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Top Cash Back Credit Cards in Canada for 2015

After you guys gave me your favorite credit cards, I did a little research and came up with what I think are the best free cash back cards in Canada.  With rewards points constantly depreciating in value, sometimes it’s best to get cold hard cash back.

Here are the contestants for the coveted title of The Top Cash Back Credit Card in Canada (all with no annual fee – updated August 2015):

MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard® (editors pick)

  • 5% cash back on all of your gas and grocery purchases for the first 6 months;
  • 2% cash back on gas and grocery purchases thereafter (up to $400/month spending);
  • And, you’ll always earn 1% cash back on all of your other qualifying net retail purchases (up to $1,250/month spending**);
  • Enjoy free online access to your credit card account;
  • And, with no annual fee and free additional cards you’ll start to see the benefits right away;
  • Once your cash back totals at least $50 at the end of a monthly billing cycle, they’ll automatically mail you a cheque – it’s that simple;
  • Car Rental Insurance;
  • Purchase Protection – 90 days insurance in case of theft or damage; and,
  • Extended Warranty – doubles warranty up to 1 yr.

**I recommend that once you obtain the Smart Cash card to upgrade to the free Smart Cash World card by calling or upgrading within your MBNA online login (Account Services).  This will eliminate the $1,250 spending cap on the 1% and add Price Protection insurance. The insurance will pay you back the difference if you find a lower price on a purchase within 60 days.

Big gas/grocery spender? If you spend more than $470/month in gas groceries, then the Scotia Momentum Infinite Visa which returns 4% on gas/groceries will return more than the Smart Cash even after the $129 annual fee (for two cards). The Scotia card also offers 2% return on drug store purchases and recurring payments and 1% on everything else. More info here in my Scotia Momentum Infinite Visa review.  Limited time promo – annual fee waived for the first year.

Capital One Aspire Cash Platinum Mastercard (editors pick) (get $75 cash back when signing up for this card)

  • Earn 25% extra cash rewards every year and pay no annual fee (cap one recently removed this bonus);
  • Earn 1% cash rewards on all purchases;
  • No limit to the amount you can earn;
  • Add an authorized user for $0, and earn even more cash;
  • Car rental insurance;
  • Purchase assurance – 120 days insurance in case of theft or damage;
  • Extended warranty – doubles warranty up to 2 yrs;
  • Price Protection – find a lower price within 60 days of purchase and they will cover the difference; and,
  • Baggage delay insurance.

Royal Bank Cash Back MasterCard (editors pick)

  • 2% cash back on grocery store purchases (up to $6k spending per year, after that, reverts back to 1%);
  • 0.50% cash back on regular purchases up to $6k spending;
  • 1% cash back on regular purchases after $6k spending in a year;
  • Purchase assurance – 90 days insurance in case of theft or damage; and,
  • Extended warranty – doubles warranty up to 1 yr.

Capital One Platinum MasterCard Exclusively for Costco Members 

  • 0.50% cash back on first $3,000 in purchases;
  • 1.00% cash back on any amount over $3,000;
  • 2.00% cash back on gasoline;
  • 3.00% cash back at restaurants.
  • Car rental insurance;
  • Purchase assurance – 120 days insurance in case of theft or damage;
  • Extended warranty – doubles warranty up to 2 yrs;
  • Price Protection – find a lower price within 60 days of purchase and they will cover the difference; and,
  • Baggage delay insurance.
  • Notes: Need a Costco Membership ($55/yr), rebate is collected every January @ Costco as a gift card or cash.

Canadian Tire Cash Advantage Mastercard

  • 0.25% cash back on the first $1,500 in purchases.
  • 0.50% cash back on the next $1,500 in purchases.
  • 1.00% cash back on any amount over $3,000.
  • 1.5% cash back on purchases over $24,000.
  • Double the cash back (depending on current tier basically up to 3%) at Canadian tire stores, gas stations and Mark’s Work Wearhouse.
  • No maximum rebate.
  • Pays out rebate quarterly which is applied against your balance.

CIBC 1% Dividend Visa

  • 0.25% cash back on annual purchases up to $1,500.
  • 0.50% cash back on annual purchases from $1,500.01 to $3,000.
  • 1% cash back for net annual purchases over $3,000.
  • No maximum rebate.
  • Purchase Protection – 90 days insurance in case of theft or damage.
  • Extended Warranty – doubles warranty up to 1 yr.

Based on my Scenario, I spend around $25k / year on my credit card.  This would equate to a cash back rebate of:

  • MBNA Smart Cash (World): $298 (assuming I max out gas/groceries of $400/month)
  • Capital One: $250 (lower but best insurance package)
  • Royal Bank Cash Back: $280 (assuming max out $6k/year grocery spending)
  • Capital One Costco Mastercard: $259 – costco membership ($55) =  $204 (assuming $200/month in gas)
  • Cash Advantage: $236.25 (more if I make purchases @ CT store/gas station)
  • CIBC Dividend: $231.25


If I was looking for a widely accepted free cash back credit card with a good return, there are three contenders, the MBNA, Capital One and Royal Bank card.  They all have their own advantages.  Since Capital One recently removed their 25% bonus, it really pushed the MBNA and Royal Bank card ahead.  However, cap one still offers a stronger insurance package.

