Skip to main content
Ratehub logo
Ratehub logo

Canada’s best no fee credit cards for 2023

Natasha Macmillan, Business Unit Director - Everyday Banking

June 22, 2023

The best no-fee credit cards in Canada can offer great value and benefits without an annual fee. Check out our carefully selected list for the one that matches your spending habits and lifestyle?

Discover the right credit card for you with CardFinder

Find Canada’s best no fee credit cards suited for you in 60 seconds! View cards and exclusive offers you’re likely to qualify for without affecting your credit or needing a SIN

find my perfect card

Unlock exclusive gift cards while they last

Canada's best no fee credit cards at a glance

The best rewards cards for

How to choose - frequently asked questions

Do no fee credit cards come with rewards?

What is the best no fee credit card for students?

Why should I get a no fee credit card?

What is the best no fee cash back card?

No fee cards vs “first-year free” cards

Can anyone get a no-fee card?

What is the best no fee Mastercard?


Find your perfect credit card in under 60 seconds - No SIN required

  1. Tell us a bit about yourself

    Answer some questions so we can personalize our recommendations - this won't impact your credit score

  2. Check your eligibility

    We confirm your eligibility with our partner, TransUnion. This will be a ‘soft credit check’ which you can see but lenders cannot

  3. Find your perfect matches

    We show you the cards you’re most likely to want and most likely to get

let's get started

Best no-fee credit cards in Canada - by category

Natasha Macmillan

Best no annual fee credit card for cash back's take

The SimplyCash from American Express credit card lets you earn cash back equally across all categories - removing the complexity of some cash back reward credit cards and making it one of the best no fee credit cards in Canada. With SimplyCash, cardholders can earn 2% cash back on gas and grocery purchases (up to $300 annually) and 1.25% cash back on all other purchases. Overall, the SimplyCash credit card is a great option for those who aren’t looking for premium perks or won’t earn enough rewards to offset an annual fee.


  • Simple and easy rewards structure
  • Can earn accelerated earn rates on eligible gas and grocery purchases
  • Insurance coverage and 24/7 concierge services 
  • Access to Front of the Line Presale and Reserved tickets to concerts, theater performances, movie screenings, and culinary events, along with other special offers


  • American Express isn’t as widely accepted in Canada compared to Visa and Mastercard
  • Cash-back rewards are only redeemable once per year in September

Honourable mention for best no fee credit card for cash back's take

While the fact that the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card is a no annual fee card is a big reason behind its popularity, what really sets this card apart is the customizability. With this card, you can choose your own bonus categories (which will earn you a strong cash back rate of 2% per dollar spent). This is rare in the credit card market and means you can avoid being locked into a bonus category that you can’t take full advantage of or that doesn’t align with your spending habits. On top of that, your cash back is refunded on a monthly basis (instead of the standard annual reimbursement). 


  • Flexibility to pick up to three bonus categories to earn 2% cash back on (out of a total of 10 options), which is in sharp contrast to most other cards where you have fixed bonus categories that you have no control over
  • 2% cash back per dollar on bonus categories is one of the richest earn rates for a no-fee card
  • Freedom to change up your bonus categories at any time (changes will take up to 90 days to come into effect)
  • Widely accepted almost everywhere including No Frills and Costco as it is a Mastercard credit card
  • Extended warranty and purchase protection
  • Free supplementary cards for authorized users


  • For all purchases that aren’t categorized under one of your chosen bonus categories, you’ll earn just 0.5% cash back
  • No travel medical insurance or any substantial side perks

Best no fee credit card for travel rewards's take

The American Express Green Card takes our prize for best no fee credit card for travel rewards due to its healthy welcome bonus, point accelerator for travel purchases, and redemption flexibility.

Cardholders earn a standard earn rate of one point per dollar, which can be doubled when booking travel expenses through American Express Travel. AMEX Membership Rewards can be redeemed for a variety of rewards such as cash back, travel, gift cards and merchandise. Not only that, but you can also transfer your points to travel loyalty programs such as Aeroplan and Marriott Bonvoy.

And, of course, American Express Green Card users will also enjoy the same benefits as all AMEX cardholders: Front of the Line presales and reserved tickets as well as American Express Experiences ranging from entertainment, dining, and retail.


  • Welcome bonus - Welcome Bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards® points when you charge $1,000 in purchases to your Card in the first 3 months of Cardmembership.
  • Opportunity to effectively double your points when booking travel through American Express Travel
  • Flexible redemption options: travel, gift cards/merchandise, everyday purchases, 
  • Transfer your points to loyalty programs like Aeroplan and Marriott Bonvoy


  • Standard earn rate of one point per dollar isn’t particularly competitive with other no fee rewards cards
  • Fairly lean insurance package extended warranty and purchase protection only. If you’re interested in more comprehensive coverage, other no fee cards offer more in this area.

