Credit Cards Canadians Should Watch for in 2019

It’s a New Year and having the right credit card in your wallet can help your budget in a big way in 2019.

While at first it may seem odd (and almost counterintuitive) to think that a credit card could help you with your budget, but here’s what it comes down to: picking the right credit card based on your spending habits will maximize the amount of travel points or cash back rewards you earn on your everyday purchases.

Travel points cards can help you save on your vacation costs. Cash back cards can put money back in your pocket, and low interest credit cards can help you reduce the amount of interest you’re paying on any balances you don’t pay off. Remember, rewards are never worth it if you’re not paying your bills in full and on time every month. By doing that, you won’t pay any interest charges and your credit score could improve.

To help you pick the right credit card to manage your budget for 2019, we’re featuring some of the most popular credit cards by category.

For a complete list of the cards featured on this list, click here: best credit cards in Canada for 2019.

Top points cards (for those budgeting for travel)

Points cards are ideal for people who always pay their bills in full and on time. These types of cards tend to offer the best bang for your buck, but you really need to pay attention to where you spend your money to maximize your return.

American Express Cobalt card

  • Rewards: 5 points per $1 spent on eats and drinks; 2 points per $1 spent on travel; and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual fee: $10 monthly fee ($120 annually)
  • Welcome Offer: 2,500 ($25 worth of travel points) monthly welcome points for the year after charging $500 in purchases each month up to total of 30,000 points ($30 worth of travel points)

The Amex Cobalt card is clearly aimed at younger people who typically do most of their spending on food and transportation. 5 points per $1 spent on food is incredibly high while the transportation category also covers public transportation and taxis. 1,000 points are equal to $10 in travel credits or $7 in non-travel related purchases.

Scotiabank Gold American Express

  • Rewards: 4 Scotia Rewards points for every $1 you spend at eligible gas stations, grocery stores, on dining and entertainment; 1 point on all other purchases
  • Annual fee: $99
  • Welcome Offer: 15,000 bonus points ($150 value) with your first $1000 in everyday purchases in the first 3 month

Although you won’t earn as many points for food purchases with the Scotiabank Gold American Express card compared to the Cobalt, you do earn more points at gas stations. As you can imagine, this card is ideal for people who spend a lot on gas and dining out. Overall, this card is attractive since you’re earning a 4% return on quite a few spending categories.

Top cash back (for those budgeting for gas and groceries)

Instead of rewards points that are used for travel or merchandise, some people prefer cash back. Cash back is easy to understand since you get a fixed rate of return.

Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite

  • Rewards: 4% cash back on eligible grocery and gas purchases; 2% cash back at drug store and on recurring bills; and 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Annual fee: $99 (first year free)
  • Welcome Offer: 10% cash back (up to $200) on all purchases in the first three months when applying by February 28, 2019

With an incredible offer of 10% back on all purchases for the first three months, the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite is arguably one of Canada’s top credit cards for 2019. The offer is only good if you are approved by February 28, 2019, but even after the promotional period ends, you’ll still earn 4% cash back on grocery and gas purchases, as well as 2% cash back on drug store and bill payments. All other purchases earn you 1% cash back. Another often overlooked benefit is the extended warranty which doubles the warranty of your purchases up to an additional year.

Top flat-rate cash back (for those who have a simple and straight-forward budget)

By now, all these multipliers for different categories may be giving you a headache. Instead of keeping track of where you can earn additional cash back, why not apply for a flat-rate card to keep things simple? The cash back you earn can be put towards savings or purchases you’ve had in mind which will help with your budgeting.

American Express SimplyCash Preferred Card

  • Rewards: 2% cash back on all purchases
  • Annual Fee: $99
  • Welcome Offer: 5% cash back on all purchases for the first 6 months (up to $300)

As you can see, the American Express SimplyCash Preferred Card is easy to understand. For the first six months, you’ll earn 5% cash back on all purchases up to $300. After that period ends, you’ll get a 2% return on all your purchases. You could also use this card as a balance transfer credit card since it comes with a 1.99% interest rate for six months on balance transfers done.

Top no fee cash back (for fee-averse budgeters)

So far, all of the credit cards we’ve featured have an annual fee. That’s expected since they all come with some incredible benefits, but here are some of the best no fee credit cards in Canada.

