Hand holding a credit card coloured graphic

The 12 types of credit cards you should know about

There’s a card out there for everyone, no matter your financial situation.

Confused about which credit card to get? It’s time to clear the air with our guide to the different types of cards on the market.

Once you’ve finished reading, you’ll know which type of card is best for you. Then you can compare the best credit cards within categories, finally settling on one. With any luck (and the right credit score), you’ll soon receive a shiny, new card in the mail.

Guide

Types of credit cards at a glance

Card typeCard purposeExamplesFor…
Standard credit cardGeneral use for everyday spending.Cards with no frills and reasonable rates.The average spender.
Rewards cardsEarn cash back and travel perks.Cards with signup bonuses, miles, cash back and other perks.Travellers and those with higher credit scores.
Credit repair cardsHelp build or rebuild your credit score.Secured credit cards and prepaid cards.People with bad credit or no credit.
Specialty cardsVaries by card.Business credit cards, store credit cards, etc.Specific types of users.

Compare credit cards

Name Product Welcome Offer Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee
Receive 60,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points when you charge $1,500 in the first 3 months (valid for new cardmembers only).
19.99%
22.99%
$120
Receive 5 Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties/stores, plus 2 points per dollar spent on other card purchases.
Offers a 0.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months when your new credit card account is opened by June 30, 2019.
12.99%
12.99%
$29
Save on interest by consolidating your higher-rate balances and enjoy a low 12.99% purchase interest rate.
Earn up to 2,500 points when you spend $500 within each billing period. Up to 30,000 bonus points in your first year.
7.99% intro APR for the first 6 months, 19.99% thereafter
22.99%
$120
Earn up to 5 points for every dollar you spend at eligible restaurants, cafés, bars and food delivery.

Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Welcome Offer Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Balance Transfer Rate Annual Fee
Offers a 1.99% balance transfer rate in the first 6 months. No balance transfer fee upon application.
8.99%
8.99%
1.99% for the first 6 months (then 8.99%)
$0
Enjoy an ongoing low fixed interest rate including a range of insurance related benefits and exclusive entertainment deals.
Offers a 0.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months when your new credit card account is opened by June 30, 2019.
12.99%
12.99%
0.99% for the first 6 months (then 12.99%)
$29
Save on interest by consolidating your higher-rate balances and enjoy a low 12.99% purchase interest rate.
Offers a 3.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months when your new credit card account is opened by June 30, 2019.
16.99%
16.99%
3.99% for the first 6 months (then 16.99%)
$0
Enjoy a low interest rate and no annual fee.
Enjoy a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first six months. Valid within the first 30 days of account opening.
19.95%
19.95%
1.95% for the first 6 months (then 19.95%)
$0
Earn 2% Money-Back Rewards in two categories of your choice including groceries, recurring bill payments, entertainment, gas and 6 more.
Earn up to 5% or $300 cashback in your first six months.
19.99%
22.99%
1.99% for the first 6 months (then 22.99%)
$99
Offers 1.99% balance transfer rate in the first 6 months. No balance transfer fee upon application.
Earn up to 2.5% or $150 cashback in your first 3 months.
19.99%
22.99%
1.99% for the first 6 months (then 22.99%)
$0
Offers 1.99% balance transfer rate in the first 6 months. No balance transfer fee upon application.
Receive 500 AIR MILES Reward Miles when you spend $500 within your first three months of membership.
19.99%
22.99%
1.99% for the first 6 months (then 22.99%)
$0
Offers 1.99% balance transfer rate in the first 6 months. No balance transfer fee upon application.
Receive 2,000 bonus AIR MILES Reward miles when you spend $1,500 within the first three months of membership.
19.99%
22.99%
1.99% for the first 6 months (then 22.99%)
$65
Offers 1.99% balance transfer rate in the first 6 months. No balance transfer fee upon application.
Enjoy a 2.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months when your new credit card account is opened by June 30, 2019.
19.99%
22.99%
2.99% for the first 6 months (then 22.99%)
$39
2% cash back on all eligible gas station, grocery store, drug store purchases and recurring payments.
Receive 2,400 Air Miles Reward Miles when you spend $3,000 within first three months of membership.
19.99%
22.99%
1.99% for the first 6 months (then 22.99%)
$299
Offers 1.99% balance transfer rate in the first 6 months. No balance transfer fee upon application.

Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Welcome Offer Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee
Receive 60,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points when you charge $1,500 in the first 3 months (valid for new cardmembers only).
19.99%
22.99%
$120
Receive 5 Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties/stores, plus 2 points per dollar spent on other card purchases.
Earn up to 2,500 points when you spend $500 within each billing period. Up to 30,000 bonus points in your first year.
7.99% intro APR for the first 6 months, 19.99% thereafter
22.99%
$120
Earn up to 5 points for every dollar you spend at eligible restaurants, cafés, bars and food delivery.
Receive 15,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points when you spend $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of membership (valid for new accounts opened by June 30, 2019).
19.99%
22.99%
$99
Earn 4 Scotia Rewards points per $1 spent at eligible gas stations, grocery stores, dining and entertainment, including access to exclusive travel privileges.
Receive 30,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points when you spend your first $1,000 in everyday eligible purchases in the first 3 months of membership (offer ends June 30, 2019).
19.99%
22.99%
$139
Earn 2x Scotia Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible grocery stores, dining, entertainment and daily transit purchases. Plus, an extra 10,000 points when you spend a min. of $40,000 annually on your card.
Earn up to 5% or $300 cashback in your first six months.
19.99%
22.99%
$99
Offers 1.99% balance transfer rate in the first 6 months. No balance transfer fee upon application.
Receive 10% cash back on purchases up to $2,000 within the first three months, plus a waived annual fee for your first year (account must be opened by April 30, 2019).

