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Ranking the Credit Card Portfolios of Each Canadian Financial Institutions (updated February 1, 2016)

This is not going to be an easy post to write, but I did want to try to pin each financial institution against each other to see how they fair. This is going to be a very subjective post where I am going to rank each company based on their overall credit card portfolio. I am also going to list out some of the top credit cards offered by each institution.

I plan to update this post every now and then when there are significant movements in the rankings. So let’s begin!

1) American Express (AMEX)

For the time being, American Express is in the lead, but by a slim margin with all their recent devaluations. They still offer a wide variety of choices. They have frequent offers and promotions that encourage us to sign up for their credit cards. Things like high sign up bonuses, first year fee waived, Membership Rewards transferable partners, etc.

The most obviously knock on American Express is that they are not widely accepted. If they find a way to get into more retailers, they will really distance themselves from the rest of the competition. Furthermore, American Express also really hurt itself by changing its sign up policy, making its position in first place more vulnerable.

2) Toronto Dominion (TD) / MBNA

I will be honest, TD is only in second place because they also own MBNA. Had it not been for MBNA, TD would be further down the list. It is already well-documented that TD has brought down the value of MBNA since they bought them out. But TD did partner up with Aeroplan, so that was a strong boost to their portfolio.

There could be an argument to be made that if TD would just merge its resources with MBNA, cut some costs, they can offer even more competitive products. I know that it is wishful thinking, but if they were smart, they can easily move into a clear first place in Canada.

TD and MBNA do offer some nice offers and promotions (increased sign up bonuses, first year fee waived, etc.) that are attractive.

3) Scotiabank / Tangerine

When we get more details about Scotiabank’s buyout of Chase Canada, there is an argument to be made that Scotiabank should move up this list. For now, they remain in a close third place.

4) Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)

What I like most about RBC is that they make it easier to transfer from one credit card to another without needing a new application. It makes a huge difference. If TD did not buy out MBNA, RBC would definitely be a close second to American Express. The Avion / RBC Rewards program is a strong transferable points program.

The main issue I have with RBC is that they rarely offer promotions to waive their annual fees. We may see some increased sign up bonuses here and there though.

5) Bank of Montreal (BMO)

Due to Avion’s transferable points in combination with the devaluation of the Air Miles program, that is why BMO is slotted in just below Royal Bank. Whenever BMO offers higher than normal sign up bonuses or waived their first year annual fees, they actually offer very competitive products.

6) Capital One

Outside of the top 5, this is where it gets a little iffy. The weakness of the credit card market really shows.

Capital One used to be higher on this list, until the discontinuations of the IHG Rewards and Delta SkyMiles credit cards. That being said, they do have a few decent choices left, but they could easily be slipping down this list further, so I really hope that they have something in the works.

7) Chase

This was actually a tough one compared to Capital One. But the recent positive changes to the Capital One Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard pushed them over the hump. The other reason why they aren’t higher is because of their lack of choices.

Either way, Chase Canada won’t be holding this position for long anyway, as they will be merged with Scotiabank once more details are sorted out.

8) Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)

The weakness of the Aventura program (especially cutting its its with Aeroplan) is what is hurting CIBC. They do still have a few gems here and there, but nothing special enough to move them up the list. I am expecting more from such a large back.

9) National Bank

I really believe that National Bank has an opportunity to really move up the ranks. They have yet to have any real co-branded credit cards with any third party loyalty program. Once they step their game up, I can see them being very competitive. For now, they sit in 9th place.

10) President’s Choice Financial (PC Financial)

There isn’t much that PC Financial can do, considering that they integrated with the Loblaws brand. It will be difficult to diversify their portfolio. That being said, they at least have one decent choice:

11) Rogers Bank

Rogers may only offer credit card product, but it is a competitive one that waives foreign transaction fees.

12) Desjardins

After the nice gem from Rogers Bank, the rest of the list gets really brutal. I would put Desjardins here because they are teaming up with Best Buy, so they are showing signs of their willingness to offer some co-branded cards. Because the credit card has yet to go public, they remain in 12th place.

13) HSBC

Every now and then, you may see a decent promotion from HSBC. But they could really up their game because it is slim pickings within their credit card portfolio.

14) Laurentian Bank

Just like HSBC, they could really up their game.

15) Canadian Tire

The one credit card that they have is actually fairly complicated to understand. But you do get some good value if you use this credit card at Canadian Tire and other partner brands (Sport Check, Mark’s, PartSource and Canadian Tire Home Services).

16) Walmart Financial

At 1.25% cash back, it is decent, but with only 1 credit card to choose from, they hit rock bottom. Odd to see Walmart at the bottom of any list.

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