10 Best Credit Cards for Newcomers to Canada

This Page's Content Was Last Updated: July 31, 2023
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What You Should Know

  • Getting a credit card is usually the first step in building your credit history in Canada as a newcomer.
  • All major Canadian banks offer credit cards to newcomers as part of their newcomer banking program.
  • Most credit cards available to newcomers have no annual fee or have a first-year fee waiver.
  • Newcomers can get unsecured, secured, and prepaid credit cards in Canada.
  • New immigrants who have lived in Canada for less than five years can usually qualify for newcomer offers with Canadian banks.
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Newcomers to Canada do not have a credit history in the country and may not be approved for just any credit card available in the market. However, most banks offer some of their credit cards as a part of newcomer banking programs and packages that newcomers can get approved for. Meanwhile, new immigrants can also get secured credit cards, and students have the option of getting a student credit card.

It is important for newcomers to start building their credit history in Canada as soon as they arrive, as it can help them get easily approved for better mortgage rates, loans, and better credit cards in the future. Getting a credit card is the easiest way to start building your credit score. Listed below are some of the best newcomer programs and credit cards for newcomers in Canada.

Best 5-Year Fixed Mortgage Rates in Canada CanadaLeaf
Mortgage Term:
Fixed
Variable
Credit CardAnnual FeeRate of Rewards
Neo Secured Mastercard$0
  • 5% average cash back at partner stores
  • 0.5% guaranteed cash back
Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa Card$0
  • 4% cash back at restaurants, bars, and coffee shops (on the first $5,000 spent annually)
  • 1.5% cash back on gas, grocery and drug store (on the first $15,000 spent annually)
Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite$150 (first-year waived)
  • 3X points at Sobeys, IGA, Foodland, and other grocery partners
  • 2X points at other groceries and on gas, daily transit, and streaming services
  • 1X Scene+ points on all other eligible purchases
CIBC Dividend Platinum Visa$99 (first-year waived)
  • 3% cash back on eligible gas, EV charging, and grocery purchases
  • 2% cash back on eligible dining, transit, and recurring bill payments
  • 1% cash back on everything else
BMO Cashback Mastercard$0
  • 3% cashback on groceries (on the first $500 spent per statement period)
  • 1% cash back on recurring bill payments (on the first $500 spent per statement period)
  • 0.5% unlimited cashback on everything else.
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card$0
  • 2% cash back in two categories of your choice.
  • 0.5% cash back on all other everyday purchases.
RBC Cash Back Mastercard$0
  • 2% cash back on groceries.
  • 1% cashback on all other eligible purchases.
TD Aeroplan Visa Platinum$89 (first-year waived)
  • 1 Aeroplan point per $1 spent on eligible gas and grocery, and direct through Air Canada
  • 1 Aeroplan point per $1.5 spent on all other purchases
Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa$0
  • 1% cashback on gas, grocery, drugstore purchases, and recurring bill payments.
  • 0.5% cash back on all other eligible purchases.
National Bank mycredit Mastercard$0
  • 1% cash back at restaurants and on pre-authorized payments.
  • 0.5% cashback on groceries and online purchases.

Newcomer Banking Packages Offered by Banks

A large number of immigrants and students move to Canada every year, making the newcomer banking space extremely competitive for banks. All the major Canadian banks offer special banking programs for these newcomers, offering several incentives to attract them. The banking programs usually include bank accounts and credit cards. Banks usually have offers on mortgages, investments, car loans, and other products for newcomers. Many banks offer cash incentives, free international transactions, and other freebies to newcomers for opening an account with them.

With a newcomer banking package, newcomers may be able to get a credit card with a credit limit of up to $15,000 without having a credit history in Canada and without having to pay a security deposit. It's also easier to get approved for a credit card with a newcomer banking package.

Banks also offer deals to newcomers on mortgages, loans, and investments.

Neo Credit Card for Newcomers

Neo Financial offers a secured credit card option for newcomers with no credit history in Canada. The Neo Secured Credit Card is a cashback credit card that offers guaranteed approval and no annual fees. Cardholders can earn an average of 5% cash back at Neo’s partners, along with up to 15% welcome bonuses on first-time purchases. Neo credit card has a minimum 0.5% cash back guarantee, which means they will top up your cash back if you haven’t received at least 0.5% cash back on your purchases in the month. The credit limit is equivalent to the security deposit you pay, with the minimum being $50.

Neo Secured Mastercard

Neo Secured Mastercard

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Annual Fee: $0
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Interest Rate: 19.99% Purchase,
22.99% Cash Advance
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Income Requirement: N/A
Sign Up Bonus
  • Up to 15% cash back for first-time purchases at partner stores.
Rewards +
  • 5% average cash back on purchases at partner stores.
  • 0.5% guaranteed cash back.
Additional Features
  • Customize perks with bundles.
  • Spending insights.
  • Virtual card.

Find out more about the best cash back credit cards in Canada.

Simplii Financial Newcomer Credit Card

Newcomers can get up to $1,300 in value in their first year with Simplii Financial’s newcomer banking program. Newcomers can apply for the banking program up to 12 months before moving to Canada or up to 5 years after they move. The banking program includes a no-fee chequing account and a Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa credit card, which is a no-fee credit card. Newcomers can get a credit limit of up to $10,000 without having a Canadian credit history.

With the chequing account, account holders can receive up to $400 cash incentive as a welcome bonus when they set up a direct deposit into the account. They can also get up to $300 when they send a Global Money Transfer with the new chequing account. Newcomers can also set up a high-interest savings account (HISA) with Simplii Financial.

Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa

Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa

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Annual Fee: $0
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Interest Rate: 19.99% Purchase,
22.99% Cash Advance
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Income Requirement: $15,000 household income
Sign Up Bonus
  • Up to 20% cash back on eligible gas, groceries, drugstore purchases, and pre-authorized payments for the first 3 months (up to $500 spend).
Rewards +
  • 4% cash back (on the first $5,000 spent in a year) on eligible restaurant, bar, and cafe purchases.
  • 1.5% cash back (on the first $15,000 spent in a year) on eligible gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases and pre-authorized payments.
  • 0.5% cash back on all other purchases.
Additional Features
  • Earn $125 on referrals.
  • Get cash back on sending money abroad.
  • 9.99% introductory interest for the first 3 months.
  • Show More

Scotiabank Newcomer Credit Cards

Newcomers can get up to $1,600 in value in their first year of banking in Canada with Scotiabank’s StartRight program. This includes a Preferred Package chequing account for a zero fee for the first year, a $350 welcome bonus with the chequing account, Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite credit card with up to $687 first-year value, and some other benefits.

Among the three Scotiabank credit cards available to newcomers, the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite is the top choice for many reasons. Newcomers can get this award-winning credit card for no annual fee for the first year and earn up to 35,000 bonus Scene+ points (up to $350 value) in the first year. Additionally, cardholders can earn 3X Scene+ points for every dollar spent at participating grocery stores and 2X points for dining, entertainment, and rideshare. The points can be collected and redeemed for travel, entertainment, and other purchases on the Scene+ website or mobile app. The card also comes with extensive insurance coverage, no foreign transaction fees, 6 complimentary airport lounge accesses, savings on car rentals, and many other benefits. This card has a minimum credit limit of $5,000, and newcomers can get a credit limit of up to $15,000.

Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite

Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite

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Annual Fee: $150 (first-year waived)
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Interest Rate: 20.99% Purchase,
22.99% Cash Advance
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Income Requirement: $60,000 personal or $100,000 household income
Sign Up Bonus
  • Up to 35,000 bonus Scene+ points in the first year.
Rewards +
  • 3X Scene+ points on groceries, including Sobeys, IGA, Safeway, Foodland, FreshCo, and more.
  • 2X Scene+ points on purchases at all other eligible groceries, food, food subscription, entertainment stores, gas, daily transit, and streaming services.
  • 1X Scene+ points on all other eligible purchases.
Additional Features
  • No FX fees.
  • Complimentary Avis Preferred Plus membership.
  • Complimentary Visa Airport Companion Program membership, with six complimentary lounge visits every year.
  • Show More

Find out more about the best no-fx fee credit cards in Canada.

Another Scotiabank credit card worth a mention is the Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa Card. This cashback credit card available to newcomers offers 5% cashback on all purchases (up to $2,000 in total purchases) for the first three months. After the three-month period, cardholders earn a 1% cash back on gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases and recurring bill payments.

Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa

Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa

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Annual Fee: $0
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Interest Rate: 20.99% Purchase,
22.99% Cash Advance
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Income Requirement: N/A
Sign Up Bonus
  • 5% cashback on all purchases (up to $2,000 in total purchases) for the first 3 months.
  • 0.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months.
Rewards +
  • 1% cashback on gas, grocery, drugstore purchases, and recurring bill payments.
  • 0.5% cash back on all other eligible purchases.
Additional Features
  • Discounts on Avis and Budget car rentals.

CIBC Newcomer Credit Card

Newcomers in Canada can open a CIBC Smart Account for Newcomers and pay no monthly fees for two years. The account comes with many benefits, including a cash incentive of $350 when the account holder satisfies a few conditions.

CIBC offers four credit cards to newcomers banking with them, including the CIBC Dividend Platinum Visa Card. This platinum cashback card comes with an annual fee of $99 but can potentially earn you much more cashback with its 3% cashback rate on gas and groceries and 2% cashback rate on dining, transportation, and recurring bill payments. The card also comes with auto rental collision/damage protection, common carrier accident insurance, and purchase protection.

CIBC Dividend Platinum Visa

CIBC Dividend Platinum Visa

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Annual Fee: $99 (first-year waived)
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Interest Rate: 20.99% Purchase,
22.99% Cash Advance (21.99% for Quebec residents)
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Income Requirement: $15,000 household income
Sign Up Bonus
  • First-year fee waived.
Rewards +
  • 3% cashback on gas and groceries.
  • 2% cash back on transit, dining, and recurring payments.
  • 1% cash back on everything else
Additional Features
  • Save up to 10¢ per liter at participating Pioneer, Fas Gas, Ultramar, and Chevron gas stations by linking your card with Journie Rewards.
  • Earn cash back when you send money abroad.
  • Common carrier accident insurance.
  • Show More

BMO Newcomer Credit Card

With the BMO NewStart Program, newcomers to Canada can get special banking offers, including the BMO Performance Plan chequing account and a no-fee credit card. To qualify for the program, individuals must have lived in Canada for five years or less. Newcomers can receive up to $1,141 in value when they open a Performance Plan Chequing Account with BMO, which includes a $350 opening cash bonus (after satisfying all the conditions), a monthly fee rebate for the first year ($203), a cash bonus of $60 with a rental of safety deposit box, and many other incentives.

Newcomers can get the BMO CashBack Mastercard or apply for the BMO AIR MILES Mastercard, both of which don’t have an annual fee. The BMO CashBack Mastercard is a great choice, as newcomers can get 5% bonus cashback (up to $125) on their purchases for the first three months and 3% cashback on groceries afterward. Newcomers can also get mortgage offers, and investment offers from BMO.

BMO Cashback Mastercard

BMO Cashback Mastercard

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Annual Fee: $0
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Interest Rate: 20.99% Purchase,
22.99% Cash Advance (21.99% for Quebec residents)
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Income Requirement: N/A
Sign Up Bonus
  • Up to 5% cash back in your first three months (Maximum $125 in cash back).
  • 0.99% interest rate on balance transfers for nine months with a 2% transfer fee.
Rewards +
  • 3% back on groceries (on the first $500 spent per statement period).
  • 1% back on recurring bill payments (on the first $500 spent per statement period).
  • 0.5% unlimited cashback on everything else.
Additional Features
  • Extended warranty and purchase protection
  • 15% discount to Canadian Cirque du Soleil shows, and 20% discount to Las Vegas resident Cirque du Soleil shows
Best 5-Year Fixed Mortgage Rates in Canada CanadaLeaf
Mortgage Term:
Fixed
Variable

Tangerine Credit Card for Newcomers

As a newcomer in Canada, you can earn unlimited cashback with Tangerine’s Money-Back credit card. The credit card has no annual fee and lets you earn 2% cash back on two categories of your choice. You can earn 0.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

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Annual Fee: $0
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Interest Rate: 19.95% on purchases
19.95% on cash advances
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Income Requirement: $12,000 personal income
Sign Up Bonus
  • Extra 10% cashback on up to $1,000 in everyday purchases made within the first 2 months.
Rewards +
  • 2% money-back in two categories of your choice.
  • 0.5% money-back on all other everyday purchases.
Additional Features
  • 1.95% interest for six months on balance transfer within the first 30 days.
  • Purchase protection for 90 days after purchase.
  • Extended warranty.

