Best No Fee Cash Back Credit Cards in Canada 2017

Best no annual fee cash back credit cards in Canada

Canadian banks love to gouge us with fees - even raising them while raking in record profits for themselves...

It's no wonder pretty much everyone hates fees!

I'm right there with you, I normally go out of my way to avoid fees too. I've been taking advantage of no-fee virtual banking basically since it began in Canada. I hopped right from a free student account into a no-fee President's Choice Financial account and have stuck with it ever since.

But, there are actually some times when it makes sense to pay a fee.

When dealing with cash back credit cards, simple math can show you if higher cash back rewards will cover the cost of a premium card's annual fee. If so, then it's absolutely worth it to pay the fee. Not only will you end up with more money in your jeans, but you'll also benefit from better insurance coverage and perks.

Even still, there are many people who want to completely avoid fees out of principal. Fees suck and you may even be worried that paying the fee will pressure you to overspend. If that's you, then this no fee cash back card analysis is just what you need.

Best Cash Back Credit Cards With No Annual Fee

To produce these rankings, 30 cash back credit cards with NO annual fee were compared. I've listed the top 9 in the table below from highest to lowest ranked.

Cards that aren't strictly cash back cards have also been included to increase your options. These cards allow you to convert your points to cash, statement credits, or investments in some way.

The table scrolls horizontally using the slider at the bottom.

  Credit Card
Apply SimplyCash Card from American Express
Apply MBNA Rewards Mastercard
Apply PC Financial World Elite Mastercard
Apply Capital One Platinum Mastercard (Costco)
Apply HSBC Advance Mastercard
Apply Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
Apply Capital One Aspire Cash Platinum Mastercard
Apply HSBC Premier Mastercard
Apply RBC Cash Back Mastercard
Overall Score Cash On $25,000 Spend1 Cash On $100K Spend2 Sign Up Bonus Value3 Insurance Score Perks Score
5.00 $313 $1,250 up to
1.4 4.4
4.82 $291 $1,163 $50 5.0 1.3
4.26 $250 $1,000 $0 1.4 5.0
4.14 $300 $1,200 $0 2.5 1.5
4.11 $288 $1,163 $0 2.5 1.9
4.08 $284 $1,138 $0 0.7 3.8
3.74 $250 $1,000 $0 2.5 2.5
3.62 $250 $1,000 $0 4.6 0.0
3.51 $294 $1,060 $20 0.7 2.1

(+/-) Footnotes:

* Limited time promotion ending soon.
1. $25,000 in annual spending works out to $2,083 in monthly spending which is achievable for a typical Canadian family funneling most of their spending through their credit card. The cash back shown is calculated by splitting spending sensibly across spending categories like groceries, gas, drugstore, travel, bills, and everyday spending. All spending bonuses, tiers, limits, and caps are taken into account in these calculations. Sign up bonuses are NOT included in these numbers, so that will be an extra perk for you.
2. $100,000 in annual spending works out to $8,333 in monthly spending which is too high for most families. I have included these numbers to better evaluate cards and give an advantage to cards who don't have spending caps or limits. It also allows cards that have a good tier system to shine at higher spending levels. The cash back shown is calculated by splitting spending sensibly across spending categories like groceries, gas, drugstore, travel, bills, and everyday spending. All spending bonuses, tiers, limits, and caps are taken into account in these calculations. Sign up bonuses are NOT included in these numbers, so that will be an extra perk for you.
3. The sign up bonus value is the maximum possible dollar value you can get from the bonus if you take full advantage of it. So, with a 5% gas and grocery bonus for 6 months with a $250 cap - $250 would be the value.

The Top 3 In Detail

1) Simply Cash Card from American Express

They call it Simply Cash for a reason - this card is dead simple. You get 1.25% flat cash back on ALL your purchases with no caps or limits. That's the highest earning rate on all purchases of any no fee card with no limits.

The other big draw to this card is the very nice 5% bonus you get on gas and grocery purchases for the first 6 months you have the card. You can earn a maximum of $250 with this bonus. Getting this card just for the bonus alone is worth it.

Why You Want It:

  • 1.25% cash back on ALL purchases - the highest of any no fee card.
  • 5% bonus cash on gas and groceries for the first 6 months - with a high $250 cap.
  • No limit to how much cash back you can earn at the regular rate.
  • Free access to Front Of The Line that gives you access to advanced event and concert ticket sales exclusive to Amex cardholders.
  • 1.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (limited time).

Apply Now

2) MBNA Rewards Mastercard

The MBNA Rewards Mastercard is a straight 1% cash back credit card with a few important differences: There are no caps, tiers, or limits on the amount of cash back you can earn. It has much more free insurance coverage than no fee credit cards usually have. And, it is extremely flexible in how you can redeem your rewards for cash with none of the usual restrictions.

If you want a really simple and flexible rewards program on a card that can potentially save you much more when you take advantage of the included insurance, then this is the right choice for you.

