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Top Platinum Credit Cards in Canada

This is a guest post by Bank Guru.

For those people who have had a credit card for more than a few years, it could be time to start thinking about whether the card you currently own offers all of the benefits you want. For more established consumers, an option that is available is a Platinum card. Platinum cards generally offer more benefits over standard “classic” or “Gold” cards, but have correspondingly different restrictions.

These cards also come in either Visa or Mastercard varieties. However, when choosing between Visa and Mastercard, the main difference is often not in whether the card is a Visa or Mastercard. Visa and Mastercard are simply methods of payment. Instead, the difference arises as to which bank or service provider is issuing the card. These groups set the interest rates, penalties and any free offers and benefits the card may offer.

In Canada, since most Visa cards are issued by Canadian banks, and most Mastercards are issued by American banks or other providers (like President’s Choice), there can be major differences due to these differences in the issuers. To keep the comparisons as simple as possible (there is a wealth of choice out there!), we’ll focus on the most popular Visa Platinum cards today, and the Mastercard Platinums in another post. Hopefully this information can help you make an informed decision.

Visa Platinum

First the good news: at its most basic, Visa Platinum cards, like Visa Gold cards, are largely the same as the Visa Classic card you might already use. All three types will work in the places Visa is accepted, and they all offer zero liability if your card is used for any unauthorized transactions, both online and in stores.

However, the key difference between the Visa Platinum and other cards is that you usually have to accept a minimum amount of credit (which means that this limits the card to people with higher incomes). Visa Platinum also offers you emergency cash and a replacement card if you lose your card. Finally, Platinum cards are more exclusive: there are fewer types of cards available, and not every bank issues them. The following is a list of the major Visa Platinum cards, and how they compare to one another.

If you’re interested in high end cards, here is a review of the Visa Infinite Credit Cards.

TD Platinum Travel Visa

Unlike some of the other options, TD’s only Platinum Visa card is a travel reward card. This card costs $99 a year, and has an interest rate of 19.75%. And there are tougher restrictions: you need to be making at least $35,000 a year to apply for this card, and like any credit application, you’ll need to prove you have great credit to get it.

The travel points work very similarly to other points systems. You get 3 TD travel points for every dollar you spend on the card. Well, how much is that? TD’s current website indicates that you need about 200 TD travel points for any dollar you want to spend on traveling. This means it will take you a long time to wrack up any points, but TD makes up for this by having no restrictions on when and where you can fly.

RBC Platinum VISA

RBC has two Platinum VISAs. The RBC Platinum is the most accessible Visa Platinum card issued by a Canadian bank: you only need to make $15,000 a year to be eligible for the card. The minimum credit limit is also low, at $1,000. RBC’s Platinum Visa also offers the security of chip and PIN technology; however, this is likely coming to all of the VISA cards soon enough. The interest rate for the card is also a fraction lower than TD’s, at 19.5%.

RBC also offers a travel version of the Visa Platinum: RBC Platinum Avion. It’s a tiny bit pricier than the TD Platinum, at $120. You also rack up points more slowly than the TD card: you only get one RBC award point for every dollar. The RBC card is also more restrictive than the TD Card. You can only use it for certain types of flights, and you always have to fly economy. Since there is no precise one-to-one trade from points to dollars, it is hard to gauge how much each point is “worth.” However, if you choose the right flight, it can work out to be about 40-50 points for any flight dollar you want to spend. Taking into account the different rates that you accumulate points, you’ll rack up points about twice as fast as the TD Platinum Visa.

CIBC Platinum Visa

CIBC doesn’t have a travel version for its Platinum cards. You have to get a Gold card for that. The standard CIBC Platinum Visa is essentially identical to the TD Platinum card: no fee, household income of $35,000, minimum credit line of $5,000. The interest rate is marginally lower than TD’s at 19.5%.

The difference for CIBC is they offer a Platinum Dividend card. On top of the benefits of the standard card, these cards offer 2% cash back for every purchase you make. These cards are a bit tricky, though. You have to charge at least $4,000 a year to the card to just cover the $79 cost of the card, and the fact that they pay you the total amount of cash you get back in December – in the middle of the shopping season – means that you could possibly just spend the reward on holiday goodies, and not even notice it.

Editors Note:  Here is a list of top cash back credit cards, and top rewards credit cards.  Both posts are of top rated credit cards with no annual fees.

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{ 26 comments… add one }
  • bob April 27, 2010, 10:25 am

    This list has a few inaccuracies.

    For example, the CIBC Dividend Platinum card does not provide 2% back on all purchases. It provides up to 2% back. Like many other dividend cards, it has tiered reward system (0.5% for first $3000, 1% for next $12000, 1.5% for next $20,000 and 2% on next $15,000).

