Why settle for anything less than the best?
There are a lot of Canadian credit cards to choose from – but only a handful can come out on top. It's important you know which will give you the most rewards, get you the best sign-up bonuses, and pad you with the most comprehensive insurance packages.
And it's also important to know what will work best for you.
So whether you're a globetrotter, a money saver, or a rewards program loyalist, we've got a card for you – and it's the best you can get.
- Best credit card rankings
- Best overall credit card
- Best cash back credit card
- Best travel credit card
- Best Aeroplan credit card
- Best Air Miles credit card
- Best credit card for travel insurance
- Best credit card for gas discounts
- Best low interest credit card
- Best no annual fee credit card
2019 credit card rankings
We tracked 189 credit cards in Canada, compared over 50 features of each card, calculated the dollar value of each card reward ‒ and let the numbers speak for themselves.
Best overall credit card
Not all of us have time to worry about the little things.
Sometimes it's better to just go with the best of the best, the jack of all trades…
This way you know you have a great card no matter your spending habits or reward redemption preferences. Even if these things change over time, your card won't stop being perfect for you – because it's the best overall.
And for the second year in a row, that's exactly what the American Express Cobalt Card can be for you.
Highest permanent earn rate
With the highest permanent earn rate available for food purchases, you'll be earning Amex Membership Rewards faster than ever. Get 5x the points on eligible food, including groceries, cafes, restaurants, and bars.
And when you're not satisfying your hunger, you'll get 2x the points on all eligible travel purchases, which also includes things like gas and public transit. For everything else, earn 1 point per $1 spent – so you're always earning no matter what.
Generous welcome bonus
As if that wasn't enough, you'll also get a hugely generous welcome bonus. Every month during the first year that you spend $500, you get an extra 2,500 points. That means you can earn up to 30,000 points in your first year – worth about $525 when redeemed for flights.
...and amazing perks
Plus you get solid insurance coverage, including travel accident and emergency medical ‒ and other Amex perks like:
- Front of the Line,
- American Express Invites,
- The Hotel collection, and the
- Cobalt Perks Program.
Why Amex Cobalt ranks #1
With no income requirements and an annual fee that's divided into bite-sized $10 monthly charges, this card is a good choice for almost anyone.
With top overall return on spending, flexible monthly fee, generous sign-up bonus, solid perks, good insurance, and no minimum income required ‒ Amex Cobalt sits at the top of 189 credit cards in Canada right now.
Best cash back credit card
If you're looking for a card that will give you valuable cash rewards on every purchase you make, the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite deserves a closer look.
This card will give you some impressive cash back rewards:
- 10% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months (up to $2,000 spent),
- 4% cash back on all gas and grocery purchases (up to $25,000 annual spend per category),
- 2% cash back on all drugstore purchases and recurring bills (up to $25,000 annual spend per category), and…
- 1% cash back on all other purchases.
For an average person spending $25K a year, you'll get over $400 right back in your pocket.
On top of that, the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite will give you a solid insurance package that includes 6 different types of travel and purchase insurance, concierge service, and some pretty fun Visa Infinite perks.
Best travel credit card
Travel rewards are the most valuable credit card rewards you can get – so it's no surprise that our #1 overall card is also the best travel credit card in Canada.
That's right, the American Express Cobalt Card comes out on top once again.
The best way to get the most out of your Cobalt is to use it as a travel credit card and redeeming for flights. Of course, you can also redeem for statement credits and any other type of travel you want, but these options won't give you the same incredible value as flights can.
The travel rewards that come with this card are very valuable when redeemed using the Amex Fixed Points Travel Program. This lets you redeem 40,000 points for the base airfare of a long haul flight to Canada or the US worth up to $700.
That means each point is worth up to 1.75 cents:
$700 flight / 40,000 points = 0.0175 = 1.75 cents
Earning up to 1.75 cents for every dollar you spend is one thing, but also remember that you get 5x that for ALL food purchases and 2x for ALL travel and transit purchases.
So when earning 5x rewards on food, you can get an eye-popping 8.75% return on spending.
On top of that, you’ll be protected by 9 types of purchase and travel insurance, which includes travel accident, emergency medical, flight delay, rental car theft and damage, and more.
Pro tip: Worried about acceptance? Pairing your Amex with a no fee cash back Mastercard like the Tangerine Money-Back is a great backup.
