Top Cash Back Credit Cards In Canada

Using a top cash back credit card can be a great way to earn rewards for your day-to-day spending.  Just make sure you have the discipline pay off your balance in full each month, or the interest charges will more than offset your cash back rewards.

With a young family at home, collecting travel rewards isn’t a priority, so instead, I like to use one of the top cash back credit cards and get cold-hard cash back to help supplement my everyday spending.

Cash back credit cards are increasing in popularity these days as Canadians become frustrated with the restrictions and declining value for travel rewards programs like Aeroplan and Air Miles.

Top Cash Back Credit Cards

I looked into the best cash back credit cards in Canada, including annual fee cards and no fee cards.  I calculated the cash back rewards based on spending $2,500 per month, which includes $650 on groceries and $150 on gas.

Related: How to boost your credit card rewards

Here are the top cash back credit cards in Canada:

Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite

  • 4% cash back on all eligible gas station and grocery store purchases
  • 2% cash back on recurring payments and drug store purchases
  • 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases.
  • $99 annual fee
  • 1.99% introductory interest rate on cash advances and balance transfers for the first six months.
  • Dedicated Visa Infinite website to help you easily track your cash back rewards.
  • Purchase protection and extended warranty

With the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite, I can earn cash back rewards of $684 per year.  However, when you subtract the $99 annual fee I’m left with $585 cash back each year.

Sign up for the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite here – (link)

Capital One Aspire World MasterCard

  • 2 reward miles for every $1 spent
  • 35,000 bonus reward miles on your first purchase
  • 10,000 anniversary bonus reward miles every year
  • $120 annual fee
  • Redeem points for travel, cash back or merchandise
  • Trip interruption or cancellation insurance
  • Purchase protection and extended warranty

The Capital One Aspire World MasterCard is marketed as a travel rewards credit card, however with flexible redemption options you can redeem your points for cash; easily making this one of the top cash back credit cards in Canada.

Calculating points with the Capital One Aspire World MasterCard is straightforward:  10,000 points = $75

2 miles for every $1 in purchases – 60,000 points
35,000 bonus miles with first purchase – 35,000 points
10,000 bonus anniversary miles – 10,000 points

With this card, I can earn cash back rewards of $787.50 in the first year.  After subtracting the $120 annual fee I’m still left with $667.50 cash back.  However, without the 35,000 bonus miles in subsequent years my annual cash back rewards drops to $525.

Sign up for the Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard here – (link)

MBNA Smart Cash World MasterCard

  • 5% cash back on gas and groceries for the first 6 months, up to $400 per month
  • 2% cash back afterwards, up to $400 per month
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • No annual fee
  • 1.99% introductory balance transfer rate for the first 10 months
  • Receive a cheque automatically once your cash back totals at least $50 per month
  • Purchase protection and extended warranty

With the MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard, I can earn cash back rewards of $420 in the first year, and there is no annual fee.  However, after the first year the annual cash back drops down to $348.

Sign up for the MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard here – (link)

Final Thoughts

The main factor to consider when choosing a rewards credit card is the amount of money you spend each month on your card.  Annual fee credit cards don’t make sense until you have a good income and are spending at least $2,500 per month on your card.

These top cash back credit cards all have their own unique benefits.  Some rewards cards promote major incentives during the first year to draw in customers, but don’t offer the best rewards over the long term.

I personally use the MBNA Smart Cash World MasterCard and I enjoy this card because it’s easy to use and the cash back rewards are automatically sent to me once I reach the $50 threshold.  5% cash back on groceries and gas for the first 6 months is a pretty nice bonus.

But recent changes from MBNA have watered down the Smart Cash rewards program, so when you compare it to the top cash back credit cards, it’s a distant 3rd.

At first glance, with the incredible first year earnings offered by the Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard, this card should be the top cash back credit card in Canada.  Receiving $667.50 cash back in the first year is amazing, but the cash back rewards drop down to $525 in subsequent years.

