Best Rewards Credit Cards in Canada for 2019
Credit cards don’t exist solely to help you spend money. If you choose the right one for your lifestyle, you can earn just by doing your regular shopping. The key is to choose a credit card with a solid and worthwhile rewards program that suits you.
Best Canadian Credit Cards for Rewards
|Credit Card||Best For|
|BMO® World Elite®* Mastercard®*||Best Rewards Credit Card for Everyday Purchases|
|American Express CobaltTM||Best Rewards Credit Card for Restaurants|
|Scotiabank SCENE Visa||Best Rewards Credit Card for Students|
|TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite||Best Aeroplan Rewards Credit Card|
|BMO® AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®*||Best Air Miles Rewards Credit Card|
|Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card||Best Hotel Rewards Credit Card|
|Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card||Best Travel Rewards Credit Card|
|MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard®||Best Base Rewards Earn Rate Credit Card
|PC Financial World Elite Mastercard||Best Store Rewards Credit Cards|
Best Everyday Reward Credit Cards
BMO World Elite Mastercard
– Credit score required: good_excellent
– Min personal income required: $80000
– Annual fees: $150
The BMO Rewards World Elite Mastercard offers a nice mix of features for cardholders who spend on travel and expect higher-end travel perks, without compromising their points redemption flexibility. Its accelerated model for collecting rewards earns 3 points per $1 spent on travel, dining, and entertainment, and then 2 points per $1 spent elsewhere. This translates to about a 2.1% and 1.4% return rate respectively per our Loyalty Program Bible, and these rewards can be spent on travel (logically), merchandise, gift cards, cash back, and more. You’ll also get 35,000 points as a bonus for spending $3,000 in your first 3 months, plus a $150 annual fee waiver.
With a bonus value of $400 not including all the points you’ll earn on everyday spending, the BMO World Elite card is a lucrative choice in its first year, and travellers stand to get much more value by keeping it in their wallets beyond year one. This is due to its strong travel insurance (for emergency medical, trip interruption and cancellation, rental cars etc.) and its free membership to LoungeKey by Mastercard. This latter perk provides cardholders with 4 complimentary lounge passes yearly, allowing frequent travellers and guests to spend their layovers in the lap of luxury at no extra cost.
Click here to apply to the BMO World Elite Mastercard
Best Rewards Credit Card for Restaurants
American Express CobaltTM
The American Express CobaltTM is the best rewards credit card in Canada for foodies and bon vivants. You earn a giant 5 points per $1 spent on eating out in restaurants or bars, as well as on food delivery, and even on your grocery bills.
The 2 points per $1 spent on travel—which includes hotel stays, gas, and ground transportation—make it a diverse card as well. All other purchases earn 1 point per $1. Receiving up to 30000 points as a welcome bonus is obviously another major plus (minimum spend required, terms and conditions are subject to change).
Points earned can be redeemed on flights, concerts and events, Amazon.ca purchases, etc. Or they can be redeemed for statement credit.
American Express CobaltTM users also receive great insurance on all of their travel and merchandise purchased with the card, and free supplementary cards can help accumulate points faster.
Best Rewards Credit Card for Students
Scotiabank SCENE Visa
The Scotia SCENE is a good fit for true movie buffs. You’ll earn 5 points for each dollar spent in Cineplex Odeon cinemas and 1 point on every $1 spent anywhere else. There’s a welcome bonus of 2500 points, which is equivalent to 2 free movie tickets (accounts must be opened by date included in the terms and conditions; please click on the link below).
What makes this rewards structure worthwhile is that you only need 1,000 points to earn a movie ticket. Given that a movie ticket + popcorn costs about $17 or so, you’ll be earning one free ticket for every 10-12 cinema visits, even if you don’t use your card anywhere else. Other reward redemption options like music also begin at 1,000 points.
The Scotiabank SCENE card has $0 annual fee, and the qualifying income level is low, making it one of the best reward credit cards in Canada for students.
Best Aeroplan Rewards Credit Card
TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite
This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For Quebec residents, please click here.
Credit cards like the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite card are designed to help loyal Air Canada travellers save on their upcoming vacations or business trips, by steadily and reliably collecting Aeroplan miles from all their spending. Not only will the Aeroplan® Infinite grant an impressive 40000-mile bonus (15,000 Miles after a first purchase; 2X Aeroplan Miles on eligible Purchases in the first three months up to a total of 20,000 Miles and another 5,000 Aeroplan Miles when you add an authorized user before December 1, 2019), it will also accrue 1.5 Aeroplan miles for every single dollar spent on a wide variety of categories: groceries, gas, drugstore purchases, and anything off aircanada.com. Cardholders will also earn 1 Aeroplan mile for every dollar spent elsewhere, ensuring a constant flow of travel rewards.