Why You Want It:

  • 1 point per dollar spent which equals 1% cash back on spending.
  • Redeem your points any time you want online or by phone.
  • Redeem your points any way you want:
    • cheque, bank deposit, statement credit, travel, merchandise, and charity.
  • 90 days purchase protection & 1 year extended warranty.
  • 1 Million in travel accident insurance.
  • Car rental theft and damage coverage.
  • Additional car rental accident and personal effects coverage.

Apply Now

3) PC Financial World Elite Mastercard

As the only no fee World Elite Mastercard in Canada, this card is really popular among shoppers of Superstore and other Loblaw owned grocery stores that issue PC Points.

And why wouldn't it be?

You get 30 points per dollar spent on your grocery purchases in any of those stores which is the same as a 3% return on your spending - better than the 1% you'd normally get with a no fee cash back credit card.

You'll also get 30 points per dollar spent at Esso, Shoppers Drug Mart, PC Travel, and PC Mobile.

Why You Want It:

  • 30 points per dollar spent at PC Plus affiliated grocery stores which is like getting a 3% return on your spending.
  • 30 points per dollar spent at Esso, Shoppers Drug Mart, PC Travel, and PC Mobile.
  • 10 points per dollar spent everywhere else - a 1% return on your spending.
  • 20,000 bonus points when you open your account, that's worth $20 in free groceries.
  • Redeem your points at any PC Plus affiliated store for a discount on your purchase.
  • 1 year extended warranty and 90 days purchase protection are included on every purchase you make.
  • 10 days emergency medical insurance and coverage for rental car loss or damage when you travel.
  • Concierge help line to make your life easier.

Apply Now

What's Important To You?

Ranking cards by their features is all well and good, but you might have specific needs when it comes to your credit card. I've broken down the top cards by popular features to help you choose the one that is the best fit for you.

Maximizing Your Cash

The best way to get the most money with no fee cash back cards is to split your spending across multiple cards. I recommend using the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card for purchases in the 3 categories you spend the most like groceries, recurring bills, and gas to earn 2% on those purchases. Then, put the rest of your spending on the Simply Cash Card from American Express to earn 1.25% instead of the usual 1%.

With this strategy, you'll earn 2% cash back on your top 3 spending categories while getting an increased 1.25% cash on the rest of your purchases. When Amex isn't accepted, you can simply fall back to your Mastercard as a backup.

Very Specific Spending Habits

Again, the Tangerine Money-Back Credit should be your go-to card if you spend a lot at certain stores or certain things. Even if spending habits change, you can change your increased bonus cash categories every three months to account for that.

Low Income Requirements

Many no annual fee cards have low income requirements to qualify. If you avoid World editions and the HSBC cards that require you to have a minimum of $100,000 in assets at HSBC, then you're all set. The best choices are the SimplyCash from American Express (no minimum) and the MBNA Rewards Mastercard ($35,000 minimum).

Get Paid When And How You Want

If you want flexibility, then any card from MBNA can't be beat!

They allow you to redeem your cash any way you want. You have the following options: statement credit, direct deposit, cheque, charity donation, travel redemption, gift cards, merchandise, and more. You can also redeem as often as you want for as much as you want. There is a $50 minimum, but you'll get there in no time.

Many of the other cards only allow you to redeem as a statement credit once per year in a specific month. Nothing like holding your cash hostage and then having it disappear amongst your regular purchases, eh?

Great Insurance And Perks

The HSBC Premier Mastercard has the best insurance package by far. That pesky requirement of having $100,000 of assets under management by HSBC to qualify keeps being a major problem though.

The top alternative is the MBNA Rewards Mastercard which has a total of 7 types of free insurance included.

Why not get no-fee banking to go with your no-fee credit card?

Switch to Tangerine No-Fee Daily Chequing

To Fee Or Not To Fee?

What do you think about paying fees for a credit card? Are you willing to spend money to make money in this area? Why or why not?

Finally, please remember that letting credit cards entice you into debt with rewards is NEVER worth it. Credit card rewards are only worth it if you plan to pay off your card in full every month to avoid debt and interest charges.

Disclosure: You should know that receives a referral fee for some credit cards listed; however, our unbiased algorithm dictates the results of our credit card rankings. You can trust that our rankings are strictly independent of compensation; here’s a more detailed disclosure on how HTS makes money.

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Robb's picture

Thanks for this post (and your last one). It's really got me looking at the plastic I carry.

I see you have the chase Amazon card low on the list. I use this one quite a bit for purchases in the USA and abroad as there are no additional currency conversion charges above the exchange rate. I believe this is a savings of 2 to 2.5% above other Canadian cards. So that makes it a 3.5% incentive on foreign purchases.

Are you aware of other cards (fee or no fee) with this perk?


November 04, 2015 @ 7:21 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I actually have the Chase Amazon Visa myself and I use it for business purposes because I do a lot of transactions in American dollars. The no foreign transaction fees is definitely a good perk but is of limited usefulness to most people. It's more of a niche card for people who travel a lot or buy stuff regularly from across the border.

