Best Cashback Credit Cards

When selecting a cashback card, there are three main considerations: 1) The cashback percentage weighed against the fee 2) how easy it is to redeem the cashback and 3) card usability, for lack of a better term.

We’ve got our top three cards based on these considerations listed.

The Best Cash back Credit Cards in Canada

CardCashbackSIgn UpFeeApply

Rodgers Platinum MasterCard
1.25%$25FreeApply NowReview

BMO Cashback World Elite
1.75%4% for four months$120Apply NowReview

MBNA Rewards World Elite
2%$100$89Apply NowReview

Our preference of fee free card is obviously the Rogers Platinum; if you are willing to fork over a fee, it’s a toss up between the BMO World Elite and the MBNA Rewards World Elite, slight edge going to the former.

Cashback Percentage Rates

Cashback percentage rates might appear to be a simple matter of comparison, but actually can get sort of tricky. Many cards will separate spend types into categories and assign different cash back percentages to each – so a card that is good for you might not be appropriate for your partner, for instance.

Cashback Redemption

In terms of ease of redemption, some cards place obstacles between the user and his cashback in the form of minimums or increments, once-annual redemption, or redemption only on specific items. When using these cards you are likely to experience what is known as “breakage”, or unused value.

Cashback Usability

In terms of usability, there are certain card characteristics we deem extremely preferable when making particular purchases. For instance, airline tickets should be purchased using a card that offers travel insurances that otherwise can cost hundreds of dollars. For large domestic purchases, it makes sense to use a card that offers extended warranty benefits and perhaps purchase protection / price assurance. While high cash back is great, the money saved if any of these benefits are actually needed will dwarf whatever percentage back you are drawing. Best to get cash back on these purchases AND peace of mind.

CheckRate’s CheckMate Cash Back Award

The Rogers card has some solid cashback stats which are…less good than the MBNA World Elite. So why do we rate it as the best cashback credit card in Canada? Two reasons: First, the first year’s annual fee is waived, and it stays waived if you pre-authorize payment of your monthly Rogers bill; second, it is one of the best foreign exchange cards in the market. So simply put, it is cheaper and it has a much lower barrier to entry. They’ll even give you $25 just for making your first purchase.

And the difference is not so large anyway unless you are a massive spender. You get a flat 1.25% cashback on all purchases, which is decent value. Note that the Rogers card allows use of the 1.25% on any balance charges only once annually, at the end of the year, which must be done over the phone. The rest of the year, the cash back may only be used against any Rogers charge.

Additionally, Rogers gives 3% back on transactions in foreign currencies which more than covers the 2.5% foreign transaction fee applied. Rogers will deposit that cash into your checking account or just stick it as credit in your credit account, whatever you prefer.

Even if you end up deciding on a premium card that covers travel and rental, for instance, the Rogers card is worth a place in your wallet for foreign transactions alone.

There are three very important differences between the Rogers and the BMO. First is obviously the $120 annual fee, which for many is a deal breaker. The second is the excellent foreign transaction benefits of the Rogers card. And the third, and this is the big plus for BMO – is the cards usability. It does not make sense to book a flight on a card that does not offer insurance coverage, the absence of which could dwarf annual fees or any cashback consideration. BMO has got you covered. It does not make sense to book a rental car on a card that does not offer collision coverage, which otherwise costs $10-$20 a day. BMO has got you covered. Why would you buy an expensive washing machine, or massive ultra-HD television set, without extended warranty coverage? BMO double the warranty for up to an additional two years. And really, would you not prefer to buy a $100 wallet or sunglasses with a card that replaces it in the event of theft or damage for six months? BMO has got you covered.

This provides peace of mind on these large purchases together with the 1.75%, which to us is worth the added fee. Add travel medical insurance to this, as well as the 4% for four months promotion and you’ve got a dynamite card.

So the MBNA is both $30 cheaper than the BMO, and offers an additional .25%. Why is it cheaper? Because the benefits are not as good – you do not get travel insurance or medical, the warranty extension is limited to one year, and there is no purchase protection (there is price assurance though, which offers buyers the difference in price if a purchased item goes on sale within three months of acquisition date).

They have achieved the coveted 2% off of everything status, which is, at time of writing, unique to this card. You get $100 worth of points redeemable for cash after your first purchase, which covers the annual fee with a bit left over. In year two the breakeven point – when the additional ¼ percent in cash back over the Rogers card pays back the marginal annual fee – is at $35,600 in spend.

So the card is essentially free in the first year, provides a massive 2% across the board cashback, and offers some insurance and protections that make the card more usable than the Rogers card.

Best of the Rest

This no-fee stunner gives you 2% cash back in two different categories of your choice – three if you have your cash back deposited into your Savings Account.

You also get a low 1.5% foreign conversion fee which is one of the best rates in Canada, as well as purchase assurance and extended warranty for products bought on the card.

But ahoy there, perhaps you’d prefer the Scotiabank card, which offers 4% cashback on groceries and gas for your first $25,000 in spend? We did a bit of research and found that the average Canadian is liable to spend about $8.5k annually on gas and groceries. Assuming you are the average Canadian (you are not, you are special, but average in terms of your spending on gas and groceries) it would follow that this benefit is no longer a benefit if you spend a total of $17,000 or more per annum. You also get 2% back on recurring bills and pharmacy payments, again up to your first $25k in spend each year. However, everything else – including the aforementioned categories above $25k in spend – gets a rather ho-hum 1% cash back.

In the case that you drive a ton, or perhaps you are a feeder, this Scotiabank card might make sense for you. Otherwise, probably not based on the cashback.

The Scotiabank has a more robust of insurance policy than either the MBNA or Rogers cards – better than most cashback credit cards for that matter – and the momentum visa provides additional benefits as well. We aren’t getting into it here, but if this is a factor in your decision, read more about it here.

You’ll get 2.5% cash back for your first three months at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants, which is both high and short at the same time, an interesting oxymoron. After that you’ve got a standard rate of 1.25% on everything which is…25% better than not very good.

Add to that 1.99% interest on balance transfers for six months and free supplementary card and this AMEX card is a good, not great, all around card. Not our favorite AMEX offering to be honest, but ticks a lot of boxes and perhaps it is right for you.

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