Compare credit cards

Comparison of credit cards for travel rewards, cashback, balance transfers, rebuilding credit, and more.

By   |   Verified by Yvonne Taylor   |   Updated 26th October 2020

Comparing credit cards

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

Highlights

  • 1.95% p.a. for 6 months on balance transfers (3% balance transfer fee applies). Reverts to cash advance rate of 19.95% p.a.
  • Earn 2% Money-Back Rewards on your everyday purchases in two 2% Money-Back Categories of your choice, and 0.50% Money-Back Rewards on all your other everyday purchases.
  • Get your Rewards deposited into your Tangerine Savings Account and get a 3rd 2% Money-Back Category.
  • No limit on the amount of Money-Back Rewards you can earn on your everyday purchases. Conditions apply.
Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card

Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card

Highlights

  • No annual fee for the first year, including supplementary cards ($120 and $50 p.a. respectively thereafter).
  • Earn cashback on groceries, recurring payments, gas and everything else.
  • Enjoy Visa Infinite Concierge Service.
HSBC + Rewards Mastercard

HSBC + Rewards Mastercard

Highlights

  • Earn 2 points for every $1 on eligible dining or entertainment purchases, earn 1 point for every $1 on all other everyday purchases.
  • Low interest rate of 11.9% p.a. on purchases, cash advances and balance transfers.
  • Comes with Insurance Coverage and Price Protection Service.
Tangerine World Mastercard

Tangerine World Mastercard

Highlights

  • 1.95% p.a. for 6 months on balance transfers (3% balance transfer fee applies). Reverts to cash advance rate of 19.95% p.a.
  • 2% Money-Back Rewards on purchases in two categories of your choice or deposit your Rewards into a Tangerine Savings Account and get a third 2% Money-Back Category.
  • No limit on the amount of Money-Back Rewards you can earn on your everyday purchases. Conditions apply.
Scotiabank SCENE Visa Card

Scotiabank SCENE Visa Card

Highlights

  • Earn 2,500 bonus SCENE points with your first $500 in everyday purchases in first 3 months.
  • No annual fee.
  • Earn 1 SCENE point for every $1 you spend on your everyday credit card purchases.
HSBC World Elite Mastercard

HSBC World Elite Mastercard

Highlights

  • Receive 20,000 welcome bonus points.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Earn 3% in travel rewards on all eligible travel purchases (6 points per $1) and 1.5% in travel rewards on all other eligible purchases (3 points per $1).
Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

Highlights

  • Earn 20,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points with your first $1,000 in everyday purchases in the first 3 months.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Make every day more rewarding with Amex Offers. With offers for shopping, dining, travel, and more, there’s something for everyone.
American Express Cobalt Card

American Express Cobalt Card

Highlights

  • Earn 5X the points on eligible eats & drinks, 2X the points on eligible travel & transit, 1 point per $1 spent on everything else.
  • Earn up to 30,000 Bonus Points in your first year as a new Cobalt Cardmember. You can earn 2,500 Membership Rewards points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $500 in purchases on your Card.
  • Enjoy perks, bonus rewards and access to great events as an American Express Cobalt Cardmember.
American Express Gold Rewards Card

American Express Gold Rewards Card

Highlights

  • Earn 2 points for every $1 in Card purchases for eligible travel purchases, gas stations, grocery stores and drugstores. Earn 1 point for every $1 in Card purchases everywhere else.
  • Earn 1 additional Membership Rewards point for every $1 charged to your Card on eligible hotel or car rental bookings made with American Express Travel.
  • Enjoy Travel-Related and Shopping Insurance Coverage.

Bank promo

  • Earn a Welcome Bonus of 25,000 Membership Rewards points when you charge $1,500 in purchases to your Card in your first 3 months of Cardmembership.
American Express Platinum Card

American Express Platinum Card

Highlights

  • Earn 3 points for every $1 in Card purchases on eligible dining in Canada, 2 points for every $1 in Card purchases on eligible travel, and 1 point for every $1 in all other Card purchases.
  • Earn 1 additional Membership Rewards point for every $1 charged to your Card on eligible hotel or car rental bookings made with American Express Travel.
  • Enjoy Travel-Related and Shopping Insurance Coverage.

Bank promo

  • Earn a Welcome Bonus of 25,000 Membership Rewards points when you charge $1,500 in purchases to your Card in your first 3 months of card membership.
Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card

Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card

Highlights

  • Earn 5 Marriott Bonvoy points for every $1 of eligible Marriott Bonvoy purchases and 2 points on other eligible purchases.
  • Receive complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status with an automatic upgrade to Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status when you reach $30,000 in purchases charged to the Card each year, including 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.
  • Enjoy Travel-Related and Shopping Insurance Coverage.