The new Tangerine card that will be launching soon is going to have a 1.5% foreign transaction fee, which is still 1% lower than the 2.5% pretty much all the other cards charge. Chase has a few more cards without foreign transaction fees but I think they are the only card issuer to offer it. That includes the Marriott Rewards Visa card and the Sears MasterCard.

November 04, 2015 @ 10:47 pm
Valerie's picture

Hi Stephen,

Love your reviews. I'm looking to get a new CC with no USD transaction fees. Was wondering if you have a comparison chart somewhere?

January 21, 2016 @ 5:28 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

There aren't many to choose from and I will be writing an article on this eventually. The Rogers MasterCard mentioned below is probably your best bet. If not that, then probably the Rewards Visa. None of them have great perks other than no annual fee and decent cash back - as in no insurance coverage or extra frills.

The Marriott Visa is a decent card that has no transaction fees, but it comes with a $120 annual fee. So you'd have to be serious about hotel points and use it as your primary card if you wanted to go that route.

January 24, 2016 @ 7:38 pm
Kelly's picture

RBC Bank Visa# Signature Black Credit card (Google it, should be the top hit). A few Credit Unions offer no fee USD cards also. No fee, no frills usually.

No Fee VISA USD Card from RBC(USA) . I called and confirmed it is offered to Canadians in Canada! I did not take them up on it as that was right when the dollar was diving last year. No need for the card anymore. I also asked how it made sense that RBC (Canada) had an annual fee on their USD VISA card. No answer.

Call them, (not the Canadian operation).

Benefit (1) RBC Rewards. Yawn.
Benefit (2) Not paying the exchange OR the "foreign transaction fee".
Benefit (3) You have a USD account in which you deposit USD and can pay the VISA from here.

Risk: If you are waiting to pay from from your CAD account once a month, you are opening up to exchange risk. Load the card before you use it, or when you use it, and treat it like a debit card.

July 11, 2016 @ 1:37 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

This card is actually issued by the US division of Royal Bank and is not actually a Canadian card. Canadian's can get it, but it does say right on the application page that you should have either full or part time residency in the USA.

July 13, 2016 @ 11:08 am
Marpy's picture

Hi Stephan - I just received the change notice for the tangerine card and it looks like they are changing the 1.5% foriegn conversion fee to 2.5% effective April 29th 2017. This is unfortunate as I was looking at using it for US purchases sometime after that date.

March 28, 2017 @ 7:06 pm
Joe 's picture

Also might not apply to a large number of people, but it's useful to note that the Amazon Visa card delivers 2% cash back on purchases made from Amazon.

March 29, 2017 @ 12:05 pm
Damion's picture

Hi Stephen,

Is there a good number of credit cards to have? I also wanted to know if there was a way to include accessibility of these promotions in your ratings. I applied for a balance transfer at the end of July only to be promised the card in the mail three weeks from today (Nov 5th). The mbna cards take forever to come! Do you still find it worth the wait?

November 05, 2015 @ 6:06 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

The number of credit cards you should have depends on who you ask. There are a lot of personal finance "experts" who say you should have none (or 1 that you never use unless you absolutely have to). They come at it from the perspective of avoiding debt and making sure you don't get yourself into financial trouble. They also think credit cards cause people to overspend and make bad financial decisions. They aren't wrong but they aren't right either.

It's all about discipline, willpower, and  how you choose to spend your money. If you are constantly making choices about your money and trying to save money on everything you buy, then you are unlikely to get yourself into financial difficulty as long as you have a decent income. That is the angle I approach things from. However, those who are bad at managing their money or can't handle the psychological temptations of credit cards should avoid them.

If you are good with credit and don't abuse it, then I think it is useful to have one MasterCard, one Visa, and one Amex. That way you are unlikely to get denied at any store you shop at and if you travel, you will have backups in case one gets shut off for suspicious activity.

However, there is nothing wrong with having more if you are able to keep them all paid on time and organized. Keep the no annual fees ones for a long time to help your credit score and just do 1 small transaction a year on them to keep them active and make sure they don't get cancelled. The key is to get a number that you are comfortable with that won't mess you up financially while still earning a lot of free rewards! That's my opinion.

November 05, 2015 @ 2:43 pm
Jeffery Ha's picture

The new Rogers MC offers no foreign transaction fee and the rewards return is equivalent to 1.75%, it may be worth checking out if you are already a Rogers, Fido or Chatr subscriber - there's an annual fee of $29, but waived waived if you add your Rogers affiliated bill to the card as a pre authorized transaction.

November 05, 2015 @ 11:22 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Yes, I considered the Rogers MC in my best cash back credit cards rankings, but not the no-fee rankings because it has a fee. The 1.75% looks good at first, but when you consider that it isn't really cash back but very restrictive rewards that you can only use for Rogers products and services, then I had to penalize it very heavily in the flexibility department because it is completely inflexible.

It also sucks in the insurance and perks department, there basically is nothing there at all which is pathetic for a card with an annual fee. The no foreign transaction fees is nice, but that is meaningless to most people. It might actually be a good card for my business though because I do have Fido cell phones that I use for work and do a lot of transactions in USD.

