Want to use a credit card for all the perks but without the annual
fee? In this article, we hope to find the best no fee credit cards in
Canada, listed according to what needs will suit you best. If you’re
wondering why no fee credit cards are looked up on the internet, then
just know that there are several no fee credit cards that deliver great
value through cash back, travel rewards, low interest rates, or no
foreign transaction fees, in addition to having zero annual fee. We have
also enlisted a list of frequently asked questions to answer some
doubts that you might have about no fee credit cards and the pros and
cons associated with them.
While most rewards credit cards require the cardholder to pay an
annual fee, typically in the $99-120 range, the notion is that annual
fees will dish out more rewards and higher payouts. That’s why choosing
something like a fee-based credit card makes financial sense (like if
you’re a student or on a tight budget and won’t spend enough to offset
the fee). But on the other spectrum, some people just don’t want to
justify paying an annual fee.
Keep in mind that no fee credit cards have this benefit but they also typically have fewer (if any) rewards. Our list of the best no fee credit cards, will help you with more rewards though, as we take you through them one by one, listed according to what it does best.
The Best No Fee Credit Cards In Canada
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card: Best for Cash Back
The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card offers you 2% cash back in two
spending categories of your choice (from a list of 10 options), in
addition to 0.5% on all other purchases. If you choose to put your cash
back rewards in a Tangerine savings account, you’ll get a third bonus
category earning 2% cash back once again.
Your bonus category options can be used for: groceries, restaurants,
gas, home improvement, drugstores, entertainment, furniture,
motel-hotel, recurring bills, and public transportation such as parking,
taxis and rideshares like Uber. The world is your expenses/bills
This highly customizable card makes it easy to earn cash back in the
areas where you spend the most, and at 2%, it gives among the highest
return on bonus categories of any no fee credit card. Interestingly,
there’s no limit to the amount of cash back you can earn, and rewards
are refunded monthly (for most cards, it’s annually) as either a credit
on your account statement or a deposit in your Tangerine savings
account. You can also decide to change your 2% bonus categories any time
of the year, though it’ll take at least one statement period for the
updates to come into effect.
- Even though this card is lacking in terms of insurance coverage, free supplementary cards are available for authorized users and new cardholders can receive a promotional balance transfer rate of 1.95% for the first six months.
- If you have an annual income of $60,000, as a process within the application, you’ll gain access to the higher-tier Tangerine World Mastercard which does offer rental car and mobile device coverage.
SimplyCash Card from American Express: No Fee Cash Back
The SimplyCash from American Express is a great no fee cash back
credit card, offering 1.25% on everything. It also includes shopping and
travel protections, including $100,000 in travel accident protection,
buyer’s assurance and purchase protection. And cardholders are
automatically enrolled in American Express Invites, giving them access
to premium rewards like entertainment options.
Welcome offer: Get a welcome bonus of 2.5% cash back in the first 3
months, up to $150 (While the welcome offers on most no fee cards cap at
around $100, this card’s offer maxes out at an impressive $150).
Earn rate: Get 1.25% cash back on all purchases regardless of purchase category (after the welcome bonus ends).
In addition to that, once the welcome period ends, there’s no limit
to the amount of cash back you earn and you’ll get a strong 1.25% on
everything. Plus, there’s no limit on the amount of cash back you can
earn; Get $100 cash back for each approved referral up to a maximum
annual referral bonus of $1,500.
The flat cash back rate makes it so conducive to understand your
rewards and means you won’t have to think about maximizing any bonus
categories. The card also provides an optional balance transfer
promotion of 1.99% for the first six months as well as access to AMEX’s
entertainment perks (more on that below).
- All AMEX cardholders have access to presale tickets and reserved seats for movie screenings, concerts, and culinary events, and various other special offers through American Express Invites.
- This specific card also offers extended warranty protection (doubles manufacturer’s warranty) and, even though it’s a no fee cash back card, it still includes $100,000 in travel accident insurance.
Even though some cards complicate things by breaking down their rewards into spend categories, the SimplyCash lets you earn equally across categories—and, there is no limit to the cash you can earn back at the regular rate. Earn more by referring a friend—you can receive $100 in thanks each time, up to 15 friends.
MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard: Best for Travel Points
Today many cash back cards dangle attractive welcome bonuses in our
mails, but once the promotional stunt is over, the core card fails to
impress. This is not the case with the SimplyCash Card from American
Express. This card gives new users 2.5% back for a full three months (up
to $150 in rebates), and afterwards reverts to a regular rate of
In terms of what the value of MBNA points are in dollar terms, 1
point = $0.01 when redeemed for travel. That equals to a straight 1%
back. That being said, if the points are redeemed for cash back, the
value of 1 point drops to $0.005 (or 0.5%). This makes it almost always
better to use MBNA points for travel-oriented redemptions. Other travel
oriented rewards though credit cards and cashback credit cards are also
beneficial to your wallet.
PC Financial World Elite Mastercard: Best Retail Card
If you love the Loblaws banner stores and Shoppers Drug Mart (or
Pharmaprix in Quebec), the PC World Elite Mastercard lets you take
advantage of one of the most popular and useful loyalty programs in the
country: PC Optimum. As you use your PC World Elite Mastercard, you earn
a minimum of 10 Points per dollar spent, with multipliers for purchases
at Shoppers (45 Points per dollar), and Esso, PC Travel or any Loblaws
enterprises such as No-Frills, Fortinos or Real Canadian Superstore (30
Points per dollar). The points are redeemed anywhere PC products are
sold, in 10,000-Point increments, which works out to $10. PC Optimum is
an easy-to-use program that helps out many Canadians and the PC World
Elite can help you make the most of it.
Earn rate: 45 points per dollar at Shoppers Drug Mart; 30 points per
dollar at Esso or PC Travel and\or any Loblaws-owned stores; 10 Points
per dollar everywhere else.
Income requirement: $80,000 personal or household income of $150,000.
Additional benefits: Emergency travel medical insurance; car rental loss or collision coverage; concierge services.
BMO CashBack Mastercard: Best No Fee Student Card
Canadian students have their own needs, including a way to cover the
financial burden of tuition and school expenses, the need to establish a
healthy credit history and an unending quest for cash on hand. With no
annual fee, a welcome bonus of 5% cash back for three months (up to
$100) and a low $15,000 annual income requirement, the BMO CashBack card
is designed with students in mind.
The 5% cash back welcome offer is top-notch (and applicants who plan
ahead might do well by timing their first three months with the
beginning of a semester—those grocery lists tend to add up!), but 1%
back on everything else is nothing to sneeze at. As a student card,
there’s no specific income requirements (which is so helpful) and you
can get approved even if you’ve never had a credit card before. It also
comes with standard insurance coverage like extended warranty and
purchase protection. Overall, this is an attractive entry-level card.
- Welcome offer: New cardholders get 5% cash back for the first 3 months
- Earn rate: 1% cash back on eligible purchases
- Additional benefits: Members receive 25% off at National and Alamo car rentals
Home Trust Preferred Visa: Best For No Foreign Transaction Fees
Home Trust Preferred Visa, which also has no fee, offers 1% cashback
on all spending, rental car collision/loss insurance and best of all no
foreign exchange fees thus saving you 2.5% on all out of country
spending. This is one way to improve cross-currency shopping, and avoid
the foreign exchange fees altogether. The no fee HomeTrust Preferred
Visa is one of the few cards that Canadians have access to when they
desire no foreign transaction fees. Like many no fee credit cards, the
HomeTrust Preferred doesn’t give much in the way of insurance beyond
purchase security, but it does provide one big bonus perk: membership in
Roadside Assistance, which includes up to four service calls annually
across North America. Also, if you were to use this card then most
payments for an automobile rental, collision and loss coverage are
included. The HomeTrust Preferred Visa has a very accessible minimum
annual income requirement of $15,000 making this the best for when you
are getting a new card.
- Earn rate: 1% cash back on purchases
- Income requirement: $15,000
- Additional benefits: No foreign transaction fees on purchases in other currencies; Roadside Assistance gives cardholders up to 4 annual service calls across North America; rental car loss and collision coverage is included
Rogers World Elite Mastercard: Best Earn Rate For Foreign Purchases
With its regular 1.75% cash back, 2% back on Rogers products and no
annual fee, this card offers most Canadian card users something
special—but for travellers and online shoppers, it’s a bona fide cause
for celebration. This is because the things you buy in a foreign
currency earn a whopping 4% cash back, which covers the foreign
transaction fee credit cards typically charged—between 2.5% and 3%—with a
bit extra on top. Cash rewards can then be redeemed after any eligible
purchases are made on your card, for the ultimate in flexibility.