19.99%
22.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)
Earn 4% cash back on gas & groceries, 2% cash back on drug stores and recurring bills and 1% cash back on all other spend.
Receive 25,000 bonus Membership Rewards points when you spend $1,500 within the first three months of membership.
N/A
N/A
$150
Earn 2 points for every dollar you spend on eligible travel and purchases and 1 point for every dollar you spend elsewhere.
Enjoy a 7.99% introductory interest rate on all spend for the first six months when your new credit card account is opened by June 30, 2019.
7.99% intro APR for the first 6 months, 19.99% thereafter
22.99%
$0
Receive 1% cash back on payments made at gas stations, grocery stores and pharmacies, including recurring payments. Plus, 0.5% cashback on all other eligible purchases.
Earn up to 2.5% or $150 cashback in your first 3 months.
19.99%
22.99%
$0
Offers 1.99% balance transfer rate in the first 6 months. No balance transfer fee upon application.
Receive 2,500 bonus SCENE points when you spend your first $500 in eligible purchases in the first 3 months of membership (valid for new accounts opened by June 30, 2019).
19.99%
22.99%
$0
Earn 1 SCENE point per $1 spent on all purchases, plus 5 SCENE points for every $1 spent at Cineplex Entertainment theatres or cineplex.com.
Receive 500 AIR MILES Reward Miles when you spend $500 within your first three months of membership.
19.99%
22.99%
$0
Offers 1.99% balance transfer rate in the first 6 months. No balance transfer fee upon application.
Offers a 7.99% introductory interest rate on all spend for the first 6 months when your new credit card account is opened by June 30, 2019.
19.99%
22.99%
$0
Receive 1% cash back on payments made at gas stations, grocery stores and pharmacies, including recurring payments. Plus, 0.5% cashback on all other eligible purchases.
Receive 2,000 bonus AIR MILES Reward miles when you spend $1,500 within the first three months of membership.
19.99%
22.99%
$65
Offers 1.99% balance transfer rate in the first 6 months. No balance transfer fee upon application.
Enjoy a 2.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months when your new credit card account is opened by June 30, 2019.
19.99%
22.99%
$39
2% cash back on all eligible gas station, grocery store, drug store purchases and recurring payments.
Offers 2,000 bonus AIR MILES Reward miles when you spend $5,000 within the first three months of membership.
N/A
N/A
$180
Earn 1 mile for every $10 spent at eligible sponsors and 1 mile for every $15 spent anywhere else.
Receive 30,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points upon first eligible purchase within 2 months of membership. Valid for new accounts opened by June 30, 2019.
19.99%
22.99%
$399
Earn 4x Scotia Rewards points per $1 spent at grocery stores, gas stations, dining and entertainment purchases. Enjoy complimentary membership to global priority pass airport lounges.
Receive 2,400 Air Miles Reward Miles when you spend $3,000 within first three months of membership.
19.99%
22.99%
$299
Offers 1.99% balance transfer rate in the first 6 months. No balance transfer fee upon application.
Receive 50,000 bonus Membership Rewards points when you spend $3,000 within the first three months of membership.
N/A
N/A
$699
Get up to $200 bonus travel credit every year.
No available introductory offer.
17.99%
17.99%
$0
Enjoy up to 5% in GM Earnings on your initial spend of $5,000 in the first year.
Receive 40,000 points when you spend $5,000 within first three months of membership.
N/A
N/A
$499
Earn 1.25 points for dollar you spend with no limit to the number of points you can accumulate.
Receive 5,000 bonus points when you spend $500 in eligible purchases within your first 3 months of membership. Valid for new accounts opened by June 30, 2019.
19.99%
22.99%
$0
Book and redeem travel via Scotia Rewards Travel Service, plus receive 1 Scotia Rewards point on all eligible purchases.
Offers 40,000 bonus Aeroplan Miles when you spend $3,000 within the first three months of membership.
N/A
N/A
$499
Receive access to Air Canada priority check-in and over 700 lounges in airports around the world.
Offers a 3.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months when your new credit card account is opened by June 30, 2019.
16.99%
16.99%
$0
Enjoy a low interest rate and no annual fee.
Offers 150 AIR MILES Reward Miles when you spend $1,000 within the first three months of membership.
19.99%
22.99%
$0
Earn one mile for every $15 you spend at official sponsors and one mile for every $20 you spend anywhere else.
Enjoy a waived annual fee for the first year of membership. Valid for new accounts opened by June 30, 2019.
19.99%
22.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($79 thereafter)
Enjoy up to 5% in GM Earnings upon initial spend of $10,000 in the first year and 2% subsequently.
Offers 15,000 bonus Aeroplan Miles when you spend $1,500 within your first 3 months of membership.
N/A
N/A
$120
Earn 1 Aeroplan Mile for every dollar you spend up to $10,000 and 1.25 Aeroplan Miles for every dollar spent over $10,000 per year.
Enjoy a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first six months. Valid within the first 30 days of account opening.
19.95%
19.95%
$0
Earn 2% Money-Back Rewards in two categories of your choice including groceries, recurring bill payments, entertainment, gas and 6 more.
Offers 5,000 Bonus Aeroplan Miles when you spend $500 within three months of membership. For new cardmembers only.
N/A
N/A
$60
Earn 1 Aeroplan Mile for every dollar spent. Double your miles on purchases at over 150 Aeroplan partner brands.
No available introductory offer.
19.99%
22.99%
$0
Earn 6 More Rewards points for every $1 spent on purchases at More Rewards partner locations, plus 4 points per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Receive 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points when you charge $1,500 in the first 3 months.
19.99%
22.99%
$150
Receive 5 Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties/stores, plus 3 points for every dollar spent on eligible gas, dining and travel.
Offers 50,000 bonus Aeroplan Miles when you spend $3,000 within the first three months of membership.
19.99%
22.99%
$899
Receive a bonus $200 in annual travel credit to use towards flights, car rentals, hotels and more.
Receive 5,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points when you make your first eligible purchase within 2 months of membership (account must opened by June 30, 2019).
19.99%
22.99%
$110
Earn 5% cash back on travel purchases via Scotia Rewards Flexible Point Redemption, plus 1 Scotia Rewards point on daily eligible purchases.
Offers 30,000 bonus points when you spend $5,000 within the first three months of membership.
N/A
N/A
$250
Earn one point for every dollar spent and one additional point for every dollar spent at three eligible merchants of your choosing.
Receive 10,000 bonus Blue Sky Points when you spend $500 within the first 3 months of membership.
19.99%
22.99%
$0
Earn 1.25 points for every dollar you spend and no annual fee.

Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Welcome Offer Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee
Earn up to 5% or $300 cashback in your first six months.
19.99%
22.99%
$99
Offers 1.99% balance transfer rate in the first 6 months. No balance transfer fee upon application.
Receive 10% cash back on purchases up to $2,000 within the first three months, plus a waived annual fee for your first year (account must be opened by April 30, 2019).

19.99%
22.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)
Earn 4% cash back on gas & groceries, 2% cash back on drug stores and recurring bills and 1% cash back on all other spend.
Enjoy a 7.99% introductory interest rate on all spend for the first six months when your new credit card account is opened by June 30, 2019.
7.99% intro APR for the first 6 months, 19.99% thereafter
22.99%
$0
Receive 1% cash back on payments made at gas stations, grocery stores and pharmacies, including recurring payments. Plus, 0.5% cashback on all other eligible purchases.
Earn up to 2.5% or $150 cashback in your first 3 months.
19.99%
22.99%
$0
Offers 1.99% balance transfer rate in the first 6 months. No balance transfer fee upon application.
Offers a 7.99% introductory interest rate on all spend for the first 6 months when your new credit card account is opened by June 30, 2019.
19.99%
22.99%
$0
Receive 1% cash back on payments made at gas stations, grocery stores and pharmacies, including recurring payments. Plus, 0.5% cashback on all other eligible purchases.
Enjoy a 2.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months when your new credit card account is opened by June 30, 2019.
19.99%
22.99%
$39
2% cash back on all eligible gas station, grocery store, drug store purchases and recurring payments.
Enjoy a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first six months. Valid within the first 30 days of account opening.
19.95%
19.95%
$0
Earn 2% Money-Back Rewards in two categories of your choice including groceries, recurring bill payments, entertainment, gas and 6 more.

Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Welcome Offer Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee
Offers a 1.99% balance transfer rate in the first 6 months. No balance transfer fee upon application.
8.99%
8.99%
$0
Enjoy an ongoing low fixed interest rate including a range of insurance related benefits and exclusive entertainment deals.
Enjoy a 7.99% introductory interest rate on all spend for the first six months when your new credit card account is opened by June 30, 2019.
7.99% intro APR for the first 6 months, 19.99% thereafter
22.99%
$0
Receive 1% cash back on payments made at gas stations, grocery stores and pharmacies, including recurring payments. Plus, 0.5% cashback on all other eligible purchases.
Earn up to 2.5% or $150 cashback in your first 3 months.
19.99%
22.99%
$0
Offers 1.99% balance transfer rate in the first 6 months. No balance transfer fee upon application.
Receive 2,500 bonus SCENE points when you spend your first $500 in eligible purchases in the first 3 months of membership (valid for new accounts opened by June 30, 2019).
19.99%
22.99%
$0
Earn 1 SCENE point per $1 spent on all purchases, plus 5 SCENE points for every $1 spent at Cineplex Entertainment theatres or cineplex.com.
Receive 500 AIR MILES Reward Miles when you spend $500 within your first three months of membership.
19.99%
22.99%
$0
Offers 1.99% balance transfer rate in the first 6 months. No balance transfer fee upon application.
Offers a 7.99% introductory interest rate on all spend for the first 6 months when your new credit card account is opened by June 30, 2019.
19.99%
22.99%
$0
Receive 1% cash back on payments made at gas stations, grocery stores and pharmacies, including recurring payments. Plus, 0.5% cashback on all other eligible purchases.
No available introductory offer.
17.99%
17.99%
$0
Enjoy up to 5% in GM Earnings on your initial spend of $5,000 in the first year.
Receive 5,000 bonus points when you spend $500 in eligible purchases within your first 3 months of membership. Valid for new accounts opened by June 30, 2019.
19.99%
22.99%
$0
Book and redeem travel via Scotia Rewards Travel Service, plus receive 1 Scotia Rewards point on all eligible purchases.
Offers a 3.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months when your new credit card account is opened by June 30, 2019.
16.99%
16.99%
$0
Enjoy a low interest rate and no annual fee.
Offers 150 AIR MILES Reward Miles when you spend $1,000 within the first three months of membership.
19.99%
22.99%
$0
Earn one mile for every $15 you spend at official sponsors and one mile for every $20 you spend anywhere else.
Enjoy a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first six months. Valid within the first 30 days of account opening.
19.95%
19.95%
$0
Earn 2% Money-Back Rewards in two categories of your choice including groceries, recurring bill payments, entertainment, gas and 6 more.
No available introductory offer.
19.99%
22.99%
$0
Earn 6 More Rewards points for every $1 spent on purchases at More Rewards partner locations, plus 4 points per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Receive 10,000 bonus Blue Sky Points when you spend $500 within the first 3 months of membership.
19.99%
22.99%
$0
Earn 1.25 points for every dollar you spend and no annual fee.

Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Required Deposit Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee
$200 - $10,000
17.99%
N/A
$12.95
Take advantage of a low annual fee, with guaranteed approval and no credit check.

Compare up to 4 providers

Standard credit cards

Standard credit cards are what you might imagine when you think of “normal” or “regular” cards. They don’t come with the bells and whistles of rewards cards, but they tend to offer solid benefits like a competitive APR and zero or low annual fees.

Two popular kinds of standard credit cards

Low interest cards

A low-interest card may mean one of two things:

  1. You’ll get a low interest rate forever, like an 8% fixed-rate APR. The typical credit card APR hovers around 19.99%.
  2. You’ll get a long intro APR period. For example, you could get a 5% purchase APR for 6 months. After 6 months, the APR might go up to 19.99% — at which point your card isn’t really a low-interest card anymore.

A low-interest card is useful if you like to pay off your balances over long periods of time. It’s also a good choice if you’re making an expensive purchase soon and need time to pay it off.

Low interest credit cards guide

Balance transfer cards

A balance transfer card gives you a sweet incentive to move your debt to another card provider. Namely, it offers a low interest rate on balance transfers — often 0% — for a specified period of time. If you’re looking to dodge high interest rates for a while, a balance transfer card could help you get on top of your debt.

Compare the best balance transfer cards

Rewards credit cards

For most people, rewards cards bring all the fun. You don’t just get the convenience of a credit card — you also get perks for spending money.

For all rewards cards, you’ll typically need a good to excellent credit score of 650 or higher.

Two popular kinds of rewards cards

Cash back cards

Cash back cards return a percentage of your spending back to you. For example, if you spend $10,000 on your card and get 1% cash back, you’ll receive $100.

Typically, you’ll receive a cheque in the mail or a deposit directly into your account at the end of the year, however you may be able to use your cash back as statement credit.

Cash back credit cards guide

Travel cards

As you spend with a travel card, you’ll receive points or miles that you can later redeem for flights, travel experiences and merchandise.

You’ll usually find three types of travel cards: general, hotel and airline cards.

General travel cards offer rewards that you can spend on a variety of travel expenses. You can often redeem rewards for flights, hotels, cruises, merchandise and even rental cars. Because these cards are flexible, they’re very popular among travellers.

Travel rewards credit cards guide

Credit repair cards

If your credit score is too low to qualify for a rewards card, look for a credit repair card. This type of card is relatively easy to get. It won’t offer eye-popping rewards, but it’ll allow you to rebuild your credit score.