November 05, 2015 @ 2:49 pm
Maudie's picture

I live in US 6 months of the year and use this card for it's cash back and no US exchange fees. I like that I can monitor it daily on line - it even shows pending payments. What you may not know is that if you call them in December, they will dump all your saved cash back ( that you have saved all year) back onto your credit card in January. I do have Rogers cable and have an auto pay set up on that so no annual fee. For airline tickets, I use a travel card for insurance purposes.

December 20, 2016 @ 9:10 am
Kevin's picture

Not sure about the Rogers mastercard but at least with the Fido MC, it was my understanding that you could redeem the 1.5% cashback on your credit card statement once per year (other cards have similar redemption restrictions I believe.) and the 4% CB on foreign purchases is appealing.

March 28, 2017 @ 10:21 am
Jenn's picture

Does the MBNA 2% cash back/rewards also take the annual fee into account or is it separate? (I.e do you earn 2% on the annual fee)

February 15, 2016 @ 4:12 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

If you're asking if you earn 2% of the $89 annual fee = $1.78 in cash back, then I think the answer is no. I believe that is one charge that is excluded from earning cash back (there aren't many) but I'm not 100% sure on that.

However, I think you are talking about the MBNA Rewards World Elite MasterCard as all the cards listed on this page have no annual fee.

February 16, 2016 @ 3:34 pm
Jenny's picture

Fortunately I have a grandfathered Capital One Aspire Cash Platinum MasterCard which pays me 1.5% on all purchases with no annual fee and no limit. So on spending $25K, I would get $375 annually. The Amazon Visa gives me back 2.0% on all Amazon purchases. If you are careful on your spending and keep away from shipping costs, Amazon can be a great deal. We have used this card in Europe and the US without the foreign exchange fees.

April 12, 2016 @ 6:38 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Yes, the Amazon card is nice for Amazon and foreign currency transactions. I have one as well that I use for my business because I have a lot of foreign currency transactions on it. It was considered in these rankings but it wasn't strong enough to make the top 10. It is missing a lot of other features and perks that the top 10 listed here have.

April 13, 2016 @ 4:49 pm
Ann's picture

Thanks for this information; it's very helpful. Can you comment on how any of these cards stack up against loyalty cards that offer travel? I'm thinking of switching my CIBC Visa Aeroplan to one of the companies that allows you to book your own travel, charge it to their card, and then when the bill comes in apply your points to the travel portion. I think these kinds of cards have a fee. Can you advise on this please?

June 03, 2016 @ 2:25 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Sure Ann. You're going to get a lot more value out of Aeroplan if you like to travel reasonably long distances and fly a lot. The points are just worth more if you follow some simple rules when redeeming them and are a little bit flexible. If you like to stay closer to home, don't fly that much, and want to pay more for hotels and resorts, then a travel points credit card is probably better. Check out the following 3 articles:

June 05, 2016 @ 2:43 pm
Kelly's picture

Was on this page looking for alternatives. Surprised the RBC Cashback MC did not make it into this showdown. 2% on groceries, 1% on most everything else. No Fee.

Many are still surprised that RBC MC exists, including many retailers who sees "RBC" and figures it must be a VISA.

July 11, 2016 @ 1:42 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

It was definitely included in the 48 cards that I compared, it just wasn't good enough to make the top 10. It came in ranked #23. It's actually a tiered card. You only earn 1% on purchases over $6,000 annually. The 2% on groceries also has a cap of $6,000 spent annually. After reaching that cap, it drops down to 1% again. In addition to those negatives, it also has almost nothing in the way of insurance and perks.

July 13, 2016 @ 11:09 am
lori n.
lori n.'s picture

I have been helping my university aged kids look for a great credit card. I think people tend to stick with using one card for a long time, may as well get a good one to start with.

July 16, 2016 @ 11:42 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

If you're looking for the convenience or rarely switching cards, then doing the research on a top card upfront will really pay off over the long run.

July 16, 2016 @ 9:57 pm
Calvin's picture

I called to MBNA to change my SMART CASH Platinum plus card to World Smart Cash. However, they DO NOT have World or Platium any more. Only one card they carry now which named Smart Cash Master Card. Which is not smart anymore. I been used this card from 2005 but now I lost all the benefit from this card. It has limit cap for gas and grocery for $400 every statement and total $1250 limit cap for 1% cash back. If I spend $1250 for gas or grocery. I will get 2% for first $400 and rest for 1%. after $1250 NO CASH BACK.
Therefore, I don't think this card deserve the first place for credit card review and because it is no longer platinum or world. I don't get any extra benefits. Thanks to MBNA how they treat over 10 years customer.

July 29, 2016 @ 7:31 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

If this is true, it will definitely drop them out of the top spot. I will check with them as well and may have to update the rankings before 2017 if that is the case.

July 30, 2016 @ 3:20 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I have confirmed that the upgrade to the World edition for the MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard has been discontinued for new and existing customers. It looks like existing cardholders are grandfathered in. This will drop the Smart Cash out of the top spot. I will recalculate the rankings over the next several weeks and update them.

