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Scotia Momentum Cash Back Visa Review

As I have done a good few credit card reviews in the past, I’ve received several emails regarding the Scotia Momentum cash back Visa (link). Usually when so many readers ask about the same product, there has to be something of value there. So off I went to dig up some information to see how it compares to my other favorite cash back cards.

The Rewards

  • 2% cash back on gas, groceries, drug stores and recurring bill payments (cable, phone, internet etc.) up to $25,000 in spending per year then 1% afterward.
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases up to $100,000 (including the $25,000 max on the 2%).

Insurance Coverage

  • Purchase Protection – 90 days insurance in case of theft or damage (up to $10,000).
  • Extended Warranty – Doubles warranty up to 1 yr.

The Downside

As the rewards seem tempting, the biggest downside of this card is the annual fee of $39/year.  However, the annual fee may be worth it if the rewards consistently pay you more (after fees) than a typical free 1% cash back credit card.  So really, it depends on your spending habits – in particular how much you routinely spend on groceries, gasoline, and recurring bills.

The Competition

The thought that may come to mind is, how does it compare to the MBNA Smart Cash credit card?  With very similar features, I would say that the MBNA card out performs the Scotia momentum in terms of rewards and insurance.  In addition, the MBNA card has no annual fee which resonates with me.  However,  there is a dark side to the MBNA Smart Cash Card.

Another direct competitor would be the Capital One 1.5% cash back card (no annual fee).  The Capital One card offers 1.5% cash back with no spending limits.  As well, they have a comprehensive insurance package that includes car rental insurance and baggage delay insurance in addition to what the Scotia card offers.

Final Thoughts

Overall though, I would say that the Scotia Momentum Cash Back Visa has a lot of competition.  If MBNA could get their act together with the Smart Cash credit card, it would blow this Scotia Visa out of the water.  However, the benefits offered by Scotia are enticing, especially the 2% on recurring payments.  I can see this card being of benefit to heavy spenders.

What do you think?  Is the annual fee worth the rewards offered?

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FT About the author: FT 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.

{ 37 comments… add one }
  • Avatar Stephen September 29, 2009, 9:10 am

    I think it’s a good overall card … but it is just stuck in the middle of so many other similar cards that make it hard to choose. It has just enough minor restrictions/limitations and an oh-so-small annual fee that it gives you pause. If they were to tweak it ever so slightly they would probably see their number of applications skyrocket!

  • Avatar Ray @ Financial Highway September 29, 2009, 10:05 am

    I currently have the momentum Card and I think it’s one of the best cash back cards available we get almost 2% on all purchase since majority of our spending is either gas, grocery or recurring bills. we have had it for about 3 months and currently have a little over $150 in cash back already, it would have been higher had we decided to keep the car. The annual fee sucks but it’s pretty much the lowest annual fee cash back card, we get the fee waived since wife works for scotia capital, and the best thing is that it is not tiered like most cash back cards are. So far been fairly happy with it.

  • Avatar DavidV September 29, 2009, 10:32 am

    I agree that it’s a nice card, but the fee seems to take it out of my interests especially since the MBNA one has some of the same features but without a fee.

    I do have a question, I have the MBNA PremierRewards card, but I can’t find any information on the extended warranty. It doesn’t seem to say that on their website (that I can find). Prior to me buying a new tv, can you point me in the correct direction?

  • Avatar Ben September 29, 2009, 10:41 am

    Quick calculation:
    I spend about $530/month on the gas/grocery/drugstore/recurring categories.
    This $530 at 2% would seen an additional benefit of 1% over my current no-fee PC Mastercard (albeit 1% free groceries is slightly less liquid than cash-back).
    This is $5.30/month additional benefit, or $63.60/yr.
    Less the $39 annual fee, I would stand to benefit $24.60 every year by taking the Scotia card.
    Conclusion: I don’t spend enough to justify the effort to apply for the card, keep another card in my wallet, and wrestle with which one to use at every transaction.
    If gas and food prices go through the roof, or I start getting really hungry, then I may reconsider!

  • FT FrugalTrader September 29, 2009, 10:48 am

    DavidV, all the MBNA platinum cards have extended warranty. Just make sure you have the platinum version of the Premier Rewards Card.


  • Avatar DividendMan September 29, 2009, 11:03 am

    Does anyone know where you can find the actual list of stores that qualify for the 2%? I tried looking around a bit and didn’t find anything.

  • FT FrugalTrader September 29, 2009, 11:06 am

    DividendMan, here are the list of merchants who qualify: http://scotiabank.com/images/en/filespersonal/20600.pdf

  • Avatar DavidV September 29, 2009, 11:12 am

    Thanks FT, I do have the Platinum card!

