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The PC Financial Mastercard is a way to boost your PC Optimum points earn rate, but is it the best credit card to use for your everyday shopping?

While the PC Mastercard welcome bonus sounds generous, there are other credit cards that have better sign-up incentives, lower interest rates, and better cash back rewards.

If you’re an avid collector of PC Optimum points, however, you’re probably pretty curious about PC Financial Mastercards, so let’s take a closer look.

3 PC Mastercards compared

There are actually 3 PC Mastercards that are generally similar, but with a few important differences. Here’s a side-by-side comparison.

Credit card PC Mastercard PC World Mastercard PC World Elite Mastercard
Annual fee $0 $0 $0
Interest rates * Purchase: 20.97%
* Cash advance: 22.97%
* Balance transfers: 22.97%
* Purchase: 20.97%
* Cash advance: 22.97%
* Balance transfers: 22.97%
* Purchase: 20.97%
* Cash advance: 22.97%
* Balance transfers: 22.97%
Income requirement None * Personal: $60,000
* Household: $100,000
* Personal: $80,000
* Household: $150,000
Welcome bonus 20,000 PC Optimum points, after a first purchase 20,000 PC Optimum points, after a first purchase 20,000 PC Optimum points, after a first purchase
Foreign transaction fee 2.5% 2.5% 2.5%
Insurance coverages 2 2 5
Special features * Promotional balance transfer offer of 0.97% interest for the first 6 months * Promotional balance transfer offer of 0.97% interest for the first 6 months
* 24/7 concierge service
* Promotional balance transfer promo of 0.97% for 6 months
* Identity theft assistance service
* 24/7 concierge service

As you can see, the higher your return rate, the higher the income requirements. The PC Mastercard’s within reach of most Canadians, but the 2 more premium versions have some pretty steep income requirements.

PC Optimum rewards earn rates

Obviously, one of the only reasons to have a PC Mastercard is the boost you’ll get on your PC Optimum rewards. Here’s what each PC Mastercard earns.

PC Optimum points PC Mastercard PC World Mastercard PC World Elite Mastercard
Points per $1 spent at PC grocery stores 10 20 30
Points per $1 spent at Shoppers Drug Mart * 25 35 45
Points on Esso fuel purchases (per litre) * 30 30 30
Points on purchases at PC Travel * 20 20 30
Points on all other purchases 10 10 10

* These totals include points earned as a regular PC Optimum member.

2 PC Mastercard benefits

So, what are the upsides to PC Mastercards?

1. PC Optimum rewards

All PC Mastercards gear their bonus PC points rewards toward purchases made on President Choice affiliated brands and partners like:

  • Loblaws,
  • Your Independent Grocer,
  • Real Canadian Superstore,
  • Shoppers Drug Mart,
  • Esso, and
  • services like PC Travel and PC Mobile.

…if you’re already a regular shopper at these places, then PC Mastercards offer you an easy way to get a 1% to 3% return for no annual fee.

2. PC Financial app

Like most banks and credit card issuers, PC Financial has a well-designed mobile app that lets you track your spending, access your PC Optimum points balance, and lock or replace your credit card if it’s lost or stolen.

This sort of app is fairly standard fare these days, however, so doesn’t really give PC Mastercards a huge edge over their competitors.

5 PC Mastercard drawbacks

And now for the downsides, which are pretty significant.

1. PC Optimum points can only be redeemed at participating stores

While we compare PC Mastercards to some cash back credit cards below, PC Mastercards aren’t really cash back cards.

Here’s the kicker: You can only redeem PC Optimum points for purchases made at participating (read: Loblaws-owned) retailers, making these rewards very inflexible compared to some alternatives.

If you could redeem PC Optimum points for statement credits on your PC Mastercard, it would be a different story, because that would make them the equivalent to cash. But, unfortunately, this isn’t an option.

2. High income requirements for premium PC Mastercards

While the lowest-tier PC Mastercard has no income requirement, the PC World Mastercard and the PC World Elite Mastercard both have high income requirements:

  • PC World Mastercard: $60,000 personal, or $100,000 household, and
  • PC World Elite Mastercard: $80,000 personal, or $150,000 household.

This puts these cards beyond the reach of average Canadians, meaning that most of us would have to settle for the lower earn rate of the plain PC Mastercard.

3. Slightly higher than average interest rates

If you are diligent and pay your PC Mastercard minimums on time, the interest rates on your credit card will be:

  • Purchase: 20.97%
  • Cash advance: 22.97%
  • Balance transfer: 22.97%

And these interest rates are close to, but slightly higher than the average interest rates you’ll see on credit cards.

