Best cash back credit card in Canada for 2020 award seal

As a whole, cash back credit cards are very straightforward. You buy things, you get cash back. Easy, right? Right!

If you're attracted to the simpler things in life, and prefer direct savings on the things you buy most, a cash back credit card is what you're looking for.

But not all cash back credit cards are created equal. With the best cash back cards on our list, you can rack up to 2% cash back on all purchases, whereas some of the lower end credit cards will only give you a 0.5% return.

This list goes over the best cash back credit cards in Canada.

6 best cash back credit cards

Here are some cash back credit cards you might want to consider.

Category Credit Card Current Welcome Bonus Offer
Best cash back credit card in Canada Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite 10% cash back for the first 3 months (terms)
Best flat rate cash back card Brim World Elite Mastercard Up to $500 on the first purchases at participating retailers (terms)
Best flat rate cash back credit card with no income requirements SimplyCash™ Preferred Card from American Express 10% cash back for the first 4 months (terms)
Best flexible rewards credit card for cash back Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card 25,000 points (terms)
Best cash back credit card for perks TD Cash Back Visa Infinite* Card 10% cash back for 3 months, annual fee rebated in the first year (terms)
Best premium cash back Mastercard with a lower annual fee BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard 10% cash back for 3 months, first year free (terms)

Compare the top 10 cash back credit cards.

1. Best cash back credit card in Canada

If you’re looking for the best cash back card in Canada, look no further than the .

You’ll find one of the highest average returns on spending with this Scotiabank cash back card, with:

  • 4% cash back rate on recurring bills and groceries (the highest available),
  • 2% cash back on gas and daily transit, and
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases.

As an example, if you spend $1,000 on groceries per month, you're looking at $40 in cash back, and if you spend $300 on bills, that's an additional $12. So, in one month, you'd earn $52 back in your pocket (which will be awarded every November for this card).

On top of a great return on spending, this card also comes with awesome benefits like solid insurance, 24/7 concierge service, and Visa Infinite experiences.

But what really makes this card stand out is the fact that Scotiabank will waive the annual fee for the first year – so you have a chance to fully try it out and see if the $120 annual fee makes sense for you and your spending habits.

2. Best flat rate cash back credit card

Want to keep things simple and get a cash back credit card with a high flat rate on every purchase? You may be interested in the , the best cash back Mastercard available.

You'll earn 2% cash back on every purchase on your first $25,000 in annual spend, and earn 1 point per $1 after that.

But there's more. Shop with Brim's 150+ retail partners, and you can earn anywhere from 3% all the way up to 30% cash back, depending on the retailer.

Plus with great Brim perks like their installment plans, no foreign exchange fee, free Boingo Wi-Fi, and a stunning 15 types of insurance, there's a lot to love with this card.

It does have a high annual fee of $199, but Brim makes it worth your while, especially for online shopping. And the first year is currently free, giving you the chance to try the card out.

3. Best flat rate cash back credit card with no income requirements

Want a flat rate cash back card but don't want an annual fee of $199? Don't meet the high income requirements of a World Elite Mastercard? The is your next best bet.

You'll earn a flat 2% cash back earn rate on every purchase, for a lower annual fee of $99. Plus, you'll earn 10% cash back in the first 4 months, on up to $4,000 in purchases.

As an added bonus, American Express cards have no minimum income requirements, making them easier to qualify for than many of the other best cash back cards on the market.

It also comes with a decent insurance package and free secondary cards.

4. Best flexible rewards credit card for cash back

You may be surprised to see this card on our list for best cash back credit cards, since it doesn't award you with straight cash back rewards, but the offers great cash rewards for your points.

This credit card made its way into our list by earning you:

  • 25,000 welcome bonus points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months,
  • 5 Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on groceries, restaurants, and entertainment purchases,
  • 3 Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on gas, transit, and select streaming services, and
  • 1 Scotia Rewards point for every $1 spent elsewhere.

Any spending done in the higher earn rate categories will give you a 4% return when redeemed for statement credits. So, if a lot of your spending falls under restaurants, groceries, and entertainment – this card is definitely one to consider.

