The Ultimate No Fee Cash Back Credit Card Portfolio

In this feature of Rewards Canada’ Ultimate Credit Card Portfolios we look at the ultimate one for earning cash back without
paying annual fees on any of the cards. We have always recommended that
you should carry a Visa, a Mastercard and an American Express card in
your wallet and that’s what these portfolios encompass. The reason why
is that there are benefits, promotions and earning potential unique to
each brand of credit card. We won’t go into detail here as you can read
all about it in our feature on how to Maximize your Miles and Points
but in this feature we outline one card from each brand that will help
you build up those cash back returns faster than ever all the while not
taking a dime out of your pocket for annual fees. Ultimately there are
various options that could be utilized for a no fee cash back portfolio
but we look at one card from each issuing family that provide the
strongest cash back earning along with some added benefits.

What is Rewards Canada’s Ultimate No Fee Cash Back Credit Card Wallet? It is the following three cards

American Express – SimplyCash™ Card from American Express

Mastercard – Rogers World Elite Mastercard

Visa – Scotia Momentum® No-Fee Visa* card

In this portfolio you have three really good
cash back offerings considering these cards have no annual fees. You
have one card that provides strong earn rates, the Rogers World Elite
Mastercard which use to have a position in our Ultimate Cash Back Credit Card Portfolio
(with annual fees) until it was slightly devalued. So while it may have
lost contention among annual fee cash back cards this card remains as
one of the best no fee rewards cards in the market. Then you have two
other cards, the SimplyCash Card from American Express and the Scotia
Momentum No-Fee Visa card which have very strong welcome bonuses to kick
off your cash back journey!

Recommended reading: Canada’s Top Cash Back Credit Cards 2021


How to maximize your cash back earning with this portfolio:

First let’s look at earn rates and category bonuses:

  SimplyCash™ Card from American Express Rogers World Elite Mastercard Scotia Momentum® No-Fee Visa* card
Welcome Bonus 4% on all purchases up to $5,000 in first six months $25 cash back on your first purchase in the first three months 5% on all purchases up to $2,000 in first three months
Groceries 1.25% 1.5% 1%
Gas 1.25% 1.5% 1%
Drug Store 1.25% 1.5% 1%
Recurring Bills 1.25% 1.5% 1%
US$ Purchases 1.25% 3% 0.5%
All other spending 1.25% 1.5% 0.5%

Here is how you will want to break down your spending to maximize your cash back earning with this portfolio:

Initial spending for welcome bonuses: At
time of posting this updated portfolio two of the three cards had
limited time increased welcome bonus offers in play. To maximum those
bonuses you need spend $7,000 combined between the two cards so ideally
you’ll want to space your applications and use of the cards so you are
not overwhelmed in reaching those requirements. The first step would be
to get the welcome bonus out of the way on the Rogers World Elite
Mastercard since that one is simply awarded with the first purchase you
make on the card. One purchase and you have $25 in your pocket. Next I
would focus on the Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa Card as its welcome offer
of 5% cash back on all purchases is limited to the first three months
of having the card. You can get that 5% back on up to $2,000 in
purchases and once you have that there’s one hundred more dollars in
your pocket. Next up is your SimplyCash Card and this one you’ll get 4%
back on all purchases up to $5,000 and the good news is you have six
months to earn that bonus. Once complete you can add $200 in your pocket
for a total of $325 cash back!

Now that the welcome bonuses are out of the way here’s how you’ll want to use your cards for your everyday spending:

When you look at the earn chart above this is
pretty simple. Essentially you want to use your Rogers World Elite
Mastercard for all your purchases. It earns the most cash back out of
the three cards. If for some reason a retailer doesn’t accept Mastercard
(which is super rare) you’ll want to use your American Express card and
if that doesn’t work then the Scotia Visa card. Ultimately Amex and
Visa will be in your wallet to use when there are exclusive promotions
for those card brands. For example there are promotions where you can
get discounts when you pay with a Visa card only and then American
Express has their Amex Offers which are exclusive promotions from
merchants for using your Amex card.

Recommended reading: Rewards Canada’s Guide to American Express Canada ‘Amex Offers’

There is one item of contention that might
affect this portfolio for a lot of Canadians and that’s the income
requirements for the Rogers World Elite Mastercard. Being a World Elite
Mastercard the card requires a minimum income of $80,000 for personal or
$150,000 household to apply for it. If you fall under those amounts you
won’t be able to apply for that card. You could go for the Fido Mastercard
as has no set income requirements. The big difference between the World
Elite and Platinum version is the latter will only earn 1% cash back
everywhere except for recurring payments and subscriptions where it will
earn 1.5% cash back. The Fido Mastercard also does not come with as
much insurance coverage and additional benefits like the World Elite
card. You could also look at the BMO CashBack® MasterCard®*
if income requirements are an issue – that card offers 3% cash back on
grocery purchases, 1% on recurring bills and 0.5% on everything else so
it is an ideal card for groceries. If you end up going with one of these
other cards your spending habits will need to shift as you’ll see the
SimplyCash card would now be your biggest earner (except for groceries
if you get the BMO card) and it would be the card you utilize most. 

The Ultimate No Fee Cash Back Credit Card Portfolio: 



Other Card Options:

There is a Visa card option that will earn you a
straight 1% cash back on all purchases, which is little bit better
than what the Scotia Momentum No Fee Visa Card provides and that is the
Home Trust Preferred Visa Card. There are two reasons we didn’t place
the Home Trust card ahead of the Scotia card however. The first is that
it lacks a welcome bonus offer but the second and more important reason
is the Home Trust card is not available to residents of Quebec and since
we try to make these portfolios workable for Canadians from coast to
coast to coast we couldn’t place it as the main Visa option. If you live
outside of Quebec you could really give the Home Trust card a shot so
that you are earning 1% across the board.

On the Mastercard front there are quite a few additional options for you. We already covered two of them – the Fido Mastercard and the BMO CashBack® MasterCard®*.
Both are good alternatives should you not be able to meet the income
requirements of the Rogers World Elite Mastercard. Then you also have Roger’s Platinum Mastercard
which is a straight 1% back card except for U.S. purchases where it
will earn 3%. Some other no fee Mastercard options include the PC Financial portfolio of cards however you are limited in your cash back as you can only redeem at the Loblaw family of stores.

For American Express there is really only one other no fee option and that is the Choice Card from American Express.
It isn’t a true cash back card however you can redeem the points for
any eligible purchases made on the card at a rate of 1,000 points for
$10 which is a 1% return on this card. With this card you then still
have the option to redeem points for travel or convert to a program like
Marriott Bonvoy.

Talk to us!

What do you find works best for you for earning the most Cash Back? Do you use these three cards exactly as laid out above or do you use a different combination? ell us in the comments section below or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter!