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 books add up!), and the cash back post-welcome is nothing to sneeze at: 3% on groceries and 1% on recurring bill payments (up to $500 spent per month in each category), and an unlimited 0.5% on everything else. As a student card, there’s no specific income requirements 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: 3% cash back on groceries; 1% on recurring bill payments; 0.5% on everything else
- Additional benefits: Members receive 25% off at National and Alamo car rentals
Best retail or store cards
For PC Optimum Points: PC Financial World Elite Mastercard*
For those who shop regularly at Loblaws banner stores and Shoppers Drug Mart (Pharmaprix in Quebec), the PC World Elite Mastercard offers a great way to take advantage of one of the most popular and useful loyalty programs in the country: PC Optimum. Here’s how it works: When you use your PC World Elite Mastercard, you earn a minimum of 10 points per $1 spent, with multipliers for purchases at Shoppers (45 points per $1), and Esso, PC Travel or any Loblaws-owned stores, like No-Frills, Fortinos or Real Canadian Superstore (30 points per $1). Points are redeemed anywhere PC products are sold, in 10,000-Point increments, which works out to $10. PC Optimum is a valuable, easy-to-use program—and the PC World Elite can help you make the most of it.
- Earn rate: 45 points per $1 at Shoppers Drug Mart; 30 points per $1 at Esso, PC Travel or any Loblaws-owned stores; 10 points per $1 everywhere else
- Income requirement: $80,000 personal or household income of $150,000
- Additional benefits: Travel emergency medical insurance; car rental loss or collision coverage; concierge services
Best card for Canadian Tire shoppers
The Triangle Mastercard from Canadian Tire lets you earn your rewards in Canadian Tire Money (CTM). Get a generous 4% in CTM when you shop at Canadian Tire, Sport Chek and Mark’s and other affiliate stores, and 1.5% on up to $12,000 of purchases at grocery stores (excluding Walmart and Costco). You also get $0.05 back per litre of gas from Gas+ and participating Husky stations.
You may fondly remember the brightly-coloured bills of Canadian Tire Money stashed in parents’ glove boxes when you were younger. While the program has evolved (it’s gone digital, for instance), it still has a strong Canadian flavour. Redeem your CTM at sporting goods stores (Sport Chek, Sports Rousseau, Sports Experts and Hockey Experts), clothing retailers (Mark’s/L’Equipeur and Atmosphere), and, of course, Canadian Tire. This card is a clear choice for those who regularly shop at Canadian Tire. And it might even win over some who don’t, with its no-fee financing option, which lets you make interest-free installments on qualifying purchases of at least $150 at Canadian Tire or affiliate stores.