The Capital One card has a no-tier 1% return and a better insurance package (extended warranty/purchase protection, car rental insurance, price protection and baggage delay insurance).  The RBC card, which is new to the list, offers 2% return on up to $6k in grocery spending, but tiered spending on everything else (0.5% up to $6k, 1% after).  If RBC removes the tier on the 1% spending (it acts like a hidden $30 annual fee), then it could potentially float to the top of the list.

Overall though, I think the  MBNA Smart Cash Mastercard is the best cash back credit card in Canada right now and is a card that I carry in my own wallet.  It has a high return on gas/grocery spending (2% up to $400/month), offers 1% otherwise and with a decent insurance offering (purchase protection, extended warranty, and car rental insurance).  Just make sure to upgrade to the Smart Cash World (free) after obtaining the card  as it will remove the 1% spending cap and add Price Protection insurance.  Also note that as a bonus, new cardholders receive 5% return on gas/grocery spending for 6 months.  Then again, you can get $75 cash back on the Capital One card (not offered on the MBNA card), which has to be considered as well.

If you are a big spender (spend more than $470/month in gas/groceries), then you will get better returns with a premium card even after the annual fees.  Check out my post on the best premium cash back credit cards in Canada.

Any thoughts?

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FrugalTrader About the author: FrugalTrader is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.

{ 67 comments… add one }

  • Meaghan April 24, 2014, 8:28 pm

    It seems the MBNA Smart Cash Credit Card has a new(?) gift card offer, $25 upon approval and $75 after your first purchase. Is there any risk or reason why I shouldn’t get in, grab $100 and get out? I’m happy with my current credit card but I don’t want to say no to $100. help!

  • Evelyn June 10, 2014, 2:47 pm

    I have a MBNA new smart cash credit card. After reading your post, I login online to my account and try to upgrade the card into “world class” in the online “service account”. But I cannot find the option to upgrade the card over there.

    Could you please let me know with detailed steps on how to upgrade the MBNA card?

    Thank you,


  • Paul N June 10, 2014, 4:47 pm

    Hi Evelyn,

    May I suggest you call in to MBNA and speak to an operator they can walk you through the steps. Sometimes it is not straightforward, you need to push them a little. Just call the number on the back of your card.

  • Corey August 6, 2014, 4:20 pm

    Laurentian Bank has a new Visa card that offers up to 3%:

    3% on recurring payments
    Collect 3% cashback on each new bill registered for recurring payments (telephone, cable TV, internet, newspaper, etc.).

    2% on groceries and gas
    Collect 2 % cashback each time you go grocery shopping or fill up on gas.

    1% on all other purchases
    Collect 1 % cashback on whatever else you buy with your VISA DOLLARS card.

    Annual fee of $49 but if you spend $500 in first 50 days you get a $50 cash back credit. No caps. Even if there is an annual fee, considering no caps I think this is the best way to go considering the 3% on pre-authorized bills cash back.

    Just wanted to add my 2 cents as no one has mentionned this card.

  • Rich August 15, 2014, 11:37 am

    Scotia Momentum VISA Infinite Card is now a better card than MBNA card in my opinion. Even with the annual fee because 4% continues where as the 5% from MBNA is only for the first 6 months. Balance interest is also lower.

    Check it out:


  • Moti September 12, 2014, 1:29 pm

    Hi Everyone,

    I recently was paying my property taxes and the site said that we can use this service to pay- its called Plastiq..- https://www.plastiq.com/index

    What it does is take your credit card, charge a 2% fee and lets you pay property taxes, tuition, utilities with your card. While the 2% fee is hefty, it may make sense if your cash back is 4% or so.

    Was just wondering if anyone has any experience with the site.

  • Paul September 19, 2014, 8:40 pm

    Anyone know anything about the American express cash back 1.25% 5% for first 6 months and I believe on the preferred its 5% for everything not only gas and groceries

  • smayer97 September 21, 2014, 4:21 pm


    note that the $50 cash bonus is a promo only available until Oct 31, 2014. See all details about the card here:


  • smayer97 September 21, 2014, 4:35 pm

    @Paul, re: Amex Cash Back card, all info can be found here:


    Yes, the 5% applies to all purchases in first 6 mo but it only applies to the first $8000 spent (cash back is capped at $400)

    Note that there is a $79/yr fee but supplementary cards are free

  • Jakynyne September 27, 2014, 10:11 am

    Just got an email notice from Costco. As of December 2014, they’re no longer offering the Amex True Earnings card.

