A credit card from the line of Walmart Mastercard products can, as Walmart says, help you “save more and live better.” Walmart entered the Canadian market back in 1994, and since then it has become one of the most prolific retailers in the country. Today, Walmart operates over 400 store locations and employs more than 100,000 people making them a critical part of our Canadian economy. With today’s rising cost of goods, many of us are making the switch away from premium retailers to those who can give us the best value for our hard earned bacon. Level up your bargain shopping and make money at the Walmart check-out counter. Let’s talk about Walmart Mastercard products, what they offer, and how to get the most bang for your buck.

Who issues the Walmart Mastercard?

Walmart Canada Bank was established in 2010, and while it provided various financial services to Canadians, it was a Schedule II bank which meant that it was foreign-owned; an American financial entity operating in Canada. But that changed in 2019 when Walmart Canada Bank was acquired by one of Canada's most prolific financial services entrepreneurs, Stephen Smith. 

It’s ok if you don’t know that name. Stephen Smith is the co-founder, chief executive officer, and chairman of First National Financial Corporation; one of Canada’s biggest alternative mortgage lenders. He’s a pretty big deal in the financial industry. Smith is also the chairman of Canada Guaranty, a privately held mortgage default insurance company akin to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CHMC). If you’ve ever bought a house with less than the traditional 20% down payment, then you know all about CMHC. 

In partnership with Centerbridge Partners LP, a Canadian private equity firm, Stephen bought Walmart Canada Bank and promptly renamed it Duo Bank of Canada. Today, Duo Bank of Canada has become Fairstone Bank, a Schedule I bank, which means it is officially a Canadian-owned bank and is headquartered in Toronto. Fairstone Bank is part of a large lending group with over 1.5 million customers, 1,500 employees and $5 billion in consolidated assets.

Fairstone and its subsidiaries offer credit cards and rewards programs, point-of-sale financing through merchant partners, secured and unsecured personal loans, and mortgages through over 240 branches across Canada. It should come as no surprise that both Walmart Mastercard options offer competitive points programs and various card perks. Let’s dig in.

Is a Walmart Mastercard right for you?

The perfect store card is one that fits your shopping habits and budgeting needs. If you’re an avid Walmart shopper, then the Walmart Mastercard could be a good fit for you. If you’re not already a frequent Walmart shopper, you might want to consider becoming one. Their famous Rollback prices consistently undercut their closest competitors, but filling your cart with those iconic yellow sticker items isn’t the only way to save money. 

While Loblaws Companies Ltd might be the biggest kid on the grocery-store playground with almost 30% market share, Walmart is also popular. According to Statista, in 2021, 8% of Canadians shopped at Walmart for groceries. But it’s not just rock bottom prices that keep customers coming back. Their retail Walmart Mastercard products and Walmart Reward Dollars loyalty program make them a worthy adversary in the bargain shopping space. 

So how do you decide if a Walmart Mastercard is right for you? That depends on how often you shop there and how you want to use your rewards. Both cards offer generous cash back rewards in the form of Walmart Reward Dollars that you can redeem for purchases both in-store and online. Before we talk about the two Walmart Mastercard offerings, let’s first take a peek at how the Walmart Reward Dollars loyalty program works so you can choose the right credit card for your needs.

Walmart Reward Dollars loyalty program

First of all, Walmart scores big points in the math department. They’ve perfected the KISS method of points-to-dollar conversion ratios; Keep It Simple, Stupid. One Walmart Reward Dollar is worth one Canadian dollar. Yes, it’s that easy to figure how much your points are worth. 

If you have 20 Walmart Reward Dollars you can redeem them for $20 worth of stuff in Walmart stores or online at Walmart.ca. But if you only have $17 worth of stuff in your cart, your rewards will only cover $15 of your bill since you can only redeem them in $5 increments. You can use your rewards anytime and they never expire. Not to mention, you don’t need to whip out the calculator function on your smartphone to figure out if cashing in your rewards makes sense for your current purchase. Dear math, solve your own problems. I have enough of my own. 

