Best No Annual Fee Credit Cards In Canada 2019

Best No Annual Fee Credit Cards In Canada 2019

Is there anything better than free?

Add rewards in the mix and it's almost irresistible – make purchases on your card and get something back, without ever having to worry about an annual fee. Everything you earn stays right in your bank account.

If you're a big fan of debit and cash, that's no problem. Keep your no fee credit card around for the odd times you'll need it, like faster online shopping and hotel stays.

No fee cards also serve as great complements to premium cards. For example, why not have a no fee Mastercard in your wallet to help out with those purchases your premium Amex can't cover?

And though the rewards tend to be a bit muted in comparison to premium cards, you never have to worry about spending enough to cover the annual fee.

So why not try out 2019's best no annual fee cards in Canada? After all, it's free:

2019 best no fee credit card rankings

74 cards with no annual fee were compared using our math-based algorithm to get you the best of the best – no matter what type of card or issuer.

Here are the top 5:

Note: The "Welcome Bonus" when presented as a dollar value is calculated by combining all one-time bonuses available to new cardholders within the first year. To qualify for the full bonus you may need to make purchases, meet minimum spending requirements, or complete special actions.

The top 3 Canadian no fee credit cards in detail

But how will you know which is best for you?

Let's look at the top 3 a little more closely.

1st place: Rogers World Elite Mastercard

This unique card will get you some good cash back rewards.

Why you want it

  • Earn 1.75% cash back on all purchases.
  • Earn 2% cash back on Rogers services and products.
  • Earn 4% back on purchases made in foreign currencies (net earnings of 1.5%).
  • Redeem your rewards at any time (minimum $20 redemption).

This card really stands out for its flat 1.75% earn rate on most purchases – pretty good for a no fee card. And your ability to redeem at any time (once you've accumulated $20 in rewards) makes it a flexible option for your wallet.

But what makes it stand out from the crowd is the 4% you'll earn on purchases made in foreign currencies. Just keep in mind that this card doesn't waive the 2.5% foreign exchange fee, so you're really getting 1.5% cash back on these purchases.

The downsides

This card has a substantially high minimum income requirement of $80,000 individual or $150,000 household. This alone puts the card out of reach for most Canadians.

2nd place: Home Trust Preferred Visa

Don't meet the minimum income of a World Elite Mastercard? Don't worry – the Home Trust Preferred Visa has you covered.

Why you want it

  • Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases – unlimited and unrestricted.
  • No foreign exchange fees.
  • No income requirements.
  • Free Roadside Assistance included.
  • Includes Car Rental Collision and Purchase Security insurance.

Having no foreign exchange fees is a rare perk for all Canadian credit cards – even more so for cards with no annual fee. So if you're doing a lot of shopping in currencies other than CAD, you might want to look Home Trust's way.

But it goes beyond just waiving the FX fee. You'll get a straightforward cash back rate of 1% on all purchases with no limits and no categories to keep things extra simple.

And you'll get some extra peace of mind with Roadside Assistance, included at no extra cost to you.

With no income requirements, this card is great for anyone who just wants to earn some simple cash back – no frills, no whistles.

The downside

You'll only have access to your rewards once per year (every January). Just think of it as a nice annual bonus.

3rd place: Scotiabank GM Visa Card

If you're into GM vehicles, the Scotiabank GM Visa just might be the no fee card of your dreams.

Why you want it

  • Earn 5% GM earnings on the first $5,000 spent per year.
  • Then earn unlimited 2% GM earnings on all purchases after $5,000.
  • No redemption limits.
  • $1 GM earning = $1 off the purchase or lease of a new GM vehicle.
  • 20% discount at Avis locations worldwide.
  • Low minimum income of $12,000.

Though this card admittedly has its niche, if you're lucky enough to fit into it, you've found yourself a real tasty treat.

5% earnings on a no fee card is unheard of in the Canadian credit card market – it even rivals most of the premium cards. And though this only applies to your first $5,000 in purchases per year, that's still $250 worth of rewards this bonus can get you.

And it's not a one-time promotional rate – you'll get the same great earn rate the next year. Meanwhile, 2% is great on its own as well.

In fact, 2% is tied with the highest no fee earn rate available. So even at its lowest, it's still the best.

The downside

If you don't buy GM, it's hard to see how you'll get much value out of this card at all (besides the 20% discount at Avis locations).

Related: Do You Really Need Car Rental Insurance?

Still not sure what no fee card is right for you?

Let's break it down into some categories so you get more options.

I want the most rewards possible

If you just want the biggest return you can get, the Scotiabank GM Visa is your best bet. The earn rates simply can't be matched:

  • 5% on the first $5,000 spent every year, then
  • 2% on all other purchases after that.

Not really into GM or cars in general?

That's okay. Check out the MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard instead – you'll get:

  • 2 points for every $1 spent on gas, groceries, and restaurants (up to $5,000 spent annually in each category), and
  • 1 point on everything else.

Your MBNA Rewards points are fully flexible with 5 different ways to redeem them – and redemption amount is completely up to you. Redeem any amount, whenever you want.

Plus you'll get 7 different types of travel and purchase insurance. Sounds pretty good, eh?

Best no fee credit card to maximize spending

If your top spending categories tend to fall outside the norm, you'll want a card that can be moulded to your habits – not the other way around.

It's never a good idea to change your spending just to get more rewards, so why not change how the card works in order to maximize your regular spending?

