Best credit cards in Canada for 2022

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Canada’s best credit cards 2022

Finding the right credit card could save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a year. Whether you’re looking for lower fees, more rewards or simply valuable perks like travel medical insurance or rental car savings, every dollar counts. If you use your credit card wisely, pay off your balance monthly and find the right rewards program for you, and you are sure to come out ahead. There’s a slew of credit card options out there, and it can be challenging to find the best deal—but this list of best credit cards in Canada is here to help.

We’ve highlighted the best in 13 different categories so that you can zero in on the ones that fit your spending habits, and offer features you truly value. Remember, this “best credit cards” ranking is the starting point; the final decision is yours to make. 

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Best overall cashback credit card

Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite*

Scotia Momentum Credit Card

One of the first things you’ll notice about the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite is its high earn rates in popular spending categories. You’ll get 4% cash back on groceries and recurring bills (like Netflix), 2% back on gas and transit (including Uber), and a 1% base rate for spends in all other categories. The included insurance covers your mobile device, car rental, and travel eventualities, and you’ll gain access to Visa Infinite perks like Concierge Service and Hotel Collection. If you’re looking for the most well-rounded and lucrative cash back card, our pick is the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite.

  • Annual fee: $120
  • Interest rates: Purchases 20.99%, cash advances 22.99%, balance transfers 22.99%

  • Earn rate: 4% on gas and recurring bills; 2% on gas and daily transit; 1% on everything else
  • Welcome offer: Earn 10% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months (up to $2,000 in total purchases).
  • Income requirement: $60,000 or a minimum household income of $100,000
  • Additional benefits: Mobile device insurance, travel emergency medical and travel accident coverage, car rental damage/loss waiver, flight interruption and delayed and lost baggage insurance; and access to Visa Infinite experiences

Best rewards cards for everyday spending

American Express Cobalt Card*

amex-cobalt-review

With a high earn rate, a generous welcome bonus and easy-to-redeem points, the American Express Cobalt Card is our top pick as the best travel credit card for everyday spending. The points you earn can be used toward travel at a rate of 1,000 points for $10 for any flight on any airline with no blackout dates, or use them toward the American Express Fixed Points Travel program, which lets you unlock even better value on round-trip flights. If you prefer to use your rewards for accommodations, you can transfer your points to one of the American Express Hotel partners, including Marriott Bonvoy.

  • Annual fee: $156
  • Interest rates: Purchases 20.99%, cash advances 21.99%
  • Earn rate: 5 points per $1 spent on dining out and groceries; 2 points per $1 spent on travel; 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Welcome offer: earn 2,500 points for each month you spend $500, up to a maximum of 30,000 points—that’s $300 towards a weekend getaway or concert tickets.
  • Income requirement: $12,000
  • Additional benefits: Travel insurance; American Express Invites

Get more details about the American Express Cobalt Card*

Also consider: Scotiabank Gold American Express*

scotiabank gold american express

The Scotiabank Gold American Express has been a longtime favourite for Canadians, especially those who travel. The first thing you’ll notice about this card is the Scotia Rewards earn rate is a very healthy 5 points per $1 on groceries, dining and entertainment. Gas gets 3 points per $1, as do spends in two other categories: Public transit and eligible streaming services. All other purchases earn you 1 point per $1 spent. This card also doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee—it’s one of the very few Canadian cards to offer this perk. Consider it a 2.5% bonus (the amount usually charged) on all foreign currency transactions, including online purchases. 

  • Annual fee: $120
  • Interest rates: Purchases 20.99%, cash advances 22.99%, balance transfers 22.99%

  • Welcome offer: Earn up to $850* in value in the first 12 months, including up to 45,000 bonus Scene+ points and first year annual fee waived. Offer ends 30 April 2023.
  • Earn rate: 5 Scene+ points for every $1 spent on dining and entertainment, 3 points per $1 on gas, transit and streaming services, and 1 point per $1 on everything else
  • Income requirement: $12,000
  • Additional benefits: Travel emergency medical, trip cancellation and interruption, flight delay, lost or delayed baggage, travel accident, and rental car collision coverages; hotel-motel burglary insurance; no foreign transaction fees; Amex Offers, Amex Front-of-the-Line, and American Express Invites; and discounted Priority Pass membership

Best cash back cards 

For simplicity: SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express*

If you’re not a points hacker but still want returns in your back pocket, consider the Amex SimplyCash Preferred card which makes earning money on your everyday spending uncomplicated. With this card you’ll earn 4% on groceries and gas, and 2% on everything else. Travel and shop stress-free with included insurance, and be sure to take advantage of the shopping, dining and travel offers you get with American Express.