  • MG October 6, 2014, 10:12 am

    New Costco card (they now accept MC):

    Capital One Platinum MasterCard
    0.5% on first $3000, 1% after
    2% on gas
    3% on restaurants
    No annual fee
    19.75% rate
    Double cash back for first 3 months

  • Joe October 8, 2014, 12:33 pm

    Consider the Amazon Canada Visa, especially if you travel and/or make purchases in other than CDN dollars. One percent cash back on all purchases, two percent on all purchases at Amazon.ca, no annual fee and, best of all, no 2.5% surcharge on foreign currency transactions. This can save “snowbirds” a considerable sum.

  • smayer97 October 8, 2014, 1:39 pm

    I concur regarding Amazon Canada Visa; they do not charge the 2.5% fee for foreign currency conversion.

    If you want a Mastercard, you may also consider Sears Canada Mastercard which has the same feature since 2012 (see my post #195. above).

    Both are backed by JP Morgan Chase. That is why both have this same feature.

    The main difference is that instead of cash back though, it gives 1% in Sears Club points, with a $30 welcome bonus in Sears Points.

    For those who care, JP Morgan Chase products still do not have electronic statements, ability to download transactions, nor the ability to set up pre-approved payments of monthly balances. They only offer the ability to VIEW your transactions online.

    One advantage that the Amazon Visa has is that every $20 worth of cash back accumulated is automatically credited as cash to the account; no waiting or action required.

    P.S. Best Buy & Future shop credit cards are also backed by JP Morgan Chase. See all their card products at http://www.chase.ca

  • 5inatrailer October 14, 2014, 11:40 pm

    ATB Platinum Mastercard.
    3% cashback on groceries/gas
    1% everything else.

    Max 3000$ cashback
    Annual fee 140$

    We got 1100$ back last year right after Christmas. Easy.

  • Mr. Frugal October 16, 2014, 10:40 pm

    ATB platinum mastercard are you kidding me for $140 annual fee is not real smart compared to Scotia Infinite Momentum which gives you 4% cashback on groceries and gas at a $99 annual fee. No brainer! Tip: Go to the branch and apply they have the ability to waive off $50 off annual for first year but be persistent as they might give you small talk and say promotion is over. Cheers

  • 5inatrailer October 20, 2014, 6:29 pm

    Merci Monsieur Frugal!

  • smayer97 December 26, 2014, 11:31 am

    A follow-up on the Laurentian Bank Visa (#320 & 324 above):

    I signed up about 2 months ago. I like it. Found a few of very minor issues:
    – I immediately found that they had an error in their system that was not calculating the % refund correctly. They immediately fixed the problem and all appears good so far (2 months in…I’ll keep monitoring).
    – They do not identify what transactions generate which % refund, so you have to somewhat guess. That is a bit of a nuisance to be able to verify that transactions are identified correctly (made it tricky to identify the problem above).
    – For downloading transactions to financial software like Quicken, they send the Posted date instead of the Transaction date, which I prefer as I find it easier to reconcile with. Minor nuisance for me.

    Otherwise, the people there have been very pleasant to deal with. All are very accommodating and take the time to speak with you without feeling rushed or bothered.

    And of course the 3% on recurring transactions is great, and they do not charge for extra cards.

  • smayer97 December 26, 2014, 11:31 am

    P.S. The 1st year free promotion is still running.

  • Ravi January 18, 2015, 5:24 pm

    I’ve been given the opportunity to put my company purchases on my card. It can be a business card or personal. It should be at least 500k a year that’s put through. So quite significant. Are there any cards that pay more than 1.5% cash back? From what I’ve seen 7k~ appears to be the most cash back I can get.

    I tend to download statements, but worst case can scan paper ones. (Notice Chase still doesn’t have download options)

    I realize this is a bit of a different amount, but I’m certain there are other folks who have a similar situation and have figured out how to maximize the benefit.

    Thanks in advance.

  • Paul N January 19, 2015, 11:23 am

    @ Ravi

    I would get ALL the top cash back cards and max them out as you are in a unique situation. You can maximize all the allotted discounts available to you and take full advantage of them. Make a spreadsheet and plot your purchases monthly and put just enough on each card to get the maximum benefit from each. Then submit your expenses.

  • Ravi January 19, 2015, 12:25 pm

    @Paul, thanks for your suggestion.

    Given I’ve noticed a couple cut offs in the 50k or 100k range. We’re talking quite a few cards, and for a net benefit of .5% rather.. 2k. That’s with perhaps my mistaken idea that 2% is max CB on purchases. The accounting dept would be grumpy, I’d have to have a spreadsheet constantly tracking available limits as well. It would have to be more than .5% to justify the juggling I think.

  • Paul N January 19, 2015, 1:54 pm

    The idea here is to do what you can within reason. These teasers are meant to bring in new people signing up, not to make people rich. So grab the top 3 card You can get the Scotia, two MBNA cards Smart cash, and the Smart cash World Elite (You have to bitch to get that one a bit), and The American Express.

