Canada’s best credit cards for grocery purchases 2020 - MoneySense

Canada’s best credit cards for grocery purchases 2020

These top picks help you benefit from one of your biggest regular purchases: groceries! Select the best option for your spending habits and get ready to reap the rewards of your everyday spending.

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Everybody’s got to eat, which makes groceries a spending category with a lot of earning potential. How you capitalize on those purchases is up to you, but whether you’re looking for cash back, rewards, or points to use at your favourite supermarket, we’ve got your best bets right here. Select the best option for your spending habits and get ready to reap the rewards of your everyday spending.


The best credit cards for grocery purchases in Canada


Best no-fee credit card for groceries

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card*

Tangerine Money-Back Credit CardIf you’re looking to maximize your rewards without paying for the privilege, your best option is the no-fee Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card. Every cardholder is given a 2% return on spends in two categories of their choice, of which groceries is one. (The other nine are drug store, gas, hotel and motel accommodations, restaurants, furniture, recurring bill payments, home improvement, entertainment, and public transportation and parking.) Those wanting to bump up their earnings potential can simply open a savings account to receive 2% in a third category.

In addition to being a no-fee card, this is a stand-out because your cash-back earnings are unlimited, meaning that your regular 2% earnings don’t have a cap.

The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card offers a lot in terms of cash-back opportunity, but because it’s a no-fee card, there isn’t much in the way of perks.

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Earn rate on groceries: 2% cash back
  • Rewards on other purchases: 2% in up to two other spending categories of your choice and 0.5% cash back on everything else
  • Welcome bonus: New cardholders who apply by March 31, 2020, and then spend at least $5,000 in the first three months will receive a $250 credit on their account. Plus, transfer balances at a low promotional interest rate of 1.95% for six months (note you will be charged a fee of 1% of the value of your balance transfer) 
  • Additional perks: Purchase protection and extended warranty
  • Income required: $12,000

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


Best cash back cards for groceries (tie)

Everybody likes flexible rewards, and cash is the most flexible around. After combing the best of the best, we’ve come up with three cards that are so good we have to call it a tie. These cards all offer 4% cash back on groceries and they’re all part of the Visa Infinite family, which means cardholders receive perks including concierge service, and wine and dining experiences. The “best” one for you will be the card that has the most valuable earn rates in categories you use, or the most relevant perks. 

CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite

This card’s welcome bonus of 10% back on the first four statements plus an annual fee waiver makes it worth a look. Like the Meridian, below, it has an annual fee of $99 and offers 4% cash back on groceries, but the spending categories earning at 2%—Tim Hortons and Telus—are bit niche. (Also note that earns are capped after $80,000 in total card purchases; and after $20,000 in purchases at Tim Hortons and Telus, the earn rate drops to 1%.) If, however, you happen to be in that niche, this card could help you benefit from your spending habits. 

  • Annual fee: $99 (waived for first year)
  • Earn rate on groceries: 4% cash back
  • Rewards on other purchases: 4% cash back on gas; 2% on Tim Horton’s and Telus; 1% on everything else
  • Welcome bonus: 10% back on the first four statements (up to $2,000 in purchases)  
  • Additional perks: Travel medical, trip interruption and delay and accident insurance; car rental loss and collision coverage
  • Income required: $60,000 or $100,000 as a household

Meridian Visa Infinite Cash Back Card

Meridian Visa InfiniteAside from 4% cash back on groceries and gas—two very popular spending categories—the Meridian remains strong by offering 2% back on drug store purchases and recurring bills. The 1% regular rate on everything else is pretty standard but the annual fee of $99 is fairly accessible (and it’s waived for the first year). The Meridian has some good included insurance and carries the increasingly popular mobile device coverage. 

  • Annual fee: $99 (waived for first year)
  • Earn rate on groceries: 4% cash back
  • Rewards on other purchases: 4% cash back on gas; 2% on drug stores and recurring bills; 1% on everything else
  • Welcome bonus: None
  • Additional perks: Emergency health care, trip cancellation or interruption, and baggage insurance;  car rental loss or collision coverage; mobile device insurance
  • Income required: $60,000 or $100,000 as a household

Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite*

Like the CIBC Dividend, the Scotia Momentum offers an awesome welcome bonus of 10% cash back on purchases in the first three months up to $2,000 and a waiver on the annual fee—a package worth $320. You’ll earn a healthy 4% on groceries, as well as subscription services like Netflix and recurring bill payments, while transportation costs (including Uber) and gas earn at 2% (up to an annual total spend of $25,000; after that the earn rate drops to 1%). All other purchases earn at 1%, so if you’re carrying this card you’ve got a lot of cash back to earn in a broad group of spending categories.

  • Annual fee: $120 (waived for first year)
  • Earn rate on groceries: 4% cash back
  • Rewards on other purchases: 4% cash back on recurring bill payments, 2% on gas, public transit, taxis and rideshares, and 1% on everything else
  • Welcome bonus: 10% cash back on purchases in the first three months (up to $2,000)
  • Additional perks: 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

Get more details about the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite*


Best travel card for groceries

American Express Cobalt*

For those who want to turn their grocery purchases into world travel, the American Express Cobalt is here to help. There are a few standout elements of this card, starting with the unique payment structure that bills the annual fee in monthly installments of $10. Next is the welcome bonus, encouraging new cardholders to spend by rewarding 2,500 points each month you make $500 in purchases. If you hit that target every month, you’ll have a cool 30,000 points accumulated by the end of the year, and with each point being worth a minimum of 1 cent, that’s at least $300. The earn rate on groceries as well as dining out and food delivery services is a very competitive 5 points per dollar (to a maximum spend of $30,000; thereafter, the earn is 1 point per dollar ); plus you get 2 points per dollar on transportation. Everything else earns at a rate of 1 point per dollar. 