  • Annual fee: $120
  • Interest rates: Purchases 20.99%, cash advances 21.99%

  • Welcome offer: Earn a $40 statement credit for each monthly billing period in which you spend $750 in purchases on your Card. This could add up to $400 in statement credits in the first 10 months
  • Earn rate: 4% cash back on eligible gas and grocery purchases up to $1,200 annually; 2% cash back on everything else.
  • Income requirement: None specified
  • Additional benefits: Travel insurance; car rental theft and damage coverage; American Express Invites program for shows, shopping sales and dining perks

Get more details about the SimplyCash Preferred card from American Express*

For bonus categories: CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite

On top of its standard 1% earn rate, the CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite card earns accelerated cash back rates in a diverse range of five common spending categories. It earns 4% cash back on both groceries and gas (no other cash back card earns more in those two essential categories), and you can earn twice the cash back on dining (including deliveries), daily transit (includes transit passes to rideshares like Uber), and 2% on recurring bills (think smartphone and cable bills). And it’s a standout compared to other cash back cards, as you can redeem whenever you like, as opposed to just once a year. Cash back redemption is done in increments of $25.

  • Annual fee: $120
  • Interest rates: Purchases 20.99%, cash advances 22.99%, balance transfers 22.99%

  • Welcome bonus: Earn 10% cash back on all purchases (up to $250 in value) for the first four statements (up to a maximum of $2,500 in purchases), plus an annual fee rebate for the first year. To be eligible, you must apply online.
  • Earn rate: 4% cash back on gas and groceries; 2% on transportation, dining and recurring bills; and 1% on everything else
  • Income requirement: $60,000 individual or $100,000 as a household
  • Additional benefits: Mobile device insurance; emergency travel insurance; concierge service; Visa Infinite Dining and Wine Country program, save up to $0.10 per litre at participating Chevron, Ultramar, Fast Gas and Pioneer gas stations when you link your card with Journie Rewards. 

Best Visa travel credit card

BMO eclipse Visa Infinite*

If you want to earn rewards on your dining and transit costs, look no further. You’ll earn 5 times the BMO Rewards points on your spending at grocery stores and restaurants (including delivery and takeout) and on your transit costs, like gas, public transit and rideshares. Other categories earn at a rate of 1 point per $1. You can redeem your BMO Rewards points for travel, as well as gift cards and select products. You can also pay for purchases with your points directly— selecting a transaction of as little as $1 and using your points to cover it. 

  • Annual fee: $120
  • Interest rates: Purchases 20.99%, cash advances 23.99%, balance transfers 23.99%
  • Welcome offer: Get up to 70,000 points ($467 in travel rewards) and earn 5 times the points on gas, dining, groceries and transit for the first year. Add and an authorized user and get 10% more points, too. Plus, they’ll waive the $120 annual fee your first year and you get a $50 lifestyle credit too.
  • Earn rate: 5 BMO Rewards points per $1 on food purchases, including groceries, restaurants and delivery, as well as gas and transit purchases including taxis and rideshares; 1 point per $1 on everything else
  • Income requirement: $60,000 personal or $100,000 household
  • Additional benefits: Visa Infinite privileges

Get more details about the BMO Eclipse Visa Infinite Card*


Best no fee cash back card

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card*

If you’re looking for a no-fee, cash-back credit card, then the Tangerine Money-Back card needs to be on your radar. With 2% cash back on up to three spending categories of your choice (such as groceries, gas and dining) and 0.5% back on everything else, this credit card is an excellent choice in the no-fee category. When you sign up, instead the bank set categories for you, you customize your cash-back spending options. You choose two categories where you earn 2% right away, but if you set your cash back to deposit directly into your Tangerine account, then you get to add a third category—meaning you can reap some considerable rewards. 

If you meet the $60,000 annual income requirement, you’ll automatically be considered for the Tangerine World Mastercard, which comes with additional perks such as mobile device and rental car insurance.

