PERSONAL FINANCE BLOG

Money shouldn´t stop making your plans come true. Learn how personal loans can help you!
National Bank ECHO Cashback Mastercard Review
12 Jan 2019

National Bank ECHO Cashback Mastercard | Credit Card Review

Cash back credit cards are great, but ones with a reward scheme that practically guarantees you’ll never miss out are even better. You can find more information about just such a card in our National Bank ECHO Cashback Mastercard review.

Earn an impressive 1.5% cash back on necessary items like gas and groceries.

 

General Information

You Are Interested If You’re a typical lower- to middle-class consumer who wants to get a cash back credit card with a high potential reward yield and don’t care very much about anything else.
Brief Description The National Bank ECHO Cashback Mastercard is a straightforward cash back card with high reward rates on common purchase categories.
Main Requirements This is a basic-level card, so it’s pretty easy to get, all things considered. Pretty much any income will do, and so will most credit scores.

Card Details

Network Visa.
Provider National Bank.
Card Type This is a cash back credit card.

Fees and Interest

Purchase Interest Rate If you don’t pay off your standard balance charges on time, you’ll pay 19.99% in interest with this card.
Cash Advance Getting any advance cash, on the other hand, will cost 22.99% in interest.
Balance Transfer If you choose to transfer a balance to this card, you’ll be paying 22.99% interest on that balance.

Eligibility

Income Requirements This is a simple and basic cash back credit card that almost anyone can get, so there are no income requirements to worry about.
Household Income Requirements The same as what was stated above also applies to household income.
Annual Fee This card charges a $30 annual fee.

Rewards

Welcome Bonus This card has no welcome bonus on it at the moment.
How To Earn Points Charging purchases to this card will earn you 1.5% cash back on all gas, grocery and online purchases, as well as 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Benefits The only additional benefit you’ll get with this card aside from extended warranties and purchase protection is admission into the Mastercard Priceless Cities program, a way to get access to unique local and travel experiences.

About National Bank ECHO Cashback Mastercard

Main Features

Just to set up this National Bank ECHO Cashback Mastercard review properly, we’re going to quickly go over this card’s interest rates. The standard purchase rate is a completely predictable 19.99%, but the rates for cash advances and balance transfers sit just a smidgeon higher than most at 22.99%. This slightly elevated cost probably won’t make much of a difference for most people who rarely run up balances in the latter two categories, but it’s something to think about if you do use those options and know that you aren’t always great at paying your credit card bills on time.

Now, for the next and most important part of our National Bank ECHO Cashback Mastercard review – the rewards. Rewards on this card, like most cash back cards, are fairly straightforward and easy to understand. You earn small amount of cash money every time you charge a purchase to this card, to be paid out in a larger lump sum once you’ve accumulated enough (in this case, you’ll need at least $25 at a time in order to cash out). Your base earning rate is a simple 1% on all transactions, but certain kinds of purchases will get you 1.5% cash back instead. These include gas, groceries, and anything you buy online. These are fairly good rates even without the context of the exact bonus categories (many lower-end cards like this will simply offer 0.5% cash back as a base rate and 1% as the boosted one, significantly below what you get here), but once you know what kind of spending you need to do to get that bonus rate, it becomes clear that this is an even better deal than you might have thought.

These bonus categories might sound a little dull at first, but they’re actually very generous of National Bank to include. Having those be the types of spending that score you the elevated earnings rate ensures that pretty much everyone, no matter how little disposable income they may have, will enjoy a robust amount of rewards from this card. After all, we all need gas to get around and food to eat, so there’s no cutting them out of your budget no matter how lean times might get. In that way, this structure makes it as easy as possible for you to always hit your bonus category spending hard. The only other thing that provides a similar effect that was not included here and sometimes is on other cards is automatic bill payments. Unless you’ve arranged to pay your rent this way or subscribe to an inordinate amount of services each month, though, this is the category that most people will miss the least out of the set. Many people pay little in utilities and may even have them bundled into the cost of their rent, and beyond that, a cell phone bill is probably the only thing that many of them have to pay on a recurring basis like that. Contrast that with gas and groceries, things that we all have to buy on a regular basis in order to live our lives and which take up a significant part of most people’s monthly budget. Getting extra rewards for these purchases is great because not only can you not avoid making them, but you’ll also be able to rack up high spending numbers without distorting your budget.

