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My new credit friend – MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus MasterCard

Normally, I wouldn’t be excited about putting a new credit card in my wallet.  Actually, I can’t remember the last time I applied for a credit card, it must have been 10 years ago yet the MBNA Smart Card Platinum Plus MasterCard was almost too good to be true.

Almost, but it is true.

Krystal Yee, from GMBMFB recently made me stand up and take more notice of this card.  Then I got some reinforcement from the outstanding MoneySense article entitled Canada’s Best Credit Cards 2011.

Before I take some flak from Gail Vaz-Oxlade for putting a new credit card in my pocket, here’s what all my fuss is about – a breakdown of the MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus MasterCard:

  • 5% cash back on gas and grocery purchases for the first 6 months
  • 2% 3% cash back on gas and grocery purchases** (after 6 month honeymoon is over), up to $600 spending/month
  • 1% cash back on all other retail purchases
  • 1.99% annual interest rate on balance transfers for the first 10 full months
  • No annual fee
  • 24/7 purchase assurance

**Updated May 2013.

Maybe the best part feature of this card, once your cash back totals at least $50 at the end of a monthly billing cycle, MBNA will automatically mail you a cheque.  Yup, very smart cash back indeed.

I figured this was the best credit card for me since after reviewing my credit card expenditures over the last few months, I calculated over 50% of my transactions were of the “gas and groceries” variety.  Unfortunately wine from the LCBO doesn’t count as groceries :(

Given my existing MasterCard was providing only 1% return on retail products (which isn’t that bad), I figured I wasn’t getting as much bang for my buck, especially considering I never carry a balance.  Good credit, curiosity and a desire to get more back if possible prompted my search for a new card.

I used the MoneySense decision tree in their September/October 2011 edition to help me with this process.  After answering questions such as “Are you a small business owner?” (no), “Do you ever carry a balance on your credit card…?” (no) and “Which type of rewards are you most interested in?” (cash back) – these decisions let me to the following top choices in the MoneySense article:

  • MBNA Smart Card Platinum Plus MC (annual fee 0%)
  • Capital One Aspire World MC (annual fee $120)
  • Capital One Aspire Cash Platinum MC (annual fee $0)
  • Capital One Aspire Cash World MC (annual fee $120)
  • Scotiabank Momentum VISA (annual fee $39)
  • CIBC Dividend One MC (annual fee $0)

In the end, I chose MBNA because the 2% 3% cash back for most of my transactions and 1% on everything else, with no annual fee, even after the 6-month honeymoon expires.  Based on my estimates, I should receive at least $150 cash back over the coming year on gas and groceries purchases alone.  That’s three $50 cash back cheques to look forward, money I can use for anything instead of retail points I struggle to find something worthwhile to spend.

Cash back credit cards aren’t for everyone, heck, credit cards aren’t for everyone (right Gail?) but if you pay off your balance every month there are some great products out there worth switching for.  Instead of seeing bills and flyers in our mailbox, I might actually enjoy visiting the mailbox now :)

Check out other reviews of this credit card from these excellent bloggers:

Million Dollar Journey

Sustainable Personal Finance

Krystal Yee at Give Me Back My Five Bucks

What do you think of this card?  Do you have an MBNA MasterCard in your pocket?

If not, what is your favourite credit card and why perks are you getting from it?

Filed in: Debt

37 Responses to "My new credit friend – MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus MasterCard"

  1. Great stuff MOA! I have two cash rewards credit cards that I use for all my daily purchases. Every penny counts! I make sure to pay off the balance every month and collect the reward checks when they finally roll in. It’s absolutely free money, really.

    Best wishes!

  2. Elemag says:

    I am already a member of the club : )

    I’ve had the Scotiabank 1% cashback no annual fee card for years. Then two years ago they came up with the Momentum 2% cashback Visa, and my wife applied for it. Novemeber is actually the month when we should collect our annual cash which stands at $410 minus the dreaded annual fees ($39 for the first and I think $25 for the spousal card).

    However, as soon as I heard of MBNA’s Smartcash MC, I knew that was the one for us. I love Scotiabank, I am a shareholder there but…turning down a better deal goes against human nature, right? ; )

    • @Elemag,

      We’ve owned the PC MC for many years, it offers 1% rewards/points on everything. I think, in hindsight, the Scotiabank 1% or similar would have been better for us. I’m going to love getting cash back now. Simply more options to spend where we want, when we want.

      Annual cash @ $410? Wow! Even after annual fees, that’ pretty impressive. Well done!

      Yeah, I love being a shareholder of BNS but even without owning one of their products, I think they’re doing alright ;)

      Thanks for your comment!

  3. Echo says:

    I also picked up this card after reading Krystal’s post, but it was the $60 rebate for signing up through Great Canadian Rebates that sealed it for me.

    Did you notice in the following issue of MoneySense they published a correction stating that the Scotia Momentum Visa actually worked out to being the top cash back rewards credit card?

    • @Echo,

      Yeah, I missed that deal unfortunately! Oh well. Good on you to get that deal!

      Yeah, I did notice the Scotia Momentum Visa, that looked pretty good too. I recall it had an annual fee though, maybe $39? Based on what I need and what I spend, the MBNA will do the trick for now. I’ll give it a try :)

      Thanks for checking in Echo!

  4. Adeem Zafar says:

    I feel the same way you do!

  5. Congrats on the new card.
    @B&E – interesting about the Scotia offering, I didn’t know about that one.
    We actually use the MBNA for purchases @ grocery stores and gas stations but have now adopted the Capital One World Aspire MC for all other purchases. I’ll be writing about that card soon but it boils down to 1.5% CB on purchases and after you have spent $1000 on it annually you break even (bonus points + CB rewards) to offset the annual fee.

