Canada’s best cash back credit cards 2022
Whether they’re fee or no fee, these cards will put money back in your pocket
Whether they’re fee or no fee, these cards will put money back in your pocket
The concept behind cash back credit cards is easy to understand. You get a small percentage back on purchases you make with the card, and the reward comes in the form of cash back, meaning money. The beauty of this system is that cash back rewards are flexible and you can spend them on anything you want.
No two cash back credit cards are identical, so you need to consider the annual fee, earn rate, how much your charge to your card and any additional benefits before you apply. To help you pick the right card we’ve put together a list of what the top options have to offer based on different categories.
Here’s a quick overview of essential information. Other important details about each card—like interest rates, welcome offers and additional benefits—are listed below.
|Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite*
|American Express SimplyCash
(get more details)*
(get more details)*
|Rogers World Elite
(get more details)
|CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite
|Meridian Visa Infinite Cash Back
(get more details)
|TD Cash Back Visa Infinite
(get more details)*
|BMO CashBack Mastercard
(get more details)*
|American Express SimplyCash Preferred (get more details)*||
There are a lot of outstanding cash back cards on this list but competitive earn rates, insurance coverage and access to the Visa Infinite program put the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite at the top of our list. Groceries have got to be the most-used spend category for most Canadians and with this card you’ll earn a handsome 4% back (and on recurring payments). Gas and transit, including Uber, will net you 2% back, and everything else has an earn rate of 1%—all with no cash back limit. Valuable extras include comprehensive travel insurance and new mobile device coverage. New members get the $120 annual fee waived for the first year.
Not to be confused with its big brother, the SimplyCash Preferred the SimplyCash from American Express trades a slightly lower earn rate for no annual fee. The regular earn rate of 1.25% gets you an above-average return on otherwise general purchases, like clothes, electronics and online purchases—spends that would likely net you between 0.5% and 1% back with another card. While it’s true that American Express can be used less widely than Visa or Mastercard, it is accepted at more places than you might think. If you’re worried about accessibility, consider carrying a second credit card as a backup.
If you want a cash back card with no fees that is easy to understand, then the Tangerine Money-Back Card is a good choice for you. All cardholders get to choose two categories where they earn 2% cash back. If you opt to have your cash back deposited directly into your Tangerine Savings Account, then you get to choose a third category that earns you 2% cash back. All other purchases earn you 0.5% cash back.
Since this is a basic no-fee, cash back card the other benefits are thin. However, you do get purchase assurance, which protects your purchase from loss, theft or damage within 90 days and an extended warranty that doubles your manufacturer’s warranty up to an additional year.
If you meet the annual income requirement of $60,000, you’ll automatically be considered for the Tangerine World Mastercard, which comes with additional perks such as mobile device and rental car insurance.
The Rogers World Elite Mastercard often doesn’t get as much love as it deserves. With this card, you earn 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. Best of all, you can redeem that cash back towards most of your purchases made with your card within the last 90 days.
The 3% cash back on purchases made in U.S. currency effectively means you earn 0.5% in cash back on purchases once you factor in the 2.5% foreign exchange fee. In other words, this is a card for online shoppers and U.S. travellers to consider. The one major caveat (aside from its $80,000 annual income requirement): You must charge at least $15,000 in purchases on the card every 12 months to keep it, otherwise you’ll be downgraded to the entry-level Rogers Platinum Card that earns a less impressive 1% cash back on everything.
The Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite is a strong cash back card that offers competitive perks and rewards and comes with an excellent welcome offer. Cardholders can earn an impressive 4% cash back on groceries, recurring bills and subscription services—a structure that may well suit large families or households. Transportation expenses—gas and public transit—earn at 2%, and everything else comes in at 1%. Note that there is a $25,000 cap on qualifying spends in each category; any purchases exceeding that amount will earn the base 1%. There’s also $1,000 in mobile device insurance and $1,500 per person in trip cancellation protection.
Since this is a Visa Infinite card, there is a minimum annual income of $60,000 or a minimum household income of $100,000 requirement to be approved for the card. The annual fee—now $120—will be waived for new applicants for the first year.
The CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite is on our list for its generous earn rates. Not only does this card earn bonus cash back across five popular spending categories, including gas, groceries, dining, transit and recurring bills, it quadruples the cash back earned on groceries and gas purchases. As for other things you pay for, you will get 2% when you use this card for dining (even with takeout and delivery), public transit, Uber rides, taxis and recurring bills. This all adds up, especially when considering recurring payments can include everything from cell phone and internet bills to streaming services. We also like that you can redeem for cash back at any time of the year in increments of just $25.
