Best Credit Cards in Canada 2021

Best Credit Cards in Canada 2021

Written by Priyanka Correia
Fact-checked by Caitlin Wood
Last Updated October 6, 2021

Credit Cards are one of the first credit products consumers will use in their lifetime. While they make for a great introductory product to the credit world, they’re also valuable products that can provide lucrative benefits based on your needs and lifestyle. Whether you’re looking for a lower interest rate, no annual fee, travel rewards, cash back, or to build credit, there is a credit card out there that will meet your needs. 

With the endless choices available to Canadians, choosing a credit card that fits your needs and lifestyle can be overwhelming. As such, we’ve compiled some of the best credit cards out there based on certain categories including travel, business, Aeroplan points, and cash back. Find out which credit card offers the best welcome bonus, rewards and value. 

How Do I Pick the Best Credit Card For Me?

  • Credit Card Category – When choosing a credit card, one of the first things you should figure out is what you want from your credit card. Do you want to build credit? Do you want cash back? Do you want point flexibility, so that you can choose how to use your points? Once you get a broader understanding of what kind of credit card you want, you can hone in on the details. 
  • Annual Fee – Do the benefits outweigh the cost of your card? If you have an annual fee of $200 with a cash back rate of 1% to 2%, how much money will you have to spend before your benefits cover your costs? In this example, you’d have to spend between $10,000 to $20,000 a year to get $200 back in cash. If your yearly spending doesn’t exceed this amount, you’d be better off getting a different credit card that either has a lower annual fee or a higher cash back or points system.
  • Points and Perks – Where you can earn points is just as important as how many points you can earn. Choose a credit card that offers the most points on purchases you make the most often. Also, take into consideration what kind of perks your card offers. For example, while many travel credit cards offer travel insurance, check what’s included, some may offer medical, trip cancellation and baggage protection as well. 
  • Welcome Offer – Many credit card issuers will offer welcome bonuses that can easily equal to a couple of hundred dollars. 

What Is The Best Travel Credit Card? 

Scotia Passport Visa Infinite (1)

Scotia Passport Visa Infinite

With an affordable annual fee of $139 and a $300 dollar welcome bonus that’s easy to achieve, the Scotia Passport Visa Infinite shines through among the best travel credit cards. It also has a decent points system that will garner you 2 points per dollar on common purchases including gas, groceries, pharmacies, restaurants, transportation, and entertainment purchases. All other purchases made on the card will give you 1 point on the dollar. Moreover, it includes travel insurance, six free airport lounge visits and no foreign transaction fees.

The Scotia Passport Visa Infinite also offers flexibility when it comes to redeeming your points. You can not only use it to make travel-related expenses, but you can also use it to purchase merchandise, prepaid cards, gift cards, or to pay down your credit card. Last but not least, you can convert your points to  SCENE points which you can redeem at Cineplex for movies and snacks.

What Is The Best Business Credit Card?

Amex Business Gold

Amex Business Gold

The Amex Business Gold is a charge card with an annual fee of $250. This may seem like a hefty fee, but its features make up for it. For one, when you choose an Amex Business Gold you’ll be rewarded 30,000 Membership Reward points, which is valued at approximately $300 dollars. The card also offers you 1 point per dollar on any purchase made on your card, with limited restrictions, earning points becomes fast and easy. You can also earn an extra point per dollar when you use any 3 suppliers from American Express’ list of merchants in Canada. 

If flexibility and variety are important to you, Amex Business Gold is the way to go as you can not only redeem your points for credit, travel, retail or merchandise, but you can also convert your points to other frequent flyer and loyalty programs you may be a member of. In addition, Amex Business Gold protects you with its comprehensive insurance coverage. It includes travel protection, purchase protection and employee card abuse protection. 

What Is The Best Aeroplan Credit Card?

