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Introductory credit card offers and promotions in Canada
Earn bonus points, get low interest rates or reduced annual fees with a credit card introductory promotional offer.
Credit card promotions and introductory offers can help maximize the value you get from your new credit card. Depending on the promotion, you could earn bonus frequent flyer points, cash back or savings on rates and fees. Because credit card introductory offers are usually only available to new customers for a limited time, it’s important to understand the details of the offer and look at the card’s standard fees, rates and features to decide if it’s worth it for you.
6 of the best credit card promotions and introductory offers in Canada
|Credit card||Promotional offer||Annual fee|
|SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express||Earn 10% cash back on all eligible purchases (up to $400 in cash back) for the first four months of Cardmembership.||$99||Go to siteRead review|
|BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard||Get up to 60,000 points and get the $150 annual fee waived in the first year.||$150||Go to siteRead review|
|American Express Cobalt Card||Earn up to 30,000 Membership Rewards points in your first year. Earn 2,500 Membership Rewards points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $500 in net purchases on your card (up to 30,000 points). That’s up to $300 towards a weekend getaway or concert tickets.||$155.88||Go to siteRead review|
|American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card||Earn a Welcome Bonus of 2,000 AIR MILES when you spend at least $1,500 in eligible purchases within the first three months. That’s enough to redeem for $200 towards your purchases with AIR MILES Cash.||$120||Go to siteRead review|
|Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card||Earn 10% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months. Plus, pay no annual fee in the first year. Apply by October 31, 2022.||$120||Go to siteRead review|
|CIBC Select Visa||Get a 0% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 10 months with a 1% transfer fee. Plus, get a first year annual fee rebate.||$29||Read review|
How do credit card introductory offers work?
Most introductory offers are only available to new customers. These credit card deals usually offer extra value to you in the form of bonus points, waived annual fees or low interest rates. The benefits of credit card promotional offers only last for a limited time, typically 3 to 6 months. For example, any promotional interest rates or fee discounts revert to standard rates and fees after the promotional period ends. Bonus points, on the other hand, will last until you use them or they expire.
Are credit card promotions worth it?
Although credit card promotional and introductory offers may draw you towards applying for a credit card, sometimes these cards charge higher interest rates and fees compared to credit cards that don’t offer sign-up bonuses.
Because dome credit cards have a high spend ceiling to clear the sign-up bonus, you’ll also need to make sure you can clear the minimum spending requirement. For example, some card issuers require you to spend $5,000 in the first 3 months of card membership to be eligible. There are ways to earn the offer, but if you find it hard to meet the spending requirement, don’t force it – you could end up paying more than it’s worth.
How to qualify for a credit card promotional offer
You usually have to meet specific requirements to be eligible for an introductory offer. These conditions vary but usually include:
- New customers. You must be a new credit card customer, with no existing credit cards issued by the company you’re applying with. For example, if you have a credit card issued by American Express, you likely won’t be eligible for Amex introductory offers.
- Credit card approval. You must apply and be approved for the credit card by a certain date in order to take advantage of the introductory offer.
- Application dates. Some promotional offers may only be available to applicants who apply and are approved by a set date.
- Spend requirements. Bonus point offers typically come with spend requirements, which means you’ll need to spend a certain amount by a set date to receive the points.
Before you apply for a card with an introductory offer, make sure you fully understand these terms and conditions to ensure you can get the full value from the offer.
Types of introductory offers
There is a wide range of different introductory offers available depending on what you want from a credit card. For example, if you want to save on card debt, you could look at balance transfer offers that give you a low or 0% introductory interest rate. Or, if you want rewards for your spending then you can compare cards that offer introductory bonus points. With so many different introductory credit card deals offered in Canada, we’ve summarized some of the most popular options you can compare.
0% balance transfer offers
A 0% balance transfer credit card can be a useful tool to consolidate and repay debt without the cost of interest. Balance transfer credit cards often come with a low or 0% interest rate for a promotional period of 12 to 24 months. This means you can clear your credit card balance faster without accruing any additional interest. Once the promotional offer ends, a standard revert rate applies and any remaining debts will begin to collect interest, often at the higher cash advance rate.
