The Best Credit Cards In Canada 2016


Can there really be one single BEST credit card?

Honestly, nailing that down is pretty hard because everyone's preferences are different. Credit cards offer so many types of rewards, features, insurance, and perks that comparing them against each in an apples to apples way seems nearly impossible...

But, I was foolish enough to try.

5 years ago I made my first attempt at ranking Canadian credit cards. That first attempt was good but not great - I held back from naming THE best card. I continued to track more cards and improve the system year over year. Thousands of hours have been invested...

Today, 124 cards of all types are tracked and ranked using 40+ unique ranking factors to determine which are really best. Finally, there can be one true champion that is best for most Canadians.

Of course, the decision of whether the winner meets your needs is all yours ... but you won't find a better starting point than this:

Best Credit Card Overall

Best Overall Credit Card SealAmerican Express Gold Rewards Card Art

American Express Gold Rewards

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The total rewards package of the American Express Gold Rewards Card simply cannot be beat.

First, you get an extremely flexible rewards program in Membership Rewards that allows you to use your points to book any type of travel with any travel provider. Or, convert those points 1:1 to real airline miles with Air Canada's Aeroplan or British Airways' Avios allowing you to fly nearly free on 42 airlines using airline alliances. Your points become roughly 3x more valuable by converting them to miles, so I highly recommend doing so.

Next, you discover that you earn double points on an unheard of 4 bonus spending categories: gas, groceries, drugstore, and travel. Other cards either don't offer bonuses, limit them to 1.5x, or have points that are far less valuable with no airline mile conversion options. No other card offers a bonus on ALL travel purchases either.

Then, you notice the massive 25,000 point sign up bonus worth $750 in free flights. The first year is always free - not just during promotions. The annual fee is a completely reasonable $150. You only need a minimum $20,000 income to qualify when most competitors require $60,000+. You pinch yourself when you realize you're looking at $1,722 worth of flight value in the first year if you spend a reasonable $2,000 per month on stuff you would buy anyway.

Finally, you get a well-rounded travel insurance package at no extra cost that offers 10 types of free insurance including 15 days of emergency medical coverage and a nice suite of perks. Those include: a free secondary card, more bonus miles if you book with American Express Travel, free upgrades and credits at partner hotels, elevated Hertz Gold status, Front of the Line, special event invites, Apple Pay support, and more.

Best Cash Back

Best Cash Back Credit Card SealMBNA Rewards World Elite Card Art

MBNA Rewards World Elite

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The MBNA Rewards World Elite MasterCard (MRWE) is better than the Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite - there I said it!

4% cash back on gas and groceries is enticing, but don't forget the 1% on most other purchases. If you do the math, the straight 2% cash back that MBNA offers usually ends up slightly better than what you'd get with Scotia.

There's more than just max cash to consider though...

With MBNA you get to redeem your points any time you want, any way you want - direct deposit, cheque, statement credit, travel, merchandise, even charity donations. Scotia? Once a year as a statement credit and if you decide to cancel the card before then, you lose ALL of your remaining cash.

The MRWE also has a lower $89 annual fee that is waived during the first year and you even get an additional 10,000 points (worth $100 in cash back or travel) as a sign up bonus. If you spend $25,000 per year on the card ($2,083/mth), you're looking at $411 cash in your pocket after paying the annual fee. That means you'd get $600 in the first year because you don't pay a fee and get a $100 bonus in year one.

Doubling as a travel credit card, the MRWE has unusually strong insurance coverage and perks. It offers 8 types of insurance, concierge, and rare price protection coverage that allows you to price match any purchase charged to the card with any lower price you can find without the usual restrictions. Oh, and let's not forget that you can use it at Costco locations because it's a MasterCard and that TD Bank owns MBNA if you're looking for name recognition.

See ALL Top Cash Back Credit Cards »

Best No Fee Cash Back

Best No Fee Cash Back Credit Card SealTangerine Money-Back Card Art

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

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Not everyone can stomach an annual fee - especially students, low income earners, light spenders, and credit card newbies. If that's you, then a no fee cash back credit card is the right choice.

The new Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card roared onto the scene earlier this year offering an unprecedented 2 or 3 bonus spending categories YOU get to choose. In those categories you get 2% bonus cash back - double the usual 1% on all other purchases. This one feature allows you to earn the MOST cash back of any no-fee cash back credit card.

If you spend $25,000 per year ($2,083/mth) on the card, a typical person with normal spending patterns will earn $338 in cash back yearly. Compare that to the $125 you'd get with the worst no-fee card out there and you can see what a huge difference choosing the #1 card makes.

There is no limit on the amount of money you can earn at either the 1% or 2% rate. You can even change your bonus spending categories every 90 days if your spending habits shift to maximize your rewards. Better, you get 4% cash back on your chosen bonus categories for the first 3 months you have the card, again with no limit. It's actually the only card in Canada that doesn't impose a sign up bonus limit.

See ALL Top No Fee Cash Back Credit Cards »

Best Travel

Best Travel Credit Card SealAmerican Express Gold Rewards Card Art

American Express Gold Rewards

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The Gold Rewards card gets another nod as the best travel credit card for the same reasons it has been named Best Overall. It simply gives you the most rewards and travel benefits for a card with a reasonable $150 annual fee.

