Many readers have emailed me asking about what Canadian Credit cards to get, so I’ve decided to write a post listing all the good credit card offers. I place most credit cards worth getting in three categories – those you get for the signup bonus, those you get for great spend earnings, and those you get for the benefits. Of course, there’s quite a lot of overlap between the categories.
Given that there are very limited credit card opportunities in Canada, my personal recommendation and approach is to apply for cards where the benefits (from a signup bonus, earning potential, and other card offers) outweigh the costs to acquire the card, which is the credit pull to your score as well any potential annual fees. I talked briefly about the impact of applying for credit cards in this post.
Here’s my thoughts on the top Canadian Credit cards for this month. I think most of these cards are “must-have” at some point in time. Obviously don’t apply for all of them at once! If there are any better offers that I’ve missed, please tell me what I’ve missed via email.
I’ve divided the cards into two categories – cards which have either targeted, time-sensitive, or otherwise special offers associated with them, and other good offers.
Limited Time/Promotional Offers
These links are generally superior to application links publicly available online.
The American Express Aeroplan Gold Card has one of the most lucrative fee-free signup bonus, and because of that, is a card worth applying for. The reasonable annual fee is waived and there is a limited-time increased signup bonus. The best current public offer is 25,000 points which will change July 14th. I’ve never seen a higher public offer historically, so if you don’t already have the card, this is one of the EASIEST ways to increase your stash of Aeroplan points. 30,000 Aeroplan miles will, for example, take you from Tokyo to Singapore and back in business class… not a bad value at all. Alternatively, it’s a one-way ticket to Europe, if you do economy class redemptions.
The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card has a new offer which started at the beginning of this month, with a 30,000 points signup bonus, which is higher than the previous public offer of 15,000 points. This is a card with earns fixed-value travel points, which means you can redeem them as a rebate on travel purchases on your card online. These 30,000 points are worth $300 in travel.
However, what’s most appealing about this credit card is the ongoing benefit of 4 points per dollar spent on certain everyday categories, such as gas and groceries. This is significantly higher than any competing card in Canada, and a huge reason to get the card if you have a high amount of spending in those categories.
As well, the travel insurance component is worth mentioning as the 25 day emergency medical is worth something if you take longer trips vs the 14-21 day travel insurance coverages of cards. For example, the American Express Platinum Card (which is usually my go-to card for travel benefits) only has 15 day coverage, so having this cards saves you the tens of dollars needed to top up your coverage for a longer trip.
The Chase Canada Marriott Visa is the best credit card in Canada for purchase abroad as there is no foreign transaction fee. As well, this targeted offer is for 50,000 points which is available until July 31st, which is superior to the regular offer of 30,000 points. 50,000 points will get you a night at a top-tier Marriott, or a mid-tier Ritz Carlton hotel in places such as Moscow, Vienna, Osaka, Toronto, and many other places. Alternatively, Marriott points can be transferred to many airlines but that may not get you as great of a value. Generally, I’d place the value of this card as around $250-350, depending on your valuation of a hotel room free night award. Silver status may also be of value at the occasional stay with the Marriott Chain.
The annual fee is $120 but is easily offset by the complimentary free night certificate each year, making this a valuable card that is definitely worth keeping for the second year and beyond. As well, the annual fee is waived for the first year. The Terms & Conditions of the card do state that the signup bonus can only be earned once per cardholder, although there have been sporadic reports that people have gotten the cards multiple times.
- 60,000 bonus points after $1000 spend within 3 months
- $200 annual credit per calendar year ($400 first year)
- Priority Pass and more lounge access
I’ve talked about the American Express Platinum Card before here, but it’s one of the best cards to have as a travel hacker. Lounge access when flying is invaluable and the signup bonus easily offsets the first year’s annual fee. 60,000 points is generally as good as it gets for the Platinum Card, which is superior to the 50,000 point signup bonus in the publicly available offer.
- 25,000 Bonus Miles upon approval
- annual coach Companion Fare every year from $99 base fare
- 3 miles per $1 spent on Alaska Airlines
- $75 annual fee
The MBNA Alaska Airlines MasterCard offers 25,000 bonus miles upon signup (enough for a domestic round trip award, especially to Alaska). The $99 companion fare also comes in very handy, again especially to more expensive destination throughout the Alaska network (of which there are quite a few). Alaska miles are one of the most valuable types of airline miles and is great for first/business class redemptions on Emirates, Cathay Pacific, and other aspirational carriers.
- 25,000 bonus Delta SkyMiles with $1000 spend in the first three months
- 2 miles for every $1 on all purchases
- 10,000 annual bonus miles when you spend at least $25,000
- $120 annual fee
The Capital One Delta SkyMiles Visa is the only card in Canada that offers 2 points per dollar on general spend – even if it is SkyMiles. The bonus essentially means that you will receive 60,000 miles for $25,000 spend, or 2.4 miles per dollar. There are still some good SkyMiles redemptions to be had, especially to Asia, Australia or the Pacific.
- 25,000 bonus points after $500 spend within the first three months
- Double points on eligible travel, gas stations, grocery stores and drugstores
- Annual fee of $150 waived for the first year
The American Express Gold Rewards Card is another card that is worth signing up for, at least for the 25,000 bonus miles. The bonus categories mean it is a good card to keep if you do a large percentage of your spend in an eligible double points category. Otherwise, the SPG American Express is generally superior for everyday spend.
You may have also noticed the Canadian Credit Cards page in the header, where I will periodically update the best deals from time to time. If you have any questions regarding applicable cards to apply for, feel free to reach me by twitter or email.