It looks like the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite credit card is the top cash back card based on my spending levels.  Here’s how the three cards stack up over three years:

Cash Back Credit Card Rewards in First Year Rewards after Three Years
Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite $585.00 $1,755.00
Capital One Aspire World MasterCard $667.50 $1,717.50
MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard $420.00 $1,116.00

You can’t go wrong with either of these top cash back credit cards, but for pure earnings it looks like the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite offers the best bang for your buck over the long term.

  • Sign up for Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite here – (link)
  • Sign up for the Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard here – (link)
  • Sign up for MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard here – (link)

 

23 Responses to Top Cash Back Credit Cards In Canada

  1. SavingMentor says:

    I use a combination of 3 cards and 2 of them you have listed here and 1 of them isn’t currently available for new signups.

    1) MBNA Smart Cash
    2) Capital One Aspire World
    3) MBNA Worldpoints World Mastercard

    Both 1) and 3) have no fee. I keep the Aspire because of its great insurance benefits along with its annual bonus which covers most of the annual fee.

    Using your calculations the Worldpoints MasterCard would actually give the best annual cash back ($600) because it is a straight 2% cash back card with no tiers, limits, or fees. Unfortunately it was only offered to existing customers (with no annual fee anyway) who initially held the MBNA Starwood Preferred Guest MasterCard. Those customers were converted to the MBNA Travel Rewards Elite from that card and then from there to the Worldpoints card.

    It is really a great card too because you can get your cash back whenever you want via direct deposit to your bank, statement credit, or by requesting a cheque.

    • Echo says:

      @Saving Mentor – thanks for stopping by. I heard the MBNA SPG MasterCard was one of the top rewards credit card before they discontinued it.

      I like your combination approach. That might work well for me now that the 6 month bonus period has ended with the Smart Cash card.

      Do you agree that the Scotia Momentum Visa is the top cash back card currently on the market? The redemption is about as close to 2% as you can get.

  2. mycanuckbuck says:

    Great comparison chart! I currently have a travel card, which was worth it for the sign up bonus (I only have to pay half the regular fee as well). But – I think when it’s time to “renew” I may just switch to cash back card, so I’ve bookmarked this and will come back to it!

    • Echo says:

      @mycanuckbuck – thanks! What I like about the Capital One Aspire card is the flexibility to redeem points for travel or cash. And the first year bonus is pretty sweet.

  3. I actually just switched to the Scotia Momentum away from the ScotiaGold Passport. The points weren’t enough anymore to fly the family around and I had to book through Scotia to make use of the points which is not always best depending on the trip.

    So far I like it. I have never owned a MasterCard, it may be time I start looking at them as they appear to show up near the top of reviews.

    Cheers.

    • Echo says:

      @The Passive Income Earner – I was surprised to find out the Scotia Momentum Infinite Visa offered the best cash back over 3+ years.

      It might be a good idea to have the Capital One Aspire World MasterCard as an alternate card. The insurance coverage is fantastic and the bonus points alone in year one make it worthwhile.

  4. Oscar says:

    I was under the impression that with Capital One card that 10,000 points = $100. please correct me if i am wrong???

    • Echo says:

      Hi Oscar, that is correct when redeeming points for travel. I was looking at strictly cash-back options, and Capital One offers 10,000 points for $75 cash.

  5. ram says:

    I need help I speend $1000 a month minim and I want good card on Cash back every month please help me thank you

  6. Kenny says:

    Capital One Aspire Cash World MC has no annual fee. Stopped reading your article due to inaccuracy.

  7. Timbo says:

    @kenny – Capital One Aspire Cash World MC was not even mentioned in the article; probably a good thing that you stopped reading, doesn’t seem to be a strong point with you

  8. Randy says:

    Hey,

    Good article, I agree with the cards you have selected.

    However, I would have added another coloumn showing actual cash back first year and after 3 years seeing as the scotia card requires 99 dollar payment per year which impacts the amount of total cash earned. If you look at it based on the 650 groceries and 150 gas. Based on that situation you should never go with the Scotia card. Over the 3 year period : 1,755 – 99 x 3 = 1,458. Which is less than the free MBNA card.

