I’ve written about credit cards many times before listing my favorite cash back credit cards to my favorite rewards or points based credit cards.  Some people may consider credit cards to be “evil” but really, credit cards don’t have a bias.  They are a simply tool and they are only as “useful” as the person holding the card.  I try to use a credit card for every purchase possible for the free points, but I make sure to pay off the full balance every month.

To get back to the topic at hand, I’m a big fan of cash back credit cards with my former favorite being the MBNA 1% PremierRewards Platinum Plus card (discontinued).  It offers 1% cash back from the first dollar spent with no maximum rebate along with a comprehensive insurance package.  Of course, as I’m frugal, there is no annual fee.  However, there is a new cash back star in town, and it’s another card from MBNA.

The credit card is called the MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard, and it offers all the perks of the PremierRewards platinum card but offers more cash back!  To put the icing on the cake, this card also has no annual fee.

How Smart Cash Works

Updated Feb 2015

• Get up to 5% cash back on eligible gas and grocery purchases for the first 6 months‡
• Get up to 2% cash back on eligible gas and grocery purchases thereafter‡
• Get up to 1% cash back for all other eligible purchases‡
• 1.99% promotional annual interest rate† (AIR) on balance transfers* for the first 10 full months
• If eligible, you will be considered for an upgrade to a Smart Cash World MasterCard® credit card††††
• No annual fee

Comprehensive Insurance Package

  • Travel Accident Insurance – $1,000,000 common carrier travel accident insurance.
  • Car Rental Insurance – Collision damage waiver.
  • Purchase Protection – 90 days insurance in case of theft or damage (up to $4,500).
  • Extended Warranty – Doubles warranty up to 1 yr.

How to Apply

Update: – They now allow online applications!  You can apply here.

For non MBNA card holders:

  1. Apply for an existing MBNA credit card like the 1% cash back PremierRewards (another favorite of mine).
  2. After receiving the new MasterCard, activate the credit card.
  3. After activating, call 1.800.404.1319 and ask to transfer your existing account to the MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard.  If they ask for a promotion code, try CGLE.

Existing MBNA card holders:

  • Simply call 1.800.404.1319 and ask to transfer your existing account to the MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard.  If they ask for a promotion code, try CGLE.

Final Thoughts

With 2% cash back on groceries and/or gasoline (up to $400 in spending /month), this card can benefit those who are light-medium gas/grocery spenders.  If you spend up to the maximum on gasoline/groceries (like we would), it would be $96 cash back per year in addition to 1% cash back on other regular expenses (up to $1,250 in spending).

To avoid the $1,250 monthly spending cap for the 1% cash back, give them a call to upgrade your regular Smart Cash into the free Smart Cash World card.  The Smart Cash World will give you unlimited cash back on your 1% along with additional Price Protection insurance.  Price protection will pay you back the difference if you find a better price on something you purchased within 60 days.  Note that the Smart Cash World is only available as an upgrade to the regular Smart Cash Card.

With the generous cash back along with comprehensive insurance benefits, the Smart Cash MasterCard (World) may still be among the best no fee cash back credit card out there in Canada.  What do you think?


  1. FrugalTrader on November 6, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    @S, there is a lot of chatter here:


    In my opinion, I still like the SC card for gas/groceries, but the cap one 1.5% cash back for all other purchases.

  2. Dave on November 27, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    I used to use a combination of the Smart Cash (gas groceries) and CO World Aspire (everything else). Capital One offers the equivalent of 2% back in travel, with no spending cap – everything will be going on the World Aspire card now, after the 6 month promotion for the Smart Cash upgrade.

    To me, the total cash value of the rewards is more important than receiving straight cash, as long as the rewards are for something you use.

  3. loren on December 23, 2012 at 9:37 am

    I use the MBNA smart Cash Credit card, and always pay my bill on time. Sometimes I may be a few days late at the end of the month. I understand there is no annual fee, so how come I am being chard AIR this month?

    • FrugalTrader on December 23, 2012 at 12:25 pm

      @Loren, the fees are likely interest due to the missed payment. I recommend that you keep an eye out for when your payment is due as your credit score can be affected if payments are missed.

  4. David on May 29, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    This card looks good at the begining but if you do the math you will end up to ge less than 1% in the long term this is definitly smart cash but not for the customers!

  5. Dominique on November 18, 2013 at 11:14 am

    All of their customer service is in India and the Philippines and has a lot of difficulty understanding speaking both French and English. If you have problems in the future, imagine having to reconcile your account statement withs someone that asks you to repeat everything you say twice. The person I spoke to in French only spoke words that were written on a piece of paper that he was clearly reading, and was unable to answer my questions because he didn’t understand what I was saying, even when I used the fewest amount of words possible.

    My time is valuable, and MBNA doesn’t seem to value their customer experience, even pre me becoming a customer, how much worse will they treat me once I am a customer?

  6. Creepy Dude on November 18, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    Why bother with “smartcash” card, Dominique? This card is no good anymore since cashback was greatly reduced.

    • FrugalTrader on November 18, 2013 at 1:13 pm

      @Creepy, what is the next best card in your opinion?

