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)
- A Awesome job
- B+ Good job
- B Decent, met expectations
- C Acceptable
- D Better than nothing
- E Nothing changed, no improvements
- F Fail, went backwards
1) Incentives to Retain Credit Cards
The Capital One Travel Aspire World Elite MasterCard and the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Visa, were two cards that actually offered incentives (albeit Capital One grandfathered version, which is still active for existing cardholders). Unfortunately, no new cards were introduced that offered standard incentives for cardholders to retain their credit card, so we went backwards.
What I look for each year is rewarding minimum spending, year over year. For example, if I spent $15,000 per year, I would like to see annual fees waived. More often than not, it requires a case by case approach (e.g. having other banking products) to get your fees waived. Can you believe that the Rogers Platinum MasterCard is the only card offers a straightforward requirement to have the fee waived? All you need to do is put your Rogers recurring bill on the credit card to have the fee waived each year.
2) More Co-Branded Airline and Hotel Loyalty Credit Cards
One potentially revolutionary credit card was introduced to the Canadian market, the American Express Cobalt Card. Though it does not directly earn airline miles or hotel points, it does earn Membership Reward points, which are transferable to hotel partners, Hilton HHonors and Starwood’s SPG programs. Better than nothing!
However, the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Visa discontinued, which almost nullifies the Cobalt card. I will be generous on the grading for this wish item.
3) More Multiplier Bonus Categories
This item probably improved the most, which 3 new significant cards that introduced some decent multiplier bonuses:
- American Express Cobalt Card (earn 5 points for every $1 spent on groceries, dining, and food delivery services)
- HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard (earn 6 HSBC points for every $1 spent on travel purchases)
- TD Cash Back Visa Infinite Card (earn 6% cash back on gas, grocery and recurring bill payments (for the first 3 months or first $3,500 in spending; earn 3% cash back on gas, grocery and recurring bill payments thereafter)
It may not have been over the top, but definitely better than expected!
4) Improved Rail Service
The hyperloop technology continues to make progress, but still too far from reality. VIA Rail made some slight improvements throughout the year, but just the standard maintenance and minor upgrades, nothing significant yet. They did offer an unbelievable unlimited pass promotion offered over the summer.
5) More Credit Cards Offered by Smaller Companies
The Meridian bank is the newest company to introduce a competitive card, along with HSBC. But aside from these two companies, it was not a great year for smaller companies, especially Chase Canada, who we saw shut down their last two credit cards (Chase Marriott and Amazon), as mentioned above. They almost nullify each other, but because new products were introduced, I cannot call it a fail. Better than nothing!
6) Improved Safety and Security for Travellers
Just like what I mentioned in the mid-term report, I personally feel that the news has not been as bad this year as previous years, when it comes to travel tragedies. Unfortunately it is very difficult for this category to have a perfect score, which would mean it is 100% safe. Still, I think that it was a good year overall.