Back in 2016, I began a tradition of trying to predict the travel / rewards market in Canada. The first year was rough, but it got better over the years and now leveling off. How did it go in 2021?
Below are my previous scores:
Recap of 2021
Let’s see how I did in 2021:
- A retail program becoming more competitive: In my prediction, I was expecting PC Optimum, Air Miles or Scene Rewards to break out. Air Miles did some minor upgrades to warrant a mention, but I would say that Scene Rewards stepped up in a big way this year. Their full blown integration with Scotiabank Scene+ is a game changer to me! 1/1.
- A new kid (credit card) in town: The Neo Financial Cash Back MasterCard and the Plastk Secured Visa Credit Card were a couple of nice minor additions to the market. While the American Express Gold Rewards Card had such a drastic change that it felt like a brand new card. But not none of them warrant a full point. The combination of the 3 would be half a point, so 0.5/1.
- Airline or hotel merger: I am a little shocked that no major airline or hotel chain attempted any sort of merger, guess they are not as desperate as it may seem in the news, so 0/1.
I finished 2021 with the same score as last year at 1.5/3.
Predictions for 2022
For the new year, let’s try these on:
1) Non-Travel Related Program Takes a Giant Leap
This prediction will be the same as last year, where Scene Rewards (see above) took a huge leap into upgrading their program. Scene (otherwise non-travel related program) has now added a travel feature to their program and significantly expanded with Scotiabank.
With the travel industry being hit hard, I am expecting to see another loyalty program capitalize on people’s shift in spending habits. As much as everyone wants to start travelling again, 2022 may not be the year where travel fully opens up again. This gives another non-travel related program a chance to do a major upgrade. In addition to adding a travel feature and major program expansion like what Scene did with Scotiabank, a couple of other examples of a giant leap are offering a new co-branded credit card or merging with another company to expand (e.g. Shoppers Optimum and PC Plus back in 2017).
2) A New High End (Premium) Credit Card
I also predict that a new high annual fee and lots of benefits type of credit card being introduced to the market. Canada only has a handful of premium cards that reward big spenders, so I am expecting to see a new one being introduced to the market. I would get half a point if one of the existing cards completely revamps their features and benefits to almost look like a new card. Similar to the changes made to the Privilege and Reserve cards from America Express, CIBC and TD back in 2020.
3) Cash Back Crazy
We finished 2021 with a fair amount of credit cards that offer at least 10% cash back, whether on a promotional basis or permanent offer. There is even a 15% cash back offer with two Tangerine credit cards expiring at the end of January 2022. Does it feel like the Tangerine offers are only the beginning of more?
What are your predictions for 2022? Please let us know in the comment section below!