Tangerine Money-Back Card

  • Rewards: 2% cash back on purchases in up to three categories; 0.5% on all other purchases
  • Annual Fee: $0

What makes the Tangerine Money-Back card interesting is that you get to pick two categories where you’ll earn 2% in money-back rewards. If you set those rewards to go directly into your Tangerine account, you’ll get a third category that gives you a 2% return (read our Tangerine credit card review for a full list of the bonus categories you can choose from). All other purchases only earn you 0.5%, but that’s still impressive for a no fee card.

American Express SimplyCash Card

  • Rewards: 1.25% cash back on all purchases
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 2.5% cash back on purchases (up to $150 cash back) for the first 3 months

For a no fee card, the American Express SimplyCash card has a surprisingly generous welcome bonus which offers 2.5% cash back on all your purchases (up to $150 cash back) for the first 3 months. Once that promotion ends, you’ll get 1.25% cash back on all your purchases. You also get access to American Express Invites, which offers exclusive access to dining, entertainment and sports events.

Top low interest card (for those budgeting for credit card debt)

If you typically carry a balance on your credit card, it’s always better to use a low interest credit card instead of a rewards card. Rewards cards typically have an interest rate of 19.99% (or higher) which can add up to a considerable amount in fees. In contrast, these cards have much lower interest rates that will make handling your debt a little easier.

American Express Essential Credit Card

  • Annual Purchase Interest Rate: 8.99%
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Welcome Offer: 1.99% on balance transfer for the first six months

At 8.99%, the American Express Essential Credit Card has the lowest everyday interest rate on the market for purchases and cash advances (for emergencies when you need to borrow money). You do get an optional balance transfer where the interest rate is 1.99% for the first six months, but you need to apply for that at the time of your application.

MBNA True Line Gold Mastercard

  • Annual Purchase Interest Rate: 8.99%
  • Annual Fee: $39
  • Welcome Offer: 0% interest for six months on balance transfers (conditions apply)

Right away you’ll notice that the MBNA True line Gold Mastercard has a 0% interest offer for six months when you make a balance transfer. Best of all, once the promotional period ends, your rate for the outstanding balance defaults to 8.99%, which is the same as their purchase rate. Keep in mind that this card does have an annual fee and balance transfers come with an additional 1% fee of the amount transferred with a minimum fee of $7.50.

Top card for travel benefits (for those looking to save on perks)

Often the best credit card in Canada is a travel card since it comes with additional benefits that can be incredibly valuable. We’re talking about things such as travel insurance, and lounge access, which are highly coveted by frequent flyers. Here are the top cards for travel benefits.

Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite

  • Rewards: 2 points per $1 on eligible grocery stores, dining, entertainment and daily transit purchases; 1 point on everything else
  • Annual Fee: $139
  • Welcome Offer: 25,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Travel Perks: No foreign transaction fees and free airport lounge access

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card is the best all-in-one travel credit card since it gives you a nice signup bonus, a good earn rate, and incredible benefits. With this card, you get 6 annual lounge passes which are the most for a card with an annual fee of under $150. Travellers will also love how you won’t pay any fees on purchases made in a foreign currency and the comprehensive travel insurance package that comes included.

BMO World Elite Mastercard

  • Rewards: 3 BMO points for every $1 spent on travel, dining and entertainment purchases; 2 points for all other purchases
  • Annual Fee: $150 (first year free)
  • Welcome Offer: $100 travel credit when you make a minimum $100 travel purchase in the first six months (until Feb. 28, 2019)
  • Travel Perks: Airport lounge access and premium travel insurance coverage

The BMO World Elite Mastercard is also a great travel credit card since it has an additional promo right now. If you sign up for the card by Feb. 28, 2019, you’ll receive a $100 travel credit when you make a travel purchase of at least $100 in the first six months of card membership. The card also comes with a signup bonus worth $250 and the annual fee of $150 is waived for the first year. In other words, this card could save you at least $350 on your next vacation.

For a complete list of the cards featured on this list, click here: best credit cards in Canada for 2019.

You May Also Be Interested In: Ways to Pay Down Your Debt Sooner: Debt Avalanche vs. Debt Snowfall


Writer: RateHub

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