Last week, we compared different banks’ credit card offerings head-to-head.
Round 1 saw MBNA duke it out with Capital One over the best rewards offerings.
Round 2 pitted RBC against TD for the title of top consumer choice.
And Round 3 had CIBC showdown with Scotiabank over the ultimate in cash back.
The time has come to crown our champ! But first, let’s recap the honourable mentions in low-interest and cash back credit cards.
And In This Corner: Low Interest Credit Cards
If there’s only one point of advice to glean from these financial advice columns, it should be this: You’ll never get out of debt by carrying a balance on credit cards at 20 to 30 per cent (or more!) in annual interest. Most cards will even tell you in the fine print: “If you only pay the monthly minimum, it will take you x-number of decades to pay off this debt…” That’s right. DECADES.
Of course, we may find ourselves a little short at the end of the month. Rather than risk having our phone, heat or hydro cut off, we may take the banks up on their generous offer of allowing us to carry some debt.
One way to break the cycle? Transfer your debt to a lower interest product. One enticing example is the Scotiabank Value Visa, with an introductory balance transfer interest rate of 0.99 per cent for the first nine months (jumping to a still lower-than-the-norm 11.99 per cent after that.) Depending on how much you transfer, you could easily save the $29 annual fee many times over.
Even better (at least in the short term), is the MBNA Platinum Plus MasterCard. With no annual fee, the balance transfers accumulate at an astonishing 0 per cent (yes, zero) interest for the first 10 months. The catch is that the rate jumps up to 19.99 per cent after that.
Rounding Out The Ring: Rewards Cards
When looking for a credit card that pays you back for purchases, it’s worthwhile to shop around. While some, like the CIBC Dividend Visa or the TD Rebate Rewards Visa top out at 1 per cent payback, and RBC offers up to 2 percent on purchases at select retailers, the Scotia Momentum VISA Infinite offers up to 4 percent on gas station and grocery store purchases.The league leader though is the MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard credit card, with up to five per cent cash back on the first six months of gas and grocery purchases (though it drops to two percent after the initiation period).
BIG BONUS: When we say MBNA’s card can help you save at the pump, we mean it. Get approved for the MBNA Smart Cash Credit Card, and you’ll get $75 in free gas. Not only that, you’ll also be entered to WIN free gas for a year, up to a $2500 value.
Find Your Custom Credit Card Fit
Of course, everyone’s situation is different: the bonus sign-up air miles with one card may be enough to earn you the trip you’ve been saving for for years; or the hyper-low balance transfer option might help you get through a rough patch and on firmer ground once you’re back on your feet. But, in general terms, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better card than…
The MBNA Smart Cash Credit Card is our winner for combining the best of all worlds. With no annual fee, you can transfer balances at a modest 1.99 per cent interest rate for the first 10 months, and accumulate up to 5 per cent cash back on subsequent purchases. Plus, it includes travel insurance and warranty protection on purchases. Just make sure you’re paying off your balance before the end of the year is up or you’ll be facing a 19.99 per cent hit to your savings.