You can even get up to 7 bonus spending categories by combining the 4 from the Amex Cobalt (groceries, restaurants, gas, and travel) with up to 3 more YOU get to choose from Tangerine.
Best Aeroplan credit card
If you're an Aeroplan collector, the American Express Gold Rewards Card is hard to beat.
Despite all the drama Aeroplan has been facing as they become Air Canada's loyalty program, they continue on as one of the most valuable rewards programs in Canada.
For now, you can still get a 2.5 cent value for each of your Aeroplan miles, whereas most other rewards programs offer a 1 cent value.
Sure, the Amex Gold Rewards Card isn't an Aeroplan-branded credit card, but it allows you to convert Membership Rewards points 1:1 to Aeroplan. Plus you get double rewards for gas, grocery, drugstore, and travel purchases, all for a reasonable $150 annual fee.
Also because this isn't an Aeroplan-branded card, you'll get rewards that should remain valuable no matter what happens to Aeroplan.
The generous welcome bonus worth $625, plus 10 types of insurance coverage, and those fun Amex perks seal the deal.
Best Air Miles credit card
If you're an Air Miles fanatic, the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard is the card you want. It’s so far ahead of its competitors there's hardly any real competition.
You get the best Air Mile earn rate of any card – 1 Mile per $10 spent on ALL purchases.
You’ll also get an exclusive 15% discount on the cost of reward flights in North America, giving all the miles you collect even more value when it comes time to redeem them. Keep in mind you need to choose Dream over Cash rewards if you want to take advantage of this.
Related: 5 Best Ways To Redeem Your Air Miles
And this card has more types of insurance than ANY other credit card on the Canadian market right now. 14 out of 16 possible types, including:
- 15 days travel medical,
- $2,500 trip cancellation,
- $750 personal effects (very rare insurance that covers you for lost or stolen items for the entire duration of your trip),
- and much more.
This card has some other solid benefits, including credit card concierge, a 3,000 mile sign up bonus, and lounge access with 2 free annual passes.
In addition to the sign-up bonus, you can enjoy this card for free for the first year.
Best credit card for travel insurance
Did you know your credit card likely comes with insurance built right in?
It's a much-overlooked aspect of credit cards, but if you love having some peace of mind, their insurance packages could be a huge perk for you.
Want the best? Check out the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card, which will get you some fantastic travel and purchase insurance – 12 in total.
Sleep easy while on trips with 25 days of emergency medical coverage and up to $500,000 in travel accident coverage.
And that's not all – the card also gets you flexible rewards with every purchase you make, plus a welcome bonus worth $150 when redeemed for travel.
Best credit cards for gas discounts
If you drive yourself to work everyday, chances are a big part of your monthly spending is dedicated to gas. It's no secret that Canada has some expensive gas prices, so how can you get ahead?
Why not use a credit card that gives you amazing rewards on all your gas purchases?
That's exactly what you get with the American Express Gold Rewards Card.
For every $1 you spend on eligible gas purchases, you'll get 2 Amex Membership Rewards Points. The best part? You can transfer these points to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio...and because we value an Aeroplan mile at 2.5 cents each, that means you get a whopping 5% return on all gas purchases.
With a 25,000 welcome bonus and no minimum income requirements, this card is a pretty great choice for your gas-guzzling needs.
Best low interest credit card
If you tend to carry a balance on your credit card, you'll know how fast the interest can build up on you.
But with the American Express Essential, you'll get a permanently low rate on all purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances. That's much lower than the 19.99% you often see on cards.
Plus you can get a special 1.99% balance transfer rate for the first 6 months you own the card.
These kinds of cards can be great for saving you money while you get a handle on your finances, so check out all your great options here:
Best no annual fee credit card
If you don't spend enough on your credit card to justify an annual fee, you have plenty of great options that can earn you either travel or cash rewards.
One of the best right now is the Rogers World Elite Mastercard which will get 1.75% cash back on all purchases.
Plus you'll get 2% on Rogers services and products and an impressive 4% back on purchases made in a foreign currency – just keep in mind this card doesn't waive the foreign transaction fee, so you really only get 1.5% back. It also has a steep income requirement of $80,000 personal or $150,000 household.
