When TD bought MBNA’s credit card portfolio I knew it spelled trouble for my favourite cash back credit card, the Smart Cash card. Sure enough, about a year later, MBNA announced some pretty drastic changes to limit the amount of cash back you could earn with Smart Cash.
So I’ve spent some time the past few months figuring out which rewards credit cards will give me the best bang for my buck. I’ve compared all the different cards and decided to use the following combination:
- Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite for groceries, gas and drug store spending as well as for recurring bill payments.
- ChoicePlus card from American Express for Costco purchases and for earning double points at my five chosen retailers.
- Capital One Aspire Cash World MasterCard for all other spending.
Had I kept using the Smart Cash card I would have earned $350 cash back this year. With my new rewards credit card approach, I should earn more than $800 in cash back this year.
I called up MBNA to let them know I wanted to close my account. Despite the extraordinary lengths the agent took to try and convince me to stay, I cancelled my MBNA Smart Cash card.
Here’s how the call went down:
Call To Cancel My MBNA Smart Cash Card
MBNA: Hi, this is Jason. How may I help you?
Me: Hi Jason, I’d like to close my account please.
Jason: I’m sorry to hear that. May I ask why?
Me: Well, after the changes you’ve made to the Smart Cash card I’m no longer getting the most cash back with this card.
Jason: I understand. Okay, I’ll have to transfer you to another agent to close your account.
Me: (waits five minutes on hold)
MBNA: Hi, this is Jeff. I understand you want to close your account because you’re no longer getting the most cash back. You realize that you have the Smart Cash World card and so there’s no limit to how much cash back you can earn, right?
Me: Hi Jeff, yes I do realize this but with my spending habits I can get more cash back using the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite card for groceries, gas and drug store purchases along with recurring bill payments.
Jeff: True, but the Scotia card is only for really high income earners.
Me: Well, you’ll need $60,000 income to qualify for the Visa Infinite card but that’s not an issue for me.
Jeff: But you’ll only get 1% cash back on the other spending categories. Why don’t you keep the Smart Cash card as your secondary card and use it for other purchases?
Me: Because I can get 1.5% cash back using the Capital One Aspire Cash World MasterCard on any spending category.
Jeff: You’ll only get 1% cash back with Cap One Aspire Cash.
Me: No, you get 1% cash back on your purchases, PLUS a 50% cash back bonus at the end of the year. So effectively you’re earning 1.5%, which beats the 1% that Smart Cash pays. I also get a $100 bonus for my first purchase.
Jeff: With the introduction of our new e-mall you’ll get more cash back when you shop online with our preferred partners. That’ll beat what you get back with Cap One Aspire Cash.
Me: I’m aware of the e-mall but I prefer to focus
on my core spending. I don’t shop with a lot of your e-mall partners so the cash back you offer there doesn’t really matter. Besides, I’m using the ChoicePlus card from American Express where I earn double points at five retailers of my choice.
Jeff: But with the e-mall you can earn 6-10% cash back on hotels and rental cars. That’s a lot more than you’ll get back with the other cards.
Me: We have two kids under the age of four. We don’t travel.
Jeff: So why not just keep your account open and then use the Smart Cash card on the odd occasion when you do travel?
Me: I think I’ll manage to find a good deal when the time comes. I’d just like to close my account please.
Jeff: MBNA has some of the lowest interest rates of all the rewards credit cards on the market.
Me: I don’t care about interest rates because I always pay off my credit card balance in full each month.
Jeff: I’m not sure if you’re aware, but we have a promotion where you can get 0% interest for up to 20 months. If you leave your account open I can convert your card to our MBNA Platinum Plus card so you can take advantage of this promotional rate.
Me: I don’t need a balance transfer credit card. I’m not interested in credit card arbitrage.
Jeff: Okay, but have you considered using it to take out an interest free loan to make an RRSP contribution? You won’t get a 20-month interest free RRSP loan from your bank for up to $20,000.
Me: (Pauses: that’s actually not a bad idea). No, no. I’m not interested.
Jeff: Why? Is your RRSP maxed out or something?
Me: (Damn, this guy is persistent). I’m not interested.
Jeff: If you leave your account open you’ll avoid a hit on your credit report . This could impact future credit applications.
Me: I’ve already been approved for the other credit cards so I won’t be opening any new accounts for a while. I just want to close my account please.
Jeff: (Defeated). Is there anything else we can do to convince you to stay?
Me: You could re-instate your previous cash back rewards system.
Jeff: Unfortunately the old 5%/3%/1% cash back model was not sustainable so we had to make the changes.
Me: Well, I guess that means I’ll have to make changes too.
I didn’t expect MBNA to let me walk away without a fight. As soon as Jason said he was going to transfer me I knew I’d be speaking with a loyalty and retention agent who would do his best to keep my business.
Unfortunately for MBNA, I had done my homework and so I had an answer for all of Jeff’s rebuttals.
I’ve learned that, as customers, we can get what we want if we’re willing to do the research to compare what other companies are offering and then be willing to walk away if we’re not satisfied.
I’ll take what I’ve learned from this experience and apply it when I want to negotiate my cable or internet bill. or when the time comes to renew my car and house insurance.
What’s your experience been like when cancelling a product or a service? Did the company try and convince you to stay?