That's exactly what you can do with the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card – pick 2 categories out of 10 choices to be your 2% bonus category.

Related: The Tangerine Cash Back Credit Card Review

Want another category? Simply get your rewards deposited into your Tangerine Savings Account and you'll get a 3rd bonus category for free.

If you don't have a savings account with Tangerine yet, don't worry – it's free too. Apply here and you'll get a special offer of 2.75% interest for 6 months.

Best no fee cash back credit card

If cash back is important to you, the Rogers World Elite Mastercard is still one of your best choices. It's hard to beat 1.75% on all purchases.

But if you don't meet the income requirements, you've got another great choice too – the SimplyCash Card from American Express.

You'll get 1.25% on all purchases – no caps, no tiers, and no restrictive categories.

And if you apply right now, you'll get 2.5% on all purchases for the first 3 months (up to $150 earned), plus an introductory balance transfer rate of 1.99% for the first 6 months.

This card has some unique features too, like the ability to earn $100 every time you successfully refer a friend and their application is approved (up to $1,500 earned annually). Plus you get all the great Amex benefits like:

  • American Express Invites for special experiences, and
  • Front of the Line for advanced ticket sales and reserved seating.

All this for a card with no minimum income requirements.

Best no fee travel credit card

If you want your no fee card to help get you that much closer to your next dream vacation, you've got a couple pretty good choices.

The first is again the Rogers World Elite Mastercard – but only because of the 1.5% cash back you'll be earning on purchases made in a foreign currency. And though you can use the cash back towards your trip, it doesn't actually give you travel rewards in specific.

Want a card that does? Check out the MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard.

It'll give you 2 points for every $1 spent on gas, groceries, and restaurant purchases, and 1 point on everything else – a pretty great return, especially for a no fee card.

When used for travel, your points are worth 1 cent each. They even cover taxes and fees (that's not often the case) and there's no restriction on how many you can use at a time – no more waiting until you've saved up enough to pay for the entire trip.

If you're not planning a trip soon, you can even use your points for 4 other redemption options, like merchandise and gift cards, giving you great flexibility.

You'll also get great insurance coverage for your trips:

Best no fee Aeroplan card

There's only one no fee card on the Canadian market that can help you earn Aeroplan miles – the Best Western Mastercard.

With this card, you'll get:

  • 5 Best Western points per every $1 spent at Best Western properties, and
  • 1 point for every $1 spent everywhere else.

In order to get Aeroplan miles, you have to convert your points to Aeroplan at a rate of 5,000 Best Western points = 1,000 Aeroplan miles. You do lose a lot of value this way, but if you're looking for a no fee card to help out with your Aeroplan travel wishes, this is the one.

Related: What Is An Aeroplan Mile REALLY Worth?

And right now they have a great welcome bonus: get 20,000 Best Western Rewards points (equal to 4,000 Aeroplan miles) when you make your first purchase with the card.

Best no fee Air Miles card

Air Miles gives you a couple more options when it comes to no fee cards, the best of which is the BMO Air Miles Mastercard.

With this card, you'll get the standard Air Miles earn rate (1 mile for every $20 spent) but it applies to all your purchases no matter where you make them – plus you get 2x the miles earned at select Air Miles partner locations.

Related: 5 Best Ways To Redeem Your Air Miles

And the card comes with some pretty cool features too, like giving you a discount on car rentals and the ability to add additional cardholders for no fee.

Plus, for a limited time, you could get up to 800 bonus Air Miles. Sound good to you?

What's the best no fee card for you?

Any of the best no fee cards pique your interest?

Have you had good experiences with no fee cards before, either on their own or as a complement to your more premium cards?

Let us know in the comments!

Disclosure: Some links in this article may be affiliate links. We're letting you know because it's the right thing to do. Here’s a more detailed disclosure on how HTS makes money.

Editorial Disclaimer: The content here reflects the author's opinion alone, and is not endorsed or sponsored by a bank, credit card issuer, rewards program or other entity.

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chad madill's picture

but I'm sure that there must be some hidden charges under the belt. this is pretty common with credit cards that say no annual fee.

April 05, 2019 @ 5:33 pm
HowToSaveMoney Team
HowToSaveMoney Team's picture

Hello Chad,

It's true that all credit cards charge fees under particular circumstances (cash advance, late payments, etc.), but if it's a no fee card, you can guarantee you won't be charged an annual fee simply for having the card. All fees that can be charged will be in response to certain actions you take.

If you use your card just for everyday purchases, don't go over your credit limit, and pay off the balance in full every month – then there truly is no fees or interest to pay. The merchants pay a fee for accepting the credit card, which makes up for you not paying anything.

It's always good to be careful!

April 08, 2019 @ 12:23 pm
Andrea's picture

I was hoping to see the credit card I chose up there, to validate my choice... but no such luck. I’m not switching again. But maybe next time I will consult this list first!

April 05, 2019 @ 11:33 pm
HowToSaveMoney Team
HowToSaveMoney Team's picture

Hey Andrea,

No worries – not every card can be the best. If your card works for you, then that's what matters the most.

April 08, 2019 @ 12:23 pm
Simon's picture

Check out Brim Mastercard. No fee. 2% CB at Toronto based. Non-bank. No foreign transaction fee. They ran a special and I got a free year of Amazon Prime and an Echo dot. They have a great app. I've had my card for 4 months and I love it.

April 19, 2019 @ 8:36 pm

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