There are many great no fee cards on the market, so check out which one works best for you:
Have some questions about our rankings or credit cards in general? Let us help you out with some of the biggest ones:
Do I need to get a credit card exclusively from my bank?
No, the only real benefit of doing this is to make paying your bill a little bit easier. But it'll be easy no matter where you go.
The truth is sticking to your bank closes you off from so many credit cards options – most of which may be better for you than anything your bank can offer.
So look around and don't limit your options. There's plenty to discover.
How do you calculate your score?
We review over 50 features of every card in our database – all 189 of them. Then we crunch the numbers through our algorithm, convert the reward values into real dollar amounts, and calculate a rating out of 5.
All this is done with no regard to affiliate relationships or personal preference. Everything is exclusively math-based and objective, so you know you're really getting the best of the best every single time.
Why do Amex cards do so well in your rankings?
Simply put, they just have some of the best earn rates on the market.
The main complaint against them is that they're less accepted than Visa and Mastercards. While this is true (and getting better every day), it's also kinda the reason they're so good...
Every time you use a credit card, the merchant is charged a small transaction fee. This fee is higher for Amex cards than they are for Visa and Mastercard. This costs the merchant more, making it harder for small businesses to accept Amex cards.
But the good news is this improves your experience – it ends up coming back to you in the form of lower annual fees, great rewards, and even better perks.
But don't worry – our algorithm and rankings account for acceptance rates. Some Amex cards are just so good that it offsets this punishment.
What should I keep in mind when choosing a credit card?
Even with our rankings, choosing the perfect card for you can be overwhelming. Here are some basic things to consider:
- Keep your spending habits in mind: How much you spend and where you spend it does matter. The key is to never overspend for the sake of rewards, while also maximizing your bonus reward areas.
- Travel or cash rewards: Most cards can be broken down into one of these two camps. Travel cards usually give higher value rewards but lack the complete flexibility of cash.
- Point value matters: If you go with a travel or points card, it’s pretty easy to see which cards earn more points. But, keep in mind that not all points have the same value. That’s why we show you an estimated real dollar value for the rewards you will earn.
- More than just rewards: Credit cards have a lot of features, perks, and insurance coverage outside of rewards. Our top cards aren’t just there for the rewards. Don’t miss out on all their other great features too.
My card doesn't show up on your list. Should I change?
If your card isn't working out for you anymore, it may be time to upgrade.
That being said, just because a card doesn't make the #1 spot, doesn't mean it's not a great card.
A lot of credit cards offer unique features that can be invaluable to the right person.
Check out our 3-minute credit card matchmaking quiz and see how well your card is working out for you and your spending – and if other cards could do better.
Want a quick summary?
Here are all of the best credit cards in Canada one last time, including the reasons they took top place.
|Best Credit Card||Winner||Why you want it||Apply|
|Overall best credit card||American Express Cobalt™ Card||With the best return on spending, a generous welcome bonus, flexible monthly fees, and great insurance – the Cobalt card checks all the boxes.||Apply|
|Best cash back credit card||Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite||Get 4% cash back on all your grocery and gas purchases, plus 2% on drugstore and recurring bill payments.||Apply|
|Best travel credit card||American Express Cobalt™ Card||Each point you earn is worth up to 1.75 cents when used towards travel – giving your money spent on food an amazing 8.75% return.||Apply|
|Best Aeroplan credit card||American Express® Gold Rewards Card||Convert your points to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio – giving you the incredible value of Aeroplan combined with the flexibility of Amex Membership Rewards to avoid any future devaluations.||Apply|
|Best Air Miles credit card||BMO® Air Miles®† World Elite®* Mastercard®*||Get 1 mile per $10 spent – the best Air Miles earn rate of any card by far, plus a 15% discount on Air Miles flights within North America.||Apply|
|Best credit card for travel insurance||Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card||Get 12 types of insurance, including up to $500,000 in travel accident coverage.||Apply|
|Best gas credit card||American Express® Gold Rewards Card||Get a whopping 5% return on gas purchases when you convert your points to Aeroplan.||Apply|
|Best low interest credit card||American Express Essential Credit Card ™||Get a permanent low interest rate of 8.99% for no annual fee.|
|Best no fee credit card||Rogers World Elite Mastercard||Skip out on foreign transaction fees and earn 1.75% cash back on all of your purchases.||Apply|