Using a cash back credit card can be a great way to earn rewards for your day-to-day spending. Just make sure you have the discipline pay off your balance in full each month, or the interest charges will more than offset your cash back rewards.

With a young family at home, collecting travel rewards isn’t a priority, so instead, I like to use one of the top cash back credit cards and get cold-hard cash back to help supplement my everyday spending.

Cash back credit cards are increasing in popularity these days as Canadians become frustrated with the restrictions and declining value for travel rewards programs like Aeroplan and Air Miles.

Top Cash Back Credit Cards

I looked into the best cash back credit cards in Canada, including annual fee cards and no fee cards.  I calculated the cash back rewards based on spending $2,500 per month, which includes $650 on groceries and $150 on gas.

Related: How to boost your credit card rewards

Here are the top cash back credit cards in Canada:

Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite

  • 4% cash back on all eligible gas station and grocery store purchases
  • 2% cash back on recurring payments and drug store purchases
  • 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases.
  • $99 annual fee
  • 1.99% introductory interest rate on cash advances and balance transfers for the first six months.
  • Dedicated Visa Infinite website to help you easily track your cash back rewards.
  • Purchase protection and extended warranty

With the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite, I can earn cash back rewards of $684 per year.  However, when you subtract the $99 annual fee I’m left with $585 cash back each year.

Sign up for the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite here – (link)

Capital One Aspire World MasterCard

  • 2 reward miles for every $1 spent
  • 35,000 bonus reward miles on your first purchase
  • 10,000 anniversary bonus reward miles every year
  • $120 annual fee
  • Redeem points for travel, cash back or merchandise
  • Trip interruption or cancellation insurance
  • Purchase protection and extended warranty

The Capital One Aspire World MasterCard is marketed as a travel rewards credit card, however with flexible redemption options you can redeem your points for cash; easily making this one of the top cash back credit cards in Canada.

Calculating points with the Capital One Aspire World MasterCard is straightforward:  10,000 points = $75

2 miles for every $1 in purchases – 60,000 points
35,000 bonus miles with first purchase – 35,000 points
10,000 bonus anniversary miles – 10,000 points

With this card, I can earn cash back rewards of $787.50 in the first year.  After subtracting the $120 annual fee I’m still left with $667.50 cash back.  However, without the 35,000 bonus miles in subsequent years my annual cash back rewards drops to $525.

Sign up for the Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard here – (link)

MBNA Smart Cash World MasterCard

  • 5% cash back on gas and groceries for the first 6 months, up to $400 per month
  • 2% cash back afterwards, up to $400 per month
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • No annual fee
  • 1.99% introductory balance transfer rate for the first 10 months
  • Receive a cheque automatically once your cash back totals at least $50 per month
  • Purchase protection and extended warranty

With the MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard, I can earn cash back rewards of $420 in the first year, and there is no annual fee.  However, after the first year the annual cash back drops down to $348.

Sign up for the MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard here – (link)

Final Thoughts

The main factor to consider when choosing a rewards credit card is the amount of money you spend each month on your card.  Annual fee credit cards don’t make sense until you have a good income and are spending at least $2,500 per month on your card.

These top cash back credit cards all have their own unique benefits.  Some rewards cards promote major incentives during the first year to draw in customers, but don’t offer the best rewards over the long term.

I personally use the MBNA Smart Cash World MasterCard and I enjoy this card because it’s easy to use and the cash back rewards are automatically sent to me once I reach the $50 threshold.  5% cash back on groceries and gas for the first 6 months is a pretty nice bonus.

But recent changes from MBNA have watered down the Smart Cash rewards program, so when you compare it to the top cash back credit cards, it’s a distant 3rd.

At first glance, with the incredible first year earnings offered by the Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard, this card should be the top cash back credit card in Canada.  Receiving $667.50 cash back in the first year is amazing, but the cash back rewards drop down to $525 in subsequent years.

It looks like the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite credit card is the top cash back card based on my spending levels.  Here’s how the three cards stack up over three years:

Cash Back Credit Card Rewards in First Year Rewards after Three Years
Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite $585.00 $1,755.00
Capital One Aspire World MasterCard $667.50 $1,717.50
MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard $420.00 $1,116.00

You can’t go wrong with either of these top cash back credit cards, but for pure earnings it looks like the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite offers the best bang for your buck over the long term.

  • Sign up for Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite here – (link)
  • Sign up for the Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard here – (link)
  • Sign up for MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard here – (link)

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