The 11 Best Credit Cards for New Immigrants in Canada

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    The ideal credit card for new immigrants in Canada should be easy to qualify for, build a Canadian credit history, and reward your purchases. But the best one for you can be hard to find. So we’ve rounded up the 11 best credit card options tailored specifically for newcomers. From secured credit cards to rewards cards and prepaid cards, there are plenty of options. Let’s explore their best features and benefits to help you make an informed decision.

    Credit Card
    Best For
    Bonus Interest on GICs
    Lowest Security Deposit
    No Annual Fee Or Low Interest Options
    Credit Building Subscription
    No ATM Fees
    Up To 15% Cash Back
    Residents of British Columbia
    Custom Rewards Categories
    Both Low Annual Fee and Low Interest Rate
    Cash Back On Global Money Transfers

    Best big bank credit card with an offer for new immigrants in Canada

    Canada’s big banks are the largest and most prominent banks in the country. In order of market capitalization, these are namely Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD), Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank), Bank of Montreal (BMO), Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) and National Bank of Canada (NBC). 

    While these banks tend to charge higher fees for their products in the long run, they do also have attractive newcomer programs in place. Here are some of the best credit card options offered by Canada’s big banks.

    1. BMO CashBack Mastercard

    [Offer productType=”CreditCard” api_id=”5f298ccf68c746304bee1258″ id=”205922″]

    The BMO CashBack card is a part of this newcomer bundle. It’s available with no credit history, has no annual fee and offers up to 3% cash-back on eligible purchases. For those getting the card through the newcomer bundle, even more attractive perks are available to you, such as a lower purchase interest rate and higher cash-back!

    BMO’s NewStart Program is available for international students, foreign workers and other permanent residents. Equipped with discounts and bonus interest on their guaranteed investment certificates, it’s a good option for new immigrants to Canada. 

    Best secured credit cards for new Canadian immigrants 

    Okay, now let’s cover the remaining 10 best credit cards for new immigrants in Canada. To make things a bit easier, we’ve broken down the list into categories, starting with the best secured credit card options.

    2. Neo secured credit card

    [Offer productType=”CreditCard” api_id=”6209e06d9c5f4c05c0de0111″ id=”171391″]

    The Neo Financial Secured Credit Card is designed to help you establish or rebuild your credit history. It functions like a traditional credit card but requires a security deposit as collateral. This card requires a minimum $50 deposit to secure the card, which is the lowest on the market. The best part? There’s not credit check and your approval is guaranteed.

    When you use the Neo Secured Card, Neo reports your credit activity to TransUnion (one of the biggest credit reporting agencies in Canada) every month. By using this card responsibly and making timely payments, you can build your Canadian credit history over time.

    Neo also offers features like up to 15% cash back on eligible purchases, fraud protection, and the potential to upgrade to an unsecured card after demonstrating creditworthiness. So, if you are choosing the secured credit card route, this option is highly recommended. For more details, head to this Neo Secured Card review

    3. Home Trust Secured Visa credit card

    [Offer productType=”CreditCard” api_id=”5f6b5fce6011f20b29a5daa9″ id=”236303″]

    The Home Trust Secured Visa is technically a two-in-one product. First, they have a no-annual-fee option that comes with a 19.99% interest rate. This option is ideal for people who pay their balance off in full every month. If you do tend to carry a balance, then you should consider the low-interest version that charges a $59 annual fee and offers a 14.90% rate.

    This card has a minimum security deposit requirement of $500 and is available in every province except Quebec. On the downside, this card does not offer any rewards or other special perks. But it’s a good option to help you build your credit history nonetheless. 

    Best prepaid credit cards for new Canadian immigrants 

    A prepaid credit card is a payment card that requires you to load with your own money. It can be used for purchases wherever credit or debit cards are accepted, but the spending limit is determined by the amount loaded onto the card and does not usually affect the user’s credit score. 

    A prepaid card offers a convenient and flexible payment option, especially for people who may not qualify for traditional credit cards or prefer to have more control over their spending. If this option sounds up your alley, here are the best options for new Canadian immigrants.

    4. KOHO

    [Offer productType=”CreditCard” api_id=”637cf8206bbb7962c19ae225″]

    KOHO not only offers a prepaid Mastercard as its primary product but also provides a range of exceptional complimentary features that are uncommon in the Canadian market. With options like credit building and three distinct prepaid card plans (all offering interest on your deposits and cash-back rewards on purchases!). KOHO is revolutionizing the prepaid card landscape. That’s why we recommend this card to everyone, regardless of whether they are new immigrants or lifelong residents of Canada.