    Be creative maybe a travel card might be a good idea too. The point is there is no easy way for you to get handed money. Your going to have to get all the cards and track your spending on each. And set them all to auto pay so you don’t forget to pay one. Your benefit is you will get 1 or 2 grand in free cash Plus some travel rewards. Then you have to ask yourself is your time to do all this worth it to get this free money?

  • smayer97 January 19, 2015, 2:37 pm

    I have been keeping track of best cards out there. This is what I can tell you:

    Option 1: MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard
    – earns a straight 2% on ALL purchases. There is NO EARNING limit.
    Though it is a points system, converting to cash is straight forward, points for $. No strange conversion rates (compared with Capital One below).
    – a $89 annual fee. Extra cards are free.
    – They can give a max $100K credit limit, if you qualify.
    This is the simplest option.

    Option 2: Laurentian Bank Visa (with the MBNA card)
    – If you have monthly recurring payments, you can get 3% on those items (plus pharmacy purchases), 2% on gas and groceries, 1% on everything else. There is NO EARNING limit.
    So you could get this card for the 3% (items for 2% could go on either this or the MBNA card).
    – annual fee of $49. Extra cards are free.
    – I do not know what max credit limit they can give; you will need to ask.

    Option 3: Scotiabank Momentum Infinite Cash Back card (instead of Laurentian Bank Visa)
    – If your gas and grocery purchases are greater than $2500 per year, you can opt for the which pays 4% on those purchases, 2% on recurring and pharmacy, 1% on everything else.
    – There is a spending limit of $25,000/yr for gas/groceries for the 4% and $25,000/yr for recurring/pharmacy for the 2%. Above that you get 1%.
    – Make sure the merchant accepts VISA., e.g. No Frills does not, so you would not be able to earn 2% on groceries there.
    – The annual fee is $99 (the extra $50 compared with Laurentian is offset with >$2500 gas/groceries spending).
    – I do not know what max credit limit they can give; you will need to ask.

    Option 4: Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard
    – earns a straight 2% on ALL purchases. There is NO EARNING limit.
    – it is a TRUE points system. Max points best used for Travel purchases. There are many rules, and conversion to cash = 1.5% only. Too complicated for my taste.
    – Some like this card because of the travel insurance benefits not offered on other cards
    – a $120 annual fee. BUT get 10,000 points credit every year, equivalent to $75 (at 1.5% conversion rate). Extra cards are free.
    – Main complaint I have seen is that once you get a credit limit you cannot get an increase. PERIOD.
    – I do not know what max credit limit they can give; you will need to ask.

  • Mr.cheap January 19, 2015, 2:43 pm

    I may not know all of the benefits of all cards available but if I was given the same opportunity I would stick with one card. The card that comes to mind is the Chase Bank Visa. You earn 1% from the start on all purchases and every $2000 you spend they add a $20.00 cash payment to your Visa statement. There is no cap which is the beauty in your case. You could end up with $5k a year that is not taxable. The side benefit is that they are the only credit card that does not charge the extra 2.5% for USA conversion Wish I was working for your company.

  • smayer97 January 19, 2015, 2:58 pm

    Re: Chase Bank Visa (need to select from a variety of flavours such as Amazon Visa, Sears Visa, etc. )

    Greatest benefit
    – save 2.5% conversion fee on US$ purchases (as stated by Mr.cheap).
    Compared to MBNA card which give you 1% more, you save an additional 1.5% on conversion on US$ purchases.

    – only earns 1% on purchases.
    – No electronic statements
    – Cannot download transactions to financial software
    – Cannot set up pre-authorized payments of full monthly balance

  • smayer97 January 19, 2015, 3:22 pm

    Sorry, one error….it should say Sears Mastercard, not Visa

  • SST January 20, 2015, 12:00 pm

    re: “Your benefit is you will get 1 or 2 grand in free cash…”

    Amazing that people still think in terms of “free” and “benefit” but never investigate actual detriment.

  • Paul N January 20, 2015, 12:19 pm

    @ SST

    Maybe when you make a statement like that you should explain it so “people” can understand your point? I guess “higher prices” for all is the detriment your referring too? Is it a moral thing that credit is evil for you?

    If you use these cards responsibly, pay off your bill 100% and meet the requirements you can get usually some kind of refund of $300.00 to $600.00 in yes free money for your family per card. If you have work expenses and you can hand in an expense sheet every month, this is a benefit that all should take advantage of.

  • SST January 20, 2015, 8:31 pm

    @Paul N — I’m still trying to figure out where “free” money comes from. Perhaps the credit card users on here could explain it, beyond a simple pair of connect-the-dots, that is. Thanks.

    p.s. — nothing to do with “morals” or “evil” (your words) — remember, math, just like Mr. Market, doesn’t care what you or I think or believe.

  • smayer97 January 20, 2015, 8:57 pm

    I think free is a relative term and in this context only, all things being equal, it would mean that you have done nothing to earn it.