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rates: Purchases 19.95%, cash advances 19.95%, balance transfers 19.95%
  • Welcome offer: Earn 15% cash back (up to $150) when you spend $1,000 on everyday purchases within the first two months of having the card. Transfer your balance from another credit card to receive a low interest rate of 1.95% for the first six months (1% balance transfer fee applies). Must apply by December 29, 2022.
  • Earn rate: 2% cash back on up to 3 bonus categories of your choice; 0.5% on all other purchases
  • Income requirement: $12,000
  • Additional benefits: Purchase assurance and extended warranty

Get more details about the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card*


Best no-fee card for travel rewards

MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard*

The MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard offers a strong sign-up bonus for a no-fee card, and the 10,000 points on offer are easy to earn. All you need to do is spend $500 in grocery and restaurant purchases within 90 days of getting your card to receive the first 5,000 points. Sign up for paperless e-statements to receive the rest. MBNA points are flexible and easy to redeem for a variety of things including travel, where you get the most bang for your buck at 100 points to claim $1 in travel. For reference, it takes 200 points to claim $1 in cash back.

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rates: Purchases 19.99%, cash advances 24.99%, balance transfers 22.99%
  • Welcome offer: (Not available for residents of Quebec, instead click here.)
  • Earn rate:Earn 2 points for every $1 spent on eligible groceries and restaurants ($5,000 max annual spend per category) and 1 point per $1 on everything else.
  • Additional benefits: Purchase assurance and extended warranty

Get more details about the MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard*


Best Aeroplan card

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite*

If you tend to fly Air Canada when you can, then the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite could be the credit card for you. This Visa gives you, and up to eight guests flying on the same itinerary, free checked bags on your Air Canada flights. And when booking, as an Aeroplan credit cardholder, you get preferred pricing (using fewer points with Air Canada), too. We bet you want to know about the newly revamped Aeroplan plan, too: The earn rate for the card is 1.5 Aeroplan points per $1 spent on gas and groceries. And 1 Aeroplan point per $1 spent on all other purchases. This is a respectable earn rate, since groceries and gas are typically what people spend the most of their money on. You also get great travel insurance, mobile device insurance, purchase security, extended warranty and a Nexus rebate of up to $125.

  • Annual fee: $139
  • Interest rates: Purchases 20.99%, cash advances 22.99%, balance transfers 22.99%
  • Welcome bonus: Earn up to 50,000 Aeroplan points when you sign up. They’ll also waive the annual fee for your first year. Must apply by January 3, 2023.† Quebec residents, click here.
  • Earn rate: 1.5 Aeroplan points per $1 spent on gas and groceries, 1 Aeroplan point per $1 spent on everything else
  • Our favourite features: Free checked bags
  • Additional benefits: Travel insurance, mobile device insurance, up to $125 Nexus rebate every 48 months

Get more details about the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite*


Best Air Miles credit card

BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard*

Air Miles collectors, rejoice! The Air Miles World Elite Mastercard from Bank of Montreal pairs one of the most generous Air Miles earn rate available—1 mile per $12 spent—with an extremely valuable suite of travel-related perks, including travel insurance. (Plus three times the miles at Air Miles partners.) New cardholders get the first year’s annual fee waived, and the welcome offer of 2,000 Miles will give you a substantial start on your miles collection.

  • Annual fee: $120
  • Interest rates: purchases 20.99%, cash advances 23.99%, balance transfers 22.99%
  • Welcome bonus: new cardholders receive 3,000 miles ($310 value)
  • Earn rate: 1 mile for every $12 spent, three times the rewards at Air Miles partners and two times at eligible grocery stores
  • Income requirement: $80,000 (individual) or $150,000 (household)
  • Additional benefits: up to 15 days of out of province/out of country emergency medical protection worth up to $2 million; trip cancellation/interruption coverage; baggage and personal effects insurance; and rental car insurance

Get more details about the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard*


Best low-interest credit card

MBNA True Line Gold Mastercard*

People looking to reduce the amount of interest they pay should consider a low-interest credit card like the MBNA True Line Gold card. You won’t earn anything for your spending on the card, but the interest rate is just 8.99%, which is significantly lower than the average of 19.99% most other credit cards charge. If you’re currently carrying a balance on a credit card with a higher interest rate, then you should also consider taking advantage of the optional balance transfer at the time of application. Balances transferred won’t be charged interest for a full six months, which could save you bundles.

  • Annual fee: $39
  • Interest rates: purchases 12.99%, cash advances 24.99%, balance transfers 12.99%
  • Purchase interest rate: 8.99%
  • Balance transfer offer: Optional balance transfer at 0% interest for the first 6 months (3% transfer fee, $7.50 minimum fee). Note this offer is not available for residents of Quebec.