Interest-free balance transfers are only available for a limited time, so you’ll be required to apply and receive approval before the offer end date to take advantage of the promotional 0% interest rate. You can usually request the balance transfer and provide the details of your existing account when you apply.
0% interest on purchases
Purchase rate offers help you save on your spending by giving you a low or 0% introductory interest rate on your new purchases for a specified period of time. At the end of the introductory period, the promotional rate reverts to a standard interest rate that applies to any balance carried from these purchases. These offers are very rare in Canada and if a provider offers it, it’s likely going to be a promotional low interest rate – not 0%.
Purchase rate offers can be useful if you have a lot of planned expenses coming up and want a flexible and affordable way to pay them off over time. To get the most out of low or 0% purchase rate deals, you should aim to pay off the new charges before the end of the introductory period.
Reduced or no annual fee offers
This type of introductory offer waives the annual fee of the credit card for a promotional period (usually the first 12 months). Depending on the credit card, no annual fee promotions can save you tens, hundreds or thousands of dollars. You usually need to apply before a specific date to enjoy a no annual fee introductory offer. Other credit cards offer a reduced annual fee for a promotional period instead of waiving the fee completely.
After the introductory period, the standard annual fee will be applied to the account. So, if you plan to use your credit card beyond the promotional period, you should pay attention to the standard annual fee when comparing credit cards.
Bonus reward points
Many rewards credit cards include bonus points when you apply and are approved for the card. Depending on the offer, you could be able to get up to 100,000 bonus points.
Bonus points offers are usually only available when you apply by a certain date and meet the spend criteria. This means you may need to spend a certain amount within a specific period (such as $1,500 in the first 3 months) to collect the bonus points. As long as the spend requirement fits within your budget and don’t outweigh the value of your bonus points, it can be an easy way to boost your points balance as soon as you apply for the card. Remember that not all points are created equal and be sure to consider the value of the points before you apply.
Bonus frequent flyer points
Similar to bonus reward point promotions, many frequent flyer credit cards offer bonus points on sign up. Many cards offer points for specific airlines like Air Canada or West Jet Flyer, but many other rewards cards may let you use your bonus points for a wider range of airlines like the RBC Avion card or Aeroplan miles. Again, you’re usually required to spend a minimum amount within a set period to qualify for the bonus points offer.
Make sure you know what these terms and conditions are before you apply so that you can decide if the offer is worth it. It’s also important to look at how many points you’ll usually earn for your spending, as well as any rates, fees and extra features that come with the card.
This type of introductory offer gives you cashback when you get a new credit card. Like bonus point promotions, you usually need to spend a specific amount of money on the card before you can enjoy the cashback offer. For example, an offer might give you $200 cashback if you spend $500 in the first 3 months you have the card.
Some cashback offers also require you to spend the minimum amount in a specific way, such as by making contactless payments. This type of offer can give you extra value if you have planned purchases you want to make on your credit card, but may not be worth it otherwise.
Other types of credit card promotions
As well as the major introductory offers outlined above, some credit card companies may offer other more unique deals for new customers including gift cards or discounted purchases at specific retailers.
Depending on the credit card, you may be able to take advantage of more than one of these offers at a time. For example, a card that offers a 0% balance transfer rate could also have a discounted annual fee for the first year, while a card with bonus points may also offer 0% interest on purchases during the honeymoon period.
How to compare credit card promotions in Canada
While credit card promotions can sweeten the deal when you first sign up, you should also look at the card’s ongoing features. Thinking about the following factors will help you find an introductory offer that suits your needs in the short-term and a credit card that fits your circumstances in the long-term.
- The promotional interest rate. Depending on the card, the promotional offer may have a low or 0% interest rate. Usually, the lower the interest rate, the more savings you’ll make. However, you should also weigh up the promotional interest rate with the annual fee and the length of the promotional offer to determine which card offers the most savings.
