Features

Credit Card Reward Programs Go Head to Head

By Anthony Chan

September 19, 2012

There's so much selection!

I've put together a javascript table to help make decisions. See Below.

Which cards have made it into your review?

These are they. If you're narrowing down your list, use the checkboxes to add or remove cards from the review. Please note that removing cards will work fine in Netscape/Mozilla/Firefox, but replacing them will completely mess up. I would just click refresh.

American Express Blue Sky Card
American Express Costco Platinum Cash Rebate Card
American Express AIR MILES Credit Card
American Express Holt Renfrew Card
BMO Air Miles Mastercard
Canadian Tire Options Mastercard
Citibank Enrich Mastercard
Citibank Petro-Points Mastercard
Citibank Staples Easyrewards Mastercard
Citizens Bank Charity VISAs
MBNA CAA Mastercard
MBNA Smart Cash Mastercard
National Bank of Canada Ultramar Card
President's Choice Financial Mastercard
Reward Zone Visa by Chase (Best Buy)
Royal Bank Esso Visa
Royal Bank Starbucks Duetto Visa
Scotiabank Scene Visa
TD Canada Trust GM Visa Card

Which criteria are you using in your review?

These are they. If specific ones don't matter to you, un-check them. It's highly suggested because this table is huge and hard to read. Please note that removing criteria will work fine in Netscape/Mozilla/Firefox, but replacing them will completely mess up. I would just click refresh.

Name of Card
Sign-up Bonus
Interest Rate
Type of Rewards (amount per dollar spent)

Percent Equivalent:

This is the most important column (except for maybe the name). This tells you how much you can expect to get back from the credit card on all your purchases. The columns that are marked with just one number (for example 1) are guaranteed a return at exactly that amount. The ones that have two numbers and a dash (0.5-0.9) have a return that varies depending on what you use your points. In each case, I've put a table that shows some of the data I've used to calculate the return.

Minimum Personal Income:

This serves as a rough gauge to see if you'll be approved for this particular credit card. You can still apply (MBNA loves to give out credit to anyone) but don't be surprised if you're refused credit.

Minimum Credit Limit:

If you're just starting out, this will probably be your credit limit. Of course, if your credit rating is good, your limit will be much higher.

Types of Insurance:

Accidental Death or Dismemberment Insurance is the more scary name for Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance. That clears it up for you, doesn't it? Okay, maybe not. AD&D or CCTA is basically a very very limited form of insurance that's designed to look good in articles like these. It protects you if you a) travel on a common carrier like a plane, the bus, or the train, 2) have paid for that transportation on your credit card, and 3) lose a limb, your eyesight, or your life. As you can imagine, such severe accidents rarely happen, and when they do, few people know that they're covered (nor do their relatives) so very few claims are actually made. Car Rental Insurance usually means that if you charge your rental on your CC, they'll cover you if anything happens. The rental companies offers insurance too, but it cost a few bucks, so that's what you're saving. As for Lost Luggage Insurance, they're pretty sketchy on the details, but they usually insure your luggage in case of loss if you charge the flight or train or bus ride to your credit card.

Extended Warranty:

Credit card issuers generally offer two things. They offer just the straight extended warranty, where they double the existing warranty to a maximum of one year, and they usually have a cap on claims, and the usual slew of exceptions. Cars aren't included, and in the case of PC Financial, computer hardware. Some also offer Purchase Protection which means your purchase is pretty much insured against theft or damage for 90 days. Citibank offers Price Protection which ensures that if you find a better price for the item you bought within 90 days of the purchase, Citibank will cover the difference, up to $100 (I'm sure all you RFD deal hunters will eat that up).

