Long steel stay cables, which are mainly used in cable-stayed bridges, are easy to vibrate because of their low inherent damping characteristics. A lot of methods for vibration reduction of stay cables have been developed, and several techniques of them have been implemented to real structures, though each has its limitations. Recently, it was reported that smart (i.e. semi-active) dampers can potentially achieve performance levels nearly the same as comparable active devices with few of the detractions. Some numerical and experimental studies on the application of smart damping systems employing an MR fluid damper, which is one of the most promising smart dampers, to a stay cable were carried out; however, most of the previous studies considered only one specific control algorithm in which they are interested. In this study, the performance verification of MR fluid damper-based smart damping systems for mitigating vibration of stay cables by considering the four commonly used semi-active control algorithms, such as the control algorithm based on Lyapunov stability theory, the maximum energy dissipation algorithm, the modulated homogeneous friction algorithm and the clipped-optimal control algorithm, is systematically carried out to find the most appropriate control strategy for the cable-damper system.