Bank promo

  • Earn a Welcome Bonus of 25,000 Membership Rewards points when you charge $1,500 in purchases to your Card in your first 3 months of card membership.
HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

Highlights

  • Receive 20,000 welcome bonus points.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Earn 3% in travel rewards on all eligible travel purchases (6 points per $1) and 1.5% in travel rewards on all other eligible purchases (3 points per $1).
  • Primary Cardholder Annual Fee: $149 (as an HSBC Premier client, the Account will be eligible for a $50 rebate of the annual fee).
SimplyCash Card from American Express

SimplyCash Card from American Express

Highlights

  • Earn 2.5% cashback on purchases (up to $150) for the first 3 months of card membership.
  • Earn 1.25% cashback on purchases when your Welcome Rate ends.
  • Enjoy Travel-Related and Shopping Insurance Coverage.

Bank promo

  • Earn 2.5% cashback in your first 3 months (up to $150 cashback)
HSBC Premier Mastercard

HSBC Premier Mastercard

Highlights

  • Receive 5,000 welcome bonus points when you choose HSBC Premier Rewards.
  • Receive $50 cashback when you choose HSBC Premier Cashback Rewards.
  • Enjoy access to a variety of travel, dining, shopping and entertainment offers around the world.
Refresh Secured Card

Refresh Secured Card

Highlights

  • Low annual fee of $12.95 p.a.
  • Get a credit limit starting at $200 up to $10,000. Secure your credit limit with a required deposit then build your credit by making the same everyday purchase you already make.
  • No credit check required.

Overview

Credit cards in Canada are far more than plastic rectangles that sit in your wallet. Each one can increase your buying power, earn cash back, let you pay off a big purchase over time, or help you get closer to your next vacation. It is all determined by your credit, your everyday spending habits, and your overall goals for your spending.

By definition, credit cards offer an open loan from a bank or lender, which you can use to pay for goods or services. But they can also offer a lot of opportunity for responsible senders, or potential problems for those with less discipline. Here's everything you need to know when you compare credit cards in Canada.

What are the main credit card types?

There are six main credit card types everyone should be aware of. It's important to compare credit cards based on their differences within each of these categories:

  • Promotional interest credit cards: Also known as "0% purchase credit cards," promotional interest credit cards offer a promotional rate for a purchase, over a period of time - usually 24 to 36 months. If you don't pay off the balance before the promotional period is over, you may be charged interest on the whole purchase.
  • Balance transfer credit cards: Balance transfer credit cards offer a promotional low interest rate to move a balance from one card to another. The balance transfer rate is only for a limited time - after which, the remaining balance left over will accrue interest at the card's regular rate.
  • Rewards credit cards: Rewards credit cards offer points or cash back for your everyday spending, but often come with an annual fee. While you will get rewards every time you use it, these cards usually offer bonus categories, giving you even more returns at certain types of retailers.
  • Airline and hotel credit cards: As their name suggests, these cards offer travel rewards in the form of airline frequent flyer miles, or hotel points. While these cards often come with an annual fee and higher interest rate, it's possible to earn back the fees by using your points for travel rewards aboard airlines or free hotel rooms. This type of card often have a sign up bonus.
  • Low interest credit cards: For those who are looking to pay off a big purchase over time, low interest credit cards offer a reduced rate over time. These cards may come with an annual fee, but can be negated in the payment for your savings.
  • No annual fee credit cards: No annual fee credit cards have $0 in yearly fees, but often do not come with a high credit limit, or any rewards. No annual fee credit cards are great for those who are building their credit, or rebuilding their file after a bankruptcy or period of bad credit.
  • Credit builder credit cards: If you have damaged your credit score or if you haven't got a credit history at all, then you can use a credit card to build your credit rating over time. Also available for people with bad credit.
  • Secured credit cards: A secured credit card works just like any other credit card except you will have to make a cash deposit before you can use the card. The amount deposited is typically the same as your maximum credit limit. Secured cards are an alternative to a credit building credit cards in that they can also help establish a positive credit history.

There are also credit cards aimed at different types of people.

  • Immigrants: Unfortunately your credit report does not migrate with you, so recent immigrants to Canada have a more limited range of credit cards available to them.
  • Pensioners: Income is an important part of the eligibility criteria for most banks. Since pensioners may have income from disparate sources other than employment, they may not be automatically eligible for some offers.
  • Self-employed: These cards are tailored to smaller businesses and typically offer an attractive combination of interest-free days and rewards. However, as ever, be aware that the value of any rewards earned by funnelling capital expenses through a card are quickly negated by interest incurred if the balance rolls over.
  • Students: Even though they may not have an established credit history or income, students can still get a credit card. These are typically entry level cards with a low credit limit that offer very little by way of rewards, but they are useful in that you can start building a credit history.

How do I compare credit card offers?