The only thing holding it back from being the one piece of plastic people should use exclusively is some stores still don't accept American Express. That list is pretty small though. I can use my Amex at most places I shop, but there are a few big ones like Loblaws/Superstore and Costco that won't accept it.

Here's a tip: simply keeping a no-fee cash back MasterCard like the Tangerine Money-Back as a backup fixes the acceptance issue. You can even get up to 7 bonus spending categories by combining the 4 from Amex with the 3 more YOU get to choose from Tangerine.

The massive sign up bonus of 25,000 points that can be converted to Aeroplan in a few clicks online and the first year annual fee being waived are reason enough to give this card a try. Test it out for a year, see if your favourite shops accept it, and if you don't think it gives you enough value you don't need to keep it for the second year.

See ALL Top Travel Credit Cards »

Best No Fee Travel

Best No Fee Travel Credit Card SealMBNA Rewards Card Art

MBNA Rewards MasterCard

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No fee travel credit cards are few and far between - I was only able to find 15 to compare.

Why? To take off on your next adventure as fast and as far as possible, annual fees are needed to support the increased rewards, insurance coverage, and perks that these cards are known for.

The MBNA Rewards MasterCard is both a travel and cash back credit card in one giving you complete flexibility over how you redeem your points. This flexibility coupled with a very strong insurance package for a no fee card is what propels it to the top of the no fee travel group.

You get 1 point per dollar spent, which works out to 1% of your spending back as rewards that you can use for travel or cash. Points can also be redeemed for merchandise and charitable donations. It comes with a 5,000 point sign up bonus (limited time) worth $50 in cash back or travel and 7 types of insurance coverage, including 1 Million in travel accident coverage and $2,000 in trip interruption.

See ALL Top No Fee Travel Credit Cards »


Best AIR MILES Credit Card SealBMO AIR MILES World Elite Card Art

BMO AIR MILES World Elite MasterCard

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If you're an AIR MILES junkie, then this is the card you want. Period.

It's so far ahead of all the other AIR MILES cards it isn't even funny. In fact it scored 52% higher than its closest competitor. In other categories, the gap between second and first place is typically 10% or less.

Why is the BMO AIR MILES World Elite MasterCard so much better than its competitors?

First, it gives you the best AIR MILE earning rate of any card - 1 Mile per $10 spent on ALL purchases. Then, you get an exclusive 25% discount on the cost of reward flights making your Miles more valuable. Next, it has the 2nd best insurance package of ANY credit card in Canada with 14 types of insurance including 15 days travel medical, $2500 trip cancellation, and $750 personal effects that covers you for lost or stolen items for the entire duration of your trip (very rare).

Finally, it has great perks like concierge, a 1000 Mile sign up bonus, lounge access, and free extra cards.

See ALL Top Air Miles Credit Cards »

Best Aeroplan

Best Aeroplan Credit Card SealAmerican Express Gold Rewards Card Art

American Express Gold Rewards

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People love to hate on Aeroplan citing lack of availability and high fees, but the fact remains that Aeroplan miles are valuable. With a little work, you can get around those problems anyway.

The American Express Gold Rewards Card isn't an Aeroplan branded credit card, but it allows you to convert Membership Rewards points 1:1 to Aeroplan, so it might as well be. As the top overall card, it was a shoe in to win as the top Aeroplan card as well. The double rewards bonus for gas, grocery, drugstore, and travel purchases in a card with a $150 annual fee is just too hard to compete with.

The 25,000 point sign up bonus, first year free, and respectable insurance and perks package it has seals the deal.

See ALL Top Aeroplan Credit Cards »

Best Insurance Coverage

Best Insurance Coverage Credit Card SealBMO Cash Back World Elite Card Art

BMO CashBack World Elite MasterCard

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A cash back credit card winning a "best insurance" award is honestly a complete shocker. Most cash back cards have paltry insurance coverage because they are geared towards people who want simple rewards and don't travel often.

The BMO CashBack World Elite completely bucks this trend and provides better overall coverage than even its BMO World Elite MasterCard brethren that is a full-fledged travel rewards card. The two have nearly identical insurance except the cash back card doubles the usual extended warranty and purchase protection coverage. The travel card partially compensates for this by having longer emergency medical coverage.

The BMO CashBack World Elite gives you 13 different types of insurance and is best overall in 4 of those categories. Here's the complete list:

  • Extended warranty on purchases - up to 2 years extra.
  • Loss/damage protection on new purchases - 180 days.
  • Personal effects - up to $750 for the entire trip duration (very rare).
  • Travel accident - up to $500,000.
  • Emergency medical - trips up to 8 days.
  • Trip cancellation - up to $2,500.
  • Trip interruption - up to $2,000.
  • Flight delay - up to $500.
  • Baggage delay - up to $200.
  • Lost/stolen baggage - up to $750.
  • Rental car accident - up to $200,000.
  • Rental car personal effects - up to $1,000.
  • Rental car theft/damage.

Other benefits include 1.75% cash back on ALL your purchases and free roadside assistance which is an extremely rare perk, perfect for road warriors. That alone can recoup most of the $120 annual fee and then all the insurance and cash back you get is just gravy.

