| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |

Ranking the Credit Card Portfolios of Each Canadian Financial Institutions (updated December 12, 2022)

For the most part, 2022 was a relatively quiet year in terms of changes to the credit card industry (in terms of permanent offers). There was a significant amount of all-time high sign up bonuses, which do not factor into our ranking system. Our rankings are based on the intention of retaining credit cards for the long term, not based on churning.

That being said, we closed out the year with 2 major credit card closures (MBNA Alaska Airlines and Best Western co-branded credit cards) that definitely shook up our rankings. So you will notice that most of the ranking changes occurred in the top 5.

Note that these are my personal rankings of each financial institution, along with a commentary which will reflect what happened in the past year. Last time’s ranking are in brackets, along with a select few of our top credit card picks for each company.

Let’s start with listing out the top 5 companies in our rankings before continuing with the rest. These 5 companies have a significant gap for the rest, which is why I set them apart.

1) American Express (AMEX) (no change)

AMEX continues to stand atop with no real close second place. They have such a wide variety of premium cards to choose from, ranging from Aeroplan, to Marriott and its highly valuable Membership Rewards program. Furthermore, AMEX offers the strongest selection of business cards. They have really been the cream of the crop for a long time.

2) Scotiabank / Tangerine (last time 3)

Scotiabank finally moved into second place after years of chopping at the bits. They mostly went up in rankings due to TD’s downfall. Granted, Scotiabank did end its partnership with GM, but that was offset when Empire became part of the Scene+ ownership team. Scene+ has really took a major leap as a top tier loyalty program in Canada. In turn, this boosted Scotiabank’s overall profile. Scotiabank Momentum Infinite Visa

3) Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) (last time 4)

For the most part, Royal Bank moved up a spot due to TD’s downfall. RBC did introduce 2 new credit cards to their portfolio, which expanded its Avion program. Now RBC holds very steady in third place. Furthermore, if RBC does manage to purchase HSBC, things can get real interesting at the top. We will be watching this potential merger very closely.

=4) Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce / Simplii Financial (CIBC) (last time 4)

I was slightly torn between who had the edge between CIBC and TD. For the time being, I would say that they are tied with TD as they offer very similar credit card portfolios. CIBC offers Aeroplan and Aventura, which are two highly valuable loyalty programs. Furthermore, I really like its partnership with Journie Rewards, especially considering the high price of gas this past year. To round tings out, they offer a few competitive cash back credits cards, notably, with Simplii cash back card.

=4) Toronto Dominion (TD) / MBNA (last time 2)

TD took a massive hit when they discontinued two of its most valuable credit cards through MBNA (Alaska Airlines and Best Western co-branded credit cards). Part of me feels like MBNA’s days are soon outnumbered. I expect that MBNA co-branded cards are going to be fully integrated with TD. TD still offers a few valuable cards, which is why they did not drop any further, but the gap definitely closed significantly with HSBC below.

As mentioned earlier, the top 5 are much further ahead of the rest of the companies below. The first two companies below are starting to knock on the door, but not quite ready to sit at the big kids table just yet!

6) HSBC (no change)

Over the last couple of years, HSBC closed the gap significantly with TD and CIBC. They now offer 5 competitive credit cards. HSBC offers a highly valuable transferable rewards Program program with 3 significant partners: British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines. I have been waiting to write the following sentence since we starting this ranking system back in 2016. HSBC is the first company to be knocking on the door of the top 5. AMEX, along with the big 5 banks have been rotating mainstays in the top 5. Aside from Capital One, who had some potential, HSBC is right up there now. What makes it really more impressive is that they started in 13th place just 6 years ago. So it has been quite an impressive climb.

  • HSBC Travel Rewards Mastercard
  • HSBC +Rewards™ Mastercard
  • HSBC Cash Rewards MasterCard®
  • HSBC World Elite® MasterCard
  • HSBC Jade World Elite MasterCard

7) Bank of Montreal (BMO) (no change)

BMO spent the year revamping their existing credit card portfolio by changing up some of its earning ratios. For the most part, they are lateral moves. I really hope that BMO makes a splash. My first choice would be for them to offer a transferable points program that transfer to hotel and airline partners. I would settle for them to finally partner with at least one high profile frequent flyer or hotel loyalty program. That would put them back into the top 5 conversation.

8) President’s Choice Financial (PC Financial) (no change)

PC Optimum continues to be a highly valuable loyalty program in Canada, which is why PC Financial ranks so high. PC Optimum points became even more valuable with the discontinuation of the Esso Extra program, when PC Optimum became the exclusive loyalty program at Esso gas stations. I am looking forward to PC Optimum continuing to expand their reach.