    Whether there is a cost built into providing this money to you for free is another matter, just like when someone offers you candy for free, it cost someone something to provide it, but to you it is without cost.

  • Paul N January 20, 2015, 9:57 pm


    Thanks for the support – a good analogy.

    It’s so clear I can’t see how to explain it better. I travel and buy goods for work. I buy gas, hotel rooms, goods, food put it all on my card. I submit an expense form to work. I’m reimbursed 100% by my work. I auto pay the card off every due date. Every few months I get a cheque in the mail for $100.00. from the card provider. I just churn over someone else’s money every month and I get $100. Can the math be simpler and clearer then that?

  • SST January 21, 2015, 11:03 am

    Free money…”to you it is without cost.”


    Try a few more dots. :)

    Perhaps a refresher of the MDJ Mission Statement:
    “The intention of this site is…to help and educate…”

  • john January 21, 2015, 11:21 am

    Can we please can the argument and get back to talking about the rewards cards. I don’t want this back and forth filling up my inbox.

  • Adam February 2, 2015, 3:39 pm

    Great article. I have the AMEX SimplyCash card which is what AMEX offered me after Costco switched to MasterCard. I get 1.25% cash back on all purchases. I just applied for the Capital One MasterCard from Costco, so now I’ll have at least 0.5% cash back at places that don’t accept AMEX.

  • Leonie February 2, 2015, 4:13 pm

    My free card combo is

    Amex Simply cash. 6 months bonus 5% cashback on groceries and gas.. 1.5 percent on everything else.

    Costco Mastercard. 3 months double cashback for 3 month after activation. Apply after the AMEX promo runs out after the Amex promo runs out. 2% cashback on all Gas. 3% on restaurants. Not used for general transactions due to stepped cashback. AMEX or Capital One gives better cashback

    Capital One Mastercard Cashback 1% on everything. Used for non gas, non resataurants, and where AMEX is not taken.. High limit not available

    The only time you are going to be in a bind is where Visa only is accepted,

  • john February 2, 2015, 4:31 pm


    why not replace Capital One Mastercard with the amazon.ca visa, it gives 1% back as well plus you can use it for any foreign transactions with no txn fee and then you are covered for when hit a visa only merchant :)

  • Leonie February 3, 2015, 6:19 pm

    The Amazon Visa is attractive with the foreign conversion benefits, but no auto payment… I cannot trust myself to pay a monthly bill manually every month. The penalties are too costly for being one day late.

  • Kristi April 21, 2015, 10:31 am

    Gotta say, I was a little ticked to get a $50 cheque from my Smart Cash card after spending close to $5000 last month alone. I miss the 3% and 5% bonus!! I was expected a $100 cheque (have had them before). I actually went into my rewards program to make sure it wasn’t an error, then here to make sure that was correct – 2% on gas/groceries for first $400, then 1%, plus 1% on everything else.

    Looking at your info updated Jan 2015, I might go get an RBC M/C and start using it instead. Or maybe in addition to on the months like March/April this year where we have a bigger spend.

    Does anyone have any tips for tracking the purchases without putting a lot of effort into it? Some way of loosely tracking when you are maxing out on the rewards on one card and need to switch to the next best card?

    About our spending: Generally speaking we budget $600/mo for groceries… we have a commercial cardlock card for fuel so credit card fuel purchases are under $100/mo in the winter and about $200/mo in the summer unless we are travelling (then it goes up). Then whenever other stuff comes up – like the home renovations and the like – that all goes on the card too.

    Or am I better off to cancel the Smart Cash and get another one with the 6 months bonus period? Or get one solely in one of our names instead of joint? Does that even work?

    Thanks for any suggestions! :-)

  • Kristi April 21, 2015, 1:00 pm

    I did look at that one on the list here, but $129!! I am all about $0 fee cards :-) I guess I can look into it and see if the first year is still being waived… do you know off the top if you can cancel the card just before the first year is up, or how they work that?

    • smayer97 April 21, 2015, 3:12 pm


      if you really want to avoid annual fees then your best card is still the MBNA card, if you do the following:
      – you will need to have 2 accounts, one for your wife and a separate one for you
      – every 6 months, you re-apply for the MBNA Smart Cash Card. As long as your financial circumstances do not change, they usually will qualify you again for the 5% promo. Though they may not give you additional credit, they will require/allow you to cancel the old card and transfer the available credit limit to the new card
      – when the 6 month promo expires, you re-apply.
      The catch is that you have to repeat this process every 6 months, you have to strategically plan you expenses every month across both accounts to not exceed the $400 cap for the 5% discount, and you have to keep track of your spending to not exceed the cap, either by login online to check or track expenses manually or in financial software liek Quicken.

      Given your total spend on gas & groceries is under $800/mo, you can do this effectively, except during those months your total spending exceeds the cap; then you will only get 1%. I did it for many years but because of my family’s spending levels I had to go to 4 cards between my wife and I to not go ver the $400 cap per card. I grew tired of the process every 6 months I gave up about 2 yrs ago. But if your willing to do the extra work, that is still your best value.

