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Ranking the Credit Card Portfolios of Each Canadian Financial Institutions (updated May 1, 2018)

A few companies need to be added to this list, so I thought it was due for an update from 6 months ago. Most of the ranking changes occurred in the bottom half of the list, with quite a few changes. Furthermore, I also revamped the list to go with a pure ranking system instead of the previous grouping system. I think that it will run smoother now.

Below are my personal rankings of each company, along with a commentary and a list of some of my top credit card picks for each financial institution.

1) American Express (AMEX) (no change)

American Express had one significant change to its Business Platinum, which increased its annual fee from $399 to $499. This increase did come with much better lounge access (unlimited with Priority Pass). As a result, I feel that the $100 increase is actually worth it. However, they were hit with a devaluation to the sign up bonus of the Starwood cards. Going forward, the key is what is going to happen with the Marriott/Starwood co-branded credit cards. For now, American Express continues to lead the pack at the moment.

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

Not much has changed with TD since the last time around. Though I do feel that the gap between TD and Scotiabank is closing in. What continues to put TD ahead of the game is their ownership of the MBNA cards. The game changer will be how things turn out with their agreement with Aeroplan. Will TD end its partnership with Aeroplan and team up with Air Canada instead? For now, TD stays in second place with the risk of being passed.

3) Scotiabank / Tangerine (no change)

Scotiabank continues to offer strong promotions, along with the introduction of the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card, which foreign transaction fees. This moves makes Scotiabank much more competitive and has now significantly close the gap with TD. I would like to seem Tangerine become more competitive in the credit card scene though.

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

RBC upgraded its Cathay Pacific card with a welcome change by increasing its permanent sign up bonus offer from 15,000 to 35,000. I am still a little bitter about the American Airlines devaluation where conversion ratios dropped from 1:1 to 10:7. As a results, RBC stays put in 4th place with ways away from Scotiabank, but well ahead of Bank of Montreal below.

=5) Bank of Montreal (BMO) (no change)

BMO continues to offer some generous sign up bonus promotions, but they have a long way to go before they can catch up to RBC above. BMO really needs make a bigger splash by teaming up with new loyalty programs (i.e. airline or hotel) to offer a more balanced and diversified credit card portfolio. Air Miles alone is not enough.

A devaluation to the BMO Rewards program has put them tied with CIBC.

=5) Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) (last time 6)

CIBC moves into a 5th place tie with BMO primarily due to BMO’s devaluation. Though I am still waiting and hoping for Simplii financial (CIBC’s virtual bank) to introduce a new credit card to competed with Tangerine at the very least. In the meantime, CIBC continues to offer competitive first year fee waived promotions on its Aventura and cash back cards. However, just like BMO, CIBC needs to continue to diversify its portfolio to move up the rankings.

7) HSBC (last time 8)

When I wrote my first rankings post back on February 1, 2016, HSBC was ranked 13, and with less companies to compete with. They have slowly climbed their way up, increase more than any other company. What makes HSBC competitive now is that they are offering credit cards that waive foreign transaction fees. Furthermore, HSBC Rewards offers 3 valuable transfer partners: Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles), Singapore (Krisflyer) and British Airways (Avios).

The major downside to HSBC is that their products a quite exclusive to their existing clients (especially high net worth). But if you are a client and meet their conditions, you should definitely look into their credit card portfolio.

8) Rogers Bank (no change)

Changes are coming this month to Rogers Bank products, including a devaluation of their products, but plans to offer a no annual fee Word Elite card. Either way, no changes have come into effect yet, so based on their current credit card portfolio, this is where they stand. If there really is going to be a new World Elite card, it would simply solidify their position in 8th place anyway.

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

Now that the PC Plus and Shoppers Optimum programs have been fully integrated to form PC Optimum, we have a much clearer idea of the value of PC points. Personally, I think that they have done a great job of maintaining the value of the old Shoppers Optimum program, so they hold firm in 9th position, but closing the gap with Rogers Bank.