RBC Newcomer Credit Card

Royal Bank of Canada’s newcomer program, the RBC Newcomer Advantage, is among the most popular newcomer programs in Canada. With the program, newcomers can get an RBC Advantage Banking account for a zero monthly fee for the first year. With the account, newcomers can get a free small safety box for two years, free Interac transfers within Canada, two no-fee international transfers per month for a year, and other perks. RBC also offers credit cards, mortgages, car loans, and investment options for newcomers.

RBC offers four credit cards for newcomers to choose from, including the RBC Cash Back Mastercard and the RBC Ion Visa. With the RBC Cash Back Mastercard, cardholders can get a 12% bonus cash back for the first three months (Up to a maximum spend of $2,000). Cardholders can get 2% cash back on groceries and 1% cash back on everyday purchases afterward. With the RBC Ion Visa, cardholders can collect Avion points and redeem the points for travel purchases, shopping, and more. Both cards have no annual fee, and newcomers can get a credit limit of up to $15,000.

RBC Cash Back Mastercard

RBC Cash Back Mastercard

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Annual Fee: $0
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Interest Rate: 20.99% Purchase,
22.99% Cash Advance (21.99% for Quebec residents)
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Income Requirement: N/A
Sign Up Bonus
  • Up to 12% cash back in your first three months (Up to $2,000 maximum spend).
Rewards +
  • Unlimited 2% cash back on groceries.
  • 1% cashback on everyday purchases and pre-authorized payments.
Additional Features
  • Save 3¢/L at Petro-Canada fuel and earn 20% more Petro-Points at Petro-Canada.
  • Earn 50 Be Well points per dollar spent at Rexall.
  • Free DoorDash deliveries for 3 months (DashPass subscription).
  • Show More

TD Newcomer Credit Card

With the TD New to Canada Banking Package offered by TD Bank, newcomers can get a TD Unlimited Chequing Account for no monthly fee for a year and get a $300 cash incentive on meeting certain criteria. Additionally, newcomers can open a TD ePremium Savings Account or TD Every Day Savings Account and get a 0.25% bonus interest rate for 6 months.

The next step is to get a credit card, and TD Bank offers one of the best travel credit cards available to newcomers. The TD Aeroplan Visa Platinum has an earn rate of 1 Aeroplan point per dollar of grocery, gas, and direct through Air Canada purchases. Cardholders can collect the points and use them for Air Canada purchases. With TD Aeroplan Visa Platinum, cardholders can earn up to $500 in bonus value in the first year, including up to 20,000 Aeroplan points and no annual fee.

The card also comes with an extensive list of travel-related insurances making it an ideal choice for frequent travelers.

TD Aeroplan Visa Platinum

TD Aeroplan Visa Platinum

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Annual Fee: $89 (first-year waived)
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Interest Rate: 20.99% Purchase,
22.99% Cash Advance
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Income Requirement: N/A
Sign Up Bonus
  • Up to 20,000 bonus Aeroplan points in the first year.
  • Annual fee waived in the first year.
Rewards +
  • 1 Aeroplan point per $1 spent on eligible gas and grocery, and direct through Air Canada.
  • 1 Aeroplan point per $1.5 spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn double points at over 150 Aeroplan partner brands and at 170+ online retailers when you provide your Aeroplan number.
  • Show More
Additional Features
  • Discounts on Avis and Budget car rentals.
  • Travel accident insurance.
  • Lost/delayed baggage insurance.
  • Show More

Find out more about the best travel credit cards in Canada.

National Bank Newcomer Credit Card

With National Bank’s newcomer banking package, newcomers can get a chequing account with no fixed monthly fee for up to three years along with National Bank mycredit Mastercard. National Bank customers also have access to advisors all seven days a week who can answer their immigration-related questions.

With the mycredit Mastercard, cardholders can get up to $135 in cashback in the first few months – $75 when you make the minimum required purchases and $60 when you sign up for the payment protection plan. The card offers 1% cash back at restaurants and on pre-authorized payments and 0.5% cashback on groceries and online purchases.