The card’s $120 annual fee is justified, considering that in addition to the opportunity to earn Aeroplan miles, cardholders will also be covered with a comprehensive insurance package that includes travel medical, trip cancellation and interruption, trip or flight delay, delayed or lost baggage, rental car collision and damage, and common carrier accident. Other benefits are activated when the cardholder flies with Air Canada, such as complimentary checked bags, priority check-in and boarding, and a free one-time entry to the Air Canada Maple Leaf lounge. Finally, we also appreciate the card’s ability to obtain discounts at any worldwide Avis or Budget rental car location.
Keep in mind that the minimum annual income for an eligible individual is $60,000 (or $100,000 for households). Those with even higher incomes might consider the card’s premium sibling, the Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege card, which comes with many of the same bonuses but in greater quantities (faster earnings, more lounge passes, and even a 50% discount on an Air Canada companion flight).
Best Air Miles Rewards Credit Card
BMO® AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®*
BMO Air Miles World Elite‘s regular earn rate—1 Air Mile per $10 spent—is simple and transparent enough, but what’s better is that there’s a 15% discount on all Air Miles flights in North America with no blackout periods.
As a welcome bonus, you can receive up to 3000 Air Miles, and your first year’s annual fee waived. With a flight from Canada to Cancun costing just 5,000 Air Miles, it won’t take too long before you’re jetting off.
Best Hotel Rewards Credit Cards
Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card
One of the credit card rewards most appreciated by travellers is the ability to stay overnight at nice hotels for free, and the Marriott Bonvoy Amex is one of the best Canadian cards for accommodating that. With an introductory bonus of 50,000 Bonvoy points, you’ll earn enough for 3 free nights after spending $1,500 in your first 3 months, plus another Annual Free Night Award on each anniversary. That doesn’t include the Bonvoy points that constantly collect from all purchases, at a rate of 2 for every $1 spent. When making purchases at Bonvoy properties (there’s over 7,000 of them worldwide), you earn points at an accelerated rate of 5 for every $1 spent.
The card has an annual fee of $120, but it also brings the superior travel perks to justify it—on top of the other features described above. Cardholders will also enjoy automatic Bonvoy Silver Elite Status (for free upgrades, Wi-Fi, and other perks where available), plus 15 Elite Night Credits to put toward an upgrade to Gold Elite Status (which occurs annually once the cardholder spends $30,000). A nice flexible use of Bonvoy points is that they’re transferrable to a variety of frequent flier programs, and on any trip, the card offers protection via car rental insurance, plus coverage for flight and baggage delays, lost and stolen items and more.
Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards
Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card
The Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card occupies the opportune middle ground between cards that earn rewards and offer perks, and those that reduce/eliminate expenses derived from fees. Being the best of both worlds means that Passport Visa cardholders earns Scotia Rewards points, offers of the most valuable travel benefits, and is exempt from the fees that accrue from purchases made in a foreign currency.
Cardholders are introduced to the card with a bonus of 35000 points, which is awarded for just a conditions apply. In the meantime, they’ll earn 2 points per $1 spent on groceries, dining, and entertainment expenses, and 1 point per $1 spent elsewhere. Points are redeemable on travel arrangements, merchandise, and more. Besides 0 foreign transaction fees, the card’s other travel perks includes access to Priority Pass lounges at airports worldwide, with 6 free entry passes.
To top it off, everyone can appreciate protection with travel medical insurance, trip cancellation and interruption coverage, and remediation for damage to their rental car. It’s easy to see why the Passport Visa is more than worth its $139 annual fee.
Best Base Rewards Earn Rate Credit Card
MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard®
– Credit score required: fair_good
– Min personal income required: $80000
– Annual fees: $120
– This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For residents of Quebec, please click here
A comprehensive rewards program offers bulk value in many ways, and MBNA is no exception, as it allows participants to redeem rewards points for exclusive travel and accommodations, brand name merchandise and electronics, gift cards to countless stores, cash credits, and more. The bank’s Rewards World Elite card is an access point to this lucrative rewards ecosystem and offers a best-in-class base/flat earn rate of 2 rewards points for every $1 spent (on eligible purchases). Moreover, new cardholders can earn an extra 15,000 points just for making an initial purchase (5,000 + 10,000 limited time offer), and another 5,000 after enrolling for e-statements—both within the first 90 days. Per our Loyalty Bible that’s a value of between $166-$200, depending on how the points are redeemed.