Best Perks

Best Perks Credit Card SealAmerican Express Platinum Card Art

The Platinum Card

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The Platinum Card is in a class of its own when it comes to amazing perks.

I got this card myself a couple of years ago for the big sign up bonus and crazy perks and was very hesitant to give it up. I kept it for a 2nd year because of its high 15,000 point bonus for referring others. That bonus has since increased to 25,000 points (worth $750 in flights). Earlier this year I went back to the Gold Rewards Card because I am no longer actively referring people and couldn't justify the $699 annual fee.

What kind of perks are we talking about?

It starts with a $200 annual travel credit that you can use on any travel booked through American Express. This is based on a calendar year, so you can actually use the credit twice before your 2nd year annual fee kicks in, effectively reducing the first year fee from $699 to $299. The huge 50,000 point sign up bonus (worth $1,500 in flights) can't be ignored either.

Then there's these:

  • Redeem points for ANY type of travel or convert 1:1 to Aeroplan or Avios airline miles.
  • Unlimited airport lounge access for you and a guest at Priority Pass lounges worldwide (very rare).
  • Additional access to American Express lounges and select lounges at most Canadian airports.
  • Free valet service and discounted parking at Toronto Pearson.
  • Priority security lane access at Toronto Pearson.
  • Discounted companion tickets, complimentary upgrades, and special airfares with select airlines.
  • Complimentary upgrades, free breakfast, late checkout, or spa credits at more than 700 hotels worldwide.
  • Complimentary Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status.
  • Complimentary Club Carlson Gold Elite status.
  • Complimentary Hilton HHonors Gold status.
  • Fast track to Fairmont President's Club Platinum status after only 5 nights stayed - 30 normally required.
  • Free Preferred Golf membership for 1 year giving you free rounds at select golf resorts with a 2 night stay.
  • Standby MD travel medical concierge including house calls in foreign countries.
  • Advanced ticket sales and reserved seating at select events with Amex Invites & Front Of The Line.
  • Dedicated customer service line for Platinum cardholders.
  • Unique experiences exclusively for Platinum cardholders.
  • Discounts and upgrades on Hertz and Avis car rentals.
  • Platinum concierge AND travel service.

Making the Right Choice

There is no one size fits all when it comes to credit cards, but there is a one size fits most.

The American Express Gold Rewards gives you a great balance of rewards, flexibility, insurance coverage, fees, bonuses, and perks that none of its rivals can match. If you like to travel or need to fly longer distances at all, then it's a smart choice for you.

Finally, remember that letting credit cards with rewards entice you into much higher spending and debt is NEVER worth it. Only get one if you will pay it off in full each and every month.


Robyn Mac Lean
Robyn Mac Lean 's picture

Hello Stephen,
First let me say how much I enjoy your newsletters. I've learned so much and am a huge fan. Just reading today's post and wanted to ask since I already have an AMEX gold would it make any sense to cancel and then rejoin to get all the sign up bonuses you've mentioned.
I read your blog about loyalty not paying off anymore so now take a good look at incentives and rewards.
Thanks so much. Robyn

June 21, 2016 @ 12:01 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Thanks for being a regular reader Robyn - much appreciated.

The answer to your question used to be a simple "yes", but Amex recently instituted new rules recently that state that anyone who has already had a particular credit card is only eligible for the sign up bonus ONCE.

That said, I've seen several reports online of people signing up for the same card they've had in the past and still receiving the bonus points. I myself had the Amex gold before I switched to the Amex Platinum. I just applied for the gold again a few months ago and got my sign up bonus and annual fee waived a second time. To be fair, I cancelled the card before the new rules came into effect which might be a factor.

Right now it looks case by case - so you could give it a shot to see what happens but there is no guarantee.

June 21, 2016 @ 1:44 pm
Aaron's picture

I really enjoy your analysis of reward cards.

Im thinking of getting one of amex cards.

Right now I purchase around 1m on cards through persona and business purchases.

I used the rbc avian platinum, the mbna world elite rewards card and bmo world elite.
I like that i get 2% on non air lines with bmo and mana cards. RBC gives me like 2.3% but no taxes.

I had aeroplan long time ago, but didn't like it because if I wanted flight in march for vacation with kids in florida the miles would be crazy horrible.
I travel mostly through air canada and do mostly north america, not short flights. Do around 20-25,000 miles a year. Thats for me, i also bring family and friends for around 12ish trips mostly north america.

The perks for priority boarding etc with amex is interesting, lounge access.but not sure about redemption. Flying business class etc is of interest to me also.

Any thoughts ?

September 10, 2016 @ 10:33 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

It sounds like you want flexibility, so in that case either the BMO or MBNA cards you already have are perfect.

If you want to get into Aeroplan, then you just have to plan on using your miles at realistic times and plan a little in advance. March break is obviously going to be the worst possible time because everyone is looking to book then. You did mention that you fly family around North America a lot at various times through the year. Aeroplan would be great for that.

The only downside is that sometimes you have to be more flexible with schedule when using Aeroplan. You won't always get the best flights at the perfect times. If you and your family are willing to deal with that, then you will get a lot more value with Aeroplan.

