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Ranking the Credit Card Portfolios of Each Canadian Financial Institutions (updated December 1, 2017)

A few significant changes occurred in the credit card scene since the last update. Usually, I write more of a summary on what has been happening; however, this time around, I will write more about what I would like to see from each company.

Please share your thoughts on what improvements you would like to see to the credit card market in the comment section below!

But first, let’s start with the description of the different groups.

Groupings

Note that the rank next to each company is how they fair based on their overall credit card portfolio as in. The groups are based on infrastructure.

  • Group 1: Credit card companies with the most well diversified products. There is a significant separation between them and the rest.
  • Group 2A: Credit card companies that have the infrastructure and potential to move up to Group 1.
  • Group 2B: Credit card companies that have a portfolio that is better, by a wide margin, than Group 3. However, they do not currently have the infrastructure to move into Group 1. They would need a drastic change, such as a merging with another company.
  • Group 3: Credit card companies that have a significant gap from Group 2. Primarily because they do not even offer 1 competitive product.

Top Credit Cards

Below each company’s commentary, you will see my top credit card picks for each company.


GROUP 1

Please refer above for the description of this grouping.

1) American Express (AMEX) (last time tied at 1)

A slight devaluation with the MBNA SMart Cash, along with the introduction of the new Cobalt Card has propelled American Express back solely into first place. They were alone in first place for a while, until they introduced the once-in-a-lifetime sign up bonus rule. However, they have since loosened up on the rule (which can change any time without notice).

I am curious to see how American Express is going to handle its partnership with Starwood, as the full integration with Marriott is coming soon. I hope to see American Express partner up with Marriott Rewards!

2) Toronto Dominion (TD) / MBNA (last time tied at 1)

One of MBNA’s top credit card was the Smart Cash, which now introduced a $39 annual fee, so it comes off my top picks in the list below. Combined with all the uncertainty with Aeroplan, it was time for TD to come down one spot. However, still slightly above Scotiabank, but not by much. The remaining MBNA cards are what separates them from Scotiabank at the moment.

Personally, I feel that TD is one of the leading candidates to land a partnership with Air Canada. Furthermore, MBNA has only been going downhill as of late. I hope that we see a rebound soon.

3) Scotiabank / Tangerine (no change)

Scotiabank is holding steady in third place. They are the leader of earning rewards with debit cards and offer frequent sign up promotions. What would really help Scotiabank is to team up with a major airline or hotel rewards program.

4) Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) (no change)

RBC is holding steady at the moment. They have not made any significant moves since the last update, but their portfolio continues to remain competitive. I would like to see an expansion of the RBC Avion program. It would greatly improve their program if they teamed up with more airline and hotel transfer partners.


GROUP 2A

Please refer to the explanation above for the discrepancies in the rankings, as well as the description of this grouping.

5) Bank of Montreal (BMO) (no change)

BMO has offered some competitive sign up promotions lately, including waiving the annual fee for two of their World Elite credit cards (BMO Rewards and Air Miles). However, I am still waiting for them to introduce a new competitive product to add to their product line.

6) Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) (no change)

With the introduction of the new Simplii online bank, I expect them to come out with a strong cash back credit card to compete with Tangerine.

CIBC will need a plan when Aeroplan discontinues, because without their Aeroplan portfolio, it seems very slim pickings at the moment.

10) National Bank (last time 11)

National Bank needs to have more appeal to the rest of the country. The National Bank World Elite MasterCard is pretty good for existing National Bank customers who can take advantage of the lounge access in the international terminal of the Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL). Aside from that, they have a very weak overall portfolio.


GROUP 2B

Please refer to the explanation above for the discrepancies in the rankings, as well as the description of this grouping.

7) Rogers Bank (last time 8)

Rogers Bank jumps one spot due to Capital One taking a huge plunge. I think that Rogers Bank offers two highly competitive credit cards, which are currently two of the top choices for foreign purchases. I would like to see them continue expanding their reward options, so that non-telecommunication clients have more incentive to sign up for their cards.

8) HSBC (last time 9)

I think that the HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard has some potential. For now, I will just settle for more public information regarding its reward program. It is actually very difficult to find much detailed information on how valuable their program is. It is very exclusive to existing HSBC customers.

Furthermore, I would like to see an expansion to their rewards program. It would be great if they added more airline and hotel transfer partners.

9) President’s Choice Financial (PC Financial) (last time 10)

PC Financial is already slated for some changes when they fully integrate Shoppers Optimum and PC Plus on February 1, 2018. I hope that they find a way to combine the best of both worlds and offer an even more competitive product when it goes live.

 11) Meridian (last time 12)

Holding steady for the moment. I think it may worthwhile for them to offer a no annual fee card, along with its existing annual fee version.


GROUP 3

Please refer to the explanation above for the discrepancies in the rankings, as well as the description of this grouping.

12) Desjardins (last time 13)

Pretty much the same thing that I said for National Bank (above), Desjardins needs to expand to the rest of the country. The Odyssey World Elite MasterCard is a fair card for existing Desjardins customers who can make use of the lounge access at the Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL). Aside from that, they are known for decent travel insurance, but still have a relatively weak portfolio overall.

13) Capital One (last time 7)

Capital One has dropped so badly, with the elimination of the Vibe and World Elite Travel Aspire cards. They still have one remaining competitive card. But at this point, I just hope that Capital One survives 2018. With the way things are going, they may not even exist by 2019.

14) Laurentian Bank (no change)

The province of Quebec really like to have their own thing going. Unlike National Bank and Desjardins, Laurentian Bank does not offer a competitive product. That is why I put Capital One one spot above them. The Laurentian Bank Visa Infinite sometimes has a good promotion, but it is not an ideal card to retain long term. I would like to see Laurentian Bank introduce at least one competitive product.

15) Canadian Tire Bank (no change)

Personally, I feel like it is not cost efficient for Canadian Tire to have their own bank. I think that they are better off teaming up with another credit card company. However, my main recommendation to them is to provide a clearer understanding on how their rewards program work. It may be the most confusing one on this entire list.

16) Walmart Financial (no change)

I have had the same recommendation to Walmart from the start. They need to increase their 1.25% return on Walmart purchases to at least 2% or more. That will put their credit card on the map.

17) ICICI Bank (no change)

Even though ICICI Bank has a no annual fee credit card to complement their annual fee version (ICICI Bank Rubyx Visa Platinum), it is still very unattractive compared to its competitors. They should either increase the benefits or eliminate the fee.

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