      That said, I too HATE the fact that more and more cards are charging for their rebate cards BUT I realize you miss the BIG picture if you only look at annual fees.

      In your case, given your gas & grocery spend, getting the Scotiabank Infinite Momentum card you would earn $176 more than the MBNA card (based on the regular 2%). Plus you can earn 2% on recurring charges, such as utilities, phone, cable, etc. These alone can easily offset the added cost of $129/yr fee and you would still be ahead. NOTE: This only works if your grocery store accepts Visa; NO Frills does not, so would not work if you shop there. It does not apply to you but this card does have a $25,000/yr annual spend cap for each of the 4% and 2% eligible charges.

      The next best alternatives depend on your total annual charges and their make-up. One is the MBNA Elite card. It costs $89/yr (no cost for extra cards) but it pays 2% on EVERYTHING and with NO caps (hence no tracking needed) and you get $100 in points the first year (offsetting the cost in the first yr). The other is the Laurentian Visa Dollars card with an annual fee of $49 (no cost for extra cards), also with a one-time $50 credit after your first $500 spend. The best part of this card is that you can get 3% on all recurring charges. For me, this works out better than the Scotia Infinite Momentum card because I have large recurring charges. You will have to do the math to figure out which one of these best fits your spending patterns.

      Bottom line–do not overlook cards just because of the annual fee. Look at the NET benefit to see if it is worth it.

      BTW, the best combo that works for me now is the Laurentian Visa Dollars card and the PC Financial World MC because most of our groceries are done at No Frills and it pays the cash equivalent of 2%.

      P.S. A HIDDEN feature of PC Financial MC is the PC Plus Points plan (which applies to ANY LOBLAWS related stores). They often have promos where I earn 10% on my total grocery bill (presented as 25000 bonus points= $25 for $250 grocery bill), plus bonus points on select items that WE PURCHASE INCLUDING PRODUCE (they track what you buy and give discounts on items you are likely to buy based on what you actually buy), often about 10% off. This really adds up. So my actual reward on groceries is much greater than 2%. You will not see this advertised anywhere.

  • FrugalTrader FrugalTrader April 21, 2015, 1:32 pm

    Usually, if you cancel before the renewal date, they will not charge you.

  • Kristi April 21, 2015, 10:47 pm

    Great info, thank you! I do understand the concept of the net benefit, just hard to wrap around the initial fee :-)

    I’m not sure I am for re-applying every six months but a loose tracking might work – there is no reason we couldn’t apply for individual cards – I do virtually all of the grocery shopping and the gas purchases on the card, and we track our spending on a weekly basis anyway. (truth, I do most of all the credit card spending, haha!) There would be nothing stopping me from using one card until the $400 mark was reached then switching cards.

    I will also look at the Loblaws card – one of our grocery stores is a Wholesale Club… as you mentioned, they don’t take Visa (actually, I think they do now, but they didn’t use to). Although I shop more often at the Overwaitea, it’s probably close to 50/50 dollar wise.

    Thanks again for all the info – we use the cash back as part of our travel fund, and the lower earn rates are really making a dint in the savings :-)

    • smayer97 April 21, 2015, 11:13 pm

      Re: MBNA, we did the multiple cards for many years, tracking expenses to avoid caps, Have 4 smart cash cards, and total of 8 MBNA cards (5 for me, 3 for my spouse). Just got tired of it and found the other card combo works out better in the whole picture.

      If you get PC MC, try to get PC World MC which gives you 2% cash equivalent vs 1% for regular card (which is not worth it since you can get that elsewhere). Requires min $60K personal annual income or $100K household income.

  • Christine Fong June 18, 2015, 12:28 am

    “MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard® (editors top pick)”

    EDITORS TOP PICK?!?!?!? Are you kidding me? This is the WORST card. I listened to milliondollarjourney to pick the card a few years before getting engaged. Only found out after spending about CAD $50,000 on our wedding that there is maximum cash back of $50 per period no matter what you spend. So we missed out on almost $800 of free cash. It’s easy to overlook the details while wedding planning, and this max cap was one of them. We should have had another card that gave us SOMETHING for the $50,000 we spent. We have excellent credit too!

    Also, to rub salt on wounds, after we cancelled the stupid card, realized we couldn’t get our $31 balance left in our cash back account. Great….

    Don’t get this credit card. Get one with at least NO cap on cash back. Also don’t be naive like we were to not realize caps were important when choosing credit cards and spending on a wedding. We now use the Costco Capital One MC; at least there is no cap.

    • FrugalTrader FrugalTrader June 18, 2015, 8:44 am

      @Christine, thanks for the feedback. Can you clarify the $50 maximum per period? How much total cash back did you receive on your $50,000 spent?