  • Avatar Adam September 29, 2009, 12:38 pm

    Be careful kids. Those ‘recurring’ bills, gas/hydro/cable etc, come with a pretty hefty fee (at least here in BC Terasen,BC Hydro,Shaw) to pay them with Visa. So hefty in fact, it easily eclipses the 2% cash back.

    You may want to take a look at what fee you’re paying to pay on Visa.

  • Avatar nobleea September 29, 2009, 12:53 pm

    Adam, I’m not aware of any hefty fee for recurring bills on CC – in particular I am talking about Shaw.

  • Avatar Adam September 29, 2009, 12:56 pm

    I just took a look, to refresh my memory. Shaw seems to have their own online payment system and nowhere along the line do they mention a service fee. BC Hydro and Terasen Gas will charge you. Details below:

    * For each transaction under $100, a $3 fee is applied.
    * For payments greater than $100, an additional handling fee of $2.45 per hundred dollars is applied.

    BC Hydro
    Kubra’s Service Fees
    Payment Amount Service Fee
    $50.00 and under $2.00
    $50.01 – $100.00 $3.00
    $100.01 – $200.00 $5.45
    $200.01 – $300.00 $7.90
    # Fees are subject to change without notice
    # The maximum payment amount is $300

  • Avatar DY September 29, 2009, 12:59 pm


    What are your thoughts on the MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Mastercard?

    Key selling points:
    – No annual fee
    – Get 5% cash back on net gas and grocery purchases for the first 6 months††
    – Get 3% cash back on net gas and grocery purchases thereafter‡
    – Get 1% cash back for all other net retail purchases‡

    I noticed that they have limited the above bonus offer to $600 ($30 MBNA Dollars per month), but even if you spend more, you still get 1% back.

  • Avatar Xenko September 29, 2009, 1:22 pm

    “There are current reports that they are inconsistent with their application acceptance, and clients are having trouble getting their cash back rewards (see rfd).”

    Cash back rewards problem seems to be fixed now based on initial reports. MBNA appears to have sorted out their issue with cash back amounts, and people have started receiving their cheques. We’ll know for sure in another week or two I suppose once more people have confirmed that they received their cheques.

  • Avatar Ms Save Money September 29, 2009, 1:41 pm

    Like you said – the annual fee is only worth the reward if you’re a heavy spender. But for the rest of us – who are big time budgeters it’s probably not worth it unless we only use that one rewards card for every purchase we make.

  • Avatar Elbyron September 29, 2009, 1:57 pm

    I’ve been meaning to setup a web page with info on various Canadian credit cards, to help convince people I know that they could get better rewards if they switch to a better card. So far I’ve just collected data on some of the best credit cards. I’ve created a chart on the cashback cards, which includes various scenarios for gas/grocery spending. You can see it here:
    The graph shows the net return, so the amounts have been adjusted for annual fees (if any). I graphed the Costco card as if it had a $50 fee, since the actual $99 fee includes your membership.
    It’s pretty clear that the MBNA Smart Cash card has the best returns, unless you spend over $35,300 in which case the Captial One 2% card is higher.

  • Avatar The Rat September 29, 2009, 2:36 pm

    In my view, unless there’s a no annual fee arrangement for cash back cards, it doesn’t interest me at all. I would rather pay an annual fee for an Aerogold card and accumulated aeroplan miles for travel/vacation.

  • Avatar Elbyron September 29, 2009, 3:15 pm

    The Rat is right, travel rewards cards usually have better returns than cash-back cards. But of course you have to save up enough points first, whereas cash-back you get the value right away. Also, there’s always the danger that the point redemption value will change (usually not in your favor), or new conditions will be applied (like with Aeroplan when they introduced the 7-year lifespan on your miles).
    I put together a second chart that adds some travel rewards cards, so you can see how they stack up against the cash-back ones.
    Note that for the Aerogold plan, I valued the aeroplan miles at $0.016 but you could potentially get $0.021 value for them on certain flights. Also RBC Avion was based on 2% value but you could get as much as 2.3% if redeemed for short-haul flights, making it worth the $120 annual fee. The Infinite version of the Avion card gets you 25% more points on travel expenses, also $120 fee but harder to qualify for. However, there might be Aeroplan-like flight restrictions when redeeming your Avion points (not sure about this).
    Anyone looking for a good credit card should carefully consider how much they typically spend on credit cards annually, how much they travel, what restrictions there are on redemption (Aeroplan is annoyingly restrictive), and what insurance benefits the card offers. There’s some good articles at http://www.rewardscanada.ca/articles.html and also check out their comparison table: http://www.rewardscanada.ca/cccompare.html

  • Avatar Justin September 29, 2009, 9:33 pm

    I just applied to Schwab 2% visa card – 2% on everything with no limits or annual fee. Don’t know if it is available for Canadians though (sorry if not). Seems like it’s better than any of the cards mentioned here.