Amex Personal Gold

Amex Personal Gold

At 2 points per dollar spent, Amex Personal Gold provides more points per dollar on grocery, gas, pharmacy, and travel expenses than most cards. All other purchases will earn you 1 point for every dollar spent. Moreover, when you select Amex Personal Gold you can earn a welcome bonus of 25,000 Membership points which is valued at approximately $250 dollars.

While Amex Personal Gold doesn’t directly earn you Aeroplan points, it does allow you to transfer your points to any participating Frequent Flyer Program including Aeroplanes at a rate of 1:1. With such redemption flexibility, you can redeem your points with little limitations. You can also take advantage of Amex’s Fixed Points Travel Program which covers a base price for a fixed amount of points. When you travel, you’ll also have peace of mind with Amex’s comprehensive travel and shopping insurance.

What Is The Best Cash Back Credit Card?

Tangerine Money-Back

Tangerine Money-Back

With a no-nonsense attitude, Tangerine’s Money-Back credit card doesn’t provide a huge welcome bonus. Instead, it provides users with a balanced credit card that gives back great value. It has no annual fee and has a cash back earn rate of 2% on any two spending categories of your choice. If you open a savings account with them you could add a third category. All other purchases will earn you 0.5% cash back. It also comes with purchase insurance and a balance transfer rate of 1.95% which is valid for 6 months if you transfer your balance within 30 days of owning the card. 

Credit Card Overview

Best For Annual FeeAPRCash Advance RateWelcome Bonus
Scotia Passport Visa InfiniteTravel$13919.99%22.99%30,000 Scotia Reward points
Amex Business GoldBusiness$25030%30,000 Membership Reward Points
Amex Personal GoldAeroplan points$15030%25,000 Membership Reward points 
Tangerine Money-BackCash back$019.95%19.95%1.95% balance transfer interest for 6 months

Factors Lenders Consider When Approving Credit Card Applicants

When you apply for a credit card there are a number of factors an issuer will consider before approving you. Below, we’ve listed the most common requirements a lender will examine. 

  • Income –  Often your credit card issuer will have an income requirement you must meet in order to be eligible for the card. The amount itself is dependent on the issuer and the type of card you are applying for. The higher-level card you apply for the more it will cost, in general, the income requirement can easily range from $0 to $150,000 a year. 
  • Credit score – Once again, like the income requirement, the credit score required for a particular credit card is dependent on the issuer and card you apply for. The more prestigious the card the higher your credit score will need to be. 
  • Residence – Most issuers will require you to be a permanent resident of Canada in order to be eligible for a credit card. That means temporary foreign students or workers cannot qualify for a credit card. 
  • Age – By law, you must be at least the age of majority within your province or territory to qualify for a credit card. 
  • Business – Though it may seem obvious, if you are applying for a business credit card, you will need to be an owner of a business to apply. 

Credit Card FAQs

What’s better? A Visa card, a Mastercard or an Amex credit card? 

Choosing a card based on its network won’t help you discover a card that offers the best value.  It’s best to focus on the card features such as the annual fee, points, rewards, perks, and welcome bonuses it offers. However, it’s worth mentioning that unlike Visas and Mastercards, Amex is not as widely accepted. 

Which low-income credit card is good for me?

If you have a low income, a credit card with no annual fee may be the best credit card for you. However, there are many no annual fee credit cards, to see which one best suits you, check out the benefits and perks 

Will applying for a credit card affect my credit?

Yes, when you apply for a credit card, it is usually followed by a hard inquiry which will affect your credit score. However, such inquiries result in a small hit to your credit score and should bounce back quickly. 

Priyanka is a personal finance expert at Loans Canada. She is passionate about money management and educating Canadian consumers about how to take control of their financial lives. She has taken financial control of her life by using Mint to budget and track her expenses while growing her wealth by investing through Wealthsimple. She also believes in having an emergency fund, so she keeps a good sum of money in an easily accessible high-interest savings account. She also uses the American Express Cobalt Card to earn points on all her purchases, further fueling her savings goal. She also uses Loans Canada’s lender directory whenever she wants to compare rates from different lenders.

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