Cash back rewards are never unwelcome, especially when they are easy to earn on common household purchases. Using either the MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus Mastercard or the MBNA Smart Cash World Mastercard will allow you to reap increased amounts of rewards on your groceries and gas while enjoying excellent benefits for a card like this. There are some caveats to be aware of, but overall, these cards are excellent prospects for most ordinary Canadians.
About the MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus Mastercard
The basic card in this line is called the MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus Mastercard. There are three different interest rates that apply to this card: 19.99% on simple purchases made with this card, 22.99% on balance transfers and an extra-high 24.99% interest rate on cash advances. Few cards go so far as to disincentivize cash advances that much, but that only makes it that much more important that you keep this in mind when you’re thinking about applying for this card or actually using it. If this is a credit card function you like to use on occasion, you should give some serious thought as to whether this increased interest fee is going to be a deal-breaker for you. It might not seem like a big difference on paper, but it can add up far faster than you might think when you’re actually having to pay for it.
As the name suggests, there are cash back reward to be had when you have this card. Using it nets you 2% cash back on gas and grocery purchases for the first $500 you spend on those things each month, then 0.5% cash back otherwise; that rate also applies to any purchases outside of those bonus categories. Things are even better when the welcome bonus still applies to you too. That first $500 in grocery and gas spending will actually get you 5% cash back instead for the first 6 months you have this card. Assuming that you make the most of this offer and do your best to hit that cap each and every month during that time, that should add up to about $90 in extra rewards, which is a great incentive to get you into the habit of using it for those things right off the bat.
A Wealth of Benefits
One of the great things about this card is how strangely excellent its insurance is for a free and basic card. While most other cards like this would give you the bare minimum they could get away with, this one gives you access to trip interruption insurance, travel accident insurance, and 3 kinds of rental car insurance (including some that covers you if your personal items go missing from your car). That’s a great package for a basic card, and it’s on top of the extra year of warranty on things you buy with the card and the 90-day purchase protection you’ll also enjoy.
You would usually have to upgrade to at least a mid-level card in order to even come close to this set of benefits, but here it’s all laid in front of you right from the start. This means that even though this card is similar to a few others on the market in terms of the rewards it offers, there is still reason to choose it above those others who benefits are not nearly so robust. It should be of particular interest to you if you’re planning on doing any travelling in the future and aren’t certain if you’ll have a premium travel card in your hands by then. This one includes a lot of the same perks you’d find there (minus the travel medical insurance, but that’s understandable given the importance and expense attached to that benefit), but is far easier to get and doesn’t cost you anything to own. It’s a rare bargain in that way that more people could stand to take advantage of.
More Cash Back On Your Most Common Purchases
Picking a credit card should mean thinking hard about which one matches up best with how you live your life. Many credit cards, especially cash back ones that provide value that is easier to quantify than that of a travel or rewards card, like to push you to spend as much as you can on all kinds of different items. Some even explicitly reward discretionary spending, such as purchases made at restaurants or movie theatres, much more generously than they do the everyday things that most people are much more likely to be buying. These are great for people with a lot of disposable income, but they don’t perform as well for people who have less money to throw around.
MBNA Smart Cash cards are geared toward the common consumer and are meant to fit into your existing spending patterns as much as possible. With this card in hand during your regular shopping trips and refueling stops, you should have no problem getting quite a bit of cash back with little effort. You don’t necessarily need to pull it out during every single transaction you make in order to get the cash you’re after. This is especially great if you’re still not completely comfortable with using credit, since you won’t need to use it all the time in order to make the most of it. Spending just on groceries and gas will more than suffice to round out the $500 monthly spending cap (whether that’s a good thing or not will be discussed in greater detail below).
