Credit Card Tiers: Your Guide

Your guide to credit card tiers.

Selecting and applying for a credit card can be overwhelming. Terms like gold, elite, and platinum can seem arbitrary, the differences between them confusing. To help clarify, we’ve assembled a quick-and-dirty reference guide for the different tiers of Canada’s most popular credit cards, MasterCard and Visa.

MasterCard

Standard

Features and perks:

Nothing fancy. Holders can use their card in more than 200 countries, plus at ATMs to withdraw cash. Zero Liability policy is included — a cardholder’s liability for unauthorized purchases is $0. Other benefits are dependent on card type and issuer.

Fees:

Depends on the card type and issuer, but most start at $0.

What you need to apply:
No minimum income requirement for some cards.

Examples:

  • BMO Air Miles MasterCard
    BMO Air Miles MasterCard
    An all-around basic card with no annual fee and modest reward earnings with 0.05 Air Miles earned on the dollar. New signups get a 400 Airmile bonus, and the credit card can be used in conjunction with the Air Miles rewards card to double up on points at the till.

 

  • President’s Choice Financial MasterCard
    Presidents Choice Financial MasterCard
    A favourite of savvy grocery shoppers – this card earns points toward free food at Loblaws and Great Canadian Superstore locations, plus merchandise from Joe Fresh. With one point earned on the dollar, it’s a solid and practical rewards choice for the fee-averse shopper.

World

Features and perks:

All the features of a standard MasterCard, plus:

  • Concierge services
  • Premium travel insurance
  • Extended warranty on purchases
  • Price protection, within 60 days
  • Coverage for damaged or stolen items, within 90 days
  • *Other benefits are dependent on card type and issuer

Fees:

Depends on the card type and issuer, but can be $0 or around $99/year for some cards.

What you need to apply:
Excellent credit history and a minimum requirement of either a personal income of $60,000/year or a household income of $100,000/year for most cards.

Examples:

  • Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard
    Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard
    Are you serious rewards earner? For a $120 annual fee, you’ll be earning two rewards miles on all purchases, with no retailer or category restrictions. New signups get a sweet 35,000 bonus point gift (a $350 travel credit), and the card also comes outfitted with Travel Emergency Medical and Travel Cancellation insurance.

 

  • Shell CashBack World MasterCard from BMO
    Shell CashBack World MasterCard from BMO
    A great option for the regular commuter; this card earns three cash back points on the dollar on purchases at Shell locations, and 1.25 cash back points earned everywhere else. New signups get a $25 cash back point bonus upon first purchase, and the card also includes Car Rental Collision insurance, flight delay and baggage insurance.

World Elite

Features and perks:

All the features of a standard and World MasterCard, plus:

  • World Elite MasterCard Experiences and Offers, such as hotel discounts and upgrades, golf and spa savings, and more.

Fees:

Depends on the card type and issuer, but can go up to $150/year for some cards.

What you need to apply:
Excellent credit history and a minimum requirement of either a personal income of $70,000/year or a household income of $120,000/year for most cards.

Examples:

  • BMO World Elite MasterCard
    BMO World Elite MasterCard
    For a $150 annual fee, you’ll earn two BMO travel points on the dollar, and new signups will receive a $300 travel credit. BMO also uses a restriction-fee redemption model, meaning no blackouts, per-capacity seat limitations and includes lounge access with an included Priority Pass membership. This card also includes comprehensive travel insurance coverage such as rip cancellation/trip interruption/trip delay insurance, and car rental collision damage waiver for up to 21 days.

 

  • mbna rewards World Elite MasterCard
    mbna-rewards-World-Elite-MasterCard-RESIZED
    This card charges a $89 annual fee and earns two mbna rewards points on eligible purchases. New signups will also receive a 10,000 point bonus with first eligible purchase, and there is no rewards earnings cap.

Visa

Classic

Features and perks:

Pretty basic. Holders can use their card in more than 170 countries, plus at ATMs to withdraw cash. Zero Liability policy is included — a cardholder’s liability for unauthorized purchases is $0. Book a hotel room and receive a guaranteed reservation, no matter how late you check in. Other benefits are dependent on card type and issuer.

Annual fees:

Depends on the card type and issuer, but most start at $0.

What you need to apply:

A minimum requirement of a personal income of $12,000/year for most cards.

Examples:

  • No-Fee Scotiabank Value Visa
    No Fee Scotiabank Value Visa
    This no-fee option doesn’t earn rewards, but offers a very competitive promotional 3.99 per cent balance transfer rate for the first six months on balances moved over from another card (it goes up to 16.99 per cent after that). The regular interest rate is also lower than the market average at 16.99 per cent.

