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

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

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

Best no fee cash back cards 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. And they all have low income requirements as well.

1. SimplyCash Card from American Express

The 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.
  • $50 bonus cash back for 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.

Just note that you still need to have good credit to be approved for this card.

Related: Is Cash Back Better Than Travel?

2. Brim Mastercard

If you want more from your card than just rewards, the could be up your alley.

You’ll earn a simple 1% cash back on all purchases. And the best part is you can redeem your cash back anytime you want towards any purchase made to the card, as long as you have at least $1.

But there’s more to this card than just that.

First, you’ll enjoy no foreign transaction fees, saving you that typical 2.5% other credit cards charge.

Second, Brim has partnered with over 150 retailers to help you earn bonus rewards on your purchases at these retailers.

Third, there’s a great welcome bonus – earn up to $200 worth of rewards when you make your first purchases at participating retailers.

Finally, there’s also other great Brim features such as Event Ticket Insurance, Installment plans, and free Boingo Wi-Fi. There’s quite a bit to love with this card.

The downsides

Brim is a relatively new credit card player in the Canadian market that has a particularly rough launch, however things have appeared to smooth out.

They also have the ability to set their own foreign exchange rates as well, so if they do keep an eye out to make sure they’re similar to what Mastercard would charge.

Related: Capital One Credit Cards: Head To Head Against Some Of The Best Credit Cards In Canada

3. Home Trust Preferred Visa

Another option for saving on foreign transaction fees is the .

You get a straight-up 1% cash back on all eligible purchases – no limits or caps. Just note that you won’t earn cash back on purchases made in foreign currency.

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 downsides

This card does not have PayPass support. Although this feature makes using a card easier, it is not necessary. And you don’t earn cash back on purchases made in a foreign currency.

These cards almost made it…

With these cards, you don’t earn 1% or more in ALL purchases ‒ still, they deserve a mention…

4. BMO CashBack Mastercard

The starts you off with a generous 5% cash back during your first 3 months (up to $2,500 in spend) ‒ then you’ll earn up to 3% on your purchases:

  • 3% cash back on groceries (up to $500 spend per month),
  • 1% cash back on recurring bills (up to $500 spend per month), and
  • 0.5% cash back on all other 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.
  • 15K minimum income requirement.
  • 2 types of insurance.

The downsides

Insurance isn’t as comprehensive as other BMO cards. And even though you can earn 3% on groceries, it’s capped at $500 per month.

Related: Top 5 No Fee Mastercards In Canada

5. Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

With the , you get to choose up to 3 spending categories (groceries, gas, and 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 downside

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 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.

If you want a few more perks, you could also opt for the instead.

You’ll get the same earn rates, pay no annual fees and get a couple of extra perks.

The first is mobile device insurance. Should something happen to your device, you’ll be covered up to $1,000 for repair or replacement.

The other is car rental insurance, so you’ll be able to waive the insurance the car rental agency will charge you to cover the car.

It does come with higher income requirements – either $60,000 personal or $100,000 household. But if you do qualify, there’s no downside to getting this card instead.

Related: No Fee Vs. Low Fee Credit Cards

Another honourable 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.

Card Bonus Income Requirement # of Insurance Coverage
up to $150 $0 3
up to $200 $15,000 5
$0 $0 2