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Weekend Reading – MBNA Smart Cash Credit Card changes and great blogs

In personal finance news this week or credit cards related to it…I was disappointed week to learn that MBNA Canada changed the rewards criteria for their MasterCard Smart Cash credit card. Although the primary feature remains, up to 5% cash back on all eligible gas and grocery purchases for the first 6 months; you now get 2% cash back (used to be 3% cash back) on eligible gas and grocery purchases thereafter. You continue to get 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases; pretty much anything you buy. The reduction on the gas and groceries is a real bummer, but I still think this is one of the best cash back credit cards around. We’ve received $450 cash back over the last year using this card and we’re glad we switched. This also means we put a ton of our transactions on credit cards :) If you want to learn more about this card, you can read more here.

In economic news this week…gold prices bounced off a seven-week low amid speculation more economic stimulus may be coming for the Eurozone. Gold had rallied to an 11-month peak close to $1,800 per ounce in early October but has since tapered off to around $1,720. With interest rates set to remain low to the ground for the foreseeable future (I read until early 2014 perhaps?), many experts believe gold might perform well in the short term. Gold as a non-traditional investment to stocks and bonds can have a home in a portfolio to boost returns, as long as these investments are in sync with your investment objectives as part of a well-defined financial plan. What are your thoughts on gold?

Headlining this Weekend Reading list, The Blunt Bean Counter said you should stress-test your financial situation in the event of a catastrophe. He said this blogpost should be relevant to many people, this advice is “not intended for older readers, but to anyone married or in a common law relationship, no matter their age. A 40 year old can get hit by a car anytime, just as much as an elderly person can pass away due to old age.”

Enjoy the rest of the articles!

Million Dollar Journey asked are you ready to be a landlord?

Dividend Monk wrote about looking for consistent growth with dividend stocks.

Freedom Thirty Five Blog wrote about marginal utility.

Andrew Hallam continued his fine work in Canadian Business this week, writing about Hedge Funds: Luxury Price for Lousy Investments. This comment was great: “Of course, winning hedge funds do exist, but finding them ahead of time isn’t easy.”

Canadian Couch Potato offered some advice why RESPs should be kept simple.

Retire Happy Blog said get irritated about debt. I do, all the time Jim….

Beating The Index profiled Argent Energy Trust.

Saving Mentor spends $108 per month on high speed internet, TV, 2 cell phones, home long distance and movies. That’s pretty darn good.

Finance Fox was wondered what your first big purchase was.

The Loonie Bin shared a personal story of perseverance.

Michael James on Money wasn’t impressed with the appeal process established by our provincial Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC). On the other hand, I don’t want to appeal because my property taxes are decent…for now.

Boomer & Echo talked said many appliances look good but don’t last.

Big Cajun Man said buck the fucket list. Yes, we all know what he meant, just rearrange the words!

Dividend Ninja wrote about 3 easy steps to saving enough for retirement.

Avrex Money shared the entire S&P TSX Composite index by dividend rates and yield. An excellent resource!

Modest Money wondered why talking about money is hard.

Sustainable Personal Finance wonders if you accept help.

The Passive Income Earner reported his dividend income for October 2012.

TD Waterhouse announced a new web-based, streaming trading platform this week for investors. The new web-based platform, based on current TD Ameritrade trading software, is designed for investors who trade U.S. stocks and execute advanced options strategies. You can learn more about the platforms here.

The Financial Blogger wrote about grabbing life by the balls.

Young & Thrifty said indexing works but don’t take my word for it.

Tom Bradley said investors should be very skeptical of ‘sure things’.

Your Wealth Effect said the latte factor doesn’t work for him.

Thanks for putting My Own Advisor in Carnivals:

20s Finances

Young & Thrifty

Canadian Personal Finance

Filed in: Weekend Reading

33 Responses to "Weekend Reading – MBNA Smart Cash Credit Card changes and great blogs"

  1. SavingMentor says:

    Thanks for the share Mark! I was just looking for an older article of yours to share in my roundup this week right now as I noticed you shared my article. I’m sure I’ll find something great that you wrote :)

    • No sweat! I really liked that article. My wife were talking about cutting our home phone recently, but I think it’s a must for a security system.

      You are more than welcome to use any of my previous 300+ blogposts – every week :)

  2. Echo says:

    Too bad about the Smart Cash card. Actually, there were two other changes to the rewards program. The $600/month earnings cap on groceries and gas was reduced to $400/month. And for Smart Cash Platinum cardholders there’s an earnings cap of $1,250 per month (no cap for Smart Cash World cardholders).