Other Info: This column just mentions anything else you should know about the card, whether it be a benefit or a caveat.
Name Sign-up Bonus Interest Rate Rewards (rewards / money spent) Percentage Equivalent Min. Personal Income Min. Credit Limit Insurance Warranty Other Info
American Express Blue Sky Credit Card 12,000 points if you spend over $3000 in your first six months 18.25% - 25.99% Points to be used toward any travel you can charge on your card 1.25 $15000 $1000 Accidental Death & Dismemberment None None
American Express Costco Platinum Cash Rebate Card None 18.25% - 25.99% Cash to be used at Costco (depends) 0.25 (up to $2000)
0.50 ($2000 - $5000)
1.50 ($5000+)
Max. $125 /yr ($15000 spent)
$15000 $1000 Accidental Death & Dismemberment Doubled for up to one year, and 90 days on purchases without warranty Must be a member of Costco, Picture on card
NO FEE American Express® AIR MILES® Credit Card 100 Air Miles 18.50% - 25.99% Air Miles (1 /$20) 0.3 - 1.66 $15000 $1000 Accidental Death & Dismemberment None None
American Express Holt Renfrew Card 10% Discount on First Purchase @ HR 18.99% - 23.99% HR Reward Points, equivalent to $0.01 (1 /$1, 1.4 if spent at HR) Min. Redemption is $50. 1 or 1.4 in store. $15000 $1000 Accidental Death & Dismemberment Doubled for up to one year, and 90 days on purchases without warranty Exclusive HR mailings
complimentary basic hem and cuff alterations at Holt Renfrew
BMO Air Miles MasterCard None 19.5% Air Miles (1 / $20) 0.3-1.66 N/A N/A None Doubled for up to one year, and 90 days against theft and damage 1.5x reward miles at Shell
Canadian Tire Options MasterCard None 18.9% - 25.9% Canadian Tire Money ($0.01 /$1) 1
1.37 at Canadian Tire stores
$14000 $300 None None None
Citibank Enrich Mastercard None 19.9% Cash ($0.01 /$1) to a max of $250 per year 1 $35000 $5000 $500,000 Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance
Car Rental Collision/Loss Damage Insurance
Price Protection Photo & signature on card
Citibank Petro-Points Mastercard None 19.9% Petro-Points (10 /$1) 0.5-1.6 $15000 $500 None Price Protection $0.02 off every litre of gas at Petro Canada. Photo & signature on card
Citibank Staples Easyrewards Mastercard None 19.9% cash to be used at Staples (easyRewards) 0.5 up to $3000/yr
1 up to $7000/yr
1.5 up to $15000/yr
2 up to $50000/yr (up to $875 in rewards per year)
N/A $500 90-day Purchase assurance, Car Rental Collision/Loss Damage Waiver Doubled, up to a year; Price Protection Photo & signature on card
Citizens Bank Amnesty VISA, Oxfam VISA, Shared Interest VISA $20 to the charity (Shared interest excluded) 17.75% 10 cents per transaction towards Amnesty, Oxfam, or others 10 cents per transaction, plus 0.5 with the Shared Interest VISA card $15000 $500 $200,000 Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance Doubled for up to one year, and 90 days on purchases without warranty, Price Protection None
MBNA CAA Mastercard None 17.99-19.99% CAA Dollars (cash towards your membership) 1 $35000 $500 Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance
with gold & platinum: Lost luggage, Car Rental insurance
With gold & platinum: Doubled for up to one year, and 90 days on purchases without warranty Must be a member of CAA
MBNA Smart Cash Mastercard 5% return on gas and grocery purchases for the first six months up to a maximum of $30 of rewards per month, after which you will be bumped back down to 1% 19.99% cash (cheque can be requested when $50 of rewards are due) 3 on gas and grocery store purchases
1 on all other purchases
$35000 $500 Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance
with gold & platinum: Lost luggage, Car Rental insurance
With gold & platinum: Doubled for up to one year, and 90 days on purchases without warranty None
National Bank of Canada Ultramar Mastercard, as noticed by Agent_J None 18.9% Cash (depends) 0.25 if you spend up to $6000/yr
.5 if you spend over $6000/yr
1.25 if you spend over $9000
1-2.5 on Ultramar or HomEnergy spending
Maximum of $250 per year
N/A $500 None Doubled for up to one year, and 90 days on purchases without warranty Discounts at Avis
President's Choice Financial MasterCard 5000 points if you sign up online, and four additional $5 coupons to be used on seperate purchases at PC stores 17.97% PC Points (10/ $1) 1 N/A $1000 $250,000 Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance Doubled for up to one year (excluding computer hardware), and 90 days on purchases without warranty Up to 11.5 cents discount per litre at participating Superstore gas stations.
Reward Zone Visa from Chase (Best Buy) $10 reward certificate on first purchase 19.99% Best Buy Reward Zone Points (1/ $1); double at Best Buy 1.25 or
2.50 at Best Buy
N/A N/A None Doubled for up to one year (excluding computer hardware), and 90 days on purchases without warranty None
Royal Bank Esso Visa 200 points on first purchase 18.5% Esso Extra Points (1 /$1, 2 at Esso) 0.5 - 0.9 $12000 $1000 None Doubled for up to one year, and 90 days on purchases without warranty None
Royal Bank Starbucks Duetto Visa $25 credit at Starbucks 19.5% Cash at Starbucks ($0.01 /$1, $0.03 /$1 when charging "gift card"-like option with credit at Starbucks) 1 , 3 at Starbucks N/A N/A None Doubled for up to one year, and 90 days on purchases without warranty No supplementary cards
Scotiabank Scene Visa 2000 points (two movie tickets) 19.5% Scene Points (1/$1, 5/$1 on Cineplex purchases) 0.8-1.2 , 4-6 at Cineplex N/A $1000 None None 10% discount on concession purchases
TD Canada Trust GM Visa Card None 18.5% Cash towards a new GM car ($0.03 /$1) 3 to a maximum of around 7% of the price of the car $12000 $500 $150,000 Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance None Discount at Budget Rent a car

