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Amazon has a number of competitive advantages that contribute to its customer loyalty, but consistently low prices might be the main metal in its magnetism. The Amazon.ca Rewards Mastercard offers additional savings on Amazon.ca purchases, and it’s really a no-brainer credit card for Amazon Prime members, who have the most to gain from signing up.
But those who aren’t already paying for Amazon Prime should consider other no-annual-fee credit cards that offer better returns on spending, more favourable terms for foreign currency transactions, and/or more flexible rewards redemption policies.
Pros and cons
- No annual fee
- Good returns on Amazon.ca, Whole Foods Market stores and foreign currency transactions
- Competitive welcome bonus
- Serviceable for regular Costco and No Frills shoppers
- Earning maximum rewards requires paying for Amazon Prime
- Other cards have higher earn rates on non-Amazon.ca purchases
- Rewards points are only redeemable for Amazon.ca gift cards
- Relatively few Whole Foods locations in Canada
New cardholders get a special rate of 5% back on up to $3,000 spent at Amazon.ca, grocery stores, and restaurants for their first six months. Those who max this out can get up to $150 back, which is competitive for a no-annual-fee credit card.
A free Amazon gift card is sometimes included as well, though it’s not a guaranteed component of the bonus and the amount you might be offered can vary substantially depending on when you sign up. The first time I simulated the application process I was offered a $50 gift card; that was reduced to $15 when I tried signing up a second time about a week later.
Related: Best credit card sign-up bonuses in Canada
The card has different earn rates depending on where you shop:
- Unlimited 1.5% back at Amazon.ca and Whole Foods Market stores (regular)
- Unlimited 2.5% back at Amazon.ca, Whole Foods Market stores, and on foreign currency transactions (Amazon Prime and Prime Student members only)
- Unlimited 1% back everywhere else that accepts Mastercard
Amazon Prime costs $7.99 per month or $79.99 per year. But keep in mind that the extra rewards you earn from the card, combined with Prime’s free shipping benefits, can potentially cover this cost if you shop at Amazon.ca frequently. Furthermore, Amazon Prime Student only costs $39 per year or $3.99 per month, potentially making this an excellent student card option.
Though I expressed the earn rates above in percentages, the Amazon.ca Rewards Mastercard technically pays you back for your spending in points. When you accrue 2,000 points they will automatically redeem for a $20 Amazon.ca gift card (100 points equals $1 in gift card value). Unlike regular cash back cards, you can’t apply what you earn back with the card directly against your credit card statements. In that sense the Amazon.ca Rewards Mastercard falls short if you value flexibility when the time comes to redeem your points, and you’d prefer to redeem what you earn against any purchase you like and not just Amazon.ca purchases.
That said, one benefit of the points you earn from this card is that they don’t expire as long as your card remains open and in good standing, i.e., you make your minimum payment on time.
You can read this article to learn more about the respective advantages and disadvantages of earning cash back vs. rewards points.
Other notable perks
Because this card falls under MBNA’s Platinum Plus umbrella, cardholders are entitled to a number of special benefits:
- Purchase Assurance: Get coverage on most items you purchase with your card for the first 90 days.
- Extended Warranty Coverage: Doubles most purchases’ warranties for up to one year.
- MBNA Payment Plan: Pay for eligible purchases of $100 or more by making monthly instalment payments. Payment plan terms can be 6, 12, or 18 months.
- Rental Car Discounts: 10% off at Canadian and U.S. Avis Rent A Car and Budget Rent A Car locations; 5% off at other international branches.
- Rental Car Insurance: Up to 31 days of coverage if you charge the rental car to your card in full.
- Common Carrier Accidental Death and Dismemberment Benefits: Up to $1,000,000 in coverage underwritten by TD Life Insurance.
Furthermore, you automatically upgrade to Mastercard’s World Elite status if you apply for this card with a personal annual income over $80,000 or a household income of $150,000 or more. This unlocks extra Mastercard perks like price protection, more travel insurance, extra rental car insurance, and concierge support.
Note that purchase assurance and extended warranty benefits have a slight catch. To qualify for either perk, you must make the full purchase with your credit card, so using a gift card for part of your purchase voids coverage. This means you should avoid using the Amazon.ca gift cards you earn on purchases like electronics or appliances, where an extended warranty can be clutch.
