Cash back cards are the simplest types of credit card you can get. You make a purchase and get a percentage of that purchase back in the form of cash. You can spend that cash on anything you’d like, such as travel, daily purchases, or just paying back your card bill.
Cash back credit cards don’t offer as many perks, benefits, and insurance as travel and rewards card do. Most of them also don’t have any large welcome bonuses. However, they’re one of the most flexible types of credit cards when it comes to how you spend your rewards.
Every card offers different earn rates in specific categories of spending. The amount of cash back you get can greatly differ depending on your card, so it’s important to choose one that offers the most back for where you make the bulk of your daily purchases. For example, if you mainly spend your card for groceries, you want a card that offers the highest cash back rate for groceries.
We’ve listed the top Canadian cash back credit cards on the market today and listed them according to where you can get the most back depending on where you spend the most.
Best overall cash back credit card, biggest bonus
SimplyCash™ Preferred Card from American Express
on American Express' website
Welcome Offer: 10% cashback in your first 4 months (up to $400).
Earn Rate: Flat rate of 2% back on purchases when your welcome period ends.
Annual Fee: $99
Min. Income Required: $0
The SimplyCash™ Preferred Card from American Express is by far the best cash back credit card in Canada today. It comes with the highest welcome offer of 10% cashback for the first 4 months (up to $400), and the highest flat cash back earn rate of 2% back on all purchases after the welcome offer period ends (no limit on how much cash back you can earn).
Perks, benefits, insurance: The travel insurance offered by The SimplyCash Preferred Card is also really good compared to some of the other cash back cards. You can get $100,000 in travel accident insurance, $5 million coverage for emergency medical (for the first 15 days), flight and baggage delay, car rental theft and damage, and lost or stolen baggage insurance. You’ll also get access to American Express Invites, which gives you special access to shopping and entertainment offers, and front of the line access to promoted concerts, theatre productions, restaurants and special events.
Another great feature of this card is that it doesn’t have any minimum income requirements, making approval easier than other more premium cash back credit cards.
Best no-fee cash back credit card in Canada
SimplyCash™ Card from American Express
on American Express' website
Welcome Offer: 2.5% cashback in your first 3 months (up to $150 cashback).
Earn Rate: Flat rate of 1.25% back on purchases when your welcome period ends.
Annual Fee: $0
Min. Income Required: $0
The SimplyCash™ Card from American Express offers one of the best welcome offers and cash back earn rates for a no-fee cash back credit card. You’ll earn 2.5 cashback as a welcome offer (for the first 3 months and up to $150 in cashback). After that, you’ll earn a flat rate of 1.25% cashback on all purchases with no cap on how much cashback you can earn. There are no fees, and no minimum income requirements for this card.
Perks, benefits, insurance: This card offers decent insurance. You can get $100,000 in travel accident insurance, as well as some shopping insurance like buyer’s assurance protection and purchase protection. These are good to have if you’re buying more expensive, harder to replace items. You’ll have the option to make a balance transfer at the time of application with a promotional interest rate of 1.99% for 6 months.
Best for flexible cash back
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
on Tangerine's website
Welcome Offer: choose up to 3 categories and receive a 4% cash back on those for the first 3 months.
Earn Rate: 2% cash back on your selected categories, and 0.5% on everything else.
Annual Fee: $0
Min. Income Required: Personal $12,000
Cash back rate: The Tangerine Money-back Card offers a unique way to earn money back on your purchases. You’ll be able to pick and choose what you’d like to get the most cash back on, making this the most flexible cash back credit card. You can choose up to 3 categories and receive a 4% cash back on those for the first 3 months. After that, you’ll earn 2% on your selected categories, and 0.5% on everything else. And, there’s no limit on the amount of cash back you can earn on everyday purchases.
Perks, benefits, insurance: The Tangerine Money-back Card is strictly a cash back card, and doesn’t come with any benefits or travel insurance. However, it’s still one of the most popular cards in Canada because of its high earn rate in whatever categories you prefer, and no annual fees. Another interesting perk from this credit card is that if you have an owing balance on another credit card with a higher interest rate, you can transfer it to the Tangerine Money-Back card and pay a lower interest rate of 1.95% for up to 6 months. A balance fee of 1% of the amount transferred will apply.