Based on your overall goals, it's easy to compare credit cards and get the perfect option for your needs. It all depends on what you want to achieve, and what types of credit card rewards you value the most.

The first step is to understand and evaluate your credit score. Higher credit scores are needed to qualify for the best credit cards in Canada. If you don't have a good credit history, you mat not necessarily get approved for the best options.

Next, determine what kind of rewards best for you. Benefits range from points that can be exchanged for travel or merchandise, to cash back that let you erase portions of your balance. Instead of applying for the biggest rewards credit cards, determine which ones will help you get closer to what you want most.

Finally, it's important to read all the fine print, and make credit card comparisons based on the interest rate and annual fee. If you won't use the rewards, or get the value from the annual fee through using rewards, it doesn't make sense to apply for that credit card.

Credit card repayment

Every month you spend on your credit card, your bank will require you to make a payment on your balance. You can choose to make the minimum payment (between 2% and 2.5% of your current balance, or a fixed amount per month), up to the entire balance. Although you have options, it's important to know that you are responsible for paying interest on any remaining balance.

Credit card interest charges

Interest charges are what the bank adds to your credit balances. Depending on the credit card you have, your interest rate can be as low as 8%, all the way up to 25% and beyond. This additional charge is added to your balance every month, until your credit card balance is paid off entirely.

The best way to use a credit card is to make purchases on it, and pay off the credit card balance in full every month. This strategy helps you maximize your credit card rewards, without paying additional fees to the bank — effectively giving you free points, miles, or cash back.

Credit card cash advances

Depending on which credit cards you have, you may be able to borrow cash against your balance. Credit card cash advances are limited by your card, and often come with a high interest rate.

While withdrawing cash from your card can be an easy way to get money to cover an emergency, a cash advance can be costly if not paid off immediately. Interest on cash advances are charged until the money is paid back, even if you don't have a balance on your card.

Credit card limit

Every credit card has a balance limit. Your limit is determine by your credit score, credit history, and the bank. Credit limits can range between $500 and $100,000, depending on the type of card and the bank.

Once you reach your credit card limit through spending and not paying it down, you will not be allowed to spend any more money until some of the balance is paid.

With years of responsible use, you can request your bank extend your credit limit. If you have a good credit report, you may be able to extend your credit card limit with a simple request.

Credit card annual fees

Depending on the credit card you apply for, it may come with an annual fee. Rewards credit cards, travel rewards cards and cash back cards often come with an annual fee: a sum charged yearly to your card for keeping the account open. Fees can range anywhere from $30 to $500 or more.

If your rewards credit cards come with an annual fee, it's important to make sure your rewards balance out every year. When your rewards credit card doesn't pay for the annual fee, you are paying the bank money to keep your card open.

Learn more about credit cards

Expert insight into how credit cards work and how you can maximize their benefits.

  • Pros & cons

  • Tips

  • FAQs

Accepted almost everywhere

Second only to cash, credit cards are almost universally accepted – even when you travel. When you are abroad, your credit cards are often more welcome than traveller's cheques, and come with fewer expenses than getting local cash from an ATM.

Build your credit score

As you use credit cards in Canada responsibly, your credit score will grow and provide positive reports on your credit history. In turn, this can help you qualify for the best credit cards, or even bigger credit limits over time.

Earn rewards with every purchase

Rewards credit cards help you earn points, miles, or hotel credits with every spend. The best credit card for your goals and lifestyle can help you save money, or get closer to your next flight at a cheap price.

Easy way to borrow money

Credit cards are effectively easy loans that let you borrow the bank's money at any time, without worrying about re-applying every time you want to make a purchase. If you pay back the balance every month, it can quickly turn into free travel rewards, or a very low-cost loan.

Easy way to get into debt

Although credit cards can earn rewards and bonuses, they are also an easy way to get into debt. If you can't pay the balance every month, you could be forced to pay high monthly bills and interest rates on what you hold over every month.

Safer than carrying cash

While cash can be stolen and gone forever, credit cards can be cancelled and replaced if they are lost or stolen. Even if you are abroad, your bank may be able to issue you a new card within days.

Spending money you may not have

If you don't budget wisely, spending on your credit card may result in overextending your paycheque every month. This results in credit card bills you may not be able to afford over time, or even bankruptcy.

Track your spending across categories

Many of the best credit cards offer you the opportunity to see how you are using your money, and even let you track your credit score. In turn, your credit card can help you make better decisions about using and saving cash.

Be aware of foreign transaction fees

Although credit cards are often accepted around the world, you may be paying foreign transaction fees when you spend outside of your home country. Foreign transaction fees can add between 1% and 2.5% to your purchases, which is ultimately added to your purchase price.

Be careful of how many cards you apply for

While having multiple credit cards can help build your credit history, applying for too many can create problems over time. Applying for many different cards over a period of two years can hurt your credit score, ultimately reducing your chances of getting the best credit card benefits.