Cross-country shoppers, regular travellers, those who buy online will be
very interested in the Rogers World Elite Mastercard.
There is one drawback, which is that applicants must show an annual
income of $80,000; that’s going to exclude many Canadians. For those who
can meet this income requirement, though, it’s a great option.
- Welcome offer: Get $25 in cash back rewards when you make your first card expenditure within 3 months of receiving your card
- Earn rate: Get 4% cash back on purchases in a foreign currency, 2% on Rogers products and services charged to your card and 1.75% on all other purchases
- Income requirement: $80,000
- Additional benefits: Travel insurance including emergency air-transportation or evacuation; additional hotel and meal expenses (up to $200 a day for a maximum of 10 days) if incurred after the planned return to Canada; emergency dental care; and more
MBNA True Line Mastercard: Best For Low Interest, Balance Transfers
If you’re carrying a balance, you’ll want to get that debt onto a lower-interest card as quickly as possible—but the rate is only part of the process. When card holders need to move money between cards, three numbers come into play: the regular interest rate; the balance transfer rate; and the balance transfer fee. Ideally, all three numbers are as low as possible. With a regular interest rate of 12.99%, a promotional balance transfer rate of 0% for 10 months, and a balance flat transfer fee of 3%, the MBNA True Line comes out on top. Add the fact that this card boasts no annual fee, and suddenly this is a powerful card for someone trying to pay off their debt.
- Balance transfer offer: The promotional 0% interest rate for 10 months and regular rate of 12.99% will keep your interest charges in check
- Regular APR: 12.99%
- Additional benefits: Add up to 9 authorized users without an additional fee
- Keep in mind: APR and balance transfer offers are different for residents of Quebec.
FAQs on No Fee Credit Cards:
Should I go for no fee credit cards?
The benefit of a no fee credit card is quite literal: there is no annual fee. This shows that unless you’re carrying outstanding debt, using the card costs you nothing. It’s a great option if you don’t use credit cards on a day to day basis, but still want one to utilize it for online purchases, as well as to build your credit history in Canada. There’s no point paying money for something you’re not using or earning rewards from; no fee credit cards exist to serve that niche of credit card users.
What are some advantages of no fee credit card?
Looking for your first ever credit card:
If you’re looking to get your first-ever credit card, you are
probably in school or just starting out in your career. Starting out
with a no fee card lets you build up credit or credit scores and
understand your spending habits before you consider moving on to a card
with an annual fee.
When you get a new card, your priority should be to find a credit
card that’s easy to get, free to carry, and can help build your credit
history – and not to just buy one for premium rewards or perks on an
annual fee card. With a no fee card, you can focus more of your efforts
on paying off your balance every month and managing your spending.
Regularly paying off your balance in full can improve your credit score
and ensure you avoid racking up any interest charges.
By starting out with a no fee credit card, you can also keep the card active at no cost even if you don’t use it much or decide to upgrade to a more premium credit card down the line. Finally, it’s worth considering the fact that several credit cards that do charge annual fees come with qualification requirements, like an established credit history, a great credit score, and a minimum income of $60,000 to $80,000 – all or some of which may be out of reach if you’re a student or just entered the job market.
I used my credit card less often:
If you don’t picture yourself spending enough to make back the cost of the annual fee, a no fee card may be the better choice.
A credit card with an annual fee can pay for itself if you use it frequently enough since they almost always offer more rewards on your expenditures compared to their no fee alternatives. But, if you barely use credit and don’t shop a lot in specific bonus categories, you likely won’t earn enough rewards to offset the fee. You typically need to shop for at least $500 a month in order for a card with an annual fee to make sense. If you don’t, a no fee card could be a better fit for you.
