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the Best Credit Cards Canada
26 Jun 2019

Identifying the Best Credit Cards Canada of 2019

Now that there are so many options to choose from, selecting a credit card to apply for might seem a bit daunting at times. Even with such a vast pool of possibilities, though, there are still some options that stick out more than others. We’ve put together this list of what we feel are the best credit cards Canada has to offer right now, and we’ve broken it into 4 broad categories to help you find cards that are relevant to you. Give it a look and see what you find – our next credit card might just be on this list.

Cards For Travellers

Travel rewards are probably the most common type reward card out there right now, so let’s start with them. The TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card is probably the best of the bunch for dedicated travelers. It gets you 3 TD points per dollar on the vast majority of your purchases, but that’s not the exciting part. You can triple that already good rate when you buy flight tickets or travel packages; you’ll be getting 9 TD points per dollar on travel purchases you’ve made through Expedia for TD. This means that if you regularly spend a good chunk of money on travel, your points-earning ability will be kicked into overdrive. It charges an annual fee of $120, but it also includes a full set of travel insurance (including emergency travel medical insurance) that more than compensates for that cost.

People with more specific intentions for their card might prefer the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card, a card which carries no foreign transaction fees when you make purchases in a different currency – perfect for those who indulge in a lot of shopping or luxury experiences while away. It will also net you 2 points per dollar on dining, entertainment, transit purchases, and groceries, as well as a single point on all other purchases, so you can expect to do fairly well with it points-wise. Its annual fee is even higher than the previous card at $139, but again, there is plenty of travel insurance included with this card that will make your life so much easier when you’re out to see the world. It even includes some luxury extras through the Visa Infinite program that the TD card doesn’t have, getting you things like exclusive airport lounge access and the chance to experience VIP dining and winery activities.

Both of those cards can be a bit hard to qualify for, though, and don’t necessarily give you the best rates on the things you’re buying every day. When that’s what you’re looking for, your answer is the Scotiabank Gold American Express card. At 4 points per dollar on gas, groceries, and entertainment and dining purchases and 1 point per dollar otherwise, it’s the best travel card you can get if you’re trying to accrue a respectable amount of rewards with a basic budget. You’ll still get 25 days of travel medical insurance included among the rest of your travel insurance benefits package, and at just $99 a year, the cost of having this card is lower too. It’s a great compromise option for people who aren’t quite ready for the other two best credit cards Canada but still want something good.

Cards For Savers

If you’d prefer to get a card that allows you to pay less in interest on your balance at the end of each billing period, you should be looking for one of the low-interest credit cards on our list of the best credit cards Canada. The very best you can get in Canada is the American Express Essential credit card – its 8.99% interest rate is unmatched by any other free card out there, and the lack of an annual fee is important when your explicit goal is saving money. That one can be a little tough to get ahold of, though, so some users might opt for the MBNA True Line Gold Mastercard instead. It offers the same 8.99% rate but charges a modest $39 fee to hold. Aside from those, the TD Emerald Visa offers a low flexible rate, but only the users with the best credit will get an offer anywhere close to these two other contenders. Unless you fail to get either of those, there’s no real need to look elsewhere. Either one can save you hundreds of dollars a year depending on how much you tend to carry as a balance and for how long, but you always want to go with as low a rate as you can get.

Cards For Cash Back

Arguably the most popular reward type of all within the best credit cards Canada, cash back cards are highly coveted because there is literally no one who cannot make use of cash rewards. You’ll get the most money coming back to you with the Meridian Visa Infinite Cash Back card, which gives you 4% cash back on gas and groceries, 2% at drug stores and on recurring bills, and 1% on all other purchases for a $99 annual fee. Those rates are excellent and are applied to common purchase categories, so most users will have no trouble scoring wads of cash just by using this card as they normally would. The fee, while not ideal, will easily be recouped in cash back earnings once you get going with it. However, like all Visa Infinite cards, the requirements can be a little steep for the average Canadian to meet.