Pay Attention to the Reward Cut-Offs
The MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus Mastercard might be great for rewarding basic purchases we all make, but it leaves something to be desired in how it deals with spending caps. While you’ll never be stuck earning absolutely nothing for any purchase you make (i.e. your rewards will never be cut off completely), spending that falls above the very low monthly $500 threshold will earn puny rates of cash in comparison to what you’d get before hitting that marker. That drop-off is severe and can make you feel like you’re missing out on something great even if you aren’t technically being denied anything that wasn’t spelled out in your card documentation.
While it’s always best to focus on the positives in situations like this and appreciate what you have instead of dwelling on what you don’t, people who know that they will regularly be spending much more than $500 a month (which is all but unavoidable when you’re feeding and transporting more than two or three people) will probably be annoyed that they will never be able to get the all the rewards they could have gotten if there had been no caps on spending. If you know you’re going to be in that situation, a different card that keeps these same good bonus categories would probably be a better option for you. This one instead excels at catering to single people and those who keep their spending as low as possible. You could spend just $500 a month on this card and pretty much exhaust its reward potential. That’s rare in the modern credit market which usually encourages you to spend as much as possible. If you’re more of a saver, this structure will almost certainly appeal to you.
Want More? You Can Get It If You Upgrade
As great as this card is, it does have its limits and could clearly be a little bit better overall. You might be impressed to hear that you don’t have to just dream about these improvements. For just $39 a year, you can go with the MBNA Smart Cash World Mastercard instead. For the most part, it works the same way as the basic version, but when you get to the earnings cliff, you’ll drop down to the 1% base rate, which is twice as generous as the 0.5% one from the base card. If you weren’t pleased with the idea of your rewards dropping off so drastically after a small amount of monthly spending, this card allows you to avoid that consequence to some degree. The caps do remain in place though, so once again, don’t forget about that if you expect to regularly exceed those limits.
This card was first introduced in late 2017 after backlash resulting from the imposition of a fee on the standard MBNA Smart Cash card without much notice and without any increase in value to compensate. In response, MBNA split that card into the base MBNA Smart Cash card (the one covered here) and the World version. They also made sure that customers who chose the version that charged a fee would be getting a little extra value for the money they’re paying. This upgraded car does have significantly higher requirements you need to meet ($60,000 a year in individual income or $100,000 in household income as well as good credit) in order to get it, though, so keep that in mind if you have your sights set on it.
What’s the Consensus On These Cards?
Online reviews have much to say about credit cards and other financial products. The Platinum Plus card boasts solid reviews that hover around the 4-star mark, which is a great sign. When people have criticisms to make about it, they usually bring up the fact that the monthly spending cap for the accelerated grocery rewards rate is quite low and that this does a lot to limit the potential sum of reward cash you could get. As the years advance and inflation continues to make $500 seem like less and less of a significant amount, this issue will probably become more widely recognized and this card may lose popularity because of it. On the other hand, it would be a perfectly reasonable response for MBNA to increase the cap (perhaps even by a large amount) in order to keep their customers on their side. This is all just speculation at this point, but it’s easy to extrapolate that this might become a hot point of debate in the near future even if it’s just a common gripe now.
People are generally a bit less universally pleased with the World Mastercard, and that tends to be because they worry that they will not be able to spend enough to make the slight increase in rewards worth the annual fee that it charges. That’s a legitimate concern for someone to have, but that potential problem is easily avoided by taking your current budget and calculating exactly what yearly cash bac yield both the base and World versions will get you. If the final results have a difference between them of more than $39, you have no reason to fear this outcome unless you anticipate drastically changing your budget.
Is It Worth It To Get An MBNA Smart Cash Card?
The MBNA Smart Cash cards are just two of many options and they aren’t a good fit for everyone, but some will enjoy them far more than other similar cards out there. They are best suited for people who need to get a lot of value from limited spending, but may be less pleasing to those with large budgets. The benefits are excellent for anyone to use, though, so that part of their appeal never wanes. Whether it’s the Platinum Plus card or the World card that appeals more to you, go check out one of the MBNA Smart Cash cards today and start earning money back when you stock up on the things your household needs.