CIBC – Company Review
CIBC is nothing short of a credit card giant. They currently own $12,673,000,000 in credit card holdings worldwide, with a good chunk of that number coming from Canadian accounts. We’ll be covering their full credit card lineup to discover the reasons why they’ve been able to secure such a wide and loyal customer base.
You May Be Interested In CIBC Credit Cards If
You make a lot of money (or are willing to pay a high annual fee) and want to earn points toward travelling expenses and enjoy perks that will let you travel in comfort. They have many cards that fall outside this profile, but these are the types of customers they seem to covet the most.
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CIBC’s Credit Card Lineup
Some credit card providers come up with a wide range of different cards in order to target as many different audiences as possible, and some are clearly more focused on a certain type of card; CIBC is definitely in the latter category. Their specialty is high-level travel cards that provide all manner of luxury amenities and generous reward rates, with more pedestrian travel cards as a secondary focus. However, they do have at least a smattering of options for every category you could think of, so you can potentially get a card from them regardless of what type you’re after.
Travel Credit Cards
As we’ve already touched on, CIBC’s travel cards are both the best and the most abundant of their assortment. They are subdivided into two different categories depending on the points system they use; Aventura cards are linked to CIBC’s own internal travel rewards system, while Aerogold cards use the independent Aeroplan system.
On the lower end of the spectrum, you’ll find the Aero Platinum Visa Card, which rewards you with 1 Aeroplan mile for every $1.50 you spend. This card also has a nearly identical twin (only missing the chance to add extra emergency medical coverage for a fee) intended specifically for students that has a stated $0 income requirement, though it retains the $39 annual fee. For this reason, students who want a travel card might prefer the student-specific clone of the Aventura Visa, which is a free option with similar reward rates (1 point per 2 dollars spent normally, 1 point per dollar on gas, groceries and drug store purchases) and a more flexible reward system that doesn’t effectively force you to spend your points on flights. The U.S. Dollar Aventura Gold Visa Card is also part of this tier, a card that sacrifices some reward yield (you’ll get just 1 point per 2 dollars spent normally) in exchange for eliminating currency conversion fees when you shop in USD. It also has much worse insurance than most of these cards, but at a $35 USD annual fee, that’s understandable.
The first of the higher-tier cards is the CIBC Aventura Gold Visa Card. This is a card with a $120 annual fee that does a pretty good job of mixing strong reward value and good benefits. You’ll get 1.5 miles per dollar on all purchases you make at gas stations, grocery stores and drug stores, as well as 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. It rounds that out with mobile device insurance, 15 days of emergency travel medical insurance, and six other types of travel insurance as well. What really sets it apart, though, is its much lower income requirements – you can get it with as little as $15,000 in annual income when all other cards in this tier ask for four times that amount.
The next in line are the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card and the CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite Card, both priced at $120 per year and requiring at least $60,000 of income to get. These cards use the same reward rates as the Aventura Gold card described above, but pack more value into their benefits package to make up for that. Both offer comparable sets of comprehensive travel insurance, but the Aventura version adds on mobile device insurance and hotel burglary insurance as well. This is presumably to help make up for the slight advantage the Aeroplan card has in points value.
The very best of the bunch, though, is the CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite Privilege Card that is only available to clients with an income of over $200,000 a year. Its rewards rates themselves are nothing all that special – just 1.5 miles per dollar on drug store, gas and grocery purchases again and 1.25 miles per dollar on other purchases – but it’s the perks and benefits that really make this card worth the $399 annual fee. It gets you 31 days of emergency travel medical coverage, 10 varied airport lounge passes per year, free priority boarding and one free checked bag with Air Canada, the ability to cancel or book flights as little as 2 hours before departure, discounts on extra tickets for a flight companion, and much more. It’s meant to make elite travel as easy and comfortable as possible, and it definitely succeeds.
Cash Back Credit Cards
The two higher-level options here are the CIBC Dividend Platinum Visa Card and the CIBC Dividend Platinum Visa Infinite Card. They are the same in terms of rewards; both are offering 4% cash back on gas and groceries and 2% cash back on Tim Hortons and Telus purchases, as well as 1% cash back on all other purchases. They also both cost $99 a year and come with one free year of Amazon Prime membership. Their benefits are where they differ. While they both come with common carrier accident insurance and rental car insurance, the Infinite version also throws in some out-of-province emergency travel medical insurance, baggage insurance and trip interruption insurance, as well as all the usual Visa Infinite benefits. You need a higher income to qualify for that iteration, though.
