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.

Cashback and no fees slider

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 5.

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 5% earn rate (capped at $250) during your first 6-month honeymoon period, when you spend on:

  • gas
  • groceries, and
  • restaurant purchases.

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.
  • 4 types of insurance.

Amex SimplyCash Card insurance coverage

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.

2. Rogers Fido Mastercard

With 1.5% earn rate on all purchases and an even better 4% for purchases made in foreign currency ‒ is this card too good to be true? And if that’s not enough, there’s also a $50 welcome bonus as cherry on top.

If you’re already a Rogers customer, this card is 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 zero insurance coverage included.

3. MBNA Rewards Mastercard

The MBNA Rewards Mastercard also gives you a flat 1% return on all your spending – as well as the following:

  • 5,000 bonus points (about $50),
  • no caps on how much cash you can earn,
  • 6 options to redeem your points, so you know you’re in control.
  • 7 types of insurance (exact same coverage as the Canadian Western Bank Rewards Mastercard above).

MBNA Rewards Mastercard insurance coverage

The Downside

The downside here may be the $35K income requirement.

4. BMO CashBack Mastercard

BMO CashBack starts you off with a generous 4% cash back during your first 4 months together (capped at $125) ‒ 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.

BMO CashBack Mastercard insurance coverage

The Downside

Insurance isn’t as comprehensive as other BMO cards.

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 in the top 5?

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.)

Related: How to choose what’s most important to you when it comes to credit cards.

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
SimplyCash Card from Amex up to $250 $0 4
Rogers Fido Mastercard up to $50 $0 0
MBNA Rewards Mastercard 5K points (~$510 value) $35,000 7
BMO CashBack Mastercard up to $125 $0 2