You can use your Walmart Reward Dollars for purchases made either in-store or online for pretty much anything Walmart sells. From groceries to camping equipment, electronics to furniture, there’s not much you can’t get at Walmart. With over 400 Walmart locations across Canada, and supercentres now offering groceries, you can get pretty much all the things you need at Walmart. 

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So how do you start earning Walmart Reward Dollars? You need to have either the Walmart Rewards Mastercard or the Walmart Rewards World Mastercard. That means you need a good credit score and some household income in order to get free stuff. Let’s take a look at each Walmart Mastercard, the perks, and the qualification requirements.

Walmart Rewards Mastercard

Fee: None
Rate: 19.89%
Rewards: Up to 1.25% cash back

This Walmart card is free of charge. However, in order to qualify you need to have a good credit score. If you do you will likely be approved for this credit card. Although, we cannot make any guarantees so apply at your own risk. As a welcome bonus, you can get up to $50 if you spend a total of $500 on your card in your first 90 days.

The Walmart Rewards Mastercard earns 1.25% Walmart Reward Dollars for every dollar spent at Walmart stores and online at Walmart.ca. You can also earn 1% in Walmart Reward Dollars for all purchases at gas stations and other merchants. That means if you were to spend an average of $2000 a month on essentials like groceries, gas, personal hygiene, restaurants and entertainment you could earn about $25 a month in Walmart Reward Dollars. That’s roughly $300 a year you can use towards other Walmart purchases. 

Walmart Rewards Dollars can be used to purchase items from Walmart for as little as $5. For example, if you have accumulated $8 in Walmart Rewards and your bill is $20, you will be eligible for a $5 discount. The final amount payable will drop to $15 and you will be left with $3 in Walmart Rewards.

This card comes with limited benefits which include Zero Liability Protection and Mastercard Global Services. With Zero Liability Protection you are not responsible for any unauthorized purchases or transactions on the card. Mastercard Global Services can help you access emergency cash or replace your card in the event your Walmart Mastercard is lost or stolen. This benefit is available to cardholders 24 hours a day, seven days a week from anywhere in the world. 

The Balance Protection Plan is an optional benefit that you can add to your Walmart Rewards Mastercard. This plan is basically loan protection insurance and offers some relief in the event you were to involuntarily lose your job, become disabled, or require hospitalization and couldn’t make your payments. This plan will make your monthly credit card payments for you, up to 5% of your total balance. In the event you are hospitalized, it will pay up to 20% of your balance to a maximum of $500.

This plan also covers the credit card balance up to $20,000 in the event of death, terminal illness or serious illness. If your spouse is an authorized user on the account, the plan will also offer the same coverage to them. You have the option to cancel this plan with a full refund within 30 days of joining.

Because the Balance Protection Plan is optional, you need to opt-in for this service. It is not an automatic feature of the card. It’s a type of credit insurance and will cost you 1% of the balance you carry on the card. If you don’t carry a balance, then you don’t get charged for insurance you don’t need. But if you were to carry a $2000 balance month over month, for example, the Balance Protection plan would cost you about $20 a month; or $240 a year. 

The Extended Warranty Plan is also available for the Walmart Rewards Mastercard but it is not an automatic feature either. You have to subscribe to this feature and it costs $3.99 a month plus tax and is charged to your credit card account. The Extended Warranty Plan doubles the manufacturer’s warranty for up to 2 additional years on all purchases made with the card.

Walmart Rewards World Mastercard

Fee: None
Rate: 19.89%
Rewards: Up to 3% cash back

The Walmart Rewards World Mastercard is the premium version of the previous card and also offers rewards in Walmart Reward Dollars, which you can redeem on purchases made at Walmart either in-store or online. There is no annual fee, but you need to have good credit and a minimum household income of $100,000 per year in order to qualify. 

