Are you looking to raise your credit score? One of the best ways to improve your credit is to look into no-fee credit cards. These credit cards are great for people on a budget and people who want to improve their credit without having to pay a lot of money annually.
There are plenty of options for no-fee credit cards, so choosing the best one for you is easy.
Not sure where to get started? Let's talk about it. Keep reading for the pros and cons of some of the best no-fee credit cards in Canada so you can choose the right card and start building your credit.
Before we get down to some of our favourite no-fee cards, let's talk about why you might want one of them for yourself.
These cards are great for people who are just starting out. When you're building your credit, or getting used to how credit cards work and your spending habits, these cards are a less risky place to start.
They're also great for people who don't often use credit cards. Because there are no fees, you aren't wasting money on a card that spends most of its time unused.
On the other hand, even if you're already an experienced credit card user who has several cards in their wallets, a no-fee card can fill in the gaps. For example, if you only have Visa cards but a business doesn't happen to accept Visa, you can have a no-fee Mastercard to use instead.
In other words, everyone can benefit from having no-fee credit cards in their wallets.
The first card on our list is the Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa Card. This is a popular choice amongst Canadians looking for a no-fee option, but is it the best?
Take a look at some of the pros and cons of this card, as well as what features you can expect when you sign up.
This is a popular card for a reason. When you choose the Scotia Momentum No-Fee credit card, you get cashback for every purchase.
You get .5% cashback for any and all eligible purchases that aren't covered by the soon to be discussed categories. That means that you're earning every time you spend. These purchases have no limit on cashback.
The basic necessities, such as groceries and regular bills, earn you 1% cashback for every dollar that you spend. These necessities also include health and dining services.
You also get 1% cashback on transportation. This includes any gas purchases as well as rideshares such as Lyft and Uber.
For the first 6 months, you're only charged 7.99% interest. For someone who needs to make a large purchase that may carry over into the following months, this is a great time to get this card.
So what else is good about this card?
First, you get a discount on rental car fees from certain rental locations (namely, Budget rental and AVIS rental locations). The discount is a hefty 25% when you put the purchase on your Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa Card.
You can add secondary cardholders for no added fee. This means that your Scotia rewards add up faster so you're able to get the most out of your card.
You can also use this card from your smartphone, making your money accessible anytime even if you leave the card at home by mistake.
Like many no-fee cards, there's no welcome bonus (aside from the lowered interest rates for the first few months).
There's no insurance associated with this card, but you do have the option to upgrade with different types of bundles that help you with any excessive health fees or outstanding situations.
They include job loss, death benefits, disability, and more. These do come with an added fee, though.
Overall, this is a handy little card with several tempting perks and not many downsides, all things considered.
Another top player in the credit card game is the Scotia Momentum Mastercard. Mastercards are accepted nearly everywhere (like the other cards on our list) and the Momentum Mastercard is a no-fee option.
Let's talk about why this card may or may not be for you.
Similar to the Visa, you get 1% cashback on things like groceries, gas, pharmacy, and other things that can be deemed "essential." Also, like the Visa, you receive .5% cashback for every other eligible purchase.
You can consolidate all of your repeating payments onto this card so you get cashback on all of them with no extra effort on your own part. Like the Visa card, you also can add another cardholder for free so you can rack up your reward points more quickly.
As with the Visa, you also get the 7.99% interest for the first 6 months before it jumps to 19.99%.
Mastercard gives you access to Mastercard Experiences (both digital and in-person).
It has a low minimum income (at $12,000) making it accessible to spenders in all income brackets. It also gives you liability protection so you're protected against fraud, and you're able to use it with your mobile phone or as a touchless card.
Like the Visa, the Mastercard gives you 25% off of car rentals through AVIS and Budget rental locations in both Canada and the United States. It's also the only card that's accepted by Costco in Canada, so if you're a bulk shopper, this is the way to go.
Finally, you get 24-7 service through Mastercard Global Service if you've lost a card or you identify suspicious activity.
