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Happy New Year! Thoughts to Start 2017

Happy New Year!!

A new year, also means new wishes! Let’s continue with our annual tradition of listing our wish list for 2017. Anything that did poorly last year is going to make the list again this year. Yes, I am persistent like that! To be fair, in most cases, I do feel that I am hoping for win/win scenarios anyway.

1) Incentives to Retain Credit Cards

I expect that more credit card companies are going to clam down on churning. So I would hope that they offer more spending bonuses. This really is a win/win scenario. The idea is that the more a customer spends on a credit card, the more benefit the person would receive. A common one that I suggest is that if a person puts $10,000 in spending per year on a credit card, they should have their annual fee waived. Other types of spending bonuses could include, earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $10,000 per year.

So long as their is an incentive tied to high spenders, and that the incentive can help justify annual fees.

2) More Co-Branded Airline and Hotel Loyalty Credit Cards

It was a total fail last year. No new co-branded airline and hotel credit cards were introduced. If you think about it, all the major credit card issuers actually already have their own loyalty program: American Express Membership Rewards, BMO Rewards, CIBC Aventura, Scotia Rewards, RBC Rewards (Avion) and TD Rewards. It seemed like all year, each respective company was putting more emphasis on their own programs. Is this really the way the industry is shifting in Canada?

In 2017, I am expecting that the American Express SPG card is going to be discontinued. I honestly also feel that MBNA Alaska Airlines is hanging on by a thread. At this point, I am more scared that more co-branded credit cards are going to be discontinued rather than introduced.

Either way, here’s hoping for a better year.

3) More Multiplier Bonus Categories

In the United States, we consistently see 5% cash back on specific or rotating categories. Otherwise, you would usually find lots of 3x the points opportunities (1 point usually worth more than 1 cent per point if they are transferable).

While in Canada, churning has become less and less available (especially the cards that waive the first year annual fee), so I have been anticipating that I need to lock in a few credit cards that I will retain for the long haul instead. Therefore, I am really hoping to see credit card companies offer more multiplier bonuses instead. There are only a handful of decent options and we will probably never catch up to the United States.

But I am hoping to see some improvement overall. I would really like to see more 3%+ options (can on only on a specific category) and on more different types of categories, especially with credit cards that do not charge and annual fee.

4) Improved Rail Service

As you probably know, I am a huge fan of trains. I think it’s time that Canada vastly improves its rail service. I think a big reason why there are not more people taking VIA Rail trains is because of the lack of high speed trains, relative to the price. The main challenge has always been that the costs are too high for the return. The question really is, whether a high speed train will increase the volume of passengers?

The two routes to consider are Montreal and Toronto, as well as Calgary and Edmonton. If it doesn’t work on these two routes, then it probably won’t work elsewhere around the country. The way I see it is that there are already a high volume of busesm cars and flights along with the existing trains between both routes. Therefore, the demand is there, it is just a matter of capturing the market share. Buses, cars and planes cannot really go any faster. Only trains have room to grow on the speed. Another important factor to consider is the price. If trains can speed up and keep their costs to around the same as the bus, then I can really see trains being the primary mode of transportation between the two routes. It’s going to take a bold move to increase the speed and keep the costs low. Realistically, I don’t see this happening.

So whatever happens, I just hope to see some improvements (in some way shape or form) to rail service overall during the year.

5) More Credit Cards Offered by Smaller Companies

It’s time for some of the smaller credit card companies to step out of the shadow and make a bigger splash on the marketplace. Capital One did a good job with Costco. They really put themselves on the map. Now it’s time for the other companies (outside of the big 5 banks: TD, CIBC, BMO, Royal Bank and Scotiabank) to step it up.

More specifically, I am pointing my finger at Capital One, Chase Canada, National Bank and HSBC. I choose these companies because to me, they have the biggest potential to offer so much more.

6) Improved Safety and Security for Travellers

I have included this wish every year. From now on, I will put it as the 6th bonus item, so that I can give 5 key wishes instead. Even though we can never be 100% safe, there is always room from improvement. I highly doubt that having Cameras replace border guards at small Quebec crossings better for security. It really doesn’t seem like a smart idea.

Let’s find out what we have in store this coming year in terms of security improvements!

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Pointshogger aims to provide analysis and updates on earning loyalty reward points and maximizing the value of your points. We hope to inspire our readers to experience the joy of travel and make the most out of what they've already got!

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