Are you looking for a no fee credit card with plenty of benefits and a solid return on points? Look no further. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best no annual fee credit cards on the market. You can also use this post to find out more about how no fee credit cards work and why you might want to sign up for one.
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
Purchase interest rate
Eligibility criteria, terms and conditions, fees and charges apply
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
Apply today and earn 2% cash back in up to three spending categories of your choice.
Purchase interest rate: 19.95%
Cash advance rate: 19.95%
Balance transfer rate: 1.95% for the first 6 months, 19.95% thereafter
No annual fee credit cards (also known as fee-free credit cards) are credit cards that don’t come with an annual fee. This means you won’t have to pay anything extra to use them. It also means that they typically come with fewer benefits and a lower return on points or cashback in comparison to more premium cards.
For example, most fee-free cards come with basic benefits such as purchase protection and extended warranty. However, the majority won’t offer extra perks such as mobile device protection, travel insurance or roadside assistance. It’s also common for fee-free cards to give you a lower return on points than credit cards that come with an annual fee.
Can I get a premium credit card for no annual fee?
Most no-fee credit cards come with the bare minimum for benefits and rewards. You’ll typically need to pay an annual fee to get extended benefits or a high return on points or cashback. One of the only ways that you can get a premium credit card with no annual fee is to link it to your everyday bank account.
To go this route, you’ll usually need to keep a minimum balance in a high-end account. For example, you can qualify for an annual fee waiver for a TD premium credit card if you sign up for a TD All-Inclusive Banking Plan and keep a minimum balance of $5,000 in your account at all times. This can be a good solution if you want more benefits and rewards but don’t want to pay an annual fee for your credit card.
No annual fee credit cards by provider
You can sign up for a no annual fee credit card with several providers. These include big banks, digital banks and private companies. It’s easy to compare the no annual fee credit cards on offer from different providers by expanding the links below:
The Big Five banks offer a number of credit cards to choose from. These include rewards, cashback, frequent flyer and low interest cards.
Frequent flyer points
CIBC Aventura Visa
CIBC Dividend Visa
CIBC Aeroplan Visa
CIBC Select Visa ($29 fee)
TD Rewards Visa
TD Cash Back Visa
TD Emerald Flex Rate Visa Card ($25 fee)
RBC Rewards Visa and RBC Visa Platinum
RBC Cash Back Mastercard
RBC RateAdvantage Visa ($0 fee)
SCENE Visa and
No-Fee Visa and
Visa ($29 fee)
BMO Rewards Mastercard
BMO Cashback Mastercard
BMO Air Miles Mastercard
BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard ($20 fee)
Smaller banks offer mostly cashback and rewards cards, and you don’t have to hold an account with the bank to apply for a credit card. Examples include the following:
MBNA. MBNA True Line Mastercard (low interest); MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard (rewards); MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus Mastercard (cashback)
Digital banks tend to stay out of the credit card space for the most part. That said, there are a handful of no-fee credit cards on offer from digital banks that are worth looking into:
Tangerine: Tangerine Money-Back Card and the World Mastercard (both cashback cards)
Simplii Financial: Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa (cashback)
Brim Financial: Brim Mastercard (rewards)
If you tend to shop regularly at the same store, you might want to check out these loyalty-brand no annual fee credit cards:
Canadian Tire: Triangle Mastercard (rewards)
PC Points: PC Financial Mastercard (rewards)
Amazon: Amazon.ca Rewards Mastercard (cashback)
Costco. Capital One Mastercard for Costco Members (cashback)
American Express: Choice Card from American Express (rewards) and SimplyCash Card from American Express (cashback)
What makes no annual fee credit cards unique?
The obvious feature that makes no annual fee credit cards unique is that they come with no obligation to pay an annual fee for the duration of card ownership. This is different from certain premium cards that waive your annual fee in the first year. You also won’t have to keep a minimum balance in your bank account to qualify for fee-free status.
Another major selling point of fee-free cards is that they’re easy to qualify for. Unlike many premium cards, you typically won’t need to have a high income to sign up and you can usually get your foot in the door with an average credit score. This makes these cards a decent option for low-income earners, students and those who are just starting to build their credit.
How to compare no annual fee credit cards
There are a number of features you can compare to find the best no fee credit card for your personal situation.
Interest rates. Most no fee credit cards come with an interest rate of 19.99% for purchases and 21.99% for cash advances. That said, some no fee cards may offer a lower interest rate in lieu of extra benefits or rewards. Aim to choose the card that makes the most sense for your personal situation.