  • Avatar The Rat September 29, 2009, 10:12 pm

    Elbyron is right when he says, “The Infinite version of the Avion card gets you 25% more points on travel expenses, also $120 fee but harder to qualify for”.

    One of my relatives applied for the Avion and it was a nightmare on wheels trying to redeem the points for flights; he basically told me that it could be worth it if you live in a major centre, but if you reside in a rural or less populated area, it could be a b*tch of a time getting out.

    I find that if you keep your eye out for promotions regarding the Aerogold Visa/Aeroplan, there are many ways you can accumulate points rather quickly. For example, I stayed at Best Western a couple of nights this past summer (separate stays) and not only did I receive 250 points for each stay, they deposited 2000 summer bonus points into my Aeroplan account because of the promotion they had.

    You can also get 250 points for free just for signing up for Aeromove. There’s also another way of getting another 1,000 points and that will be on my website for tomorrow’s blog post.


  • Avatar David@DINKS Finance September 30, 2009, 2:34 am

    I have a Discover card and get 1% cash back, no annual fee. Plus every couple months they have a new products (such as groceries, gas, etc.) that you get 5% back. It’s great in my opinion!

  • Avatar Genius Boy September 30, 2009, 10:50 am

    I don’t know if my card is available any more, but it’s the AMEX 2% Gold Cash Back card, which provides 0.5% on the first $2500, 1% on the next $2500, and 2% thereafter, all with no fee.

    I think it’s far better return that anything here FT, especially at your $30,000 spending — it works out to a $537.50 rebate.

    I have the Dividend Visa card for all the other purchase that don’t quite qualify.

    If AMEX closes my card as an option, I’m going to the Costco AMEX card, but I much prefer cash than Costco dollars.

    In the US, the cash back cards are infinitely better, with 5% returns on groceries, gas, and drug store purchases. In fact, I still use my US credit cards and get cash rewards when I go to the US, and they put the money straight back into my credit card.

  • Avatar cannon_fodder September 30, 2009, 11:39 am


    Does the Costco Amex card cover the fee if you are an executive member or is the use of this card make being an executive member irrelevant? My wife and I are exec members only because we spend enough to pay for the extra $50 in fees.

    All – also take those high annual fees with a grain of salt. I successfully renegotiated my CIBC Aeroplan annual fee to $45 after I suggested a change would be in my best interest.

  • Avatar Elbyron September 30, 2009, 5:18 pm

    cannon_fodder, I think it’s the other way around. Your Costco membership covers the annual fee for the credit card (technically, it’s simply that you must have a membership in order to get the card). I had originally thought that only executive members can get this card, but apparently the only benefit that executive members get is a 2% reward (seperate from the credit card) on purchases made at Costco. Thus only those who spend $2500+ per year at Costco would get any benefit.
    In my charts, it’s not quite incorrect to apply a $50 fee to the Costco Amex card, since that is the cheapest membership option – but if you’re going to have a membership anyway then it doesn’t cost you anything to get this card. It still sucks though. I mean, it’s tiered up to 1.5% and has a max of $500/year reward. The only reason to have one is because Costco doesn’t accept Visa or Mastercard, so the Amex at least gives you some cash back.

  • Avatar Robert September 30, 2009, 7:06 pm

    I currently have the CapitalOne 2% card ($59 fee) and am very, very pleased with it. I knew this year was going to be a big one (4 trips) and after 8 months I have already accumulated $1000 in cash back.

    One feature I really like is the ability to download my transactions as a CSV file so I can easily run my own reports. So pulling out the recurring/gas/groceries aspect to look at Scotia is simple.

    I used to have an Aerogold Visa and redeemed the points late last year for one of our trips (to Paris). I was shocked at the fees that Aeroplan had in order to redeem my “free” flight. I expected to pay taxes etc. but the booking fee was horrible! I still collect Aeroplan but am convinced the cash back card offers better value for me. As it turns out, that was the first (and last) reward flight for me.

  • Avatar John DeFlumeri Jr September 30, 2009, 10:55 pm

    I’m against all membership fees for credit cards!