Honourable mention for best no fee credit card for travel rewards's take

The MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard is a perfect travel companion for frequent travellers seeking a no fee credit card. This card has a flexible rewards program that offers great value for travel redemption. It also allows points to be redeemed for virtually any airline (including taxes and fees), brand-name merchandise, gift cards from participating retailers, cash back, and charitable donations. The MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard offers bonus rewards on key spending categories, including restaurants, groceries, digital media, memberships and household utility purchases.


  • Welcome bonus - Earn 10,000 bonus points ($50 in cash back value)
  • Very flexible rewards programs in comparison to other no-fee credit cards, allowing cardholders to redeem points for cash back, merchandise, gift cards, charitable donations and travel
  • Includes additional benefits such as mobile device insurance, purchase assurance and extended warranty benefits
  • Receive up to 10,000 Birthday Bonus Points every year


  • Earn rate of 2 points per dollar on eligible restaurants, groceries, digital media, memberships, and household utility purchases is capped at $10,000 annually (per category)
  • No credit card travel insurance
  • This offer is not available for resident of Quebec

Best no fee credit card with low interest

Best no fee credit card for students's take

The BMO CashBack Mastercard - Student is a no annual fee rewards credit card that offers particularly strong returns on everyday essentials from grocery stores and supermarkets. It earns 3% cash back on the first $500 you spend on groceries every month and 1% on recurring bills up to $500 every month (0.5% cash back after that). For all your other everyday purchases, you’ll net 0.5% cash back without limits. This credit card has the trio of features that most appeals to students: 1. no annual fees 2. the ability to earn straightforward rewards, and 3. no income requirement.


  • No annual fee
  • 3% cash back on groceries makes it one of the best no fee cards to own for that spending category
  • Great welcome offer - Welcome offer: Get 5% cash back in your first 3 months
  • No income requirement - perfect for students on a fixed income
  • Cash back system is more straightforward than points
  • Redeem cash back for as little as $1 at a time
  • Purchase and extended warranty protection and discounts on rental cars from eligible National and Alamo agency locations


  • 1% cash back rate on recurring bills and 0.5% on everything else isn’t particularly compelling
  • Bonus categories each have a monthly cap of $500 (but reset monthly)

Best no fee credit card for store credit's take

The Triangle Mastercard is another popular credit card with no minimum income requirements. This card offered by Canadian retailer Canadian Tire offers rewards on all purchases with 4% back in CT Money on eligible purchases made at Canadian Tire, SportChek, and 0.5% back on all other purchases. 


  • No annual fee and no income requirements, making it accessible to a wider range of customers
  • Easy to earn rewards
  • Qualifying purchase of $150 or more at a Canadian Store is eligible for no fee, no interest financing (financing will be spread out over 24 months and will be charged to your credit card in equal payments every month)


  • Low earn rate at stores other than Canadian Tire, SportChek and participating Marks. To overcome this, consider combining it with another cash back credit card
  • No insurance, such as purchase protection and extended warranty coverage. Most other no annual fee credit cards would include these basic insurance types's take

If you’re a loyal shopper with a particular retailer, it’s usually wise to take advantage of their store rewards card if offered (especially if it comes with no annual fee). Using a retail rewards card is a great way to save big on regular, everyday purchases, and the best example of this is the PC Financial World Elite Mastercard. You could easily rack up big savings with no annual fee taking away from your rewards at Loblaws banner grocery stores (Loblaws, No Frills, Valu-Mart, and more), Shoppers Drug Mart and Esso Mobil stations.


  • High earn rate potential at all Loblaws-owned grocery stores and PC Travel, Shoppers Drug Mart locations and Esson Mobil stations
  • Access to Mastercard World Elite benefits (Boingo WiFi, Dragonpass airport lounge access, plus more)
  • Point redemption is easy and straightforward - as soon as you have 10,000 points, you can redeem them for $10 off at any Loblaws-owned retailers
  • No annual fee
  • Extra travel insurance perks
  • Easy-to-understand point redemption


  • Can only redeem points in increments of 10,000
  • High $80,000 personal income requirement which could be prohibitive to many
  • Points cannot be transferred to other loyalty programs 
  • Very strict redemption rules - points cannot be used to pay for purchases at non-Loblaws retailers or redeemed against a statement balance. Plenty of other rewards cards on the market offering more flexibility

Find your perfect credit card in under 60 seconds - No SIN required

  1. Tell us a bit about yourself

    Answer some questions so we can personalize our recommendations - this won't impact your credit score

  2. Check your eligibility

    We confirm your eligibility with our partner, TransUnion. This will be a ‘soft credit check’ which you can see but lenders cannot

  3. Find your perfect matches

    We show you the cards you’re most likely to want and most likely to get

let's get started

When should you get a no fee credit card?


