Finder is committed to editorial independence. While we receive compensation when you click links to partners, they do not influence our content.

Credit cards for new immigrants to Canada

Join a Canadian bank and get access to a credit card via their newcomer package or opt for a secured credit card.

Since the number of immigrants entering Canada each year is on the rise, banks have made it easier than ever to start your financial journey. Options used to be limited to secured credit cards, however, with “Welcome to Canada” and newcomer packages now available from most of the big banks, getting an unsecured credit card is now much easier.

Keep in mind that any of the unsecured credit cards listed here may only be available to new immigrants when you sign up for a bank’s newcomer banking package.

Best for Cashback: RBC Cash Back Mastercard

19.99%
Purchase Interest Rate
$0
Annual Fee
650
Min. Recommended Credit Score
With a $0 annual fee, you'll get up to a $15,000 credit limit with the RBC Cash Back Mastercard. Get 2% cash back on grocery store purchases, and up to 1% cash back on all other qualifying purchases and pre-authorized payments.
Annual Fee $0
Additional Cardholder Fee $0
Min. Credit Score 650
Purchase Interest Rate 19.99%
Cash Advance Rate 22.99%
Interest Free Period 21 days
Balance Transfer Rate 22.99%
Foreign Transaction Fee 2.5%
Pros
  • Get up to 2% cash back on grocery store purchases, and up to 1% cash back on all other qualifying purchases and pre-authorized payments.
  • $0 annual fee
What to watch out for
  • No signup bonus
  • Standard 2.5% currency conversion fee applies if you use your card overseas

Best for low interest rate: Scotiabank Value Visa Card

12.99%
Purchase Interest Rate
$29
Annual Fee
660
Min. Recommended Credit Score
With no cash back or rewards points, the Scotiabank Value Visa Card doesn't come with a lot of extra perks – but it can be a great tool for saving money. Get a 0% introductory interest rate on cash advances for the first 6 months. Plus, pay no annual fee in the first year. Apply by April 30, 2023.
Annual Fee $29
Additional Cardholder Fee $0
Min. Credit Score 660
Purchase Interest Rate 12.99%
Cash Advance Rate 12.99%
Interest Free Period Up to 21 days
Balance Transfer Rate 12.99%
Foreign Transaction Fee 2.5%
Pros
  • Low purchase and cash advance interest rates of 12.99%.
  • Once the promotional balance transfer period ends, any unpaid balance will incur the low rate of 12.99%.
What to watch out for
  • This card has an annual fee of $29.
  • No cash back or rewards.
  • This card has a foreign transaction fee of 2.5%.

Best for no annual fee: Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

19.95%
Purchase Interest Rate
$0
Annual Fee
600
Min. Recommended Credit Score
Earn 2% cash back in two Tangerine credit card categories of your choice (or three categories if you open a Tangerine Savings Account and directly deposit your cash back into the account), and 0.5% cash back on everything else. Categories include groceries, restaurants, hotels, gas, recurring bill payments, drug store, home improvement and entertainment.
Annual Fee $0
Min. Credit Score 600
Purchase Interest Rate 19.95%
Cash Advance Rate 19.95%
Interest Free Period Up to 21 days
Balance Transfer Rate 19.95%
Foreign Transaction Fee 2.5%
Pros
  • Earn accelerated cash back in 2 categories (with an optional third category).
  • No annual fee.
  • Earn 15% cash back (up to $150) when you spend $1,000 in the first 2 months Until January 31, 2023.
What to watch out for
  • Receive only cash back on all other categories of spending.
  • You'll pay a foreign transaction fee of 2.5% on all overseas purchases.
  • Pay a balance transfer fee of 3% of the total transferred amount or $5, whichever is greater.