    • Yeah, I read that change in cap as well…annoying, although the cash back from 3% to 2% hit home for me since between my wife and I, we don’t spend $800 total let alone $1,200 total on gas and groceries per month. Still a bummer. 2% then 1% for everything else, remains pretty decent and I’ll continue to hold the card for now.

  3. Liquid says:

    I’m very bullish on gold. Not so much on the GLD or commodity based etfs, but I like gold and silver companies. Goldcorp shares have been doing really well over the last couple months. But then again, these are also some of the riskiest large cap investments I hold. I’ve never thought about stress testing my financial situation before, sounds interesting though. Thanks for the mention. Hope you have enough time to finish your laundry tonight.

    • Not a big fan of commodity based ETFs, too many “good” and “bad” stocks IMO. I prefer to own gold indirectly via broad market ETFs. Goldcorp has done very well of late…although low yield so you’re really counting on capital appreciation. That goes against my investing philosophy a bit where I feel income/cash flow/dividends and distributions is vitally important for sustained wealth.

      I did finish the laundry by the way :)

  4. Steve says:

    Thanks for the mention, Mark. I’m sure all reward credit cards will be constantly changing over the years to be less…rewarding. Have a good weekend!

  5. No, I actually call it the Fucket (pron Foo-kay) list, it sounds that much more sophisticated. Thanks for the mention, have a great weekend.

  6. The Blunt Bean Counter says:

    Hi Mark

    Thx for highlighting my post on stress testing your financial readiness. A morbid topic, but as you note a very important one. In my job as a CA I have seen multiple cases of spouses having no clue where things are, which only exacerbates the anxiety and stress they have at a very grief sticken time.

    Golfers tease in TO this week, beautiful weather thurs and fri and then cold and rainy supposedly on weekend, hopefully better for you.

    • Yeah, it was a morbid topic but an important one. I got your humour as well…I probably should have commented on that. Yeah, golfers tease indeed although only 10 Deg. C. in Ottawa now. Rain and Sandy on the way :)

      Take care and enjoy your weekend.

  7. I find the best credit card rewards come from not buying anything. Call me crazy. Thanks for the mention.

  8. Thanks for the mention Mark!

    Enjoy your weekend :)

  9. Elemag says:

    Mark, thank you for the information regarding the MBNA MC changes. Too bad, but what we can do? Our household is about to get our 10th $50 cheque in a week or so, therefore the switch from Scotiabank 1% cashback (no annual fee) Visa has paid off. All the spending on the MC is for things that we need anyway like food, utilities, gas, flights, etc. so it really make sense to get the cash back if it’s there.

    Regarding gold and silver, I consider it’s wise to have a small portion of one’s assets in precious metals. Our holdings comprise 10% of our financial (liquid) assets. I bought gold and silver about three years ago, so I am way up on this part of my investments. I am convinced that precious metals have lots of room to go up in price, so I won’t be unloading just yet.

    Have a good weekend!

    • You’re welcome Elemag. Kinda sucks regarding the MBNA changes. They also lowered their limit regarding gas and groceries per month, from $600 to $400. Between my wife and I, we don’t spend $800 total on gas and groceries per month so no big deal about the limit. Kinda sucks about the cash back, but I guess all good things must come to an end :)

      I will continue to keep the card for a while until I see a much better deal.

      Regarding gold, I only own a bit indirectly via broad market ETFs. That’s good enough for me. Buying gold and silver a few years ago, would indeed put you “way up”! Well done. I would keep both if you have them already. Over the long-term (20+ years) I’ll suspect you will do well.

      Thanks for your comment, good to see you checking in.

  10. Jon Evan says:

    Hi MOA,
    My take on gold. I’m only into black gold which I understand (because I’m for the west) but not the shiny thing. Don’t understand it.
    See Danielle Park sober analysis on gold:
    http://jugglingdynamite.com/2011/12/09/a-word-to-the-gold-bugs/

  11. Echo says:

    @Michael James You can’t be serious. Do you buy groceries and gas?

  12. Jon Evan says:

    @My Own Advisor
    Mid/Large cap oily stocks are overpriced now except CNQ and SU. Pipes have some up with good dividends! Oily juniors: overpriced just now!