      • smayer97 June 18, 2015, 6:09 pm

        I’m curious too. Which version of the card do you have? The basic MBNA Smart Cash card has a cap of $1250/mo to earn 1% and $400/mo cap to earn the 2% as outlined above. If you have the World card, there is no cap on the 1% spend (except a possible $100K/yr overall).

        I have never heard of a cap of $50 per month payout. It is supposed to chq issued in $50 increments, one reached, either as a single chq, though most likely multiple chqs (I have received more than one in a month).

        That said, maybe there is a limitation they have not accounted for in their new system they implemented last year. I would simply take it up with management because I do not believe that is intentional. I’d like to know more. Please confirm.

        • Christine Fong June 19, 2015, 4:08 pm

          Hi all,
          I had the MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus® MasterCard®. I have never received more than 1 cheque per month during the duration of our wedding spending. I was waiting and thinking our multiple cheques would come soon, but after the wedding, when things settled down, I realize we weren’t getting those multiple cheques.

          So what you’re saying is, that we should have received more than $50 per period?

          We were so angry so we closed our account in Dec 2014. I don’t think we can do anything about it now that we closed the account. They won’t even give me the $31 left in the cash back balance after closing.

          • Paul U June 19, 2015, 4:20 pm

            Hey Christine, yes this card has a limit for cash back per month. You would have been better off using the scotiabank visa infinite. When I had the SmartCash I used to alternate using the smart cash first and when I hit the monthly limit using the scotiabank as the smart cash still had 5% instead of the scotiabanks 4%. Now I’m passed the 12 months, (smart cash and smart cash world), I used the amex 5% cash back for another 6 months and now I just use the scotiabank. I believe the scotia bank card has no limit on the 1%.

          • smayer97 June 19, 2015, 7:10 pm

            Christine, I think you might be mixing up cards. There has only every been the Smart Cash and the Smart Cash World cards. The Platinum Plus is a different product. You may have switched form the Platinum Plus to the Smart Cash card and it sounds like you did not have the World version, so you had a cap of $1250/mo spend. And yes, if you close your account, you lose any balance left. This is the same with ANY credit card company.

            With ANY card, you have to read and learn the conditions for earning AND redeeming their rewards/cash, etc. They were outlined on this site at the top.

          • smayer97 June 19, 2015, 7:20 pm

            @Paul, I too have done the multiple cards and switching back and forth for several years but because of the $400 cap/mo I was up to 4 cards between my wife and I that it became too much of a hassle, as I have stated before.
            Note too that the Scotiabank card you mention is the Momentum card and the 4% cash back version applies to gas and groceries only (also 2% for recurring charges and 1% for all else) but it has a $99 annual fee that needs to be justified vs no fee for MBNA Smart Cash card. Also Scotiabank does have a cap of $25,000 spend for the 4% and another $25,000 for the 2%. No limit for the 1%.

    • SST June 19, 2015, 10:42 pm

      This post is hilarious!

      So much wrong…from spending $50,000 on a wedding to paying for it with a CC to being distraught over $31…after spending $50,000!

      I might just have to steal this one for my blog’s first post.

  • Paul N June 18, 2015, 7:31 pm

    I find this odd too. I was just on the phone with them a week ago – decided to cash in my points. My only issue with this card is you have to call in to do this and you can’t just set it as a “cash back” automatically. According to the op. I got – the World Elite is still their top card. I got $350… cash back from about late fall last year. My monthly avg is probably about $1000 to $1500.00. When i first got the card I put on two large purchases. A hot tub, and a used car. I paid the balance off at the end of the month on auto pay. Why not take the cash back if they let me? Both those times I got the full return on them in short period of time – no cap???. I think this testimony needs to be qualified before someone makes the wrong choice based on this girls story.

    • smayer97 June 18, 2015, 7:43 pm

      To be fair and to clarify, the World Elite card works a little differently. You do have to call in to get your rewards with that card, unlike the Smart Cash card where chqs are issued in $50 increments automatically. That said, not all the details she submitted add up and need confirmation.

      • Paul N June 18, 2015, 8:05 pm

        Ah yes I missed that one….
        I’ve had both cards – don’t remember a cap on the Smart cash either…

      • Jeremy July 9, 2015, 1:56 pm

        Smart Cash just changed that. They’re stopping the automatic cheque mailing and making you go online or phone in to redeem, and it still needs to be a minimum $50 before you can do so. 2% gas & groceries is the only reason to use that card now.

  • Chuck August 30, 2015, 8:26 am

    You might also want to consider that you caan always ask that the bank waive the annual fee. A lot of the guys I work with do this. Mine was waived on the basis that my business travel alone is 2-10k a month. You just have to be willing to spend an hour on the phone and remind them exactly how much you spent through them.

    Also some employers will allow you to expense a portion of your annual fee if travel is a regular part of your job.

  • smayer97 September 3, 2015, 8:28 pm

    There is a NEW MC product from PC Financial. Just came out today. It is the World Elite Mastercard. It is the only NO FEE Elite card on the market.