    • Thanks SPF!

      That Capital One World Aspire MC is a good card, but I recall it has an annual fee (I don’t like annual fees), I could be wrong there?

      I look forward to your post about that card. 1.5% CB on purchases is good! Certainly better than what I was getting before with my PC MC.

  6. thePaperboy says:

    Hey, I’m currently using the same card and I’m loving it. I discovered that I can buy anything I want from the grocery store and it counts as “groceries”. For the last couple months I was buying my bus pass at the Metro and enjoying the 5% cash back! I haven’t actually tried to buy other things at the Metro yet but I’m sure it would work for things like lottery tickets.

    • @thePaperboy,

      Great stuff! I know, it seems the card doesn’t dissect what you buy at the grocery locations, basically, all purchases at that grocery location give you your 5% or 3% – which is awesome. I’m tempted to never pay cash again!!!

  7. Walt says:

    I wife and I use our MBNA cards for almost everything we buy. The balance is paid in full every month so no interest charges. I use the card the same way I used to use my debit card. I just received another $50 cheque. That makes it $300 so far since I got the card in April.

  8. I have the MBNA travel one because its free but for some reason I’m more into traveling points than Cash bank (which is stupid of me).

    Great review!

    Getting cheques in the mail with money FOR You is great, because the ones I USUALLY get from MBNA are cash advance cheques hahah!

  9. Echo says:

    @Mark – MBNA ended up extending the deal…it never did expire. It’s still posted on the GCR website

  10. Michael says:

    I have this card and the cashback rewards are great. I do wish MBNA would provide the option for the $50 rebate to be applied as a credit to the balance on the card instead of issuing cheques. It should also be mentioned that TD bought the MBNA Canada credit card portfolio this year – and I hope they do not mess with on benefits of this card!

  11. I have been looking at switching card recently from a travel reward to a cash back with the Scotia Momentum (The platinum version with 4% cash back). I have found that having the card under my home equity, I get a 50% discount on the fees :)

    When I get a new card, I usually ditch one so I never hold more credit cards :)

  12. Lazy Investor says:

    Thinking about changing my Visa Oddysey Gold for that MC card! Just applied today after having a “little issue” with Visa regarding the travel insurance. I took Visa mainly for that insurance but they’re not easy to deal with when needed!

  13. @Michael

    Thanks for you comment!

    I too, like the idea of the $50 rebate applied to the account as a credit, but then again, the cheque will be nice as well. This way, you can apply the money to anything.

    Yeah, I’m aware of TD bought the MBNA Canada credit card portfolio. Let’s hope they don’t mess this up!!! :)

  14. SavingMentor says:

    Great choice with this card. I’ve had it in my wallet for several years and continue to use it today. You may want to check out my article “The Best Credit Cards In Canada” as it does a detailed analysis on both cash back and travel rewards credits cards comparing them on 4 categories (typical rewards return percentage, best possible rewards return percentage, reward flexibility, and insurance coverage & perks).

    The MBNA Smart Cash did come out on top in the cash back category. I personally use it for all my gas and grocery spending like SPF and then I use the Capital One Aspire World for everything else. Yes, the COAW has an annual fee of $120, but it gives you 10,000 bonus points annually as well for free that are worth $100 in travel spent anywhere at all. So essentially the fee is $20/yr and for the amazing insurance package it offers, it is worth it.

    MBNA also just launched there MBNA Worldpoints World Mastercard that has even better rewards than the COAW. They give you 2% back on all purchases that can be spent any way you like (travel, statement credit, deposit into your chequing account). It has an $89 annual fee unfortunately so the COAW is still a better choice for most.

    However, us lucky few who are long time MBNA customers that started with the MBNA Starwood Preferred Guest MasterCard which got converted to the MBNA Travel Rewards Elite MasterCard that is now becoming the MBNA Worldpoints World MasterCard get the annual fee waived. I am going to using switch to it as my primary card from the COAW because the 2% is cash, not travel, and I don’t have to worry about the hassle of maximizing reward tiers like I do with the COAW.

    • Thanks SavingMentor, glad you stopped by!

      I hope to be over to your blog more in 2012.

      The MBNA Smart Cash, works well for us so far. I must say, we’re looking forward to getting that cash-back – should come just when we need it, just after Christmas! :)

      That COAW card sounds very good as well, probably worth the fees if you travel lots?!

      MBNA Worldpoints World MasterCard – fees waived? Nice stuff. 2% on all purchases is very good indeed.

  15. Lazy Investor says:

    What a mistake!

    I just got the Platinum Plus instead of the Smart Cash !
    Guess I should read more carefully…

    Just sent another application:)

  16. Daniel says:

    Bad news!
    There will be no more Smart Cash Platinum plus with all the benefits! either is a regular Smart Cash, or a Platinum plus with no cash back. All platinum will be changed to regular at expiry!
    It all started when I could not log into my account online. I called, rep said that some retailer I shopped at had a security breach, so my card needs to be replaced. They mailed me a new one, but surprise, it a was a regular one (I had Platinum). I called back and I was told that they no longer offer the the Platinum with cash back. This is a month after TD bought them. It could be a coincidence that there was a merchant with a security breach, MBNA decided that they no longer offer this card and that TD bought MBNA (one would think that they want to protect their credit card offerings), all within a month, but myself I dont believe in coincidences (not three anyways). Saying all that, Cash back card is still a good one, if you have a back up for all the extended benefits lost.

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