Top No Fee Rewards Credit Cards in Canada
I’ve written about the top free cash back credit cards in Canada before, and even modified my top pick to be Neo Financial in 2021, which is also the overall best credit card in Canada in my opinion. However, there are an abundance of other rewards based credit cards out there that deserve a look. My selections are based on the value of the rewards and the extra perks given. Also, all the cards chosen have no annual fee as I don’t believe in paying to use a credit card.
Note that I don’t even look at the interest rate on the card as I don’t carry a balance. I’m only interested in the rewards and the 30 day interest free loan is a bonus.
As there are numerous “rewards” credit cards in the Canadian market place right now, I decided to split them up by category. Listed below are two broad categories of my favorite rewards cards based on travel and consumer.
Top Consumer Rewards Credit Card
There a few store based loyalty credit cards out there with no annual fee. The one that you choose will depend on where you shop the most. Personally, I would choose a store card that would be used often, and has a high return on spending. Here are my favorite consumer rewards credit cards.
Neo Financial Credit Card (editors top pick)
Neo Financial is a new Canadian company launched in 2021. Their cashback card, Neo, offers the most attractive rewards in Canada, coupled with innovative flexibility and ease of use.
The Neo Financial Mastercard is available in 3 tiers. The Neo Essential Credit Card has no fees so that’s what we’ll focus on here. It offers incredible cashback rewards from a list of over 5000 Neo partners, and since Neo is fairly new, that list keeps growing every month!
For a full analysis of the Neo Financial credit card line, check out our Neo Financial Credit Card Review.
- Earn an average of 4-6% at Neo partners (4% for the no-fee Neo card, up to 6% for the Neo Ultra card)
- 1% minimum cashback on every purchase
Scotia Cineplex SCENE Visa
If you are a fan of Cineplex and a collector of SCENE points (like we are), then this free Visa offered by Scotia is packed with value. Depending on your area, evening movies are around $12 per adult (non 3D). SCENE collectors are eligible for a free movie ticket after collecting 1000 points.
With this Visa offering 1 SCENE point for every dollar spent, and bonus points on Cineplex spending, the return works out to be at least 1.26% on movie tickets. The more you spend at Cineplex using this card, the higher the return on spending.
You get 5x bonus points for using this Visa in Cineplex, in addition to the 100 points your regular SCENE membership gives you when buying movie tickets. For example, two movie tickets cost around $24. Using your SCENE Visa and your SCENE membership card would give you 220 points per movie visit. The 5x bonus also counts toward concession spending. So if you put $2k on this card a month, it’s at least two free movie tickets per month.
The downside is that it does not offer any insurances.
- 4000 bonus SCENE points on activation (enough for 4 movie tickets), 250 bonus points when you sign up for the SCENE membership;
- 1 SCENE point for every $1 spent on the Visa card;
- 2 SCENE points for every $1 spent at Cineplex;
- 1000 SCENE required for a free movie ticket; and,
- SCENE membership offers 10% off concessions.
PC Financial World Elite Mastercard
I like this no fee MasterCard as it is simple and the user gets points towards an everyday expense… groceries! This card return on spending is about equivalent to a 1% cash back card except when they give away bonus points when purchasing in store products. Great card for those who get groceries at Loblaws.
- 30 points per dollar spent at Loblaws grocery chains (Superstore, No Frills, Dominion, Independent, Wholesale Club) Esso, Mobil, and PC Travel
- 45 points per dollar spent at Shoppers Drug Mart
- 10 points per dollar spent everywhere else
- Travel emergency medical insurance
- Rental car insurance
Top Travel Rewards Credit Card
For those that like to accumulate travel rewards via their credit card. What I look for in a travel rewards card is one that has versatility and not locked into a single airline or company. As well, the return on spending needs to be relatively high, and preferably with an insurance package (updated November 2021).
You can also read a more detailed breakdown in my 2021 best Canadian travel credit cards comparison or my list of best Aeroplan cards.
MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard (best no fee travel card)
With no fees or a minimum income requirement, MBNA Rewards is perfect if you want to earn points and avoid those pesky annual fees. MBNA also has a great welcome bonus of up to 10,000 points: 5,000 if you spend $500 within the first 90 days and another “Paperless Bonus” of 5,000 points, if you sign up for online banking and paperless statements within the first 90 days.