Many people are going to be looking for something a bit more accessible, and in that case, the American Express SimplyCash Card might do the trick. It gets you 1.25% cash back on everything you buy, one of the better rates out there for cards that only offer a flat amount of money back for all purchase categories. You won’t get rick with this one, but your returns will be consistent and easily measurable, and you’ll never have to worry about whether or not you could have gotten more rewards if you had purchased a certain thing (or quantity of things) during each reward month. You might not be satisfied with getting just a few dozen dollars by the end of the year, though, and in that case, an upgrade might be in order. The Preferred version also exists and will get you 2% cash back on everything instead of just 1.25%, a significant increase in value. It does have a $99 annual fee attached which negates some of this added value, but the additional benefits you’ll get access to should help to make up for that. If you’re deciding based on rewards alone, make sure you calculate how much you stand to gain from the rate increase before you make your final decision.

Still not satisfied? There’s a more eccentric option available too that some people will find more lucrative than any other save the top-tier offerings that many cannot get. The Tangerine Money-Back Card allow you to earn 2% cash back on 3 categories that you choose yourself, alongside 0.5% back on all other purchases. Those 3 categories could be anything from the gas or groceries that many people like to see extra rewards on to more esoteric things like home improvement expenses or hotel and motel bills. With this card, you can tailor the bonus availability to the way you already spend your money, no matter what those patterns might look like. It’s very hard to find flexibility like that in any other card. While you’ll have to pick your categories carefully to get the most out of it or pair it with another card to cover as many categories as possible, you’re free to construct it however you want. The 2% rate that those categories will get you is also very high for a free card, which this is. Overall, it takes a bit more finesse to use this option successfully than the other cards on this list of the best credit cards Canada, but doing so can pay off tremendously if you’re committed to it.

Cards For Beginners

When you don’t have much of a credit history behind you, your preferences are going to come second to whether or not any one card will actually approve your application. You’re better off going for cards that advertise their friendliness to those with little credit than trying to apply for whatever suits you at the time, and for that, there’s no better solution than student cards. The BMO SPC Cards (there’s a cash back and an Air Miles option) are some of the premier offerings in this category, allowing young people to build up their credit, earn some fun rewards, and benefit from a huge range of discounts to boot. The free SPC membership alone is sure to save you a hefty sum if you shop at the retailers for which it gets you discounts.

Aside from that, they will also earn you 1% cash back or 1 Air Mile for every $20 you spend depending on which card variant you’re talking about. Either reward rate is pretty standard for this level of card in the Canadian marketplace, but obviously, you’ll need to decide which is more appealing to you. Most people will get more use out of the cash back version (cash is king, after all), but anyone who intends to travel a bit in the semi-near future or who wants to help defray the costs of visiting family who live far away might like the Air Miles card for that. It all comes down to personal choice.

You can only get those two cards if you’re a student, though, so what best credit cards Canada should a person who has long finished their education be looking at? Another pair of worthy contenders are the Scotiabank Scene Visa card and the CIBC Tim Hortons Double Double Visa card. These cards are also easy to get and provide consistent, modest rewards that serve as a great introduction to what credit cards can bring to your life. They’re not quite as widely enjoyed as cash back rewards, but they come as close to being so as pretty much any reward system ever will. Who doesn’t love the idea of free movies or coffee? That universality makes it hard for anyone to turn them down, and the Scene Visa, in particular, can actually generate a surprising amount of value if you are careful to always take advantage of bonus offers.

Remember: Every Card Is Perfect For Someone

While it’s possible to list the best credit cards Canada to some extent (we just did it!), it’s rare that any particular credit card is simply outclassed by another that you can get with the same income and credit profile. Usually, they will differentiate themselves by rewarding slightly different lifestyle habits or spending patterns from one to the next. The ones listed here fit what most people will prefer, but they are not the only options and they may not be what you personally would do best with. If a card sounds good to you but doesn’t feel quite right and you’re curious if there might be a better option for you, don’t hesitate to investigate and see if you’re right. You want to get the best credit card you can, and that means taking your own needs and feelings into account without following any list to the letter. You’re the only person who knows what a credit card needs to have to truly make you happy.

Applying For the Best Credit Cards Canada Can Be Done in Minutes

No matter which option on our list of best credit cards Canada most appeals to you, you can easily get it (provided you meet the requirements, of course!) through Bonsai Finance’s helpful online portal. There, you can look over credit card offerings from any of our partner lenders, each one different in its own way. You can quickly double check to make sure that the card you’re looking for is right for you, then fill out an application for it right there on the same site. It’s fast, easy, and simple enough for anyone to understand, and it’s the best way to make sure that you get a card that really works for you.