Income required: $60,000 or $100,000 as a household
For many Canadians, the largest and most regular expenses are gas and groceries. For them, finding a cash back card that rewards well on these spends is just good money management. With 4% back in both these categories, the Meridian Visa Infinite Cash Back card tops the list. You’ll receive 2% on drug store purchases and recurring bills, and the 1% base earn rate on all other purchases sweetens the deal.
The Meridian card also offers a few extra features like mobile device insurance and up to 48 days of travel insurance.
With an annual fee of $120 (which is rebated for the first year for you and one other cardholder) and an earn rate of 3% cash back on gas, grocery and recurring bill payments, the TD Cash Back Visa Infinite Card is worth considering seriously.
The welcome bonus of 10% on all purchases is great, as is the included TD Auto Club membership which is basically a roadside assistance package. TD Auto Club is comparable to CAA and covers you for things such as a dead battery, tire changes, gas delivery, $200 in accident towing, $200 in emergency transportation and more.
When it comes to travel insurance, you only get travel medical coverage and delayed and lost baggage insurance which is not very comprehensive, however the welcome offer and the TD Auto Club membership are excellent perks in their own right.
Additional benefits: Deluxe TD Auto Club membership; some medical insurancePlus, when TD credit card holders refer friends and family for an eligible TD credit card, they can earn a $100 e-gift card when their application is approved. You can earn up to 3 e-gift cards (a $300 value) within the offer period, which ends May 29, 2022.
Recent changes to this no-fee card, often recommended for students, have made it more interesting to a wider range of value-seekers. Cardholders now earn 3% cash back on groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments and an unlimited 0.5% on everything else. And the welcome bonus—5% back for the first three months—can rack up to $100.
The SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express is ideal if you use your credit card a lot and you want to keep things simple. You won’t have to worry about different bonus categories or tiered earn rates. With the Amex SimplyCash, you’ll earn an industry-leading 2% cash back on all your purchases, regardless of whether it’s gas, groceries, electronics or online purchases. Even better, there is no limit to how much you can earn. Your cash back accumulates automatically and you can redeem it as a balance credit at any time. Simple. Still undecided? New members will earn a whopping 10% cash back (up to $400) on all purchases for the first four months.
|Credit card||Best||Annual fee|
|1||SimplyCash Preferred from American Express||Flat-rate cash back card||$99|
|2||SimplyCash from American Express||No fee cash back (flat rate)||$0|
|3||Tangerine Money-Back||No fee cash back card (bonus categories)||$0|
|4||Rogers World Elite Mastercard||No fee cash back card (high earners)||$0|
|5||Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite||Cash back card for groceries & bills||$120|
|6||CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite||Cash back card for groceries & gas||$99|
|7||Meridian Visa Infinite Cash Back||Cash back card for groceries & gas||$99|
|8||TD Cash Back Visa Infinite||Honourable mention||$120|
|9||BMO CashBack Mastercard||Honourable mention||$0|
The payoff with a cash back credit card is the cash—a reward that is easily cancelled out by the penalties and interest accrued if you carry a balance. Like all rewards credit cards, cash back cards tend to carry annual interest rates at the higher end, usually around 19.99%. At this rate, unpaid debt will rapidly accumulate interest charges that eat up any gains you’ve made. As long as you pay off your balance in full every month, you’ll avoid this pitfall, but if you find you regularly carry a balance, you might consider a low interest credit card instead.
It’s easy to go with the cash back card offered by your current bank, but that’s not always the best choice. Take the time to compare your options to identify the card that delivers the highest return based on your particular spending habits and lifestyle. Remember: you don’t need to open a chequing or savings account with a bank in order to get a credit card, and you can pay your bill electronically from any bank account.
While it might seem counterintuitive to pay an annual fee on a cash back card, be aware that cards with a fee generally deliver better rewards and perks. If these perks are worth more than the annual fee (and if the card fits your spending habits in other ways), you might choose a cash back card with a fee.
Using too many credit cards at once is generally frowned upon, as this can be a sign of insolvency. However, a strong credit-card strategy can involve pairing cards to maximize benefits. For example, the TD Cash Back Visa Infinite offers 3% back on gas, groceries and recurring bills, but only 1% on everything else, while the Tangerine Money Back Card has no annual fee and offers 2% back in up to three spending categories of your choice. Strategically it would make sense to select drug stores, parking/public transit and restaurants to fill in the gaps on everyday spends without having to pay more for the better earn rate.
