Once again, much of the Canadian credit card world is left feeling frustrated and on the hunt for a new credit card.

The well-loved MBNA Rewards program, which was one of the most flexible programs on the market, and the two credit cards that earn these rewards are all going through some changes in the coming months.

If you have one of these cards or were considering getting one, keep reading because we have all the details on these changes here …

MBNA Rewards redemption options

Currently, MBNA Rewards can be redeemed in a number of different ways:

  • travel,
  • cash,
  • merchandise, and
  • gift cards.

One of the most notable things about these points is that you’d get the same redemption value whether you were redeeming for travel or for cash.

100 points = $1 of travel or cash

However, MBNA has announced that starting February 1, 2019, the redemption value for cash is decreasing.

120 points = $1 of cash for MBNA World Elite Mastercard holders

and

200 points = $1 of cash for MBNA Mastercard holders

The good news is that the redemption rate for travel is staying the same. That means if you normally use your points to travel, you shouldn’t notice any difference. If not, you could always start doing that now to preserve the 2% return on spending you’ve likely become accustomed to.

Related: 3 National Bank Travel Mastercards Reviewed & Compared

Plus a $150 travel bonus.
Only 200 gift cards left.

MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard

For a while now, according to our Genius Rating, the has been the best cash back credit card in Canada.

That, unfortunately, is about to change.

Change 1: The annual fee

On September 1, 2018, the annual fee will increase from $89 to $120.

If nothing else was changing, I’m sure this would be an adjustment most of us could stomach.

But with the change in redemption points as well, it’s enough to have many people shopping around for a new card if what they want most are cash rewards.

Change 2: The cash redemption minimum

One really nice thing about the MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard is that you can enjoy your cash back rewards more than once a year (unlike many credit cards).

Once you had accumulated 5,000 points, MBNA would allow you to redeem these points for $50 cash back.

Now, however, you need to wait until you earn at least 6,000 points to enjoy your rewards.

Change 3: The balance transfer interest rate

Starting September 6, 2018, the standard interest rate on balance transfers will increase from 21.99% to 22.99%.

This should not have any effect on any low introductory balance transfer rates, and while this change isn’t going to affect everyone (because not everyone does balance transfers), it is still important to note.

Coming Changes Current New Effective Date
Annual Fee $89 $120 September 1, 2018
Standard Balance Transfer Rate 21.99% 22.99% September 6, 2018
Cash rewards redemption rates 100 points = $1 120 points = $1 February 1, 2019
Minimum cash redemption amount 5,000 points 6,000 points February 1, 2019

Related: Your Guide To Big 5 Bank Rewards Programs

MBNA Rewards Mastercard

As well as the devaluation when redeeming for cash rewards, will be going through some similar changes.

Change 1: The cash redemption minimum

There are not many no fee cards on the market that will allow you to get your cash back more than once a year, and although the MBNA Rewards Mastercard will not hold your cash hostage for a whole year, the minimum required before redeeming your rewards has gone up.

Cardholders used to be able to redeem for cash rewards when they had accumulated 5,000 points. Now, however, you need double that – 10,000 points minimum.

Change 2: The balance transfer interest rate

The standard balance transfer interest rate will be changing just like the World Elite version – from 21.99% to 22.99%.

Change 3: The earn rate

This change is actually for the better.

With the MBNA Rewards Mastercard, there was a standard 1 point for every $1 spent on all purchases.

Starting February 1, 2019, however, there will be a multiplier on gas, grocery and restaurant purchases.

2 points for every $1 spent on gas, groceries and restaurant purchases up to $5,000 spent annually.

If you’re an MBNA Rewards Mastercard cardholder, this change could definitely make you consider keeping this card, especially if:

  • you tend to redeem your points for travel, and…
  • you spend approximately $5,000 a year in any of the 3 categories mentioned above.
Coming Changes Current New Effective Date
Standard Balance Transfer Rate 21.99% 22.99% September 6, 2018
Cash rewards redemption rates 100 points = $1 200 points = $1 February 1, 2019
Minimum cash redemption amount 5,000 points 10,000 points February 1, 2019
Earn rate on gas, groceries and restaurants 1 point per $1 spent 2 points per $1 spent up to $5,000 spent annually February 1, 2019

Related: Best No Annual Fee Cash Back Credit Cards in Canada for 2018

The exit plan

Any time a credit card you love changes for the worse, it’s never fun.

MBNA has given cardholders a pretty good run to help us decide if these cards are still worth it or if we want to get another one.

But our guess is many people are going to try to send MBNA a message by canceling their card.

And it seems like MBNA might agree since they are giving people an option to pull their points out before the cash redemption value changes.

From September 1, 2018, to January 31, 2019, MBNA will be temporarily lowering the minimum points needed to redeem for cash rewards from 5,000 to 1,000. So if you’re under the 5,000 point minimum, but want to “get out,” there is your window.

We’ve already had a few people reach out to us to ask what we think the best cash back credit card will be when the MBNA devaluation goes through.

For us, there are two real contenders.

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With an annual fee of $99, 4% cash back on gas and groceries, 2% cash back on drugstore purchases and recurring bills, 1% cash back on everything else, plus, a pretty great insurance package for a cash back card, we feel like the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite could be replacing the MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard in many people’s wallets.

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However, if you don’t feel like your spending falls into the above Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite categories, the SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express could be an even better option for you. With an annual fee of $99, this card will give 5% back on all your purchases for the first 6 months (up to $300 cash back) and then 2% on every purchase after that. Plus, this Amex has a great insurance package and no minimum income requirement.

Related: Aeroplan Alternatives: Your 7 Other Options

Let us know how you feel

There you have it…

The changes that are coming for the MBNA Rewards plan and Mastercards.

How do you feel about these changes?

Are you planning on shopping around for another credit card? Or do you still feel like one of the MBNA Rewards Mastercards is still right for you?

Let us know in the comments below.