Best Visa credit card in Canada for 2020 award seal

Visa credit cards come with a wide array of rewards, perks, and benefits. And with wide acceptance and rewards ranging from cash back to travel rewards, there’s a Visa card for almost everyone.

Here we take a look at some of the very best of the best Visa credit cards available in Canada, revealing our top picks for best travel Visa, best cash back Visa, and our top overall pick for Canada’s best Visa credit card in 2020.

3 best Visa credit cards

And here they are...our picks for best Visa credit cards in 2020:

Category Visa Credit Card Welcome bonus Annual fee Income requirements
Best Visa credit card TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card Up to 25,000 miles, annual fee rebated in the first year (terms) $120 * Personal: $60,000
* Household: $100,000
Best cash back Visa credit card Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite 10% cash back in the first 3 months, first year free (terms) $120 * Personal: $60,000
* Household: $100,000
Best travel Visa credit card with no FX fees Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite 25,000 points (terms) $139 * Personal: $60,000
* Household: $100,000

Let’s see what each of these cards has to offer.

1. Best Visa credit card

The overall best Visa credit card for 2020 also happens to be the best Aeroplan Visa card...the .

With this card you’ll earn Aeroplan miles on all of your day-to-day spending:

  • 1.5 miles for every $1 spent on eligible gas, groceries, drugstores, and at, and
  • 1 mile for every $1 spent on everything else.

But, what separates this card from the crowd are the Air Canada perks you get when flying on an Aeroplan rewards ticket:

  • 1st checked bag free,
  • priority check-in,
  • priority boarding, and
  • Maple leaf lounge access (only once per year).

Plus, with 10 types of travel and purchase protection at your disposal, you’ll have that added peace of mind knowing that you’ll also be covered while travelling.

2. Best cash back Visa credit card

If you prefer a simpler approach to credit card rewards, our top cash back Visa credit card is the .

And it's no surprise this card does so well when you look at the great earn rates it provides:

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

As for insurance coverage, this credit card comes with loads. You'll get 11 types of complimentary purchase and travel insurance to give you added protection for any unfortunate or unforeseen events.

And finally, you'll also be able to enjoy Visa Infinite perks, like

  • Visa Infinite Hotel Collection, and
  • Visa Infinite Experiences.

3. Best travel Visa credit card with no FX fees

If you love travelling, the may be the perfect Visa for you. Not only is it the clear winner for the travel category, you’ll also earn some sweet rewards, and get the added bonus of no foreign exchange fees.

As a travel credit card, it provides you with:

  • complimentary concierge service,
  • complimentary Priority Pass membership with 6 free passes annually,
  • complimentary AVIS Preferred Plus Membership,
  • 25,000 bonus points to start off your travel rewards bank,
  • 10,000 bonus points when you charge $40,000 on your card annually, as well as
  • 2,000 bonus points for every $10,000 you spend above that.

Not to mention you'll earn:

  • 2 Scotia Rewards points per $1 spent on groceries, restaurants, entertainment, and daily transit, and
  • 1 Scotia Rewards point for every other $1 spent.

With each Scotia Rewards point being worth 1 cent when you redeem for any type of travel, your average return on spending could be 1.3% (based on our typical spend).

Plus, as we mentioned, this card completely waives the foreign exchange fees, which is a major bonus when spending in a foreign currency. You'll save up to 2.5% of your entire purchase in fees.

3 benefits of a Visa credit card

Looking at these best 3 Visa credit cards, we noticed some things were generally consistent, both on the good side and on the bad side.

Here’s what’s good about Visa credit cards on the whole.

1. Good average rate of return

By and large, these Visa credit cards have a better than average rate of return. This is based on a hypothetical monthly spend of $2,000, across a range of categories.

Visa credit cards average rate of return

2. Generally valuable welcome bonuses

These Visa credit cards also have generous welcome bonuses, with some standouts at the top end. We calculate welcome bonus values by combining all one-time bonuses available to new cardholders within the first year with our point value estimates.

Visa credit cards estimated welcome bonus value

In our study about the average value of credit card perks, we determined that the average welcome bonus is worth roughly $86, putting these cards well above that average. Also, just over 55% of Canadian credit cards even have a welcome bonus at all, making these 3 credit cards even more exceptional.

3. High value insurance packages

When we did our study to calculate the value of various credit card insurance coverages, these top Visa credit cards did quite well, as you can see below. If you make good use of your credit card’s insurance package, these numbers are likely of interest to you.

Visa credit cards estimated insurance value

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite, for example, includes 12 types of complimentary insurance coverages, including 10 days of emergency medical for people over 65, and rare price protection insurance.

The Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite has a slightly less valuable insurance package, but, while it doesn’t include emergency medical for people over 65, it does include $1,000 of mobile device coverage – a rare treat.

4 drawbacks of a Visa credit card

While there are some upsides to Visa credit cards, there are also some downsides. These are what we found when looking at these top Visa credit cards.

1. Most premium Visa credit cards have a high annual fee

This is to be expected really. If your credit card has a good rate of return and a valuable insurance package, it’s probably also going to have a pretty high annual fee. Luckily approximately 40% of Visas will waive their annual fee for the first year you have the card, so you have a chance to take the card for a test drive.

