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Best Credit Card Options For Immigrants In Canada

Updated on Mar 12, 2021
Credit cards in Canada

For any new immigrant, building a healthy credit should be a priority because credit is the measure of how you manage your finances. A good credit score can help you finance larger life goals like buying a house or a car or other investments in the future. 

Getting a credit card can be one of the easiest ways to build a credit score. Finding the right credit card for your current situation and paying off the balance on time can be the starting point for building a sound financial footing in a new country.  Fortunately, Canada, one of the most welcoming places in the world, helps out new immigrants by providing access to special opportunities to start their financial journey. Thus, obtaining a credit card as an immigrant is easier.

We have listed here the best credit card options for immigrants in Canada. 

Getting a Credit Card with No Credit History in Canada

There are two ways to go about it. 

One is to join a bank, become a member, and have access to credit cards via the bank's newcomer package. Big banks in Canada offer special financial packages that are designed for immigrants in the country. 

There are two main types of credit cards that banks offer. Secured and Unsecured credit cards. Secured cards require an initial security deposit. While Unsecured cards can be obtained without any security deposit. 

As an immigrant, you can obtain unsecured credit cards through your bank's newcomer programs. Having access to unsecured credit cards is a privilege that most Canadians with limited or no credit history do not have. 

The second option is to apply for a secured credit card. If you have no interest in joining the banking program for new immigrants but want to build a credit score, getting a secured card is the best option. Since you are required to pay an initial deposit as security, people with no credit history or bad credit are likely to get accepted for it. 

The card issuers report your payments to major Canadian credit bureaus like Equifax and TransUnion thus helping you build or improve your credit score. You can eventually apply for unsecured credit cards when you establish a good score and reap the benefits and rewards that come with an unsecured credit card.

 

Top Unsecured Credit Cards Offered by Special Bank Programs for Immigrants

Scotiabank 

Scotiabank offers several unsecured credit cards to immigrants via their StartRight Program. If you have been in Canada for 3 years or less, you are eligible to apply for the programs.  

Scotiabank Momentum No-Fee Visa Card: Best Introductory Offer 

 

Features and Benefits

  • Sign up Bonus: 5% cashback on all purchases for the first 3 months (up to $2,000 in total purchases. 7.99% introductory interest rate on all eligible purchases for the first 6 months (19.995 interest rate after that). Apply by May 2, 2021
  • 1% cashback on all eligible gas stations, grocery stores, drug stores, and recurring bill payments. 0.5% cashback on all other eligible purchases
  • $0 annual fee
  • The minimum credit limit is $500
  • Foreign transaction fee: 2.5%

 

Scotiabank Value Visa Card: Low-Interest Rates 

 

Features and Benefits

  • 0.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers with a 0% transfer fee for the first 6 months. Apply by July 1, 2021. 
  • Save more money with low-Interest rates of 12.99% on purchases, cash advances and balance transfers, Scotia Credit Card Cheques
  • Balance transfers fee: $3.50
  • Annual fee: $29
  • Foreign transaction fee: 2.5%
  • Minimum credit limit: $500
  • No cash back or rewards 

 

Scotiabank American Express Card: Travel Perks & Rewards 

 

Features and Benefits

  • Get 5000 bonus Scotia Rewards points after spending $500 in everyday purchases in the first 3 months
  • Get 1 Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on everyday purchases
  • Spend your Scotia Rewards points on booking flights, a variety of travel benefits, merchandise, and gift cards
  • 0$ annual fee
  • Minimum credit limit: $1,000
  • Interest rate 19.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances, balance transfers, and Scotia Credit Card Cheques
  • Get Access to Travel Insurance Package 

 

SCENE Visa Card: Entertainment Purposes

 

Features and Benefits

  • Get 2500 bonus SCENE points after spending $500 in everyday purchases in the first 3 months
  • 1 SCENE point for every $1 spent on everyday credit card purchases
  • 5 SCENE points for every $1 spent at Cineplex theatres or the cineplex.com
  • Redeem for a Free movie with 1,250 points 
  • Get $10 off at participating restaurants when redeemed with 1,000 points
  • Redeem your SCENE points for movies, music, and other entertainment
  • 0$ Annual fee
  • 19.99% interest rates on purchases. 22.99% on cash advances, balance transfers, and Scotia Credit Card Cheques
  • Minimum credit limit: $500

 

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card: Unlimited Money-Back Rewards 

Features and Benefits

  • Sign up bonus: 1.95% interest rate on balance transferred for the first 6 months (complete the balance transfer request within 30 days of account opening to take advantage of this offer)
  • Get 2% Money-Back Rewards on everyday purchases in two 2% Money-Back Categories of your choice (Categories include Grocery, Furniture, Drug stores, Recurring bill payments, home improvement, etc.). 
  • Get 0.50% Money-Back Rewards on all other purchases
  • Get a third 2% Money-Back Category when you open a Tangerine Savings Account and deposit your cash back directly into the account
  • 0$ annual fee
  • Balance Transfer fee: 3% of the total transferred amount or 5%, whichever is greater
  • Foreign transaction fee: 2.5%
  • Minimum Income Required: $12,000

 

BMO CashBack MasterCard: Big Sign Up Bonus 

The Bank of Montreal or BMO offers the Newcomers to Canada Program to new immigrants, foreign workers, international students in Canada. Immigrants in Canada can apply for BMO CashBack MasterCard through this newcomers program. You can also open a bank account with the bank prior to your arrival in the country. 

