Earning 1% cash – or more – for doing nothing but shop for things you’d buy anyway?

Say hello to cash back with no fees. A class of cards that deserves its own lane.

Sure, cash back may not boast the ‘highest overall rewards’ – but for us who like to keep the math simple (read: free cash)…This is home away from home.

Best No Fee Cash Back in Canada

Keeping the math even simpler, let’s focus on these top cards.

Because these top cards give you at least 1% cash on ALL your purchases. No mental accounting needed.

1. SimplyCash Card from American Express

Amex SimplyCash starts you off with a 2.5% earn rate (capped at $150) during your first 3-month honeymoon period.

What happens after the honeymoon’s over? You get 1.25% cash back on every purchase you make. Still quite a generous gesture. And here’s more:

  • No minimum income requirement.
  • $100 bonus cashback if each approved friend referral.
  • 3 types of insurance.

The Downside

Of course, you know that Amex acceptance may not be a full 100%.

But if you have a habit of paying off your balance in full every month – and if you already have another no-fee Visa or Mastercard but you’re looking for a higher earn rate – you could pair them together. Use this card everywhere Amex is accepted, and your older backup (lower earn rate) no-fee card on the rest.

Related: Is Cash Back Better Than Travel?

2. Rogers World Elite Mastercard

With 1.75% earn rate on all purchases, 2% back for any Rogers products or services charged to your card, and an even better 4% for purchases made in foreign currency ‒ is this card too good to be true?

If that’s not enough, there’s also a $25 welcome bonus as the cherry on top.

If you’re already a Rogers customer, this card is a no-brainer. But if you’re not…

The Downsides

Here’s the catch: the ‘cash back’ rewards are applied towards Rogers products and services. Or as an alternative, you can call Rogers every year and ask for a statement credit instead.

Another downside is this card has a pretty high minimum income requirement of $80K (or $150K for household income).

3. Home Trust Preferred Visa

If you’re unable to qualify for Rogers high-income requirements, but you like the idea of saving on foreign transaction fees, then this card is a solid contender.

You get a straight-up 1% cash back on all purchases – no limits or caps.

And that sneaky 2.5% foreign transaction fee is waived when you use this card.

Add to that complimentary roadside assistance, plus car rental and purchase protection insurance, making this card is one of the best no-fee cash back cards out there.

The Downside

This card does not have PayPass support. Although this feature makes using a card easier, it is not necessary.

4. BMO CashBack Mastercard

BMO CashBack starts you off with a generous 5% cash back during your first 3 months together (up to $100 earned) ‒ then it drops to a solid 1% earn rate on all purchases.

…annnd what other extras do you get? Glad you asked:

  • Flexibility on when you get your cash.
  • 25% off when you rent a car at National and Alamo.
  • Free to add extra cardholders.
  • No minimum income requirement.
  • 2 types of insurance.

The Downside

Insurance isn’t as comprehensive as other BMO cards.

Related: Top 5 No Fee Mastercards In Canada

Plus up to 4% cash back.
Ends December 18, 2019.

This card almost made it…

With this card, you don’t earn 1% or more in ALL purchases ‒ still, it deserves a mention…

5. Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

With the Tangerine Money-Back card, you get to choose up to 3 spending categories (groceries, gas, restaurants for example) where you earn 2% cash back. Amazing, right?

You get some flexibility and double the flat 1% earn rate that other cards in this list offer, so why isn’t it included at the top of our list?

The Big Downsides

You only get 3 categories if you bank with Tangerine ‒ otherwise, you’re downgraded to 2 categories.

With all other purchases, outside of your 2-3 pre-selected spending categories, you earn 0.5% cash. Pretty big downside.

It doesn’t mean that this card isn’t right for you. It just means that you’ll need to pay attention to your spending habits. (Quick tip: use our spending calculator to see if this card makes sense for your situation.)

Pro tip: Consider combining this card with any of the cards mentioned above – since it’s a no fee card that allows you to choose your higher earn rate categories, this is the perfect strategic addition to any wallet. Use your Tangerine card for your chosen categories, and one of the other cards to boost your return on all of your other purchases, and get even more rewards for your spending.

Related: No Fee Vs. Low Fee Credit Cards

Another honorable mention

The next card is one that we couldn’t go without mentioning.

Although it’s not a no-fee card, it is a great low-fee alternative, with an annual fee of only $39.

6. MBNA Smart Cash World Mastercard

The offers a sign-up bonus of 5% cash back on gas and groceries (capped at $500 combined monthly spend) for 6 months.

This means if you spend $500 a month on gas and groceries, you could easily earn $150 in rewards the first 6 months.

After the sign-up bonus, your earning will go to 2% cash back on gas and grocery purchases, up to $500 earned monthly. On all other purchases, you’ll earn 1% cash back.

As an added bonus, this card comes with 8 different types of insurance coverage, making this card really stand out.

And all for an annual fee of only 39$.

The top no fee cash back cards side by side

If you’re looking for an automatic 1% cash back on everything, look no more. Here is a quick list of our top cash back cards – with 1% return on all purchases and free of fees – side by side. Amex may have topped the list, but 3 out of the 4 cards are from Mastercard:

Card Bonus Income Requirement # of Insurance Coverage
up to $150 $0 4
up to $25 $80,000 6
$0 $0 2
up to $100 $0 2