I’ve written about top cash back credit cards in Canada before, and even modified my top pick. 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.
1. Scotia Cineplex SCENE Visa (link) (editors top consumer pick)
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;
- 5 SCENE points for every $1 spent at Cineplex;
- 1000 SCENE required for a free movie ticket; and,
- SCENE membership offers 10% off concessions.
2. PC Financial
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.
- 10 points for every $1 spent on the card towards grocery dollars.
- They have promotions at various times of the year to earn extra points, but for the most part the conversion is a 1% return on your money.
- Theft Insurance/Extended Warranty (not applicable to computer hardware/software)
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 June 2010).
1. Capital One Aspire™ Travel Platinum MasterCard® (editors top travel pick)
In the process of updating this article, I stumbled upon this card and I was pleasantly surprised at what I found. This card enables the card holder to earn “miles” on their purchases. After doing all the conversions, it works out to be 1.25% return on your spending if the miles are used for travel.
The advantage of this card is the flexibility where the miles can be used towards any travel with any company (flights, hotels, cruises etc). As well, points can be redeemed instantly online without contacting a rep over the phone. What really gives this no fee card the competitive advantage are the “best in class” insurance benefits.
- Earn 1 reward mile for every $1 spent – on all purchases.
- 10,000 bonus reward miles with your first purchase.
- 25% extra anniversary bonus reward miles every year.
- Redeem for travel, cash, merchandise or gift cards.
- Price Protection – If you find a lower price on your purchase within 60 days, Capital One will refund you the difference up to $100
- Theft Insurance up to 120 days (typically 90 days)
- Extended Warranty up to 2 years (typically up to 1 year)
- Car Rental Collision and Damage Waiver
- Delay Baggage Benefit
- Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance ($250k)
Editors Note: If you spend more than $1,000 per year, then, after factoring in bonuses, you’ll get a higher return with the fee based Capital One Aspire™ Travel World MasterCard®. This card works out to be a 2% return towards flexible travel with every imaginable credit card insurance benefit included. You can read the full Capital One Aspire™ Travel World MasterCard® Review here – one of my favorite fee based cards out there today with a lowish net annual fee of $20 (after annual bonuses).
2. BMO Air Miles MasterCard (link) (editors pick)
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)
3. American Express Blue Sky
This card is similar to the Capital One offering where the card holder accumulates points towards any type of travel. The great thing about this card is the rewards accumulation of 1.25% return on the cardholders spending. However, the insurance offering is lacking and the reduced acceptance of AMEX relative to Visa/MasterCard needs to be accounted for.
- Earn 1.25 points for every $1 spent on the card.
- Redeem points for any travel (hotels, flights, car rentals) charged to the card with no blackout dates. 10,000 points = $100.
- Travel Accident Insurance
4. American Express Air Miles (link)
The American Express offering is similar to the BMO except it does not have any insurance benefits. They offer 1 mile for every $20 in spending along with a 100 bonus miles the first time you use the card.