9) National Bank (last time 10)

I moved National Bank up a position mainly because of the lounge access that comes with their World Elite card. With lounges overcrowding at airports, I would expect that we should see some tougher rules on who qualifies for lounge access? So if National Bank can keep the unlimited lounge access (at YUL) perk on its credit card, it keeps its value.

On another note, just like what I said about BMO, I still really hope that National Bank would find a way to partner up with an airline frequent flyer program or a hotel loyalty program. They should have the resources to do and and that would really propel them to the next level. Right now they are only offering their internal rewards program.

10) Canadian Tire Bank (last time 9)

I find Canadian Tire Bank very similar to PC Financial. The biggest difference is that PC Optimum is a much more valuable program than Canadian Tire Triangle Rewards because PC Optimum is much more diverse and has more partners. Hopefully Canadian Tire continues to expand the reach of its loyalty program.

11) Rogers Bank (no change)

Rogers is mainly known for its telecommunications services. But they also have Rogers Bank, who had a nice addition this year to their credit card portfolio, the Rogers Connections MasterCard. Still not quite enough to put them into the top 10, but definitely closing the gap on the top 10 and adding more distance from the companies below. Furthermore, Rogers Bank look to continue to expand their products and services. For an telecom company, they are making some noise in the credit card world, which I am happy to see such competition.

12) Brim Financial (no change)

When Brim first came into the market, they came out with a bang, as the lead credit card issuer with no foreign transactions fees. But not much has changed with Brim, while many other companies already caught up with waiving foreign transactions fees. So Brim will need to step up their game to stay relevant.

13) Desjardins (no change)

Desjardins have really expanded their non-credit card presence across the country. Now I am hoping that they will put more attention to their credit card portfolio. They will need to start with coming up with a valuable loyalty program, or partner up with an existing one.

On a side note, unlike National Bank who offers unlimited lounge access at YUL, Desjardins’ best card (Desjardins Odyssey Visa Infinite Privilege) only offers 12 passes with a significantly higher annual fee relative to National Bank’s best card (National Bank World Elite MasterCard).

14) Walmart Financial (no change)

Walmart was consistently second to last on our list due to its poor earning ratios. That changed when they introduced the World version of their card which boosted their profile ever so slightly. Hopefully they continue to improve their product to be even more competitive. I am pretty sure that they have the resources to do it too!

15) Neo Financial (no change)

We had a great interview with the co-founder of Neo Financial this year. We are looking forward to what they have in store in the coming months and hope to watch them move up the ranks!

=16) Alterna Savings (no change)

The next 3 companies (listed in alphabetical order) offer very similar credit card portfolios to the point that I can barely tell the difference between them. Let’s see who will break the tie!

For now, I have very little to say about them as there has not been much movement since they were introduced to the credit card market. It looks like they are all still trying to find their footing.

=16) Manulife Bank (no change)

See comment above.

=16) Meridian (no change)

See comment above.

19) Laurentian Bank (no change)

Laurentian Bank has been relatively quiet in the past year. I am still hoping that they would build off of their virtual banks (B2B and LBC Digital) and offer something competitive like what CIBC is doing with Simplii or Scotiabank with Tangerine.

20) Home Trust (no change)

Home Trust only have 1 credit card. Its main feature is that they are a no annual fee card that waives foreign transaction fees. However, so many other companies now waive foreign transaction fees that they have become quite irrelevant at the moment. If they are not going to improve their product, hopefully they will add to their product line.

21) Capital One (no change)

Year after year, it feels like Capital One further shrinks their portfolio. They started in 6th place when we published our first rankings in 2016 with a full slate of cards. Capital One basically did the reverse of HSBC. It has been very sad to see their fall.

Actually, Capital One would have been in the top 5 if we started the ranking system earlier, back when they still had the Delta SkyMiles and IHG Rewards co-branded credit cards. They are now mostly focused on secured credit cards

22) Plastk (no change)

We had the opportunity to interview Plastk this fall. We are really looking forward to what they are working on! In the meantime, I really like how their secured card offers a rewards program. But because Capital One has more choices, Plastk is still a step behind. Hope we see more from them soon!

23) ICICI Bank (no change)

Still no changes to ICICI’s credit card portfolio, which also means no changes to their ranking. There is only so much we can say about last place. Basically they really need to step up their game!

So there you have it, our rankings for 2022. Do you agree with the rankings above? Did we miss anything? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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.