Get more details about the MBNA True Line Gold Mastercard*


Best credit card for gas

CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite

With a return of 4% cash back on gas and the option to save $0.10 per litre at certain gas stations, this card is designed to give you back some of the (large) chunk of money you spend on fuel. There are a few other bonus categories through which to earn competitive cash back rates too, like 4% on groceries, which is extra handy with rising food costs. It also offers 2% cash back on daily transit (including ride shares and public transit), so it’ll get you rewards on all modes of transit, as well as 2% on dining and recurring payments.

  • Annual fee: $120 (rebated for the first year)
  • Interest rates: Purchases 20.99%, cash advances 22.99%, balance transfers 22.99% (21.99% on cash advances for Quebec residents).
  • Earn rate: 4% cash back on gas, 4% on groceries, 2% on dining, daily transit and recurring bills, and 1% on everything else.
  • Welcome bonus: Earn 10% cash back on all purchases (up to $250 in value) for the first four statements (up to a maximum of $2,500 in purchases), plus an annual fee rebate for the first year. To be eligible, you must apply online.
  • Additional benefits: Emergency travel medical; car rental collision and loss damage insurance; mobile device insurance; plus save up to $0.10 per litre at participating Chevron, Ultramar and Pioneer gas stations when you link your card with Journie Rewards.
  • Income required: $60,000 or $100,000 as a household

Best credit card for groceries

Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite*

This card helps offset rising household expenses: you’ll earn 4% back on groceries, as well as 4% on recurring bill payments and subscriptions like Netflix. This card also earns 2% on transportation costs including Uber and gas (up to an annual total spend of $25,000; after that the earn rate drops to 1%). All other purchases earn at 1%, too. However, if you’re a commuter and spend a lot on gas and groceries, you may want to consider the card above to earn 4% back in both of those categories. Figuring out which you spend more on (recurring bills or gas) can help you pick the most beneficial card for you.

  • Annual fee: $120 (waived for first year)
  • Interest rate: Purchases 20.99%, cash advances 22.99%, 22.99% on balance transfers
  • Welcome bonus: You can earn 10% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months (up to $2,000); annual fee is waived. Must apply by Oct. 31, 2022.
  • Earn rate: 4% cash back on groceries, 4% cash back on recurring bill payments, 2% on gas, public transit, taxis and rideshares, and 1% on everything else
  • Additional perks: Complimentary membership in Mastercard Travel Pass provided by DragonPass, exclusive 25% discount on one worldwide Air Miles flight redemption during the calendar year, travel emergency medical coverage, travel accident, trip cancellation, trip interruption and flight delay insurance, and delayed or lost baggage protection; car rental loss or damage insurance; mobile device insurance
  • Income required: $60,000 or $100,000 as a household

Best student credit card

BMO CashBack Mastercard*

The academic year tends to be front-loaded with expenses: Text books, lab supplies and, if you’re living off-residence, housewares and the cost of setting up utilities. This is where a rewards card comes in handy, especially with a great welcome bonus of 5% cash back on purchases on your first three statements. After the bonus period, you’ll still earn 3% cash back on groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments, and 0.5% on everything else. Fortunately for busy students, this straightforward card doesn’t have a complicated points system or tiered earn rates—it just provides simple cash back.

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rates: purchases 20.99%, cash advances 22.99%, balance transfers 22.99%
  • Welcome offer: You can earn 5% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months up to $2,500, including up to $500 spend on grocery, up to $500 spend in recurring bill payments, and up to $1,500 qualified spend on all other purchases. Get an introductory interest rate of 0.99% on balance transfers for the first nine months. A 2% fee applies to balance amounts transferred.
  • Earn rate: 3% cash back on groceries; 1% on recurring bill payments; 0.5% on everything else
  • Additional benefits: Extended insurance on purchases made with the card; up to 25% off rentals at eligible Alamo and National Car

Best hotel card

Marriott Bonvoy American Express*

For those who travel frequently and want to make the most of their hotel-stay purchases, the Marriott Bonvoy American Express is one of the best hotel rewards cards in Canada. You can earn Bonvoy points on your credit card purchases that can be redeemed for a variety of perks and bonuses within the Marriott Bonvoy environment. That includes: Stays offered at more than 7,000 hotel properties worldwide, flights and rental cars, or you can exchange them for gift cards, merchandise or event tickets. The earn rate is 5 points per $1 at Marriott properties and 2 points per $1 everywhere else. With an annual free night and travel insurance, this is by far the best hotel card on the market. 