Best cash back credit card with added travel perks
BMO CashBack® World Elite®* MasterCard®*
on BMO's website
Welcome Offer: 10% cash back in your first 3 months (up to $2,000 in total purchases) + first year fee waived (offer valid until Oct. 31, 2020)
Earn Rate: Get 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
Annual Fee: $120
Min. Income Required: $80,000 personal or $150,000 household
Cash back rate: For the first 3 months, the BMO CashBack® World Elite®* MasterCard®* offers an incredible 10% cash back on all purchases as a welcome bonus. After that, you get 1.5% cash back on all credit card purchases in all categories of purchases. The high flat cash back rate combined with the large welcome offer makes this the best all-around cash back credit card currently on the market.
Perks, benefits, insurance: Where this card shines is the perks and benefits when travelling. You get complimentary membership in Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey, as well as exceptional travel medical insurance with coverage up to 2 million dollars, 25% discount on car rentals, concierge service, and like the TD cash back card, this card offers a complimentary roadside assistance program.
Additional perks: Get benefits and special offers to popular apps and digital subscription services. Get access to over 1 million Wi-Fi hotspots around the world – all at no added cost, and no added fees or roaming charges.
Best for recurring bills and groceries
Scotia Momentum® Visa Infinite*
on Scotia Bank's website
Welcome Offer: 10% cash back on all purchases for first 3 months (up to $2,000). No annual fee in the first year.
Earn Rate: 4% cash back on grocery, recurring bills, and subscription purchases. 2% back on gas and daily transit, and 1% back on everything else.
Annual Fee: $120
Min. Income Required: Personal $60,000 or Household $100,000 or a minimum assets under management of $250,000.
Cash back rate: The Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite is one of the best all around cash back credit cards in Canada currently on the market. It’s perfect for people who make the majority of their card purchases on groceries, gas, drugstores, and recurring bills. It offers an impressive 4% cash back on groceries and recurring bill payments (the highest regular rate available), 2% on daily transit, gas, and drugstores, and 1% on everything else. Recurring bills also include Netflix and other streaming services, and daily transit also includes Uber. You’ll also receive the first year free, as the $99 annual fee is waved.
Perks, benefits, insurance: What pushes the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite to the top of our list is the additional perks, benefits, and insurance packages that the card comes with. When travelling, you, your spouse, and your children are covered for up to $1 million in emergency medical coverage for the first 15 days. If you need longer coverage, you also have the option to purchase an extension. You’ll also get access to 24/7 concierge service, and Visa Infinite experiences, which includes their hotel collection, and dining and wine country program.
Best for USD purchases
Rogers World Elite Mastercard
on Rogers Bank’s website
Welcome Offer: $25 in cash back.
Earn Rate: 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. 3% on purchases made in foreign currencies.
Annual Fee: $0
Min. Income Required: Personal $80,000 or Household $150,000
Cash back rate: With the Rogers World Elite Mastercard, you’ll earn 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. That number isn’t great compared to the other cards, but where this card shines is USD purchases. Instead of offering no FX fees, it actually gives you cash back. You get 3% cash back on all purchases made in USD. Once you factor in the 2.5% exchange fee, that means you’ll earn 0.5% cash back. Most credit cards don’t offer cash back for purchases in foreign currencies, so this card is great for travellers, and people who make a lot of online purchases in USD.
Welcome bonus: You get $25 in cash back when you make your first card purchase within 3 months of receiving your card.
Perks, benefits, insurance: The Rogers World Elite Mastercard doesn’t offer too much in terms of perks or benefits. The main attraction is the no annual fee, and cash back rate on foreign purchases. The card comes with basic travel assistance and insurance, but you’re only covered for the first 10 days.
Best for road side assistance benefits
TD Cash Back Visa Infinite Card
on TD Bank’s website
Welcome Offer: 10% Cash Back on all purchases for the first 3 months up to a total spend of $2,000 + First year fee waived.
Earn Rate: 3% cash back on eligible grocery, gas, drugstores and recurring bills. 1% back for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
Annual Fee: $120
Min. Income Required: Personal $60,000 or Household $100,000
Welcome offer: While this card doesn’t offer as high a cash back rate as the first two cards, it has one of the largest welcome bonuses of any other cash back card on the market. For the first 3 months of usage, you’ll get 10% cash back in all categories of spending, up to a total spend of $2000. Basically, you’ll get $200 back for your first $2000 spend with the card.
Cash back rate: While gas and grocery purchases are only 3% cash back, the TD Cash Back Visa Infinite Card also offers 3% cash back for recurring bill payments, which is a higher earn rate offered than most cash back cards in this category. On all other purchases, you’ll earn 1% back.
