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Low income credit cards

Find out how you can qualify for a credit card even if you have a low income. 

There are many low income credit card options available if you make less than $15,000 per year. That said, the cards you can qualify for with a low income will typically be low or no annual fee cards with less benefits and perks than more premium cards. Learn more about what types of low income cards are available and find out how much you’ll need to earn to qualify for the credit card of your choice.

Compare low income credit cards and offers for April 2021

Compare low income credit cards to find the best fit for your unique set of needs and budget.

Name Product Purchase Interest Rate Annual Fee Minimum Income Reward
American Express Cobalt Card
19.99%
$120
N/A
Earn 5 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent at eligible grocery stores, restaurants, bars, cafés and food delivery services, 2 points per $1 spent at eligible gas stations, and on transit and travel purchases, and 1 point per $1 spent elsewhere.
Earn up to 45,000 bonus Membership Rewards points in your first year as a new Cobalt Cardmember. Apply by May 5, 2021.
BMO CashBack Mastercard
19.99%
$0
$15,000
Earn 3% cash back on groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments and 0.5% on all other eligible purchases.
Get 5% cash back on all eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership (up to max. spend of $2,000). Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers with a 1% balance transfer fee for nine months.
BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard
12.99%
$20
$15,000
Take advantage of an introductory balance transfer offer, annual fee waiver in the first year, and low purchase and cash advance interest rates.
Get a rate of 3.99% on balance transfers for 9 months with a 1% transfer fee. Plus, get the $20 annual fee waived in the first year.
Scotiabank Value Visa Card
12.99%
$29
$12,000
Save on interest for 6 months by consolidating your higher-rate balances with the balance transfer offer, and get an on-going 12.99% interest rate on purchases, cash advances and balance transfers.
Get a 0.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers with a 0% transfer fee for the first 6 months. Apply by July 1, 2021.
Choice Card from American Express
19.99%
$0
N/A
Earn 1 American Express Membership Point for every $1 you spend on purchases.
Earn 12,500 Bonus Membership Rewards points within the first 3 months as a new Cardmember. Apply by May 5, 2021.
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What are low income credit cards?

Most low income credit cards are basic credit cards that you can use for daily spending. These cards typically come with less benefits, perks and rewards than premium credit cards. On the plus side, you won’t have to pay a hefty annual fee or meet a minimum income threshold to qualify.

You’ll usually fall into the low income category if you make less than $15,000 per year in Canada. However, many premium cards require you to make a personal annual income of $60,000 per year or a household income of $100,000. This means you could have trouble qualifying for a high-end card even if you make a median income.

What is the minimum income for a credit card?

The minimum income for a credit card varies by provider. The most common minimum income for a basic credit card is $12,000 per year. This goes up to $60,000 per year for a premium card.

Some credit cards don’t specify any income requirements but you’ll usually still need to show that you make a high enough income to make your payments in order to get approved.

What sources of money count as income?

You may be able to use the following sources of income to prove that you meet income requirements, even if you don’t have a job.

  • Employment income
  • Retirement fund distributions
  • Investment returns
  • CPP or pension income
  • Inheritance or trust fund distributions
  • Government benefits such as the child tax benefit or disability support
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Alimony or child support
  • Liquid assets such as a savings account

Best credit cards for low income

Here are some of our top picks for the best credit cards for low income. The maximum income you’ll need to qualify for these credit cards is between $12,000 and $15,000.

Card type

Big banks

Other banks

Retail locations

Rewards

Cash back

Low interest

  • N/A

How to compare low income credit cards in Canada

You can compare the following features to find the best credit card for low income:

  • Interest rates. Most low income credit cards charge 19.99% for purchases and 21.99% for cash advances. That said, you can sign up for a low interest credit card with a low income if you’d prefer not to earn rewards or cash back.
  • Welcome offers. You may be able to qualify for a small welcome bonus with many low income credit cards. Make sure you compare cards to find the one with the biggest welcome bonus in combination with the best return on rewards and benefits.
  • Return on rewards. The majority of low income credit cards come with a lower return on rewards than premium cards. That said, you won’t usually have to pay an annual fee for these cards so you may even come out on top at the end of the year.
  • Benefits. You’ll only get basic benefits such as purchase protection and extended warranty with most low income credit cards. If you can find a card that offers more than this it could be worth exploring further (for example, the Brim Mastercard).
  • Minimum income requirements. Some low income credit cards come with a minimum income requirement of $12,000 while others sit at around $15,000. Figure out how much you make and then find the card that fits your specific income.
  • Provider. When deciding on a low income credit card, you can choose from many providers. These include big banks, digital banks and private companies such as Costco or PC Financial. Look for a card from an establishment you trust and make sure the rewards are tailored to your lifestyle.

Who can qualify for a credit card with a low income requirement?

Almost anyone can qualify for low income credit cards if they make a minimum of $12,000 per year. You may also need to meet these criteria to qualify:

  1. Be 18 years old or the age of majority in your province or territory.
  2. Be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident with a valid Canadian address.
  3. Have a working bank account (this is sometimes not a requirement – it varies between providers).
  4. Have an average credit score and not be struggling with a bankruptcy or consumer proposal.
  5. Be willing to meet additional requirements put forth by your credit card provider.