Because this is a travel-oriented card, it should come as no surprise that there are some sweet perks geared toward frequent flyers (and drivers) like emergency medical coverage and car rental theft and damage coverage. Cardholders are also eligible for a credit on amenities at participating hotels. 

It does bear mentioning that because this is an American Express card, it is not accepted at every store—but if you’re a shopper at Food Basics, Longo’s, McEwan, Metro, Pusateri’s, Rabba, Safeway, Sobeys or Whole Foods, you’re golden. Loblaws banner stores, including No-Frills, do not accept AMEX.

  • Annual fee: $120 (billed monthly in $10 installments)
  • Earn rate on groceries: 5 points per dollar
  • Rewards on other purchases: 5 points per dollar on dining, food delivery and bars; 2 points per dollar on transportation including taxis, public transit and rideshares; and 1 point per dollar on everything else
  • Welcome bonus: Up to 30,000 points rewarded in 2,500 increments for each month you spend $500 on your card in your first year
  • Additional perks: Emergency travel medical coverage, travel accident, flight and baggage delay, hotel or motel burglary and lost or stolen baggage insurance; car rental theft and damage protection; hotel credit up to $100 USD on amenities like spa or dining at participating hotels; AMEX Invites and Front-of-the-Line Access
  • Income required: None specified

Get more details about the American Express Cobalt*


Best credit card for Loblaws grocery banner stores

PC Financial World Elite Mastercard*

Loblaws is a leader in the grocery business, with about 2,500 stores operating under the company’s banner. That includes the economy brand No-Frills, the big-box Real Canadian Superstore and the market-style Fortino’s. For Canadians who shop within the Loblaws family, there’s the PC Financial World Elite Mastercard—the country’s first no-fee elite-level card. Shoppers who pay with this card will earn a whopping 30 PC Optimum points per dollar on grocery purchases (equivalent to 3.0%) at any Loblaws banner store and at PC Travel; 45 points per dollar at Shoppers Drug Mart; and 10 points per dollar everywhere else. Gas purchases at Esso and Mobil earn at least 30 points per litre, making this an all-around valuable card for everyday living expenses. PC Optimum points are easily redeemed at the checkout counter starting at 10,000 points (which is equal to $10) and can be used on any products in participating stores.

A drawback to this card is the $80,000 minimum annual income requirement (or $150,000 for the household) which will put it out of reach for some. However, there are related PC Financial credit cards with slightly lower earn rates for those who can’t meet the threshold. In addition, the rewards only make sense if you’re a devoted customer of Loblaws banner stores, and routinely get gas at Esso or Mobil stations.

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Earn Rate on groceries: 30 PC points per dollar at Loblaws banner grocery stores (including No Frills, Fortinos, and The Independent Grocer)
  • Rewards on other purchases: 45 points per dollar at Shoppers Drug Mart, 30 points per litre at Esso/Mobil; 30 points per dollar at PC Travel; and 10 points per dollar on everything else
  • Welcome bonus: None
  • Additional perks: Travel emergency medical insurance; car rental loss or damage coverage; concierge service; identity theft assistance service
  • Income required: $80,000 or $150,000 as a household

Get more details about the PC Financial World Elite*


Best credit card for Costco shoppers

MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard*

MBNA rewards world elite The wholesaler Costco is popular among Canadians, particularly those with large families to feed. The Costco brand has an exclusive partnership with Mastercard, so it doesn’t accept any payment from Visa or American Express. When it comes to groceries purchased there, the very best Mastercard for the job is the MBNA Rewards World Elite, which offers 2 points per dollar on Costco spends. MBNA points are extremely flexible—you can redeem points for virtually any airline. (There’s also the option of cash back, merchandise or gift cards, but points do not go as far when you choose those perks instead of travel.) The best part? They never expire so you’ll always be able to take advantage of your earnings. And right now this card is offering an attractive welcome bonus to new cardholders. Those who make $2,000 in purchases in the first three months will receive 20,000 points plus an additional 10,000 points on enrolment in electronic statements. This amounts to as much as $300 when redeemed for travel.

  • Annual fee: $120
  • Earn Rate at Costco: 2 MBNA points per dollar
  • Rewards on other purchases: 2 MBNA points per dollar
  • Welcome bonus: Up to 30,000 points (20,000 when you make $2,000 in purchases in the first three months, plus 10,000 more when you enroll in electronic statements)
  • Additional perks: Savings with Avis and Budget Rent A Car; up to 9 additional users with no additional annual fee; purchase assurance and extended warranty
  • Income required: $80,000 or $150,000 as a household

Get more details about the MBNA Rewards World Elite*


Overview: Canada’s best credit cards for groceries


Credit card Annual fee Rewards on groceries
American Express Cobalt $120 5 Membership Rewards points per $1
CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite $99 4% cash back
Meridian Visa Infinite Cash Back Card $99 4% cash back
Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite $120 4% cash back
PC Financial World Elite Mastercard $0 30 PC points per $1 at Lobalws banner stores
MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard $120 2 MBNA points per $1 at Costco

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