warranty||Up to one year on top of Manufacturer’s Warranty||Up to one year on top of Manufacturer’s Warranty||Up to one year on top of Manufacturer’s Warranty|
|Purchase Protection||180 days from purchase date||90 days from purchase date||90 days from purchase date||90 days from purchase date|
|Emergency Medical||8 days, $2M||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Rental Vehicle Collision Damage Waiver||Yes||Yes||N/A||N/A|
The rates are generally in line with the rest of the cash back market:
- Purchase: 19.99%
- Cash Advances: 22.99%
- BMO Cashback Mastercard Balance Transfer: 1.99% for nine months, with a 1% transfer fee.
In our view, there are two reasons for bumping up to the Cashback World card. First, if you are able to get your gas at shell, that 3% cash back is very appealing. The inclusion of rental car collision and damage coverage is also quite valuable if you rent cars from time to time.
If you are already willing to fork over the $79, does it make sense to dig really deep and go for the World Elite at $120?
Cashback is bumped up from 1.25% to 1.5%, and the $7,000 monthly spending cap is removed, which is nice. There is also a saucy 5% cashback offer for your first three months, capped at $4,000 in spend ($200 cashback). However, this is mitigated by the lack of shell 3% cashback offer, an absence which we cannot really explain.
The big difference, and the justification for the $120 charge, comes on the insurance side. The World Elite Card includes travel medical, which more than covers the $50 difference from the standard world card. Additionally, the extended warranty and purchase protection coverage is really great, both offering double the standard coverages. If you are big into spending protection, this will appeal.
Scotiabank and Tangerine
We sort of lazily include Scotiabank-owned Tangerine in this section because they have only one credit card offering, and it is our site so we can do what we want!
Of these cards, we find only the Momentum infinite Visa and the Tangerine Cashback cards worth using. It’s not that the standard Momentum and the No Fee Momentum are bad cards – they are fine – it is just that there are very specific, sort of narrow window cases in which they would be preferable to the Tangerine or the Infinite.
Some general information about the Scotiabank line of cards.
|Scotia Momentum Infinite||Scotia Momentum||Scotia Momentum no fee||Tangerine Cashback|
|Purchase protection||90 days||90 days||Not covered||90 days|
|Extended Warranty||Doubled up to 1 year||Doubled up to 1 year||Not covered||Doubled up to 1 year|
|Travel Medical||$1M for 15 days, under 65 for you, spouse, children||Not covered||Not covered||Not covered|
|Trip Interruption||$2,000 per person||Not covered||Not covered||Not covered|
|Flight Delay||$500 per person||Not covered||Not covered||Not covered|
|Delayed, lost luggage||Combined max $500||Not covered||Not covered||Not covered|
|Rental Car Collision, loss,damage||Yes||Not covered||Not covered||Not covered|
|Travel Accident||Up to $500,000 per person - max $1M||Not covered||Not covered||Not covered|
- Purchase: 19.99%; 7.99% introductory rate on the no-fee Momentum for first six months.
- Cash Advances: 22.99%
- Balance Transfers: Introductory rate of 2.99% for six months on the Momentum Visa
- Purchase 19.95%
- Cash Advance: 19.95% + $3.50
- Balance Transfer: 1.95% for six months
The Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa has – wait for it – no annual fee, and offers 1% on gas, groceries, drug stores, and recurring payment spending categories. There is .5% cashback on everything else. There are no additional perks with the card, aside from the 25% off rate at participating AVIS and Budget rental car locations. But really, if you are planning on renting a car with your credit card, it probably makes sense to find a card that offers free collision and damage coverage.
Everything else earns at only .5%, which is a bit of a bummer, but 2% with no cap on three categories is quite good. Add to that Purchase Assurance and Extended Warranty coverage, and the Tangerine card might be actually better than the Momentum.
While Momentum does have a fourth 2% category, drug stores is not the greatest category for many, and is probably more than offset by the Tangerine cards flexibility. Even assuming a wash there, you would need to spend $7,800 on “everything else” before the Momentum’s annual fee is covered.
As an additional kicker, Tangerine offers a 1.95% six month balance transfer offer, compared to 2.99% six month’s with the momentum.
You will spend more than $3,900 in gas, groceries, drug store, and recurring payments in a year.
$3,900 is the point at which the 2% cash back of the Momentum Visa minus the $39 annual fee surpasses the 1% cash back rate of the Momentum No-Fee card. Even if you don’t spend 3,900, the additional .5% cashback on everything else – 1% as opposed to .5% – might bridge the gap, with an additional $5 per $1,000 in spend.