    In this sense, the CapitalOne Platinum Rewards card should definitely be included on this list. It is also tiered, but has no maximum reward limit (1% on first 10,000, 1.5% on next $10,000, 2% for anything over $20,000). You can also redeem anytime, unlike the CIBC card which only pays out once per year. Although it does cost $20 per year more for the card ($99 vs $79). BUT, one huge advantage to the CapitalOne card is that second cards are free and you can have multiple people earning rewards on the same card.

  • tom April 27, 2010, 12:29 pm

    The TD card has some neat features. First, if you book your trip on your card you get 9X bonus points. Second, free medical coverage for your trip purchased with the card (up to 7 days). They also have their own travel booking site with reasonable prices (seem to be the same as Belair Direct).

  • r. April 27, 2010, 12:39 pm

    This article starts off by saying that platinum cards might offer benefits that other (gold, classic) cards don’t, but then doesn’t do anything to differentiate them from these other cards. Instead, the whole article discusses how the platinum cards compare within themselves, which was not the thesis as introduced.

    How do they compare to a gold travel reward card, or a different dividend card? Isn’t that what the article should be about, rather than seeming like ad copy written by the banks?

    Say I have a RBC Gold Visa. Can you explain why I might be interested in an RBC Platinum Visa? The article just says what the restrictions are, and that it is a chip card (as are RBC Gold and I would guess also Classic). From your description the RBC Gold and Platinum are functionally identical, which doesn’t really sell the card nor justify your opening claims.

    Please address the statement(s) made in the opening paragraph in the rest of the article. Thanks for considering!

  • DividendMan April 27, 2010, 1:01 pm

    Does anyone know how I can use my excellent canadian credit to get a good credit card in the states where i have non-existant credit?

  • Heather April 27, 2010, 1:06 pm

    MDJ –

    I’m writing because I very much like your blog and would like to continue to enjoy reading it. I generally enjoy your guest bloggers (although I prefer your posts, but that’s why I subscribe to your page). However, this post doesn’t offer some of the best of what you and all of your guest bloggers offer. I think that a good blog post offers (1) a unique perspective, (2) a critical edge, and (3) a personal recommendation or preference. This post doesn’t seem to offer any of these things – it seems like it might have been the research of a bank employee – the voice doesn’t tell me anything about the person behind these word. There is no critical edge – which is better or worse? – the blogger seems to have no opinion. There is no personal recommendation – it seems like this blogger isn’t adverse to paying for credit card use (which both you and I are), but I would like to know _why_.

    I hope that you can use these comments when choosing guest bloggers going forward. Thanks again for writing such a great blog – I really enjoy it.

  • David April 27, 2010, 2:27 pm

    One thing you are leaving out about the RBC platinum cards is the ability to use the points accumulated on your card to pay off credit card, line of credit and mortgage debt. If the card is used enough in one year, this reward can be worth more then the annual fee so the card can be had for nothing if its used correctly.

  • Astin April 27, 2010, 3:07 pm

    The Avion doesn’t restrict your type of flights. It puts a cap on the cost of a ticket based on where you’re flying. ie.- Within the same province or an adjacent province/state, it’s (I believe) 15,000 points up to a value of $350 (approx 42:1 point:dollar ratio). But that can be on ANY flight and airline you want. If you want to fly in business/first class, then you can either pay the value above that max amount, or use your points at a rate of 100:1 to purchase the upgrade. Which is still cheaper than TD’s 200:1 ratio for the WHOLE flight.

  • Chuck April 27, 2010, 3:25 pm

    @Dividend Man
    Are you able to get a USD denominated credit card from your Canadian bank?

    Another option, I’m not too sure if its still around… RBC through RBC Centura used to offer banking services aimed at Canadians living in the US, so they could base lending on your Canadian credit history.

    When I worked in the US I got an account and credit card quite easily from one of the regional banks. All I had to do was get my payroll direct deposited at that bank.

  • Jonathan April 27, 2010, 4:23 pm

    I am about to spend over 150k on building materials over the next 4 months.

    I will NOT be using box stories, as I don’t have access to them, however, I do have an ok discount through a local builder supply store.

    I want to maximize the benefit potential that paying everything through a credit card might offer. All the purchases I’m making I can pay with a credit card.

    Any ideas of what card would be the best? I currently have a CIBC visa infinite card, but would prefer a new/different card so that I can track the construction cost easily. I don’t want to mix the ‘project’ into my personal expenses. I currently have over 20 k of credit available on my card, and I’m sure I could get more if I asked.

    As well, if anyone has any ideas around ligament payment delay tips, that would be handy as well, as I’m financing this through an LOC and so the longer I can put off pulling out $ the better. The project construction period is about 5 months.

    Thanks.

