Top Premium Cash Back Credit Cards in Canada

To follow up on my list of free cash back credit cards in Canada, I’ve had a number of readers come to me about the “fee” based cards that can offer more cash back, even after accounting for the annual fee.

My favourite free cash back credit card right now is the Rogers World Elite Mastercard.  It offers 1.75% cash back on general spending and 4% cash back on FX spending.

While free credit cards are great, there are times when household spending increases to the point where the extra value offered by the “premium cards” are worth the annual fee.  Over the last couple of years, it seems that the premium space has become more competitive with better choice and value for Canadians.

Out of the bunch, there are three premium credit cards that stand out from the rest. These, in my opinion, are the best cash back credit cards in Canada with an annual fee.

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Scotia Momentum Infinite Visa

Right now, this is my favourite premium credit card out there due to the huge 4% cash back that they offer on grocery spending and recurring bills. In addition to the 4% cash back, they offer 2% on gasoline and daily transit costs, then 1% on everything else.
The Rewards

  • 4% cash back on groceries and recurring bill payments;
  • 2% cash back on gas and daily transit; and
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases (no apparent limit).

Insurance

  • Purchase Protection – 90 days insurance in case of theft or damage (up to $10,000).
  • Extended Warranty – Doubles warranty up to 1 year.
  • Rental Car Collision Insurance.
  • Travel Medical Insurance.
  • Trip Interruption.
  • Flight Delay.
  • Delayed and Lost Baggage.

Annual Fee: $120/year ($50 for secondary card) – annual fee waived for first year.

Scotia Momentum Infinite Visa Review

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MBNA Rewards Mastercard

This is perhaps one of the most underrated credit cards in Canada right now.  While I like the Scotia card above due to the grocery rewards, this card is great for all other spending as it rewards 2% cash back without any limits.  However, the insurance package is not up to what I would expect for an “World Elite” card.

The Rewards

  • 2% cash back on all purchases with no limit.

Insurance

  • Purchase Protection – 90 days insurance in case of theft or damage.
  • Extended Warranty – Doubles warranty up to 1 year.
  • Rental Car Collision and Belongings Insurance.
  • Price Protection – Find a lower advertised price within 60 days of purchase and they will cover the difference.
  • Unexpected Return Home – Coverage in the case of death of an immediate relative while on a trip.

Annual Fee: $89/year ($0 for secondary card) – annual fee waived for first year.

MBNA SmartCash Credit Card Review

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BMO CashBack World Elite MasterCard

This is BMO’s latest offering in the cash back space, and it’s a good one!  The card offers 1.75% cash back with no limits and perhaps the best insurance coverage out of them all.  While it has the highest annual fee for the primary user ($120/year), there is no fee for a secondary user, and if you have a BMO Premium Chequing account, the annual fee for this card is waived.

BMO Premium Chequing is a pricey account that charges $30/month, but that is waived if you carry a $5,000 balance.  This card is a decent choice for BMO banking customers.

The Rewards

  • 1.75% cash back on all purchases with no limit.

Insurance

  • Purchase Protection – 180 days (compared with 90 days for others) insurance in case of theft or damage.
  • Extended Warranty – Doubles warranty up to 2 years (compared with 1 year for others).
  • Rental Car Collision and Belongings Insurance.
  • Complimentary Roadside Assistance.
  • Unexpected Return Home – Coverage in the case of death of an immediate relative while on a trip.
  • Flight Delay Insurance.
  • Lost Baggage Insurance.
  • Travel Medical.

Annual Fee: $120/year ($0 for secondary card) – annual fee waived for the first year.  Annual fee waived permanently if you hold a BMO Premium account – avoid the $30/month account fee by keeping a $5,000 balance.

BMO CashBack World Elite MasterCard Review

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Final Thoughts

There are a number of premium credit cards out there competing for your annual fee payments.  However, out of the forest of Canadian credit cards, I have three favorites: Scotia Momentum Infinite Visa; MBNA Rewards World Elite MasterCard; and, BMO Cashback World Elite MasterCard.  All three are good choices which really depend on your shopping habits.

If you are a family with a big grocery and gas bill every month, then the Scotia card will likely give you more cash back than anything else on the market.

However, if you value simplicity in just having one card for all your shopping, then its a toss up between the MBNA and BMO card.  Both cards are MasterCard which has the bonus of being accepted at Costco.

The MBNA has a higher cash back reward and a lower annual fee, but the BMO card has a better insurance package.  If I had to choose between the two, I would pick MBNA unless I did all my banking with BMO to avoid the annual fee.

