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Canada's 10 Best Overall Credit Cards

Last updated: 2024-07-01

Read time 11 mins

When used responsibly, credit cards are a fantastic way to earn travel rewards and unlock other incredible experiences.Here are our recommendations for the best overall credit cards in Canada.

Best Travel Credit Card

When it comes to premium perks, the American Express Platinum Card can't be beat. The card offers extremely strong benefits that make its high annual fee worthwhile.The Platinum Card earns Membership Rewards points, the most flexible transferable rewards in Canada. You can get the best available welcome bonus by applying through a refer-a-friend link.Otherwise, the card earns 2 MR points per dollar spent on dining and travel, and 1 MR point per dollar spent elsewhere.Also, as Amex's flagship product, the Platinum Card tends to receive the best rebates throughout the year. You'll get some on other premium cards, and on lower-tier Amex cards, but Platinum cardholders can expect to get the cream of the crop.As for travel perks, the Platinum Card reigns supreme over other top-tier credit cards. You’ll get unlimited visits to Priority Pass airport lounges for you and one guest, as well as Plaza Premium lounges and American Express Centurion Lounges for you, your spouse, and two children under the age of 21 or one travelling companion.Looking at hotel status, you'll get automatic Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status and Hilton Honors Gold status.Finally, the Platinum Card includes best-in-class insurance, giving you peace of mind should anything go awry on your travels.You might prefer the Business Platinum Card for similar perks with a different rewards structure on spending, or a mid-tier credit card if you're just looking for occasional lounge access. But if you want the most wide-ranging benefits, the American Express Platinum Card is the total package.

Best Credit Card for Business Owners

The Business Platinum Card from American Express is the fastest way to use credit card rewards to supercharge your travel aspirations.The card offers an incredible welcome bonus which can have incredible value when transferred to frequent flyer programs. American Express has transfer partners in each of the three major airline alliances, so you’ll be able to fly just about anywhere.Specifically, Canadians can transfer MR points to Air Canada’s Aeroplan program. The best long-haul premium cabins on Air Canada’s partners can cost quite a few points, and cards with such a big welcome bonus are few and far between, so the Business Platinum Card is a great way to get you there more quickly.Furthermore, if you can refer family, friends, or business associates to open their own rewards credit cards, the Business Platinum Card is the best card to get first. Every time you successfully refer a friend to apply for an American Express business credit card, you’ll receive an additional 20,000 MR points for yourself, plus your associate will get the best available welcome offer for them.You’ll also get many of the same premium travel benefits as the personal Platinum Card, such as automatic Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status, access to Amex’s Fine Hotels and Resorts program, and unlimited Priority Pass airport lounge visits for yourself and a guest.And the best part is that you don’t need to be a business owner in the traditional sense to qualify for the card. You can apply as a sole proprietor, using your own name as the business name. Unlike other banks, Amex is unlikely to request proof of your business operations, so individuals should have no trouble applying.

Best Cash Back Credit Card

The SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express earns 2% cash back on all purchases. You can mix and match other cards with higher category rates, but this one stands alone for everything else.Also, this card has a very reasonable annual fee of just $99. Compared to other premium cards which clock in at $120 or higher, you’ll be hard-pressed to find such a strong base earn rate at a better price.This card is without a doubt a great choice, whether as a simple solution for a slim wallet, or as a supplement to a shrewd roster of cards with other specific strengths.

Best Credit Card for Daily Spending

The American Express Cobalt Card is our choice for the best credit card in Canada for everyday expenses. It's earned this accolade thanks to a combination of its high earn rate and the value of its rewards.You'll earn 5 MR points per dollar spent on food and drinks, including groceries, restaurants, bars, and food delivery services. For a spending category that makes up a large portion of the average Canadian's budget, you definitely want to make sure you're earning high rewards on those purchases.You could simply cash out your points for statement credit, but you also have the option to transfer them airline or hotel partner programs. That flexibility sets the Cobalt Card apart from other high-earning cards.Plus, as an American Express card, you'll get some of the best ongoing benefits throughout the year, in the form of occasional Amex Offers.