This card gives a not-too-shabby 3% Walmart Reward Dollars cash back value on all purchases made online at Walmart.ca. But here’s the catch, that attractive 3% cash back value is only for online purchases. In-store Walmart purchases, as well as purchases at any gas station, get less than half that rate at 1.25% cash back in Walmart Reward Dollars. For all other purchases, you only earn 1% Walmart Reward Dollars. As with the previous card, you can earn $50 as a welcome bonus when you spend a total of $500 on your card in your first 90 days.

Unlike the standard rewards mastercard, the Walmart Rewards World Mastercard includes Purchase Protection. Walmart will replace any items that are lost, stolen, or damaged within 90 days of purchase so long as paid the full purchase price with your Walmart Rewards World Mastercard. Purchase Protection is a standard feature on this card and comes at no extra cost to you. 

The Walmart Rewards World also includes an Extended Warranty Plan similar to that of the Walmart Rewards Mastercard. The only difference is that the warranty is extended for a maximum of 1 year instead of 2 years. You might not have to pay for the extended warranty plan, but only get half as much protection as the other card. 

You have the option of signing up for the Balance Protection Plan at a cost of 99¢ plus tax for every $100 of the balance. Just like the other card, this loan protection insurance remains optional and at the same cost as their standard mastercard. If you opted in for the Balance Protection Plan and carry a $2000 balance month over month, it would cost you $20 a month, which is $240 a year.

How to earn Walmart Reward Dollars

Once you activate your Walmart Mastercard, you are automatically enrolled in the Walmart Reward Dollars loyalty program. Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy. In order to start accumulating rewards, all you have to do is shop. Choosing the right card is a snap too. You fill out the same application, regardless of the card you want. They’ll choose the right one based on your qualifications. 

Neither card charges an annual fee, and the interest rates are the same for both. So whether or not you get the premium rewards card over the standard card comes down to your annual household income. Those with annual household incomes over $100,000 will automatically be given the Walmart Rewards World Mastercard.

If you want to get the most bang for your buck, you’ll want to get the Walmart Rewards World Mastercard and milk that 3% cash back rate for all it’s worth. But remember, that juicy 3% rewards rate only applies to purchases made online at Walmart.ca. Not in store, I repeat, not in store. So if you’re a crowd-hating introvert like myself, this card was made for you. 

Otherwise, both cards only give you 1.25% cash back rewards on in-store purchases. Luckily, anything you can buy in store at Walmart you can also buy online at Walmart.ca, and then some. There’s a wider selection of goods online, many of which can either be picked up at the store or delivered right to your doorstep. Some Walmart locations even offer to have your order ready for pick up within 4 hours on qualifying purchases. 

When it comes to gas, the Walmart Rewards World Mastercard has a slight edge over their standard rewards mastercard, giving you 1.25% cash back rewards when you fill your tank. The standard Walmart Rewards Mastercard only offers 1% cash back rewards on gas station purchases. While the premium card might be tougher to get with an annual household income requirement of $100,000 or more, it could be worth it for the extra break at the pump depending on how much you drive.

How to redeem your Walmart Reward Dollars

Getting free stuff is a snap with your Walmart Mastercard. Like I said before, it’s a one-to-one ratio; 1 Walmart Reward Dollar is equal to $1. Walmart offers four easy ways to keep track of your Walmart Reward Dollars balance: 

  1. Every single time you use your Walmart Mastercard to make an instore purchase, the card reader will automatically show you how many rewards you earned on that purchase. It will also display how many total rewards you have available to redeem.
  2. When you shop online at Walmart.ca, you can see how many reward dollars you have available when you select your Walmart Mastercard as your method of payment. 
  3. You can also keep track of your rewards balance through your Walmart Mastercard online account. 
  4. Your rewards balance is also tracked on your monthly credit card statement. 

When you’re ready for free stuff, you don’t have to wait to accumulate a crazy high rewards balance. The minimum redemption amount is $5, and you can only redeem your rewards in $5 increments. That means if you have a $32 dollar purchase, but you have 35 Walmart Reward Dollars, you can only use 30 reward dollars, reducing your bill to $2. Or, you could grab a pack of gum and bump your bill up to $35 so you can redeem all your rewards. 