    • FT FrugalTrader April 27, 2010, 4:35 pm

      Jonathan, as you are looking at spending “big bucks”, I would entertain a fee based card. I personally like cash back and travel rewards, what comes to mind immediately is the capital one 2% cash back which gives a full 2% cash back after $20k spending with no limit on spending.

      Spending $150k would net you:
      $10,000 @ 1% = $100
      up to $20k @ 1.5% = $150
      up to $150k @ 2% = $2,600
      minus annual fee $99
      Total: $2,751 cash back rewards for 5 months spending.

      If you go with a no annual fee 1% card, then you’d get $1,500 cash back.

      Hope this helps!

  • Elbyron April 27, 2010, 5:07 pm

    I agree with Heather – this guest post is seriously lacking. When I got to the part that Mastercards will be discussed in a seperate post, I thought that was pretty dumb. The difference between any two Visa cards is the same as the difference between a Visa and a Mastercard. They should all be considered together! Secondly, this is far from a complete list of Visa cards. If only the “best” cards are to be shown, then the author should explain why these are the best ones and maybe show some evidence to back it up! And finally, if the goal is to help people make an informed decision about choosing a card, it’s important that details such as the benefits and limitations that each card offers are included.

    Also, if the TD travel card requires 200 points per dollar of redemption and earns 3 points per dollar spent, then the benefit should be expressed as 1.5% (which makes it inferior the $99 Cap1 Miles Plus Platinum which gives you 2.0%, provided you redeem exactly $150, $350, or over $600). This is precisely why the Visa cards need to be compared alongside Mastercards!

  • Bank Guru April 27, 2010, 5:16 pm

    @ Heather
    I’d agree with you that MDJ is a terrific blog. In regards to the guest post, I felt it would be better to give a general overview of the Platinum Credit Cards that are around. Provide the facts and allow the readers to make a judgment call on what works for them. It is difficult at times writing a guest post because each audience is different. I now know MDJ’s audience wants a more critical, opinionated and specific post. Rather then a general overview of some of the big cards. I’ll definitely make note of it next time. I personally pay for my credit card (not a big fan of the free ones).

    @David
    You are right. Your points can also pay off credit card, line of credit and mortgage debt. Which gives it an added benefit.

    @r
    I tried presenting a general overview of platinum credits cards. I could have and now looking back on it. I should have just picked one or two cards and compared them both. At the time of writing this, I felt a more general overview would of been appropriate (considering this is my first time writing for this site), i didn’t want to be openly critical and upset anyone. If i was to write a guest post again, I should make it more specific and provide my personal opinion.

  • Bank Guru April 27, 2010, 5:26 pm

    @Elbyron
    This is definitely an incomplete list. A more specific would of been appropriate for MDJ. Obviously, a general overview didn’t wet your appetite and you are still hungry for more and rightly so.

    To compare all the VISA credit cards out in Canada would be a massive list. I tried keeping the article between 800 and 100 words. All the Visa Credit Cards wouldn’t have fit in that word count.

    I would have been better off having RBC Avion Platnium vs TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card. Having them battle it out in a ring and comparing both features/offerings. Explain the disadvantages between them and the give my personal opinion on both cards. Ultimately naming a ‘victor’.

  • cannon_fodder April 27, 2010, 5:37 pm

    Jonathan,

    I was thinking the same thing as FT until he crunched the numbers. If you want to travel (and travel in first class) then I would suggest something like the CIBC Infinite Aeroplan or perhaps the Amex Aeroplan. 150,000 points is enough for up to:

    – 6 economy flights within Canada and the US ( not including Hawaii)
    – 2 trips in economy to Asia or Australia
    – 2 trips in first class to South America

    http://www2.aeroplan.com/use_your_miles/travel/flights/air_reward_chart.do

    you still have to pay the surcharges and taxes. The best usage by far are long haul flights in first class/business class. I’ve flown direct to Sao Paulo, Brazil and it is around$7-8k return. You could easily save yourself $13-14k by using points and cash. Flying to Australia in first cost me over $14k so you can imagine again how big the cost savings are (but you would only have enough points for 1 ticket).

    I do know of people who have mapped out and booked a round the world flight in first or business class for 180k points. I think the taxes and surcharges were less than $1k.

    So, if travelling is your thing I’d suggest looking at these ones as well.

  • Jonathan April 27, 2010, 5:50 pm

    Thanks so much…this is great information and I really appreciate your time to respond. Hopefully the comment will be useful for others. I also appreciate the use of examples, as I ‘get it’ when I see the #s!

    Just got word that Capital One has licenses to provide cards only in some provinces. Quebec and the all the territories are a no go. :(

  • Steve April 27, 2010, 6:58 pm

    I also found this guest post to be rather lacking. I am usually very disinterested in any fee based credit card and this post did nothing to change my opinion that fee based credit cards are for people who needs large amounts of credit to support their consumer debt habits and are too stupid to understand they are getting ripped off.