    5. EQ Bank Card

    [Offer productType=”CreditCard” api_id=”63d2cb6a18196b6d2e1928c2″ id=”198047″]

    EQ Bank has been a popular digital bank in recent years, offering high-interest savings accounts and term deposits. In early 2023, the bank also launched its first spending card, the EQ Bank Card, which is just as great as its other products. 

    The card comes with no annual or monthly fees, no ATM fees (you will get reimbursed for any Canadian ATM charges on your card!), 2.5% interest on your card balance, and 0.5% cash-back on every purchase. This prepaid MasterCard, which can be seen as a debit and credit card hybrid, can be used anywhere in the world that accepts Mastercard. 

    You won’t build a credit history with this card, but you’ll be able to do almost everything that requires a traditional credit card, like book lights, hotels, shop online, use it while travelling, and more.

    To be eligible for this card, you first need an EQ Bank Savings Plus Account, which is available to any resident in Canada with a Social Insurance Number (SIN.)

    6. Neo Money Card

    [Offer productType=”SavingsAccount” api_id=”60fee79313fd2f260ff90749″]

    Neo Financial also offers free digital bank accounts that earn interest on every dollar you deposit. When you open a Neo Money Account, you get a complimentary Neo Money Card that is accepted everywhere that accepts Mastercard.

    This card earns up to 15% cash back on eligible purchases, and your account balance earns 2.25% interest. You can customize your rewards with subscription bundles, manage your money with integrated tools, and use the app to find cash back partners near you.

    While you won’t build a Canadian credit history with this card, it will help you access goods and services that traditionally require a credit card. You can use it while travelling abroad, online shopping, book cars and hotels, use for subscriptions services, and more.

    Best starter credit cards for new Canadian immigrants 

    Starter credit cards are specifically designed for individuals who have a limited credit history. They are meant to help individuals build a positive credit history over time and typically have lower credit limits, more relaxed eligibility requirements and potentially higher interest rates compared to other credit cards. 

    7. Vancity enviro Visa Classic card

    [Offer productType=”CreditCard” api_id=”64a83c39b7345f4322629de4″ id=”269394″]

    Vancity is a credit union in British Columbia (BC), and their enviro Visa Classic card is a fantastic starter card option if you are a resident of this province. This credit union is very community-driven, and that applies to new immigrants as well. 

    This credit card comes at no annual fee, Vancity reward perks with all purchases and a standard 19.50% interest rate. They do also have a low-interest version available at 11.25%, which is $25 per year if you forgo collecting points or $50 per year if you want to collect points. 

    All of Vancity’s cards are also available as secured cards, which is great. If you are a resident of BC, we highly recommend them to you!

    8. Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

    [Offer productType=”CreditCard” api_id=”5f34494292ec22115033b302″ id=”176550″]

    The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card is a financial product that offers cashback rewards on everyday purchases. Cardholders can earn 2% cash back in up to three categories, such as groceries, gas, recurring bills, and more. 

    This card has no annual fee and includes additional perks like no-fee balance transfers as well as a low-interest rate for new purchases during the introductory period. 

    To qualify for the Tangerine Money-Back card, you must be a Canadian permanent resident, the age of majority in the province where you live, and have a minimum annual income of $12,000.

    Best low-interest credit cards for new immigrants in Canada 

    If you are new to Canada and think you will likely need to carry a balance while you get settled in your new life, look no further. Let’s cover some options that will be easy for you to get as a new resident while also having interest rates that are lower than your traditional 19.99%.  

    9. Scotiabank Value Visa Card

    [Offer productType=”CreditCard” api_id=”5f32dd5563ae8636997fa6ab” id=”145740″]

    The Scotiabank Value Visa Card is a credit card option with a focus on affordability and value. It has a low annual interest rate of 12.99% on purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances, along with an annual fee of $29 per year. It also provides the option to add additional cardholders at no extra fee and offers savings on car rentals at Avis and Budget. 

    Although this card does not offer rewards or special perks, it provides a practical and cost-effective credit solution. If you are on the hunt for a low-interest card, definitely check this one out.

    Best reward credit cards for new immigrants in Canada 

    Rewards credit cards offer incentives or benefits to cardholders based on their spending. These benefits can include cash-back, travel points, airline miles, rewards points, or discounts on specific purchases, providing an opportunity for cardholders to earn and redeem rewards for their spending. Here are some of the best options for newcomers.

    10. Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa Card

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    Simplii is a digital bank in Canada that often flies under the radar. From bank accounts to mortgages, however, they have great products. The Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa Card is no exception, for which you can be eligible if you are a Canadian resident and have a minimum household annual income of $15,000. 

    Do you send money back home? One of the best features for new immigrants is that you earn cash back on Global Money Transfers when you pay with this Visa. The card offers cash-back rewards of up to 4% (or even more if you catch a promotion), has no annual fee, provides free additional cardholders, and includes benefits such as purchase protection and extended warranty coverage.

