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Comparing the Best Current No Annual Fee Cards

See also: Top No Annual Fee Credit Cards

The most frequently asked question that I get when talking to people is: “What is the best credit card?” This is  a very subjective question where the answer varies depending on the person’s priorities.

For those looking for a short answer, I would say: “Pick more than one card in your wallet to maximise rewards and cover more bases.”

The long answer would include what type of cards. Some people who are much more advanced in the miles and points game generally already have their own answer to this question! When I am asked this question, the most important factor I hear (before I even try to answer the question) is that they do not want to pay any monthly or annual fees.

Top Choices

For today’s post, I am going to address the most frequently asked question while factoring their number one concern (i.e. no monthly or annual fee). Therefore, this post focuses on my top no annual fee card for each brand: American Express, MasterCard and Visa. Below are the highlights of my top picks for each brand before we get into a comparison.

American Express Green Card

  • No annual fee
  • Earn 12,500 sign up bonus points after spending $1,200 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all purchases

Scotiabank Scene Visa Card

  • No annual fee
  • Earn 5,000 sign up bonus Scene points after spending $500 in the first 3 months (apply before February 28, 2022)
  • Earn 5 Scene points for every $1 spent at participating Cineplex Entertainment theatre or online
  • Earn 1 Scene point for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Have at least $12,000 personal annual income

Tangerine World MasterCard

  • No annual fee
  • Up to 5 supplementary cardholders
  • Earn 15% cash back on the first $1,000 in spending on all purchases or up to 2 months (apply before January 31, 2022)
  • Earn 2% cash back on choice of 2 categories (3rd choice if you deposit the cash back into your Tangerine Savings Account)
  • Earn 0.5% cash back on all other purchases
  • Receive Boingo Wi-Fi

Honourable mentions

President’s Choice Financial World Elite MasterCard

  • No annual fee
  • Earn 20,000 sign up bonus PC points
  • Earn 45 PC Optimum points for every $1 spent at Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix
  • Earn 30 PC Optimum points for every $1 spent at PC stores, pctravel.ca and PC mobile (excluding PC mobile prepaid services)
  • Earn 30 PC Optimum points per litre of Esso Supreme (Octane 91) and Esso SUPREME+ (Octane 93)
  • Earn 20 PC Optimum points per litre on other gasoline or diesel
  • Earn 10 PC Optimum points for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Have at least $80,000 in personal annual income or $150,000 household income

Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa Card

  • No annual fee
  • Earn 4% cash back on restaurants and bars (after the bonus offer expires)
  • Earn 1.5% cash back on gas, groceries, drugstore purchases and pre-authorized payments
  • Earn 0.5% cash back on all other purchases
  • Have at least $15,000 in personal annual income

Comparison

The American Express card was the easier choice for me. The American Express Green card is hands down my top no annual fee pick.

The Visa card was a bit of a toss up between the Scene and Simplii cards. I ultimately settled with the Scene card because of its new enhancements to its rewards program.

For MasterCard, I was flip flopping between the Tangerine and PC Financial card. I ended up choosing the Tangerine card because of the high income requirement with the PC Financial card.

Either way, I added the Simplii and PC Financial cards in the honourable mention section, as I will still reference them in the comparison below. On a side note, the Canadian Tire World MasterCard would have been another honourable mention, but I limited it to a maximum of one mention per brand.

Accessibility

Even though I value American Express Membership Rewards points the most out of all the rewards options mentioned above, they are not as widely accepted as MasterCard and Visa. But I would still have the American Express card in my no annual fee portfolio (see “Rewards” section below).

By having one of each major brand of cards in Canada, it covers more bases in the overall portfolio.

Earning Ratios

Earning ratios is the main reason why I recommend having more than one credit card to optimise the rewards that you can earn depending on the retailer or category of spending.

For example, the Tangerine card is my top MasterCard choice if you can take advantage of 2 or more player mode. This works for couples who can each get a card in their own name. Then proceed to issue a supplementary card to their partner. As a result, there are 4 cards in circulation at once, while each cardholder can select up to 3 categories each to earn the 2% cash back to cover 6 categories at once. Adding a child (over 18) into the picture increases that to 9 of the 10 available categories for the entire family. Note that cardholders can request one change in category at any time, with a 90-day waiting period before the next switch.

Rewards

Personally, American Express Membership Rewards are my favourite rewards program in Canada, due to its ability to transfer to valuable travel partners. But I do understand that transferable points are not for everyone.

Reward options is going to be a personal preference. Some prefer straight cash back so that they do not have to deal with the limitations of loyalty programs. Some prefer to load up on a specific loyalty program to maximise their rewards with them.

Conclusion

So there you have it! My top picks for each brand of credit card. The reality is since we are referring to no annual fee cards only anyway, I recommend having as many cards as you can manage to maximise the features and benefits across the board.

Which other card would you add this list? Please let us know in the comment section below.

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Pointshogger aims to provide analysis and updates on earning loyalty reward points and maximizing the value of your points. We hope to inspire our readers to experience the joy of travel and make the most out of what they've already got!

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