We talk a lot about which credit cards are the best for a variety of categories.

Depending on what you’re looking for in a card, whether it’s things like rewards, no fees, or low interest…you want to know which cards perform the best for your wallet.

But something we’ve never done is evaluate each credit card issuer to see how their overall portfolio of cards compare to each other.

That’s why we’ve created our inaugural portfolio rankings. Using our algorithm (which factors in over 126 card features), we’ve compiled an average genius rating of all the cards each issuer currently provides.

How we calculated the best card issuers in Canada

We did have a few ground rules for this project.

We excluded both business and student cards since they’re special interest cards, so not everyone issues them. We only looked at personal cards that anyone can apply for (barring income requirements).

Certain issuers also offer duplicates of their cards. For example, BMO has several different brands of their no fee AIR MILES card. We excluded duplicate cards and just used one of them.

MBNA is also similar, since their offers for Quebec and the rest of Canada are slightly different. In this case, we only used the offer the majority of Canada can get and excluded the Quebec version.

The genius rating for each card is based on the same formula we use for our network pages (Amex, Mastercard, Visa) to ensure all scores are comparable to each other.

One last criteria – to qualify to be ranked, an issuer needed to issue at least 5 cards. Anything less than that isn’t considered a full portfolio of credit cards (sorry Tangerine). Every issuer in our list has a mix of cash back, travel rewards, low interest, premium cards, no annual fee cards…pretty much anything you can think of.

Those are the rules we followed.

So, without further ado, here are our inaugural issuer rankings for 2019.

Related: Best Canadian Credit Cards of 2020

Best credit card portfolio – American Express

Average genius rating – 2.82

Number of cards included in average – 13

It should come as no surprise that American Express takes first place. They have our #1 overall rated card in the , and several other cards also won individual categories in our 2019 credit card rankings.

But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows…like every issuer, there are some cards that rank lower.

And if you’re thinking that Amex shouldn’t be #1 because of acceptance, they’re also the only issuer where every card has no income requirements either. And since both of these things are accounted for in our Genius Ratings – it evens out.

But overall, you’re bound to find an American Express card that suits you.

Top American Express cards

2 – TD Canada Trust

Average genius rating – 2.75

Number of cards included in average – 10

Coming in hot in second place is TD Canada Trust. They offer a variety of different cards to choose from, so take your pick between Aeroplan, cash back, or flexible travel cards – there’s a good option and rewards type to cover what you’re looking for.

And while none of their cards won a category in our 2019 rankings, they ranked very high in several categories (like 2nd place for Aeroplan).

Top TD Canada Trust cards

3 – BMO

Average genius rating – 2.74

Number of cards included in average – 10

Coming in 3rd, only a shade lower than TD, is BMO.

While their cards may not blow anyone away in the rewards department, they do offer great perks and insurance coverage.

And if you’re an AIR MILES collector, they offer the best set of AIR MILES credit cards in Canada, which are great to carry for any Air Mile devotee.

For all the other things cards provide, BMO should be an issuer near the top of your list.

Top BMO cards

4 – MBNA

Average genius rating – 2.65

Number of cards included in average – 13

Perhaps a little surprising to see this early in our list, MBNA offers a wide variety of credit cards to suit anyone’s taste.

With cash back, airline, and flexible rewards options, plus great balance transfer offers on many cards, once you take a look through what they offer, it’s not hard to see why.

Top MBNA cards

5 – Scotiabank

Average genius rating – 2.65

Number of cards included in average – 17

If you’re thinking Scotiabank was going to be higher, you’re not alone. But the sheer number of cards they offer means there’s going to be some cards that won’t have much appeal.

In fact, of all the cards that participated in these rankings, they actually had the card with the lowest score of 0.5.

But they do have many cards with top scores – it’s the only issuer that had 6 cards with a score of 3 or more.

Top Scotiabank cards

6 – CIBC

Average genius rating – 2.41

Number of cards included in average – 14

CIBC is a case where they have many cards that are quite good, but also has a large class of both average and below average cards – which really brings their rankings down.

In particular, their Aventura and Aeroplan offerings are great, but the Aeroplan offers are not quite as great as TD thanks to the inferior welcome bonuses.

Unfortunately outside of those cards, CIBC doesn’t have a lot to offer in its portfolio.

Top CIBC cards

7 – RBC

Average genius rating – 2.21

Number of cards included in average – 16

RBC is in a very similar boat as CIBC – their avion cards score well (although not as good as the Aventura lineup) but everything else leaves something to be desired.

There are also several cards like the Cathay Pacific and British Airways Visas that have limited value to most people, especially since you can transfer Avion points to both these airlines from other more flexible reward programs.

Top RBC cards

8 – National Bank

Average genius rating – 2.13

Number of cards included in average – 10

National Bank’s biggest shortcoming is in the amount of rewards offered. And since rewards account for the biggest percentage when it comes to giving out Genius Ratings, it hit them pretty hard. Almost all of their cards don’t include welcome bonuses as well.

But there’s great value to be had in their cards, especially when it comes to insurance. And the offers a unique perk in its annual traveller reimbursements fees.

To really appreciate National Bank, you need to value more than just rewards.

Top National Bank cards

9 – Desjardins

Average genius rating – 1.99

Number of cards included in average – 9

Desjardins is similar to National Bank, since their cards are light on rewards and sign up bonuses, but better in other areas like insurance. That being said, they’re the only issuer on our list that didn’t have a card with a score of at least 3.

This is the biggest reason why they’re at the bottom.

Top Desjardins cards

Your thoughts

So there you have it, our very first ranking of credit card issuers in Canada.

What are your thoughts?

Agree or disagree with anything?

Let us know in the comments below.