Here is the chat log from the chat I had with Julie from MBNA customer service:

Chat InformationYou are now being connected with Julie, an Online Application Specialist.
Julie: Hello, I am here to assist you today. May I have your name please?
you: Hi Julie, my name is Stephen
you: I have several MBNA cards and am very interested in your products.
you: I have read several reports online in the past month that the Smart Cash WORLD is no longer available to new customers.
Julie: Hi Stephen.
you: What I want to know with 100% certainty isif the Smart Cash Platinum Plus can still be upgraded to the World edition.
you: and #2) Can you still receive the World edition when you apply online if your income and credit history are good enough?
Julie: Stephen, there is no option to upgrade the card from Smart cash credit card to smart cash world credit card.
Julie: As of now MBNA Smart cash world master card.
Julie: As of now MBNA do not offer Smart cash world master card.
you: There used to be an option to do that - so are you saying that option has been completely removed? That means the card has been 100% grandfathered and there is no way for new customers to get it and existing Platinum Plus customers to upgrade?
Julie: Yes that is correct.
you: Ok, thanks for confirming that Julie.
July 30, 2016 @ 3:38 pm
David Gordon
David Gordon's picture

I am surprised that you mentioned the MBNA Rewards, but not the MBNA Smart Cash card. This offers 5% cash back on gas and groceries for the first 6 months, 2% on gas and groceries after that, and 1% on everything else. Combining these 2% discounts with a Tangerine card can give you a total of five 2% cash-back categories.

September 09, 2016 @ 4:08 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I had the MBNA Smart Cash World card listed before they recently discontinued it. The reason the non-world edition didn't make the top 10 is because they cap the amount of cash you can earn even in the 1% category. For low spenders it will still come out on top of the regular MBNA Rewards, but if you spend a decent amount of money every month the MBNA Rewards card is better.

If you want to stack it together with the Tangerine card then it is still a decent option.

September 12, 2016 @ 11:37 am
Sharon's picture

Hi Stephen - I have 3 credits cards and would like to scale it down to just 2. One of them is the MBNA Rewards which I'm considering if I should renew for another year. The other is the Rogers MC which I do not have to pay a fee. I like this card for the free foreign transaction fee as I use it for travel and purchases across the border which I do several times a year. Now that perk is gone. The 3rd is the RBC Avion which I got a few months ago because I needed a travel card with good insurance and I had a lot of points I wanted to redeem, but now it's not being used as I have been just using the MBNA for the cash back.

Would you recommend continuing with the MBNA or get the Tangerine card instead? Which cards do you think are the best to have? I can accept a card with fee if it's a really good and worthwhile, otherwise no fees preferred.

My biggest spending are bills and groceries, and my average monthly spending on the MBNA MC for the past 3 months have been around $2700 a month.

October 19, 2016 @ 8:35 pm
A tech guy in BC
A tech guy in BC's picture


Regarding the Rogers MC now charging the 2.5% currency exchange, that card still gives you 4% on foreign transactions, for a net benefit of 1.5%. Likely still the best card for foreign currency transactions.

Tech guy in BC

October 20, 2016 @ 12:33 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I think your current setup sounds fine Sharon. The Rogers card is still basically the same as it was before because you get 4% rewards which is an additional 2.25% above the regular 1.75% it gives. You used to save 2.5% on the currency conversion - so it's almost the same.

EDIT: Just noticed Tech guy in BC basically said the same thing about that already :)

The MBNA Rewards World Elite has half-decent travel insurance coverage, so I would consider canning the RBC Avion because it has a fee and just using the MBNA card if you can get by with it. Otherwise, I would still cancel the Avion and consider either the BMO Cash Back World Elite or the BMO World Elite (travel) because they both have best-in-Canada travel insurance.

If you don't care that much about the extra .25% with MBNA, you could just switch everything over to the BMO card. One drawback though is that secondary cards aren't free anymore with BMO.

Another option for you would be to go all-out on a top travel rewards card like the Amex Gold and then get the Tangerine card as your backup. Applying for 2 new cards and cancelling 3 in a short period would probably play havoc with your credit score though.

October 20, 2016 @ 2:28 pm
Sharon's picture

Thanks. I have tried to cancel the Avion but because I need an active credit card with RBC in order to get the rebate for my monthly plan, I can probably switch to a no fee card instead. The BMO Cash Back World Elite looks very interesting, but has a higher fee though.

Is it the case that if you have a lot of credit cards or switch cards frequenly (say annual), it negatively reflects on your credit score?

October 20, 2016 @ 6:13 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Travel hackers apply for up to 20+ cards a year (splitting them into 5 in each quarter all at once to minimize credit inquiries) and their credit scores are fine.

Applying for new credit DOES temporarily lower your credit score and cancelling old cards can also effect it. That said, getting a new card a couple of times a year will be completely fine as long as you manage your credit properly and always pay on time.

Read this article I wrote recently about credit scores to understand more:

October 24, 2016 @ 1:08 pm
Clauber's picture

Hi Stephen, I would like to report a mistake in this post.
On the section: The Top 3 In Detail
HSBC Premier World MasterCard should be the one explained in the 3rd position not the MBNA Rewards MasterCard as posted.