If you miss your minimum payment by the due date for 2 consecutive months, however, your interest rates will skyrocket to:

  • Purchase: 25.97%
  • Cash advance: 27.97%
  • Balance transfer: 27.97%

Obviously these are exceptionally high and you should avoid falling into this trap.

4. Minimal included insurance

Many credit cards come with extensive and valuable insurance coverages included for no extra cost. PC Mastercards have very minimal insurance coverage

5. No other perks and benefits

Finally, PC Mastercards do not include any other perks and benefits, some of which can also be extremely valuable.

Wondering how to maximize your PC Optimum points? Look no further.

How to apply for a PC Mastercard

If you’re interested in signing up for a PC Mastercard, there are some requirements you’ll have to meet. There are 3 things to keep in mind:

1. Your age and residency

This is fairly standard when applying for credit cards in Canada, but you will have to be:

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

Pretty straightforward stuff so far. But then things get a bit stickier.

2. Your credit score

While you don’t have to meet any minimum income requirements for the lowest-tier PC Mastercard, you’ll still need good credit to be approved. And the credit score requirements for the PC World Mastercard and the PC World Elite Mastercard are going to be even higher.

If you have less than stellar credit, there are other credit card options you might want to look at to help build your credit score back up before you apply for one of these.

3. Your personal or household income

And, as we mentioned above, there are minimum income requirements for the 2 more premium versions of the PC Mastercard. If you don’t meet these requirements, you might want to hold off applying, since every time you apply for credit, your credit score takes a hit.

5 alternatives to the PC Mastercard

Given that PC Optimum rewards are actually pretty inflexible, you might be interested in some credit cards that have similar or better rates of return, more flexible rewards, and better perks and benefits.

Here are some of your options. We’ll put them through their paces below, and give you their annual returns based on a hypothetical monthly spend.

But for now, the cards.

Credit card Welcome bonus Annual fee Rewards Interested?
Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite 10% cash back for the first 3 months (terms) $120, waived for the first year * 4% cash back on groceries and recurring bills
* 2% cash back on gas and daily transit
* 1% cash back on all other purchases
Apply now
SimplyCash™ Preferred Card from American Express Earn 10% cash back for 4 months (up to $400 cash back) (terms) $99 2% cash back on all purchases after the first 6 months Apply now
SimplyCash™ Card from American Express 2.5% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months (terms) $0 1.25% cash back on all purchases after the first 3 months Apply now
BMO CashBack Mastercard Earn 5% cash back for 3 months (up to $2,500 spent) (terms) $0 * 3% cash back on groceries, up to $500 spent per month
* 1% cash back on recurring bill payments, up to $500 spent per month
* 0.5% cash back on all other purchases
Apply now
Brim Mastercard Earn up to $200 in bonus rewards after your first purchases with participating retailers (terms) $0 1% cash back on all purchases Apply now

Let’s take a closer look at what these cash back credit cards have to offer.

Up to 4% cash back and 11 types of insurance

The has the highest spending bonus for groceries and recurring bills of any cash back credit card in Canada.

Here’s what you’ll earn with the Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite:

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

There’s also a great welcome bonus – earn 10% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months, up to $200 earned.

There is a cap on both the 4% and 2% spending categories, but you can spend up to $25,000 in each before they revert to the lower 1% cash back earn rate.

You’ll also get 11 types of complimentary travel insurance and purchase protection, and the annual fee is currently waived for the first year you have your card.

2% cash back on all purchases and extra perks

The has a $99 annual fee, but that is offset by its welcome bonus.

When you sign up for this card you’ll get 10% cash back on all purchases for the first 4 months you have the card, up to $400 cash back. That’s enough to cover the annual fee for 4 years.

After that, you’ll earn a flat 2% cash back on all purchases, with no caps or categories to worry about.

The SimplyCash Preferred Card also includes 9 types of complimentary travel insurance and purchase protection, and gives you access to American Express Invites and Amex Offers, which are some nice (and potentially valuable) perks.

1.25% cash back on all purchases for no annual fee

While the has a lower flat cash back rate of 1.25% on all purchases, it also has no annual fee.

And you’ll earn a bonus rate of 2.5% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months you have the card, up to $150 earned. This isn’t a huge bonus, being only $75 more than you’d normally earned, but every dollar counts.

This card comes with only 3 types of included insurance coverage, but also gives you access to American Express Invites and Amex Offers. Nice perks for a no fee card.

Up to 3% cash back for no annual fee

The is our top pick for a no fee grocery rewards credit card for a few reasons, including:

  • the 3% cash back earn rate on groceries matches even the top-tier PC World Elite Mastercard,
  • you get the full earn rate at any grocery store, giving you more freedom to shop how and where you want,
  • you’ll earn actual cash back, which is much more flexible than store-specific rewards points, and
  • it has relatively low income requirements, putting it within reach of the majority of Canadians.