  • Annual fee: $120
  • Interest rates: purchases 19.99%, cash advances 21.99%
  • Welcome offer: Earn up to 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points when you charge $1,500 in purchases to your card within the first 3 months.
    Earn rate: 5 points per $1 at Marriott properties; and 2 points per $1 everywhere else
  • Additional perks: travel insurance; car rental coverage; annual free night’s accommodation

Best store or retail card

PC Financial World Elite Mastercard*

PC Financial Word Elite Mastercard

Due to its association with Loblaws stores and Shoppers Drug Mart, the PC Optimum program offers members access to a wide variety of ways to earn PC Optimum points, including gas, drug store and grocery purchases. With an earn rate of 30 points per $1 in Loblaws-owned stores (including No Frills and Real Canadian Superstores), 45 per $1 at Shoppers Drug Mart, and 10 everywhere else, this card is one of the best no-fee cards for gas and groceries on the market. It’s simple to redeem points. You simply show the card at checkout anywhere PC products are sold and get $10 back for every 10,000 points. There’s even an included package of travel and car rental insurance—and it carries no annual fee.   

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rates: purchases 20.97%, cash advances 22.97%, balance transfers 22.97%
  • Earn rate: 30 points per $1 in Loblaws stores (including No Frills and Real Canadian Superstores) and PC Travel; 45 points per $1 spent at Shoppers Drug Mart; 30 points per litre at Esso; and 10 points everywhere else
  • Income requirement: $80,000 (personal) or $150,000 (household), as well as a $15,000 minimum annual spending requirement
  • Additional perks: Travel insurance; car rental coverage

Best card for perks

American Express The Platinum Card*

If you’re looking for a premium credit card with loads of perks, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything better than The Platinum Card from American Express. The included travel insurance alone is worth a second look, but add to that complimentary airport lounge access with unlimited passes to Priority Pass and Centurion lounges, an annual $200 travel credit, hotel upgrades and Platinum Concierge services, and you’ve got the key to an upgraded experience. The card offers plenty of Membership Rewards points earning opportunities on dining, travel and everyday purchases, and comes with a sweet welcome bonus. Another advantage of joining the Amex system is that you’ll gain access to the lucrative Fixed Points Travel program, and you’ll be able to transfer your points to dozens of other loyalty programs.

  • Annual fee: $699
  • Interest rates: N/A
  • Welcome offer:  Earn up to 80,000 membership rewards points. In the first 3 months, you’ll get 60,000 points after you charge $6,000 in purchases to your card. Then earn another 20,000 points when you make a purchase between the first 14 and 17 months of card membership.
  • Earn rate: 3 points per $1 on dining and food delivery; 2 points per $1 spent on travel; 1 point per $1 on everything else
  • Additional Benefits: Unlimited free lounge access at over 1,200 airport lounges; $200 annual travel credit; travel emergency medical insurance; travel accident insurance; car rental coverage; hotel upgrades; Platinum; Concierge services; American Express Invites

Best no-fee card for perks

Brim Financial Mastercard*

Just because you want a no-fee card doesn’t mean you can’t get lots of perks. The Brim Financial Mastercard lets you earn points on all your purchases plus bonuses on spends at partner stores. Redeemable in increments of 100 (worth $1, or an earn rate of 1%), the points can be used against any transaction or as a balance credit. On top of the points program, the Brim card has no foreign exchange fee so you’ll save around 2.5% on your in-person or online cross-border shopping. Extras—like free worldwide wi-fi with Boingo, insurance for your mobile device, and common carrier accident insurance—round out the offering.

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rates: purchases 19.99%, cash advances 21.5%, balance transfers 19.99%
  • Earn rate: 1 point per $1 on everything you buy, plus bonus points at partner merchants like Warby Parker, Nike, Microsoft and more
  • Additional Benefits: No foreign exchange; free global wi-fi by Boingo; up to $500 in mobile device insurance; event ticket reimbursement; common carrier accident insurance; flexible payments; family cards; budgeting and tracking tool

Best secured credit card for building credit

Home Trust Secured Visa*

Looking for a card to improve your own credit score? Maybe you are new to Canada, have a problematic credit history, or are just starting out on your own financially. There are many reasons why you might need to build or rebuild your credit—but whatever the case, you’ll want to take steps towards achieving a healthy credit score. That’s where the no-fee Home Trust Secured Visa can come in. Unlike with conventional credit cards, it’s easy to be approved for a secured card—you just need to be a resident of Canada (except Quebec) and have a deposit. The Home Trust Secured Visa tops our list for its low minimum deposit (you can start with as little as $500) and $0 annual fee. With this card, building your credit score is simple and affordable. 

