MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard Review

It’s no secret that I love using the MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard for my everyday spending.  I’ve been using this cash back credit card for over a year and have received over $700 in cash back rewards so far.

Recent changes from MBNA have reduced the amount of cash back you can earn with the MBNA Smart Cash Platinum card.

With MBNA Smart Cash Platinum you’ll get 5% cash back on groceries and gas for the first 6 months (2% thereafter), and 1% cash back on everything else, up to $1,250 a month.  Still not too bad.

Best of all, the MBNA Smart Cash card has no annual fee, so you’ll get to enjoy every dollar you earn.  Using a cash back credit card for your daily spending – and paying it off in full every month – sure beats paying $14.95 a month in debit card fees.

Sign up for the MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard here – (link)

MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard

While travel points are still the most popular form of rewards for Canadians, I prefer to earn cash back to help supplement my everyday spending.

Related: Best Credit Cards For Travel Rewards 

With the MBNA Smart Cash card I get a cheque in the mail whenever my cash back rewards reaches $50.  This way I get to do whatever I want with my credit card rewards without worrying my points expiring or limited travel options.

Here’s what kind of rewards and benefits you can expect with the MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard:

  • 5% cash back on qualifying net retail gas and grocery purchases for the first 6 months, up to $400 a month.
  • 2% cash back on qualifying net retail gas and grocery purchases thereafter, up to $400 a month.
  • 1% cash back for all other qualifying net retail purchases, up to $1,250 a month (including gas and groceries)
  • Free online access to your credit card account and rewards balance
  • 1.99% annual interest rate on balance transfers, access cheques and deposits for the first 10 full months
  • No annual fee
  • No charge for additional cards

The grocery and gas spending bonus is capped at $400/month.  This means when you spend more than $400 a month on groceries and gas you’ll earn $8 (2%) on the first $400, and any purchases after that are eligible for 1% cash back, up to the $1,250 a month earn limit.

Once you reach at least $50 in cash back rewards at the end of any monthly billing cycle, MBNA will send you a cheque in the mail.

MBNA Smart Cash World MasterCard

Existing cardholders should note there’s an upgraded version of the Smart Cash card called the MBNA Smart Cash World MasterCard.  The upgraded card gives you an extra 6 months of 5% cash back on groceries and gas, plus there’s no earnings limit like there is with the Smart Cash Platinum card.

You’ll also get added price protection and concierge service with the Smart Cash World MasterCard:

Price Protection – If you make a qualifying purchase with your card and find the same product advertised in Canada at a lower price
within 60 days after purchase, the difference will be refunded, up to $500.  Certain conditions and exclusions apply.

Concierge Service – Get more free time for the things you really want to do, count on our Concierge service to book air and land travel
including hotels.  Any costs incurred in connection with these services are charged to your credit card.

There is no charge for the upgrade, but to be eligible for the MBNA Smart Cash World MasterCard, your personal income must be greater than $60,000 or your household income must be $100,000 or greater.

How Much Cash Back Can You Earn With MBNA Smart Cash?

I like to maximize my cash back rewards by making every purchase I can with the MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard.  This is easy when it comes to things like groceries and gas, but I also set-up automatic bill payments with my credit card so my cable, cell phone and utility bills are all helping me earn cash back.

Since I track my expenses, I know that I spend approximately $2,500 per month on my credit card.  Here’s how much I’d earn using the MBNA Smart Cash Platinum card for the first year:

  • 5% rebate on gas and grocery purchases for the first 6 months – $120
  • 2% rebate on gas and grocery purchases thereafter – $48
  • 1% rebate on all additional purchases – $102

Total cash rebate in first year = $270

After a year, I upgraded to the MBNA Smart Cash World MasterCard and got another 6 months of 5% cash back on groceries and gas, and no limit to my earnings.  That means I’ll get:

  • 5% rebate on gas and grocery purchases for the first 6 months – $120
  • 2% rebate on gas and grocery purchases thereafter – $48
  • 1% rebate on all additional purchases – $252

Total cash rebate in first year = $420

By the next year, my annual cash back rewards will drop to $348.  Still not too bad.

Final thoughts

The MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard is one of the best no-fee cash back credit cards in Canada.  I love the fact that I’m earning close to $500 a year just for changing my spending habits from a debit card to a credit card.

Redeeming your rewards is really straightforward – once you hit the $50 threshold you’ll automatically get sent a cheque in the mail.  The only downside is that you can’t redeem your cash back for a statement credit.  I’m depositing my rewards cheques into a high interest savings account and saving them up for a vacation.

If you like earning cash back rewards and dislike paying an annual fee, Smart Cash should be your go-to credit card for everyday spending.

  • Sign up for the MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard here – (link)
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  1. JonE on July 7, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    Nice post! I use the Smart Cash card as well and just got my first $50 cheque in the mail.

    I’m curious about the MBNA Smart Cash World MasterCard – how did you upgrade to this card? I can’t find anything about it on the website.

  2. Echo on July 7, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    @JonE – I think you have to use the card for a full year and then you can apply for the upgrade.

    I got a letter in the mail from MBNA and it said to login to my account online and check for the upgrade offer. It took about 3 weeks for the new card to get sent to me, and it was a brand new c/c number.

    • JoC on September 18, 2012 at 7:43 pm

      I started using this card in June and have already received $100 back.

