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Updated: January 18, 2024

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Best Mastercard credit cards in Canada

We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Please be aware this post may contain links to products from our partners. We may receive a commission for products or services you sign up for through partner links.

🗓️

Updated: January 18, 2024

We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Please be aware that some (or all) products and services linked in this article are from our sponsors.

Of the three major credit card processors in Canada, Mastercard is particularly popular due to its near universal acceptance rate among merchants. Some stores even have exclusive Mastercard partnerships—a Mastercard is a necessity for those who often shop at Costco in Canada, where Visa and Amex are not accepted. Fortunately there are a wide variety of Canadian Mastercards to suit nearly every income level, habitual purchase category, and reward type preference.

Best Mastercard credit card in Canada

BMO CashBack® World Elite®* Mastercard®*

5% Groceries: 5% cash back up to $500 spent per month ($25 in cash back)*

4% Transit: 4% cash back up to $300 spent per month ($12 in cash back)*

3% Gas: 3% cash back up to $300 spent per month ($9 in cash back)*

2% Recurring Bills: 2% cash back up to $500 spent per month ($10 in cash back)*

1% Everything Else: 1% cash back, unlimited*

20.99% Purchase APR

23.99% Balance Transfer Rate

23.99% Cash Advance APR

$120 Annual Fee

2.90% Foreign Transaction Fee

Good Recommended Credit Score

Welcome Offer

Get up to 10% cash back in your first 3 months and the $120 annual fee waived in the first year.5

Learn more
  • Why the CashBack World Elite wins best Canadian Mastercard

    +

    It's the highest cash-back offer on groceries in Canada at 5%. Everyone buys groceries. It's 4% cash back on transit (rideshare, taxis, public transit) ain't bad either. Another 3% cash back on gas, and 2% on recurring bills and 1% on eveerything else—that's a top Mastercard.

    And just because it's a cash back card, doesn't mean BMO skimps on travel with $2 million in emergency medical insurance and a complimentary membership to Mastercard Travel Pass by DragonPass (you'll still have to pay per use to access the airport lounges).

Best Mastercard for travel

BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®*

5x 5x the points for every $1 spent on eligible travel purchases

3x 3x the points for every $1 spent on eligible dining and entertainment purchases and recurring bill payments*

1x 1 point for every $1 spent everywhere else*

20.99% Purchase APR

23.99% Balance Transfer Rate

23.99% Cash Advance APR

$150 Annual Fee

2.50% Foreign Transaction Fee

Good Recommended Credit Score

Welcome Offer Ends May 31, 2024

Get up to 60,000 points and the annual fee waived in the first year

Learn more
  • Why the Ascend World Elite wins best travel Mastercard in Canada

    +

    Honestly, it's a tough fought battle between the Ascend Mastercard and the BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard.

    You're picking between the BMO Rewards program and the AIR MILES program.

    The welcome bonus: 60,000 Rewards points ($300 value) vs. 2,000 AIR MILES (~$200)—though it all depends on how you're redeeming your points.

    Where the Ascend comes out on top is their four annual complimentary airport lounge passes (not just the DragonPass Membership) and the 21-days of total travel and medical protection (as opposed to the AIR MILES 15 days).

    Yes, the annual fee is $30 more, but you walk away with more than that in value. Plus, the annual fee is waived in the first year.

    Credit cards with high annual fees and steeper income requirements also give cardholders a greater array of perks. There are few travel Mastercards that can rival the BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®*, which offers a massive welcome bonus of up to 60,000 BMO Rewards points, plus a waiver of the first year’s $150 fee*. That’s approximately $550 in value but other bonuses, like the waiver on the $50 annual fee for the first authorized cardholder*, boost this number to an impressive value in your first year.

    The card also accrues 5x the points for every $1 spent on eligible travel purchases,* 3x the points for every $1 spent on eligible dining and entertainment purchases and recurring bill payments,* 1 point for every $1 spent everywhere else.* Points can be redeemed on all travel arrangements, including luxury 4-star hotels and airfare. If you can meet the income requirement of $80,000 per year, you’ll also likely spend more per month on the card. For $5,000 per month, at the end of your first year you’ll have accrued enough points to spend 7 nights in an all-inclusive 5-star resort in Mexico, or a flight all the way from Canada to Dubai. During the layover, enjoy one of your four yearly complimentary VIP lounge passes. Last but not least, travellers and their families are protected with World Elite Total Travel and Medical protection package from BMO, which represents the cherry on top for this Mastercard.

    *Terms and conditions apply

Best no fee Mastercard in Canada

MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard

10,000 Get up to 10,000 MBNA Rewards points†† as an introductory bonus (see details below)

19.99% Purchase APR

22.99% Balance Transfer Rate

24.99% Cash Advance APR

$0 Annual Fee

Good Recommended Credit Score

Welcome Offer

Earn 4 points per $1 spent on eligible restaurant, grocery, digital media, membership, and household utility purchases until $10,000 is spent annually. You could also receive up to 10,000 bonus points.