Best Credit Card for Beginners

High annual fees aren't the only way to earn huge travel rewards. If you're just getting your feet wet, you might want to start with a mid-tier option like the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card.The card has no annual fee for the first year, and it's easy to get started earning the welcome bonus with a low spending requirement. It's a convenient choice as you begin to understand how you want to eventually use your travel rewards.As for benefits, you'll get preferred pricing on Air Canada flight redemptions, free checked bags, and insurance on Aeroplan award tickets when you pay the fees with the card. Also, you don't have to worry about your hard-earned points expiring as long as you remain a cardholder, so there's no rush to figure it all out.

Best Credit Card with No Annual Fee

The American Express Green Card is our favourite credit card with no annual fee.Uniquely among cards in its class, it earns transferable points in the form of Membership Rewards. When it comes to such a valuable points program, you won't earn 1 point per dollar spent on any other no-fee credit card. In fact, this rate is competitive even with many premium credit cards.In addition, you'll get the benefits of being an Amex cardholder, such as American Express Experiences and Amex Offers.For a free credit card, you couldn't ask for much more.

Best Credit Card for Foreign Transactions

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card sets itself apart as a true traveller’s card, offering strong welcome bonus, no foreign exchange fees, and earning flexible Scene+ points for all purchases.Travellers can take comfort in earning points abroad without having to pay FX fees on all their expenses, including hotel stays, eats, drinks, entertainment, public transportation, and more when journeying abroad. You’ll also have no trouble using this card along your travels, thanks to the wide acceptance of Visa cards around the world.Also, this card comes with a complimentary DragonPass membership and six annual visits to participating airport lounges and restaurants.You'll be backed by the card's suite of insurance coverage, including emergency travel coverage for up to 25 days out-of-province, flight delay insurance, delayed and lost baggage insurance, and more.It’s always nice when you can extract multiple travel benefits from a single card (and a single annual fee).If you're looking to save money abroad, look no further than the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card.

Best Aeroplan Credit Card

Any of the top-tier Aeroplan cards would get you the same perks, but the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card sets itself apart with the best earn rates and perks for cardholders.As a premium Aeroplan cardholder, you’ll get the lowest Aeroplan reward ticket prices on Air Canada flights thanks to the preferred pricing benefit, free checked bags on Air Canada flights, priority airport services, and shortcuts to partially spend your way to Aeroplan Elite Status, among other premium benefits.You’ll also get a stellar welcome bonus, in line with other premium Amex and Aeroplan credit cards.For everyday spending, the earn rates are the cream of the crop. You'll get 3 points per dollar spent on Air Canada and 2 points per dollar spent on dining, higher than on other premium Aeroplan credit cards. Plus, the base rate of 1.25 points per dollar spent on all purchases is on par with the best cards on the market.You could also consider the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card, which offers a similar welcome bonus. You'd lose some key benefits which are exclusive to American Express cardholders, but you also wouldn't have to struggle with merchants who don't take Amex.

Best Credit Card for Hotels

The Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card is the foremost co-branded hotel credit card in Canada, with a good welcome bonus in addition to strong ongoing perks.With an incentive of 55,000+ Bonvoy points, you could spend 5+ nights at limited service hotels or one night at mid-tier brands.As mid-tier hotels around the world typically have rates above $120 a night, it shouldn't be difficult to extract significant value even after paying the credit card's annual fee.The biggest advantage of this credit card over other hotel credit cards is that there are fewer ways to earn luxury stays. While you can also find amazing value for low-end Marriott properties, it's easier to score that calibre of a stay via other means, such as cash back credit cards.Long-term, starting in your second year with the card, you’ll get an annual Free Night Award worth up to 35,000 Bonvoy points. That’s good for mid-tier hotels or even high-end properties in many emerging markets, and you should have no trouble finding a redemption worth more than $120.

Best Air Miles Credit Card

Air Miles isn't the most obvious choice when it comes to aspirational travel rewards. Each of their co-branded cards has different strengths, but we like the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard for its simplicity.The card often offers a first year annual fee waiver, and it’s rather friendly to repeat welcome bonuses. Suffice to say, your Air Miles will rack up quickly when you open this card, but there are also good reasons to keep it long-term.What makes this card unique is that you can get 25% Air Miles back on a flight redemption, once per year.

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