So what's wrong with this little card?
The Scotiabank Momentum Mastercard doesn't have all of the bells and whistles that some cards with higher fees have. This is often the cost of no-fee and low-income cards. While the cashback is helpful, it isn't near as impressive as other Mastercards that do charge fees.
There is a minimum fee of $3.99 if you need to make a cash advance, which may be off-putting to some cardholders. You have to pay over 22% for balance transfers, so if this is important to you, you may want to consider choosing a different card.
In short, this is a good card for building credit but it won't be the best option for anyone who wants to earn rewards on more than just the most basic purchases. It's a good starting point with a decent amount of earning potential and some solid benefits. Just don't expect the perks of a more expensive card.
Now we get to the final option as far as big players in the no-fee cards go. The Scotiabank American Express card is another tried-and-true reliable card that won't cost you a monthly fee. It's another card that's great for people with lower income levels.
Let's talk about why this card may or may not be for you.
The rewards system is really easy to understand for this card. For every dollar that you spend on eligible purchases, you get one Scotia Rewards point. These points can be used on all kinds of things including credits, experiences, and items from several top brands.
You get 5,000 extra points as an introductory reward if you spend $500 on eligible purchases, which is very accessible.
You can change these points into SCENE points if that's more convenient for you, or you can donate your points to charity if you don't feel that you need them.
You get access to the Scotia Rewards Travel Service when you book your trip through the Scotiabank American Express Card. This is a full-service travel agency that will make your trip a breeze.
You get protection through product and warranty insurance. This protects you against theft and may also save you money if there was a price drop in a recent purchase so long as the drop was within 60 days after purchase.
American Express often has special promotional offers that aren't accessible to holders of other payment processing cards. These include live (and virtual) experiences and significant discounts at major retailers.
American Express offers great customer service. As with Mastercard, you get 24-7 service in the event that you have any questions, concerns, or if you believe that someone else is using your card. If you lose your card, you can contact American Express at any time to prevent losses.
Finally, if you're someone who likes to travel, Scotiabank American Express card offers travel insurance. You're covered for flight interruption, emergency medical service, and travel accident insurance.
With this great travel bonus, you also get the customary 25% off of Budget and AVIS rental cars from qualifying locations.
So what's not to love about the Scotia American Express card? It's a great little card with a lot of benefits, but it does have some downsides.
As with the other no-fee cards, this card is lacking in the rewards department. There are, of course, plenty of perks (some of which outshine the perks of the other cards), but they pale in comparison to the benefits of cards that have an annual fee.
While you do get points for all eligible purchases, the point values on other paid membership cards are higher. You have to consider the amount that you'd be paying for the fees in comparison to the overall value of the points. If the points outweigh the fees, it may be best to pick a paid membership card.
American Express isn't as common as the other cards are overseas. This makes it limiting if it's the only card that you have on hand, especially if you chose it for travel-specific purposes. If you already a Visa or a Mastercard, though, this is a non-issue.
There's also no cashback option for this card. While you can get gift cards and prepaid cards, you'll have to consider if the rewards and perks outweigh the benefits of cash back.
So, who wins in the no-fee credit card game?
When you're trying to pick the best no annual fee credit card, consider your needs and spending habits. All of the cards here are great for people who need to build credit or who haven't had credit cards in the past.
They help you adapt to spending and acquiring credit without paying extra annual fees.
The first two on our list, the Mastercard and the Visa, are great for people who want a simple cashback system when they're shopping. American Express uses points instead, but those points are valuable, especially for travelers.
We love the American Express card for its perks, but if you don't want Scotia Rewards points, both the Visa and the Mastercard have very similar benefits, and you won't have any issues using them as they're commonly accepted.
No-fee credit cards are a great way to build credit and they're good for experienced spenders as a spare card in the event that their primary card isn't accepted.
All of these options are great; it boils down to what kinds of benefits you need from your credit card.
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