Learn more
  • Why MBNA takes home the best no annual fee Mastercard in Canada

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    Well, no annual fee is a big perk, but the flexibility of point redemption from cash back to travel, gift cards, charitably donations and merch is awesome, too. There's no rush to decide because your points never expire.

    As a bonus, every year you'll receive a Birthday Bonus equal to 10% of the total number of points you earned the year leading up to your big day (max 10,000 points, roughly $50 in value, talk about a Happy Birthday).

    You'll earn 4 points for every $1 you spend on eligible restaurants, buying groceries, digital media, memberships, and household utilities, but only for the first 90 days. After that, it's 2 points per dollar.

    They also give you $1,000 in mobile device insurance in the event of loss, theft, damage or mechanical breakdown.

Best cash back Mastercard in Canada

Tangerine World Mastercard®

2% Earn 2% cash back in two categories of your choice (e.g. groceries, restaurants, gas, entertainment, recurring bill payments and more)

3 Get a Tangerine Savings account and get a 3rd 2% cash back category.

19.95% Purchase APR

1.95% Balance Transfer Rate 1.95% for first 6 months (19.95% after that)

19.95% Cash Advance APR

3.00% Balance Transfer Fee 3% of the amount transferred, or minimum of $5

$0 Annual Fee

2.50% Foreign Transaction Fee

Fair Recommended Credit Score

$60,000 Required Annual Personal Income

Welcome Offer Ends Apr 30, 2024

Get an extra 10% cash back on up to $1,000 in everyday purchases within your first 2 months. Get 1.95% interest on balance transfers for your first 6 months.

Learn more
  • Why the Tangerine World is better than the Tangerine Money-back for cash back

    +

    Don't get me wrong. There are all kinds of reasons to love the Tangerine Money-Back Mastercard.

    Side by side, neither card charges an annual fee, they have the exact same welcome offer, unlimited money-back rewards on categories of your choosing, too.

    The Tangerine World Mastercards also includes Boingo Wi-Fi access, credit card car rental insurance, mobile device insurance, and a Mastercard Travel Pass by DragonPass (though you'll need to pay per visit, at least your membership fees are covered).

    So, why wouldn't everyone go for the card with more perks? Two words: Income requirements. The Money-Back card doesn't need much in the way of credit score and a minimum income requirement of $12,000 whereas the World Mastercard requires a good credit score and at least $60k personal or $100k household income per year.

Best Mastercard for Costco

MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard

30,000 MBNA offers up to a 30,000-point welcome bonus

5 You get five points‡ per dollar spent on groceries, restaurants, digital media, memberships, and household utilities

1 All other purchases outside those categories earn one point per $1 spent.

19.99% Purchase APR

22.99% Balance Transfer Rate

24.99% Cash Advance APR

$120 Annual Fee

Good Recommended Credit Score

$80,000 Required Annual Personal Income

Welcome Offer

Earn up to 30,000 bonus MBNA Rewards Points†† for cash back, gift cards and more.

Learn more
  • Why MBNA beats out the CIBC Costco Mastercard

    +

    The average rate of return on the MBNA card is better. The CIBC COstco card gives you 3% cash back on Costco gas and restaurants and 2% cash back on gas elsewhere. But no big rewards for your impulse buys at Costco?

    You'll also need a Costco membership to apply, which in all honesty, you'll still need if you plan on shopping at Costco anyway. Oh, the CIBC card is not a true cash back card. Your "rewards" are paid out once per year in the form of a rebate coupon to be used when you checkout.

    So, we recommend the MBNA Rewards World Elite where you can earn 5 points for every $1 on restaurants, groceries, and recurring bills. Plus, you'll get the MBNA Birthday points up to a max of 15,000 points (roughly $75) every year.

Best AIR MILES mastercard

BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®*

3x Cardholders earn an accelerated 3x the Miles per $12 spent at participating AIR MILES partners*,

2x 2x the Miles for every $12 spent at any eligible grocery store* and a flat 1 Mile for every $12 in credit card purchases at all other merchants*. O

20.99% Purchase APR

23.99% Balance Transfer Rate

23.99% Cash Advance APR

$120 Annual Fee

Good Recommended Credit Score

$80,000 Required Annual Personal Income

Welcome Offer

Get 2,000 AIR MILES Bonus Miles!

Learn more
  • Why we like the AIR MILES World Elite over the no-fee AIR MILES card

    +

    To start, It's the best AIR MILES credit card in Canada. It has this incredible ability to rack up the reward miles—1 mile for every $12 you spend on all your purchases, double the miles with groceries, and if you happen to shop with Air Miles partners you can get 3x the miles. BMO also gives you an added bonus when redeeming your miles—a 25% discount on required miles once per year.