BMO Air Miles MasterCard
Some of you are very loyal Air Miles collectors but lets face it, they can take a long time to accumulate. That’s where an Air Miles credit card can help. This BMO offering is the best Air Miles credit card in Canada (imo) as they offer 1 air mile for every $20 in spending with no annual fee. As well, they have a respectable insurance benefits package, but not as comprehensive as the capital one card listed above.
- 1 Air Mile for every $20 in spending.
- 1.5x Miles at Shell, National Car Rental and Alamo
- Theft Insurance (90 days)
- Extended Warranty (up to 1 year)
CIBC Aeroplan Visa
If you are more focused on accumulating Aeroplan points, then CIBC Aeroplan Visa is the best no fee Aeroplan card out there. They offer very attractive rewards and benefits, with a very reasonable $15,000 minimum income requirement (per household, not individual) and no annual fee whatsoever.
CIBC Aeroplan Visa also offers a generous welcome bonus of 10,000 points on your first purchase. On top of that, they have a specialized version of the card for students.
- 1 point for every $1 spent on gas, groceries, and with Air Canada directly
- 1 point for every $1.50 spent on everything else.
- Common carrier accident insurance
- Car rental and loss damage insurance
- Purchase security
- Extended warranty
- Earn 1 point for every $6 spent on a CIBC Global Money Transfer (no transaction fees)
- Car rental discounts of up to 25% at participating Avis and Budget locations worldwide
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Update on the PC Financial Mastercard. Aside from any other features, as of the beginning of 2014, they have an option to upgrade the card to the World version for free to obtain 20 points per $1 spent vs the original 10 points. (I just performed this upgrade a couple of weeks ago).
This effectively makes this card equivalent to a 2% cash on groceries card. Especially important is that there is NO CAP!
I consider this as points card that is as good as cash, because points values convert to cash @100% (vs other reward cards that penalize you if you opt for cash equivalences).
@ leo: My first credit card I ever had was the PC Financial, I had no credit history, and was a very poor student. If you buy groceries at their stores, it’ll give you a nice 1% points for grocery, something we all use all the time. I know a lot of people using this site have it because the rewards are good, it’s fairly easy to get, no annual fees, the points are really easy to use, and it rewards you with something we all need… food.
Hope it helps!
I’ve been consulting this site for years, and I admirer your dedication to squeezing as much reward as possible out of these credit card company. I have followed many of your advice first with the MC SPG, then MBNA Smart Cash. So I have been both using cash back cards and rewards card, and I’ve used both extensively.
Now my question is with the new changes, and eligible upgrade we have to the MBNA Smart Cash World, what is the overall best card (or combination) for those of us that use that use plastic for everything we purchase, (and pay it in full). I saw that for “light to medium users” the best was to combine the MBNA Cash Back World and the Capital one Cash Back, but what about the “heavier” user, who purchase $15-30k a year? Even with annual fee, and including cash and rewards.
Thank you for your comments!
@Yanni, thanks for the kind feedback. For a medium/heavy user, I think a combo of the SC World and the capital one 1.5% cash back card is the best bet. Some people like the Scotia 4% card (gas/groceries/drug stores), but there is an annual fee.
Can someone suggest me a good credit card with no annual fee that will approve for someone with no credit history. Please note its not bad credit history.. its NO credit history. My wife has always just used my credit card.. i never bothered to build her credit history until now.. I dont like secured credit cards either..
thx in advance.
I am dissatisfied with my Capital One travel rewards card, for one reason: When you go to redeem points, you must redeem a multiple 15,000 points for each multiple of $150 you redeem, and you must redeem against a single transaction.
So, if I spend 1 night in a hotel and pay $100 (because I’m pretty cheap), I have to spend 15000 points on it. If I spend $20 on a ferry, 15000 points. If I buy a flight for $301, I have to redeem the same amount as if I spent $449, and if I buy two $301 one-way flights, I’d have to redeem them individually and take the hit twice.
I admit it gets better the more money you spend, but it irritates me that 1% is a theoretical maximum instead of a proper rate. Might as well just take the cash back.
These people at pc financial really do suck. They will take your money from your account and give it to a third party without your knowledge and consent and without a court order. That’s a criminal offense with jail time and a fine. AVOID THEM LIKE THE PLAGUE!
CIBC visa, the most baxic caard. No fees and 1% back paid out (or put against your balance) once a year in December.
Was there something ever written about the MBNA Travel Rewards card?
In response to #14Cannon_fodder, Canadain banks can issue both mastercard and Visa. Goto RBC Visa, they issue Visa and also WestJet Mastercard reward card.