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Review of the National Bank Echo Cashback MasterCard

National Bank ECHO cashback MasterCardThe no annual fee National Bank ECHO Cashback MasterCard offers a compelling value proposition of 6% cashback per dollar spent on most online purchases for 3 months, 1.5% on gas and grocery, and 1% everywhere else.

There are two features of the card that make it stand-out from the pack. First, it’s the only card in Canada that we know of that offers online purchases as a 6% bonus category (for the first 3 months). Second, it makes redeeming your cash back really simple. While many cards only allow you to redeem at the end of each year, ECHO allows you to apply your cashback as soon as you reach $25.

Despite some qualifiers which we’ll address below, the National Bank ECHO cashback MasterCard is a great no fee rewards card for most Canadians. Its two 1.5% bonus categories make it better than the flat 1% cashback rate offered by Capital One, and the RBC and CIBC cash back cards which offer 2% in groceries alone.

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National Bank ECHO cashback MasterCard Benefits

The ECHO MasterCard comes with no annual fee, 6% cashback for 3 months on most online purchases, 1.5% cash back on gas and groceries and 1% everywhere else.

However, there are two exceptions you should be aware of. First, the 1.5% cashback on gas and groceries purchases is only awarded on the first $25,000 of annual spend. Frankly, that shouldn’t be an issue for most. If you’re spending more than $25,000 a year on your credit card, there are better alternatives than the ECHO MasterCard.

Second, while it advertises a 1.5% cashback rate on online purchases, there are some exceptions: “all purchases related to a trip made with or without a travel agency (air transportation, accommodation and vehicle rental), purchases related to transportation (bus, metro, train) and repetitive payments (online subscriptions and automatic bill payments).” We find that a little disappointing.

Essentially any purchases on Expedia, Travelocity, AirCanada.com, Netflix, National Post, Bell, Rogers, Telus, or Videotron would not qualify as an “online” purchase, and would thus only receive 1% cashback.

Here’s a summary of the rewards, perks and benefits that help this card stand-out from the pack:

1) No Annual Fee
2) No fee for supplementary cards
3) Bonus Cashback 6% cashback on most online purchases (first 3 months), 1.5% cashback on gas and grocery
4) Base Cashback 1% cashback on all other purchases, with no limits
5) Cashback Redemptions Apply your cashback as soon as you accumulate $25
6) Purchase Protection Purchases protected from theft or damage for 90 days after purchase
7) Extended Warranty Doubles the original manufacturers warranty period up to 1 year

There is no specified minimum income requirement, although we always recommend you earn at least $15,000 before applying, unless you’re a student.

Worth It?
The National Bank MasterCard offers great value and convenience as a no annual fee cash back credit card. However, there are other no fee cashback cards that do an even better job, however they too have trade-off’s.

For example, the no annual fee FIDO MasterCard offers 4% cashback on purchases in a foreign currency and 1.5% on ALL other purchases with no caps.  You don’t have to be a FIDO customer to get the card and you can redeem your cashback as a statement credit, just like with the ECHO MasterCard. The only trade-off with the FIDO card, is that you can only redeem your cashback as a statement credit at the end of each year, unless you’re redeeming for FIDO goods or services.

The Rogers MasterCard offers 4% cashback on purchases in a foreign currency and 1.75% on ALL other purchases with no caps. It has a $29 annual fee which is waived in the first year, and every year thereafter on your anniversary date as long as your Rogers bill is set up as a pre-authorized payment.

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