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 cards are created equal. With the best cash back credit cards on our list, you can rack up to 2% cash back on all purchases, whereas some of the lower end cards will only give you a 0.5% return.

Or, you can get up to 4% cash back on select category spending (like gas or groceries) and up to 10% on certain spending for a limited time as a welcome bonus.

What about all the other cool features that come with credit cards? When it comes to insurance coverage and premium perks, you might not be getting as much with a cash back credit card as with a travel rewards credit card, since many cash back cards don’t even give you the most basic of travel insurance. But some cards on our list might surprise you.

So, if you think cash is king, and you don’t mind paying an annual fee to get the best net annual return on your spending…

This list is the place to start.

Best cash back credit cards in Canada for 2020

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

Category Credit Card Current Welcome Bonus Offer
Best cash back card in Canada Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite None
Best flat rate cash back card Brim World Elite Mastercard $500 on the first purchase at select retailers, first year free (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)
Honourable mention Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card Up to 20,000 points (terms)

Compare the top 10 cash back cards.

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:

  • 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 you for the first year – so you have a chance to fully try it out and evaluate if the $120 annual fee makes sense for you and your spending habits.

Best flat rate cash back credit card

Want to keep things simple and get a card with a high flat rate on every purchase? Our best card in this regard is the .

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% 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. And the first year is currently free, giving you the chance to try the card out.

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 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 all grocery and gas purchases.

For exclusive perks, this 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.

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 no 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 your first year free.

Honourable mention

You might 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 we still thought the deserved a mention.

Why? We're glad you asked.

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

  • 20,000 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, as well as
  • 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 5% on your spending.

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

Choosing the best cash back credit card for you

When it comes down to choosing a credit card that's right for you, there are some pretty important details to consider.

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 categories 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 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. It also has a great welcome bonus of 10% cash back on all purchases in your first 3 months, up to $2,000 in spend.

Is there a good cash back credit card that has no annual fee?

There is, although we talk about it over on our Best No Annual Fee Credit Cards page, rather than here. Our top pick for a no fee cash back credit card 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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