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What features does my credit card have?

Find the right card with perks you'll actually use.

All credit cards work in a similar way, allowing you to spend up to a certain amount and then pay it back over time, usually with interest charges. However, what often sets them apart are the additional features that allow you to save money or get extra value from the card. Some of these perks include a 0% intro APR period on balance transfers and/or purchases, rewards programs and more.

Understanding these different types of features can help you choose a credit card that’s right for your circumstances. Here, we look at what you need to know about both the basic and additional features that credit cards offer.

American Express Cobalt Card

American Express Cobalt Card

19.99 % APR

Purchase interest rate

Eligibility criteria, terms and conditions, fees and charges apply

American Express Cobalt Card

Apply today and earn up to 45,000 Membership Rewards points in your first year.

  • Purchase interest rate: 19.99%
  • Cash advance rate: 21.99%
  • Annual fee: $120
  • Credit rating: 700
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Credit card features to compare

These nuts and bolts features are common to all credit cards.

Credit line

Your credit line usually depends on your creditworthiness and annual income. Based on these factors and the type of card you apply for, you can get:

  • Minimum credit line.
    Most credit cards come with a relatively low minimum credit line of $500. This is the lowest credit line you can get with these cards. However, some credit cards come with a high minimum credit line of $5,000.
  • A credit line of your choice.
    If you apply for a secured credit card, you can choose your own credit line with the amount of money you deposit to secure the card. This amount typically starts at $200, but some cards will allow you to deposit up to $10,000.

Welcome offers

Welcome offers are designed to provide benefits to new customers for a limited time. Credit cards can have more than one of these value-adding deals:

  • Intro APR period on balance transfers.
    Move your debt to a new credit card and get a low interest rate for an introductory period. You can save money on interest payments and use the extra money to pay off your credit card sooner. At the end of the promotion, a standard APR will apply to any debt remaining from the transfer.
  • Intro APR period on purchases.
    Pay low or no interest for an introductory period when you use the card to shop and pay for services. Be sure to pay back what you’ve spent by the end of the intro period – your credit card repayments will increase if you’re carrying an unpaid balance.
  • Bonus offers.
    Signup bonuses can come as cash back, frequent flyer or rewards points, and their value can be from $100 up to $1,000 or more. You can earn these offers when you meet certain spending requirements often in the first 3 months of card membership.
  • $0 introductory annual fee.
    Some credit cards offer $0 annual fee for the first year. However, starting from your second year, you’ll pay an annual fee.

Security and fraud protection

Financial institutions protect your account in many ways, including:

  • Zero liability.
    Credit card transactions are protected by the card issuer. Visa, Mastercard and American Express guarantee you won’t be liable for unauthorized transactions that you report to your bank.
  • Anti-fraud programs.
    Banks, credit unions and credit card issuers all have teams to monitor your account for suspicious activity in real time. Your card can be blocked and any lost funds recovered.

Rewards and frequent flyer programs

Some credit cards let you earn rewards points for every dollar you spend, which can be an easy way to rack up rewards for using your card. The three main types to consider including:

  • Cashback credit cards.
    These cards let you earn cash back on every purchase you make but depending on the card you choose, you can earn accelerated points on everyday purchases, such as groceries, dining and gas.
  • Travel credit cards.
    This type of card has the largest variety, including general travel cards, airline cards, hotel cards and cruise line cards. You can earn points or miles on your purchases, and you earn accelerated points or miles when you make purchases at the select brand of hotels, airlines or cruise lines. The points have the highest value when redeemed for the specific brand backing the card.
  • Store credit cards.
    This type of card lets you earn the highest reward points on purchases made at the store. Similarly, the highest reward value comes from redeeming your points for items sold by the store.