September 12, 2016 @ 11:44 am
Tech Guy in BC
Tech Guy in BC's picture

A very interesting exercise, and you certainly came up with some great cards to consider as the top choice fro most Canadians.

Just a couple of points.

1) Some card require a reasonably substantial income, like $100,000 per family so those card are out of reach for a number of people. It would be interesting to see what cards are better where a lower income threshhold is required.

2) You state, "There is no one size fits all when it comes to credit cards, but there is a one size fits most." I may be splitting hairs here, but I tend to think there are very few people where it makes sense to use only one card for everything.

Let me use a hypothetical example. Let's say you want maximum cash back for your purchases. There may be a card that offers 4% cash back gas and groceries and 1% on everything else. Another card offers 2% on all purchases. It makes sense to use the 4% card for the purchases where 4% back is realized, and the other card for everything else.

I realize that there are more factor to consider, but at the root of the matter, does it not make sense to have two cards to apportion your spending for maximum cash back?

Tech guy in BC

June 21, 2016 @ 12:09 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Thanks for your insights - to address your points:

1) High income requirements lowers the score these cards receive but obviously the increased rewards and perks outweighs that allowing them still to rise to the top if they are significantly better. I do track minimum income requirements of all cards so this is a great idea for a future article.

2) What you're saying is definitely true. The thing I've come to realize is that most people aren't like me and don't want the extra hassle of managing multiple cards and rewards systems. I'm trying to appeal to the average Canadian with these rankings producing cards that give the best overall value.

The thing is that the Amex Gold Rewards gives you an average reward return across all purchases of 4.05% using my typical spending profile not taking into accounts annual fees (which you also aren't accounting for in your hypothetical percentages). No cash back card is going to match that.

I do suggest in the article combining a top no fee cash back credit card like the Tangerine Money-Back MasterCard with the Amex Gold Rewards to both combat the Amex acceptance issue and so you have a grand total of 7 bonus spending categories between them. I think this is the best solution for people who are trying to maximize rewards. You also get some high value travel rewards and some flexible cash back in the process.

June 21, 2016 @ 1:52 pm
KC's picture

Keep in mind folks that many places do NOT accept AMEX so this is a bit of a moot point.

The other non-amex cards are pretty good.

Nice write-up Steve.

June 21, 2016 @ 12:36 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Or, combine the Amex with a nice no fee cash back credit card like I mentioned in my reply to Tech Guy in BC above. Thanks for your input KC!

June 21, 2016 @ 1:54 pm
Jen's picture

Thanks for article, I am glad you mentioned the Tangerine credit card with no annual fees, and 2% cash back in 3 categories of your choice, and 1% bak on all other categories..actually right now they have a promotion at tangerine which gives you 4% cash back on 3 categories, and no limit on the cash back amount. Some cash back cards have a maximum of 500$ or so for the year.I really don't like paying annual fees, but got the American exprss gold for the points to convert to aeroplan and will cancel the card before the year is up.
I find it hard to use American express as it's hard to find places that except it, as their fees are so high for stores. Also tangerine is a mastercard type, and I heard Walmart will soon no longer be accepting visa..which I think is nuts.
Anyhow..totally nothing to do with money..but Stephen, do you know you look like the actor Benedict Cumberbatch?

June 21, 2016 @ 2:27 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Yes, the 4% promotion on the Tangerine card is ending in a few days actually so now is a good time to get in on that before it is gone. The no limits on the cash back, even on the 4% promo cash, definitely are a big boon to the card.

I also think it is crazy that Walmart won't accept Visa anymore - but I've always been a MasterCard guy so it doesn't really bother me. I also rarely shop at Walmart. I like to keep a top travel rewards card with an annual fee and the best no fee cash back card I can find to work together as a pair. I'm grandfathered into the MBNA Rewards World Elite at a $0 annual from when that card was first launched (I was converted from a much older card I got in 2006). That's a sweet deal that's hard to beat!

I don't usually get comments about looking like anyone else, let alone actors - so I'd have to say that's a first :)

June 22, 2016 @ 8:01 pm
Francois's picture

Hi Stephen

Curious is there any travel card that is actually good while travelling? Both the ones you mention would probably be worse than Rogers based on $10,000 annual spend.

June 21, 2016 @ 2:44 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

There are currently only 4 credit cards with reduced currency exchange fees that I am aware of. These lower fees were incorporated into the overall rankings as a perk.

The higher rewards offered by the best cards would usually outweigh the 2.5% savings on currency exchange even when travelling.

  • Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Visa - 0% fee
  • Tangerine Money-Back MasterCard - 1.5% fee
  • Chase Rewards Visa - 0% fee
  • Rogers Platinum MasterCard - 0% fee

None of these came close to the top overall spot though.

June 21, 2016 @ 3:19 pm
Francois's picture

Interesting. I guess i am missing something, and i did my modelling wrong. Rogers is like a 4.25% cash back in first year, Amazon 3.50% continual.... I'll look at my stuff again

June 21, 2016 @ 7:18 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Actually Francois, you are correct that the Rogers card would net you a slightly higher return on foreign soil if you can't benefit from the bonus spending categories of the American Express Gold Rewards. With bonus spending categories you should get about a 4.05% return on spending on average. Without, you'd get about 3%. That's if you convert your Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan. You also get a lot more insurance and perks that way too.