If you decide to redeem for travel instead of statement credits, you're looking at an increased return of up to 5% on your spending.

You'll also be covered by a great insurance package which includes 11 different kinds of purchase and travel insurance.

5. Best cash back credit card for perks

One of the top cash back credit cards in Canada, the also offers a slew of great perks.

For starters, you'll get a welcome bonus earn rate of 10% on all purchases for the first 3 months, up to $2,000 spent.

This card also gives 3% cash back on all recurring bills charged to the card, as well as on all grocery and gas purchases.

For exclusive perks, this TD cash back credit card offers:

  • complimentary Deluxe TD Auto Club Membership roadside assistance service, (comparable to a CAA Plus membership, which can cost over $100 per year plus taxes),
  • emergency medical for people over 65,
  • access to 24/7 Visa Infinite Concierge service,
  • discounts at AVIS and Budget car rental locations, and
  • the ability to redeem your cash back rewards any time you want.

This card offers quite a bit for a $120 annual fee, which is also rebated for the first year.

6. Best premium cash back Mastercard with a lower annual fee

With the , not only are you getting a top-notch World Elite Mastercard, you’re getting it for a lower-than-average annual fee.

For only $120 per year, you’re getting all of the standard World Elite travel perks, 13 types of insurance coverage, complimentary roadside assistance (worth $69 a year), and an unlimited cash back rate of 1.5% on all purchases. And there are no spending caps or categories to worry about.

Additionally, this card has an introductory offer where you’ll earn a massive 10% cash back in your first 3 months (up to $2,000 spent), and you'll get your first year free. It's a top BMO cash back credit card.

3 benefits of cash back credit cards

So what are the benefits of a cash back card? There are 3 key benefits they offer over other types of cards.

1. Easy to understand rewards

The best thing about cash back cards are their easy to understand rewards.

You'll be earning cash back that, in most cases, is used towards paying your credit card bill at some point during the year. It's simple and easy to understand.

2. Guaranteed rewards value

With cash back credit cards, there's no complicated rewards program to navigate. Every dollar you spend on your credit card earns a set percentage back in cash.

You don't have to worry about what value you're going to get, it's all very straightforward. And you never have to worry about your rewards program devaluing itself, leaving your points worth less than before. You know what you're going to get for rewards from your cash back credit card.

3. Can include balance transfer offers

Outside of low interest credit cards, many of the best balance transfer offers are available on cash back credit cards.

In fact, our current top balance transfer is with the , which offers a balance transfer offer of 1.99% for the first 9 months.

Other cash back credit cards that include balance transfer offers are:

3 drawbacks to cash back credit cards

Cash back credit cards aren't perfect, however. Here are 3 drawbacks to the simplicity they offer.

1. Lower average rewards when compared to travel credit cards

The rewards aren't nearly as good with cash back credit cards when compared to travel.

Here's how our top 3 travel credit cards stack up in average return rate, compared to the top 3 cash back credit cards.

CashBack Vs Travel Credit Cards Average Rate of Return

The top 3 cash back cards just can't compete with the potential rewards offered by these 3 travel credit cards.

In fact, 9 of our top 10 travel credit cards offer better rewards than all 3 cash back cards.

2. Insurance packages aren't quite as good

Overall, insurance packages aren't quite as good on cash back credit cards when compared to their travel counterparts.

CashBack Vs Travel Credit Cards Insurance Value

And while it seems close, the average value of the cash back credit cards is skewed because it includes our top rated insurance credit card, the , and by having a travel credit card appear in the cash back list – the .

3. Lower perks value

The perks on cash back cards also don't compare to travel credit cards. The welcome bonuses are generally lower, and travel specific perks such as airport lounge access aren't available on as many cash back credit cards.

Here's how the top 10 travel and cash back cards compare in this regard.

CashBack Vs Travel Credit Cards Perks Value

How to apply for a cash back credit card

Before applying for a cash back credit card, there's a few things you'll need to keep in mind.