1. You’re getting your first credit card

If you’re looking to get your first-ever credit card, there’s a good chance you’re in school or just starting out in your career. If that’s the case, your priority should be to find a credit card that’s easy to get, free to carry, and can help build your credit history – not chase premium rewards or perks on an annual fee card.

If you're new to owning a card and nervous about accumulating debt, choosing a no fee card with a low APR (interest rate) may be especially wise. Interest can easily grow if you're an inexperienced user, saddling you with bad credit that can follow you for years. With lower interest, not only will you avoid an annual fee, but you'll have a better chance at paying off your bill in full every month and staying out of debt.

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 noting 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.

2. You won’t be using your credit card often

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 spending compared to their no fee alternatives, it can often be worth it to pay a yearly charge in return for all the savings and benefits you'll receive. However, if you rarely use credit and don’t spend a lot in specific bonus categories, you likely won’t earn enough rewards to offset the fee, leaving you to pay extra to use a card that isn't giving you much in return. You typically need to spend 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.

3. Elite perks and insurance aren’t top of mind

Many annual fee cards come with great perks that include everything from travel medical insurance and lost-baggage coverage to free hotel upgrades, complimentary airport lounge access, and more. These perks – usually baked into the cost of a card’s annual fee – can offer great value if you use them regularly, especially considering they could cost several hundred dollars more if you had to pay for them out of pocket. That said, if you aren’t a frequent traveller or these types of perks aren’t of 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.

4. The benefits on a no fee card may be enough

Although credit cards with annual fees generally offer a wider array of perks, most no fee cards still do come with complimentary extended warranties and purchase protection.

Some 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. Plus, if you’re not an avid traveller, you probably don’t need the additional perks that come with an annual fee rewards card in the first place.

5. You want to adopt a two-card strategy

In some cases, it 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 ($139 annual fee) you would earn a strong 3% cash back on groceries and recurring bill payments but just 1% on your spending at restaurants and all other purchases. However, if you also picked up the no annual fee Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card, you could use the Tangerine Card to earn 2% at restaurants and stick to paying with the TD Card at groceries to earn 3%. By pairing these two cards, you can earn double the rewards when dining out all while not paying any additional annual fees.

Another reason to pick up 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 Amex. The same holds true if your main credit card is issued by Visa but you regularly shop from Costco, since you may want to consider getting an additional no fee Mastercard credit card to use at the warehouse retailer.

6. You’re looking for a store card

Many retailers offer a store or co-branded credit card, which are best for frequent shoppers at these stores. These cards come with unique perks, such as the opportunity to earn more points or discounts for using your card. For instance, Triangle Mastercard holders can earn more Canadian Tire Money than regular Triangle Rewards members when they shop at Canadian Tire, Mark’s, or Sport Chek. And people with a PC Financial Mastercard can earn more points at Shoppers Drug Mart, Loblaws, No Frills, Real Canadian Superstore, and Esso than regular PC Optimum members. What’s great about most store credit cards (including all those mentioned above) is they don’t charge an annual fee.


No-fee credit cards: pros and cons


No annual fees affecting your rewards

While it's true that no-fee cards can't offer the level of lucrative rewards featured on cards with $120+ annual fees, many still come with the ability to earn points or cash back, and that can reap significant yields if you use the card frequently and responsibly. With a no-fee card, you won't have a yearly charge eating into your rewards and lowering their value, leaving 100% of it to you.

They're great for your credit history

Because no-fee cards are virtually free to own, you'll never have to face the question of whether or not you can afford to keep it. This is great news for your credit history, as the longer you can keep a credit card account open and in good standing, the better you look to credit bureaus and potential lenders. Just remember to use it at least once a year to keep it active.

They'll save you money

This last one should be obvious, but opting for a no-fee rewards card instead of one with an annual fee means one less bill to pay, and that can make all the difference for families or those living on a fixed income. The opportunity to use and build credit should be available to those of all different income levels, and no-fee credit cards help provide that.



Not as many benefits

If you're in the market for a credit card with tons of extra bells and whistles, a no-fee card may not give you what you're looking for. Annual fees are how credit card providers justify all those beautiful perks, so a no-fee card will consequently feature less of them. That being said, if you're simply looking for an everyday card to help you build credit or earn a little bit of cash back on groceries and gas, this may be less of a concern.

No travel perks

Those looking for a no-fee travel card won't find many options, as extra benefits like travel insurance and airline/hotel rewards typically come with heftier annual fees.


Also read:

The knowledge bank

A wealth of knowledge delivered right to your inbox.

By submitting your email address, you acknowledge and agree to’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Contact us for more information. You can unsubscribe at any time.