Cards that didn't make it

These are some of the cards that didn't make it into the big table because of their meagre rate of return.
Name Sign-up Bonus Interest Rate Rewards (rewards / money spent) Percentage Equivalent Min. Personal Income Min. Credit Limit Insurance Warranty Other Info
Capital One Miles Platinum Mastercard None Prime + 17.55% Cash to be used on flights 0.4-1 $30,000 (must have at least 3 years good credit history) $5000 Accidental Death & Dismemberment, Rental Car Collision Damage Waiver Doubled for up to one year, also theft & damage protection Not available in Quebec or the Territories
CIBC Dividend VISA Card None 19.5% Cash (depends) 0.25 up to $1500
0.5 up to $3000
1 over $3000
$15000 $500 $100,000 Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance Doubled for up to one year on most purchases 20% Discounts @ Avis
CUETS No-fee Choice Rewards Mastercard None 18.90% Choice Reward points (1/$2) 0.1 - 0.5 N/A $1000 $100,000 Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance None None
Desjardins Elegance Gold VISA None 18.9% Bonusdollars ($0.005 /1$) 0.5 $35000 $3000 $125,000 Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance
Vehicle Rental Collision/Damage Coverage for up to 48 days
Travel Insurance for up to 3 days
Doubled for up to one year, and 90 days on purchases without warranty None
Royal Bank Rewards Visa Classic None 18.5% RBC Rewards (1 /2$) 0.4 - 0.5 N/A $1000 None Doubled for up to one year, and 90 days on purchases without warranty None
Scotiabank Moneyback Visa None 18.5% Cash (varies) 0.25 up to $1500/yr
0.5 up to $3000/yr
1 above $3000/yr
N/A $1000 None None Discount at Avis
TD Canada Trust Rebate Rewards Visa Card None 19.75% Cash 0.5 up to $3000, 1 on the rest $12000 $500 None None Discount at Budget Rent a car

Graphs - Cash Rebate Cards

Just to help with the decision process, I've decided to make graphs for the cards that offer cash.
Thanks to Carl Bercier for pointing out that the Ultramar rebate tier percentages apply to the entire year's spending rather than just the money you've spent in that tier.

Legend

Dark Green: 1% cards
Brown: 2% cards
Red: TD GM Visa
Dark Blue:
Ultramar Card
Light Blue:
CIBC Dividend Card
Light Green:
Costco Card
Magenta:
Staples

Yearly Returns for those spending less than $10,000 per year

Yearly Returns for those spending more than $10,000 per year


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