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Canada’s 6 Best Scotiabank Credit Cards for October 2021

Scotiabank, one of Canada’s Big 5 banks, has many credit cards aimed at travellers, socialites, and cash back collectors alike.

Here are our top choices for the best Scotiabank credit cards in Canada.

Best Scotiabank Credit Cards

Best Overall Scotiabank Credit Card

The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card is one of the best credit cards in Canada. It earns 5 points per dollar spent on groceries, restaurants, and entertainment, the highest rates in those categories on any credit card. Also, you’ll earn 3 points per dollar spent on gas, transit, and select streaming services, among the best rates around.

Of course, high rewards rates are only as good as the rewards themselves, and in that respect Scotiabank delivers as well.

Scotia Rewards are extremely easy to use for statement credit. You can cover just about any travel expense at a fixed rate. With transparent value and unparalleled flexibility, just about anyone would benefit from having this card.

Not to mention, the card is currently offering its highest-ever welcome bonus. You can earn up to 50,000 Scotia Rewards points with a first year annual fee waiver if you apply for the card before November 21. If you’ve been eyeing this card as a daily driver, now’s the best time to get on board!

You’ll also get additional benefits like no foreign transaction fees, making this card quite handy for when you’re travelling out of the country or shopping online. And as an American Express card, you’ll have access to many exclusive events, discounts and rebates, and presale offers.

Finally, this card has no minimum income requirement. It’s a great choice if you’re a student or just starting out your career. Typically for a Visa or Mastercard with higher rewards, you’d need to meet a higher income threshold, but luckily Amex cards are available to anyone.

Best Premium Scotiabank Credit Card

The Scotiabank Platinum American Express Card is a step up from its Gold counterpart, although whether or not you’ll benefit depends on your spending habits.

The Scotia Platinum Amex earns 4 points per dollar spent on groceries, gas, dining, and entertainment. This is less than the Scotia Gold Amex in most categories, so you’d only be coming out ahead if you spend significantly more on gas.

On the other hand, this card has an extremely high limit of $100,000 spent per year before capping the bonus earn rates. This is double the limit on the Scotia Gold Amex and much higher than competitor cards. If you’re an ultra-high spender and expect to spend in the $50,000–100,000 range in the accelerated categories, it might be worth making the jump up to this top-tier card.

Regardless of rewards, the $399 annual fee is really justified by the card’s travel benefits. You’ll get a Priority Pass membership with 10 free visits annually to their lounges and restaurants, and out-of-province medical insurance for up to 31 days if you’re under 65, or up to 10 days for people of all ages.

For those perks alone, which aren’t found at such generous levels on most other cards, you might find it worth paying the annual fee.

Best Scotiabank Visa Credit Card

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card is a good Visa alternative to the Scotia Gold Amex, for any stores that don’t take American Express.

Like its Amex counterpart, the card has no foreign transaction fees and earns Scotia Rewards points which can be used for any travel purchase.

The Visa’s earn rates aren’t as high as the Amex, topping out at 2 points per dollar spent. Instead, the card makes up for it with stronger travel perks and better insurance coverage.

In particular, the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite comes with a complimentary Priority Pass membership, and six passes for lounge visits each year. This is an awesome benefit for a card with an annual fee of just $139 – usually this perk is reserved for Visa Infinite Privilege cards, with higher fees and income requirements.

Best No Fee Scotiabank Credit Card

The Scotiabank American Express Card is a nice choice for an entry-level card. It earns Scotia Rewards points at a flat rate of 1 point per dollar spent, equivalent to 1% back.

While you don’t get any category bonuses, you do get a higher rate on all other purchases, whereas most no-fee cards only award 0.5% back.

Also, as an American Express card, you’ll get access to Amex Offers, exclusive events, and ticket presale opportunities. You can indeed dabble in the Amex lifestyle without shelling out for a premium credit card!

Best Cash Back Scotiabank Credit Card

The Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite Card is Scotiabank’s flagship cash back card, and it’s one of the top cash back cards on the market.

You’ll earn 4% cash back on the ever-popular groceries category, and also on recurring bills. The latter is particularly interesting, as the highest earn rate offered by any credit card for recurring payments. If you have high bills and your payees accept Visa cards, you can certainly get some momentum going as you rack up rewards.

Rounding out the bonus rates with 2% back on gas and transit, the Scotia Momentum will ensure you have most of your needs covered.

The card has the industry standard welcome bonus among cash back cards: 10% cash back on your first $2,000 spent and the first-year annual fee waived.

With an incentive offer that holds its own and daily earn rates that exceed many competitors, the Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite is a stellar option if you’re looking for a cash back card.

Best Scotiabank Credit Card for Business Owners

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Business is one of the stronger business Visa cards on the market.

It mirrors many of the same perks as the personal Passport card, like no foreign transaction fees, a Priority Pass membership with six annual free visits, and a good travel insurance package.

The card earns 1.5 Scotia Rewards points on all purchases, a solid base earn rate and the best in Scotiabank’s portfolio.

Given how flexible the points are, this card would be a good choice if your business expenses tend not to fall into the popular bonus categories, and if you can’t use American Express cards with your suppliers.

Scotiabank Credit Cards: What You Need to Know

When choosing a Scotiabank credit card, you should familiarize yourself with what benefits a Scotiabank credit card can offer, what features to look out for, and how Scotiabank credit cards can fit into an optimized credit card strategy.

Why get a Scotiabank credit card?

Scotia Rewards are one of the best fixed-value travel rewards programs in Canada because they’re so easy to redeem.