Make the most out of your card

No matter what type of card you have – rewards credit card, low interest credit card, or balance transfer credit card – be sure to know all the terms and conditions. Rewards cards can earn extra points or bonuses when you spend in the right category, while balance transfer cards help you pay off debt at low interest rates over a period of time. The best credit card may also offer fringe benefits, including hotel status or travel insurance.

Maximize rewards for your lifestyle

The best credit card for your lifestyle will give you usable rewards everywhere you go. As you compare, be sure that you can spend enough every year to earn substantial rewards, along with value that exceeds the cost of the annual fee.

Protect yourself against credit card fraud

Holding multiple credit cards can open you up to credit card fraud. When somebody uses your card without your knowledge or approval, you could be forced to pay the bill if you don't notice it in time. Be sure to check your credit card statement monthly, and be sure to report any fraudulent charges immediately.

Use all the benefits from your premium card

Top-tier credit cards often offer a number of ancillary benefits you may not be aware of. From rental car bonuses, hotel chain elite status, and faster boarding aboard airlines, be sure you use all the benefits to get back the cost of your annual fee.

Are there risks of adding an authorized user?

The biggest risk of adding an authorized user is that they are not responsible for paying off the balance. As a result, you may be required to pay for the authorized user, even if they can't pay it off themselves.

Can I get a credit card if I have a low or no credit score?

It's possible to get a credit card if you have a low credit score or no credit score, but your options will be limited. If you are building or rebuilding your credit report, you may be offered credit cards with no annual fee, or cards with a low credit limit and high interest rate. But as you use these cards responsibly by keeping a low balance and paying off as much of the balance as you can every month, you can build your credit and ultimately qualify for the best cards.

How does my credit score affect my odds of approval?

Your credit score plays a major part in your odds of approval. A high credit score is required to get the best credit cards which offer rewards and bonuses. If you don't have a high credit score, you may only qualify for cards with low credit limits, with annual fees, or with no rewards.

How do I add an authorized user to my account?

To add an authorized user, call your credit card bank and ask to add the person to your account. The bank may check their credit, and you may be asked to acknowledge an authorized user agreement.

How do I apply for a credit card?

Most credit card applications start online. After you compare credit card benefits and options, you can be taken to the bank's website to apply. You can also apply at your local bank branch. While most credit card application decisions can be made in minutes, the bank may take up to five business days to make a decision.

How do I compare credit card offers?

Based on your overall goals, it's easy to compare credit cards and get the perfect option for your needs. It all depends on what you want to achieve, and what types of credit card rewards you value the most.

The first step is to understand and evaluate your credit score. Higher credit scores are needed to qualify for the best credit cards in Canada. If you don't have a good credit history, you mat not necessarily get approved for the best options.

Next, determine what kind of rewards are best for you. Benefits range from points that can be exchanged for travel or merchandise, to cash back that lets you erase portions of your balance. Instead of applying for the biggest rewards credit cards, determine which ones will help you get closer to what you want most. If you are trying to pay off debt or are building your credit history, you may want a credit card with no annual fee, or a balance transfer credit card. The best credit card will offer you plenty of benefit over time.

Finally, it's important to read all the fine print, and make credit card comparisons based on the interest rate and annual fee. If you won't use the rewards, or get the value from the annual fee through using rewards, it doesn't make sense to apply for that credit card.

How is my credit affected if I miss a payment or pay late?

If you miss a payment or pay your bill late, your credit may be affected negatively. Credit card companies will report missed payments after 30 days, which hurts your report and lowers your credit score. If you miss more than one payment, you risk your credit card going into default, which is a major derogatory mark on your credit report.

What are the benefits of adding an authorized user?

Adding an authorized user can help you earn credit card rewards faster by combining your collective spending. Authorized users may also get some of the benefits of using the card, including travel insurance.

What is a credit card authorized user?

A credit card authorized user is one of more people you authorize to use your account. They will get their own credit card, but may share the same number as yours.

What is a joint credit card account?

Like a joint bank account, a joint credit card is a credit account offered to two holders. Both people are equally responsible for paying off the balance, and can share the rewards together. However, joint credit card accounts have become less and less popular, as banks move to add authorized users instead.

What is Annual Percentage Rate (APR)?

The annual percentage rate (APR) is the interest rate you will pay on your credit card. APR is determined by the bank, and is determined by your credit score and credit history.

Credit cards can have multiple APRs, depending on the type. For instance: a balance transfer credit card may offer a promotional APR for the balance you roll over, while having a separate APR for new purchases.

Will my APR change over time?

Your APR may change over time, based on the type of card you have. Variable rate credit cards will change your APR over time, based on multiple factors. On the other hand, a fixed-rate credit card won't change interest rates.