A Diamond in The Rough: The No-Fee 5% Smart Cash Credit Card

Annual Fees
Purchase Interest Rate
Min Personal Income Required
Recommended Credit Score
740 850 670 739 580 669 0 579
Up to 5% cash back on all of your eligible gas and grocery purchases for the first 6 months‡

The new MBNA Smart Cash credit card, from TD, just got better. With its new Smart Cash World card, it offers the highest cash rewards on ALL purchases in Canada with no annual fee: earn 5% cash back on gas & groceries for the first 6 months, 2% thereafter and 1% everywhere else!

We compared the cash back savings of the Smart Cash card to the no fee cash back cards offered by RBC, CIBC, Scotia, BMO, and TD. The Smart Cash credit card earned $100 per year more than its closest MasterCard or Visa competitor. Below is an overview of the card and a few tips to help you milk it for all it’s worth.

Top 5 No Fee Cash Back Credit Cards:

Our competitive analysis reveals that the MBNA Smart Cash card offers the richest rewards amongst all no fee cashback MasterCard or Visa credit cards in Canada today. The Amex No-Fee Simply Cash Card actually does a little better, with no caps and a 1.25% earn rate on all spend, with a 5% earn rate on gas, groceries & restaurants for the first 6 months. But, valid or not, we found lots of our users are hesitant to go with Amex due to acceptance issues, and some prefer shopping at retailers like Costco and Loblaw’s who don’t accept Amex.

The cash back earnings were based on $900 of credit card spend per month, comprised of $300 in gas, $400 in grocery and $200 in other spend. Here are the results:

 Cash Back Credit Card Cash Back RebateRepresentative Annual Cash Rebate
#1MBNA Smart CashUp to 5%$228
#2RBC Cash BackUp to 2%$126
#3Scotia No Fee MomentumUp to 1%$96
#4CIBC Dividend Cash Back Up to 1%$89

Why It’s A Winner:

  1. Up to 5% Cash Back on Gas & Groceries:During the first 6 months, earn 5% cash back on all gas & grocery spending, up to $400/month and 1% thereafter. After the first 6 months, earn 2% cash back on all gas & grocery spending, up to $400/month and 1% thereafter.
  2. 1% Cash Back on All Other Spend: Earn 1% cash back on all other spend (not gas or grocery), better than any other no annual fee cash back credit card in Canada. Compare it to TD’s no fee cash back card which offers .75% or BMO’s no fee cash back card which offers .5%.
  3. No Annual Fees: With no annual fee you’ll start to see the benefits right away. Compare it to other cards that try to match Smart Cash’s value, and you’ll see TD’s Gold Elite Visa charge a $99 annual fee, BMO’s CashBack World charge a $79 annual fee and CIBC’s Dividend card charge a $79 annual fee. With a $99 annual fee earning 1% cash back, your first $9,990 in credit card spend pays back the annual fee! The MBNA Smart Cash card isfree.
  4. Free Supplemental Cards:Add additional authorized users to the account for free, which should help you accumulate even more cash back.
  5. Platinum & World Benefits: The Smart Cash card automatically comes with Platinum benefits such as car rental insurance, travel interruption insurance, extended warranty protection and purchase protection (90 days insurance in case of theft or damage). You may also get upgraded to the World card which gives you price protection (pays you back the difference if you find a lower price on a purchase within 60 days) and concierge benefits. Not bad for a card with no annual fee!
  6. Easy Cash Back Process. Once your Smart Cash earnings total $50 at the end of a monthly billing period, MBNA will send you a check in the mail automatically.There are no forms to fill out, no phone calls to make and no hassles to qualify for your cash back. It’s clean and transparent.

So whether taking advantage of the 5% cash back offer for the first 6 months on gas and groceries and 1% everywhere else, or the ongoing value of 2% for gas & groceries and 1% everywhere else, the MBNA Smart Cash Credit Card remains the best value in the marketplace today. The 1% earnings on all non gas and grocery spend alone beat out TD, BMO, CIBC & Scotia. With no annual fee it makes for a great cash back credit card or extra line of credit in your wallet. It’s an easy decision.

Article comments

Been There Done That says:

The Rogers MasterCard no foreign exchange fee really is just a smoke and mirrors play.I If you check the MasterCard International FX rate for US to Canadian $ you will find that they actually take a markup commission of Approx 420 basis points {4.2 %) above the bank rate not just the 2.5 % commission that they state. The Net of it is that after the 4% cash back, you are still down .02% on the transaction. But then what would you” expect ” from Rogers

GreedyRates says:

Hey there,

Thanks for contributing. We’re not sure where you got your information, but we have not heard similar from any other sources. In our experience, and given accounts from our readers, the Rogers Mastercard works as intended and as we’ve reviewed it. If you’d like to provide a link, we’d appreciate that very much.

It could be that you’re thinking of the international spot exchange rate between CAD and USD, and not the fee that Mastercard takes from transactions made with a foreign currency. Thanks again, and please follow up with us as soon as you can, so we can put the matter to rest. Thank you!

GreedyRates Staff

Yuri says:

Also, there’s a $1250 cap on the “other” spend that receives 1% cash back. So you don’t get anything after that. That drops it waaaaaay down on my list.

GreedyRates says:

Hi Yuri, thanks for your comment.

The information you’ve provided about the cap on expenses that can benefit from 1% cash back is a new development for us. With the merging of TD and MBNA, there have been some changes to credit cards from both issuers lately, and this is one we haven’t discovered yet. Thanks for mentioning it! We will be sure to incorporate this fact in future reviews. It comes as no surprise that you’re a bit disappointed with this monthly limit on rewards, and we may have to reconsider the order of our ‘best of’ list.

However, the main draw of this card is not necessarily the cash back from ‘other spend’, but gas and groceries benefits and the absence of an annual fee. The latter perk makes it a great companion to other cards in one’s wallet, which also reduces the importance of ‘other spend’ benefits further.

Also, you might want to consider that the Platinum and World versions of the MBNA Smart Cash credit card may have different benefit caps – or none at all. Unfortunately, you won’t find out until you receive the paper terms document with the card itself in the mail. This is how MBNA operates. Alternatively, you can call customer support. We’re sure they would be happy to explain the matter better than we possibly can. Best of luck!

GreedyRates Staff

David says:

Hello. Just want to confirm that for the MBNA Smart Cash card the $400.00 monthly limit for the 5% in the first six months refers to the amount of cash back you can earn not the amount of spend for which you will get 5% back. Thank you.

GreedyRates says:

Hi David,

Unfortunately, the $400 monthly cap is on spend on groceries and gas, not cash back! That means, you’re effectively capped at $20 cashback per month, $120 over 6 months. With no fee, it’s still a great deal on your first $400 of spend on gas and groceries per month. After that, you’ll want a different option to maximize your cashback earnings.

Perhaps a better option for you is the Tangerine MoneyBack MasterCard, which gives 4% cashback with no limits for the first 90 days in 2-3 categories of your choice, 2% thereafter with no limits.

Hope that helps.

GreedyRates Staff

Jay says:

Hello Greedyrates! Just to be sure, does this card give 2% on groceries and gas even at Costco, or only 1% ? Thank you very much!

GreedyRates says:

Hi Jay,

The return at Costco will be 1%, because Costco is defined as a wholesale merchant, as opposed to a grocery store or gas station.

GreedyRates Staff

Irene bortolotto says:

My husband would like to apply for mbna MasterCard He would like to apply for the one year interest free rate

Libby says:

Irene you should check out the Costco Capital One MasterCard!!! 🙂 Cheers