On top of this, the BMO CashBack Mastercard has an unexpectedly generous welcome bonus for a cash back credit card with no annual fee.

For the first 3 months you have this credit card, you’ll earn 5% cash back on all purchases up to $2,500 in spending. After that, you’ll earn:

  • 3% cash back on groceries (up to $500 spent per month),
  • 1% cash back on recurring bill payments (up to $500 spent per month), and
  • 0.5% cash back on all other purchases.

And if you have some higher-interest credit card debt lingering around, you can take advantage of the BMO CashBack Mastercard’s introductory 1.99% interest rate on balance transfers for 9 month.

Included insurance coverages that come with this credit card are pretty minimal, including only extended warranty and purchase protection, but you’ll get 25% off when renting a car at National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car locations. That can add up if you rent cars with any frequency.

1% cash back on all purchases, rare insurance coverages, and no foreign transaction fee

And finally we have the , which will give you a flat 1% cash back on all purchases, with no caps or categories.

As a welcome bonus, you can earn up to $200 in bonus rewards after your first purchases with participating retailers.

The Brim Mastercard also includes 5 types of complimentary insurance coverage, including rare mobile device and event ticket cancellation insurance. These are great to have if you ever need them, and are included with this credit card for no extra cost.

If you travel a lot or make lots of online purchases, you’ll save the 2.5% fee most credit cards charge on transactions involving non-Canadian currencies. It’s a little thing, but those fees can add up faster than you might think.

Wondering how cash back credit cards measure up against travel rewards credit cards? We pit them head-to-head.

Annual return on spending: an example

So all of this is well and good, but really, what do these rewards actually get you when the rubber hits the road?

To illustrate, we’ve created a hypothetical monthly budget, and calculated what you would earn for cash back with each credit card we’ve talked about.

Our hypothetical monthly spend

This is a rough breakdown of what 1 of the creditcardGenius families puts on their credit card every month:

Category Monthly spend
PC grocery stores $300.00
Groceries $200.00
Drugstores $50.00
Gas $100.00
Restaurants + food delivery $150.00
Recurring bill payments $350.00
Daily transit $100.00
Entertainment $50.00
Everywhere else $700.00
Total $2,000.00

We calculated the cash back you’d earn with each of these credit cards, assuming that we’d maximize our PC Optimum bonus points everywhere we could except for $200 of groceries (we all tend to shop the sales, after all).

Here’s what each credit card earned over the course of a year, after paying the annual fee, if it has one.

Credit card Annual fee Annual rewards earned, after annual fee
Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite $120 $450.00
SimplyCash™ Preferred Card from American Express $99 $381.00
PC World Elite Mastercard $0 $357.00
PC World Mastercard $0 $315.00
SimplyCash™ Card from American Express $0 $300.00
BMO CashBack Mastercard $0 $291.00
American Express Cobalt™ Card $0 $283.00
PC Mastercard $0 $273.00
Brim Mastercard $0 $240.00

PC Mastercard Annual Return

As you can see, the PC World and PC World Elite Mastercards come out pretty well, but the lower end PC Mastercard doesn’t really have that great an earn rate.

And you have to remember that PC Optimum points can only be redeemed for purchases at participating Loblaws-owned stores, making them significantly less flexible than regular cash back, which can be used for almost anything.

Bottom line

In the end, if you do the majority of your shopping at stores where you can earn or redeem PC Optimum points, the PC Mastercards may be of interest to you.

But if you’re looking for a simpler cash back card that gives you similar or better earn rates and more flexibility, there are some other cash back credit cards you may want to consider.

Do you love your PC Financial Mastercard?

Are you considering an alternative cash back credit card now?

Let us know in the comments.

PC Mastercard FAQ

Do PC Mastercards have an annual fee?

There are 3 different PC Mastercards, including the PC Financial Mastercard, the PC Financial World Mastercard, and the PC Financial World Elite Mastercard. All of these have no annual fee.

What are the major drawbacks of PC Mastercards?

The major drawbacks of PC Mastercards are that, while they boost your PC Optimum earn rate, they have few other perks or benefits, beyond a handful of common insurance coverages. They also have a slightly higher than average interest rate, and you can only redeem your PC Optimum points for in-store purchases at participating retailers, making these rewards significantly less flexible than regular cash back rewards.

How much cash back can I actually earn with a PC Mastercard?

We put together a hypothetical monthly spend, and calculated how much cash back you would actually earn with each of the PC Mastercards, and a handful of other cash back credit cards you might consider. Even with its annual fee, the Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite came out on top, and the annual fee is currently waived for the first year you have the card, giving you an extra $120 for your first year.