However straight return, the 1.75% from the Rogers card + the 2.5% saved on foreign exchange does add up to 4.25% like you said. Not considering the extra features you're missing out on, you would be slightly ahead with Rogers.

June 21, 2016 @ 8:23 pm
Robert Spiegel
Robert Spiegel's picture

Hey Stephen,

Do you know any good Canadian card with no foreign exchange fee attached?



June 21, 2016 @ 2:52 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Hi Robert - see the 3 cards with 0% foreign exchange fees I listed in response to the comment above yours.

June 21, 2016 @ 3:22 pm
Julia Thompson
Julia Thompson's picture

Hi Stephen,
This is very timely for my husband and I. I have been researching which card to switch to for rewards for the past week and was leaning towards the Scotiabank American Express Gold. Now I am not sure if I should do that or the American Express Gold rewards card. I am curious what you make of the Scotiabank version versus the regular American Express Gold card. I notice a few differences, for example the Scotia card is $99 plus $29 for additional card, the Scotia card includes trip cancellation coverage, and the Scotia card only offers 20,000 points as a signing bonus. Any other major differences I should be aware of when deciding which one to go with? I'd love your advice on this, and any reasons you'd have for choosing one over the other. I am trying to take a very considered approach but there are so many details involved! Thanks.

June 21, 2016 @ 10:00 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

It really comes down to if you are willing to convert your points to Aeroplan or Avois airline miles and use them for reward flights or not. If you are willing to do that, then the Amex Gold wins easily because reward value skyrockets. You can expect an average return of about a 4.05% on your spending. Wheres with the Scotia Gold Amex you'd get about 1.90%.

Now, if you want to use your points to book any travel without restrictions. The Scotia card becomes a lot more interesting. The reward return on the Amex Gold drops to an average of about 1.35% then. You also get generally better insurance coverage with the Scotia card too picking up Price Protection and Trip Cancellation insurance as well as slightly higher dollar amounts of coverage in some other insurance categories.

So, answer that one question, and you should be able to make your decision. I think with the first year being free on the Amex Gold, you could try them both and see which one you like more.

June 21, 2016 @ 10:47 pm
Julia Thompson
Julia Thompson's picture

Thank you! That is very helpful.

June 22, 2016 @ 7:58 am
Ron's picture

Hi Stephen,

Ranking all these cards must be a lot of work. Thank you very much for all you do. It is very much appreciated!

Some suggestions that I think would make this even more useful:

I think your posting would be even more useful if you were to provide a list of the top cards in each category. In some categories (such as All top Aeroplan cards, Top no fee Travel Cards, etc.) you do provide a list, while for others (Best insurance coverage, best perks, etc.) you only provide the name of the top card and not others.

A list of all cards considered would also be useful. If one comes across a card not listed anywhere on your site, one has no way of knowing whether or not the card was evaluated and didn't make the cut or if it simply was not evaluated for whatever reason (perhaps only available in one region?).

As one ages ( I am now 60), medical insurance becomes more and more important, thus rankings based on this feature alone would be very helpful (I know, this goes against the idea of an overall best card, but would still be very useful, at least for some of us). Perhaps it could be worked in the best insurance card list?

As an example, one of the Desjardins cards, at least at first glance, appears to have very good medical insurance coverage and came out on top when ranked at this site:, but one has no idea whether it was included and did not make the cut, or if it simply was not considered for whatever reason.

Thanks again!

June 22, 2016 @ 1:03 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Thanks for the suggestions Ron. I have the data to produce a list for cards with the top insurance but stopped short of doing that before launching these best credit card rankings because I didn't want to inundate readers with way too much credit card coverage.

Yes, the Desjardins card was included in the rankings. It didn't do that well in the overall rankings (rank 31). It does have really good insurance coverage. It wouldn't top my insurance list either because my ratings look more for breadth of coverage not the absolute highest amounts in every category. The Desjardins card has 60 days travel medical. The only other cards I found that can match that are the National Bank World and World Elite cards. It is missing some rental car and personal effects coverage though. I'd say you've chosen the best card for your needs.

It has taken a lot of hours of research to track down all of these cards. I'm not planning to share the full list at this time - most people are only interested in the top cards anyway.

June 22, 2016 @ 11:31 pm
Jim's picture


I have noticed in many blogs that the Aeroplan status qualifying miles discount is never mentioned. For example if you achieve Diamond status you receive 35% off market fare mileage when booking a reward flight. (20% for Silver and 25% for Black). If this is taken into account would you consider the flight rewards when using TD Aeroplan card are much more significant? I have the AMEX gold and the TD Aeroplan, however use the TD card mostly to achieve the Diamond status, which reduces my flight rewards by 35% in most cases.
I realize many people will not achieve the Diamond status level as it is 100,000 combined points in flights or credit card spend.


June 24, 2016 @ 12:17 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

The reason for this Jim is because Market Fare flight rewards where that discount is applicable is typically a much worse value than saving your miles to use for Classic flight rewards.

That is a very good point though if you want to use your miles for Market Fare flights. I think if I was doing that though, I'd probably go with a good cash back or travel points card so I could just book any sort of travel. I should do a comparison of Aeroplan Market Fare with Classic and other travel points sometimes. Haven't bothered so far because I know the value is quite bad.

