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Ranking the Credit Card Portfolios of Each Canadian Financial Institutions (updated September 8, 2017)

It has been 4 months since the last time I updated this list, so it is probably due for an update (especially since we are adding a new company to the list!) as we approach the last third of the year. Last year was a strong year for credit cards, so I anticipated a slow year in 2017.

I always have fun ranking the credit card companies out there. It helps me get an idea on which companies are making progress and which ones are regressing.

Groupings

Note that the rank next to each company is how they fair based on their current credit card portfolio; however, they are grouped differently. Below is a quick recap of the rational of my groupings:

  • Group 1: Credit card companies with the most well diversified products. There is a significant separation between them and the other companies.
  • Group 2A: Credit card companies that have the infrastructure and potential to move up to Group 1.
  • Group 2B: Credit card companies that may have a better current portfolio than those in Group 2A; however, they do not have the infrastructure to ever move into Group 1. Unless there is a drastic move, such as a merging with another company.
  • Group 3: Credit card companies that have a significant gap from Group 2. Namely because they do not even offer 1 competitive credit card in their overall portfolio.

Top Credit Cards

Below each company, you will notice that I added some of my top picks for each company.


GROUP 1

Please refer above for the description of this grouping.

=1) Toronto Dominion (TD) / MBNA (no change)

TD has increased their foothold in the cash back market with its new TD Cash Back Visa Infinite Card. Though it is an underwhelming card. I am just glad that they are adding to the competition, considering that they just cancelled their low profile TD Drivers Rewards Visa Card.

However, with all the uncertainty surrounding Aeroplan, it puts a portion of their portfolio in doubt. Therefore, TD is now tied with AMEX.

=1) American Express (AMEX) (last time 2)

Unlike TD, which is invested heavily in Aeroplan, AMEX co-branded Aeroplan cards might actually be one of the worse credit cards in their portfolio, so any uncertainty with Aeroplan does not have the same impact with AMEX.

A nice increase to the earning ratios on the AMEX SimplyCash Preferred Card is always nice to see; however, a lot hinges on what happens to the continued partnership with the SPG co-branded credit card. For now, you may have noticed that they started relaxing the one in a life time sign up bonus rule, so I believe that they should be tied for first place.

3) Scotiabank / Tangerine (last time 4)

Scotiabank moved up a spot mostly because of RBC’s decline. Scotiabank does a great job offering promotional offers to its existing credit cards, such as higher than normal sign up bonuses and first year fee waived promotions. However, without the promotional offers, their regular offers could still use some improvement.

Furthermore, I would really like to see Scotiabank team up with an airline or hotel loyalty program to offer a co-branded card.

4) Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) (last time 3)

Like TD, RBC also decided to increase their position into the cash back game, with their new Cash Back Preferred World Elite MasterCard, though equally unimpressive. Combined with the discontinuation of the RBC Esso Visa Card, it does not seem like 2 steps forward. So they have to move down a spot.


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)

Just like Scotiabank, BMO offers many competitive promotional offers. However, their regular offers and small credit card portfolio keeps them out of Group 1. I think that BMO is completely overdue with coming out with a new product.

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

Even though CIBC bought most of President’s Choice Financial’s banking business, aside from the credit card portfolio. Therefore, CIBC stays put for the purposes of this post.

11) National Bank (last time 9)

I thought about it some more and I do believe that National Bank does not offer any real competitive credit card. The National Bank World Elite MasterCard has some benefits to it, but mostly valuable during promotional periods. It is not a good card to retain long term. However, I feel that the Rogers and Fido cards offer more value, so I had to drop National Bank two spots.

I really do hope that being ranked 11 in the credit card industry while being ranked the 6th largest bank in Canada should be a wake up call to improve their offers?


GROUP 2B

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

7) Capital One (no change)

Capital One is holding still where they are as there are no changes to their portfolio. Furthermore, no company below them made any significant strides to catch up either.

If you have the Costco affiliated card, you may be receiving a letter stating that it is being upgraded from Platinum to World MasterCard.

8) Rogers Bank (last time 11)

Rogers Bank jumps two spots, above National Bank and President’s Choice Financial, which is where they should have been ranked when the Fido credit card was introduced. Even more so when the Chase Amazon Rewards Visa card discontinued, resulting in Rogers Bank cards being even more valuable. They also did a great job adding more reward redemption options with the cash back that you earn.

9) HSBC (last time 14 and in Group 3)

Just like that, HSBC has moved up 4 spots and moves into Group 2b. I have been quite critical of HSBC for not introducing new products, which they now have by adding a new World Elite version of their card. I really do believe that HSBC has the potential to gain a strong foothold in Canada, so I hope that this is the beginning of some positive momentum.

10) President’s Choice Financial (PC Financial) (no change)

PC Financial’s World Elite MasterCard is becoming quite competitive (not to mention that it has no annual fee) with many multiplier bonuses when making purchases at PC stores, Shoppers Drug Mart, Esso, PC Travel and PC Mobile monthly service. Glad to see more integration of Shoppers Drug Mart in a positive way, as Shoppers Optimum continues to remain in tact, which is a smart move. The notable store missing from the multiplier bonus is T&T Supermarket, which also has their own rewards program. I would think that they can do the same thing (added T&T to the multiplier bonus) as they did with Shoppers Drug Mart.

 12) Meridian (NEW)

This newly added company is starting off at number 12, which is actually quite impressive. It tells me that they decided to start off with a strong credit card right off the bat. If they continue to improve their product, they can make some noise!


GROUP 3

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

13) Desjardins (last time 12 and Group 2b)

Aside from offering competitive travel insurance associated with their credit cards, there is very little worthwhile to discuss about Desjardins. The annual fees are difficult to justify the perks and benefits associated (aside from some travel insurance) with their credit cards. However, travel insurance on credit cards can be tricky, as they may not always pay out and there are many exceptions associated with it.

If you are a banking client with them, you may be able to get them to waive your annual fee, which may make these credit cards more worthwhile to have.

14) Laurentian Bank (last time 13)

Even though they are officially called Laurentian Bank of Canada, they primarily operate in the province of Quebec. I would like to see them grow their business across the country and live up to their name.

15) Canadian Tire Bank (no change)

They offer one decent no annual fee credit card that is beneficial to frequent Canadian Tire customers. That is where their edge stops. There is only so much Canadian Tire shopping one can do.

16) Walmart Financial (no change)

Note that the 1.25% cash back that we receive on Walmart purchases have some exclusions. You only receive the extra 0.25% on purchases excluding prescription drugs and the amount before tax. It is probably too much for me to ask them to increase the 1.25% on Walmart purchases at this point.

I feel bad for the cashiers that need to keep trying to sell this credit card to every customer that they serve: “You can receive $25 free dollars just for signing up”. Come on Walmart, you can do better than that!

17) ICICI Bank (no change)

Glad to see ICICI Bank trying to get into the credit card market. However, they have lots of room for improvement before they start making any headlines. At the very least, they need to offer a no annual fee card to at least be in line with Tangerine (which is also a virtual bank).

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