Best cards if you carry a balance - MoneySense

Best cards if you carry a balance

Canada’s lowest interest rate cards explained.

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MoneySense crunched the numbers for 20 of the lowest interest rate credit cards in Canada to find out which ones are best if you carry a balance of $1,000, $5,000 and $15,000 throughout the year. We also factored in annual fees.

Some cards require that you have an excellent credit rating, and one—our top card, the ScotiaLine secured Visa—requires you to use your home or other assets to secure the card.

The cards are listed below, from best to worst.

Best cards if you carry a $1,000 balance

Scotialine Visa (secured)
Interest Rate (%): 4.00
Fee: $0
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $1,000: $40.00
Secured line of credit, usually by creating a second mortgage on residential property or securing existing investments. This has one-time set up costs usually ranging from $200-$600.

Capital One SmartLine Platinum MasterCard
Interest Rate (%): 5.99
Fee: $0
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $1,000: $59.90
Rate good till June 2014 then changes to prime + 4.99%. Need a high credit rating to qualify.

TD Emerald Visa
Interest Rate (%): 4.75 (Prime + 1.75%)
Fee: $25
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $1,000: $72.50
Need an excellent credit rating for this.

Scotialine Visa (unsecured)
Interest Rate (%): 7.99 (Prime + 4.99%)
Fee: $0
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $1,000: $79.90
Rate varies with Prime.

MBNA Gold MasterCard® credit card
Interest Rate (%): 9.99
Fee: $0
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $1,000: $99.90

Alterna Platinum Plus MasterCard
Interest Rate (%): 9.99
Fee: $0
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $1,000: $99.99

National Bank Synchro card
Interest Rate (%): 8.9
Fee: $35
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $1,000: $124.00
Prime +4%, minimum rate of 8.9%. Add $35 to each year for annual fee.

HSBC Premier MasterCard®
Interest Rate (%): 12.9
Fee: $0
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $1,000: $129.00

VanCity EnviroClassic low rate Visa
Interest Rate (%): 11.25
Fee: $25
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $1,000: $137.50

Capital One Gold MasterCard with 11.9% rate
Interest Rate (%): 11.9
Fee: $19
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $1,000: $138.00
Rate good till June 2014 then changes to prime + 9.9%. Add $19 to each year for fee.

BMO preferred rate MasterCard
Interest Rate (%): 11.9
Fee: $20
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $1,000: $139.00

RBC Visa Classic Low Rate Option
Interest Rate (%): 11.99
Fee: $20
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $1,000: $139.90

Capital One Gold MasterCard with 9.9% rate
Interest Rate (%): 9.9
Fee: $49
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $1,000: $148.00
Rate good till June 2014 then changes to prime +7.9%. Add $49 to each year for annual fee.

Scotiabank Value® Visa* card
Interest Rate (%): 11.99
Fee: $29
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $1,000: $148.90

CIBC select Visa
Interest Rate (%): 11.99
Fee: $29
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $1,000: $148.90

Capital One Gold MasterCard with 14.9% rate
Interest Rate (%): 14.9
Fee: $0
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $1,000: $149.00
Rate good till June 2014 then changes to prime +12.9%

Desjardins Modulo Gold
Interest Rate (%): 9.9
Fee: $50
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $1,000: $149.00

HSBC MasterCard low rate option
Interest Rate (%): 12.9
Fee: $25
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $1,000: $154.00

Citi low rate MasterCard
Interest Rate (%): 12.9
Fee: $25
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $1,000: $154.00

Laurentian Bank Visa Black Reduced Rate
Interest Rate (%): 12.49
Fee: $30
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $1,000: $154.90

Alterna World Points MasterCard (Low Fee)
Interest Rate (%): 12.99
Fee: $29
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $1,000: $158.90


Best cards if you carry a $5,000 balance

Scotialine Visa (secured)
Interest Rate (%): 4.00
Fee: $0
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $5,000: $200.00
Secured line of credit, usually by creating a second mortgage on residential property or securing existing investments. This has one-time set up costs usually ranging from $200-$600.

TD Emerald Visa
Interest Rate (%): 4.75 (Prime + 1.75%)
Fee: $25
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $5,000: $262.50
Need an excellent credit rating for this.

Capital One SmartLine Platinum MasterCard
Interest Rate (%): 5.99
Fee: $0
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $5,000: $299.50
Rate good till June 2014 then changes to prime + 4.99%. Need a high credit rating to qualify.

Scotialine Visa (unsecured)
Interest Rate (%): 7.99 (Prime + 4.99%)
Fee: $0
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $5,000: $399.50
Rate varies with Prime.

National Bank Synchro card
Interest Rate (%): 8.9
Fee: $35
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $5,000: $480.00
Prime +4%, minimum rate of 8.9%. Add $35 to each year for annual Fee:

MBNA Gold MasterCard® credit card
Interest Rate (%): 9.99
Fee: $0
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $5,000: $499.50

Alterna Platinum Plus MasterCard
Interest Rate (%): 9.99
Fee: $0
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $5,000: $499.50

Capital One Gold MasterCard with 9.9% rate
Interest Rate (%): 9.9
Fee: $49
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $5,000: $544.00
Rate good till June 2014 then changes to prime +7.9%. Add $49 to each year for annual fee.