  • Avatar FlookiiDuke September 30, 2009, 11:26 pm

    Scotia also has a ‘No-Fee Scotia Moneyback VISA card’ giving 1% cashback.

  • Avatar Canada Deals September 30, 2009, 11:43 pm

    Does it offer Air Miles though? That’s a biggie for me. I agree with @John Deflumeri Jr re: the membership fees too. Their services would have to be *extremely* beneficial to me if I were to pay a membership fee.

  • Avatar Blacklabel October 1, 2009, 11:43 am

    Elbyron have you considered the ATB Financial Platinum Cashback card. You earn 3% cash rebate for all purchases made at supermarkets, drugstores, gas stations, and home improvement stores. 1% cash rebate for all other purchases not included in the everyday category above.

    Annual Fee $120.00 maximum rebate of $1500.00

    This is the best credit card for big spenders

  • Avatar Elbyron October 1, 2009, 1:10 pm

    Blacklabel, are you the same user as “Shayne” on CanadianMoneyForum? It’s funny you should mention that card because I had not heard of it until just yesterday when somebody mentioned on the forum. As I said in my response there, this ATB card would be even better than the MBNA Smart Cash card for those who spend over $13200 per year on gas, groceries, drugs, and hardware stores. But in order to beat the Capital One 2% cashback card (for spending up to $50000) you would have to be spending $21000 per year at those kinds of stores – that’s 42% of your expenses!
    I’m not sure what your definition of “big spenders” is, but anyone spending over $86,000/year is always going to be better off with the Capital One card no matter how much gas & groceries they buy. That’s because the ATB card maxes out at $1500 reward.

  • Avatar Canada Deals October 1, 2009, 2:17 pm

    Okay so what *is* the best credit card then? Is this it or is there a site that lists them all?

  • Avatar Blacklabel October 1, 2009, 3:03 pm

    Elbyron no that was my first post. But the ATB Financial Platinum Cashback card is good for people who would be doing a home renovation or for conractors who buy alot from Hardware stores Like Home Depot or Rona. If you spent $50,000 a year i would consider you a big spender. If the average personal income is $50k monysense says its less then your spending 100% of your income. I know people that spend 200k on there Aerogold Visa but not many people are like that.

  • Avatar Briefcases October 2, 2009, 8:35 pm

    Thanks for this credit card review. I currently have the TD cash back card, but it only gets me 1% cash back. I will have to look over my spending habits to see if the $39 fee can be offset by the extra percent of cash back. At the time I thought I had done sufficient research to find the best cash back card for me.

  • Avatar used tires October 3, 2009, 5:47 pm

    I don’t think it is worth it… you would have to spend alot to get get any value out of this card in a year’s time … and considering all the risk that you would be taking on by getting this card.. I just don’t see how it can be worth it.

    Till then,


  • Avatar Briefcases October 5, 2009, 8:01 pm

    Jean I disagree. It is quite easy to spend $3900 in one year. It is especially good if you can use a credit card for all of your monthly bills. Even just using it for gas & groceries adds up to a lot.

  • Avatar K. Depoe October 8, 2009, 12:49 am

    Dear Fellow Canadians…looks like some of you have been a little too exposed to U.S. writing / publications. FAVOURITE and FAVOUR are the correct Canadian spellings…favorite and favor are not. At least we are still spelling ‘cheque’ correctly. Thanks (Yes, it IS important)

  • Avatar MDorion October 8, 2009, 8:38 pm

    How and when is the cash-back paid with this card?


  • Avatar Haslum December 11, 2009, 1:04 am

    With our spending habits, it has taken us about 6 years to earn 1 ticket overseas from Vancouver with BMO’s free Airmiles card flying at peak periods. It does not include taxes and fuel surcharges!! The card is not worth it unless you are a heavy spender in my view. I looked through all our credit card transactions for a year and was going to go with the Scotia Momentum card but didn’t like the $54 annual fee (39 + 15 for spouse). Just before pulling the trigger, a mbna letter arrived for the Smart Cash Platinum Card. I usually junk this stuff but “free” and the 5% for 6 months cash back caught my eye. So I’ve read the fine print and, the catch is during the bonus months, you can only earn a maximum of $30 @ 5% (on first $600) then its 1% for the rest of the month. But, after the 6 months bonus, it’s 3% for gas and groceries and 1% for everything else with no restrictions. Unless, of course they are not telling me everything. I figure the Scotia card would pay for the above mentioned ticket including taxes etc in little over half the time with AirMiles and now even less with the no fee mbna card. I’m into “free” so I’m not interested in buying up to a faster collector card by paying a fee.

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