Your age and residency

To apply for any credit card in Canada, there are 2 basic requirements to meet. You have to:

  • be a Canadian resident, and
  • have reached the age of majority in your province or territory.

Your credit score

Next, you'll need to take stock of your credit score. For all of these credit cards, you'll need a score of at least 660 to be approved, and that requirement can be higher depending on the credit card.

You can learn about credit score requirements, and what it takes to be approved here.

Your personal or household income

Your personal or household income can also play a role.

For all credit cards issued by American Express, there are no income requirements to worry about.

If you're looking at a Visa Infinite or World Mastercard, you'll need either a personal income of $60,000 or $100,000 household to qualify.

For World Elite Mastercards, you'll need an income of $80,000 personal or $150,000 household.

For all other cards, there are either no income requirements, or a personal income requirement of up to $15,000 personal.

More about cash back credit cards

Need help deciding what type of cash back credit card to get?

Here are some things to keep in mind.

Flat cash back rate vs. high earn rate categories

A flat cash back rate on all your spending is great if you don't want to worry about spending in certain categories to maximize your rewards.

However, high earn-rate categories allow you to get increased cash on specific purchases like gas or groceries.

So, if you have very high spending on the same things each month, then looking for a card with a spending bonus can increase your payout. Some cash back cards even allow you to choose the categories on which you want to earn higher rewards.

Looking to really max your rewards? Consider combining a flat earn-rate card and a high earn-rate category card in your wallet – use the latter for its specific category spending, and use the flat-rate card everywhere else.

Hint: Enter your spending breakdown by category on our compare credit cards page to factor that in.

You'll also need to be mindful of caps or tiers on your earnings. If there are cash tiers in place, or a limit on the amount of total cash earned, it can reduce your potential payout. That's all factored into our calculator as well, so you can easily compare apples to apples.

Cash back credit card redemption options

Another important thing to note is how you get paid your cash back. Most cards just give you a statement credit, but a few let you choose between cheque, bank deposit, gift cards, travel, and more.

The frequency of redemption is something to take note of as well. While some cards will only allow you to cash out once a year, others have an on-demand option, which gives you more freedom with your cash back rewards.

Sign-up bonuses for cash back cards

What about sign-up bonuses?

With cash back credit cards, sign-up bonuses aren't nearly as common (or as impressive) as the bonuses that come with many travel credit cards, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.

Cash back card sign-up bonuses often come in the form of increased cash back earnings for a limited time, with a cap on the maximum bonus cash you can earn.

Credit card insurance

Credit card insurance coverage can provide peace of mind when you most need it.

And although you might not get as much insurance with a cash back credit card as you would on a premium travel credit card, it's still something that could factor into which card is best for you.

Compare Canadian Cash Back Credit Cards

How we get our rankings

How do we decide what the best cash back credit cards are? We take into account over 126 features of each card, broken down into 7 main categories:

Cash back page genius rating scoring

We then take those features and put them through our algorithm, which calculates a score out of 5. And since we're talking about cash back credit cards, we give extra weight to the rewards category, as it's the primary feature we're after for cards on this page.

Learn more about our Genius Rating methodology.

Best cash back credit cards in Canada FAQ

Which cash back credit card has the best flat earn-rate?

According to our math-based algorithm, the best flat rate cash back credit card is the Brim World Elite Mastercard. With this card you’ll earn 2% cash back on all purchases for your first $25,000 in annual spend, and 1% after that. As an added bonus, you can also earn from 3% up to 30% with Brim’s 150+ online retail partners, giving you a chance to earn some serious rewards.

What’s the best cash back credit card, overall?

Our top choice for the best overall cash back credit card in Canada is the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite. This card offers one of the highest average returns on spending, with 4% cash back on recurring bills and groceries, 2% cash back on gas and daily transit, and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Is there a good no fee cash back credit card in Canada?

There is, although we talk about it over on our Best No Annual Fee Credit Cards page, rather than here. Our top pick among no fee cash back credit cards is the Brim Mastercard. This card has a flat 1% cash back earn rate on all purchases made on the card, and has a few other perks to boot.

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