Cash Back Credit Cards

Our strategies to easily earn cash back

To the point Here are our strategies to earn the most cash back with the least amount of effort and expense!

There are hundreds of different credit cards on the market to earn cash back rewards for everyday savings.

However, how do you maximize cash back with a small amount of spending?

Here’s a strategy to consider when optimizing purchases in the right categories on each credit card (restaurants, grocery stores, gas, AIR MILES partners, etc.):

  • the least number of credit card applications
  • the cheapest way possible
  • the minimum expenditure required

This strategy is not exhaustive! Come and share your cash back strategies in the Milesopedia Facebook community!

Cash Back: The Credit cards Welcome Bonus Strategy

When you start venturing into the world of credit cards rewards, you quickly realize that the most lucrative strategy is in applying for credit cards to get welcome bonuses.

For beginners, we recommend starting with one or two credit cards, and then spacing out applications by at least 6 to 9 months. Then, once you become more comfortable with credit card management, you can increase the number of credit cards applications and move them closer together over time.

First round of credit cards

The credit cards suggested in the first round of the strategy provide rewards points primarily for travelers. However, these points are indirectly a form of cash back, depending on how you look at the strategy.

Here is the valuation that we obtain after the welcome bonuses following the three application:

Credit card Bonus Minimum expenses Rewards Annual fee Final value

TD First Class Travel® Visa Infinite* Card


115,000 TD Reward points $5,000 10,000 points Annual fee
reimbursed in the first year

HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®


100,000 HSBC Rewards points $1 3 points $49
(thanks to the $100 credit )
American Express Cobalt Card 15,000 privilege points $9,000
spread over the first year
45,000 Membership Rewards points $155,88 $600
TOTAL 230,000 points 14 001 $ 55,003 points $204,88 1 725 $

This strategy accumulates $1,520 in net value ($1,725 – $205) on $14,001 in expenses, for a return of 10.8%.

Second round

In this second part of the strategy, the suggested credit cards give welcome rewards and cash back bonuses directly:

Credit card Bonus Minimum expenses Rewards Annual fee Final value
CIBC Dividend® Visa Infinite* Card $250 2,500 over 4 months Annual fee reimbursed
the first year
BMO® AIR MILES® World Elite® MasterCard® 3,000 miles
(or $315)
$3,000 over 3 months 750 miles
(or $79)
Annual fee reimbursed
the first year
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card $100 $1,000 over 2 months with no annual fee $100
TOTAL 665 $ $6,500 79 $ $0 744 $

This strategy yields $744 in net worth on $6,500 in expenses, a return of 11.43%.


So, with these two rounds of credit cards, an individual’s annual spending of $14, 000 could generate $2,039 in cash back. That’s a yield of 14.5%.

Cash back: the long-term strategy

For a variety of reasons, many people prefer the strategy of arming themselves with a good wallet that has one cash-back credit card, to be kept for the long term with little annual fee to pay.

The credit cards that give the highest cash back rates and good insurance are often not free. Since the changes to the American Express CobaltTM Card, it has become one of the best cash back credit cards in Canada.

Second, as a strategy, I recommend that you seek out credit cards to cover expenses where American Express is not accepted, or categories that aren’t boosted.

Cash back: the long-term credit cards portfolio

Card Spending Category Cash Back Welcome bonus Annual fee
American Express Cobalt Card
  • Grocery
  • Various gift cards
  • Gas*
  • Walmart
  • Amazon*
  • Furnishings*
  • Restaurants
  • Food delivery
  • Travel
5 % 15,000 Membership Rewards points
(i.e. $150)
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
  • Recurring bill payments
  • Drugstores
  • Hotels and Motels
  • Home Improvement
  • Restaurants
2 % $100 No annual fee
BMO® CashBack® Mastercard®*
  • Grocery
3 % $100 No annual fee
HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®
  • Travel
  • Foreign currencies
1.5% to 3% 100,000 points
(i.e. $500)
(thanks to the $100 credit )

*Gift cards for these businesses can be purchased at grocery or convenience stores for 5% cash back.

Illustrated example of the strategy

Here are some numbers to illustrate the return of this strategy:

Card Category Annual expenditures Rewards earned
American Express Cobalt Card Grocery store where American Express is accepted $1,500 $75
BMO® CashBack® Mastercard®* Grocery $1,500 45 $
American Express Cobalt Card Gas $1,000 $50
American Express Cobalt Card Restaurants where American Express is accepted $500 $25
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card Restaurants $500 $10
American Express Cobalt Card Uber Eats $700 $35
American Express Cobalt Card Tim Hortons, Starbucks $500 $25
Gift cards strategy Walmart $500 $25
Gift cards strategy Amazon $1,000 $50
Gift cards strategy SAQ/LCBO $500 $25
Gift cards strategy Netflix $250 $12.5
Gift cards strategy Cinema $500 $25
Gift cards strategy Books and cultures $500 $25
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card Drugstores $300 $6
Gift cards strategy Furniture (IKEA, Wayfair, etc.) $375 $18.75
Gift cards strategy Minor renovation and maintenance $375 $18.75
Gift cards strategy Clothing $1,000 $50
HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® Miscellaneous (other) $2,500 $37.5
TOTAL $14,000 $558.5

With this portfolio, an individual’s annual expenses of $14,000 could generate $354.62 in cash back after subtracting the annual fees ($558.5 – $155.88 – $49) or 2.53%.

This strategy yields a significantly lower return when welcome bonuses are removed from the equation. However, an average of 2.53% cash back is still excellent.

When you have few credit cards, the best strategy is to make sure you go out and optimize each category of purchase to get the most optimal cash back possible. Therefore, the gift card strategy is essential to master in a cash back perspective.

In addition, there are many online American Express promotional offers to help offset the annual fee for the American Express CobaltTM Card.

With the generous credits from American Express, the real return in this strategy is around 4% to 5% cash back.

Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!
I'm Aline, an experienced traveller, a foodie at heart, an Avgeek, a photography enthusiast and an expert on credit card programs. I use Reward Points to travel on a budget and to save money on everyday life; writing about these topics allows me to share my passion and help you. ~ 7 continents and 75 countries ~

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