Canada Day! Mid-Term Report

Happy Canada Day!!

Not quite the start to the year that we expected, but business continues for credit card companies, but not so much for the travel industry. Now that we are halfway through the year, our annual mid-term report is due. Below is my 2020 New Year’s wish list for the rewards world and a blurb on the progress so far this year. The final report will be published on New Year’s Eve.

Keep in mind that all wishes are generally a win/win/win scenario for everyone (rewards company, retailer and customer) involved in the transaction.

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)
  • Awesome job
  • B+ Good job
  • B Decent, met expectations
  • Acceptable
  • Better than nothing 
  • E Nothing changed, no improvements
  • F Fail, went backwards

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

With the way things are going, I guess it is not a surprise that there are no new partnerships in Canada. What makes it more frustrating is see 100,000+ sign up bonuses in the United States with Hilton and IHG co-branded cards.

We still have half a year to go, so hope to see a surprise. If any hotel chain wants a boost, this could be a way to do it, because banks should still have some cash to purchases some airline miles or hotel points, so I remain hopeful regardless!

Grade: E

2) A Brand New Transferable Points Program

This is probably a long shot as well. My hope was that one of the existing programs like BMO Rewards, CIBC Aventura or Scotia Rewards would expand their programs to compete with the existing transferable options (American Express Membership Rewards, HSBC Rewards and RBC Avion).

By transferable, I mean adding airlines and hotels, not just the Scene Rewards option that Scotia Rewards has. It is a good start, but would like to see more partnerships.

Grade: E

3) Incentives to Retain Credit Cards

Even though there are lots of reports of American Express shutting down people’s accounts and losing all their points, they are also probably the most notable credit card company offering incentives to retain their credit cards (beyond the first year, i.e. justify renewing the annual fee) with various statement credits (targeted or public) for certain purchases. These statement credits would slow down churning by keeping the cards valuable.

The downside is most of the statement credits are limited time offers and not permanent offers. Either way, better than nothing!

Grade: D

4) More Progress Towards High Speed Trains

There seems to be limited progress on VIA Rail’s current High Frequency project. There was a High Frequency Rail: AECOM and Arup consortium selected as Owner’s Engineers back in January.

I feel like trains should have the advantage, as there is a bigger opportunity to do social distancing. Also all Greyhound buses are shut down and drastic reduction in airline routes. The problem is, it may be difficult to justify investing in train infrastructure at the moment, considering the financial issues all levels of government are having (even if there could be an argument to be made that it could be a great way to stimulate the economy).

Grade: E

5) One Credit Card Company Stepping up in a Big Way

Last year, it was HBSC who made the most noise. Also seems like they still want to keep pushing further based on an interview we had with them yesterday.

This year, when we released our latest rankings back on April 1, 2020, I would say the company that is attracting the most “new” attention is Brim Financial. Personally, I feel like they are the new Capital One and Chase Canada of the old days.

Brim also really stepped up with its first year annual fee waiver promotion on its $199 annual fee card. With a few devaluations happening (Home Trust, Rogers Bank, now maybe Capital One too), Brim cards are starting to look more attractive, but they do still have work to do.

I just hope that Brim’s business model is sustainable and that they can continue to be even more competitive.

Grade: B+


It has been a slow start to my wishes in 2020. But looking at the overall picture, I may have chosen some long shot wishes. Furthermore, we did not have any setbacks, mostly small positive steps forward. So all and all, I think it’s passable!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.