It’s nice to get cash back rewards on your credit card spending, but the top cash back credit cards come with an annual fee that can take a bite out of your earnings. If you’re not a big spender, the best option is a no-fee cash back credit card.
Best No-Fee Cash Back Credit Cards
You can still earn big rewards with a no-fee card. I’ve been using the MBNA Smart Cash card for over a year, and so far I’ve collected $700 in cash back.
With this no-fee cash back credit card, you get 5% back on groceries and gas for the first 6 months, and 2% back thereafter. You’ll also get 1% back on all your other purchases, including recurring bill payments.
Once unmatched as the best no-fee cash back credit card in Canada, the Smart Cash card now has a new rival. That’s because Capital One made some changes to their Aspire Cash card, which includes dropping the $120 annual fee.
With Aspire Cash you’ll get 1% cash back on everything you spend, which is pretty standard for a no-fee rewards card. But you’ll also get an extra 50% bonus on your cash rewards each year – which boosts your cash back rewards to 1.5%. On top of that, Capital One throws in a generous $100 cash bonus with your first purchase.
To find the right card, you need to figure out how much money you spend on average each month. Some annual fee credit cards offer juicy rewards, but unless you have a high income and spend more than $2,000 per month on your card, you’re probably better off with a no-fee rewards credit card.
Related: Best Credit Cards For Travel Rewards
No-Fee Cash Back Credit Card Comparison
I took a look at the best cash back credit cards with no annual fee, and compared them based on spending $1,000 per month and $2,000 per month to see which one came out on top.
I also looked at how much cash back you’ll earn after using the card for three years to balance out the cards that pay big bonuses in the first year.
|Credit Card||Annual Cash back $1,000/month*||After 3-years||Annual Cash back $2,000/month**||After 3-years|
|Capital One Aspire Cash||$280||$640||$460||$1,180|
|RBC Cash Back||$160||$504||$336||$1,008|
|MBNA Smart Cash||$240||$576||$270||$666|
|TD Rebate Rewards||$120||$360||$240||$720|
|Scotia Momentum No-Fee||$102||$306||$204||$612|
*based on spending $400 per month on groceries and $100 per month on gas
**based on spending $800 per month on groceries and $200 per month on gas
How To Get More Cash Back Rewards
The Capital One Aspire Cash card comes out ahead of the other no-fee cash back credit cards in all four categories. That’s because this card basically pays 1.5% cash back on all your spending, not just boosting it for grocery and gas spending.
But if you spend a lot on groceries and gas, but not on much else, the MBNA Smart Cash card is worth a look. You’ll get 5% cash back for six months on grocery and gas spending, and 2% cash back thereafter. The downside to the Smart Cash card is there’s a $400 per month cap on grocery and gas spending, and it only pays 1% on all other purchases, up to a maximum of $1,250 a month.
When you use the Capital One Aspire Cash card in tandem with the Smart Cash card, you can boost your credit card rewards in the first year by over 20% – from $460 to $556. Here’s how it works when you spend $2,000 a month:
|Spending category||Monthly spending||Annual cash back from Smart Cash||Annual cash back from Aspire Cash|
|Groceries / gas||$1,000||$168||$72|
The point here is to max out the grocery and gas multiplier with your Smart Cash card, and then use the Capital One Aspire Cash card for everything else.
You’re getting the best from both cash back credit cards, taking advantage of the full 5% bonus for six months, then 2% from the Smart Cash card and then getting 1.5% using the Aspire cash card, plus the $100 bonus.
- Sign up for the MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard here – (link)
- Sign up for the Capital One Aspire World MasterCard here – (link)
Do you use a no-fee cash back credit card? Do you use it in tandem with another card to maximize rewards?