January 24, 2017 @ 1:17 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

The rankings have been updated for 2017 and the top 3 are now correct. Thanks!

March 28, 2017 @ 10:27 am
Mark's picture

On April 29th, 2017, Tangerine will reduce the rewards for the everything else category for their credit card. It will decrease from 1% to 0.5%. They are also increasing the foreign transaction fee from 1.5% to 2.5%. I received a message on the upcoming changes today. I will be searching for a new primary no fee card now as I do not carry multiple credit cards in my wallet. Probably go for the Fido Mastercard to replace the Tangerine credit card.

March 25, 2017 @ 12:24 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Ya, this change is a major bummer. The Fido card slipped my mind because it is basically a lesser version of the Rogers MasterCard - except that you don't need a Rogers/Fido service to get the annual fee waived.

March 28, 2017 @ 10:28 am
Amine's picture

What about the Fido Master card with it's 1.5% cash back on all its purchase and no fees ?

March 26, 2017 @ 7:30 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Good one Amine. How do you get your cash back once per year because on their marketing pages they suggest that you need to apply your cash back towards Fido-related purchases on your card?

Is it like the Rogers MasterCard where you have to call them once a year before January to request it?

March 28, 2017 @ 10:25 am
Minimalist's picture

Yes, with the Rogers Fido Mastercard you can call them once a year (December) to get a cash statement credit (January). That makes this the highest all category cashback card at 1.5%. This is higher than the Amex Simply Cash that you mentioned with much better acceptance than the Amex.

March 28, 2017 @ 11:29 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I will add it in when I update the post for the Tangerine changes. The fact that redeeming your cash is once a year is such a PITA will drag it down slightly but may still come out as the top card. My algorithm takes into account a lot more than just the rewards payout.

March 28, 2017 @ 11:42 am
Erich's picture

Thanks for your hard work and info. Been using Tangerine and Amex as my primaries but unfortunately Amex is not accepted by quite a few merchants, especially the smaller ones. Will probably use PC Master Card more -- even though it is points, it does equate to about 1% instead of the new 0.5% proposed by Tangerine.

March 28, 2017 @ 11:27 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

You could rotate all 3 cards to give you the best of all worlds.

March 28, 2017 @ 11:43 am
Ken's picture

This post couldnt of come at a better time. With Tangerine changing their 1% cash back on everything not in the 2% cash back categories you get to pick yourself, down to .5%, they have changed an awesome card to what it will become, a card many will stop using.

Many like myself went from using multiple cards to maximize cash back to this, more or less for simplicity of tracking, paying and just carrying one card. Was a great run, and saved a lot of headaches in our house since each card was linked to purchases, not just showing all one big statement for all the cards.

March 28, 2017 @ 12:19 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I was really disappointed with the news because the no fee cash back landscape has been deteriorating for years. The Tangerine card was really the only white knight left standing. Now that it's gone, the pickings are a bit slim for anything above 1% straight cash back. The Amex SimplyCash is great, it's just too bad that it isn't accpeted everywhere.

Like some others are saying, the Fido card might be an option. PITA to have to remember to call in every year to get your cash back though. It should just be automatic once a year at the very least.

March 28, 2017 @ 1:47 pm
Ken's picture

I think Im going to stick to the Tangerine. After trying multiple cards in our house hold, and my wife always asking what card to use where for max benefits, or remembering what store is what category, etc the last 8 months or so have been bliss for not only tracking, for looking up info (did I pay that charge) since you can narrow it down per card holder.. No more asking is this charge yours, or mine. We used the MBNA for many years until it deteriorated to what it turned into.

Will I lose out on cash back with the .5 %, yes. But our major purchases on the card are gas, groceries and home improvement anyway. While we use the card for EVERYTHING, and its paid off all the time. I think the last months of having the way it is, I dont think I can go back to multiple cards.

Maybe if it was just me using the card, or was single, I would. But after moving to Tangerine, a lot of time has been freed up since its all linked to our Tangerine accounts anyway. Saves me time (since I am the one in charge of finances in the house) and saves me energy. Which to me might be worth the .5%

March 28, 2017 @ 2:30 pm
Mark's picture

Maybe this was part of Scotiabank's strategy, can see what you're saying but will drop the card myself. Over the last months had been working towards making it my go-to card combined with the Amex Gold when insurance is needed. Very disappointed is this move and Tangerine...

March 29, 2017 @ 12:21 am
Ken's picture

Im disappointed as well, but as I get older, I want things to be simplier, not more complicated. Im going from the last 9 months or so of Tangerine compared to 20 years of credit card use and using multiple cards to maximize benefits. And the less hassle of one card has been incredible for so many reasons. To be blunt, it just makes it using a credit card for everything simple. Plus the Tangerine card still has the extended warranty on it, unless thats changing as well. Thats why I was with the MBNA for so long, was the extended warranty on big items. Was with the CIBC card to that gave you 1% back on everything, but then they changed that to just be a credit on your card at the end of the year.