 10) National Bank (no change)

National Bank should probably be ranked higher, being a top 6 bank, as they offer a fairly competitive World Elite MasterCard, along with a somewhat diversified credit card portfolio. Unfortunately, their top card is only valuable to those who can take advantage of the lounge in the international terminal at the Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL). I would really like to see National Bank team up with an airline or hotel loyalty program to offer a co-branded card. That would really push them up the rankings.

11) Meridian (no change)

Meridan bank offers two competitive Visa infinite credit cards that have been a breathe of fresh air in the Canadian credit card market. I believe that they are competitive enough to put some pressure on the overall credit card market. I am personally rooting for Meridian to do well because they are a very new company to the credit card scene. They take some of the sting away from the loss of Chase Canada. One major downside with Meridian is that their product is only available to Ontario residents at the moment. I hope that they have plans to expand to the rest of the country.

12) Canadian Tire Bank (last time 15)

Canadian Tire has launched its new Triangle Rewards program, which comes with new co-branded credit cards. I used to think that Canadian Tire is better off just teaming up with one of the other banks to offer a co-branded card. But now that they upped their game, I will going to retract my suggestion. I am excited about their new offers and look forward to seeing them to improve upon it. They introduced a new World Elite card where you can earn 3% back in Canadian Tire Money (CTM) on grocery store purchases and 4% back in CTM on purchases made online and in-store at Canadian Tire, Mark’s, Sport Chek and Atmosphere. Not a bad start!

13) Desjardins (last time 12)

Much like National Bank, Desjardins only offers one real competitive credit card (Odyssey World Elite MasterCard) that is specifically beneficial to frequent flyers that go through the Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL). They also offer some competitive travel insurances. Unlike National Bank, they do not offer as diverse of a credit card portfolio, which is why they rank lower.

14) Capital One (last time 7)

Capital One performed the reverse of HSBC. In my first post, back on February 1, 2016, Capital One was ranked 6th overall. Now they dropped even further below HSBC’s initial 13th place. At this point, I just hope that they continue to exist by the time I write up my next ranking report. For now, they do offer one highly competitive Costco credit card to keep them in this position. However, once their contract with Costco expires, who knows what will happen. At the very least, I hope that they find a way to renew.

15) Home Trust (NEW)

Newly added Home Trust starts out at 15th place. One of their cards pretty much replaced the Chase Amazon. I am excited to see what else Home Trust plans to offer so that we can potentially see them move up the rankings. Currently, their overall portfolio is very limited and their credit cards are not available to Quebec residents. Either way, this is a great start!

16) Alterna Savings (NEW)

Alterna Savings has been in the banking scene for a while in Canada, but they recently jumped into the credit card market, so they start at 16th place. They actually offer quite a few credit cards right off the bat. Unfortunately, nothing too impressive yet, but a good start. I ranked their here for now because of a diversify product line.

17) Laurentian Bank (last time 14)

Along the same lines as National Bank and Desjardins, Laurentian Bank continue to offer products that may only make sense for existing banking clients. The Explorer and Dollars cards are worth a second look for recurring bill payments. Even so, their portfolio is very limited and they got beat out by the two new companies above. I hope to see them expand their portfolio soon!

18) Walmart Financial (last time 16)

If they do not increase the return on Walmart purchases to a more competitive 2.5% or above, it is very difficult to justify getting their credit card. There are too many other credit cards that offer more than 1.25% return on Walmart purchases.

19) ICICI Bank (last time 17)

Surprisingly, there is a company that is ranked lower than Walmart. I cannot even provide a scenario where it makes sense to sign up for their credit cards at the moment. Not even for existing ICICI banking clients. I hope that they shake up their credit card portfolio a little bit to make some noise!

Unranked) Brim Financial

The jury is still out on Brim Financial for this round as they have not official launched yet. We will see how things play out before I include them in the rankings. I hear that the hold up is that they are still pending approval from the government to offer their products.

Do you agree with the rankings? What are your thoughts? Please share in the comment section below.

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