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Ranking the Credit Card Portfolios of Each Canadian Financial Institutions (updated May 1, 2019)

I have been debating how often I should update this post. I decided on 6 months, and it has been the latest trend anyway. There has been several changes (though mostly in the bottom half of the rankings) to the industry in that period of time to warrant an update anyway. Most significantly, it was time to include Brim Financial and Cuets.

Every time I write up an update, I generally try to have a theme throughout the post. This time around, I am going to emphasis more on the gap between the rankings.

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)

Now that we seem to have confirmation that AMEX has maintained its relationship with Marriott, AMEX firmly holds first place by a large margin. It is no secret that AMEX offers credit cards with the most benefits.

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

TD has been offering some competitive sign up bonuses and first year fee waived offers. However, this post focuses on permanent / regular offers for ranking purposes. That being said, TD has not made any significant changes to their portfolio. As a result, the gap is closing between them and Scotiabank right below.

3) Scotiabank / Tangerine (no change)

Adding the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card has been a game changer for Scotiabank. Now they even added a Business version of the card. It shows that they are willing to think outside of the box with a more unconventional card. The gap has definitely closed a lot with TD right above, and widen with RBC below.

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

Last time I wrote how I was still not over the American Airlines transfer devaluation (over two years ago now) from 1:1 to 10:7 conversion ratios. Granted they have been offering transfer bonuses (10:8.4) to soften the blow. I think what has been more frustrating for so long is that I have no seen any improvements to RBC’s products.

Either way, RBC stays firmly in 4th place because of its competitive co-branded airline credit cards (3 of them, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and WestJet), which puts a large enough gap with CIBC below.

5) Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce / Simplii Financial (CIBC) (no change)

Time to add Simplii Financial’s Cash Back Visa Card to the list, which definitely improves CIBC’s portfolio and solidifies their position in 5th place, which is large gap between RBC above and HSBC below.

6) HSBC (no change)

HSBC is holding steady at this position regardless of all the well-known customer service industry. They really upped their game with their premium credit cards (specifically waiving their foreign exchange fees on all their top cards listed below) which offer a fair amount of travel benefits. The gap is fairly close with Bank of Montreal below though. So HSBC definitely wants to keep improving.

7) Bank of Montreal (BMO) (no change)

I am still waiting for BMO to make a significant move. Considering how big this bank is, they should really be ranked higher. But they would need to offer a new game changing product to move up the rankings. For now, they are still far enough ahead of all the other credit card companies below, which is no saying much since none of the big banks are below BMO.

=8) Rogers Bank (no change)

Rogers made their redemption program a lot simpler, which is a plus! However, because of their small portfolio, there is a significant gap with BMO above. Furthermore, the gap is fairly small against the 3 tied in 10th place below.

=8) President’s Choice Financial (PC Financial) (no change)

Ditto for PC Financial (see comments about Rogers Bank).

Basically, PC Financial offers a product very similar to Rogers Bank. Both offer a no annual fee World Elite MasterCard. PC Optimum points are valuable to those who shop at their partner stores.

=10) National Bank (last time alone in 10)

National Bank pretty much held their credit card portfolio steady from last time, with no significant changes. However, Meridian Bank made a few changes to their credit cards to make them more competitive. I find National Bank products more valuable to National Bank specific clients. Furthermore, their most lucrative card, the World Elite MasterCard is most valuable to people who frequently fly out or through the Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL).

=10) Meridian (last time 11)

A few added sign up bonuses to the Meridian cards, makes them tied with National Bank. The major downside to Meridian is that their cards are only available to Ontario residents at the moment.

=10) Brim Financial (NEW)

Still a work in process, but officially launched. Brim starts off tied in 10th place. I had a difficult time ranking National Bank, Meridian and Brim, so for now, I left them tied with each other. They each offer different value. It highly depends on your personal needs to determine which bank makes more sense. But I find all 3 very restrictive in their own way.

Once they have stabilised their product line, Brim should probably be ranked a little higher than the other two tied in the same position.

13) Canadian Tire Bank (last time 12)

Their loyalty program is very confusing, which is why they are not ranked higher (i.e. in line with the other two companies offering no annual fee World Elite MasterCards above. Furthermore, I find Triangle rewards much more restrictive than cash back (Rogers Bank) and PC Optimum, which is another reason why Canadian Tire is ranked lower.

14) Desjardins (last time 13)

I see Desjardins as the best of the rest. The drop off after Desjardins is quite significant. That being said, Desjardins should really up their game. I do notice that they are trying to expand their business across the country. So we will see how profitable that is, as it could open the doors to more new products.

15) Capital One (last time 14)

Capital One was my favourite credit card company when first started Pointshogger. It is so disappointing to see them drop so significantly. If they are not careful, they will probably drop further since the Costco card is the only one keeping them afloat. I almost feel like they are not even trying to work towards new partnerships. It is like they went on cruise control for the moment. I hope that I am proven wrong.

16) Home Trust (last time 15)

Home Trust is really not far off from Capital One. Some would argue that they have a more competitive card than the Costco card from Capital One above. However, due to their limited portfolio, I kept them below Capital One for the time being.

17) Laurentian Bank (no change)

I decided to switch Laurentian Bank and Alterna Savings because at least Laurentian Bank offers some competitive cards that are worth a second look (if you are an existing Laurentian Bank client). The reason I say to get a credit card (if you are already an existing banking client) is because you can usually package the credit card to get a better banking deal or have your annual fee continually waived.

18) Cuets (NEW)

Cuets starts off in 18th place. I feel like they have a very similar situation to Alterna Savings below. They offer a wide variety of cards, but nothing special. The reason I put Cuets higher is because they offer a more extensive travel insurance coverage on their cards.

19) Alterna Savings (last time 16)

Alterna Savings is an odd one for me. They offer a wide variety of cards to choose from. However, none of the cards are competitive. Fairly standard options to choose from.

20) Walmart Financial (last time 18)

Can’t say much about Walmart. If Costco can do 2% and 3% multiplier bonuses, you would think that Walmart can do better than 1.25%.

21) ICICI Bank (last time 19)

You would think that with the intense cash back competition in the market right now, that ICICI would eliminate their annual fee. That would instantly put them above Walmart.

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

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