    Its loaded with all the insurance and they'll waive the $120 annual fee for the first year.

    However, there are income requirements: $80,000 personal or $150,000 household. If you don't qualify, consider the BMO AIR MILES Mastercard.

Best Mastercard for groceries

PC® World Elite Mastercard®

45 points * 45 points per $1 spent at Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix

30 points At least 30 points per litre of gas purchased at Esso™ or Mobil™ stations

30 points At least 30 points per $1 spent on PC Travel services

30 points 30 points per $1 spent at Loblaw Banner Grocery Stores (includes Loblaws, No Frills, Valu-Mart, Independent Grocers, Zehrs, Real Canadian Superstore, Fortinos, etc.)

21.99% Purchase APR

21.99% Balance Transfer Rate

22.97% Cash Advance APR

$0 Annual Fee

Fair Recommended Credit Score

$80,000 Required Annual Personal Income

Welcome Offer

Earn 30 points per $1 spent at PC grocery stores

Learn more
  • Why PC wins for the best grocery rewards Mastercard

    +

    The PC® World Elite Mastercard® is one of Canada’s best credit cards for earning back on groceries, and is a particularly good option for those who are allergic to annual fees and who shop regularly at Loblaw banner stores, like Loblaws, No Frills, and Real Canadian Superstore.

    The card earns 30 PC Optimum™ points per $1 spent at Loblaw banner grocery stores (a 3% return rate); 30 points per litre of gas purchased at Canadian Esso™ and Mobil™ stations; 45 points per $1 at Shoppers Drug Mart or Pharmaprix; 30 points per $1 on PC travel services; and 10 points per $1 on everything else.

    Sponsored advertising. President’s Choice Financial® Mastercard® is provided by President’s Choice Bank. The PC Optimum™ program is provided by President's Choice Services Inc. President’s Choice Bank is not responsible for the contents of this site, including any editorials or reviews that may appear on this site. For complete information regarding the PC® Mastercard®, PC® World Mastercard®, or PC® World Elite Mastercard®, please click on the “Apply Now” or other applicable button.

Best low interest Mastercard

MBNA True Line® Gold Mastercard®

8.99 8.99% interest rate on purchases and 8.99%✪ on balance transfers

8.99% Purchase APR

8.99% Balance Transfer Rate

24.99% Cash Advance APR

$39 Annual Fee

Good Recommended Credit Score

Welcome Offer

Get up to 1.5% cash back on your day-to-day purchases

Learn more
  • Why we like MBNA for the Mastercard with lowest interest rate

    +

    If you’re committed to eliminating your credit card debt and are willing to pay a small annual fee in exchange for lower interest, the MBNA True Line® Gold Mastercard® is a top choice. The card offers competitively low rates on balance transfers, 8.99%✪, and purchases, 8.99%, which could save you hundreds if not thousands over those other high 20%+ interest rates you’re probably paying. These rates afford the cardholder with some ease when it comes to paying down their credit card debt, a feature well worth the card’s $39 annual fee. Just avoid cash advances with this card, as they’re subject to a crushing 24.99% interest rate, which is rather out of step with its low purchase and balance transfer rates.

    Interest rates aside, other notable features for the MBNA True Line® Gold Mastercard® are relatively scant, though cardholders do benefit from purchase assurance and extended warranty protection.

    ✪, Terms and Conditions apply.

    This offer is not available for residents of Quebec.

    Sponsored advertising. MBNA is a division of The Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) and TD is not responsible for the contents of this site including any editorials or reviews that may appear on this site. For complete information on this MBNA credit card, please click on the “Apply Now” button

    The Toronto-Dominion Bank is the issuer of this credit card. MBNA is a division of The Toronto-Dominion Bank. ®MBNA and other-trademarks are the property of The Toronto-Dominion Bank.

Best Student Mastercard

BMO CashBack® Mastercard®* for Students

3% Earn 3% cash back on groceries

1% Earn 1% cash back on recurring bill payments like your mobile phone, streaming and subscription services

0.5% Earn 0.5% cash back on all other purchases

20.99% Purchase APR

22.99% Cash Advance APR

$0 Annual Fee

Good Recommended Credit Score

$0 Required Annual Personal Income

Welcome Offer

Get 5% cash back in your first 3 months.1

Learn more
  • Why BMO wins the best Mastercard for students

    +

    The BMO CashBack® Mastercard®* for Students offers great cash back rates on groceries but doesn’t charge an annual fee, the perfect combination for students with meagre budgets.

    New cardholders start off earning at a special 5% cash back rate for the first three months, on up to $2,500 in purchases (max $125 in cash back)*. After that you’ll earn 3% cash back on groceries (up to $500 spent on groceries per month); 1% back on recurring bills (up to $500 spent per month); and 0.5% back on everything else*. The card also offers purchase protection* and extended warranty coverage*, rental car discounts*, as well as discounts on Cirque du Soleil shows touring Canada and in Las Vegas*.