National Bank mycredit Mastercard

National Bank mycredit Mastercard

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Annual Fee: $0
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Interest Rate: 20.99% Purchase,
22.49% Cash Advance
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Income Requirement: $12,000 personal income
Sign Up Bonus
  • Earn $75 cashback on making minimum required purchases.
  • Earn $60 cashback when you use the payment protection plan for at least three months.
Rewards +
  • 1% cash back at restaurants and on pre-authorized payments.
  • 0.5% cashback on groceries and online purchases.
Additional Features
  • Mobile protection.
  • Purchase protection.
  • Extended warranty.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Newcomer Credit Card

When used wisely, a credit card can help you establish a credit history and build your credit in Canada. As a newcomer, it is extremely important for you to build a good credit score as it can help you qualify for other credit cards and get the best interest rates for mortgages and loans in the future. You must take the following points into consideration before applying for a credit card.

  • 1. Banking Package: When you are new in Canada, one of the first things you need to do is open a bank account. If you have already decided on a bank, you should check out what credit cards are available to you as a part of the newcomer banking program. If you haven’t decided on a bank, you may do so based on the newcomer packages offered by the banks. Getting a credit card as a part of the newcomer banking program may qualify you for a higher credit limit despite having no credit history in Canada.
  • 2. Type of Card: The two common kinds of credit cards are secured and unsecured credit cards. While unsecured credit cards don’t require you to make a security deposit, they may have limitations to the credit limit. On the other hand, secured credit cards require you to make a security deposit, and your credit limit is equivalent to the same. There may be no limitation to the credit limit in this case; however, you will need to make a substantial deposit to have a higher credit limit. Newcomers may also consider getting a prepaid credit card.
  • 3. Annual Fee: Most premium Canadian credit cards have an associated annual fee; however, there are usually some basic no-fee credit cards available to newcomers. Some premium credit cards are available to newcomers as a part of the newcomer banking packages, and many premium credit cards also waive their first-year fees. Such cards usually come with many added benefits, such as higher rates of rewards, insurance, airport lounge access, and more. You should keep in mind that you shouldn’t close a credit card if you cannot afford its annual fees, as it can impact your credit score negatively. Instead, you may downgrade to a no-fee credit card offered by your financial institution.
  • 4. Rewards: There are three main types of rewards offered by credit cards in Canada – Cashback, reward points, and airline miles. Based on your preference, you may choose the best type of reward for yourself. Many newcomers end up choosing cashback credit cards as they are straightforward; however, if you travel or shop regularly, collecting reward points or airline miles may be more beneficial for you.
    Meanwhile, you may also consider the rate of rewards and the limitations on the same. For example, the Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa offers 4% cashback on food and drinks but only for up to $5,000 annual expenditure. On the other hand, the Tangerine money-back credit card allows you to earn unlimited cashback at a 2% cashback rate in two categories of your choice. Based on your intended expenditure, you may pick the card that is more beneficial to you.
  • 5. Sign-Up Bonuses: Many credit cards offer bonus rewards in the first year. These could be in the form of annual fee waivers, extra cashback, bonus reward points, and more.
  • 6. Additional perks: Some credit cards available to newcomers come with additional perks, such as travel insurance, purchase protection, airport lounge access, discounts, and more, which may be useful to you. For example, extensive travel insurance may be useful to a newcomer who plans to travel frequently.
  • 7. Minimum Income Requirements: Some credit cards, especially the premium ones, may require you to meet the minimum income criteria to get approved. Some credit cards may have a low requirement, such as a $15,000 annual household income, while some others may require you to have an annual income of $60,000 or more.

Credit cards usually require you to meet minimum credit score requirements as well, but given that newcomers don’t usually have a credit history in Canada, this requirement may not apply. However, before applying for a credit card, you must check with the credit card issuer to ensure that the credit score requirement is waived for you.

Bottom Line

All major Canadian banks offer credit cards to newcomers as a part of their newcomer banking packages, with no requirement for prior credit history in the country. Newcomers to Canada have access to a limited number of credit cards; however, they can use these credit cards wisely to build a good credit score and qualify for other credit cards within a year or two. Newcomers should start building their credit history in Canada as soon as they arrive, as it can help them qualify for loans and mortgages at a better interest rate in the future.

The calculators and content on this page are provided for general information purposes only. WOWA does not guarantee the accuracy of information shown and is not responsible for any consequences of the use of the calculator.