Not a Canadian citizen? Find out what credit cards you can qualify for as a temporary resident

How to get a credit card with low income

You can follow these steps to get a credit card for low income:

  • Compare low income credit cards. Look at a number of cards from different providers to find the card that offers the best benefits and rewards for you.
  • Apply for the card of your choice. Apply for the low income credit card of your choice by visiting the main site of the provider you’re interested in.
  • Fill out application details. Provide personal information such as your full name, address, email and phone number to start your application.
  • Submit to a credit check. Give permission for your provider to do a credit check.
  • Review final details. Read the fine print of your contract so that you understand the terms and conditions of your low income credit card.
  • Click submit. Click submit on your application or call your credit card provider directly to apply over the phone.

Benefits of low income credit cards

You could be eligible for the following benefits with a low income credit card:

  • Low annual fees. Most low income credit cards come with no or very low annual fees.
  • Easy to qualify. You’ll be able to qualify in many cases even if you make a low annual income and have an average credit score.
  • Many cards to choose from. You can take advantage of a number of different card types such as cash back, low interest, frequent flyer and rewards cards.
  • Basic insurance. Most low income credit cards come with basic insurance such as purchase protection and extended warranty.

What to watch out for

There are also a couple of drawbacks to consider before you sign up for low income credit cards:

  • High interest rates. You’ll usually pay interest rates around 19.99% for purchases.
  • Limited benefits. Most low income credit cards don’t come with benefits such as travel insurance, mobile device protection, roadside assistance or airport perks.
  • Lower return on rewards. You’ll usually receive a lower return on points or cash back than you would with a more premium card.
  • Low credit limit. Your credit card provider may give you a credit limit as low as $500 to make sure you can repay what you borrow.

What other low income credit card options do I have?

1. Purchase a prepaid credit card

You need to load money onto a prepaid credit card before you use it. When this runs out, you simply load more on so that you never have to carry an outstanding balance. Prepaid cards don’t come with interest and using them won’t affect your credit score. You can apply for these cards from your bank or pick them up at your local grocery store.

Examples: KOHO Prepaid Visa Card or Mogo Visa Platinum Prepaid Card

Compare prepaid credit cards

Name Product Monthly fee Cost per transaction Foreign transaction fee Rewards with this card
KOHO Prepaid Visa card
$0
$0
1.5%
0.5% cash back
Use promo code FINDERCODE and receive a bonus of an additional 1% cash back for the first 90 days after activation (on top of the regular 0.5%, for a total of 1.5% cash back).
KOHO Joint Prepaid Card
$0
$0
1.5%
0.5% cash back
Use promo code FINDERCODE and receive a bonus of an additional 1% cash back for the first 90 days after activation (on top of the regular 0.5%, for a total of 1.5% cash back).
KOHO Premium Prepaid Card
$9/month or $84 annually
$0
0%
Up to 2% cash back
Earn 2% cash back on transportation, grocery and restaurant purchases. Plus, get a 30 day free trial. Use promo code FINDERCODE and receive a bonus of an additional 1% cash back for the first 90 days after activation (on top of the regular 0.5% for other purchases, for a total of 1.5% cash back).
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2. Sign up for a secured credit card

Secured credit cards require you to put cash down as collateral to secure the money you borrow. Your provider can then use this deposit to pay off your balance if you default on your payments. You’ll pay interest on any money you borrow with a secured card and your credit score can go up or down depending on how often you make regular payments.

Examples: Refresh Financial Secured Card and the Capital One Secured Credit Card.

Compare secured credit cards

Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Purchase Interest Rate Annual Fee Min. Credit Score Description
Refresh Financial Secured Card
N/A
N/A
17.99%
$12.95
Min. recommended credit score: Any score
Take advantage of a low annual fee, with no credit check and guaranteed approval once you secure your card with some funds.
Home Trust Secured Visa
N/A
N/A
14.90% - 19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: Any score
Choose from three card options: No Annual Fee ($0 annual fee, 19.99% purchase rate), Low Interest Rate ($59 annual fee, 14.90% purchase rate) or a Low Monthly Fee ($5 monthly fee, 14.90% purchase rate).
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3. Partner up with someone else

There are two ways you can sign on to a credit card with a friend or family member who has a good credit rating and a decent income:

Become an authorized user. You can become an authorized user on a friend or family member’s account if your income is too low to qualify for your own card. Just be aware that the benefits and rewards on the card will remain in the primary cardholder’s name.

Enlist a cosigner. You may be able to find a cosigner to help you apply for a credit card if your income doesn’t meet the required threshold. Just be aware that this person will need to agree to take over your payments if you default and their credit score will take a hit if you don’t keep up with your account.

4. Use a Visa Debit or Debit Mastercard

If you need a credit card to shop online or pay bills, you may be able to get by with a Visa Debit or Debit Mastercard. These are debit cards that are affiliated with a credit card but only allow you to spend money out of your bank account.

Examples: Scene Scotiacard Visa Debit and the BMO Debit Mastercard

What about credit cards for students?

Many financial institutions offer cards specifically geared towards students. These types of cards have more lenient eligibility requirements, making them ideal for young adults with little or no credit history and an unstable income.
student credit cards in our comprehensive guide.

Bottom line

There are many low income credit cards you can choose from if you’re having trouble qualifying for credit cards as a low income earner. Compare the best credit cards for low income and learn more about other low income credit card options such as prepaid, secured and student cards.

Frequently asked questions about low income credit cards

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