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Is arbitration less favorable to the customer (i.e. me)? Would it be more likely to favor MBNA? What sort of items would go into arbitration? Should I take the time to write a note to preserve my current rights and should I send it certified mail or what? Or should I even care?

Yes, arbitration is less favorable to the customer. By accepting these new terms you will have waived your right to sue them over any dispute. Here's a link to a article that gives more detail:

Definitely take a look at it. Also, my guess is that the notice sent to you says that if you use the card you agree to the new terms so I don't think sending a letter to preserve your rights will do any good.

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