 

  • Scotiabank SCENE Visa
    Scotiabank SCENE Visa
    The very popular SCENE program is famous for earning free movies – no wonder it’s such a hit with students and those on a tight entertainment budget. The card earns 5 points on the dollar when used at Cineplex locations, will score you 10 per cent off at the concession stand, and earns one point on the dollar on all other purchases.

 

  • TD Green Visa Card
    TD Green Visa Card
    This no-nonsense no-fee option offer basic spending power and includes a few small perks such as a discount at Avis Rental Car and travel accident insurance.

Gold

Features and perks:

All the features of a Visa Classic card, plus:

  • Emergency card replacement service
  • Emergency cash service
  • Cardholder inquiry service
  • Emergency medical/legal assistance
  • Collision/loss damage insurance
  • Other benefits are dependent on card type and issuer

Fees:

Depends on the card type and issuer, but can be $0 or around $110/year for some cards.

What you need to apply:

A minimum requirement of a personal income of $35,000/year for most cards.

Examples:

  • TD Gold Elite Visa
    TD Gold Elite Visa
    An ideal card for drivers, cardholders will also receive membership to the Deluxe TD Auto Club and earn one point on the dollar for all purchases. The card also includes a no-fee balance transfer option, comprehensive travel insurance, and preferred rates for Avis and Budget car rentals.

 

  • RBC Rewards Visa Gold
    RBC Rewards Visa Gold
    This card has no annual fee, and includes some small earning potential: 0.5 RBC Rewards per dollar on all purchases, which can be redeemed for merchandise, travel and gift certificates. This card also includes travel and car rental collision insurance.

 

  • ScotiaGold Passport Visa
    ScotiaGold Passport Visa
    It’s saddled with a steeper $110 annual fee ($99 for the first year), but this is one fast-earning rewards card; cardholders get 5 Scotia Rewards on the dollar on travel-related purchases, and one point on the dollar for everything else. Also included comprehensive travel insurance and five per cent cash back travel rebates.

 

Platinum

Features and perks:

All the features of a Visa Classic card, plus:

  • $5,000 minimum credit limit
  • Emergency card replacement service
  • Emergency cash service
  • Cardholder inquiry service
  • Emergency medical/legal assistance
  • Collision/loss damage insurance
  • Other benefits are dependent on card type and issuer

Fees:

Depends on the card type and issuer, but can be up to around $120/year for some cards.

What you need to apply:

A minimum requirement of a personal income of $35,000/year (up to $60,000) or a household income of $60,000/year for most cards.

Examples:

  • CIBC Platinum Visa
    CIBC Platinum Visa
    No annual fee, car rental discounts of up to 25 per cent at participating Avis and Budget locations and extended purchasing power.

 

  • TD Platinum Travel Visa
    TD Platinum Travel Visa
    Cardholders will pay a $99 annual fee, receive 15000 Bonus TD Points upon approval and earn three TD points on the dollar for all purchases.

Infinite

Features and perks:

All the features of a Visa Gold and Platinum cards, plus:

  • Complimentary 24/7 concierge service
  • Elite hotel privileges through the Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection
  • Access to exclusive food and wine offers and events
  • Access to an exclusive Visa Infinite cardholder-only website
  • Other benefits are dependent on card type and issuer

Fees:

Depends on the card type and issuer, but can be up to around $120/year for some cards.

What you need to apply:

A minimum requirement of a personal income of $60,000/year or a household income of $100,000/year for most cards.

Examples:

  • CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card
    CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite
    Cardholders will pay a $120 annual fee, get 15,000 Bonus Aventura Points on first use of card and an additional 5,000 bonus points when you have at least $500 in purchases during your first three monthly statement periods. Earns one point on the dollar, and 1.5 points on gas and grocery purchases.

 

  • RBC Royal Bank Visa Infinite Avion
    RBC Royal Bank Visa Infinite Avion
    New cardholders receive 35,000 bonus points – enough for a $350 travel credit. Points can be used to pay taxes and airline fees, and can also be redeemed for merchandise. This card also has an intro 1.90 per cent balance transfer rate for the first 10 months, and earns one RBC point on the dollar. Comes with a $120 annual fee.

 

  • TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite
    TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite
    For a $120 annual fee, cardholders will earn three TD points on the dollar on all purchases, with triple points earned on travel purchases made through TD’s Expedia portal. and will receive a $100 travel credit upon sign up. Features a flexible redemption model with No seat restrictions, blackout periods or advance booking requirements.

 

Related Topics

Credit Card News / Credit Cards / Credit Cards 101

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