    *Terms and conditions apply

Summary of best Mastercards in Canada

Best Canadian Mastercards Best for Get started
BMO CashBack® World Elite®* Mastercard®* High earn rates on everyday spending categories Apply now
BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®* Value for travel Apply now
MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard No annual fee and flexible point redemption Apply now
Tangerine World Mastercard® Cash back, no annual fee Apply now
MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard Costco purchases Apply now
BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®* Air Miles Apply now
PC® World Elite Mastercard® Groceries and drugstore purchases (Loblaws, No Frills, Shoppers) Apply now
MBNA True Line® Gold Mastercard® Low interest Apply now
BMO CashBack® Mastercard®* for Students Students Apply now

What is Mastercard?

Mastercard is a global payments and technology company that operates a payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments, and businesses in many countries around the world, including Canada.

In Canada, Mastercard is one of the major credit card networks, alongside Visa and American Express. They offer a range of credit card products through various Canadian banks and financial institutions, with different levels of rewards, benefits, and credit requirements. Mastercard credit cards are widely accepted in Canada, both in physical stores and online.

Mastercard in Canada also actively participates in digital payment solutions and innovations. For instance, they have been involved in the development and implementation of contactless payments and mobile payment platforms, like Apple Pay and Google Pay, where Mastercard holders can add their cards to these services for easy and secure payments.

In addition to consumer-focused services, Mastercard provides various business solutions in Canada, including payment processing, data analytics, and cybersecurity services. These are designed to help businesses manage their financial transactions more efficiently and securely.

What is the difference between Visa and Mastercard?

Visa and Mastercard are both major global payment networks, but they differ mainly in the specific benefits and partnerships they offer, rather than in their fundamental function. Both networks provide the infrastructure for processing transactions and are accepted worldwide, but they do not issue cards themselves. Instead, banks and financial institutions issue cards branded with Visa or Mastercard, and these issuers may offer different interest rates, rewards, fees, and benefits.

The differences for consumers often come down to:

  1. 1.

    Rewards and benefits: Each network may have exclusive deals or rewards programs. For example, Visa might offer special access to sporting events, while Mastercard might have different travel benefits.

  2. 2.

    International acceptance: While both are widely accepted globally, in some regions, one might be more prevalent than the other.

  3. 3.

    Security features: Both networks offer fraud protection, but the specifics can vary.

  4. 4.

    Card tiers: Both offer different card tiers (like standard, gold, platinum) with varying benefits.

For most consumers, the differences are minimal in everyday use. The choice between Visa and Mastercard often depends more on the specific card issuer's offer, like the interest rate, annual fee, and rewards, rather than the payment network itself.

Frequently asked questions about Mastercard

  • Does Costco accept Mastercard?

    +

    Costco Canada accepts Mastercard credit cards for in-store purchases, reflecting a shift from their earlier exclusive partnership with American Express. Online, Costco.ca may accept a wider range of payment methods.

    How do I activate a prepaid Mastercard?

    To activate a prepaid Mastercard, call the phone number or visit the website provided on the card's packaging. Follow the instructions, usually requiring the card's number and security details. Activation might also involve setting a PIN.

  • How do you pay a Mastercard bill online?

    +

    To pay a Mastercard bill online, log into your card issuer's online banking or mobile app. Navigate to the payments section, select the Mastercard account, enter the payment amount, and choose a funding source (usually a bank account). Confirm the details and submit the payment. Payment processing times vary by issuer.

  • Is Mastercard accepted everywhere?

    +

    Mastercard is widely accepted globally but not everywhere. Acceptance depends on the merchant and location. Some businesses, especially in remote or smaller regions, may prefer other payment methods or specific card networks.

  • Who owns Mastercard

    +

    Mastercard is a publicly traded company, owned by its shareholders. It is not owned by any single entity, but rather by the collective group of individuals and institutional investors who hold its stock—MA on NYSE.

BMO is not responsible for maintaining the content on this site. Please click on the Apply now link for the most up to date information. 

About our authors: faces of finance

Nate Siegel
Nate Siegel, Author

Nathan Siegel has a professional and educational passion for finance. He follows trends in the Canadian banking sector, compares competing products, and pores over fine print to make personal finance choices easier for Canadian consumers. In his spare time he loves running, swimming, and dogs of all kinds.

Tyler Wade
Tyler Wade, Content strategist & writer

Tyler Wade has worked in personal finance for over 5 years writing for brands like Ratehub, Forbes, KOHO, and now Money.ca. He was the host and producer of the Real Money Talk podcast. He's the father of two, husband to one, and loves all things tiny.

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