For the lower rungs of this category, CIBC has once again created one basic card (the CIBC Dividend Visa Card) and essentially cloned it to make a student version (the CIBC Dividend Visa Card for Students). These cards get you 2% cash back on groceries and 0.5% cash back on everything else until you’ve spent at least $6,000 in that category for the year – then it rises to 1%. Neither card comes with anything notable for insurance, but they’ll net you more in rewards than many of their competitor cards would.
Business Credit Cards
Though we’ve separated them from the main section due to the differences in their intended audience, CIBC’s main two offerings in the business category are both travel cards: the CIBC Visa Aventura Card for Business and the CIBC Aerogold Visa Card for Business. These are extremely similar cards in all aspects. Their reward rates are largely identical: you can get 1.5 points per mile on each dollar spent on travel expenses (including flights, hotels, gas and more) and 1 point per dollar on whatever else you buy with either. You can get 2 points per dollar on the Aventura program by booking travel through CIBC’s Rewards Centre, or you can double your miles with the same Aeroplan partner offer described above. While Aeroplan points usually have a slightly higher value, the difference is slight. The Aerogold card comes with lower interest rates by default (12.99% annually on purchases and as little as 14.99% on cash advances), but the Aventura card needs to be upgraded with an addition of $60 to the annual fee in order to match those same rates. However, since the Aventura card is priced $60 lower to begin with, this is really just a matter of CIBC offering flexibility for customers who don’t carry a balance often and don’t need the lower rates.
Possibly their best option in this category, however, is the CIBC bizline Visa Card for Business, which gives commercial customers access to an interest rate equal to CIBC Prime + 1.5%. As of writing this, that comes out to just under 5.5% in interest, which is a fantastic rate. That rate also applies to cash advance balances as well, making this card doubly good for businesses that often need physical bills and coins to keep running. The only drawback to it is that it only comes with the most basic common carrier accident insurance, but given how much they stand to save in interest fees, it’s unlikely that most clients will mind. It’s not as flashy an option as the other two, but it has great utility for small businesses who need the help the most.
Other Credit Cards
In addition to all of these options in the standard categories, CIBC also has a few outlier cards in their selection. The CIBC Tim Hortons Double Double Visa Card is probably their most popular side option like this, even though it’s fairly new. It’s very similar to a typical rewards card, but instead of giving you generic reward points, it awards you 1% of your purchase back in Tim Cash instead. The card also gets you coupons you can redeem for a new free menu item every weekend, making a great choice for people who usually feel they don’t get enough consistent value out of their credit cards.
The CIBC Select Visa Card is their sole low-interest option for individual consumers, and while it’s nice that they made something available at least, this card’s flat 13.99% interest rate is not as impressive as it could be. Consumers who really need to be paying as little as possible in interest fees can get a slightly better deal elsewhere, and there’s nothing included with the card that would usually factor into changing that decision. It also costs $29 a year to have, which isn’t optimal either.
They also offer the CIBC Platinum Visa Card as a way to allow cardholders to access car rental loss and damage insurance without paying an annual fee; the card also has some extra utility through its balance transfer offer that allows you to pay 0% interest on any existing transferred debts for up to 10 months. Finally, they do still offer the CIBC Classic Visa Card, an extremely stripped-down basic card with no extra features at all and a standard 19.99% purchase interest rate. It’s difficult to imagine their target market for this card when you can get everything it offers and much more from literally any other provider (or any other card in their own range for that matter), but CIBC has kept it around as an option regardless.
CIBC’s range of cards may be vast, but their strengths are still clear. They have a clear preference for providing travel cards, but they’ve made a valiant effort to have something good available in all card categories. They also do a decent job of catering to customers of all levels while still giving their best customers the premium treatment they expect; their low-level cards are good, but their upper-range ones are some of the best around. The only weakness in this lineup is the lack of any middle-of-the-road options that could cater to customers who need more than the basic cards can offer but don’t want to upgrade all the way to the top. Still, since almost all of the top cards have a version available with lower income requirements, this problem isn’t as pronounced as it could be.
What We Think
CIBC’s credit card line may lean somewhat in favour of high-level clientele, but they have something for everyone if you look hard enough. They tend to sacrifice benefits over rewards when crafting a lower-ranked version of a card, too, so the disparity between cash back or points yields between the two tiers isn’t as wide as you might expect. Pay special attention to them if elite travel cards are what you want, but even if you’re just looking for whatever good deal you can find, you won’t be disappointed by most of these cards.