    Not to say that fee cards don’t have useful scenarios, I just felt this post did nothing to bring those to light versus a good no-fee card.

  • This is why I opened an ING account April 27, 2010, 7:14 pm

    wow I can’t believe no one mentioned the MBNA smart cash, it’s got :

    * 3% Cashback on the first $600 of Gas and Groceries transactions within each calendar month (Promo – 5% for the first 6 months).
    * 1% Cashback on all other purchase transactions as well as Gas/Grocery purchases that have accumulated past the $600 within the calendar month.
    * No Annual Fee.
    * Automatically receive Cashback Cheque when you have accumulated $50 in cashback.
    * Smart Cash is a platinum plus card which comes with all the platinum benefits
    * This card also includes PAYPASS.

  • FT FrugalTrader April 27, 2010, 7:17 pm

    In Bank Guru’s defense, all guest posts are screened by me before publishing. Perhaps I should have given BG more feedback before publishing.

  • bob April 27, 2010, 7:23 pm

    Steve,

    The CapitalOne Platinum Cash-Back card with its $99 activation fee is still worth it for me.

    We put everything on our credit card, and pay off the balance every month.

    This lets us:
    1) account for our spending more easily, because it is almost all in one place
    2) avoid any debit charges
    3) avoid “cash spending” which tends to be difficult to account for
    4) take advantage of the extended warranties offered by the card
    5) get a whole whack of cash back at the end of the year (or whenever we want it)

    This year, we received back over $1000, after deducting the $99 fee. That’s not bad for buying the same stuff we would be buying anyway.

    Somewhere on the net (I can’t find it right now), someone has put together a big spreadsheet with all of the cards so that you can enter your typical spending on gas, groceries, everything else, and it will tell you which card is best.

    In our case, the fee-based card was cheaper overall.

  • Future Money-Bags April 28, 2010, 2:10 am

    Dividendman,
    If you are looking for a USD CC, I did not think they were hard to obtain.
    I have a USD mastercard through BMO.
    Whenever I book trips to the states, buying products from US websites, buying gas, buying at duty free, I use my USD Mastercard.

    If you are looking for a high credit limit, I imagine that would be easy, as long as you have a good FICO score. I was given $2k to start, and it has been enough since than. The credit limit they give is based off of your credit that you have in Canada.

    And its no fees of course, I would never pay fees.

  • Future Money-Bags April 28, 2010, 2:15 am

    Also another option which I use:

    I have the majority of my banking done within 1 banking institution.
    I have a USD checking account setup which has no minimum balance to avoid bank fees. When I come across USD bills, I deposite them into that account, or if I have USD cash leftover from a trip.

    I can than keep money in that account, to use to pay off my USD mastercard. By not using CDN funds, you don’t have to pay a levy to convert the money before paying off the balance owing.

    Another benefit, you can convert USD funds, inside the USD checking account, to CDN, and get a better exchange rate.
    Anyways, enough on that.

    This article does lack info on why a platinum card would be better than a classic or Gold card, I only read it because I am interested in benefiting the most from banking (because I hate banks so I try to get the most out of them for free).

  • Greg April 28, 2010, 5:23 am

    @bob,

    Is http://www.creditcardtuneup.com/ the site you used to figure out the best cash back credit card? I also found http://www3.telus.net/CalgaryBen/ but it hasn’t been updated in a couple of years.

    – Greg

  • Adam April 28, 2010, 8:52 pm

    omg… The writer of this article has no understanding of the RBC Avion program… Why would you allow this person to write without doing all the research first?

    None the less… Couple things I noticed.

    1) RBC Avion allows you to fly on ANY flight with no blackout periods.
    2) There is a cash equivalent for the points if he\she did their research first. You can also apply those cash rewards to a series of things like your RRSP\TFSA\Mortgage\Credit Line\Visa.

    The points are $1:1 for the fee based version ($120) and $2:1 for the non fee based card.

  • tetsuo69 April 29, 2010, 2:30 am

    Any credit card comparison that doesn’t translate benefits back to a % of money spent is USELESS. So the TD earns points faster. That is useless information without the full picture of how much the point is worth.

  • saveddijon April 30, 2010, 10:02 am

    http://www.creditcardtuneup.com is less than useful. I punched in my parameters: $500 on groceries/gas per month, $1500 total. The #1 card gives travel rewards and would return $500/year net. The #2 card would return only $180/year net. Scotiabank Momentum wasn’t even on the radar.

    However, given these figures, Scotia Momentum ought to return $200/year net. Cash. No strings attached. So what is this site really selling? Funny how MBNA and CapitalOne cards came up, though.

  • Heather May 6, 2010, 1:27 pm

    @Bank Guru – I’m impressed with the way you responded to some rather critical feedback. Thanks. I’ll be looking forward to your future posts.

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