Canadian Tire MasterCard Rewards Card – A Strange Duck

by Mike Holman

Michael L has had a Canadian Tire Mastercard for some time.  He was under the impression that it paid out one percent in rewards for non-Canadian Tire purchases.  After doing some analysis on his Canadian Tire credit card statement, he concludes that his actual rewards are only about 0.86%.

Read Michael’s analysis of the CT Mastercard rewards program.

With no help from Canadian Tire, he figures out that the “1% reward” is only calculated after following a rounding down formula as follows:

  • Less than $10 – Purchase amount rounded down to nearest dollar
  • $10 to $100 – Amounts rounded down to nearest $10.
  • Greater than $100 – Amounts rounded down to nearest $50.

 Since there is absolutely zero information about the card or the rewards on the website, I called Canadian Tire financial services this week and the rep confirmed exactly what Michael had figured out.

With this rounding method, you can end up with odd situations like the following:

  • Someone making a single $135 purchase will get 0.74% in rewards. 
  • Someone making three $45 purchases (totalling $135) will get 0.89% in rewards.
  • If you make 21 purchases all for $6.43 each (totalling $135) you will receive 0.93% in rewards.

I can understand that companies will favour in-store purchases with extra rewards and it’s very common for rewards cards to pay higher amounts for more use, but I can’t understand the logic behind this particular calculation.

It’s difficult enough to figure out the various rewards cards and determine which is the best for you without this kind of nonsense as well.

This is one rewards credit card I won’t be considering.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lewin

It would be interesting to see how this is advertised because it sounds like the only circumstances when somebody would get the full 1% is if all transactions are in one-dollar increments and < $10. That is, if they're saying "1% cash back!" I'd like to see them provide evidence that even one customer got that full 1% back. Probably they say "up to 1% back" to cover their ass.

2 MG

Plus, cards like CT and Pres Choice, are “internal” rebates, meaning you’re tied to that store in an “endless” loop.
I’ve decided to dump these for actual cashbacks/account credits.
Yes, I know they have their own fancy math, but I figure that “cash is king”. (Of course this only really works if pay the full bal. every month).

Has anybody compared the (actual) cashback cards yet?

3 Fernando Margueirat

MG

I have a Costco AMEX cash-back card and I haven’t found any fancy math. The only one could be the cap (I think it’s $500, but I never spend that much in a year to get $500 cash-back). Is is tiered (you get 0.5% in the first $3000, 1.0% in the next $2000 and 1.5% on everything beyond $5000), but it is very clearly stated in their advertising. You get an extra 0.5% if you are carrying a balance.

4 Mike Holman

@Lewin – I have no idea. I think you’re right and “up to 1%” is how they probably put it.

@MG – Cash is king. There are lots of comparisons on the web – Google it.

@Fernando – That sounds like a decent rewards plan.

5 MG

Fernando, that’s a Costco cheque, right?
Just be aware that if you cancel the card before getting the rebate, you forfeit it totally.

6 Sixpets

MBNA Smart Cash is the best rewards credit card hands down. No monthly fee, great benefits and a minimum of 1% cashback (3% on Groceries and Gas – capped) paid out in $50.00 increments by cheque monthly.

If you like it, sign up to Greatcanadianrebates.ca and apply there and get $60.00 rebate on approval.

7 Fernando Margueirat

@MG Yes, sorry for not clarifying that. It is a Costco cheque. It used to be that you could just go to any Costco location and cash it, but now they require you to used it at the register. I’m not sure if they change their User Agreement, but that’s what happened to me the last time. I just went to the register and paid for a $10 item that I was going to buy anyways and got the change in cash. I don’t mind using it for the full amount since I shop there but I’m loosing the cash back if I’m not with my credit card. On a $400 rewards cheque it’s $6.

8 GM

I recommend National Bank’s no fee Ultramar MasterCard. 1.25% cash back (paid as a credit at year’s end) for non-gas purchases of up to $20000 for a max return of $250 Simple and clear, plus the warranty coverage period is doubled for many items purchased with the card.

9 Support Spy

@Sixpets – MBNA is the best card in my opinion.

I have both the Canadian Tire Options card and the MBNA card. The MBNA card is very simple to understand, offers a competetive reward and has no annual fee. It is a bit of a pain to deal with cheques but a small inconvenience for real/actual cash back.

The Canadian Tire card has an ‘Elite’ program. If you spend more than $15,000 a year (or have a reported income of $60,000 or more), you are automatically included and get ‘even more’ rewards. It’s not advertised well and is not clear on the rewards. I was notified that I was included in the program early last year. I received a $17.13 credit from Options Elite on my card in December, but don’t exactly know why.

10 Mike Holman

@Support Spy – What do you mean by “deal with cheques”?

11 Support Spy

@Mike – the Canadian Tire card puts the ‘CT money’ in the form of a credit on your card for use at the store. The card also puts the Elite bonus directly on your card in the form of a credit. It’s all electronic. No need to involve a bank. I know I’m going to be spending money on my credit card so any reward will be used up on the card.

MBNA mails you a physical cheque when you reach $50 worth of ‘cash back’. Time to go to the bank. :-)

12 Mike Holman

@Support Spy – Oh ok. I thought maybe you meant that paying off the balance had to be done by cheque. That would have been the end of my interest in the card. :)

13 Support Spy

@Mike – another note about the MBNA cash back card is that it has been recently purchased by TD Bank. Perhaps a future benefit to TD customers.

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