The card also provides some excellent insurance features, like coverage for common carrier accidental death and dismemberment, rental vehicle damage and collision, and loss of personal effects. Shoppers will appreciate the addition of extra purchase assurance, covering new items for 90 days against damage and theft, plus up to an extra year of extended warranty benefits. Finally, price protection is a rarity in the marketplace and allows the cardholder to request refunds on new items they’ve purchased within 60 days, if they see the same product advertised for less elsewhere. All in all, the MBNA Rewards World Elite card represents one of the fastest ways to earn for rewards-conscious Canadians.
The individual income requirement for the Rewards World Elite is $80,000, or $150,000 for a household.
Best Store Rewards Credit Cards
PC Financial World Elite Mastercard
When you compare rewards credit cards in Canada—particularly those with no annual fee—you’ll find that few cards offer a meaningful points rate outside of the promo period. With the PC Financial World Elite Mastercard, you earn 45 points per $1 spent at stores like Loblaws, Shoppers Drug Mart, Pharmaprix, pctravel.ca, and PC mobile. For families and shoppers who regularly shop in these stores, this might be worthwhile, particularly because the card comes with $0 annual fee.
Redeeming your points is refreshingly simple. Once you’ve earned 0 or more, all you need to do is present your credit card to the cashier when you go to pay and ask him/her to take $20 (or more) off your grocery bill. Since you get the money directly off your grocery bill, we consider it to be a ‘cash equivalent’ credit card.
It should be noted that a PC Optimum point is worth relatively little compared to, say, offerings from cash back cards with accelerated earn rates for groceries. 1 PC Optimum Point = $0.001 redeemable at one of the aforementioned grocery stores; this might end up being less valuable than, say, a cash back card that earns 3% on all grocery spend. That said, the PC Financial card does come with an impressive array of insurance and extended warranty perks, so it might be more beneficial for some than a cash back card.
Summary of Best Rewards Credit Card in Canada
We’ve put together the below list to allow you to compare the different options available in Canada with greater ease.
|Credit Card||Reward Points Structure||Bonus||Annual Fees||Apply for Card|
|TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite||1.5 Aeroplan miles / $1 on groceries, gas, drugstore, and aircanada.com|
1 Aeroplan mile / $1 spent elsewhere
First year free
|BMO® World Elite®* Mastercard®*||3 BMO pts/$1 spent on eligible travel, dining and entertainment purchases|
2 BMO pts/$1 spent everywhere else
First year free
|American Express Cobalt™||5 pts/$1 on dining and grocery|
2 pts/$1 on travel
1 pt/$1 on the restaurants
|30000 pts||$120||Apply Now|
|Scotiabank SCENE Visa||5 pts/$1 on Cineplex Odeon movies|
1 pt/$1 on the rest
|2500 pts||$0||Apply Now|
|BMO® AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®*||1 Air Miles/$10 on purchases|
2 Air Miles/$10 at selected card dealerships
|2500 pts||$120||Apply Now|
|Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card||5 Marriott pts/$1 on all Marriott Bonvoy properties|
2 Marriott pts/$1 on all purchases
|50000 pts||$120||Apply Now|
|Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card||2 pts/$1 on grocery, dining, entertainment and daily transit|
1 pt/$1 on the rest
|35000 pts||$139||Apply Now|
|MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard®||2 pts / $1 on all eligible purchases||30000 pts||$120||Apply Now|
|PC Financial World Elite Mastercard||45 pts/$1 at selected drug stores |
10 pts/$1 on travel and Gas selected stores
10 pts/$1 Everywhere else
|0 pts||$0||Apply Now|
How To Choose The Best Rewards Credit Card
When trying to determine the best rewards card for you, consider your spending patterns. Your card should allow you to earn points when buying the items you would be purchasing anyway. For example, if you are a frequent traveler, then a hotel rewards card that earns extra points on hotel stays would be a smart choice. A large family would do best with a rewards card that earns points at the grocery store they shop at most frequently, while anyone who covers a lot of miles would benefit from a card that gives good rewards on gas.
Rewards Credit Cards – the Gifts That Keep on Giving
Canadians have some of the world’s best rewards credit cards to choose from, whether they want the immediate gratification of a big intro cash bonus, the chance to earn valuable rewards over time, or to make their travels more comfortable. While any of the highly-reviewed credit cards here would likely serve you well, it’s vital to find a rewards model that’s in sync with how you live your life. If you’re a bit overwhelmed, try inputting your personal criteria into our credit cards rewards calculator.
If you need a hand identifying your next credit card, drop us a line in the comments below or by email, and we’ll work hard to help you narrow down the available choices.
* This post was not sponsored. The views and opinions expressed in this review are purely my own.