Compare credit cards with rewards

Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Purchase Interest Rate Annual Fee Min. Credit Score Description
American Express Cobalt Card
45,000 points
Up to 5 points per $1 spent
19.99%
$120
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to 45,000 bonus Membership Rewards points in your first year as a new Cobalt Cardmember. Apply by May 5, 2021.
Choice Card from American Express
12,500 points
1 point per $1 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn 12,500 Bonus Membership Rewards points within the first 3 months as a new Cardmember. Apply by May 5, 2021.
HSBC +Rewards™ Mastercard®
30,000 points
2x points per $1 spent
11.9%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($25 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 680
Earn 30,000 Points ($150 travel value), plus get a full annual fee rebate for the Primary Cardholder for the first year ($25 value). Apply by April 19, 2021. Conditions Apply. This offer is only available to residents of Canada other than the province of Quebec (Quebec residents eligible for separate offer).
BMO Rewards Mastercard
10,000 points
Up to 2 points per $1 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 725
Get a bonus of 10,000 BMO Rewards points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. Apply by October 31, 2021 . Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to transferred balances.
BMO World Elite Mastercard
30,000 points
Up to 3 points per $1 spent
19.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($150 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 760
Get up to 30,000 points and the $150 annual fee waived in the first year. Apply by October 31, 2021
Brim Mastercard
Up to $200 worth of bonuses
1 point per $1 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to $200 worth of bonus points when you shop with Brim retailers for the first time through the Brim mobile app.
American Express Aeroplan Card
15,000 points
Up to 2x points per $1 spent
30% annual interest rate applies to balances not paid in full each month
$120
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to 15,000 Welcome Bonus Aeroplan points and a bonus Buddy Pass as a new cardmember.
BMO eclipse Visa Infinite
40,000 points
Up to 5 points per $1 spent
20.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 760
Get up to 40,000 points and the $120 annual fee waived in the first year.
American Express Business Edge Card
42,000 points
Up to 3 points per $1 spent
19.99%
$99
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to 42,000 Membership Rewards points in your first year.
American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card
2,000 Miles
Up to 1 Air Mile per $5 - $10 spent
20.99%
$120
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn a Welcome Bonus of 2,000 AIR MILES within the first three months. That’s enough to redeem for $200 towards your purchases with AIR MILES Cash.
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Complimentary insurances

Most credit cards — and especially the premium cards — feature complimentary insurances for when you travel and make important purchases. The range of coverage varies but may include:

  • Travel accident insurance.
    This generally provides coverage for death and dismemberment when traveling on a common carrier.
  • Trip delay coverage.
    Some cards can reimburse you for expenses such as meals and lodging if your common carrier is delayed.
  • Trip cancellation insurance.
    You may get coverage if your trip is canceled by sickness, weather conditions. Eligible expenses could include passenger fares, tours and hotels as long as these are prepaid and nonrefundable.
  • Lost luggage reimbursement.
    Some travel cards provide coverage for your bags when traveling on a carrier. If your bags are lost or damaged by the carrier, you can get reimbursement.
  • Car rental collision damage waiver.
    When you pay your car rental with your credit card and you decline the car rental company collision waiver, your rental car is covered against damage or theft.
  • Purchase protection.
    This covers items you buy with the card for theft, loss and damage. The value of the coverage and the time covered depends on the card.
  • Concierge services.
    A credit card concierge can take the stress out of last-minute reservations and bookings when you’re at home or abroad. This feature is included with most travel credit cards.

What credit card features are most important?

While there are a plethora of credit card features to consider, these 5 features are among the most popular and should be the biggest drivers of your decision:

Must read: Most popular credit card features

Balance transfers

Consolidate an existing debt at a lower APR with a balance transfer card. For more information, check out our full balance transfer guide.

  • Manage your debt. The longer the low or 0% balance transfer APR lasts, the more you’ll save.
  • Beware of the revert rate. When the introductory low or 0% APR ends, you could find yourself confronted with a much higher interest rate.

