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New Year’s Eve! Recap of 2021

As we close out 2021, we continue with our year-end series of grading our wish list from our first post of the year. This report card is a continuation from our yearly mid-term report back on Canada Day (July 1st of every year).

Keep in mind that all wishes have the goal of being a win/win/win scenario for everyone involved (loyalty company, credit card company and customer), so that it is fair across the board. In some cases it is just win/win because one party is not involved (e.g. a credit card company who offers an in-house loyalty program and the customer as the only other party).

Grading System

Before we get going, below is a 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) A sense of normality to travelling

We started 2021 with quite a bit of lock-downs across the country, including in between provinces. But as we moved from the summer into the fall season, the international borders were more open than it has been since March of 2020. There are still some travel restrictions, and as we closed out the year, things are starting to tighten up again. But overall in the year, things did have some sense of normalcy / free movement (relatively speaking). So we move from the “F” in the mid-term report card up to a B+ to close out the year.

Grade: B+

2) Either a new co-branded airline or hotel loyalty credit card

I guess I really thought that with the travel industry down in the dumps, it was an opportunity for at least one loyalty company to team up with a credit card company to generate some cash flow on their balance sheet. Loyalty companies can raise a lot of money by selling their miles and points to credit card issuers, who then distributes those rewards to their credit card holders. Whether it is the banks holding back or loyalty companies not making a good enough pitch, either way, nothing materialised. At least we did not loose any existing partnerships.

Grade: E

3) One credit card company cracking the top 7

Our latest Rankings were posted a week ago. There were only some minor changes to the rankings outside of the top 10, so no one was able to crack our top 7 this year.

Grade: E

4) More Progress Towards High Speed Trains

Recently, VIA rail announced a new fleet of trains that can travel at higher speeds. This is in addition to the progress they’ve made this year in terms of their plans for improved infrastructure. Our friend over at Points Miles and Bling did a nice write up on the fleet. There is definitely some progress towards faster trains in Canada so this is a feel good story for me, considering my soft spot for trains!

Grade: B+

5) A Brand New Transferable Points Program

Does the new Scotiabank Scene+ points program count? Close enough that I think it does count! The Scene+ program is a game changer in the Canadian rewards industry and I am excited to see what more features they plan to add to their program. Even though the points are transferable to Scene Rewards, the reason I did not give a higher score is because there are not other transfer partners. So the points need to be used internal with Scotiabank.

Grade: B+

6) Incentives to Retain Credit Cards for the Long Haul

The point of this wish item was because churning has such a bad rap and certain companies are really clamping down on this strategy. As an alternative, I would love to see credit card companies offer more incentives for people to retain their credit card year after year and feel like they are getting something in return for paying the annual fee on renewal. A perfect example is the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card:

  • $139 annual fee
  • Earn 10,000 Scotia Rewards bonus points after spending $40,000 in a calendar year
  • Earn 2,000 Scotia Rewards bonus points after every $10,000 in addition to the first $40,000 in a calendar year

This credit card rewards spending with bonus points (a win / win scenario). The incentive is enough to justifying paying the annual fee year after year, while the credit card benefits from higher spending. We recently did a more in-depth write-up of this card here.

One card that did make a difference on this wish item is the revamped American Express Gold Card. They increased the annual fee from $120 to $250, but they now offer a host of new benefits that help justify the $250 annual fee (namely, the $100 annual travel credit and 4 complimentary Plaza Premium Lounge passes).

Grade: C

Thoughts

Historically, 2021 had the highest overall scores ever, since we started grading our wish lists (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020). Even though 2021 started off slow, it finished the most successful year in my books!

Did I miss anything on my wish list? Do you agree with my scores? Please let us know in the comment section below!

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Pointshogger aims to provide analysis and updates on earning loyalty reward points and maximizing the value of your points. We hope to inspire our readers to experience the joy of travel and make the most out of what they've already got!

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