      I hadn’t even thought about using it to pay my utilities and earn more money!

      That’s brilliant!

      Looking forward to the upgrade offer!!

  3. Poor Student on July 20, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    I finally got accepted for the SmartCash card on my third try, I just wanted it so bad. I had a TD cash back card which offered 1% on all purchases, but a lot of my purchases are gas and groceries so I really wanted the upgrade.

    Quick question. do you know where to find the list of businesses that are eligible for the 3% back on gas and groceries? An agent said there was a list of approved businesses but I can’t find it anywhere.

    • Echo on July 20, 2012 at 2:24 pm

      @Poor Student – I haven’t seen a list of approved businesses that are eligible for the grocery and gas multiplier. I would recommend looking at your rewards statement online just to see which purchases are getting coded with bonus points.

      For example, purchases at Superstore and Wal-Mart grocery stores are coded as groceries, even if you buy some non-grocery items.

      You might be interested in this post – http://www.rewardscardscanada.com/how-to-use-your-non-amex-rewards-card-at-costco/

  4. Carl on September 13, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    Great post!, I just got my MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard world but they offered me only 6 months with 5% cash back on gas and groceries..how did you get the extra 6 months?


    PS. Great blog

    • Echo on September 13, 2012 at 2:24 pm

      @Carl – thanks for the kind words. Just to clarify, I got the regular MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard and used it for a year. Then, MBNA sent me the offer to upgrade to the Smart Cash World MasterCard, which gave me an extra 6 months at 5% back on groceries and gas.

  5. Laina on September 14, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Does anyone know how sticky they are about the qualifying income? My household income is about $97,000, and they say it has to be $100,000 to qualify.

  6. Earl on October 8, 2012 at 12:29 am

    Hi – I’m wondering about this statement: “The grocery and gas spending bonus is capped at $600/month.”

    Does that apply to both the 1st 6 months (@ 5%) and ongoing months (@ 3%)?
    Skimming through the legal disclosure the cap is mentioned for the 5% but not the 3%.

    I’m thinking of getting the Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard since it seems to be the best travel card (flexible and offers 2%), but since the MBNA card is free I might get both and use MBNA exclusively for gas/groceries to get 3% back on those purchases.

  7. Echo on October 8, 2012 at 7:35 am

    @Earl – Yes, the $600 cap on monthly grocery and gas purchases applies on both the six-month bonus period, and throughout the duration of owning the card.

    Good idea to use one of the Capital One cards in tandem with MBNA Smart Cash. I wrote about doing that here – https://boomerandecho.com/best-no-fee-cash-back-credit-cards-in-canada/

  8. Paul N on December 18, 2012 at 10:52 am

    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….

    • Echo on December 28, 2012 at 12:52 am

      @Paul N – I was able to upgrade after receiving a letter from MBNA this summer which told me to go online, click the rewards tab, and complete the upgrade application. This was after about a year of using the Smart Cash Platinum Card. So I got another six months of 5% back on groceries and gas, but then the changes happened in December.

      As far as I know, there is an income threshold to qualify ($60k individual, or $100k household), but they didn’t really check that thoroughly.

      Conversely, I just got the Capital One Aspire Cash World MasterCard about a month after applying for it. They sent an ID verification letter that I had to sign for at Canada Post, then two weeks later I got card in the mail, and then a week later I got the PIN mailed separately to activate the card. Very strange.

  9. Ja on February 20, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Nice post, I just got this card and the cash back is great. Also received $100 cash rebate from applying to this card.

  10. Salim on March 26, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    I have the same MBNA smart cash mastercard and its great.. i have a question though does anyone know how many reward points equals a 50 cheque in the mail?

    • Echo on March 26, 2013 at 8:22 pm

      @Salim – You’ll need 5,000 points to get the $50 cheque in the mail.

  11. ULTIMATE on August 16, 2014 at 6:36 am

    Appreciate the post. Answered my questions AND more. Now await my card.

  12. Steve on November 6, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    It seems they purposely withhold your $50 dollar cheque. After 2 months I would phone and they say they will issue a new cheque. What happened to the first cheque??? This has happened 5 times now. Go figure.

  13. Paul N on November 6, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    I commented above here in 2012. Much like Steve I feel my experience with MBNA has slowly over the years eroded. I can no longer be enthusiastic about their service or their card offerings. They make you do a run around in order to get your cash back redeemed. Also with each subsequent card, your rewards slowly “wash out”.

    I have seen the commercials on tv for a 5% cash back American Express card. Has anyone had experience with this card or can anyone offer a new alternative to MBNA? I plan on cancelling my MBNA cards and trying a new direction before years end and my annual fee comes up.

    • Echo on November 6, 2014 at 10:50 pm

      Hi Paul, you’re referring to the Simply Cash card from American Express. Anyone who had the old Costco TrueEarnings card will have it replaced by the Simply Cash card.

      I did a cash back card comparison over on my rewards card blog. It ranked the no-fee cards and the annual fee cards – http://www.rewardscardscanada.com/cash-back-credit-cards-ranked/

  14. Paul N on November 7, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    Thanks – much appreciated
    I probably land in the $15K a year range and I put everything thing I can on the card. I always 100% auto-pay the balance every month. It’s always a bummer when the 5% bonus period ends…

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