- The length of the introductory period. With low purchase rate or balance transfer rate offers, it’s important that you calculate how much you’ll need to pay each month to repay the entire balance before the promotional period ends. Otherwise, any remaining balance will collect the standard interest and begin to counteract your savings.
- The promotional offer end date. These offers are only available for a limited time, so you will need to apply before the end date to take advantage of them. Check the terms and conditions to make sure any offers you want are still available before you apply.
- The standard interest rates. If you have a card with a low or 0% purchase or balance transfer deal, the standard interest rates will apply to any balances remaining at the end of the introductory period. These rates are generally much higher than those of the introductory offer, so considering them before you apply will help you avoid any nasty surprises when the promotion ends.
- Standard annual fees. If you get a reduced or waived annual fee offer, make sure you check the standard annual fee so that you know how much you will have to pay after the first 12 months. If you only intend to use the card while the waived annual fee is in place, make sure you know when the standard annual fee will apply and close your card before then to avoid paying extra.
- Other fees and charges. As well as the annual fee, the card may come with other rates and fees such as balance transfer fees, cash advance fees, foreign transaction fees and late payment costs. You can use the reviews on finder to browse a full list of rates and fees associated with a product to understand exactly how much you’ll have to pay when you use the card.
- Interest charges. If you have to meet a minimum spend to earn bonus points or redeem your introductory offer, remember that these purchases will collect interest. This is why it’s important to ensure that the spend requirement fits within your budget, otherwise the interest costs could easily outweigh the value of the points or bonus offer.
- Spending requirements. Some cashback and bonus point offers require you to spend a minimum amount in an introductory period of a few months. It could be as little as $100 or as much as $10,000 depending on the card, so it’s important to check before you apply to make sure you can afford to take advantage of the offer.
- Standard rewards points. As well as the bonus points, make sure the regular rewards program (including the earn rate and how you can redeem your rewards) suits your spending behaviours and rewards goals.
- Complimentary extras. Additional, ongoing perks such as international travel insurance, extended warranties and concierge services can bring more value to the card that you choose. However they can also attribute to higher annual fees, so make sure these are features you’d take advantage of before you apply.
Compare credit cards with introductory offers
Mistakes to avoid with credit card offers
While credit card introductory offers can help you get more value from your card, there are some mistakes to avoid to ensure the card costs don’t outweigh the benefits of the offer. Here are some of the common mistakes cardholders make and how you can avoid them:
- Ignoring the offer terms and conditions. Introductory offers have specific eligibility requirements you have to meet, so make sure you understand the fine print before you apply.
- Wasting the promotional offer time period. With a balance transfer or purchase rate offer, the promotional period (such as 12 months) will begin as soon as you apply for the card, rather than when you make the transfer for your first purchase. To avoid wasting the valuable offer, make sure you start consolidating your debt or paying off your purchases as soon as possible to take advantage of the full offer.
- Not looking at the ongoing features of the card. While introductory offers can give you short-term benefits, the standard features of a credit card determine its ongoing value. Always check these features before you apply for a credit card to decide if it’s worth it for you.
- Not checking the end date of the offer. To get a specific credit card offer, you must apply before the end of the promotional period. Regularly comparing credit cards can help you stay up-to-date with all the offers available when you’re considering a new card.
- Not using the card after the introductory period. If you decide you don’t want the card you applied for after getting an introductory offer, you could end up paying more credit card fees and adding to your debt. Make sure you consider this before you apply, choose an appropriate card, or cancel the account if you no longer want to use it.
Introductory offers have the potential to provide you with more value when you get a new credit card. While almost anyone can benefit from these deals, the value they provide really depends on your individual circumstances.
It’s also important to remember that these benefits only last for a set amount of time before reverting to the standard features of the card. So being aware of how credit card offers work and considering both the introductory offer and the ongoing card features means you can choose a card that offers you value now and in the future.
Frequently asked questions about credit card promotions
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