Adding an authorized user, typically your partner, to your account can be a cost-effective (or even free!) way to boost your earnings on a premium card. With this setup, both cardholders accrue rewards or cash back on their spends without paying double the annual fees. If, for example, your card has a $120 annual fee, you might be able to get an additional authorized user for as little as $30 more. Some premium cards, like the SimplyCash Preferred from American Express, even let you add authorized users for free. It does bear mentioning that this requires some thought as only the primary cardholder will be responsible for paying off the balance—not the authorized users.
When choosing a rewards credit card, many Canadians find themselves torn between two types: Cash back and travel. This shouldn’t come as a surprise—both are popular and have valuable strengths. Here we break down both card types to help you decide which card is right for you.
It’s important to be able to understand your credit card rewards program, and cash back cards are about as clear as you can get. If you earn 2% back, you absolutely know you’re going to receive $0.02 on every $1—no complicated math required. With travel rewards credit cards, there are sometimes different earn rates and redemption values. These variables can affect how or when you want to collect or redeem.
Bottom line: If you’re invested in earning travel rewards, acquainting yourself with your card’s program may be the best way to go, otherwise you can’t top cash when it comes to simplicity.
How you earn can be just as important as what you earn. Travel rewards credit cards usually offer a very wide breadth of spending categories to earn in, while cash back cards can be more restrictive.
Aside from a few exceptions, the majority of cash back credit cards offer the same limited selection of bonus categories (namely gas, groceries and utility bills). In comparison, travel credit cards have a far larger selection of bonus categories (like restaurants, hotel stays, flights, Uber rides and public transit, in addition to the groceries and gas), which means you can potentially earn more points on more types of purchases.
Bottom line: You’re likely going to earn more points or miles, in more spending categories, with a travel rewards card than cash with a cash back card.
The reason they say “Cash is king” because it can be used for anything you want, such as everyday spending on gas and groceries. In contrast, the points you earn on travel cards are usually geared towards travel rewards and offer the best value when redeemed for flights and hotel stays.
Bottom line: Cash is the most flexible reward there is, but if you’re looking to save on flights and hotel stays, a travel card can offer considerably more value.
Typically, travel rewards cards can offer hundreds of dollars in rewards as a sign-on bonus, while cash back cards usually offer an increased earning percentage for a short introductory time. One thing to note is that bonuses on cash back cards are usually easier to earn—while travel rewards cards usually are worth more but have stricter spending requirements.
For example, with the BMO World Elite Mastercard, you can get 3,000 bonus points ($240 value) only after you spend $3,000 on the card within your first three months. In contrast, the BMO CashBack World Elite’s welcome offer lets you earn 5% cash back right out of the gate on all your purchases for the first three months but it maxes out at just $200.
Bottom line: The welcome bonuses on cash back cards are typically worth less but are easier to get than the offers available on travel cards.
Perks are little extras available to you as a cardholder. These are usually things like airport lounge access, longer and more comprehensive travel insurance coverage, or refunds on certain expenses like a Nexus entry fee. As you can see, perks are very often tied directly to travel, so it should come as no surprise that you’re more likely to find them on travel rewards cards than on cash back cards.
Bottom line: In many ways, cash is the perk on a cash back card. If you’re looking for little extras, your best bet is a travel rewards card.
For the best cash back credit cards 2022 ranking, MoneySense tapped into Ratehub.ca’s‡ credit card tool and calculated the numbers for both fee and no-fee, cash back rewards credit cards based on $2,000 in monthly spending. We used the following scenario: $500 on groceries, $200 on gas, $200 on restaurants, $125 on bill payments, $175 on travel, $225 on entertainment, $75 on pharmacy purchases and $500 on everything else.
The end game was a magic number—that is, the annual net reward in dollar terms to identify the top cash back credit cards for each type of spender, along with an honorary mention. Our methodology also took into consideration other factors, including limited-time accelerated earn rates, the range of spending bonus categories, annual fee waivers, purchase protections and travel insurance perks.
‡MoneySense.ca and Ratehub.ca are both owned by parent company Ratehub Inc. We may be partnered with some financial institutions, but this does not influence the “Canada’s Best Credit Card” rankings. You can read more about this in our Editorial Code of Conduct.
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