Canada's Best Rewards Credit Cards 2020

Canada’s best rewards credit cards 2020

These top-rated credit cards have a fee but give huge pay-offs.

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When choosing a good overall rewards card, you have to consider the entire package of goodies before making a final decision. Do you prefer a no fee card or are you willing to pay for perks? Are you more interested in spending bonuses, VIP lounge access, cash-back rewards or no blackout periods when booking travel? Whatever your criteria, there’s a card on this list to ensure you reap rewards as you spend.

The best rewards credit cards in Canada 2020


Best rewards credit cards for everyday spending

American Express Cobalt*

With a slightly different, but equally impressive earn rate and welcome bonus as the Scotiabank Gold, the American Express Cobalt shares the top spot in our everyday spending rewards card category. Cobalt Cardholders earn 5 Points per $1 spent on eligible food delivery, groceries and restaurants; 2 Points per $1 spent on gas and transit buys (including taxis, public transit and eligible flight tickets); and 1 Point per dollar on all other purchases. Did you catch that in the transit category? Flight tickets are included, making this a seriously attractive card for travellers. Additionally, this Amex will get you started with up to 30,000 Points—worth $300 in travel—in your first year.

Rewards Points are super flexible, and can be used towards travel (including on taxes and fees and without blackout periods or airlines restrictions), merchandise and gift cards, or a cash credit on your card. The American Express Cobalt offers tonnes of travel perks like an insurance package that includes emergency medical, lost or stolen baggage, flight or baggage delay and car rental theft and damage coverage. Plus, cardholders can access the Fixed Points program, which allows them to get the most value out of their Points for round-trip flights.

  • Annual fee: $120 (charged at a rate of $10 per month)
  • Welcome offer: Up to 30,000 Points in the first year (provided cardholders hit a minimum spend of $500 for each of their first 12 monthly statements)
  • Earn rate: 5 Points for every $1 spent on eligible food delivery, groceries and restaurants; 2 Points per $1 spent on gas and transit buys—including taxis, public transit and eligible flight tickets; 1 Point per dollar on all other purchases.
  • Income requirement: None specified
  • Additional perks: A solid insurance package that includes emergency medical, lost or stolen baggage, flight or baggage delay, hotel or motel burglary and car rental theft and damage coverage; advance access to Front of the Line by American Express Invites as well as advance screenings to movies

Click here for more details about the American Express Cobalt*


Scotiabank Gold American Express*

An exceptional earn rate and welcome bonus paired with useful perks like no foreign transaction fees and included travel insurance make the Scotiabank Gold American Express one of our top two picks for best rewards card for everyday spending. With this card, members get five Points for every dollar spent in the groceries, entertainment and dining categories, and 3 Points per dollar on gas, public transit and eligible streaming services. These categories are attractively broad, but rest assured that any other purchases earn at 1 Point per dollar. And, for new members, there’s a welcome bonus to get you started: You can earn up to 20,000 Points in your first year.

Scotia Rewards are extremely flexible and can be redeemed for a variety of travel rewards as well as merchandise or a credit against your statement. Book travel through the Scotia Rewards Travel portal at a rate of 100 Points for $1 in travel. (If you use a different site, then you’ll have to apply your Points to get a statement credit instead of redeeming at the time of purchase). The Scotiabank Gold American Express also has very tempting perks like the foreign transaction fee waiver, which will save you 2.5% on purchases in another currency (in-person or online), and an included package of travel insurance that is worth the $120 annual fee all on its own. 

  • Annual fee: $120
  • Welcome offer: Up to 20,000 Scotia Rewards Points after a $1,000 spend in the first 3 months 
  • Earn rate: 5 Points for every $1 spent on groceries, dining and entertainment; 3 Points per dollar on gas, public transit and eligible streaming services; and 1 Point on everything else
  • Income requirement: $12,000
  • Additional perks: No foreign transaction fees; insurance, including travel emergency medical and travel accident, trip cancellation or interruption, and rental car collision or damage coverage; Priority Pass Lounge access discount

Click here for more details about the Scotiabank Gold American Express*


Best cash back card

Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite*

Those looking for a cash back card with a generous earn rate and welcome offer need look no further than the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite: Cardholders earn 4% back on groceries, recurring bills and subscription services, 2% back on public transit and gas, and 1% back on all other purchases—with no cash back limit. This represents a significant earnings opportunity, particularly since the $120 annual fee is waived for the first year for new members and you can earn 10% cash back (up to $2,000) in the first 3 months. 

On top of the cash back rewards, the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite includes an excellent insurance package. Travellers are covered for emergency medical, travel accident, trip cancellation or delay, delayed or lost baggage, and rental car loss or damage. This card also includes up to $1,000 in new mobile device insurance, which protects against lost, stolen or accidentally damaged phones or tablets. Finally, as part of the Visa Infinite program, this card includes Visa Infinite Services such as a concierge service and wine country discounts in Ontario and British Columbia.

  • Annual fee: $120
  • Welcome offer: First year annual fee waiver; 10% back on all purchases for the first 3 months
  • Earn rate: 4% back on groceries and recurring bills; 2% back on public transit and gas; 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Income requirement: $60,000 per individual or $100,000 per household
  • Additional perks: Comprehensive travel insurance including emergency medical, travel accident, trip cancellation or delay, delayed or lost baggage and rental car loss or damage; new mobile device insurance; Visa Infinite Services including concierge and Visa Infinite Dining and Wine Country program

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


Best no fee cash back card

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card*

Tangerine Money-Back Credit CardJust because you want to earn cash back rewards doesn’t mean you need to pay a hefty annual fee—and that’s where the no fee Tangerine Cash Back Credit Card comes in. With this Mastercard, there’s an automatic 2% back in two spending categories of your choice, and, when you sign up to have your rewards automatically deposited into a Tangerine Savings Account, you get 2% in a third. All other purchases earn at a rate of 0.5%. The 10 spending categories are: grocery; recurring bill payments; furniture; drug store; restaurants; home improvement; hotel/motel; entertainment; gas; and public transportation and parking. 