Perks, benefits, insurance: The TD Cash Back Visa Infinite Card also comes with TD Auto Club Assistance package. This is comparable to BCAA and covers you for road-side disasters such as dead battery, tire changes, gas delivery, $200 in towing, $200 in emergency transportation, and more. The travel insurance itself isn’t great as you only get travel medical and delayed or lost baggage insurance for the first 10 days, but if you’re someone who doesn’t fly a lot and prefers road trips, this card is a perfect fit.
What are cashback credit cards?
Cashback credit cards are easily the most flexible type of credit card on the market because when you spend money on the card, you’ll receive a reward in the form of cash. They are also the most easy to understand. For every dollar you spend on the card, you’ll receive a certain percentage of cashback.
For example, if you’re card offers 5% cashback and you buy $50 worth of gas, you’ll be able to redeem $2.50 just from doing an every-day action. And that money can add up quickly, making cashback credit cards very profitable for people who use them all the time.
Unlike other credit cards like travel credit cards that give you points and miles where you can be limited to where you can redeem, cashback credit cards give you one thing: cash, which you can spend anywhere you’d like.
All cashback credit cards offer different cashback percentages, annual fees, welcome bonuses, and minimum income requirements. And many cashback cards don’t only offer cashback, but also offer other benefits like travel insurance, auto insurance, and some special exclusive benefits. Some cashback credit cards even allow different cashback percentages for the different spending categories like gas, restaurants, and shopping.
Since they are all different, it’s important to pick and choose what kinds of rewards and benefits suit you most.
Are you looking for maximum cashback percentage and don’t care about benefits?
Do you go on long road trips and need benefits like auto insurance?
Do you value travel insurance from credit cards?
Are you looking for the lowest annual fee for the maximum amount of cashback?
Either way, it’s important to take your time when looking through all the different options.
Types of cash-back credit cards
Cashback credit cards come in three different types: flat rate, tiered, and rotating categories. These are basically just fancy terms to describe the different rewards structures.
Let’s take a look at them!
Flat rate cashback card
With the flat rate cashback card, you’ll receive the same percentage of cashback for everything, no matter the spending category. This structure could be helpful for you if you find yourself spending relatively equally through the categories and don’t want to deal with different percentages.
A good example of a card that offers this is the BMO Cashback World Elite. This card gives you a welcome bonus of 5% cashback for the first 3 months, and after that it’s 1.25% on all purchases, which is a good benchmark.
How can I maximize my cashback rewards with a flat rate cashback card?
There’s no specific strategy to maximize cashback for this kind of card other than just putting all your expenses on the card, then paying it off as you go. The nice thing about owning this kind of card is that you don’t need to worry about the different spending categories, as you get the same percentage of cashback all across.
Tiered cashback card
With the tiered cashback card, you’ll receive different cashaback percentages for certain categories.
For example, the card might offer 3% on groceries, 2% on gas, and 1% on everything else, which is the typical amount. This card would be helpful if you’re someone who spends big in certain categories like grocery shopping for the entire family, or commuting to work every day and fill up on gas often.
An example of a tiered cashback card is the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite. This let’s you have an impressive 4% Cashback on groceries and gas, 2% on drugstores and recurring bills, and 1% on everything else.
How can I maximize my cashback rewards with a tiered cashback card?
If the card offers 4% cashback on gas and groceries, use the card while spending in those categories. It’s likely that the card will offer 1% cashback on all other categories, so it might be a good idea to get another card that offers a higher cashback rate for all spending categories, perhaps a flat rate cashback card and use it in all the other categories.
Rotating categories cashback card
A rotating categories cashback card is similar to the tiered cashback card in which it allows you to have higher cashback in certain categories. There difference lies in the flexibility. With the rotating categories cashback card, you’ll be able to pick and choose which spending categories you want the higher percentages on. You can also change these categories monthly.
A great example of a tiered cashback card is the Tangerine Money-Back card, which allows you to choose 3 categories to receive 4% cashback on for the first 3 months, and 2% on your selected categories after that. This allows you to make maximum cashback of your preferred category for the first 3 months of owning the card, so plan your biggest purchases during this time period.
How can I maximize my cashback rewards with a rotating categories cashback card?
A great way to maximize your cashback is to pre-plan large purchases and change the category in advance so that when you make that huge purchase, you can get the most cashback out of it. You can also just set your high cashback percentages to categories that you know you spend the most in.