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rates: purchases 19.99%, cash advances 19.99%
  • Interest rate: 19.99%
  • Additional benefits: None

Best Mastercard

Rogers World Elite Mastercard

Rogers World Elite Mastercard

A well-rounded card that serves travellers and cross-border shoppers, the Rogers World Elite gets this nod because it offers 3% cash back on U.S.-currency purchases, which works out to a 0.5% return when you factor in foreign transaction fees. Pair that with no annual fee, and 1.5% back on all other purchases, and you have a competitive card. However, world travellers will want to keep in mind that only the regular 1.5% earn rate will apply on foreign currency purchases outside the U.S., so you won’t come out ahead after being hit with the 2.5% foreign transaction fee. This card does include travel medical insurance, which covers you for trips up to 10 days. However, it also comes with a $15,000-a-year minimum spend, and a steep annual income requirement. So you’ll want to consider another option if you don’t make $80,000 a year as an individual, or $150,000 as a household.

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rates: purchases 19.99%, cash advances 22.99%, balance transfers 22.99%
  • Welcome bonus: $25 when you make your first purchase within your first 3 months
  • Earn rate: 3% on purchases in U.S. currency (0.5% after foreign transaction fees); and 1.5% cash back on all other purchases
  • Income requirement: $80,000 individual; $150,000 household
  • Additional benefits: Travel emergency medical insurance for 10 days; rental car insurance; trip interruption and cancellation coverage

Frequently asked questions

When you use a credit card, you’re taking out a short-term loan with a balance that comes due every month. As you pay down your balance, the credit available to you the following month starts to go back up to the maximum credit limit on your card. There are many ways you can use a credit card. For example, many cards can be used for purchases, for balance transfers and/or cash advances. As useful as they are, it’s important to understand how to use credit cards responsibly to avoid falling into financial trouble.


One of the major benefits of a credit card is convenience. You can simply pay for your purchase knowing you will be billed for the outstanding balance the following month—no need to carry cash in your wallet.

Other benefits include the ability to accrue rewards and points—such as cash back or travel points—based on a percentage of your purchases each month; depending on the card you choose, it starts at 1% and goes up to 4%. You can then redeem those points for gift cards, travel or other items offered through the credit card company’s online rewards catalogue.

Credit cards can also help you build credit. Always paying on time will help you achieve a high credit score (650 plus), allowing you to borrow for a mortgage or a car loan in the future at a reasonable interest rate from your local financial institution.


Deciding which credit card is the best for you is about prioritizing your needs. If you normally carry a balance or you want to reduce your debt, you should strongly consider a low-interest credit card or a balance transfer card. If you pay off your balance in full every month, you would likely benefit more from a travel credit card or a cash-back credit card. Travel cards can offer lucrative rewards, but unless you travel frequently, there may be no point in getting one—a cash-back card may be the way to go.

Once you’ve selected the category of card that you want, consider the earn rate, additional benefits and type of points earned with each card. If you happen to spend a lot on gas and groceries, look for a card with a high earn rate for those categories. The annual fee should also be considered. There is wide selection of no-fee credit cards in Canada. Although no one likes to pay an annual fee simply to own their card, annual-fee cards typically offer more in perks and value back—meaning you can still easily come out on top financially.


Credit cards work best when you are a disciplined spender. Have only one or two cards in your wallet and make sure they match your spending habits. And make sure you can pay off the balance in full (or at the very least make the minimum payment) every month, so you don’t have to pay hefty interest on your unpaid balance. This can result in costly fees or in having points knocked off your credit score. With a bit of self-control, credit cards become helpful and convenient financial tools that can make everyday purchases easy.


Your decision will come down to whether a cash back or travel rewards credit card suits your needs and spending habits best. Travel rewards can be lucrative, but what you earn from a cash back card can be spent on anything—or saved.

When considering a cash back card, take stock of your spending habits and pick the card that will earn you the most rewards. For example, if you spend a lot on gas, then pick a card that earns you more cash back at gas stations. High-earn rates are great, but keep in mind that many of the top cards often have a high-income requirement.