- 2. You do not earn $60,000 yet, nor have a household income of $100,000.
- 3. You really dig extended warranty and purchase protection.
- 4. You don’t want to work with an internet bank like Tangerine.
If one is true, then two must also be true for you to choose the standard Momentum Visa over the Visa Infinite. And if reason three is true, reason four must also be true to choose the standard Momentum Visa over the Tangerine Cashback card.
Note that the 2% cash back categories are capped at a $25,000 total spend – after which they earn at 1%.
The first three months are rewarded with a 10% cashback rate up to a total of $200 in earnings, after which the card resets to a whopping 4% standing rate on gas and groceries ($25,000 spending cap) and 2% on drugs and recurring bills ($25,000 spending cap). Based on the average annual spend of Canadians there is little chance of that cap being exceeded, but if you have unique spending habits, the cashback rate pays at a standard 1% rate above the cap.
And of course the insurance benefits alone more than justify the additional $60 over the standard Momentum Visa, assuming you plan using the card for travel expenses.
First thing’s first. Rogers allows their cashback to be used ONLY to pay for Rogers products, whether against regular billing of TV, Internet, or Mobile products, or from their stores, brick and mortar or online. For some, this will not make much of a difference – an expense is an expense regardless of what particular expense it is. If a customer would otherwise have as much cable/internet/mobile expenses that they can now cover with their Rogers cashback, there is basically no difference.
If it does not make a difference to you, then wow, Rogers offers some great cards. And hey, they even give you $25 on your first transaction just for trying it out.
|Rogers World Elite||Rogers Platinum Plus|
|Travel Medical||Up to $1M for 10 days up to 64. 65-74 for first 3 days.||N/A|
|Trip Cancellation / Trip Delay||Up to $1,000 on the non refundable part of the trip. Must be a covered reason like health, laid off from work||N/A|
|Rental Collision/ Damage||Covered||N/A|
|Purchase Protection||90 days||90 days|
|Extended Warranty||Manufacturer’s doubled, up to one year||Manufacturer’s doubled, up to one year|
Rogers offers Trip Cancellation insurance, which is both a rarity amongst credit cards and very awesome.
- Purchase: 19.99%
- Cash Advance: 21.50%
You are given 3% on all foreign currency transactions, as well as 1.25% on everything else – 2% on Rogers product spending. With no annual fee and a $25 bonus just to get started, this is a great cashback card if you are currently (or willing to become) a Rogers customer.
You get 4% cash back on any foreign currency purchases, which makes this the best Canadian card for purchases while abroad. You get a flat 1.75% cashback rate on all domestic purchases, 2% on any of Rogers’ products.
And don’t think the lack of fee means you got to pass up on insurance. Rogers offers a full suite of insurance benefits, which they are probably willing to do because of the limitations on cash back usage.
- Purchase: 19.99%
- Cash Advance: 22.99%
|Dividend Infinite Visa||Dividend Platinum||Dividend Visa|
|Purchase Protection||90 Days||90 Days||90 Days|
|Extended Warranty||Doubles manufacturer’s up to one year||Doubles manufacturer’s up to one year||Doubles manufacturer’s up to one year|
|Out of Province Medical||Up to $5M for 15 consecutive days, under 65 years||N/A||N/A|
|Auto Collision/loss damage||Covered||Covered||N/A|
|Common Carrier||Up to $500,000||Up to $500,000||N/A|
|Trip Interruption||Up to $2,000||N/A||N/A|
|Flight Delay||Up to $500||N/A||N/A|
|Baggage Delay/Loss||Up to $1,000||N/A||N/A|
With a $99 annual fee and an income requirement of $60,000 personal / $100,000 household, The Dividend Infinite is a solid, but not exceptional offer. We find it hard to justify picking the CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite over, for instance, the Scotiabank Momentum Infinite, which has the same gas and groceries 4% categories, but replaces Tim Horton’s and TELUS in the 2% bracket with the entire recurring bills and drug store categories of spend. Offer a first year annual fee rebate too.
The Scotiabank Momentum Infinite and The TD Cashback Infinite are both excellent cards and we would recommend going for one or the other, provided you hit the income requirement. While both have their first year fee rebated, for a truly free card, the Rogers World Elite is excellent, provided you have enough Rogers expenses on which to spend the cash back. It is the only free card in the market that offers travel medical insurance, though they also have the biggest income requirement.
For a standard no annual fee card, we recommend going with either the straight 1.25% American Express Simply Cash, or the Tangerine card which offers 3 2% categories if you deposit your cash back into a Tangerine savings account.
|1||First Year Free||Apply NowReview|