  7. Guy on May 7, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    Do NOT use this card in the US or abroad. In spite of having a transaction done on a given day in a foreign currency, the exchange rate is based on the rate at the time the billing cycle is completed and NOT on the day of the transaction. While travelling, I track all of my purchases daily and watched in shock as posted amounts converted to CDN were changing more than a week after posting. If the CDN dollar drops between now and my next billing cycle, I will have to pay more. I’ll move all of my purchases back to VISA going forward. I’ve been with VISA since the early 90s and never had such a problem. Mastercard was a failed experiment in my opinion.

  8. Tana on November 26, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    Apparently they do not give me 2% cash back on gas purchases at Costco. It consistently shows up as only 1%.

    Even though it shows up as Costco Gas as the description. This is super annoying.

  9. smayer97 on November 26, 2014 at 11:46 pm

    @Tana, curious, do you have to be a Costco member to get gas at Costco? And can you use any credit card or does it need to be a Costco based one, for gas purchases?

  10. Tana on November 26, 2014 at 11:59 pm

    Hey Smayer, yeah you need a costco card but you can use Mastercard and interact debit and no it does not need to be a costco brand card. Costco only use to accept amex and debit but amex didn’t renew the contract so now they take Mastercard and Mastercard capital one is the new issuer of their card. It’s actually a great card if you don’t have the smart cash card from mbna … but I only pump at costco now and if I don’t get 2% this is no longer a great card for me. Kinda upsetting.

  11. Me on November 27, 2014 at 12:12 am

    mbna “smartcash” card was good before TD bank took over. TD bank changed cash back from 3% to 2%. I hope there is a good cash back card somewhere we can find.

  12. smayer97 on November 27, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    Yes, all the changes that TD has made has made is a much less favourable card (it used to me my top card), especially the new cap of $400 max spend for the current 2%.

    For an very recent alternative, I have found the Laurentian Visa card a very good one (I just got it about 1 month ago). It offers 3% on recurring charges, 2% on gas & groceries and 1% on everything else, with NO caps. It costs $49/yr, with a $50 credit the first year (until Jan 31/15), and extra cards are free. Check it out here:

    Second to this is the Scotiabank Momentum Visa card. It offers 2% on recurring, drugs, gas and groceries and 1% on all else, costs $39/yr but it has a cap of $25,000/yr spend on the 2% and extra cards cost $15/yr. Check it out here:

    Second, if you would like 4% on gas & groceries, 2% on recurring & drugs, and 1% on all else (has same cap of $25,000 for the 4% & 2% each), Scotiabank offers the Momentum Visa Infinite, but it costs $99/yr (1st yr waived) + $30 for extra cards. Check it out here.

    I believe these are the best available at the moment.

    And finally, there is one more than comes close (actually based on your annual spend, this one may be the best). It is the MBNA Rewards Elite Card. It gives 2% points on everything. It costs $89/yr, extra cards are free , and you get 10,000 bonus pts after 1st purchase. Points can be redeemed for cash in $50 increments.

  13. smayer97 on November 27, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    sorry, forgot the link to the last one. Check it out here:

  14. pashy on December 30, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    The cash back now for the MBNA is either 3% or 1%. I switched to the momentum infinite as soon as I got my last 50$ cheque.

  15. smayer97 on January 3, 2015 at 1:48 am

    @pashy, I just checked on MBNA site and with online chat and there does not seem to be a 3% card from MBNA. Would you please supply the link to that info?

  16. Me on January 5, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    @smayer97, I believe MBNA cash back is 2% and 1% only. no more 3%. I have not seen any 3% cash back card without annual fee. I wish there is a no annual fee 3% card exist, so we can switch to it.

  17. smayer97 on January 5, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    @me that is what I have found too. But wanted to have @pashy confirm since s/he claims there is a 3% card.

  18. Pashy on January 5, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    The source is my online statements. I either get 3% or 1% which is wierd because on their website it states something completely different.

  19. smayer97 on January 5, 2015 at 10:41 pm

    The website only shows products for which people can still apply. It appears you have a card that has a grandfathered rate of 3%.

    That said, I am surprised because I thought MBNA had changed the rate for all customers with the 3% card. I have been with MBNA 11+ yrs and had such a card but they changed it; I had no option to keep the old rate. So not sure how you were able to still keep your 3% rate.

  20. ohaa on June 1, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    Hi, would they give the 5% promotion, later 2% if you buy gift cards/ gas cards from participating gas stations?

    • FrugalTrader on June 1, 2015 at 10:32 pm

      As long as the store is coded as a gas station or grocery store, then the purchase will qualify for the enhanced cash back. So yes, buying gift cards from gas stations will qualify for the 2% cash back.

  21. john power on October 24, 2015 at 10:22 am

    I dropped the mbna smart card for one additional reason; the delivery of their invoices were suspiciously late….every month. Sometimes they arrived with only five days to go until the due date. Coincidence? When I called them out on it they were not apologetic. More fodder for the shredder.

  22. smayer97 on October 24, 2015 at 11:08 am

    Why not get your statements electronically? That way you get them as soon as they are available?

  23. Furnie Bird on February 29, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    After the 6 months I have done better with Scotia 4% for gas and groceries and 2% for recurring automatic payments and drugstores, even with the fee. I use CapitalOne Aspire for everything else at 1 1/2%.

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