Also note that some cash back credit cards will only give you what you’ve earned after you reach a minimum amount or once per calendar year. Find out how you’ll get paid and make sure you’re okay with it before you apply. If you’re considering a card with an annual fee, make sure the extra cash back you earn is worth more than the fee. If it’s not, stick to a no-fee card.


Generally speaking, cards that earn you points are usually best used for travel redemptions. These cards will likely give you other ways to cash out your points, but the majority of the time, you get the most value when redeeming for travel. Similar to cash-back cards, you want to pick a card that gives you the most points on the categories on which you spend the most money.

You also want to figure out what type of travel you prefer. You could get an airline-branded credit card or a hotel-branded one. There are also credit cards that allow you to redeem for any type of travel. Regardless of what you go with, you need to know how the reward programs work so you can maximize your points.


Types of credit cards available in Canada

When it comes to rewards credit cards, the name says it all. These are cards that give you something back when you spend with them, whether it’s points, miles or cash. The more you spend, the more rewards you get. For those who pay off their balance in full every month, these cards can really add value. There are four main types of rewards cards:

Cash back credit cards

Cash back cards offer a rebate credited to your balance, usually calculated as a percentage of the dollar value of your purchases. Though most of these cards have accelerated earn rates in certain categories (groceries and gas, for example), they all also have a minimum base rate for spends outside those categories. Your cash back rewards can help you save on anything you can buy with your card.

Travel credit cards

These cards offer points or miles to be redeemed towards travel-related purchases such as flights, hotels, cruises and/or vacation packages. Rewards might not be as straightforward as cash back, but travel points cards can help you save big on upcoming trips, with many offering perks including sign-up bonuses, comprehensive travel insurance and airport lounge access. 

Store credit cards

These cards gift you with points for everyday purchases that can be redeemed for discounts off items from your favourite retailer. The idea is to reward brand loyalty with valuable benefits. The PC Financial Mastercard and the Canadian Tire Mastercard credit cards are great examples. 

Hotel credit cards

Similar to travel cards, hotel credit cards reward consumers with points redeemable for hotel stays and perks. These cards are often linked or co-branded with a specific hotel brand or loyalty program, like Marriott Bonvoy or Best Western Rewards 


With standard interest rates sitting from 19.99% to 22.99%, most rewards credit cards aren’t the right fit for people who carry a balance. That’s where low-interest cards come in. These cards, which typically charge from 8.99% to 12.99% interest on purchases, allow cardholders access to credit without high interest charges that quickly add up. They don’t usually have much in the way of extras or perks, but the lower rates help to ensure that you’ll come out ahead in the long run if you generally need more time to pay off your card balance.


Once you accumulate a debt load on an existing credit card, the interest will compound—rapidly. Your best bet is to transfer the debt to a balance transfer credit card, which lets you move debt from a high-interest card to one with a lower rate. These cards often offer promotional interest rates for a specific period—0% interest for the first 10 months, for example—which can buy you time to pay down your balance with little or no interest. Sometimes, even the regular interest rate on a balance transfer card is lower than usual.


Student (or starter) cards are credit cards aimed at people with no credit history looking to establish a credit score. These entry-level cards tend to have few qualification criteria, no annual fees and provide little in the way of perks or extras, but some do offer some decent rewards on your everyday spending.


People who lack a good credit score or a local credit history often have trouble getting approval for standard credit cards. This can be a real problem for those wanting to build up their credit towards a future purchase or loan—but secured cards can offer a solution. This kind of card is “secured” with a deposit by the applicant and virtually anyone will be approved. The responsible use of a secured card will help build, or rebuild, your credit score. 


More of Canada’s best credit cards:


Our methodology

For the best credit cards 2022 ranking we ran the numbers for each of the cards in the seven categories based on $2,000 in monthly spending ($1,000 monthly for the student cards) as well as interest rates and offers. We also made some assumptions on spending—grocery spend of $500, gas of $200, restaurants of $200 and bill payments of $125, travel of $175, entertainment of $225, pharmacy purchases of $75 and other purchases of $500. (These were adjusted lower for student cards). The end game was a magic number—that is, the annual net reward in dollar terms to identify the top cards in each category, plus an honorary mention. As highlighted above, our methodology also took into consideration other factors, including the value of a credit card’s welcome bonuses, insurance benefits and flexibility. ‡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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