Desjardins Modulo Gold
Interest Rate (%): 9.9
Fee: $50
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $5,000: $545.00

VanCity EnviroClassic low rate Visa
Interest Rate (%): 11.25
Fee: $25
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $5,000: $587.50

Capital One Gold MasterCard with 11.9% rate
Interest Rate (%): 11.9
Fee: $19
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $5,000: $614.00
Rate good till June 2014 then changes to prime + 9.9%. Add $19 to each year for fee.

BMO preferred rate MasterCard
Interest Rate (%): 11.9
Fee: $20
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $5,000: $615.00

RBC Visa Classic Low Rate Option
Interest Rate (%): 11.99
Fee: $20
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $5,000: $619.50

Scotiabank Value® Visa* card
Interest Rate (%): 11.99
Fee: $29
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $5,000: $628.50

CIBC select Visa
Interest Rate (%): 11.99
Fee: $29
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $5,000: $628.50

HSBC Premier MasterCard®
Interest Rate (%): 12.9
Fee: $0
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $5,000: $645.00

Laurentian Bank Visa Black Reduced Rate
Interest Rate (%): 12.49
Fee: $30
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $5,000: $654.50

HSBC MasterCard low rate option
Interest Rate (%): 12.9
Fee: $25
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $5,000: $670.00

Citi low rate MasterCard
Interest Rate (%): 12.9
Fee: $25
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $5,000: $670.00

Alterna World Points MasterCard (Low Fee)
Interest Rate (%): 12.99
Fee: $29
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $5,000: $678.50

Capital One Gold MasterCard with 14.9% rate
Interest Rate (%): 14.9
Fee: $0
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $5,000: $745.00
Rate good till June 2014 then changes to prime +12.9%.


Best cards if you carry a $15,000 balance

Scotialine Visa (secured)
Interest Rate (%): 4.00
Fee: $0
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $15,000: $600.00
Secured line of credit, usually by creating a second mortgage on residential property or securing existing investments. This has one-time set up costs usually ranging from $200-$600.

TD Emerald Visa
Interest Rate (%): 4.75 (Prime + 1.75%)
Fee: $25
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $15,000: $737.50
Need an excellent credit rating for this.

Capital One SmartLine Platinum MasterCard
Interest Rate (%): 5.99
Fee: $0
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $15,000: $899.85
Rate good till June 2014 then changes to prime + 4.99%. Need a high credit rating to qualify.

Scotialine Visa (unsecured)
Interest Rate (%): 7.99 (Prime + 4.99%)
Fee: $0
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $15,000: $1,198.50
Rate varies with Prime.

National Bank Synchro card
Interest Rate (%): 8.9
Fee: $35
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $15,000: $1,370.00
Prime +4%, minimum rate of 8.9%. Add $35 to each year for annual fee.

MBNA Gold MasterCard® credit card
Interest Rate (%): 9.99
Fee: $0
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $15,000: $1,498.50

Alterna Platinum Plus MasterCard
Interest Rate (%): 9.99
Fee: $0
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $15,000: $1,498.50

Capital One Gold MasterCard with 9.9% rate
Interest Rate (%): 9.9
Fee: $49
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $15,000: $1,534.00
Rate good till June 2014 then changes to prime +7.9%. Add $49 to each year for annual fee.

Desjardins Modulo Gold
Interest Rate (%): 9.9
Fee: $50
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $15,000: $1,535.00

VanCity EnviroClassic low rate Visa
Interest Rate (%): 11.25
Fee: $25
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $15,000: $1,712.50

Capital One Gold MasterCard with 11.9% rate
Interest Rate (%): 11.9
Fee: $19
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $15,000: $1,804.00
Rate good till June 2014 then changes to prime + 9.9%. Add $19 to each year for fee.

BMO preferred rate MasterCard
Interest Rate (%): 11.9
Fee: $20
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $15,000: $1,805.00

RBC Visa Classic Low Rate Option
Interest Rate (%): 11.99
Fee: $20
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $15,000: $1,818.50

Scotiabank Value® Visa* card
Interest Rate (%): 11.99
Fee: $29
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $15,000: $1,827.50

CIBC select Visa
Interest Rate (%): 11.99
Fee: $29
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $15,000: $1,827.50

Laurentian Bank Visa Black Reduced Rate
Interest Rate (%): 12.49
Fee: $30
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $15,000: $1,903.50

HSBC Premier MasterCard®
Interest Rate (%): 12.9
Fee: $0
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $15,000: $1,935.00

HSBC MasterCard low rate option
Interest Rate (%): 12.9
Fee: $25
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $15,000: $1,960.00

Citi low rate MasterCard
Interest Rate (%): 12.9
Fee: $25
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $15,000: $1,960.00

Alterna World Points MasterCard (Low Fee)
Interest Rate (%): 12.99
Fee: $29
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $15,000: $1,977.50

Capital One Gold MasterCard with 14.9% rate
Interest Rate (%): 14.9
Fee: $0
Total cost in interest and fees over one year with a balance of $15,000: $2,235.00
Rate good till June 2014 then changes to prime +12.9%.

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