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FT

FT is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.
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NoName
3 years ago

You left out the CIBC Dividend cards.

4% for gas and groceries
2% at Tims and Telus (not that much of a perk)
1% anywhere else

99$ annual fee.

For a gas/groceries cash back it is pretty good, with a higher limit than Scotia Momentum card (80K vs 25K).

Pretty good insurance features too. You can find the two card variants here:

https://www.cibc.com/ca/credit-cards/cc-comparison-results.html?vdic,vdpc

smayer97
3 years ago
Reply to  NoName

Yes not a bad card and worth mentioning BUT need to correct a detail…
The $80K limit is for the TOTAL spend on the CIBC card. In fact it has a $20K limit for each of the first 2 categories (gas & groceries vs Telus & Tim Hortons—who can spend $20K on those 2 vendors alone???).
Compare that with Scotiabank which has a $25K limit PER first 2 categories (gas & groceries vs recurring expenses) and an NO CAP on TOTAL spend. All for the same price as the CIBC card.

So to me it looks like the Scotiabank card is a better deal, keeping in mind the potential limitations of VISA acceptance (e.g. No Frills, Costco).

SIDE NOTE: Who would have thought that VISA would no longer be accepted at some vendors. Used to be MC that was less accepted, many days gone by.

BCCM
3 years ago

Head’s up, Sept.1/2017 the BMO World Elite M/C will be dropping from 1.75% to 1.50% return, and as of ~May/2017 the balance requirements to waive the fee on BMO’s chequing account has risen to $6,000 from $5,000.

smayer97
3 years ago
smayer97
3 years ago

BTW, just learned of another cash back card that may be interested to some…
TD Cash Back Visa Infinite card.

3% cash back on gas, groceries and recurring transactions, 1% on all else, with no caps. $120/yr annual fee, $50 for supplemental cards, though some (all?) fees waived if you maintain certain TD bank products.

Being a Visa, cannot use it at No Frills (our main grocery store), so does not work for us.

And still does not top the Laurentian Visa I mention above., especially since I do not hold any bank accounts at TD.

Aaron
4 years ago

The exact comparison I was looking for, between the two top-rated cards you mention below. Thanks for a focused and thoughtful analysis.

smayer97
4 years ago

The link for “MBNA Smart Cash card” at the very top seems to be incorrect. It just keeps coming back to this page. I believe it is suppose to take you to this page:
https://milliondollarjourney.com/top-cash-back-credit-cards-in-canada.htm

Karl Boehme
4 years ago

Hello
I came about your website today after I hadn’t realized the my CIBC Drivers Edge Master Card was being morphed into a CIBC Visa Dividend Infinite Card. Your site is great but has left me with a question. I need to have a MasterCard now as I technically don’t have one. I’m a Tangerine customer so this looks like a good possible fit but I had never realized anything about the “unqualified spend categories”. Are there any cards out there (free or premium) that give rewards in these “unqualified spend categories”
Thanks
Karl B

smayer97
4 years ago
Reply to  Karl Boehme

The Tangerine MC offers 1% for all other categories. And if you deposit the cash back rewards into a Tangerine savings account, you get 3 preferred categories.
BUT if you need a MC card and you expect your annual spend to significant per year, I would strongly have you consider the MBNA World Elite card, assuming you qualify based on annual income.

You would have to run the numbers based on the categories that qualify vs do not with Tangerine and compare that to the MBNA + the annual premium to see if it would benefit you. Currently, the MBNA is the best premium cash back MC card IMHO, if you need MC.

Alternatively, if you shop primarily at Loblaws related stores, the PC Wold Elite MC is a great alternative choice (with NO premium), at 3% for all grocery purchases, 4¢/l discount for gas at Loblaws affiliated stations (these include Superstore Gas Bar, No Frills, and Refuel stations in Ontario), and 1% on everything else. Note that this is a points cards, which I call an equivalent to cash, but only if you shop at Loblaws affiliated stores.

Martin
4 years ago
Reply to  smayer97

Has anyone used the almost new Myvanilla prepaid Master card that came out last year or this year? It is reloadable. If there is 7-11 stores that also sell Petro Can gas in your area, then that is the best way to maximize the Scotia momentum Visa Infinite cash back by combining the reward powers of Visa cash back & Petro points if you use the Scotia Visa to buy the reloadable Myvanilla prepaid Master card from the 7-11 stores that also sell Petro Can gas to earn Petro Can points. You can change all non gas $ grocery spendings to earn 4% or more rewards when combining the Visa cash back & Petro Can points.