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Best credit card for newcomers in Canada by category

New to Canada and looking for a credit card? Compare credit cards for newcomers to Canada.

Searching for credit cards for newcomers to Canada? In 2023, new immigrants to Canada have more credit card options than ever before.

According to Statistics Canada, we saw a record number of newcomers entering Canada in 2022, with a total population increase of one million people. To address this population increase and meet these needs of new Canadians, all of the top banks in Canada have created generous newcomer banking packages which also include credit cards.

Learn more in our guide to the best credit cards for newcomers to Canada below, or read our best bank in Canada for new immigrants guide for more useful info.

Best credit cards for newcomers to Canada by category

How we chose the best credit cards for newcomers to Canada

We’ve chosen the cards on this page based on the providers available through Finder. These cards are not representative of the entire market of newcomer credit cards. Our best credit cards for newcomers offer basic eligibility requirements, the ability to earn rewards or cash back, exclusive perks such as complimentary travel insurance coverage, and a signup bonus. We’ve also considered annual fees and balance transfer offers. No single credit card will be the best choice for everyone, so compare your options before picking your new card. Keep in mind that any of the unsecured credit cards listed here may only be available to newcomers to Canada when you sign up for a bank’s newcomer banking package.

Best newcomer credit card for cashback
RBC Cash Back Mastercard

RBC Cash Back Mastercard logo
Credit recommended (650-)
Apply now
on RBC's secure site
650
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 2%
Cash back
n/a
Welcome offer
With a $0 annual fee, you'll get up to a $15,000 credit limit with the RBC Cash Back Mastercard.
  • 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
  • No signup bonus
  • Standard 2.5% currency conversion fee applies if you use your card overseas
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 20.99%
Cash Advance Rate 22.99%
Balance transfer APR 22.99%
Welcome offer N/A
Rewards 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.
Please note: All information about RBC Cash Back Mastercard has been collected independently by Finder and this card is not available through this site.

Best newcomer card for low interest rate
Scotiabank Value Visa Card

Scotiabank Value Visa Card logo
Credit recommended (670-)
Apply now
on Scotiabank's secure site
670
Min. credit score
$29 ongoing
Annual fee
Up to x
N/A

Welcome offer
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 balance transfers for the first 6 months. Plus, pay no annual fee in the first year. Apply by October 31, 2024.
  • 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%.
  • This card has an annual fee of $29.
  • No cash back or rewards.
  • This card has a foreign transaction fee of 2.5%.
Annual Fee $0 intro annual fee for the first year ($29 thereafter)
Purchase APR 12.99%
Cash Advance Rate 12.99%
Balance transfer APR 0% intro for the first 6 months (then 12.99% )
Welcome offer Get a 0% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months. Plus, pay no annual fee in the first year. Apply by October 31, 2024.
Rewards Get an on-going low interest rate of 12.99% on eligible purchases.

Best newcomer credit card with no annual fee
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card logo
Credit recommended (600-)
Apply now
on Tangerine's secure site
600
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 2%
Cash back
10% cash back
Welcome offer
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.
  • Earn accelerated cash back in 2 categories (with an optional third category).
  • No annual fee.
  • Earn 10% cash back (up to $100) when you spend $1,000 in the first 2 months. Valid until October 31, 2024.
  • 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 1% of the total transferred amount or $5, whichever is greater.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 19.95%
Cash Advance Rate 19.95%
Balance transfer APR 1.95% intro for the first 6 months (then 19.95% )
Welcome offer Earn 10% cash back (up to $100) when you spend $1,000 in the first 2 months. Valid until October 31, 2024.
Rewards 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.

Best newcomer credit card with no foreign transaction fees
Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card logo
Credit recommended (700-)
Apply now
on Scotiabank's secure site
700
Min. credit score
$120
Annual fee
Up to 6x
Points
40,000
Points welcome offer
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.
  • Earn up to 40,000 bonus Scene+ points in your first year (that's up to $650 towards travel). Apply by July 1, 2024. To qualify for the 40,000 bonus Scene+ points offer, earn 20,000 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.
  • 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.
Annual Fee $120
Purchase APR 20.99%
Cash Advance Rate 22.99%
Balance transfer APR 22.99%
Welcome offer Earn up to 40,000 bonus Scene+ points in your first year (that's up to $650 towards travel). Apply by July 1, 2024. To qualify for the 40,000 bonus Scene+ points offer, earn 20,000 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.
Rewards 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.