Three popular kinds of credit repair cards

Secured cards

A secured card is an excellent option if you have poor credit. You’ll need to put down a security deposit to open the card. However, you have a good chance of being approved for it, even if you’ve had a bankruptcy. Best of all, you can use it to build your credit as long as your card provider reports your payments to the credit bureaus.

Compare secured credit cards

Subprime cards

Subprime cards are aimed at customers who can’t get credit anywhere else. Unfortunately, they often come with expensive activation fees, high APRs and shady terms.

Consider getting a secured card instead, or apply for a personal loan if you need funds quickly.

Compare subprime cards

Prepaid cards

The easiest way to understand a prepaid card is to think of it like a gift card. Before you can use one, you have to load it with funds. Then just swipe it like a normal credit card.

However, unlike a normal card, you don’t use a prepaid card to borrow money – you’re only allowed to spend the funds you’ve preloaded. Once you spend the money, you have to reload your card before you can use it again.

Compare prepaid credit cards

Specialty credit cards

Five popular kinds of specialty credit cards

Business credit cards

A business credit card typically gives more points or miles on business-related expenses, such as office supplies, phone bills and dining. It may also offer additional business perks like free employee cards, higher credit limits and expense reports. This type of card is a good choice if you want to separate your business and personal expenses.

Compare business credit cards

Student credit cards

As a university or college student, it’s an excellent idea to get a credit card. You can start building your credit well before you need it, and you can learn how to manage your money responsibly.

You might not have a credit history yet, which means it could be tough to get approved for most credit cards. That’s where a student credit card can help — it’s designed for someone new to credit.

You won’t find amazing rewards with this type of card, but you can use it to build your credit.

Compare student credit cards

Store credit cards

You can typically only use a store credit card at specified stores.

Beyond that restriction, you can use the card like a normal credit card, charging purchases to it and carrying a balance if you’d like. This type of card typically offers store-specific perks to keep you coming back, such as free gifts or big discounts.

Compare shopping credit cards

Gas credit cards

If you spend a lot on gas, consider a gas credit card. You’ll usually find two different types of gas cards.

One type are brand-specific cards that reward you for pumping at specific gas stations. A brand-specific card will likely give you fuel credits or a discount on fuel — say, $0.03 off each litre of gas.

The other type you can find includes many rewards cards that offer cash back or more points when you use your credit card at gas stations. You can usually pump your gas at any station in order to reap these rewards.

Compare gas credit cards

Charity credit cards

There are typically two types of charity credit cards: cards that donate a portion of your spending to a specific charity and cards that allow you to donate your points or miles to charity (instead of making cash donations). Aside from donating some of your spending or points, you are not required to further donate to the charity.

    Compare charity credit cards

    What is a charge card?

    When you think about credit cards, you’re probably thinking of cards that you can carry balances on. But there’s another lesser-known type of credit card: the charge card.

    With a charge card, you can’t carry a balance each billing cycle — you have to pay your card bill in full each month. Because of this, a charge card isn’t a good choice if you typically need more time to pay off your balance.

    One reason you may be surprised to see charge cards is because they’re rarely offered anymore. The only major card provider that offers them is American Express.

    What’s the difference between credit cards and debit cards?

    With a credit card, you can pay for things by borrowing money from your card provider. With a debit card, you first deposit funds with your provider and then use the card to spend the money you’ve deposited.

    Each card comes with advantages and disadvantages:

    • You can’t get into debt with a debit card, because you’re only spending money you actually have. On the downside, you don’t get the protections offered by a credit card, and you can’t borrow money.
    • A credit card lets you pay off balances over time, earn rewards, build your credit and offers great protection against fraud. But if you’re a compulsive spender, a credit card can be a dangerous friend.

    Bottom line: Pick up a credit card if you spend responsibly and can pay your bills on time. Otherwise, stick to a debit card or pick a secured card with a low credit limit.
    How debit cards work

    Frequently asked questions about credit cards

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