One of the main benefits of the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card is that you can earn back unlimited cash, and you can change your selected categories once per billing cycle to suit your spending habits.

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
  • Welcome offer: 4% cash back in up to 3 categories for 3 months 
  • Earn rate: 2% cash back in up to 3 spending categories; 0.5% back on everything else
  • Income requirement: $12,000
  • Additional perks: Purchase assurance and extended warranty

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


Best Visa travel card

TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite*
TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite

Visa is one of the largest credit card companies in the world, with numerous options for consumers—and when it comes to travel rewards, the TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite gets our nod. The regular earn rate of 3 TD Points per dollar multiplies nicely on travel purchases: you get 9 Points per dollar for flights booked online through Expedia (which works out to a healthy 4.5% return); 6 Points per dollar for flights booked on the phone through Expedia; and 3 Points per dollar spent on everything else. The best part is you can redeem those Points for a variety of rewards, including any travel expense—not just flights—from Expedia’s vast travel catalogue, and your TD Points never expire. For the earn rate, flexibility, and included insurance coverage, this card is a winner.

  • Annual fee: $120 (rebated for the first year)
  • Welcome offer: Up to 80,000 TD Points (20,000 when you make your first purchase; 5X the earn on purchases in the first 3 months, for up to 60,000 Points)—a $400 value when redeemed for travel
  • Earn rate: 9 Points per dollar for flights booked online through Expedia; 6 Points per dollar for flights booked on the phone through Expedia; and 3 Points per dollar spent on everything else
  • Income requirement: $60,000 per individual or $100,000 per household
  • Additional perks: Insurance including travel medical, trip cancellation or interruption, travel accident and car rental loss or collision; Priority Pass membership discount; savings with Avis and Budget Rent A Car

Click here for more details about the TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite*


Best Mastercard travel card

BMO World Elite Mastercard*

The BMO World Elite Mastercard is a strong contender in the travel rewards category, offering and an earn rate of 3 BMO Points per dollar on travel, dining and entertainment, and 2 Points per dollar on everything else. These Points can be redeemed for a variety of products and services, including travel, merchandise and gift cards. BMO Rewards can be used towards any flight, hotel, rental car or cruise, including taxes and fees. The BMO World Elite also lets you travel in comfort with four annual Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey, and rest assured you’ll be covered while you’re away with a comprehensive insurance package.  

  • Annual fee: $150, waived for the first year
  • Welcome offer: 35,000 BMO Points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn rate: 3 BMO Points per dollar on travel, dining and entertainment; 2 Points per $1 on all other purchases
  • Income requirement: $80,000 per individual or $150,000 per household
  • Additional perks: Free membership in Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey, with exclusive VIP access, plus 4 annual passes; insurance coverage including out-of-province/out-of-country emergency medical up to $2 million, trip cancellation or interruption, car rental collision or damage and baggage and personal effects benefits; purchase protection and extended warranty

Click here for more details about the BMO World Elite Mastercard*


Best retail or store card

PC Financial World Elite Mastercard*

Rewards cards for stores can be extremely valuable for loyal customers. Our pick for the best card in this category is the PC Financial World Elite, which operates within the PC Optimum environment—and the PC Optimum program is one of the most popular in the nation.  

With this card, you can earn PC Optimum Points on every purchase, at a regular rate of 10 Points per dollar, and an accelerated rate at associated retailers. Earn 45 Points per dollar at Shoppers Drug Mart, and 30 Points per dollar at Esso, PC Travel or any Loblaws stores like Fortinos, Extra Foods and No Frills—among the best returns for a no fee card on groceries. Redemption is easy and flexible, too. You simply redeem at the cash register anywhere PC products are sold, in units of 10,000 Points; each unit is worth $10. While these Points are most frequently used towards grocery or drugstore purchases, you can also shop for travel through the PC Travel portal. 

Unlike most no fee cards, the PC Financial World Elite carries some insurance like travel emergency medical and car rental loss or collision, and entitles you to concierge services. 

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Earn rate: 45 Points per dollar at Shoppers Drug Mart; 30 Points per dollar at Esso, PC Travel or any Loblaws stores; 10 Points per dollar everywhere else
  • Income requirement: $80,000 per individual or $150,000 per household
  • Additional perks: Travel emergency medical insurance; car rental collision or loss protection; concierge service

Click here for more details about the PC Financial World Elite Mastercard*


Canadas best rewards credit cards — Net annual rewards

Card Net reward (excluding 1st year sign-up bonus)
Scotiabank Gold American Express $612
American Express Cobalt $501
Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite $369
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card $286
TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card $303
BMO World Elite $244
PC Financial World Elite $439


More about Canadas best credit cards


Our methodology

For the best rewards credit cards 2020 ranking, MoneySense tapped into Ratehub.cas‡ credit card tool and ran the numbers for cash back and travel credit cards, based on $2,000 in monthly spending. We made the following assumptions: 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 all other purchases of $500.

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. Our methodology also took into consideration other factors, including welcome bonuses and accelerated earn rates, annual fee waivers, loyalty program flexibility 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 “Canadas Best Credit Card” rankings. You can read more about this in our Editorial Code of Conduct.