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What’s in a card? Whether you’re in it for cash, low rates, merchandise, business or travel… you have a motive and so you should – just make sure that you’re getting what you want in the best way possible.

Cash back cards are easy to understand and instantly gratifying. They are best suited to the person who would like their rewards in the form of a cheque for a percentage of what they have spent or statement credit. The Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite, Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard and American Express Gold were among the highest rated cash back cards.

Spend and earn:

  • The Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite – This Visa enables you to earn 4% on charges made in categories like groceries and gas, 2% on drug store purchases and 2% on recurring bill payments like phone, internet and cable.
  • Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard – This card allows you to redeem points for cash back. Though the rate is lower when converting points to cash – 75% of point value – this card provides customers with 1.5% cash back on every purchase. Cash can be redeemed at any time by requesting a cheque or statement credit. 35,000 bonus points are given for the first purchase made with this card, which amounts to $262.50. Additionally, cardholders are awarded 10,000 points each year to help offset the annual fee of $120.
  • American Express Gold – With this card, the rewards are tiered meaning you earn 0.5% back on the first $2,500 charged, 1% back on the next $2,500 and 2% back on all spending between $5,001 and $10,000 per year. Rebates are applied as statement credit in January and the yearly fee is $99.

Click here to get more details on the highest-ranking cash back cards.

Low rate cards are best for someone who is trying to manage debt carried over from month to month. The most popular low rate cards are the MBNA TrueLine MasterCard, Capital One SmartLine Platinum MasterCard and TD Emerald Visa.

Less is more:

  • MBNA TrueLine MasterCard – This card does not require an annual fee, has 9.99% annual interest rate on eligible purchases and offers exclusive Platinum benefits.
  • Capital One SmartLine Platinum MasterCard – There is no yearly fee for this MasterCard, it allows for higher-interest debt to be transferred and includes Platinum benefits like Purchase Assurance and Extended Warranty.
  • TD Emerald Visa – An annual fee of $25 is required for this Visa however it offers a competitive low rate: TD Prime + 1.75% up to TD Prime + 9.75% depending on your credit assessment.

Subsequently, a card with a low rate, instantly redeemable rewards or both is ideal for students. The favourites are the TD Emerald Visa and Scotiabank Scene Visa.

Making the grade:

  • TD Emerald Visa – As previously mentioned, an annual fee of $25 is required for this Visa however it offers a competitive low rate: TD Prime + 1.75% up to TD Prime + 9.75% depending on your credit assessment.
  • Scotiabank Scene Visa – This card literally makes motion pictures out of your purchases. You get 2,000 SCENE points with your first purchase – enough for 2 free movies, earn 1 point for every $1 you spend on credit card purchases and earn 5 points for every $1 spent on purchases from Cinaplex and cinaplex.com. You can redeem for free movies, music and other entertainment rewards starting at 1,000 points.

Merchandise cards are a good choice for those who want to redeem their points for electronics, groceries and gift cards. Though the rate of return is often lower than cash back for travel, this type of card is good for people who don’t want to wait to accumulate points for flights. Merchandise cards that came out on top are the Chase Best Buy Reward Zone Visa, Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard and MBNA Rewards World Elite MasterCard.

More stuff for your buck:

  • Chase Best Buy Reward Zone Visa – There is no annual fee associated with this card and benefits include a welcome $10 reward certificate, earning 2 points for every eligible dollar spent at any Best Buy store in Canada and BestBuy.ca and getting 1 point for every eligible dollar spent anywhere Reward Zone Visa is accepted.
  • Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard – As previousely mentioned, this card allows you to redeem points for cash back. Though the rate is lower when converting points to cash – 75% of point value – this card provides customers with 1.5% cash back on every purchase. Cash can be redeemed at any time by requesting a cheque or statement credit. 35,000 bonus points are given for the first purchase made with this card, which amounts to $262.50. Additionally, cardholders are awarded 10,000 points each year to help offset the annual fee of $120.
  • MBNA Rewards World Elite MasterCard – This card waives the annual fee of $89 the first year, offers 10,000 bonus points for the first eligible purchase and puts no limit on the amount of points that can be accrued yearly – points don’t expire. Also, for using this card, you are provided with exclusive benefits such as price protection and concierge service – “This isn’t the real Caesar’s Palace is it?… Did, umm… did Caesar live here?”

See more details at moneysense.ca and comparemyrates.ca.

For business, a card that allows for a higher credit limit and provides the ability to keep things separate is ideal. The best business cards include the RBC Credit Line for Small Business Visa, Scotiabank Momentum for Business Visa and American Express Business Platinum Card.

Best in business:

  • RBC Credit Line for Small Business Visa – This Visa has no annual fee, allows a maximum of 2 cards and has an interest rate of Prime + .9% up to 6.9%. Additionally, you earn 1 RBC Rewards point for every $2 spent on the card.
  • Scotiabank Momentum for Business Visa – With this card there is an annual fee of $49. You earn 3% cash back on eligible gas station, restaurant and office supply purchases and on recurring bill payments. You earn 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases. The interest rate is 19.99% on purchases and 21.99% on cash advances, balance transfers and Scotia Credit Card cheques. Additional benefits include a 25-day interest-free grace period on purchases and Travel Emergency Medical Insurance coverage for up to 8 days.
  • American Express Business Platinum Card – This American Express requires an annual fee of $450 which includes a $200 Airline Fee Credit, Airport Club Access and Concierge Service. 1 point is earned for each dollar spent on eligible purchases and 2X the points are earned for each dollar of eligible purchases made when you book on the American Express Travel website.

With so many options available, who has time to read between the lines of “follow your intuition” and “explore the world” to determine which travel rewards cards are best? Calgary based website Rewards Canada does… for the sixth year in a row, they’ve rated over eighty cards in five major categories: travel points with and without an annual fee, hybrid, airline and hotel.

The new TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card halted CIBC’s five-year run as top airline/charge card while American Express dominated two of the five categories. The travel rewards winners for 2014 are the Capital One® Aspire Travel™ World MasterCard®, American Express Blue Sky Credit Card, American Express Gold Rewards Card, TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card and Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express.

Jet setter favourites:

  • Top Travel Points Credit Card (with annual fee): Capital One® Aspire Travel™ World MasterCard®
  • Top Travel Points Credit Card (with no annual fee): American Express Blue Sky Credit Card
  • Top Hybrid Credit / Charge Card (with annual fee): American Express Gold Rewards Card
  • Top Airline Credit / Charge Card: TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card
  • Top Hotel Credit Card: Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

See the complete list of travel rewards credit cards rankings at rewardscanada.ca.

When looking to find a new credit card, it is important to understand the earning policies including expiry dates, then go about responsibly purchasing to maximize the amount of points earned. Good luck in your search for your credit soul mate!

Philipp Postrehovsky

The author Philipp Postrehovsky

Philipp is the Co-founder and COO of RentMoola. He's a disruptive marketer, creative think tank, social media leader and a passionate philanthropist. He's also a breaking news junkie and will do almost anything for some burrata cheese!

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