    If we also look at the MBNA card without the 5% seeing as its only for 6 months and to compare with the Scotia. The MBNA card = 492 cash back based on the 650 groceries and gas and the scotia = 489. The Scotia could equal more if you can get 150 dollars per year on the 2% recurring bills at which point it would be equal to the MBNA card and if you get more then the 99 dollar fee is definitively worth it.

    I am do the same as the first poster and use the Aspire with the MBNA card. Only using the MBNA for the 3% on gas and groceries and the Aspire on the remainder seeing as it pays provides 1.5% back.

    Conclusion: Basically you have to go through the calculations to determine that it suits your needs best. I do not have enough recurring bills to compensate for the 99 dollar fee versus the free MBNA card and therefore have opted for the Aspire / MBNA strategy.

    • Pete says:

      MBNA is dropping to 1% on everything upto $1250 for Dec. 1, 2012. MBNA is no longer a top 3 option. Thanks, TD Bank. Also the article states that the $99 re-curring fee also gives you additional renewal points that cover a significant portion of the $99 fee.

  9. Echo says:

    @Randy – thanks for your comment. The chart does show the actual cash back, minus any fees, so the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite does offer the best returns over 3 years in this scenario.

    You’re right though, everyone needs to understand their spending habits before choosing a cash back credit card.

    For example, if you buy a lot of groceries at Costco, you need to realize they only take AMEX credit cards…so the Smart Cash card with 3% cash back on groceries won’t really benefit you that much.

    In that case I would use the Costco AMEX for groceries and the Capital One Aspire card for everything else.

  10. withnomercy says:

    I am using MBNA Smartcash and Capitalone aspire cash world together now. After the first 6 months 5% cash bonus from the MBNA Smartcash, I will ask my wife to apply the same card and have the 5% for another 6 months, so that will give me 5% cash back for grocery and gas for a whole year.
    Since Capitalone won’t approve your application to another aspire world travel at the same time you apply the aspire cash world card, I will wait another 6 months and apply aspire travel world. If you have a family, apply all the card seperately, and you will have the most benifits in your hand.

  11. Eric says:

    Be sure to read the fine prints…
    The Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite looks like a great deal! But reading the fine lines shows that the 4% is capped at 25000$, the 2$ is capped at 25000$ also, and the 1% is only applied after you have reached the two 25000$ limit! (overflow) So until you reach these limits, all of you other purchases evry month do not accumulate any cash back points.

    Also be advised the the MBNA smart cash rewards is changing its program as of Dec 1st 2012. The 3% on groceries and gas becomes 2% and is capped at 400$ of spending a month versus 600 before. And the 1% remaining which wasn’t capped before is now capped at 1250$ of max spending a month. So the max you can earn a month is now 16.50$! and they only send a cheque when you reach 50$, not such a good deal anymore.

    Read the fine lines! For all the cards.

    Cheers.

    • Eric says:

      The Aspire Cash world master card from capital One has now no annual fees.

    • Kibosh says:

      @Eric That is not true. You get 4% cash back on gas and groceries, 2% on pharmacy and recurring, and 1% on all other purchases.

      Once you have spent 25,000 on gas and groceries the rest of your spending is called overflow and it drops to 1% . . . likewise for pharmacy and recurring. How many people spend that much on gas and groceries in a year!?!

      • @Eric
        I also can verify what Kibosh mentions. I use the VISA momentum and I get the 4%, 2% and 1% cash back as described. Interestingly enough, you also just have to spend money at a Pharmacy store to get the 2% without buying pharmacy items.

        • Kibosh says:

          Ya, I like to buy LCBO gift cards at Shoppers so I can get 2% on my wine purchases. My local Real Canadian Superstore doesn’t have them or else i’d get them there for the 4%.

  12. John says:

    I’m very disappointed with the MBNA Cash Smart Card.

    Having signed up for it only 2 months ago on the basis of a 3% cash back on $600 of gas and groceries, MBNA has now reduced the cash back to 2% on $400.

    I will definitely be looking at switching to a different card once the 6 month introductory promo from MBNA is over.

  13. Keith says:

    If you intend to cancel in protest, if might be appropriate to share your feelings with MBNA’s owner: TD Canada Trust.

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