Best credit card combinations
Card Combo Best Combo For... Combined Annual Fees Estimated Annual Cash Back/Rewards Value
CIBC Dividend® Visa Infinite* Card + Tangerine World Mastercard Maximum Cash Back See terms + $0 $920
Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card + Home Trust Preferred Visa Maximum Travel Rewards $120 + $0 $580
BMO CashBack® Mastercard®* + SimplyCashTM Card from American Express No Annual Fee Cash Back $0 + $0 $245
Home Trust Secured Visa* + KOHO Extra Card Building Credit + Earning Cash Back $0 + $84 (or $9/month) $200.5

Best combo for maximum cash back

CIBC Dividend® Visa Infinite* Card + Tangerine World Mastercard

Let’s say you belong to an average Canadian family; you and your spouse fork over a massive amount of money feeding two insatiable kids and toting them to and from school and extracurricular activities. Groceries and gas take major chunks out of your budget, but you have a number of other expenditures to boot and you want to earn extra cash back in as many categories as possible. The CIBC Dividend® Visa Infinite* Card‘s enhanced cash back rates (after the Welcome Offer ends 4% on eligible gas, EV charging, and grocery purchases†; 2% on eligible transportation, dining purchases and recurring payments†) pair well with the Tangerine World Mastercard, which allows you to cherry-pick 2-3 complementary spending categories where you’ll earn extra cash back. For the purposes of this exercise we chose drug store and home improvement spending, but your preferred categories will of course vary. The card combination also provides you with a number of other benefits like a complimentary Mastercard® Travel Pass Provided by DragonPass, insurance, and free Wi-Fi access.

Estimated annual spending/cash back

Best combo for maximum cash back
Credit Card Groceries + Gas + EV Charging Recurring Bills + Restaurants + Transit Drug Store + Home Improvement Other Spending Estimated Annual Cash Back Earned
CIBC Dividend® Visa Infinite* Card $14,000 spent (4% back† ) $6,000 spent (2% back† ) $0 $16,000 spent (1% back† ) $840
Tangerine World Mastercard $0 spent $0 spent $3,900 spent (2% back) $0 spent $80

This offer is not available for residents of Quebec.
†Terms and Conditions Apply

This is a digital-exclusive offer.† To be eligible for this offer:  

  1. this offer must have been directly communicated to you from CIBC or from a partner/affiliate; and 
  2. you must apply for the eligible card through the link provided in the CIBC or partner/affiliate communication to you.† This offer is reserved for you. Please do not forward it to anyone else. 

CIBC may approve your application, but you are not eligible to receive this Offer if you have opened, transferred or cancelled another Dividend card within the last 12 months.† This offer is not available for residents of Quebec.

Best combo for massive travel rewards

Scotiabank Gold American Express® card + Home Trust Preferred Visa

You’re a globetrotting, cosmopolitan bon vivant, and the best way to support your adventurous spirit is to earn enough travel rewards points on your everyday spending to redeem for free flights every year. The Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card is like a mint for earning flexible Scene+ points on your regular purchases, earning 6X Scene+ points¹ for every $1 CAD you spend in Canada at eligible grocers like Sobeys; 5X Scene+ points¹ per $1 CAD spent on other eligible groceries, restaurants, and entertainment; and 3X Scene+ points¹ per $1 CAD spent on gas, local transit, and select streaming services. But it is, after all, an Amex. And although the number of places where Amex is accepted has increased, you won’t be able to use it at every merchant, particularly in Europe. That’s why it’s great to also have a no annual fee Visa on hand for the occasional purchase where your Amex isn’t accepted. Enter the Home Trust Preferred Visa, which waives foreign transaction fees and earns 1% cash back1 in CAD purchases, so your bases are covered whether you’re in Canada or overseas. The combo’s only noticeable weakness is that it doesn’t provide free airport lounge access, though the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card at least provides a discount on Priority Pass memberships.

Conditions Apply. Visit here for the Scotiabank Gold American Express® card to learn more. *See Card Provider's website and Card Application for complete card details, terms and current offers. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accuracy of information.

The below calculations are based on potential earnings for a single cardholder; if you’re part of a couple or family you of course would earn significantly more. Figures are estimated for making about 85% of Canadian purchases and 70% of foreign purchases with the Amex and the remaining purchases with the Visa.

Estimated annual spending/cash back

Best combo for massive travel rewards
Credit Card Groceries + Restaurants + Entertainment Gas + Local Transit + Streaming Services Other Spending (Canada) Other Spending (Foreign) Estimated Annual Rewards/Cash Back Earned
Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card $8,700 spent (5 pts p/$1) $2,250 spent (3 pts p/$1) $3,800 spent (1 pt p/$1) $1,400 spent (1 pt p/$1) 55,450 points = $554.5 when redeemed for travel
Home Trust Preferred Visa $1,500 spent (1% cash back) $350 spent (1% cash back) $700 spent (1% cash back) $600 spent (no cash back) $25.5 cash back

1 Cash advances, balance transfers, interest, fees and foreign transactions (including online purchases in foreign currencies) are not eligible for CashBack Rewards.