June 24, 2016 @ 4:43 pm
Martin Reid
Martin Reid's picture

For my money the TD Emerald is hard to beat. No fee and balances carry a 6% interest rate (all the time - not a 6 month special)

June 24, 2016 @ 6:44 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

That's a good rate for carrying a balance for sure - but I never recommend carrying a balance on a credit card. There are other cheaper ways to borrow money. 6% is reasonable though.

June 25, 2016 @ 1:58 pm
Ash's picture

One of the best things about the bmo elite cards is that the annual fee is rebated (up to $150) if you have a Premier account (monthly fees waived for having a min $5k balance)

June 25, 2016 @ 2:04 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Yes, that's a fantastic feature if you are a BMO client.

I wrote an article a little while back that talked about the value you can get out of the Premier account if you hold the minimum balance. The opportunity cost on the $5K isn't that much. It's a really sweet deal.

June 25, 2016 @ 1:59 pm
Pan's picture

Thank you for a great article. I could not find the premier account comparison that you mention in the comment. Could you please provide a link for that? Thank you.

July 29, 2016 @ 10:52 am
Mary's picture

Enjoyed your article. I noticed you did not mention the Capital One Aspire credit card. I have found it a great card, collecting two points for every dollar spent. I book flights and hotels and then go on the Capital One secure site for my account and just use my points to pay for flights and the hotels. I save additional money as I try to get the best deal on my purchases and will then use less points to pay for them (no fees and tax is also covered). In United States and in Britain the foreign exchange is waved on the Capital One Aspire but sadly it is not waved in Canada yet. Most credit cards do not offer travel medical insurance once the person is 65. The Aspire card offers 8 days which is fine for a short trip. Was there a reason the Capital One Aspire was not included in the review?

July 01, 2016 @ 10:27 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Hi Mary, it was definitely included in the analysis, it just isn't good enough to make it as a top card. It is a good card for flexible travel points, but the simple truth is that it is basically a 2% back card. For every dollar you spend, you get 2 cents back you can use on travel. The top cards get closer to a 4% return. Even though the rewards might not be as flexible (you have to redeem for flights to get the 4% value), it is still double the value.

It does have pretty good insurance coverage as well, but it isn't the best of the best. So, if you evaluate your card against other cards factoring in rewards, insurance coverage, and perks - it just doesn't make the cut. Good card, but not the best.

July 03, 2016 @ 4:08 pm
Lynda's picture

Just researched here at your website, and then checked out MBNA. They require a personal income of $70,000 or a household income of $120,000 to be accepted for that credit card.

July 14, 2016 @ 7:49 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

If you click through to the full Cash Back and No Fee Cash Back rankings there are more details on cards that have lower minimum income requirements.

July 15, 2016 @ 10:13 am
Lynda's picture

Just checked out BMO card and it also has an income the same requirement of $70,000 personal or $120,000 family and says it offers1% only.

July 14, 2016 @ 7:56 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

They put 2 cards side by side on the same page Lynda. One is the regular BMO cash back card with no annual fee. The other one is the BMO CashBack World Elite that is 1.75% cash back and has all the great insurance and perks.

You don't need $70,000/$120,000 for the regular 1% card, just the World Elite. Those income requirements are standard for ALL World Elite MasterCards.

July 28, 2016 @ 10:55 pm
Tom's picture

You don't mention the Costco Capital One Mastercard, some benefits of which are:

3% on restaurant purchases
2% on gas purchases
0.5% on the first $3,000 you spend annually on all other purchases, and 1% after that
There's no limit on how much you can earn
Get your cash back in January as a rebate coupon you can use to shop at Costco3

July 27, 2016 @ 2:17 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I don't mention it because it isn't a top card. The 3% on restaurants is nice, but other than that it isn't very strong especially since you have the 0.5% tier on the first $3,000. You must have a Costo membership to get the card, you can only redeem your "cash" at Costco, you can only redeem once per year (not whenever you want), and the other perks and insurance coverage are very limited.

The card has also received the most negative comments out of any product or service I've ever discussed on my site. Lots of unhappy people. You can see those comments here:

User complaints about the card aren't factored into my rankings though - just card features. It came in ranked #7 in my top no fee cash back credit card rankings. If user complaints were factored in, it wouldn't do nearly so well.

July 28, 2016 @ 11:01 pm
Rick's picture

Just looking for the best card for travel insurance. I am going to be 65 and my wife is going to be 59.

August 16, 2016 @ 12:35 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

For general travel insurance, the World Elite cards from BMO are very good. If you are concerned mostly with travel medical insurance specifically, then I'd look at the Desjardins Visa Odyssey Gold or the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege if you can qualify.

August 29, 2016 @ 2:29 pm
Rick Gava
Rick Gava's picture

Hi Stephen,

Has your research indicated if cash back or an air miles card is the best value? Cash is King but it air miles gives a you enough miles to purchase items then perhaps that is a better value.

August 18, 2016 @ 10:48 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Air Miles typically has pretty terrible value - I would definitely choose cash back. Aeroplan on the other hand can give you much higher return on spending than cash back if you redeem them smartly.

