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

I will be looking to update this list every time I see some significant movement in the industry. This is the third time that this is being updated (February and March).

I’ve split up the companies into 3 groups. The reason I did this is because there is a significant enough gap between each grouping to warrant it. Group 1 is really the cream of the crop. They have really separated themselves from the pack. Though the gap between 5th and 6th place is starting to close, so I may look into redistributing the grouping in the future.

Group 2 is the group of companies that have the highest chance of making a breakthrough. They have the infrastructure in place, they just need to be a little bold to offer some highly competitive products to steal some market share from the top 5. I think that they can do it, that’s why they are in Group 2. Though some in this group can find themselves slipping further down if they don’t keep up. So this is really a bubble group.

Group 3 is a bunch of companies that pretty much only offer 1 competitive credit card product, and they probably can’t do much more than that because they have limited resources and they are really just offering a credit card that is co-branded to their own brand. I can’t really see this group breaking out at any point. They probably have a higher chance of being bought out instead.


GROUP 1

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

Even with the hit on Alaska Airlines, which my friend from Canadian Kilometers already wrote about extensive, I still believe that TD / MBNA has solidified its position as number 1 for the time being, mostly due to the downfall of American Express. Let’s just hope that TD does not get complacent. I really hope that they will look towards taking advantage of the position they are in and continuing to improve their products. For the time being, there are some pretty good TD Aeroplan promotions going on.

2) American Express (AMEX) (last time 3)

I am willing to move AMEX back up one position as they upped their referral sign up bonuses and referral bonuses for the Platinum cards. This was the first positive sign since they introduced a slew of negative devaluations. So I decided to move them back ahead of Scotiabank by a very slim margin. I am curious to see what other else they have in store this year. I suspect that they are not finish making changes in 2016.

3) Scotiabank / Tangerine (last time 2)

Scotiabank dropped a position mostly because AMEX made an improvement. Overall, I strongly believe that Scotiabank firmly holds down first place in the cash back market. Launching the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card system wide has pushed their cash back portfolio to the top, especially when you combine with the Momentum Infinite Visa card.

I would really like to see Scotiabank begin offering a co-branded hotel or airline credit card in the future.

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

RBC still has some work to do before they can slot into the top 3. They haven’t really tweaked their credit card portfolio much, so it doesn’t warrant any movement. RBC is very consistent in their product line, so for now, they sit comfortably in fourth place.

5) Bank of Montreal (BMO) (no change)

I do hope that BMO will continue to expand their credit card portfolio. Until then, they have the highest chance of slipping out of the top 5. Being partnered with SPC is a big plus for BMO, but they could do more. That being said, they do hold a large enough margin from 6th place, so BMO nicely rounds out the top 5.


GROUP 2

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

CIBC has the highest chance of launching themselves into the top 5, but still lags by a big enough margin, which is why they are only in Group 2. CIBC is pretty good at offering promotions to make their credit cards more attractive, but without the promotions, they offer average choices. The BMO World Elite MasterCard is what puts BMO well ahead of CIBC, because they have one solid credit card to lift their portfolio. CIBC is lacking a go-to-card. Basically, pretty much all of CIBC’s premium credit cards are not really the type of credit cards that you will want to keep long term. An argument can be made for the CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite Card, so I do see CIBC making some decent moves. Let’s see what else they got!

7) Capital One (no change)

With the way things have been going with Capital One, I just hope that they stay in business. That being said, they sit in 7th place because they offer 3 great products. Consolidating their products may provide some cost-savings, but I just hope that they put those savings to good use.

8) Chase (no change)

Pretty much the same rational as I provided for Capital One. I just hope that Chase Canada stays in business. For the time being, they offer 2 solid products. If they offered 3 products, they would take over Capital One’s spot.

9) National Bank (no change)

Even though Capital One and Chase currently rank higher than National Bank, they actually have a high chance of propelling themselves upward. If National Bank introduces a few more competitive products, I have no problem moving them up to 6th place. They have a long way to get into the top 5 though.

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

PC probably shouldn’t really be in Group 2, especially because they only really have 1 credit card product line. But the PC Financial’s World Elite MasterCard is a pretty good no annual fee credit card. Another reason why I am leaving PC in Group 2 is because now that they own Shoppers, maybe we will see them take over that credit card portfolio too? Who knows, point is, the fact that they have the ability to expand the diversity of their products keeps them in Group 2 for the time being.


GROUP 3

11) Rogers Bank (no change)

Rogers Bank pretty much offers the most competitive product within the entire Group 3, so that places them at the top of this group. From here on, it is pretty much the battle of the top credit card of that specific company. Because the rest of the portfolio of the remaining companies are too weak to talk about.

12) Desjardins (no change)

They do offer some credit cards that offer some decent travel insurance, which is why Desjardins is in 12th place and not lower. They offer a wide enough variety of credit cards, but their products just aren’t competitive enough to compete with everyone ranked higher.

13) HSBC (no change)

I have barely anything to say about HSBC. Please just do something to shake things up!!

14) Laurentian Bank (no change)

Ditto for Laurentian Bank. Please just do something to shake things up!!

15) Canadian Tire (no change)

Not much we can say here. Personally I actually rather Canadian Tire team up with one of the other financial institutions to combine their resources. I really don’t see the purpose of offering their own credit card and incur all the costs associated with supporting this product.

16) Walmart Financial (no change)

Walmart is just too big of a company, so they can do whatever until someone knocks them down. I am very disappointed in their only product though, which is why they are in last place. At the very least, they should offer at least 2% cash back (or more) on all purchases made at Walmart and they can drop the current 1.25% cash back on all purchases down to 1% cash back to balance things out. Did you remember when RBC teamed up with Target (even though a major flop) to offer a 5% cash back at their stores? At least make this credit card more attractive to use at Walmart stores.

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