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New Year’s Eve! Recap of 2018

Another end of a whirlwind year for the rewards world. Here’s a quick recap of the mid-term report, along with the original wish list.

Here’s a quick recap of the grading system:

  • A+ Exceeding expectations with nothing more to improve on (almost impossible to achieve this grade, but I listed it to put some perspective on the spectrum)
  • A Awesome job
  • B+ Good job
  • B Decent, met expectations
  • Acceptable
  • Better than nothing 
  • E Nothing changed, no improvements
  • F Fail, went backwards

1) Incentives to Retain Credit Cards

The American Express Starwood Preferred Guest cards (AMEX SPG) has set the bar of exactly what I mean by offering an incentive to retain a credit card beyond the first year. Since churning is frowned upon by the industry, I have always suggested that credit card companies increase their offers beyond the first year.

It is no secret that initial sign up bonuses are the most lucrative to get you the sign up. But once the second year begins, and the annual fee hits, without the sign up bonus, it discourages people from wanting to pay a second year.

There have been limited time promotions where we get an extra bonus during the second year, but what about the third year?

In comes the AMEX SPG who will be offering on ongoing “Annual Free Night Award” (for up to 35,000 points redemption), from the second year onward. This actually helps encourage cardholders to keep their card year after year.

Now that the benchmark has been set by AMEX, let’s see if other companies catch on. For 2018, it has been a great start!

Grade: B+

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

Yikes. Not sure what to say when nothing happened here. Not even a sniff. At least we did not go backwards?

Grade: E

3) A New Brand of Transferable Points Program

Scotiabank quietly upped their Rewards program by allowing transfers to Cineplex’s Scene Rewards program. So it is better than nothing for sure. I do hope to see more improvements to this area of the industry.

Grade: D

4) High Speed Train

VIA Rail placed an order to purchase up to $1 billion of new trains. It is still unclear how high speed trains are being factored in. As it does not only have to do with the train, but also the tracks.

For now, I continue to monitor what the Ontario government updates. At least there is something official in writing.

Grade: C

5) One Credit Card Company to make Significant Strides

I updated the credit card company rankings a couple of months ago and it looks like Canadian Tire, HSBC and Rogers Bank have made the biggest splash this year. I am excited to see three smaller credit card companies trying to step it up.

As a result, I am increasing by grade from the mid-term report up to an A.

Grade: A

6) Improved Safety and Security for Travellers

I think that going forward, I am going to take this off the list. Instead, I am going to wish everyone safe travels all year round!

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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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