August 29, 2016 @ 2:30 pm
Andre 's picture

Hi Stephen,

My question has to do the different programs out there. I'm sure a lot of people are asking themselves that question. Should I get a card that gives Air Miles, Aeroplan miles or AMEX Rewards ? Should I get all of them or just concentrate on one plan ? I've travelled using Aeroplan points before and had a good experience and understanding of how it works. I just got in Amex with a 2000 Air Miles bonus but I'm note sure I truly understand how it works as their flight chart only shows me limited destinations to fly to. Again, is it me or some programs are easier to understand than others ? Same thing with points conversion. I was using both a Visa TD Aeroplan Infinite and Amex Gold to maximize the number of miles I could get. Amex rewards points gives you the ability to convert them 1:1 for Aeroplan or Avios. Which one is better or gives you most value ? What do you recommend ? I traded for Avios last year and haven't used the miles yet. Avios/One World seems more confusing to use than Aeroplan/Star Alliance when it comes to redeem miles for a trip. I've even heard it's better to have Avios with Iberia than B.A. which is where mine are. I'm really confused. Can you help ?

August 23, 2016 @ 2:32 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I might not be able to help you understand everything in one comment - but I'll try simplify it for you.

AMEX Rewards > Aeroplan > Avios > Cash Back > Air Miles

The only reason AMEX is ahead of Aeroplan is because they are more flexible AND you can convert them to Aeroplan or Avios. Aeroplan gives the highest value in most cases and their reward chart is the easiest to understand.

Avios are valuable but their strength is to use them for expensive short haul flights on British Airways or other One World partners. The reason is that the number of miles is directly linked to the distance flown with Avios. With Aeroplan is divided by region so you get better value looking for longer flights within a region.

You are going to have more trouble using anything other than Aeroplan in Canada because there are only limited other airlines that only fly out of major airports. Smaller airports often only have Canadian airlines like Air Canada or WestJet. I believe there are laws that prevent non-Canadian airlines from operating flights that both originate and terminate inside Canada as well so they are only really good for flying internationally.

August 29, 2016 @ 2:36 pm
Subhankar's picture

Hi Stephen

Great article. Thank you. I need your suggestion as I am struggling to choose the right card for me.
I have been using First Class TD visa infinite (no annual fee)for the last few years as my only card. Now me and fiancee want to shift our common expenses to a particular card while we both maintain our own card for personal expenses.
As a solution I applied for Amex simply cash for our common expenses. Got the card last week but found that half of the places do not even accept Amex.
Now I am considering the below scenarios
1. Use Amex simply cash as my personal and use the visa for common expenses. Looks like I will get less valur.
2. Apply for Tangarine MC and use both Amex and MC in tandem to maximise the reward.
3. Apply MBNA world elite MC and get rid of Amex.
4 open to your suggestion

Please note that insurance coverage are importing me specially while travelling.


August 26, 2016 @ 6:14 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Since this is only for joint expenses your spending levels might not be high enough to support an annual fee card. Only you can answer that question. If you are spending more than $1500 per month, the MBNA Rewards World Elite might be a good choice.

It sounds like you want to keep the TD First Class Visa Infinite because you already have no fee on that card. It isn't the best card, but not bad if you aren't paying a fee for it.

In that case, I would suggest going with option 2 that you gave to maximize your cash back and deal with the Amex acceptance issue. Later, if you get tired of the hassle of juggling 3 cards just ditch the SimplyCash and keep the Tangerine card.

August 29, 2016 @ 8:52 pm
Peter's picture

Hi Stephen, thanks for your information. I'm wondering if you know about the best Visa cards. Have you done an analysis of the m? What is the best Visa card to have?



August 30, 2016 @ 10:22 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

If you click through to the top travel credit cards above you will see that there are several visa cards listed there. They are all good.

If you click the best cash back link, you will find more there.

September 05, 2016 @ 12:59 pm
Adam's picture

Is the Amex Gold better than the RBC Avion Infinite Visa? My friend is a Doctor and has the Avion with the $120 annual fee waived. Should they still go for the Amex Gold?

September 06, 2016 @ 5:38 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Amex Gold is better if you use your points for Aeroplan. Your friend may or may not be willing to do that.

However, if your friend is already transferring their Avion points for British Airways Avios instead of redeeming them directly through RBC for flights - then sticking with the Avion is probably the way to go since the annual fee is being waived for them and you get better acceptance at merchants with Visa.

September 08, 2016 @ 9:08 pm
Wilf Attwood
Wilf Attwood's picture

I am surprised that you haven't reviewed the RBC Westjet Elite Master Card. There annual fee of $100 can be recouped with the first checked baggage on 2 flights if two people are travelling. The $99 annual companion voucher for a flight in anywhere in Canada or the USA. You also earn Westjet dollars that can be applied for an earned dollar as a dollar on any flight. In addition there are other benefits including rental insurance, trip interruption amongst others. From my experience it is clearly the best travel card out there.


September 25, 2016 @ 3:38 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

It was considered in the rankings - it came in at #41 in my travel rankings. The companion fare is the only thing that makes the card even remotely good when compared to other travel cards. Doesn't have particularly strong rewards or insurance.