Here’s what the annual fees look like for these Visa credit cards. As you can see, they’re all roughly around the industry average for a premium credit card.

Visa credit cards annual fee

While the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite has a higher annual fee, if you’re a frequent traveller (or make lots of purchases in non-Canadian dollars), it may make up for it by saving you the 2.5% foreign transaction fee on purchases in foreign currencies.

2. High standard interest rates across the board

While there are some Visa credit cards that offer lower interest rates, the top 3 cards all have the industry standard rates of around 20% - 23%.

These are high interest rates, so if you tend to carry a balance on your credit card, you will probably want to find a different low interest credit card to keep in your wallet.

Visa credit cards interest rates

3. Inconsistent perks value, even for such expensive cards

Given that these are our top rated Visa credit cards, we sort of expected that the average value of their perks would be relatively high. Unfortunately, that isn’t what we found.

These perks values are from a recent study we did, and are an estimate based on a number of factors. You can read more about this study here: What Are Your Credit Card Benefits Worth? A Study.

Visa credit cards estimated perks value

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card includes high-value travel perks, such as complimentary Priority Pass membership with 6 free visits per year, along with its valuable welcome bonus. The Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite, on the other hand, falls a bit short here, due to having relatively few and generally low-value benefits.

4. High income requirements on premium Visa credit cards

If you want a premium Visa credit card, you'll need to be making some pretty decent money. All 3 of these top Visa cards have income requirements that the majority of Canadians could not meet.

Visa credit cards income requirements

How to apply for a Visa credit card

If you want to apply for a Visa credit card in Canada, there are a few things that need to be in order first.

Your age and residency

First and foremost, you must:

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

If you’re both of these, you’re a step closer to getting that shiny new credit card.

Your credit score

For most Visa credit cards, you’ll only qualify if your credit score is high enough, even if there are no associated income requirements.

We talk about credit scores and how likely you are to be approved for various types of credit cards in our study: What Is A Good Credit Score In Canada ‒ And Is It Good Enough To Be Approved?

Not sure what a credit score is or what it’s all about? Learn more here.

Credit Score In Canada: What These 3 Digits Say About You

Your personal or household income

Finally, as we mention above, most Visa credit cards will have a minimum income requirement.

For most of these, you can qualify based on 1 of 2 numbers: your personal income, or your total household income. This lets people who may have lower individual incomes to still qualify if their combined income with their partner meets the minimum household income threshold.

More about Visa credit cards

If you’ve never had a Visa card, you may not understand their popularity. Here’s a quick overview of why we love them, and why we think so many other people love them too.

Visa credit cards are widely accepted

Most retailers accept Visa – aside from Costco, of course – which is one reason why they're often chosen over other networks like American Express.

There’s a Visa card for practically everyone

There’s just a massive variety of Visa credit cards available in Canada, including:

  • cash back,
  • travel,
  • flexible rewards,
  • low interest,
  • balance transfer,
  • prepaid,
  • no annual fee,
  • student cards,
  • and so much more.

If you want to find a credit card that’s perfect for you, head over to our creditcardGenius Challenge. Take a quick 3 minute quiz, and see what our algorithm bubbles up for you.

Visa Infinite and Visa Infinite Privilege Perks

Visa Infinite and Visa Infinite Privilege cards offer some fantastic benefits to cardholders in the areas of:

  • travel and hotels,
  • entertainment,
  • sports, and
  • food and wine.

Some of the best Visa credit cards also give you access to Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection. This feature gives the following benefits at select hotels:

  • the best available rate,
  • free wifi,
  • complimentary breakfast,
  • a food and beverage credit,
  • VIP Guest status, and
  • a later 3 PM check out.

And if you’re a foodie, the Visa Infinite Dining Series offers cardholders exclusive access to events at the most highly anticipated restaurants and top chef collaborations.

On top of that, Visa Infinite Privilege also rolls out the red carpet for their cardholders with the following extra perks when travelling:

  • global airport lounge access,
  • dedicated fast track security lanes,
  • dedicated airport parking, and
  • discounts on valet parking.

Luxury hotels, fine dining, and exclusive entertainment events are only the beginning of what these top Visa credit cards have to offer.

Compare all Visa credit cards

Our methodology

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

Visa 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 Visa credit cards, we don't give extra weight to any category, as we're interested in the best Visas overall.

Learn more about our Genius Rating methodology.

Visa credit cards: FAQ

What’s the best Visa credit card in Canada for travellers?

Our overall top pick for best travel Visa credit card in Canada is the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card. This card not only gives you a great earn rate for Aeroplan, you also get some great Air Canada perks, and 10 types of complimentary travel insurance and purchase protection.

If I just want straight up cash back, is there a best Visa credit card for me?

There is! Our favourite cash back Visa credit card is the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite. This card has some great cash back earn rates, and also has the first year free. To top it off, you’ll also get Visa Infinite perks, and 11 types of complimentary insurance coverage.

I’m not really interested in these cards. How do I find the best credit card for me?

There are so many credit cards in the world that sorting through them all can be a really daunting task. But we’re here to help! If you head on over and take our creditcardGenius challenge, in just a few minutes you’ll get some recommendations, as determined by our unbiased math-based algorithm. There’s even potentially $25 in it for you. Check it out.

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