Best for no foreign transaction fees: Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

20.99%
Purchase Interest Rate
$120
Annual Fee
700
Min. Recommended Credit Score
The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card is a powerful everyday credit card as well as a strong travel companion. Book and redeem any flight for any time through Scotia Rewards Travel Service, a full-service travel agency. Plus, take advantage of the Best Price Guarantee on airfare. Plus, enjoy peace of mind with a broad array of travel insurance options.
Annual Fee $120
Additional Cardholder Fee $29
Min. Credit Score 700
Purchase Interest Rate 20.99%
Cash Advance Rate 22.99%
Interest Free Period Up to 21 days
Balance Transfer Rate 22.99%
Foreign Transaction Fee 0%
Pros
  • Earn up to 45,000 bonus Scene+ points in your first year (that's up to $850 towards travel) and get the first year annual fee waived. Apply by April 30, 2023. To qualify for the 45,000 bonus Scene+ points offer, earn 25,000 bonus Scene+ points by making at least $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. Plus, earn a 20,000 Scene+ point bonus when you spend at least $7,500 in purchases in your first year.
  • Earn 6 Scene+ points for every $1 you spend in Canada at Sobeys, Safeway, FreshCo, Foodland and more, 5 Scene+ points per $1 spent on eligible grocery, dining and entertainment purchases, 3 Scene+ points per $1 spent on eligible gas, transportation and select streaming services, and 1 Scene+ point per $1 spent on eligible purchases elsewhere.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Enjoy peace of mind with a broad array of travel insurance options including Emergency Medical, Travel Accident, Trip Cancellation and Interruption, Flight Delay, Delayed or Lost Baggage and Rental Car Collision Loss/Damage.
  • Book and redeem any flight for any time through Scotia Rewards Travel Service, a full-service travel agency. Plus, take advantage of the Best Price Guarantee on airfare.
  • American Express rewards including early ticket access, discounts and invites to exclusive events.
What to watch out for
  • This card has an annual fee of $120.
  • You'll need to earn a minimum income of $12,000 a year to be eligible for this card.

Best for balance transfer offer: BMO CashBack Mastercard

20.99%
Purchase Interest Rate
$0
Annual Fee
660
Min. Recommended Credit Score
The BMO CashBack Mastercard makes switching credit cards convenient with a low interest rate on balance transfers as well as a promotional cash back rate. Get 5% cash back on all eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership (up to a maximum spend of $2,500, after which standard cash back rates apply).
Annual Fee $0
Min. Credit Score 660
Purchase Interest Rate 20.99%
Cash Advance Rate 22.99%
Interest Free Period Up to 21 days
Balance Transfer Rate 22.99%
Foreign Transaction Fee 2.5%
Pros
  • Get 5% cash back on all eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership (up to a maximum spend of $2,500, and earn 3% cash back on groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments and 0.5% on all other eligible purchases thereafter). Plus, get a rate of 0.99% on balance transfers with a 2% balance transfer fee for 9 months.
  • This card has no annual fee.
  • Earn cash back at a standard rate of 3% on groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments and 0.5% on all other eligible purchases.
  • For the first 9 months, new customers can get a 0.99% introductory interest rate with a 2% fee on balance transfers from non-BMO credit cards. After that, balance transfers are subject to a 22.99% cash advance interest rate.
What to watch out for
  • This card has a balance transfer fee of 2%.
  • Each statement cycle period, you can only redeem up to $ cash back on grocery purchases and up to $ cash back on recurring bill payments, after which the base cash back rate of applies.
  • This card has a foreign transaction fee of 2.5%. This will apply on any overseas purchases or any purchases made online with an international retailer.

Best for secured card with a low interest rate: Refresh Financial Secured Card

17.99%
Purchase Interest Rate
$12.95
Annual Fee
300
Min. Recommended Credit Score
Build up your credit score and control your monthly spending with the Refresh Financial Secured Card. With a monthly fee of $3 and an annual fee of $12.95, you can focus on rebuilding your credit score while getting access to a monthly credit limit between $200 - $10,000.
Annual Fee $12.95
Min. Credit Score 300
Purchase Interest Rate 17.99%
Interest Free Period Up to 21 days
Foreign Transaction Fee 3.5%
Pros
  • No credit check is reequired for approval.
  • This secured card offers an interest rate of 17.99%, which is typically lower than most cards offered in Canada.
  • With a secured card, you're offered the chance to work on improving your credit score. Timely repayments will be reported to the credit bureau, which means you can improve your score over time.
  • Your monthly credit limit is determined by the amount of your security deposit, keeping you in control of your card. Credit limits start from a minimum of $200 to a maximum of $10,000.
  • You get access to free educational financial training on their online portal called Refresh f.i.t.
What to watch out for
  • If you don't pay your balance in full by the end of the month, you'll be charged a 17.99% interest rate.
  • If you don't use your card within the month, you'll be charged a $2 inactivity fee.
  • The $3 monthly fee combined with the $12.95 yearly fee can really add up.

