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.

Bank Guru is a contributor at banknerd.ca, a Canadian Banking website. To read more of Bank Gurus posts, subscribe to BankNerd.ca’s RSS feed and the Free Newsletter via email.

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Heather
11 years ago

@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.

saveddijon
11 years ago

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.

tetsuo69
11 years ago

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.

Adam
11 years ago

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.

Greg
11 years ago

@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

Future Money-Bags
11 years ago

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).

Future Money-Bags
11 years ago

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.

bob
11 years ago

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.

FT
11 years ago

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

This is why I opened an ING account
11 years ago

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.