Another thing we want to note in this National Bank ECHO Cashback Mastercard review is that adding online purchases to the selection of bonus categories is a great touch for this card that makes it especially appealing to the younger generation. People buy things online more and more these days, and it’s not only the occasional book or DVD that they go for. Online ordering is extremely convenient and allows you to get whatever you need in just a few clicks, and you don’t even have to wait very long to receive your purchase anymore. This makes it ideal for replenishing household items like soap, toothpaste, garbage bags, notepaper, and other consumables that most people use nearly every day. As services like Amazon Prime become more common and more accessible in Canada, it’s conceivable that the bulk of people’s household needs like this will be fulfilled through these avenues. This means that you could potentially get a giant chunk of your spending to qualify for the 1.5% cash back rate with all 3 bonus categories working together. Many people also get a credit card in the first place primarily to facilitate online purchases, so for that reason it’s nice to make that an extra-rewarding experience within the terms of the card.

Just talking about how great this reward scheme is will never be as helpful as illustrating it, though, so let’s do that now in this National Bank ECHO Cashback Mastercard review. By analyzing the cash back yield of a mock budget, you can get a better idea of whether or not you’ll be satisfied with what you could earn. This time, we’ll assume a budget of $1,250 in monthly spending, broken into $500 in groceries, $300 in gas, $200 online and $250 in miscellaneous extra purchases. This means that every month, you’ll be spending $1,000 within your bonus categories and earning $15 for doing so, plus another $2.50 for the rest. All together, that adds up to $210 per year. An amount like that won’t change anyone’s life, but it it’s nothing to sneeze at either, especially since it was earned on such a controlled budget.

To close out this piece, there are a few negative points to mention in this National Bank ECHO Cashback Mastercard review: namely, the cost. This card does charge a $30 annual fee, which is low in the grand scheme of things and will be more than made up for in cash back earnings if your spending lands anywhere close to the numbers described above. Still, though, it’s not an ideal setup. This used to be a completely free card up until a few years ago, and while the fee they charge now isn’t unreasonable for the amount of cash back you’ll almost certainly be getting, it’s still a shame for it to have lost free card status. In the past, it would have been one of the best cash back cards in its bracket, if not just the best altogether; now, it’s just one of the better options you can find.

The benefits are another thing to cover in this National Bank ECHO Cashback Mastercard review, even though there isn’t much to say. Beyond one thing that we’ll cover below, this card doesn’t offer you any extra benefits for having it beyond the practically mandated purchase protection and extended warranty coverage. You can make up for this by carrying other credit cards around with you, something which many people choose to do anyway. However, in terms of how well this one card manages to be a one-fits-all solution, it lacks a little in this area.

The one benefit it does come with is the Mastercard Priceless Cities program, which gives you access to many fun things to do like dining experiences and events. This can be a bit fun, but it it’s nothing spectacular. A major downside to it is that these restaurants and events are all clustered around a handful of large cities for the most part (hence the program’s name). If you don’t live in a major city, you might not have the occasion to use this benefit outside of whatever limited travelling you might do. That wouldn’t normally be such a big deal, but when it’s the only real benefit the card has to its name, it’s a bit disappointing that it’s so limited in its usability. Nevertheless, with such solid value on the rewards side of things, this isn’t much of an issue.

Conclusions

In summation of this National Bank ECHO Cashback Mastercard review, this is a card that many people will really enjoy. It’s not quite free, but it’s close enough to it to be easily compared to truly free options – and in those surroundings, it shines. The reward rates are fairly high and easy to maximize, and you’ll rarely find anyone complaining about a cash back reward structure. The lack of any real usable benefits is definitely a strike against it, but not a major one considering that it would have been unreasonable to expect much in this department anyway. All in all, this is one of the better cash back credit cards available to Canadians.

About National Bank

National Bank was founded in 1859 as Banque Nationale, serving the growing population in and around Montreal (where its headquarters are still located today). They were nearly put out of business during the turbulent years of the Great Depression, but were finally able to bounce back and weather out the financial storm. Over the years since then, they’ve kept growing in presence and influence, with the set of mergers they conducted with several other major banking companies in 1979 becoming known as one of the largest and most influential mergers ever.

What We Think

We’ll happily end this National Bank ECHO Cashback Mastercard review with a solid recommendation. This is a great card option for the most mercenary of credit card users, the ones who just want to get their rewards and get out. You earn points at a decent rate, don’t have to go out of your way to do it, and won’t be paying too much for the privilege. Don’t forget, though, that this value comes at the cost of your potential benefits, and you should be aware of that before you make your decision; don’t choose this card if that matters to you at all.