Welcome offers. There are several no annual fee credit cards that come with a generous welcome bonus when you sign up. Look for a credit card that offers a decent return on long-term rewards and benefits, and then whittle down your choices by comparing welcome offers.
Return on rewards. The majority of no fee credit cards come with a mediocre return on rewards when compared to premium cards. That said, these rewards will go directly into your pocket instead of going towards paying an annual fee. Find a card that offers the best return on points or cashback in combination with a basic level of benefits.
Benefits. Most fee-free credit cards come with basic benefits such as purchase protection and extended warranty. If you find a fee-free card with additional benefits, it’s definitely worth exploring. This is because these cards typically don’t include extra perks such as travel insurance, roadside assistance or mobile device insurance.
Additional fees. It’s important to look into any additional fees you might have to pay with your card. For example, you could be charged a $2 fee to get a paper statement or a $40 fee for making a late payment. Make sure you know what you’re up against before you buy into the “no fee” promise of a fee-free credit card.
Provider. When deciding on a no annual fee 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 with an establishment you trust and make sure the rewards are tailored to your lifestyle.
Who can qualify for a no fee credit card?
Almost anyone can qualify for a no-fee credit card since the eligibility requirements are usually not very strict. That said you’ll want to make sure you meet the following criteria to apply:
Be 18 years old or the age of majority in your province or territory.
Be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident with a valid Canadian address.
Have a working bank account (this is sometimes not a requirement – it varies between providers).
Have an average credit score and not be struggling with a bankruptcy or consumer proposal.
Be willing to meet additional requirements put forth by your credit card provider
How to apply for a no annual fee credit card
You can follow these steps to apply for a no annual fee credit card:
Compare no fee credit cards. Compare credit cards from a number of providers to find the one with the best mix of rewards and benefits for your personal situation.
Apply for the card of your choice. Apply for the credit card of your choice by visiting the main site of the provider you’re interested in.
Fill out application details. Fill out personal details such as your full name, address, email and phone number to start your application.
Submit to a credit check. Submit to a personal credit check to get approved for a no annual fee credit card (if this is a requirement for your provider).
Review final details. Read the fine print of your contract and make sure you understand what you’re getting yourself into before you hand in your application.
Click submit. Once you’re ready to apply, click submit on your application or call your credit card provider directly to apply over the phone.
Wait for your card to arrive. When your application is approved, your provider should send your card out in the mail or allow you to pick it up at a branch location.
Benefits of no fee credit cards
No fee credit cards come with a number of benefits that make them an optimal choice if you’re looking for a basic credit card:
No out-of-pocket costs. You won’t have to worry about paying an annual fee.
Easy to qualify. There are usually no minimum income requirements and you can apply with average credit.
Many cards to choose from. You can take advantage of a number of different types of cards such as cashback, low interest, frequent flyer and rewards cards.
What to watch out for
There are also a couple of drawbacks to consider before you sign up for a no fee credit card:
High interest rates. You’ll usually pay interest rates around 19.99% for purchases.
Limited benefits. You won’t often qualify for extra benefits such as travel insurance, mobile device protection or roadside assistance with these cards.
Lower return on rewards. You’ll usually receive a lower return on points than you would with a more premium card.
No annual fee credit cards are relatively easy to qualify for and they come with no annual fee. Unlike premium credit cards, these cards tend to come with a low return on rewards and few benefits. That said, they can be a cheap and easy way to get access to credit if you don’t have the means or budget to qualify for a premium card.
Frequently asked questions
Not typically, no. You’ll need to have reasonably good or average credit to qualify. If your credit score is very low, you may want to consider looking into getting a prepaid credit card. This type of card doesn’t give you access to credit but it does allow you to shop online and earn rewards in some cases.
For the most part, yes! Many no fee credit cards offer rewards such as points or cashback when you spend money. The only caveat is that the return on rewards that you get will often be lower than what you might receive from a premium card or one that comes with an annual fee.
Credit card applications are denied for a variety of reasons, including recent late payments to short employment history. You won’t know the specific reason or reasons you’ve been denied until the credit card issuer sends a letter in the mail letting you know why. Once you receive the letter, use the details to help you figure out how to proceed with your next credit application. You may need to improve your credit before you apply for a credit card again.
Claire Horwood is a writer at Finder, specializing in credit cards, loans and other financial products. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Gender Studies from the University of Victoria, along with an Associate's Degree in Science from Camosun College. Much of Claire's coursework has focused on writing and statistics, with a healthy dose of social and cultural analysis mixed in for good measure. She has also worked extensively in the field of "Blended Finance" with the Canadian government. In her spare time, Claire loves rock climbing, travelling and drinking inordinate amounts of coffee.
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