Im still going to look and see what card can compare to be a "use only one" card. But I know Im not going to re-live the hassle of multiple cards and tracking and paying of anymore

March 30, 2017 @ 11:54 am
Steve's picture

Correct me if I'm wrong but the Smart Cash Platinum Plus is still an active card. It was mentioned it was discontinued.

March 28, 2017 @ 12:53 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

The World version (the good one) is no longer active. The Platinum Plus is still active but its really low caps take it out of the running for the top 10.

March 28, 2017 @ 1:45 pm
Gord Drimmie
Gord Drimmie's picture

Nice list Rob - but it seems to me you left out the two BEST ones:

My MBNA "World Elite" Cashback Rewards Card pays 2% . Annual fee is $99 (free 1st year). And I believe there is a $50 bonus when you open your account. I don't think ANY card comes close to that.

And the Rogers Platinum Mastercard is just as good IF you are a Rogers customer; or IF you buy Blue Jay tickets. It pays 1.75% in rewards; 4.0% if you purchase something in the US (which offsets those nasty conversion fees); and is a "No Fee" card as long as you automatically pay your Rogers Cable/Wireless bill with it. If you don't, fee is $35 which is still good. There is no fee the 1sy=t year and a $35 bonus when you open the account. The rewards you earn are redeemable on purchases from Rogers - i.e. Cable/Wireless; Blue Jays; etc. This is a really great card!

Disclosure: I use both cards

March 29, 2017 @ 9:23 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Both cards are included in my best cash back rankings. This page is strictly for no fee cards. Even though you can coerce the Rogers card into being no fee - it isn't technically a no fee card so I don't include it here.

March 29, 2017 @ 4:25 pm
Di's picture

I also used your script to call about having the annual fee waived on my Scotiabank Momentum VISA. I learned that if you call within 3 months of the annual fee charge being applied, it will likely be waived in full without question. Your advice was sound: be informed about competitive products, be polite and be prepared to close off your card and move to a competitor. In my case, I was satisfied to receive a $50.00 credit on the $99.00 fee ... for now. A bit ridiculous that long term highly valued customers should have to make an annual call to receive an annual waiver of these fees. I may not keep this card much longer and switch to a no-fees card like Tangerine's.

I'm now also motivated to negotiate the minimum balance currently required in my ScotiaOne chequing account ($4,000.00 of my money sits idle to avoid a $13.95 per month service charge). Again, as a highly valued customer, I will expect some success or I'll be making the move to a virtual banking source to avoid minimum balances and monthly service fees.

Don't our chartered banks realize what a dangerous game they're playing?

March 29, 2017 @ 2:45 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

They take advantage of our loyalty for sure - but I think that is slowly starting to change. Canadians are starting to compare and shop around a lot more thanks to the trickle down effects of the internet.

Annual fees do help pay for some of the nice insurance coverage and perks that come with many cards, but if you can get it waived that's a bonus. Glad you were able to use the script to get your credit!

March 31, 2017 @ 2:27 pm
sam's picture

BMO Cash Back Elite is the best fit for me. Fees are waived if you have a premium banking plan with them (and banking fees are waived if you maintain $6000.00 in cheqiung). 1.75% cash back, and you can either get a credit to your account in January or even transfer to your chequing, savings, or TFSA through BMOCASHBACK.COM throughout the wife and I love this card!!

March 31, 2017 @ 9:15 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

They do have an enticing all-in-one offering which is pretty rare. If I didn't already have my all my individual accounts set up for free piece meal, I'd strongly consider doing what you are with BMO.

March 31, 2017 @ 2:29 pm
Ryan's picture

It's mentioned in another comment that there is an earnings cap on the MBNA Smart Cash card - where can I find more information this? In the card application legal disclosures, they say you won't get the terms and conditions until after your account is opened...

I'm trying to decide between the MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus and the MBNA Rewards (Rewards has a sign up bonus, but the Smart Cash has the 2% for gas and grocery). Also between the Capital One Aspire Cash Platinum and the Aspire Travel Platinum (again the Travel has a sign up bonus ($75), but the cash back reward is only 0.75% instead of 1%). Any insight you could offer?

The plan is to pair one of the Capital One cards with a Tangerine card for household expenses and one of the MBNA cards for separate personal use. I could also consider the AmEx Simply Cash or the Rogers card for higher reward, but I may switch away from Rogers and the AmEx may get a bit annoying if not accepted at times. Plus the MBNA cards seem to have better insurance benefits. Any thoughts on any of this? Prefer no-fee cards - don't spend enough to warrant a card with a fee, especially on gas & groceries, which seem to get the most rewards.

April 06, 2017 @ 5:23 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

The Smart cash has a $400 monthly spending limit (combined for gas and groceries) on the 2% bonus cash back and an overall monthly spending cap of $1250 for regular cash back. After you hit the 2% cap, you drop to 1%. After you hit the 1% cap you drop to 0%. The overall monthly limit makes the card not worth it for most people. Losing all cash back after that point is simply not worth it. I'd go with the MBNA Rewards, get the bonus, and not have to worry about tracking your spending. The 2% bonus is so short-lived anyway you really aren't getting much out of it.