Elite perks and insurance aren’t your top priorities:
Most annual fee cards come with great rewards that include everything from travel medical insurance and lost-baggage coverage to free hotel upgrades, complimentary airport lounge access, and more. These rewards – most often that get baked into the cost of a card’s annual fee – can offer great value if you use them regularly, especially considering they could cost around hundred dollars or more if you had to pay for them out of your pocket. That being said, if you aren’t a frequent traveller or these types of rewards aren’t of much interest to you, a card with no annual fee would be a better fit. After all, why pay for perks you won’t be using.
The rewards from just a no fee card may be enough for you:
Although credit cards with annual fees generally offer a wider array of rewards, most no fee cards still do come with complimentary extended warranties and purchase protection. Certain no fee cards even come with rental car insurance, mobile device insurance, and roadside assistance. Depending on your priorities, those perks may be all you need. In addition to this, if you’re not an avid traveller, you most likely don’t need the additional rewards that come with an annual fee rewards card in the first place.
You want to adopt a two-card strategy:
There are tons of genuine reasons to carry a second no fee card as a
back-up. If you look at some cases, it actually makes sense to pair a
card with an annual fee with another card that doesn’t have a fee to
earn additional rewards. For instance, if you only use the TD Cash Back
Visa Infinite ($120 annual fee) you would earn a strong 3% cashback on
groceries but just 1% on your spending at restaurants. However, if you
also picked up the no annual fee Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card, you
could use that card to earn 2% at restaurants which Tangerine offers and
stick to paying with the TD Card at groceries to earn 3%. By coupling
these two cards, you can EARN double the rewards when dining out all
while not paying any additional annual fees. Or maybe you carry a
rewards card with a fee and choose a cash back no fee card. It’s not a
bad (or costly) idea to have a no fee card in your wallet.
Another reason to buy a second no fee credit card is if you have an American Express Card and need to carry an additional no fee Visa or Mastercard as a backup in case a merchant doesn’t accept American Express( plus, you avoid the shame of having to borrow money). The same theory can be extended if your main credit card is issued by Visa but you regularly shop from Costco, since you may want to think about getting an additional no fee Mastercard credit card to use.
You’re looking for a store/retail card:
Many retailers will provide a store or co-branded credit card, which
are best for frequent shoppers at these stores. These cards come with
loyalty points such as unique perks with the opportunity to earn more
points or discounts for using your card. For instance, those with
Triangle Mastercard can earn more Canadian Tire Money than regular
Triangle Rewards members when they shop at Mark’s, Canadian Tire, or
Sport Chek. And those individuals with a PC Financial Mastercard will
earn more points at Shoppers Drug Mart, Loblaws, No Frills, Real
Canadian Superstore, and Esso when compared to regular PC Optimum
members. What’s fantastic about most store credit cards (including all
those mentioned above) is they don’t charge an annual fee.
So the appeal of a free card is obvious, but there are some things to consider, not the least of which is that no fee credit cards typically offer far fewer benefits and rewards than cards that carry an annual fee.
What are some limitations of no fee credit cards?
While no fee credit cards can be a great choice for some people, they
come with little to no rewards or free add-ons (such as insurance,
etc.). If you plan on using your credit card for everyday purchases, you
could see a greater benefit from using a rewards credit card that
collects points with every purchase you make. It’s also important to
remember that although you don’t have to pay an annual fee to use these
cards, regular interest charges (typically at 19.99%) and other credit
card fees still apply.
One major drawback to no fee cards is that, with few exceptions, they lack the rewards and benefits—particularly in the field of insurance—that’s offered by many cards with an annual fee. Typically, no fee cards do include very basic protections such as zero liability, purchase protection and extended warranty, but you’ll likely miss out on travel medical emergency insurance and rental car collision coverage and on perks such as airport lounge access. Ultimately, you’ll have to weigh these benefits against the fees and figure out whether a no fee card works best for you.
Do any Canadian no fee credit cards offer rewards?
Some of the best no fee credit cards offer rewards. However, the value of the points is typically much lower than regular rewards credit cards, so it may take you a while to earn anything – especially if you don’t use your card often. But, if you’re looking for a card that delivers top rewards without an annual fee, look no further. In exchange for slightly lower earn rates, these no fee credit cards still get you premium rewards on what you spend. So whether it’s cash back that you want, no foreign transaction fees or sweet travel points, these no fee credit cards offer no brainer options.