    It offers 30 pts/$1 spent (cash equivalent to 3%) at Loblaws related stores and Shopper’s Drug mart/Pharmaprix and 3¢/l of supreme or supreme+ gas at Esso or 2¢/l for other grades, with no caps. There are many other perks, such as 10-day travel medical, Car Rental Collision waiver, Concierge service, etc.

    Check it out here: http://www.pcfinancial.ca/english/credit-card/pc-mastercard-world-elite

    Qualifications are either min $70K personal income or $120K household income.

    NOTE: You can apply now but the card will not be available until the end of the month.

    • FrugalTrader FrugalTrader September 5, 2015, 7:54 pm

      Thanks for leaving the comment! I saw a thread on RFD mentioning this deal. As we are Loblaws shoppers, we will be looking into this card.

  • Leonie September 19, 2015, 3:00 am

    Thanks for the tip on the new PC world elite Card. Applied online. Got it a week later.
    You get $20 in PC point vouchers with the card.
    3% back at all the Loblaw owned supermarkets ( and I assume gas bars). 3% back at Shoppers Drugmart . 3% back at Esso gas stations on regular and extra gas. 4% back on Supreme.
    3% back on PC travel service

    Plus 31 day emergency travel insurance if you are under 65. The usual rental car insurance, double warranty and 90 day loss/ theft etc.

    If you shop at any of these places as part of your regular routine its a no brainer. You get back PC points ( not cash), but hey everyone buys groceries.

  • Leonie September 19, 2015, 3:01 am

    Thanks for the tip on the new PC world elite Card. Applied online. Got it a week later.
    You get $20 in PC point vouchers with the card.
    3% back at all the Loblaw owned supermarkets ( and I assume gas bars). 3% back at Shoppers Drugmart . 3% back at Esso gas stations on regular and extra gas. 4% back on Supreme.
    3% back on PC travel service.
    Plus 1% back on everything else

    Plus 31 day emergency travel insurance if you are under 65. The usual rental car insurance, double warranty and 90 day loss/ theft etc.

    If you shop at any of these places as part of your regular routine its a no brainer. You get back PC points ( not cash), but hey everyone buys groceries.

  • smayer97 September 19, 2015, 9:58 am

    @ Leonie

    A few corrections on the PC World Elite card –
    – At PC gas bars you get 4¢/L of gas, not a %
    – At ESSO, you get 3¢/L for Supreme & Supreme+ gas and only 2¢/L for all other gas, not a %
    – You only get 10 days medical travel for free

    Otherwise, it is a great card for no fee.

    • leonie September 19, 2015, 11:58 am

      Quite right smayer. Got a bit over excited
      Up to 31 consecutive days of auto rental insurance.
      up to 10 consecutive days travel medical insurance if under 65.

      ” In addition to the 1% back earned on all purchases”, you get 2c\litre on standard gas 3c/litre fancy gas at Esso.

      These card people are expert in the art of intentional comfusion. I think that means you get 1% back on the gas purchases, PLUS 2c/3c per litre off at Esso.

      Not sure if it is the 1% back PLUS c/litre off at Gas bars.

      Its still a great free card combined with the Costco MC for restaurants and ? gas (if you are a costco member), and compliments the Amex simply cash. for non lowlaw/shoppers/restarant /gas purchases, and where Amex isnot accepted.

      My brain hurts. I am sure this is great for brain elasticity….

  • Al November 1, 2015, 10:51 am

    I still can’t get anything above even close to my now grandfathered CIBC driver’s edge . 2% towards any car purchase on all spending. There is a $59 fee now but I earn that back in a month. There is a limit of $500 per year but I spend hefty to get there. Still looking for a cash rewards cards that doesn’t have limits in categories. Everyone buys cars. I’ve used the rebates several times. The cheque comes quickly.

    • john November 1, 2015, 2:57 pm

      the MBNA word elite, 2% back on everything, its a $89 fee so slightly higher, but you are not restricted to buying cars with it, Its my goto card for everything. Plus the new PC card for loblaws shopping 3% back (its practically right beside us) and the amazon.ca visa for US dollar purchases.

    • smayer97 November 2, 2015, 2:59 am

      Another to consider is the Laurentian Visa – 3% for all recurring transactions, 2% gas/groceres, 1% all other with NO limits and only $49/yr\

      Good combo with PC Financial Mastercard offering 3% on groceries at their associated stores.

      See my complete reviews above.

  • Bob December 2, 2015, 7:00 pm

    For seniors spending approx. $1000/mo. and looking for a no fee card:
    2% – RBC MasterCard for food stores ( including WalMart Superstores but excluding Costco – CIBC Visa Dividend card offers the same but also excludes WalMart Superstores from their list of grocers, hence the preference of RBC MasterCard); and
    1 % – WalMart MasterCard for everything else.
    For us, this works out to about $170 cash back per year. Not bad for just using a credit card.

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