Best for secured card with no annual fee: Home Trust Secured Visa (No Annual Fee)

19.99%
Purchase Interest Rate
$0
Annual Fee
300
Min. Recommended Credit Score
Home Trust offers a secured visa card that acts as a revolving line of credit. You submit a security deposit at the time of application, and, if approved, your deposit becomes your credit limit. Charge purchases to your card, get cash advances and make payments just like a non-secured credit card. Your security deposit will be returned if you close your account, after all purchases and fees have cleared.
Annual Fee $0
Min. Credit Score 300
Purchase Interest Rate 19.99%
Cash Advance Rate 19.99%
Interest Free Period Up to 21 days
Foreign Transaction Fee 2%
Pros
    • Pay 19.99% interest on your purchases. Alternatively, you can choose the [nb:value niche_code="CACCF" record_type="PRODUCT" record_id="6d725d94-88ee-4dfa-b415-090932512141" field="GENERAL.NAME" decorator="GLOBAL.VALUE.TEXT"], which comes with an annual or monthly fee but a lower interest rate.
    • The amount of security deposit you offer up will determine your monthly credit limit. Credit limits range from $500 to $10,000.
    • Home Trust is a member of the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC), so your security deposit is safe even if the company fails.
    • Cardholders have the option of adding one authorized user to their account.
    What to watch out for
      • Home Trust will check your credit report for this card, however the approval rate is quite high.
      • Every time you withdraw funds from an ATM, you’ll be charged a small percentage fee. Different fees apply for withdrawals in Canada, the US and other countries.
      • This card is not available in Quebec. You also don’t qualify if you’re currently in bankruptcy, however, you can qualify once you’re discharged.

      How can I get a credit card in Canada as an immigrant?

      Getting a credit card for newcomers to Canada is pretty straight forward. You’ll first want to open up Canadian bank account. The best way to get started at a Canadian bank is to take advantage of a “Welcome to Canada” or newcomers banking bundle. All of the major banks in Canada offer banking packages for immigrants, including CIBC, Scotiabank and BMO. By doing your everyday banking with the same provider, you can typically get access to an unsecured credit card and start building your Canadian credit history. You’ll also receive advice and learn how to navigate the world of finance in Canada.

      If you’re having trouble getting an unsecured credit card as a new immigrant to Canada, consider these other options.

      • Apply for a secured credit card

      Getting a secured credit card is a great way to build credit. Because you can only get this type of card by putting down a security deposit, more providers are willing to offer it to consumers without credit histories. That said, a secured card doesn’t typically offer the chance to reap rewards from your spending, so graduating to an unsecured card as soon as possible is preferable.

      • Get a prepaid card

      Prepaid credit cards are another option when you need access to credit without meeting difficult eligibility requirements. A prepaid card allows you to load money onto it and then use it for your spending. However, a prepaid credit card will not help you build a credit history.

      • Contact your current provider

      If you already have a relationship with a financial institution in your home country, check if it offers credit cards in Canada. For example, some card companies offer moving abroad transfers, such as the American Express global transfer program. They allow you to transfer your card to and from another country and make the transfer as painless as possible.

      All that is usually necessary is a current and eligible credit card with American Express and an address and phone number in Canada. This transfer excludes existing credit card balances, so you’ll need to repay your home balance in full before opening your Canadian credit card account.

      What do I need to apply for a credit card as an immigrant to Canada?