September 29, 2016 @ 9:56 pm
John's picture

The west jet card is not that good. I canceled mine for two reasons. No travel cancelation insurance which can cost you about $120 a trip. I found the exact same westjet flight on Expedia for $50 to $100 cheaper than the westjet website and you can't use your westjet points on Expedia, so for a family of three, you ended up paying $150 to $300 more using your westjet dollars. Flights to Florida or the Caribbean can cost $200 or $300 more with westjet than Air Canada.
On the companion fare you have to pay taxes. The $299 companion fare to Hawaii with taxes would be about $450 and regular airfare is about $500 in non peak times so you only save $50.
Got the scotia bank gold. Cheaper annual fee for two cards, trip cancelation insurance and 4 points on gas and food, and you can book on any airline at any time.

October 19, 2016 @ 1:44 am
Jill's picture

I recently received the AlaskaAir card because of the 25 000 points bonus offered when you apply. Is there any reason to keep using this card as I am currently collecting British Airways Avios points which give more good value for short hauls? Thanks Stephen.

October 11, 2016 @ 7:48 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

No, not really Jill. Keeping 2 cards with an annual fee rarely makes sense.

October 14, 2016 @ 1:19 pm
Darlene's picture

Stephen, my spouse and I are retired andspend 5 months in Florida. We live completely on our credit card and pay off each month. We currently use an american RBC visa while in the states that gives us cash back. When paying we transfer funds from Cdn bank to US bank thru knightsbridge money excahange. We are considering changing to the Rogers MasterCard that gives 4% cash back on US purchases as well as CDN and eliminating the US exchange when paying the US credit card. Does this make sense?

October 12, 2016 @ 2:05 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I think it will make the whole process much simpler for you, so yes I think it makes sense.

The only thing to consider is that Rogers Bank is a much smaller company and therefore their service or features might not be as good. You could get into a situation where your card will get declined while traveling or you don't get as high of a credit limit as you need. I would certainly keep 1 or 2 backup cards you can use if that happens.

October 14, 2016 @ 1:20 pm
Ray's picture

Stephen, thanks for the site. A couple of comments:
AmEx Gold: is not a true credit card, it's a charge card the balance must be paid in full each statement. The 25000 bonus is once-per-lifetime as you've noted. I've been opening & closing my card for the last few years to get the bonus but not this year-I called a few times & the answer was 'once per lifetime'. The points can't be used for cash only for travel. However if you travel & you don't own a card then it's a great deal, free for the first year & worth $250 off your airfare & a good travel website-book there & you get extra benefits-travel, medical & car rental insurance for free. The great downside is lack of acceptance, even my local McDonald's won't accept it so you need a second card.
MNBA: the $70,000 earning requirement - not true, I'm a low income senior but own my own house so instant acceptance. Same applies to other companies, the test is for net income after accommodation expenses.
BMO: have the best insurance options. I have a zero fee card & add roadside assist for $98 (don't belong to AMA) & add travel insurance for $80 when I'm close to booking a flight. Their travel insurance includes before departure especially delay in getting from home to the airport (with conditions), most insurance starts when you're at the airport.
SO: I have an MBNA with 2% true cashback-they pay you $100 for the first year-and a BMO zero fee with 1% cashback for travel.
Cheers, Ray.

October 19, 2016 @ 12:30 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Thanks for the comments Ray.

You're right that the Amex Gold is a charge card. To me, it's basically the same thing because I don't feel like anyone should be using a credit card to carry a debt balance. There are so many other ways to loan money at lower interest rates after all. You still can carry a balance with Amex charge cards too, they just charge 30% interest - but it will probably get you in trouble with your credit rating faster.

I wouldn't use the 25K Amex points for travel purchases or cash purchases. They actually just introduced a new feature to allow you to redeem your points as a statement credit against ANY purchase you make to the card. The rate of return you get is worse though. You can get around $750+ value for 25K points with Aeroplan if to transfer to Aeroplan and then redeem for flights.

I have been able to get MBNA cards without meeting the minimum income requirements. Many card companies publish the 70K rule because it applies to all World Elite cards - but they will often take you on a case by case basis if you don't have a high enough income.

I'd consider getting the BMO Cash Back World Elite card if you can. Since you're already paying $98 for roadside assistance - that one comes with Roadside Assistance for free. It also has travel insurance for free and the rewards are better. You'd probably come out ahead. I have a link for it + a $150 cash bonus in my Hot Credit Cards Deals This Month section below.

October 20, 2016 @ 2:22 pm
Ray's picture

Thanks Stephen. Re Roadside Assistance-the BMO card you mentioned has the basic assist but that limits you to 10km towing so I asked can you upgrade to the 150km version & pay the difference but they said no, you have to pay the full $98 - bit unreasonable.

October 21, 2016 @ 1:54 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Yes - that's unfortunate. If you need the 50KM, then what you are doing makes sense.

October 24, 2016 @ 1:10 pm
Mike's picture


Nice read. I was wondering which card would be best for me. I spend about $30,000 per month on my credit cards (through work). I would like a travel card that also has options for Apple products. I currently use the Airmiles gold and find the travel a big pain to book. 1 of my suppliers do not take Amex so it would cut my purchases to $20,000.


October 26, 2016 @ 12:09 am

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