 

Features and Benefits

  • Sign up bonus: 5% cashback on all eligible purchases for the first 3 months (spend up to $2,000). Earn 3% cashback on groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments, and 0.5% on all other eligible purchases. Get 1.99% Introductory interest rates on balance transfers with a 1% balance transfer fee  for 9 months
  • 19.99% interest rate on purchase interest and 22.99% on cash advances 
  • Get a big 25% discount on rentals at participating National Car Rental or Alamo Rent A Car locations
  • 0$ annual fee
  • Foreign transaction fee: 2.5%
  • Minimum Income Required: $15,000

 

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)

Immigrants, international students, even refugees are eligible to apply for unsecured credit cards via the RBC Newcomer Advantage Plan

RBC Cashback Mastercard: Unlimited Cashback 

 

Features and Benefits

  • Get up to 2% cashback on grocery store purchases. Up to 1% on all other eligible purchases and pre-authorized payments 
  • Get unlimited cashback
  • Get cash savings or earn bonus points faster when you load personalized offers for great brands before shopping
  • Save 3L on fuel by linking your card and earn 20% more Petro-points at Petro-Canada
  • Lock your RBC credit card temporarily any time when needed for security 
  • 0% annual fee
  • Purchase rate: 19.99%. 
  • Cash Advance rate: 22.99%
  • Get access to Purchase security and extended warranty protection 

 

RBC Rewards+ Visa: Gives Choice of Rewards 

 

Features and Benefits

  • Get 1 RBC Rewards point for every 1$ spent on gas, grocery, and drug store purchases 
  • 1 RBC Rewards point for every $2 spent on all other purchases 
  • Get up to 3,500 bonus RBC Rewards points for banking online with RBC
  • Get cash savings or earn bonus points faster when you load personalized offers for great brands before shopping
  • Redeem your RBC points toward travel, merchandise, gift cards, and more
  • 0% annual fee
  • Purchase rate: 19.99%. 
  • Cash Advance rate: 22.99%

 

Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD)

Immigrants in Canada can choose from a variety of unsecured credit cards via the TD New to Canada Banking Package. One caveat is that the cards will be approved by the bank based on the applicants. 

It would be wise to visit any TD branch and talk to their representative. Check the basic eligibility requirements like your residency status (permanent or temporary), your age (should be at least 18 years old), and choose the card that appeals to your needs. Here is our pick of the TD credit cards for immigrants. 

TD Rewards Visa Card: For Reward Points 

 

Features and Benefits

  • Sign up bonus: 9.99% promotional interest rates on purchases for the first 6 months. Earn 10,000 TD Rewards Points ( equivalent to a $25 gift card) by keeping your account open, active, & in good standing for the first 90 days. Apply by May 30, 2021
  • Get 2 TD Rewards Points for every $1 spent in grocery, restaurant, and fast food purchases and recurring bill payments
  • Get 3 TD Rewards Points for every $1 spent on online travel bookings via ExpediaForTD.com
  • Get 1 TD Rewards Points for every $1 spent on all eligible purchases
  • 0$ annual fee
  • Purchase rate: 19.99%. 
  • Cash Advance rate: 22.99%
  • Foreign transaction fee: 2.5%
  • Redeem your points toward travel, merchandise, gift cards, statement credit. 
  • No expiration date on points 
  • Up to 10% rental discount at participating Avis and Budget locations in Canada and the US. 5% discount overseas
  • Minimum credit limit: $500

 

TD Aeroplan Infinite Visa Card: Travel Benefits

 

This card may be on the expensive side and may not be for everybody but for people who are frequent flyers and love earning the travel miles, this card is a smart choice. 

 

Features and Benefits

  • Sign up bonus: Earn up to 20,000 Aeroplan points & a bonus Buddy Pass. Earn a second ticket when booking an economy ticket with your Buddy Pass. Apply by May 30, 2021
  • Earn Aeroplan points on every eligible purchase 
  • Earn 1.5 Aeroplan points for every $1 spent on gas, grocery, and Air Canada Purchases (also include Air Canada Vacations)
  • Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other eligible purchases 
  • Redeem points for travel expenses, hotels, car rentals, merchandise, gift cards, and more
  • Get access to TD Auto Club Membership and TD Credit Card Payment Protection Plan
  • Protect your account with smart security features and insurance 
  • Annual fee: $139
  • Cardholder fee:$75
  • Minimum credit limit: $5,000
  • Income requirement: $60,000 annual personal income or $100,000 annual household income
  • Purchase rate: 19.99%. 
  • Cash Advance rate: 22.99%

Top Secured Credit Cards for Immigrants in Canada

Home Trust Secured Visa: Build or Rebuild your Credit at 0$ Annual Fee

Features and Benefits

  • No credit check
  • Must be a Canadian Permanent resident
  • Provincial age of majority
  • The credit limit match by cash deposit ($500-$10,000)
  • Personal Income/Household Income: NA
  • Purchase interest rate 19.99% with 0$ annual fee or lower interest rate 14.9% interest with an annual fee of $59
  • Interest-free grace period: 21 days 
  • Minimum payment: 3% or $10
  • Foreign transaction fee: 2%
  • Cash withdrawals around the world at Visa-accepted ATMs
  • Purchase security 
  • No Rewards

 

Refresh Financial Secured Card: Low Minimum Deposit

Features and Benefits

  • No credit check 
  • Guaranteed approval for those meeting eligibility criteria
  • Referral bonus 
  • Credit limit: $200-$10,000
  • Purchase rate: 17.99%
  • Monthly maintenance fee: $3
  • Annual fee: $12.95
  • Foreign transaction fee: 3.5% plus $3.50
  • Get access to Refresh Financial Intelligence Training (a free online program on financial education and management  

Conclusion

We recommend comparing your options before you choose your credit cards. Take into account the prices and services and your current needs when choosing a credit card.

Building credit while you are on the road to building a healthy financial future requires you to use the credit card responsibly by paying your bills in full amount in a timely manner and staying within the limit.

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