The Best Cash Back Credit Cards of 2016

Who doesn’t like free cash? If you are looking for a way to get a little extra back at the end of each month, a good cash back card is right for you. Most cash back cards offer you a percentage of your purchases as a reward. Cash back credit cards can help you make the most of your every day purchases.

The biggest change is that the TrueEarnings Card from American Express was discontinued. In its place, I’ve included two other options that you’ll find further down the page.

Look for a cash back card that is likely to provide you with maximum rewards in the spending categories you use most. These credit cards are most effective when you use them to make every day purchases, and then pay off the balance each month.

Great For: Gas and grocery purchases

Annual Fee: $99

  • The best card for families with large grocery bills.
  • 24/7 complimentary concierge service.
  • Emergency medical coverage of $1 million for up to 15 consecutive days out of home province.
  • Travel insurance for trip interruption, flight delay, lost baggage, and accidental loss of life, or dismemberment.
  • Rental car insurance, covering collision, damage, and theft.
  • Items purchased on the card are insured for 90 days against damage, loss, and theft.
  • An extended warranty doubled the manufacture's warranty for items paid for with this card.
  • Special offers exclusive to Visa Infinite cardholders.

Scotiabank Momentum VISA Infinite Card – The Scotia Momentum VISA Infinite card is designed to reward you for your every day purchases. I believe it’s the best credit card available in Canada and it’s the card I use for all my regular purchases and bill payments. You receive a full 4% cash back on gas station and grocery store purchases. Additionally, you receive 2% cash back on your recurring payments and on drug store purchases. All other purchases earn 1% cash back. There is a 21-day grace period before interest starts accruing. The Scotia Momentum VISA Infinite Card comes with a 19.99% interest rate on purchases and 21.99% interest rate on cash advances.

There is a minimum income requirement for this card: $60,000 a year for an individual and $100,000 for a household. This card comes with a $99 annual fee, but it can easily be overcome if you are smart about your spending, taking full advantage of the tiered system to get a higher cash back rate on common purchases.

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Great For: Cashback rewards without categories, Costco shoppers

Annual Fee: $120

  • Get up to $150 welcome bonus in the first year.
  • 1.75% cashback, without any limits or categories.
  • Roadside assistance program covers flat tires, battery boosts, and help when you've locked your keys in the car.
  • Concierge service to help you find great restaurants and entertainment.
  • $2 million out of province medical insurance for trips of up to 8 days.
  • Rental car collision insurance when paid for with this card.
  • Doubles the manufacturer's warranty, to a maximum of two additional years.
  • Theft and damage insurance on items for 180 days from purchase date.

BMO CashBack World Elite MasterCard: You get one of the highest flat cash back rates — 1.75% — of any cash back credit card out there. There are no caps, categories, tiers or limits with this card. There is a $120 annual fee, but it is waived for the first year, so you can quickly start earning cash back without being in the hole. With the right strategy, you are likely to easily make up for that fee.

This cash back credit card also comes with perks generally associated with travel cards, including out of province and country travel medical insurance, free roadside assistance, and car rental and trip insurance. You’ll also have access to extended warranty protection and purchase protection. (Full Review)

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MBNA Smart Cash MasterCardMBNA Smart Cash MasterCard – For the first six months of being an account holder, you can get 5% cash back on qualified gas and grocery purchases. After the first six months, you get up to 2% cash back in these categories. All other spending comes with 1% cash back. Your cash back rewards are automatically mailed to you in the form of a cheque at the end of each billing cycle in which you reach $50 in cash rewards.

You can enjoy a 1.99% interest rate on balances transfers for the first 10 months, which is a nice bonus for a card like this. The purchase AIR for the MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard is 19.99% and the balance transfer interest rate is normally 21.99%. This credit card comes without an annual fee, which makes it attractive.

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SimplyCash Preferred Card from American ExpressSimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express – If you are looking to earn a flat, no-hassle rate on everything that you buy, the SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express is a great choice. You will earn 1.5% cash back on all your purchases, with no need to remember to sign up to earn special category rates. Right now, American Express is also offering you the chance to get 5% cash back on all the purchases you make in the first six months, up to $400.

If you use the SimplyCash card for all of your purchases, you can easily earn plenty of cash back each year. If you spend $1,750 each month using your card, you can get about $315 cash back each year, at the 1.5% rate. That more than offsets the $79 annual fee, and you could easily get even more cash back. While the 1.5% rate only lasts until you reach $100,000 in purchases, you can still make a tidy sum up to that point, and afterward you still earn 1.25% cash back, with no cap. Other perks of the card include insurance coverage, fraud protection, 24/7 customer service, and access to exclusive experiences through American Express Invites.

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If you spend less, you can use the “regular” SimplyCash American Express card. It comes with no annual fee, but you only earn 1.25% cash back.

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Capital One Aspire Cash Platinum MasterCardCapital One Aspire Cash Platinum MasterCard – If you have average credit but still want to earn cash rewards without paying an annual fee, you might benefit from the Capital One Aspire Cash Platinum MasterCard. This credit card features 1% cash back on all purchases. There is no need to keep track of rotating categories or sign up for cash back. These rewards are made easy, and there is no limit to the amount of cash back you can earn.

