Canada's Best Cash Back Credit Cards 2019

Canada’s Best Cash Back Credit Cards 2019

Whether they’re fee or no fee, these cards will put money back in your pocket

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Nothing could be easier to understand than a cash back credit card. You get a small percentage back on everything you buy on the card and the reward comes in the form of cash back, meaning money. The beauty is that you can spend these cash back rewards on anything you want. So they’re flexible too.

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’re sharing what the best cards have to offer based on categories.

The best cash back credit cards in Canada 2019


Best cash back credit card for groceries and gas (with a fee)

Meridian Visa Infinite Cash Back

Many Canadians’ 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 pot. 

The Meridian card also offers a few extra features like mobile device insurance and up to 48 days of travel insurance.

  • Annual fee: $99 (first year free)
  • Earn rate: 4% cash back on gas and groceries, 2% on drug stores and recurring bills, 1% on everything else
  • Additional benefits: Mobile device insurance, Travel insurance, Concierge service, Visa Infinite Dining and Music Series


Best cash back credit card (with a fee)

Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite*

Recently overhauled with new earn rates and some features adjustments, the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite remains a strong cash back card offering competitive perks and rewards. Members can earn an impressive 4% cash back on groceries and recurring bills—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%. Other changes include the addition of $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.

  • Annual fee: $120 (first year free)
  • Earn rate: 4% cash back on groceries and recurring bills; 2% on public transit and gas; and 1% on everything else
  • Additional benefits: Travel insurance, Concierge service, Visa Infinite Dining and Music Series

Click here for more details about the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite*


Best flat-rate cash back with a fee

The SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express*

The SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express is ideal for people who spend a lot on their credit cards and don’t want to deal with different spending categories since you earn 2% cash back on all your purchases.

Although the card has an annual fee of $99, you get an increased earn rate of 5% cash back (up to $300) on all purchases for the first six months of card membership.

For those looking to reduce their debt, they can also take advantage of the optional balance transfer at the time of application. The balance transfer rate is 1.99% for the first six months and you can transfer up to 50% of your credit limit, up to a maximum of $7,500.

  • Annual fee: $99
  • Welcome bonus: 5% cash back on all purchases for the first 6 months (up to $300 cash back)
  • Earn rate: 2% cash back on all purchases
  • Additional benefits: American Express Invites, Optional balance transfer, Referral bonus

Click here for more details about the SimplyCash Preferred*


Honorable mention (fee cash back)

TD Cash Back Visa Infinite Card*

With an annual fee of $120 (which is waived for the first year) and an earn rate of 3% cash back on gas, grocery, and recurring bill payments, some people ignore the TD Cash Back Visa Infinite Card but that could be a huge mistake.

The welcome bonus of 10% on all categories is great, but the real benefit of this card is the included TD Auto Club membership that you get 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, and delayed and lost baggage insurance which is not very good, but people apply for this card for the TD Auto Club membership, not the travel insurance.

  • Annual fee: $120 (free for first year)
  • Welcome bonus: 10% cash back on all purchases for the first three months on the initial $2,000 in purchases
  • Earn rate: 3% cash back on gas, grocery, and recurring bill payments, 1% on all other purchases
  • Additional benefits: TD Auto Club membership, Some medical insurance

Click here for more details about the TD Cash Back Visa Infinite Card*


Best no-fee card for flexible cash back

Tangerine Money-Back*

If you want a cash back card that has no fees and 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-day and extended warranty which doubles your manufacturer’s warranty up to an additional year.

  • Annual fee: None
  • Earn rate: 2% cash back on up to 3 categories, 0.5% on all other categories
  • Welcome offer: Get 4% cash back on your 3 categories for the first 3 months
  • Additional benefits: None

Click here for more details about the Tangerine Money-Back Card*


Best no fee cash back for travel

Rogers World Elite MasterCard

The Rogers World Elite Mastercard often doesn’t get as much love as it deserves. With this card, you earn 1.75% 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 4% cash back on purchases made in a foreign currency effectively means you earn 1.5% in cash back on purchases once you factor in the 2.5% foreign exchange fee. In other words, this is a great card for travellers.

Getting 2% cash back on Rogers products and services is nice and so is the basic travel insurance include, but they aren’t gamechangers.

  • Annual fee: None
  • Welcome bonus: $25 in cash back rewards when you make your first card purchase
  • Earn rate: 4% cash back on purchases in a foreign currency, 2% on Rogers products and services, 1.75% on all other purchases
  • Additional benefits: Some travel insurance


Best no-fee flat-rate cash back

The SimplyCash Card from American Express*

American Express also offers a no fee version of their SimplyCash card. As you can imagine, the benefits are not as great compared to the preferred version, but you still get a decent return on your spending.

The earn rate is 1.25% cash back on all purchases, but that’s doubled to 2.5% on all purchases for the first 6 months (up to $150 cash back). You also have the option to make a balance transfer at the time of application with a promotional interest rate of 1.99% for six months.

If you refer a friend to this card, you’ll get $100 for each approved referral up to $1,500 per calendar year.

  • Annual fee: None
  • Welcome bonus: 2.5% cash back on all purchases for the first 6 months (up to $150 cash back)
  • Earn rate: 1.25% cash back on all purchases
  • Additional benefits: American Express Invites, Optional balance transfer, Referral bonus

Click here for more details about the SimplyCash Card from American Express*


Canada’s Best Cash Back Credit Cards — Rewards Overview

Card Net reward (excluding 1st year sign-up bonus)
Meridian Visa Infinite Cash Back $393
Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite $369
SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express $381
Tangerine Money-Back $286
Rogers World Elite MasterCard $420
SimplyCash Card from American Express $300

In-Depth: THE BEST CREDIT CARDS BY CATEGORY

The methodology

For the Best Cash Back Credit Cards 2019 ranking, MoneySense tapped into Ratehub.ca’s‡ credit card tool and calculated the numbers for both fee and no fee cash back rewards 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 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.

—with Julie Cazzin

‡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.