Interest rates and fees
The Amazon.ca Rewards Mastercard doesn’t charge an annual fee. Interest rates are fairly standard: 19.99% for purchases, 22.99% for balance transfers and access cheques, and 22.99% for cash advances. These rates increase by 5% (up to a maximum 29.99%) if you make two late minimum payments within 12 consecutive statement periods. Other fees include:
- Foreign transaction: 2.5% (1.5% after factoring in the 1% in rewards)
- ATM and over-the-counter cash advance: 1% (minimum fee of $7.50)
- Over credit limit: $29
- Returned payment: $20
- Returned access cheque: $20
- Extra copy of account statement or sales draft: $2.50
Though MBNA, a division of Toronto Dominion Bank, is the issuer of this credit card and the company that oversees approvals, you apply for the card directly on Amazon.ca, so you need an Amazon.ca account to begin the application process.
You must be a Canadian resident and the age of majority in your province or territory to apply. Amazon and MBNA don’t specify what credit score you need in order to be approved, but given that it’s a no annual fee card it seems likely that an average to good score (around 650+) will suffice.
How does it compare to the competition?
|Features||Amazon.ca Rewards Mastercard||Home Trust Preferred Visa||SimplyCashTM Card from American Express|
|Welcome offer||5% at Amazon.ca, grocery stores, and restaurants (up to $150 back) for the first six months||None||4% cash back (up to $200) for your first six months|
|Enhanced cash back rates||1.5%-2.5% at Amazon.ca, Whole Foods, and on foreign currency transactions||N/A||N/A|
|Regular cash back rate||1.00%||1.00%||1.25%|
|Main perk||Boosted Amazon.ca cash back rate||No foreign transaction fees||High regular cash back rate|
The Amazon.ca Rewards Mastercard is a great option for those who routinely shop at Amazon.ca and Whole Foods, and who prefer not to pay an annual fee for their credit card. However, there are other no annual fee cards in Canada that might be more of a draw, depending on what attracted you to the Amazon.ca card in the first place.
If a big part of the Amazon.ca card’s appeal is that it can help you save on foreign transactions, consider the Home Trust Preferred Visa as well. The Amazon.ca card gives 1% back on foreign transactions (unless you have a Prime membership); but since it charges a 2.5% foreign transaction fee, that means you’re still swallowing a 1.5% fee every time you make a payment in a foreign currency. That’s not as beneficial as cards that waive foreign transaction fees entirely. The Home Trust Preferred Visa won’t give you cash back on foreign transactions, but since it won’t charge you fees either, you’ll still come out ahead on your purchases abroad, even when you shop online.
If the sheer cash back is what’s pulling you toward the Amazon.ca card, take a look at your shopping habits. Do Amazon.ca and Whole Foods represent a huge chunk of your purchases, or is your spending spread out among a variety of retailers? If the latter, the SimplyCash™ Card from American Express has a slightly higher cash back rate for non-Amazon purchases than the Amazon.ca Rewards Mastercard. An extra 0.25% might not seem like much, but it adds up over time: if you spend $1,500 a month, that’s an added $45 in cash back over the course of a year. And that’s not even factoring in the more lucrative welcome offer from the Amex.
You can check out other competing cards by reviewing our lists of the best no-annual-fee cards in Canada and the best credit cards for Amazon.ca purchases.
Should you apply for the Amazon.ca Rewards Mastercard?
Earning unlimited 1.5% cash back on Amazon.ca and Whole Foods purchases is a compelling offer. Throw in a 5% welcome bonus, cash back for foreign currency purchases, and no annual fee, and the Amazon.ca Rewards Mastercard is a respectable rewards card. But its maximum value is accessible only to Amazon Prime members. If you’re already a Prime member and regularly shop on Amazon.ca, this card absolutely belongs in your wallet. If you don’t have Prime and only occasionally shop on Amazon.ca, this might not be the right card for you.
Debating between the Amazon.ca Rewards Mastercard and another no-annual-fee card? Consider getting both and making purchases with the Amazon.ca card on Amazon.ca and at Whole Foods, while putting the rest of your spending on the other card. That way you can have your Whole Foods flourless chocolate cake and eat it too, provided you pay each card off in full and on time.