  13. Eddie says:

    Mark,
    Thanks for the mention! Much appreciated.
    In regards to the MBNA CC changes, I’m glad that I don’t have any reward CC or an MBNA CC for that matter. I always found the rewards to be a bunch of BS and heavily on their terms. I say thumbs down to rewards, but that’s just me :)

    • Hey man, thanks for your honest commment. Do you not have a credit card? If you do, curious you don’t get rewards or cash in the process. Might as well get something?

      No sweat about the mention!

  14. AZ Snowbird says:

    I have been using the mbna smart cash card for some time now and like it. Easily managed online, have it on automatic pay so no late or missed payments, and the cash rewards come automatically. What more could you ask? I am disappointed that they lowered the 3% to 2% but I don’t recall getting any notice about that. However I will continue to use the card because I can’t find any that are better.

  15. Thanks for including us Mark. Luckily I’m an Aspire Travel guy myself to the changes didn’t affect me. I highly recommend the card simply for all the insurance it automatically covers you for!

  16. @TM @ My University Money

    You’ve raised a good point/advantage there!

  17. CK says:

    Does the card require you to use certain grocery stores or can you get the cashback at places like Chinatown fruit markets?

    • Hey CK,

      Here is an older list of qualifying retailers for the cash back. Independent Chinatown fruit markets won’t qualify, sorry. :(

      GROCERY
      A & P
      Asian Food Center
      Askew’s Foods
      Atlantic Wholesalers
      Bidgoods
      Brunos Fine FoodsBuy
      Low Foods
      Canada Safeway
      Choices Market
      Colemans Food Centre
      CO-OPCooper’s Foods
      Country Grocer
      Dominion
      Extra Foods
      Fairway Market
      Farm Boy
      Food Basics
      Foodland
      Fortinos
      Grocery Gateway
      Hannam Supermarket
      Highland Farms
      IGA
      Kin’s Farm Market
      Les Aliments M&M
      Loblaws
      Loebs
      Longo’s
      M & M Meat Shops
      Maxi
      Metro
      Michael – Angelo’s
      Market
      Moncion Grocers
      NeedsNester’s Market
      No-Frills
      Overwaitea Food
      Pete’s Frootique
      Planet Organic
      Powell’s Supermarket
      Presidents Choice
      Price Chopper
      Price Smart
      Produce Depot
      Provigo
      Quality Foods
      Quality Market
      Rabba
      Real Canadian Super Stores
      Save EasySave On Foods
      Shop Easy Foods
      Shop ‘N Save
      Sobeys
      Starsky Foods
      Stongs Markets
      Super CSuper Value
      Supermarche – Metro
      Superstore
      T & T Supermarket
      Thrifty Foods
      Urban Fare
      Valu Mart
      Village Food Markets
      Weston Produce
      Your Independent Grocers
      Zehrs

      Gas stations 7 – Eleven
      Amco
      Canadian Tire Gas Bars
      Cango
      Centex
      Chevron
      CO-OP Gas Bars
      Couche Tard
      Crevier
      Drummond’s Gas
      Esso
      Fas Gas
      Flying J
      Fortino’s Gas Bars
      Gale S Gas Bar
      Gas Bar
      Gasrite
      Husky
      Irving Oil
      Loblaw Gas Bars
      Macewen
      Mac’s Gas Bar
      Mohawk
      Mr. Gas
      N. Atlantic Pet.
      No Frills Gas Bar
      Olco
      Petrocan
      Pioneer
      Save On Foods Gas Bars
      Scholten’s
      Shell
      Short Stop Gas Bars
      Sobey’s Fast Fuel
      Sunoco
      Sunys
      Super Save Gas
      Superstore Gas Bar
      Ultramar
      Western Petroleum
      Wilson Gas Stop
      Yig Gas Bar
      Zehrs Gas Bars

  18. aby says:

    Nobody appears to have commented on the fact that the 1% is now limited to the first $1,250 and then it is Z E R O. Major drawback. . . enough that I will now cancel.

  19. Paul N says:

    Has anyone had a problem with upgrading their mbna smart cash to the world card? I was able to do it but when you speak to their operators they don’t really seem to want to do it “happily”. The agent I spoke to said they were losing money on the program so they had to reduce the rewards. I think they are counting on people being lazy and just not taking the time to switch cards or do research on better cards.
    They told a friend of mine they had to review if she was qualified and would get back to her by mail? She pays her balance every month and has never had an issue paying? That was weird….

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