Comparing Canada and U.S.A. Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses

The issue of Canada always getting the short end of the stick when it comes to credit card sign up bonuses, perks and benefits to credit cards has come up on several occasions, so I thought I’d give my 2 cents on this matter. There are several factors to take into consideration and several things that you can do.

Population Difference

The first major reason is that the United States (U.S.) is almost 10 times the population of Canada. We’re comparing a country with over 320 million versus a country with barely 35 million. The State of California alone is more populated than the entire Canada.

As a result, there is just more volume in the U.S., which means that credit card companies will have many more clients. So they can squeeze the profit margins a little more than Canadian banks. Unfortunately, in Canada, you will probably notice that there needs to be a bigger profit margin to stay profitable.

It can be argued that if you have 10 times the population, you need 10 times the employees. But that’s not actually true. Take a McDonald’s for example. There could be a busy McDonald’s and a less busy one. But many of their general costs will stay relatively the same, minus maybe a slight difference in rent, maybe a few extra employees. But the extra business in the restaurant already offsets the costs. Basically, the busier McDonald’s is just living up to its potential. While the less busy one has the capacity to handle more, but just doesn’t have the volume of people.

That’s the problem in Canada. Our credit card companies are designed to handle way more clients and customers, but they just don’t have enough clients to optimize their systems.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Difference

Canada is estimated at around $1.46 trillion USD (or $1.9 trillion CDN) versus The $18.5 trillion (USD). Even though Canada’s population is just under 10 times that of the U.S., the U.S. has a GDP of well more than 10 times (actually more than 12 times) that of Canada’s. As a result, we’re not spending as much, which means probably less money being circulated.

Greater Regulations

Unfortunately, sometimes it feels like when a foreign company starts making inroads into Canada, someone is going to shut them down, so that we can keep things more Canadian.

It is no secret that Canada’s financial institutions are much more regulated than those of the U.S. As a result, a lot of power is consolidated with some main financial institutions in Canada, which doesn’t allow for as much room for competition.

In the U.S., you can tell that companies are clawing, scrapping and fighting their way to earn everyone’s business. Because there are so many options available to people, clients don’t have as much problems switching up.

For the above 3 factors, there is only so much that can be done. Furthermore, no single person can really change any of the above anyway. But there are things that you can do as an individual.

What Can be Done?

Basically, figure out who deserves your business, and don’t be afraid to shift. If we stick with a company, just because we are comfortable with them, and not because they are competitive, then the companies won’t need to work very hard to attract new customers, because they already have enough.

I hate to say it, but in Canada, because of the smaller market, it’s not really on the credit card companies to win us over. It’s up to the consumers to shift their business around to give companies a wake up call.

Bottom line, be loyal to a good deal and not to a specific company.


  1. This post should lay the foundation for a deep down follow up posts. My Favourite topic Amex US vs. Amex Canada. Understanding that it will never be the same it will help us push for benefits that cardholder in the US enjoy and we don’t

    Thanks Matthew

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