    What to consider when choosing a credit card for new immigrants in Canada

    As a new immigrant, it’ll be useful to know a thing or two about the Canadian credit card market before making an application. So, let’s cover some of the basics. 

    First off, you should know that the market is rather saturated. While there are five major big banks in the country, there are tens of other, smaller ones, each offering anywhere between one to twenty credit card options. 

    All of these banks are hungry for business, and the thousands of new immigrants coming into Canada each year is a huge business opportunity for them. As such, you can expect many different options, with some banks offering great welcome packages for immigrants. 

    With that said, new immigrants also pose a financial risk to financial institutions. Since most newcomers have limited credit history within the country, it’s hard to determine each new applicant’s creditworthiness. As such, there are certain limitations to obtaining a credit card in Canada when you are a brand-new immigrant. 

    Here are some things that you should think about when choosing a credit card as a new immigrant. 

    Secured vs. unsecured credit cards 

    Secured and unsecured credit cards differ in their requirements and risk levels. A secured credit card requires a cash deposit as collateral, typically equal to the credit limit, providing security for the lender. This makes it easier to obtain, even for those with poor or no credit

    In contrast, an unsecured credit card doesn’t require collateral but relies on the borrower’s creditworthiness, offering greater flexibility but higher risk for the lender. Ultimately, unsecured credit cards are more readily available for those who have a steady income, long credit history and relatively high credit score. 

    As a new immigrant in Canada, a secured credit card might be a good option for you – and potentially the only one – at least until you build your credit history. Once you can prove your creditworthiness to lenders by being responsible with your secured card, it’ll be easier to obtain unsecured options with better rewards and greater credit limits. 

    Credit score and income requirements 

    Each credit card has a set of requirements in place that you’ll have to meet to be approved. At the very least, you must be able to show that you have a right to live in Canada through a visa, permanent residency, refugee status, or citizenship. You must also be 18 or 19 years of age, depending on the province where you live.

    Some cards also have credit score and income requirements. Even if it may be limited, I recommend checking your credit score through a free credit checker before applying for a card, just so you know where you are at. Then, you can make an informed decision before completing your credit card application

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    Newcomer welcome bonuses 

    Several big banks in Canada have newcomer banking packages that offer good perks for giving them your business. Some examples of these perks are waived bank account fees for a predetermined time, free products such as a safety deposit box or chequebook, and a credit card with little to no credit history. 

    If you are looking to get all of your banking done in one place, these offers might be good for you to consider from the get-go. Note that, however, bigger banks tend to charge more for products such as chequing and savings accounts, credit cards and day-to-day banking transactions. Once your promotional period is over, consider switching to a lower-cost financial institution based on your needs. 

    Monthly or annual fees 

    Credit cards may charge monthly or annual fees to cover administrative costs, rewards programs, or other perks they offer. Some credit cards, on the other hand, waive these fees to attract customers, making them more appealing to those seeking a no-fee option. When choosing your credit card as a newcomer to Canada, make sure to keep this in mind. 

    Rewards, discounts and cash-back offers 

    Many credit cards in Canada offer attractive rewards and cash-back perks to incentivize cardholders. These perks can include earning points on purchases, which can be redeemed for travel, cash credits or merchandise.

    Additionally, some cards provide cash-back on specific spending categories, such as groceries, gas, or dining, allowing cardholders to earn a percentage of their spending back as a rebate. Again, consider keeping these potential perks in mind when comparing credit cards

    FAQs about credit cards for new immigrants in Canada

    Can an immigrant get a credit card in Canada?  

    Yes, immigrants can generally get a credit card in Canada. However, the specific requirements may vary depending on factors such as immigration status, credit history, and income. Some financial institutions offer credit cards specifically tailored for newcomers to help them establish credit. Providing necessary documentation (such as immigration papers and/or SIN number) and demonstrating financial stability can increase the chances of obtaining a credit card.

    Does credit card debt affect immigration? 

    Credit card debt typically does not directly affect immigration status. Nonetheless, particular financial factors, such as bankruptcy or lack of savings, could impact an individual’s eligibility for certain immigration programs or visas.

    How to get a credit card as an immigrant?

    To get a credit card as a Canadian immigrant, you generally need to have a Canadian bank account, a steady income, and/or savings. Some banks do offer credit cards specifically designed for newcomers, which can be a helpful option. You can also consider a secured or prepaid credit card. 

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    Selin is a writer with a special interest in all things financial literacy and sustainable banking. When she is not supporting others to make more informed financial decisions, she is either travelling, meditating or reading old classics on her couch.