Best No Annual Fee Cash Back Credit Cards in Canada for 2018 award seal

You know that old saying, “you can’t get something for nothing”? Well, no fee cash back credit cards seem to shatter that theory.

Cash back with no strings attached.

And assuming you’re paying your bill on time, and avoiding any pricey interest fees, you’re getting that cash completely free.

When it comes to perks and benefits, you usually get what you pay for: higher annual fee = more perks and rewards.

But not everyone can stomach annual fees. And in some cases, it makes the most sense to stick to no fees, like:

  • When you rarely use a credit card.
  • When simple math shows projected rewards won’t cover the annual fee.
  • When you prefer NOT to track the cost against benefits.
  • When you already have a premium card and you’re looking for a card to pair with it.

And also, sometimes free is just a straight-up no-brainer.

Check out our complete list of the top 10 best no fee cash back credit cards, so you get the best of free there is.

Compare No Fee Cash Back Credit Cards

Plus a $150 travel bonus.
Offer ends December 21, 2018.

No Fee Credit Card Perks

Just because you’re opting for a no fee credit card, it doesn’t mean you need to forgo all the other perks that the more premium credit cards come with.

In fact, some no fee credit cards still come with:

  • basic insurance,
  • referral bonuses,
  • low interest rates,
  • sign up bonuses,
  • 0% foreign exchange fees, and
  • discounts on purchases.

So, when looking for a no fee credit card, it can still pay to shop around – no need to settle for just any card. We read the fine print, look at 50+ different features that you can get with your credit card, enter that information into our algorithm, and then tell you a card’s rating out of 5 stars – it's our Genius Rating.

Best Flexible Rewards Mastercard with No Annual Fee

Coming out on top is the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card, and for good reason – it allows you to earn up to 2% cash back on your purchases.

This cash back Mastercard also stands out amongst its competitors because it works a little differently than other cards by putting cardholders in control of how their bonus earning categories work.

Here’s how it works: You get 2% cash back in any 2 spending categories you choose. That means if the biggest chunk of your budget goes towards gas and groceries, you can earn 2% cash back on gas and groceries.

And one of the best parts? You are able to change your categories if your spending habits change. So, if you buy a bike, and gas is no longer one of your expenses, you can easily change that category to restaurants, or entertainment, or something else.

Plus, if you have a Tangerine bank account, you are actually able to pick 3 categories to earn that impressive 2%.

Best Cash Back American Express with No Annual Fee

The best American Express cash card in Canada right now, coming in as a really close second, is the SimplyCash Card from American Express.

You’ll earn a solid 1.25% cash back on all purchases. Plus, for the first 3 months, you will get 2.5% cash back (up to $150 earned) – that’s $75 more than you’d normally get! And, as an added bonus, this Amex card will also give you a referral bonus of $100 for any approved referrals you send their way (up to $1,500 annually).

On top of all that, cardholders are given:

  • 3 types of insurance,
  • American Express Invites and Front of the Line access, and even
  • a introductory balance transfer rate of 1.99% for 6 months.

Best Cash Back Visa with No Annual Fee

The best Visa card on our list, the Trust Preferred Visa has a lot of things going for it. This card offers cardholders 1% cash back on all purchases – no limits, no restrictions.

And while that is pretty nice for a no fee card, that isn’t even where this card really shines. Not only does this no fee card offer cardholders complimentary (though slightly limited) roadside assistance, but it also has no foreign currency exchange fee – and for the traveler and online shopper alike…that 2.5% savings is a pretty great deal.

Something to keep in mind: with the recent closure of Chase cards, there has been an upswing in people applying for the Home Trust Preferred Visa. Because of this, it seems that it can take up to 2 months to be approved for this card and customer service has long wait times. (Hopefully they will be able to catch up with demand soon.)

Summary of Best Cash Back Credit Cards with No Annual Fee

As a recap, here are the top 5 no fee cash back credit cards in Canada. We included the average return on spending you can expect to get (depending on how you split your spending), as well as the ways you can expect to earn your cash back.

Credit Card Avg. Reward Return Cash Back Earn Rates Apply for Card
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card 1.14%
  • 0.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • 2% cash back in purchases in up to 3 different spending categories.
Rogers World Elite Mastercard 1.75%
  • 1.75% cash back on every $1 spent.
  • 2% cash back on Rogers products and services.
  • 4% cash back on all purchases made in foreign currency.
SimplyCash Card from American Express 1.25%
  • 1.25% cash back on all purchases.
  • 2.5% cash back for first 3 months.
Home Trust Preferred Visa 1%
  • 1% cash back on all purchases.
Canadian Western Bank Rewards Mastercard 1%
  • 1 point for every $1 spent – 1% return.

The creditcardGenius algorithm calculates an estimated dollar value for all rewards and bonuses by using a typical point value a person can realistically achieve by redeeming their rewards in a reasonably optimized way. The "Welcome Bonus" is the dollar value obtained by combining of all one-time bonuses available to new cardholders within the first year. To qualify for the full bonus you may need to make purchases, meet minimum spending requirements, or complete special actions. Terms and conditions apply.

Featured In

The Globe and Mail