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What’s Missing From Credit Card Comparison Sites

Credit card comparison sites can be useful for finding and sorting through dozens of credit cards to determine which ones might be right for you. Sites like RateSupermarket, RateHub, and GreedyRates rank cards using factors such as whether you want to pay an annual fee or not, if you prefer cash back or travel rewards, whether you pay your balance in full or not, and whether your card is for business or personal use (to name a few).

GreedyRates digs a bit deeper and asks you to estimate your monthly credit card spending in key categories such as groceries, gas, dining, and travel. It also asks how long you plan to keep the card, an interesting variable since many rewards cards pay juicy sign-up bonuses in year one but then fail to deliver meaningful rewards in subsequent years.

Unfortunately, these sites’ rankings can be biased – often displaying cards which pay them the highest referral fee ahead of other cards which may be a better fit for you.

Our own partners at creditcardGenius use a comprehensive and unbiased algorithm to rank a growing database of 159 Canadian credit cards, tracking 50+ features for each. They list cards from every major financial institution, even if they don’t pay a referral fee, so you know you’re getting an objective look at all your options.

What's Missing From Credit Card Comparison Sites

What Credit Card Comparison Sites Are Missing

By using a credit card comparison site you’ll get a decent look at the best cards on the market as well as any current sign-up bonuses available. You might even get a slightly tailored recommendation based on your rewards preferences and spending inputs.

However, what these comparison sites lack is a truly personalized credit card recommendation. That’s because they’re all missing these factors:

1.) The Costco Effect

Ok, so you spend $800 per month on groceries for your family of four. But if most of that spending occurs at Costco or No Frills, for example, then any Visa or American Express recommendations are completely useless to you as an everyday rewards card.

That’s right, the Costco effect is real. So if you’re like me and do the bulk of your household grocery shopping at the warehouse giant, then you’ll have to ignore good cash back credit cards like the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite card, or the SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express. They’re no good to you at Costco, which only takes MasterCard.

2.) No foreign exchange fees

Most credit card issuers charge an insidious 2.5% conversion fee on your foreign purchases. If you’re the type of person that travels regularly across the border or abroad, or shops online in foreign currency, you’re going to want a card that avoids those fees.

Unfortunately, not many exist after Chase Canada left the market. But there are still a few good no foreign transaction credit cards, such as the Home Trust Preferred Visa and Rogers Fido MasterCard.

Credit card comparison sites won’t factor in your foreign currency spending and therefore won’t show you when a card like the Rogers Fido MasterCard, which charges the typical foreign transaction fee but also pays 4% cash back on purchases made in foreign currency, actually outperforms a top cash back or travel rewards card.

3.) Additional perks that add value

How do you measure the other value-added perks that credit cards offer, such as a robust and comprehensive insurance package, or strong purchase protection and extended warranty coverage?

And what about other perks that can be measured, such as VIP airport lounge access and a free Priority Pass membership, offered by BMO World Elite MasterCard? Or the annual round-trip companion flight for $99, offered by the WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard?

WestJet, along with some Aeroplan cards, offer a complimentary checked bag on flights booked with your card. Other credit cards offer priority check-in and boarding.

The WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard and BMO World Elite MasterCard typically rank poorly when compared with other, more straight-forward, travel rewards cards. But for some, that companion voucher, or VIP airport lounge access, might be worthwhile.

Final thoughts

I love to use credit card comparison sites to find and sort through the plethora of rewards cards in Canada. The key is that I use these sites as preliminary research and then, when I zero-in on a couple of cards that I like, I do my own research to see how they’d fit with my lifestyle and spending patterns.

The rewards credit card landscape is constantly changing and so it’s important to shop around and do your research to see whether your current credit card is still meeting your needs, or if something else in the market has emerged and is worth exploring. Take recommendations from credit card comparison sites with a grain of salt and make sure they match up with how you like to spend and earn rewards.

6 Comments

  1. Denise Johnson on February 19, 2018 at 3:41 pm

    Many travel rewards cards that offer travel insurance are very limited if you are over 65 years of age. Do you know which one is the best coverage for a senior and how long the insurance is good for?



    • Robb Engen on February 20, 2018 at 11:29 am

      Hi Denise, there are two cards issued by CUETS (for credit union members) that are worth looking at:

      1. Choice Rewards World Elite MasterCard
      2. Gold Choice Rewards MasterCard

      They both have inclusive travel medical insurance that applies to cardholders and their spouses under the age of 75 and eligible dependent children, up to a maximum of $2,000,000 per insured person, including:

      Emergency medical transportation, emergency medical and dental care, and hospital services.

      Prescriptions and treatments
      Friend/family hospital visits
      Legal assistance
      24-hour travel assistance services



    • Patrick S. on March 21, 2018 at 12:00 pm

      Hi Denise

      May I suggest looking at this post which looks at all the major cards in Canada what their medical coverage is for all age groups including those over 65
      http://www.rewardscanada.ca/medicalinsurance.html



  2. Noella on February 20, 2018 at 4:05 am

    Comment re: Costco effect. I’ve been working around that issue but buying Costco cash card online with my Aeroplan Visa card from Td…. Only 1% back but planning a trip to Japan next year so every little bit helps.



    • Robb Engen on February 20, 2018 at 11:30 am

      Hi Noella, that’s a great workaround to buy the Costco cash cards online. You’re right, every bit counts!



  3. Steve Graham on February 20, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    One area that is not commented upon during reviews is the quality of service if there is an issue.

    Returned from Ireland 4 months ago and used TD First Class Visa Infinite for both the trip and a car rental. A large truck passed us and threw a stone which chipped and cracked the windshield. Usually, CDW covers issues like this.

    However, online travel sites highlight challenges in both Italy and Ireland with car rental agencies recognizing CDW coverage on the cards. Knowing this, I contacted TD Credit Cards who, through Global Allianz, their insurance provider (also BMO cards), provided a coverage “letter”.

    Enterprise/Alamo in Ireland let me decline CDW at the time of rental, but emphasized that collision claims were at the renter’s risk. They do not wish to be subjected to credit card issuer insurance policies or bureaucracy.

    Upon returning with the car the rental agency charged me 200 Euros as a flat fee for windshield replacement. I called Global Allianz and was given a claim/case#. Upon returning to Canada I submitted my claim and the documentation from the rental agency.

    Four months later it was finally resolved. The delay? Because Global Allianz kept demanding from me detailed receipts from the car rental agency for the repair, claims for loss of use, and other information I had not received nor had any commercial right to receive. I had to contact Enterprise/Alamo in Ireland and they politely told me these would not be forthcoming as they charge a flat fee – their car, their process, my liability. Global Allianz kept me in between what they were demanding and what the rental agency were willing to provide – card holder out of pocket, card CDW a marketing illusion. No amount of complaining on my part would change their process.

    Finally, after contacting TD Credit Cards, I was advised to dispute the 200 Euro charge to leverage the rental agency to provide the paperwork provision. This included me alleging payment was made under duress. So, asking me to make a false allegation to which I refused. I finally escalated the issue high enough in TD to finally have Global Allianz to reimburse the claim.

    Therefore, reviews of cards should include experiences actual users have with the credit card companies. There is more to card value and utility than points!



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