You can use them for statement credit against any travel expense at a flat rate of 1 cent per point – all you have to do is log in to the Scotia Rewards website. Between unparalleled flexibility, a self-serve option, and predictable value, it makes for an awesome rewards program that is useful for anyone.

Also, Scotiabank’s rewards rates on premium credit cards are quite high, setting the standard for many spending categories. They also have very high annual spending limits for the category bonus rates. However, their entry-level cards with no annual fee don’t stand up to their competitors quite as well.

If you already bank with Scotiabank, getting one of their credit cards is a no-brainer. On most cards, you can get your annual fee rebated every year if you have a Scotiabank Ultimate chequing account. This is useful if you plan on keeping a premium card year after year for its benefits and higher everyday earning rates.

What should you look for in a Scotiabank credit card?

Scotiabank’s credit cards have two different types of rewards:

  • Scotia Rewards cards earn points that can be used for any travel expenses. Because they’re so flexible, you can essentially treat these points like cash back rewards if you’d like. There are cards that earn Scotia Rewards on both the Visa and American Express payment networks, so if the program interests you, card acceptance shouldn’t be a big issue.
  • Scotia Momentum cards earn cash back, which is redeemable once a year on your November statement. These cards are all Visa cards, plus an oddball legacy Mastercard.

For each type of card, Scotiabank offers cards with a wide range of welcome bonuses, everyday rewards, annual fees, perks, and income requirements.

American Express
(Scotia Rewards)

Passport
(Scotia Rewards)

Momentum
(Cash Back)

Premium

Core

Mid-range
(no income requirement)

ScotiaGold Passport Visa

Entry-level
(no annual fee)

Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa

Business

Scotia Momentum Visa Business

Any of these cards come with the standard benefits for their card tier:

  • All Visa Infinite cards have access to Concierge services, the Luxury Hotel Collection, and the Dining Series & Wine Country program
  • American Express cardholders are eligible for American Express Experiences, American Express Invites, and some Amex Offers such as Shop Small

In addition, Scotiabank provides a Priority Pass membership on its personal and business Passport Visa Infinite cards.

Cardholders get six annual visits to participating airport lounges and restaurants each year. This perk is normally only seen on Visa Infinite Privilege cards, so it’s definitely worth considering one of these cards if you don’t qualify for a top-tier card from another issuer.

Notably, Scotiabank has no foreign transaction fees on many of their travel cards. This significantly sets them apart from other major Canadian credit card issuers – in fact, they’re the only one of the Big 5 banks to offer this benefit.

Also, as with all premium credit cards, keep an eye out for any Scotiabank cards that offer appealing insurance on travel and other purchases. In particular, some of Scotiabank’s cards have a price protection benefit, another rarity amongst credit cards, as well as mobile device insurance and protection against hotel burglary.

Scotiabank occasionally offers First Year Free promotions or elevated welcome bonuses for new signups. However, with high rates on everyday earning, it’s not always worth holding out for a better offer – these cards are good to have if you think you’ll benefit from them.

What’s the optimal strategy for Scotiabank credit cards?

When it comes to maximizing credit cards as a whole, Scotiabank credit cards typically play a secondary, but still significant role in a savvy individual’s wallet compared to the other Big 5 banks’ cards.

While Scotia Rewards points are exceedingly easy to use, their potential upside is rather limited compared to other options on the market. Scotia Rewards points are worth a flat 1 cent per point against travel purchases, but they can’t unlock greater value than that, unlike the points offered by many of Canada’s other Big 5 banks.

Therefore, in an optimized credit card strategy, you’d prioritize credit cards from other issuers (such as American Express or RBC) to earn points in more powerful loyalty programs like Aeroplan, Avios, or Marriott Bonvoy. These points would allow you to book the bulk of your flights and hotels at an impressive value.

Then, you’d use Scotia Rewards points to cover your non-flight travel expenses, such as car rentals or non-chain hotels.

In fact, since Scotiabank allows you to book travel directly on your credit card and then offset the charge using points retroactively (unlike other Big 5 banks, which require you to book through their internal portal), you’d be able to redeem Scotia Rewards points towards a much wider range of travel expenses, like organized tours, train tickets, or Airbnbs.

Overall, it’s important to recognize that a Scotiabank credit card won’t get you the same spectacular flight rewards in premium cabins that you’d get from, say, American Express credit cards.

However, Scotiabank credit cards continue to play an important supporting role in the optimal credit card strategy for Canadians, thanks to their versatility in being redeemable towards a wide range of travel purchases.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some questions we frequently hear from readers about the best Scotiabank credit cards in Canada.

How are Scotiabank’s American Express cards different from other American Express cards?

American Express is both a payment network and a card issuer. These cards operate on the Amex payment network, but aren’t issued by Amex.

Although they come with many of the same benefits, they’re entirely independent from Amex as an issuer. Scotiabank is the one approving your application, you manage your card online with Scotiabank and pay bills to Scotiabank, and you’re subject to Scotiabank’s terms and conditions.

Which credit bureau does Scotiabank check?

All recent reports indicate that Scotiabank only checks TransUnion.

Can I do a product switch with Scotiabank?

Yes, but you won’t get a welcome bonus.

1 Comment
  1. Who Cares

    Don’t fall for marketing gimmicks, Reality of the Scotiabank Amex Gold card is that when you want to make a foreign currency transaction, you have to call their customer service, answer personal questions before they let you speak to their security team to have a transaction approved even if it’s for $20. This is usually a 2-3 hour process due to clogged lines.

Ricky Zhang

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