At the checkout counter, simply insert your Walmart Mastercard into the card reader. Follow the prompts like you would with any other transaction. It will automatically display your Walmart Reward Dollars balance. In $5 increments, simply choose how many rewards to apply to your purchase, and tap the buttons as prompted. Voila! You just got free stuff. 

To redeem online, on the left side column of the check-out page you will see an option to Redeem Walmart Reward Dollars. Select this option then choose how many rewards to redeem. Remember, you can only redeem them in $5 increments. Once you’ve chosen the number of rewards you want to redeem, just click on Apply. If you don’t want to redeem any of your Walmart Reward Dollars, skip these steps altogether and carry out your transaction as usual

Walmart credit card loyalty program drawbacks to consider

While you can redeem your points for “virtually anything” Walmart sells, that’s not entirely true. There are a few hard and fast restrictions, which are pretty standard for a loyalty program. You cannot use your Walmart Reward Dollars to purchase lottery tickets, alcohol, tobacco, prescription medications or exchange for cash. 

Now, here’s where I got a little miffed with Walmart. Their website does not explicitly say you cannot redeem your rewards for gift cards or prepaid credit cards. So naturally, I was super excited to think I could redeem my Walmart Reward Dollars for a Vanilla prepaid Visa or Mastercard, which I could then spend literally anywhere I want. But to be sure, I called and asked because it's my nature to double check. It was a firm no from the agent, much to my dismay. So no, you cannot redeem your Walmart Reward Dollars for gift cards or prepaid cards either. Insert side-eye emoji here. 

Since you cannot redeem your rewards for cash or prepaid credit cards, your Walmart Reward Dollars redemption possibilities are limited. You can only buy things Walmart sells in store or online. That’s bad news if you love to travel, or prefer the freedom to use your rewards anywhere you want. Unlike their biggest loyalty program competitor, PC Optimum Points, Walmart does not offer travel services. 

The other thing that rubs me the wrong way is that you only get the 3% cash back rewards on the premium card when you shop online. That means younger folks, and those with consistent access to the internet, get better rewards. Those less comfortable or unable to shop online lose out on the extra points. When you’re on a fixed, limited income points are pretty important. And there are many reasons why someone might not have access to reliable internet or a device, from income level to where they live. 

I’m a little put-off that purchase protection is not standard on the Walmart Rewards Mastercard. It's included free of charge on the Walmart Rewards World Mastercard, but the coverage is reduced. Be careful when opting in for any optional balance protection or extended warranty options. The extra charges can add up fast and eat into your rewards benefit. For example, let's assume you spend an average of $2000 a month on all your day to day essentials. If you bought everything you need at Walmart and got the standard 1.25% cash back rewards, that’s roughly $300 per year in Walmart Reward Dollars. If you have the standard Walmart Rewards Mastercard and subscribe to the Purchase Protection Plan, that’s $3.99 a month plus tax. Between the extra charge on your credit card, and what you're getting back from Walmart, you’re netting about $252.

How to hack your Walmart Reward Dollars

If you need to buy something somewhere other than Walmart, but the price tag is making you bristle, here is a hack that might work for you. If you’re anything like me, you probably have a pretty strict budget. Even if you don’t, there are big purchases you need to make regularly like groceries, because food prices are insane right now. So the next time you need to do a big grocery shop, do it at Walmart. Apply as many Walmart Reward Dollars as you can to your bill. Now move the money you saved on your grocery budget and put it towards that thing you really need. 

To get the full cash back rewards benefit from this card, you need to do all your shopping with Walmart, and it needs to be online. Pay off your credit card balance in full every month otherwise you negate your rewards. You’ll need to sacrifice perks like purchase protection and extended warranties, which are standard on a lot of other credit cards. 

And finally, if you do carry a balance, don’t opt in for balance protection. Make sure you have the appropriate life insurance and disability insurance to cover your monthly expenses in the event you are unable to work. But that advice generally applies to balance protection insurance on most credit cards, not just the Walmart Mastercard.

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