Best combo for no annual fee cash back

BMO CashBack® Mastercard®* + SimplyCashTM card from American Express

You’re single and working hard to steadily develop your career, but you don’t quite meet the annual income requirements to qualify for some of the upper-tier cash back cards. What’s more, even if your income level did allow you to qualify, your more frugal instincts just can’t stomach the thought of paying an annual fee for a credit card. Fortunately the BMO CashBack Mastercard®* and SimplyCashTM Card from American Express make a great no annual fee card combo to earn as much cash back as possible at no set cost to you. The BMO card’s 3% cash back rate on groceries* will earn back on what’s probably your biggest expense category; the rest of your purchases you can put on the SimplyCashTM Card from American Express, which earns 1.25% back on everything (provided the merchant accepts Amex). We estimate that combining the two cards will earn $245 for the below annual spending profile; just remember that cards without annual fees come with drawbacks—the BMO card’s 3% earn rate on groceries only applies to the first $500 spent per monthly statement*. If your grocery bills are far higher than that—as they likely will be for, say, a growing family—consider biting the bullet and paying an annual fee for a cash back card with higher spending limits.

Estimated annual spending/cash back

Best combo for no annual fee cash back
Credit Card Groceries Other Spending Total Cash Back
BMO CashBack® Mastercard®* $4,000 spent (3%*) $0 spent $120
SimplyCashTM Card from American Express $0 spent $10,000 spent (1.25%) $125

Best combo for building credit + earning cash back

Home Trust Secured Visa* + KOHO Extra Card

Your credit score is lowish (below, say, 650) and unfortunately you don’t qualify for entry-level cash back or rewards credit cards. You want to take out a secured credit card in an effort to improve your credit score, but you’re bummed that secured cards usually earn bupkes cash back or rewards points. Not to fret; there’s still an effective strategy you can use to both build your credit score and earn back on what you spend: Put about ⅓ of your spending on a secured credit card, like the Home Trust Secured Visa*, while putting the remaining ⅔ of your spending on a prepaid card that earns rewards, like the KOHO Extra Card. Regularly repaying the balance on your Home Trust Secured Visa* allows you to gradually build up your credit score, and the KOHO Extra Card will meanwhile earn cash back on all its purchases, with an enhanced 2% on Groceries, Transportation, Eating & Drinking, and 0.5% all other categories. You’ll earn up to 6% extra cash back at partnered merchants. The great thing about prepaid cards like KOHO is that your credit score has no bearing on your approval. And after some time passes and you’ve built up your credit score a bit with the secured card, you can choose to either stick with the prepaid card or gravitate toward a traditional unsecured credit card.

KOHO also offers Credit Building by KOHO, an optional tool that helps you fast track your Credit Building journey.

Estimated annual spending/cash back

Best combo for no annual fee cash back
Credit Card Groceries Restaurants Gas and Transit Other Spending Estimated Annual Cash Back
KOHO Extra Card $6,000 spent (2%) $1,500 spent (2%) $1,200 spent (2%) $5,300 spent (0.5%) $200.5
Home Trust Secured Visa* $0 spent $0 spent $0 spent $7,000 spent N/A

Fidelity is overrated

Remember, credit cards have neither feelings nor divorce lawyers. Choosing the right mix of cards can ensure you’re covered in every direction, optimizing your ability to earn back on what you spend, improving your credit utilization ratio, and ensuring you’re covered in benefits from head to toe.

If you’d like to spruce up your rewards even further, periodically review our list of cards with really attractive welcome offers and try out new combinations from time to time. Nabbing multiple cards with great sign-up bonuses can kickstart your earnings into overdrive, particularly if the cards have first year annual fee waivers and low spending requirements to get their bonuses. Though our recommended combinations above are for only two cards at a time, you might elect to add a third into the mix. Just be careful not to lose track of your spending—the right number of credit cards varies from one individual to a next, and three or more cards may be a recipe for success in some cases and for disaster in others.

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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.

American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details and current product information click the Apply now link. Conditions apply.

Cory Santos Finance editor

Cory Santos is a finance writer, editor and credit card expert with over seven years of experience in personal finance. Cory joined Wise Publishing from BestCards, with bylines in numerous print and digital publications across North America, including the Miami Herald, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, AOL, MSN and Medium as well as financial podcasts like KOFE Talk.

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