In this feature of Rewards Canada' Ultimate Credit Card Portfolios we look at the ultimate one for earning cash back without paying annual fees on any of the cards. We have always recommended that you should carry a Visa, a Mastercard and an American Express card in your wallet and that's what these portfolios encompass. The reason why is that there are benefits, promotions and earning potential unique to each brand of credit card. We won't go into detail here as you can read all about it in our feature on how to Maximize your Miles and Points but in this feature we outline one card from each brand that will help you build up those cash back returns faster than ever all the while not taking a dime out of your pocket for annual fees. Ultimately there are various options that could be utilized for a no fee cash back portfolio but we look at one card from each issuing family that provide the strongest cash back earning along with some added benefits.
What is Rewards Canada's Ultimate No Fee Cash Back Credit Card Wallet? It is the following three cards:
In this portfolio you have three really good cash back offerings considering these cards have no annual fees. You have one card that provides strong earn rates, the Rogers World Elite Mastercard which use to have a position in our Ultimate Cash Back Credit Card Portfolio (with annual fees) until it was slightly devalued. So while it may have lost contention among annual fee cash back cards this card remains as one of the best no fee rewards cards in the market. Then you have two other cards, the SimplyCash Card from American Express and the Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa card which have very strong welcome bonuses to kick off your cash back journey!
Recommended reading: Canada's Top Cash Back Credit Cards
First let's look at earn rates and category bonuses:
|SimplyCash™ Card from American Express||Rogers World Elite Mastercard||Scotia Momentum® No-Fee Visa* card|
|Welcome Bonus||4% on all purchases up to $5,000 in the first six months||$25 cash back on your first purchase in the first three months||5% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months (up to $2,000 in total purchases)|
|All other spending||1.25%||1.5%||0.5%|
Here is how you will want to break down your spending to maximize your cash back earning with this portfolio:
Initial spending for welcome bonuses: At time of posting this updated portfolio two of the three cards had limited time increased welcome bonus offers in play. To maximum those bonuses you need spend $7,000 combined between the two cards so ideally you'll want to space your applications and use of the cards so you are not overwhelmed in reaching those requirements. The first step would be to get the welcome bonus out of the way on the Rogers World Elite Mastercard since that one is simply awarded with the first purchase you make on the card. One purchase and you have $25 in your pocket. Next I would focus on the Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa Card as its welcome offer of 5% cash back on all purchases is limited to the first three months of having the card. You can get that 5% back on up to $2,000 in purchases and once you have that there's one hundred more dollars in your pocket. Next up is your SimplyCash Card and this one you'll get 4% back on all purchases up to $5,000 and the good news is you have six months to earn that bonus. Once complete you can add $200 in your pocket for a total of $325 cash back!
Now that the welcome bonuses are out of the way here's how you'll want to use your cards for your everyday spending:
When you look at the earn chart above this is pretty simple. Essentially you want to use your Rogers World Elite Mastercard for all your purchases. It earns the most cash back out of the three cards. If for some reason a retailer doesn't accept Mastercard (which is super rare) you'll want to use your American Express card and if that doesn't work then the Scotia Visa card. Ultimately Amex and Visa will be in your wallet to use when there are exclusive promotions for those card brands. For example there are promotions where you can get discounts when you pay with a Visa card only and then American Express has their Amex Offers which are exclusive promotions from merchants for using your Amex card.
Recommended reading: Rewards Canada's Guide to American Express Canada 'Amex Offers'
There is one item of contention that might affect this portfolio for a lot of Canadians and that's the income requirements for the Rogers World Elite Mastercard. Being a World Elite Mastercard the card requires a minimum income of $80,000 for personal or $150,000 household to apply for it. If you fall under those amounts you may not be able to apply for that card. You could go for the Roger's card sibling, the Fido Mastercard as it has no set income requirements. The big difference between the Rogers and Fido cards is the latter will only earn 1% cash back everywhere except for recurring payments and subscriptions where it will earn 1.5% cash back. The Fido Mastercard also does not come with as much insurance coverage and additional benefits like the World Elite card. You could also look at the BMO CashBack® MasterCard®* if income requirements are an issue - that card offers 3% cash back on grocery purchases, 1% on recurring bills and 0.5% on everything else so it is an ideal card for groceries. If you end up going with one of these other cards your spending habits will need to shift as you'll see the SimplyCash card would now be your biggest earner (except for groceries if you get the BMO card)
Here are the details on these three cards
Earn accelerated earn rates on eligible gas and grocery purchases
In your first 10 months as a new SimplyCash® Card from American Express Cardmember, you can earn a $10 statement credit for each monthly billing period in which you spend $300 in purchases on your Card. This could add up to $100 in statement credits in the first 10 months
Annual Fee: $0 | Additional Card Fee: $0 | Annual interest rate 20.99% on purchases and 21.99% on funds advances; Missed payment applicable rates, 24.99% - 26.99%
Earn $25 Cash Back Reward when you make your first purchase on this card
Annual Fee: $0 | Additional Card Fee: $0 | Annual interest rate 19.99% on purchases and 22.99% on funds advances | $100,000 annual household income
Earn 5% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months (up to $2,000 in total purchases) Plus get a 0.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (22.99% after that, annual fee $0) Offer ends Oct 31, 2023
Annual Fee $0 | Supplementary Cards: $0 | Annual interest rate 19.99% on purchases and 22.99% on cash advances, balance transfers and Scotia Credit Card Cheques
There is a Visa card option that will earn you a straight 1% cash back on all purchases, which is actually little bit better than what the Scotia Momentum No Fee Visa Card provides and that is the Home Trust Preferred Visa Card. There are two reasons we didn't place the Home Trust card ahead of the Scotia card however. The first is that it lacks a welcome bonus offer but the second and more important reason is the Home Trust card is not available to residents of Quebec and since we try to make these portfolios workable for Canadians from coast to coast to coast we couldn't place it as the main Visa option. If you live outside of Quebec you could give the Home Trust card a shot so that you are earning 1% across the board.
On the Mastercard front there are quite a few additional options for you. We already covered two of them - the Fido Mastercard and the BMO CashBack® MasterCard®*. Both are good alternatives should you not be able to meet the income requirements of the Rogers World Elite Mastercard. Then you also have Roger's Platinum Mastercard which is a straight 1% back card except for U.S. purchases where it will earn 3%. Some other no fee Mastercard options include the PC Financial portfolio of cards however you are limited in your cash back as you can only redeem at the Loblaw family of stores.
For American Express there is really only one other no fee option and that is the American Express Green Card. It isn't a true cash back card however you can redeem the points for any eligible purchases made on the card at a rate of 1,000 points for $10 which is a 1% return on this card. With this card you then still have the option to redeem points for travel or convert to a program like Air Canada Aeroplan or Marriott Bonvoy.