If you're considering the Rogers card keep in mind that you can ask them for a normal statement credit once a year in January. If you miss your chance though you'll have to wait another full year. If you're going to get the Capital One Travel card, I'd stick to using it for travel purchases so you get the full 1% back. Otherwise, just go with the Cash version.

May 09, 2017 @ 12:18 pm
Dominik Szkaradek
Dominik Szkaradek's picture

I was wondering how the Tangerine Money Back (no fee) Credit Cards stacks up in this ranking with all of the changes that they are implementing starting at the end of this month? I looked at the second best on the ranking (the AmEx) but it is simply too tied up with some retailers accepting it and some other major ones (Lablaw) completely ignoring it all together. Would you still recommend Tangerine Credit Card as the best out of all no-fee cards?

April 26, 2017 @ 1:13 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I've updated the rankings now Dominik and it's now the #7 card. It's great to combine with the Amex SimplyCash or the MBNA Rewards MasterCard. Personally I'd do the SimplyCash and Tangerine combo. It'll come out slightly ahead of the MBNA Rewards card in terms of cash back and below the SimplyCash if you only want to use one card for everything.

May 09, 2017 @ 12:05 pm
Paul's picture

I looked into the HSBC Premier World Mastercard as I was very interested in the insurance coverage it provides. The fine details state the following:

To apply for an HSBC Premier World Mastercard credit card, you must:

--Have a minimum annual gross personal income of $60,000 or a minimum annual gross household income of $100,000

--Be a permanent Canadian resident and have reached the age of majority in your province/territory

--Be an HSBC Premier client. To qualify for an HSBC Premier relationship, you are required to open and maintain an active HSBC Premier chequing account, and maintain $100,000 in combined personal deposit and investment balances with HSBC Bank Canada and its subsidiaries. HSBC Premier monthly banking fees may apply.

May 11, 2017 @ 9:01 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Yes, I penalize these cards heavily in my scoring system because of the things you mentioned. Unfortunately, they are so good for no fee cards that it is hard to bring them down far enough in the rankings even with the penalty.

I struggle with whether or not I should even include them in the rankings for this reason. So far I've opted to keep them in and apply the penalty.

If you look at my full description of the HSBC Premier World MasterCard above you will see that I do touch on the $100,000 asset with HSBC to qualify.

May 12, 2017 @ 3:57 pm
Saver's picture

Hi Stephen;

Here is another not well known VISA you can add to the list: The Home Trust Preferred VISA. I do have this card as I received an invitation through Home Trust with my mortgage, however, according to some forums including Red Flag, it seems open to everyone.

No annual fee, 1% cash back, no forex fee (similar to Rogers and Amazon), and has auto insurance included. I haven't inquired with them about the exact details, but it is a nice perk.

May 29, 2017 @ 10:45 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Yes, it's a sad day. That's why it isn't included in the top 10 this year.

June 19, 2017 @ 11:06 pm
Sask Travel Gal
Sask Travel Gal's picture

With the US dollar exchange so poor, what would be the best credit card for low foreign exchange rate? I am looking at purchasing airfare from Hawaiian airlines in Australian dollars as the exchange rate is much better. How do I do this on a Canadian credit card who does not change it over to US funds first before converting that to Canadian??

June 08, 2017 @ 3:45 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

The Chase Marriott Visa is the only one left that I know that doesn't charge any FX fee. The Rogers MasterCard gives you a large rewards bonus for any purchases made in foreign currency.

June 19, 2017 @ 11:07 pm
Sask Travel Gal
Sask Travel Gal's picture

Just check with BMO and they advised that the BMO World Elite Mastercard if used in Australia does not change funds to US and then Canadian. They simply change it direct to CAN from AUS and add the 2.5% currency exchange fee on top of the exchange rate.

June 24, 2017 @ 6:20 pm
Leanne Williston
Leanne Williston's picture

Good to know.  Thanks for the info, Sask Travel Gal! 

June 26, 2017 @ 4:37 pm
Benjamin's picture

Hi Stephen,

What are your thoughts on the Echo Cashback card? I'm debating between it, MBNA Rewards, and Aspire Cash Platinum. I'm leaning towards the Echo because it gives 1% back just like the other two but an additional 1.5% on gas, groceries, and online purchases.Thoughts?


July 13, 2017 @ 4:30 pm
Samantha's picture

Hi Stephen:

TD has recently announced they will be discontinuing the TD Cash Back MasterCard® in Nov/2017. I have this card and want to move to another MasterCard (I already have a VISA). I use my MasterCard as a secondary or backup card and pay it in full monthly so earning rewards, getting cash back or having low rates are not really important to me. What I'm looking for are things like easy online access to the account, automatic monthly payment options from my bank account, good fraud protection (it's a hassle when the card is compromised, even when the company offers protection), responsive customer service, etc. Can you recommend a Mastercard that would fit my needs?

Thanks, Samantha

July 29, 2017 @ 8:22 am

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