      The information required on a credit card application as a newcomer in Canada will depend on your credit card provider. It will likely include:

      • Residency status. Provide details of your residency status, such as your visa details. Make a copy of your visa or landed immigrant documents and provide it to the credit card issuer when requested so they can complete your application assessment.
      • Residential address. You will likely need to have a stable residential address in Canada to successfully apply for a credit card.
      • Employment. Most credit card providers that accept applications from new immigrants will require you to have permanent employment and a stable income.
      • Finances. There may be different financial requirements for immigrants when compared to Canadian citizens. You may need to have a certain amount of savings in a Canadian bank account to be approved.

      How to establish a credit history in Canada as a new immigrant

      Your credit history from your home country likely won’t play any part in your Canadian finances. You’ll need to build your Canadian credit score starting from nothing. In order to establish a Canadian credit history you’ll have to open and maintain credit-based accounts. Some of the most common options include:

      • Bills. Paying cell phone, home phone, Internet and cable bills on-time can help build up a positive credit history.
      • Utilities. This includes electricity, water, gas and other energy accounts.
      • Loans. Apply for different types of credit such as personal loans, car loans, lines of credit and mortgages.
      • Credit cards. Consider secured and unsecured credit cards to help build up your credit history. By using your credit card responsibly and paying it off in full each month, you’ll build a good credit history.
      • Bank account. Although a bank account won’t help with your credit score, it can aid you when you want to apply for a credit product with your bank.

      Having a good credit score does much more than just boosting your chances at being approved for a credit card. It can help you secure housing, get a lower interest rate on a loan, make you a more attractive candidate for a job and more.

      How newcomers to Canada can build credit fast

      How to build credit with a secured credit card as a newcomer to Canada

      With a secured credit card, you put down a security deposit — typically anywhere from $75 to $10,000, with the average deposit around $200 to $500 — before opening an account. Your deposit then becomes your credit limit. Since this deposit serves as collateral, your card provider is guaranteed to get paid for any unpaid balance even if you fail to make a repayment.

      For this reason, secured cards are much easier to get approved for than unsecured credit cards. Once you obtain a secured card, you gain a great opportunity to build credit. With timely payments, you could steadily increase your credit score and then graduate to a more powerful and rewarding unsecured credit card.

      How to choose a secured credit card

      Without a credit history, you could still be denied for a secured card. Each time you apply for a credit card, the respective provider initiates a hard pull on your credit report. To avoid too many hard pulls, apply for one card at a time, and make sure you meet the eligibility requirements. If you’re rejected, wait a few months before applying for the next one.

      Consider these 3 factors when choosing a secured credit card:

      1. Does the card require a credit check? Those that don’t check your credit history will prove much easier to obtain as a new immigrant to Canada.
      2. What is the required security deposit? Choosing a card with a low minimum security deposit could help you start building credit without hurting your savings. You can always request a credit limit increase later on and provide a higher deposit.
      3. Does the card report to both credit bureaus? Using a secured credit card that reports to both bureaus – Equifax and TransUnion – is the fastest way to build your credit score.

      Other factors to consider when moving to Canada

      If you’re moving to Canada or a recent immigrant, you may also want to consider the following details to help with the transition:

      • Mail Forwarding. Mail forwarding services allow you to manage correspondence from your country of origin to Canada – or anywhere in the world.
      • Foreign currency transfers. Many specialized online money transfer services allow you to move money from one country to another with low transfer fees and competitive interest rates. This can be very useful if you have funds from your country of origin that you would like to move to Canada.

      There are all kinds of factors to consider when you immigrate to Canada. Keeping these details in mind will help you get your finances in order so that you can apply for a new credit card that suits your needs.

      See our full guide on how to move to Canada

      Bottom line

      Although you can take advantage of secured and prepaid credit cards as a newcomer to Canada, your best option may be to do your everyday banking with a bank that offers a “Welcome to Canada” or newcomers package. This way, you can likely get access to an unsecured credit card and begin your financial journey in Canada – which includes building a credit history.

      Frequently asked questions about new to Canada credit cards

      More guides on Finder

      Ask an Expert

      You must be logged in to post a comment.

      Go to site