The Capital One Aspire Cash Platinum MasterCard has no annual fee, and comes with price protection, purchase assurance, extended warranty, and car rental insurance. These perks increase the value of the card, as does the fraud protection. The interest rate is fairly steep (as of this writing, it’s prime + 16.8%), but if you pay off your balance each month, it shouldn’t be a problem.

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Cash back credit cards can help make the most of your every day purchases. Look for a cash back card that gives you rewards in the categories you use most.

Written by Tom Drake

Tom Drake is the owner and head writer of Canadian Finance Blog. While you’re here, consider signing up for the RSS feed or email subscription. Both deliver the latest articles directly to you! You can also follow me on Twitter for all the latest posts or to send me any comments or questions!

15 Responses to The Best Cash Back Credit Cards of 2016

  1. I love the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite card. Just got my first cash back reward for our first year. $1203! Totally worth the hefty annual fee (which was waived for the first year). I think any family who drives and eats would benefit from this cash back card.

  2. the MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard card is garbage, they impose alot of limits so if say spend $2000 a month only $1250 counts towards the cash back, here is the convo i had with the rep:

    Ethan: For the first 6 months you will get 5% cash back rewards on all your eligible gas and groceries purchases made up to $400 per billing cycle and 1% cash back rewards on rest of your purchases made up to $1250 per billing cycle.

    Ethan: After 6 months you will get 2% cash back rewards on all of your eligible gas and grocery purchases made up to $400 per billing cycle and 1% cash back rewards on rest of your purchases made up to $1250 per billing cycle.

    you: ok so if i spend $5000 per month, only $1250 will qualify for the cash back?

    Eathan: It means in a given month the maximum 5% cash or 2% cash back you can earn is up to $400, that is say for e.g. the first month you spend $1650 on gas and groceries you will get 5% cash back for $400 and for the remaining $1250 you will only get 1%.

  3. You state the “Capital One Aspire Cash Platinum MasterCard” has no annual fee and features 1% cash back on all purchases. Is this not the same as “PC Financial MasterCard” or “Walmart Rewards MasterCard”?

    • How about the Costco Mastercard. With no annual fee, the cashback rewards, no limit on how much you can earn and all the perks affiliated with it. How does this card compare to other no annual fee mastercard?

      • Hi Libby,

        I covered the Capital One Platinum Mastercard here, but it might not be a great deal, depending on how much you spend. If you can spend enough on a single card, the higher rewards and other benefits can negate the annual fees that these other cards carry.

  4. MBNA is really my favorite. No other cash back cards beats in terms of how fast we get our cash back. 2% on grocery and gas is also awesome. Thanks for sharing.


  5. I was checking out the MBNA Rewards World Elite. It’s points based – 2 points for each $1 spent. Points can converted to cash at 10,000 points = $100. So 2% overall. No Limit on points.
    – $89 fee, 2 cards included.

    • Just got this card and it’s awesome. Got away from the Smartcash as it had too low a cap on purchases. The $100 you get after the first purchase is also pretty sweet.

  6. What about the new CIBC Dividend Infinite card, it gives you 4% on gas and groceries with no limit and they waive the $99 annual fee the first year..??

  7. Regarding the American Express SimplyCash Preferred Card you say that spending “$1,750 each month using your card…more than offsets the $79 annual fee”. I calculate that you would need to spend $2,633 per month just to break even on the annual fee compared to the no fee “regular” SimplyCash card. ($2633.33 x 12 x 0.25% = $79)

    • Hi Bob, I didn’t mean that it offsets the fee in comparison to the regular card, just that you’ll earn more than the cost of the fee. Your comparison is a good point though, especially if you’re mainly concerned about the rewards.

      However, if you see a benefit in the buyers’ assurance, purchase protection, and better travel insurance, (and not everyone takes advantage of these perks) then it becomes a bit more apples and oranges when trying to compare the two cards based on rewards and fees alone.

  8. the tangerine cash back is better than all of these.

    No fee, no chard for 2nd + users.
    No cash back limit
    1% everything
    2% on 3 defined categories (i use gas, groceries, and restaurants).

    The $99 fee on the momentum and charging for 2nd users make this card not worth it.

    • MoneyMan – depends on spending, you’ll reach a point where even with the yearly fee, the 2% will earn more cash. Like Tom say above in the previous comment.

      I’m interested in how the categories work for tangerine, are you able to change them as you wish? Does tangerine offer any sort of report that shows how your spending for the month / quarter / year lines up with these categories – basically, do they give you a tool to help with the decision?


      • Hey Mike, The reporting is pretty good. You can report by 30 60 90 days etc. and it breaks down 1% and you 3 2% categories. You can change the categories at any time. One caveat, to get the 3rd 2% category you need to setup auto deposit of report $$ into your Tangerine Savings account. No biggie, can do whatever you want with it from there.

        My problem with the momentum (I’ve had one) and they charge for additional cards on top of the yearly fee so the math doesn’t work out for me.

  9. Gentlemen,

    I’m looking at a card that will give cash back and points for rewards (travel hotels restaurants ) Any interesting suggestions?

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