Best newcomer balance transfer credit card
BMO CashBack Mastercard

BMO CashBack Mastercard logo
Credit recommended (660-)
Apply now
on BMO's secure site
660
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 3%
Cash back
5% cash back
Welcome offer
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 (up to a maximum spend of $2,500).
  • Get 5% cash back on all eligible purchases in the first three months (up to a maximum spend of $2,500).
    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 20.99%
Cash Advance Rate 22.99%
Balance transfer APR 0.99% intro for the first 9 months (then 22.99% )
Welcome offer Get 5% cash back on all eligible purchases in the first three months (up to a maximum spend of $2,500).
Rewards Earn cash back at a standard rate of 3% on groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments and 0.5% on all other eligible purchases.

Best newcomer's secured card with no annual fee
Home Trust Secured Visa

Home Trust Secured Visa logo
Credit recommended (300-)
Read review
300
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to x
N/A

Welcome offer
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.
  • Pay 19.99% interest on your purchases.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 19.99%
Cash Advance Rate 19.99%
Balance transfer APR N/A
Welcome offer
Rewards

How can I get a credit card in Canada as a newcomer?

Getting a credit card for newcomers to Canada is pretty straightforward. 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 newcomers, 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.

How to compare credit cards for newcomers to Canada

Consider the following factors to find the best newcomer credit card in Canada for you:

  • Interest rate. Check the card’s purchase rate as well as the interest rate that will apply to cash advances.
  • Fees. There are plenty of low-fee and no-fee credit cards on the market, but some charge an annual fee. Check the fine print for any other fees that may apply, such as foreign transaction fees.
  • Eligibility criteria. Find out whether you will need to meet any credit score, income or residency requirements to qualify for a card.
  • Secured or unsecured. Secured credit cards require you to pay a deposit to access a card, while there’s no such requirement with an unsecured card.
  • Rewards and cash back. Some Canadian credit cards offer rewards points or cash back on purchases. Check the earn rate for your card, where you need to spend to earn rewards or cash back, and whether there are any limits on how much you can earn.
  • Other discounts. If a credit card is offered as part of a bank’s newcomer package, find out whether you also qualify for discounts on other banking products. For example, many banks will waive the monthly fees on a chequing account for the first 12 months.

What do I need to apply for credit cards for newcomers 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 newcomers in Canada will require you to have permanent employment and a stable income.
  • Finances. There may be different financial requirements for Canadian newcomers 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 newcomer

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 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 newcomer 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.

Can I get a credit card as a temporary resident in Canada?

Yes. You can qualify for a credit card if you’re a temporary resident in Canada. Many banks offer programs and products specifically designed to meet the financial needs of newcomers to Canada, while you also have the option of applying for a prepaid card or a secured credit card. You may be asked to provide documentation that proves your residency status during the application process.

However, as a temporary resident, you may not be able to qualify for a premium card or a high credit limit. Some cards are also only available to permanent residents and citizens, so you’ll need to shop around to find a card that’s right for you.

Other factors to consider when moving to Canada

If you’re moving to Canada, or you’re 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.

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.

Ultimately, make sure you compare a range of credit cards for newcomers to Canada before deciding which is the right card for you.

Credit cards for newcomers to Canada FAQs

Written by

Emma Balmforth

Emma Balmforth is a producer at Finder. She is passionate about helping people make financial decisions that will benefit them now and in the future. She has written for a variety of publications including World Nomads, Trek Effect and Uncharted. Emma has a degree in Business and Psychology from the University of Waterloo. She enjoys backpacking, reading and taking long hikes and road trips with her adventurous dog. See full profile

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