Rewards

Rewards can be a worthwhile way to get something back from your spending. Whether you’re a frequent flyer, loyal customer or big grocery spender, you can find a rewards credit card to suit almost any lifestyle.

  • The major draw of this type of card is earning points that can be redeemed for rewards. Depending on the card you use and the promotions in place, you may be able to earn bonus points when making certain types of purchases or shopping with a particular retailer.
  • What you can redeem your points for will vary from card to card. Some allow you to redeem points for flight rewards as well as shopping or travel vouchers. Others can be used for cash back, to redeem merchandise or even to donate to charity.
Your guide to rewards credit cards

0% APR

If you’re looking for a card that can lead to significant savings on interest, a credit card with an introductory 0% APR period could be the right choice for you. Cards with a permanent 0% APR are rare in Canada – most only offer this for a limited time period to attract people to sign up for the card.

  • 0% APR credit cards allow cardholders to take their time when paying off larger purchases or consolidating existing debt.
  • If the 0% APR is only in place for an introductory period, the revert rate could be significantly higher. These cards often require applicants to have a good credit history as well.
All about 0% APR credit cards

Low interest

A low interest credit card allows cardholders to repay their debts at a lower APR than your standard card. Depending on the card, the length of the low interest period may vary from an introductory period to the life of the card.

  • If you struggle to repay your balance each month, low interest cards can help you reduce the costs of your card.
  • The advantage of low interest usually comes at the cost of forfeiting the extra features that a premium or platinum card may offer, such as a rewards program, complimentary rental car insurance or other extra perks.
How to choose a low-interest credit card

No annual fee

A no-annual-fee card doesn’t charge a yearly fee. Some cards have this as an ongoing deal. Others will waive the standard fee over the first year.

  • Not having to pay an annual fee can result in savings each year.
  • If the annual fee is only in place for a promotional period, there may be a high annual fee when it reverts to the standard rate.

A guide to no annual fee credit cards

What to watch out for

When choosing a credit card, it’s important to not only find one with features that serves your needs, but also one with rates and fees that serve your financial circumstances.

Interest rates

One of the main things to keep an eye on is your credit card’s annual percentage rate (APR). There are 3 types of APRs:

  • Purchase rate.
    This APR applies to most everyday transactions and ranges from around 9% up to 28%. You start incurring this interest if you don’t pay your balance when due.
  • Balance transfer rate.
    This is the APR you incur on balances that you transfer from other accounts. Often it’s the same rate as the purchase APR. However, some credit cards offer a 0% intro APR period for transfers you make when you open your account, which can last for up to 10 months. After that, any unpaid balances will start accruing interest.
  • Cash advance rate.
    This APR applies when you make a cash withdrawal from an ATM or if you make other cash equivalent transactions, such as buying foreign currency or gambling. Cash advance APR is almost always higher than the purchase rate, typically around 26% for most cards. Also, this APR doesn’t come with a grace period, meaning you start accruing interest from the moment you make the transaction.

Standard costs

Make sure you also consider these common costs of credit card ownership:

  • Annual fee.
    There are many no-annual-fee credit cards that could be worth considering. However, if you want to get the highest welcome offers, highest rewards and benefits, a card with an annual fee is often the way to go. Just make sure the benefits outweigh the cost of card ownership.
  • Cash advance fees.
    Cash advance transactions, such as ATM withdrawals, attract a cash advance fee that can cost around 1-3% of the total transaction amount.
  • Foreign transaction fees.
    Some cards charge a foreign transaction fee of up to 3% for every transaction made abroad. Make sure the card you take for your overseas travel doesn’t have foreign transaction fees.
  • Additional cardholder fee.
    You may pay an additional annual fee for each supplementary card issued. However, this is often the case with more expensive credit cards.

Bottom line

Whether you’re looking for a new card or want to get more out of the one you already have, it’s important to understand your credit card features and its rates and fees.

If you’re looking for a card with the best combination of features for your financial needs, make sure to compare all credit card options.

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