Last week, we announced the winners of the inaugural 2020 Prince of Travel Awards, which were determined after three weeks of voting. As a community, you had cast your votes to recognize the strongest performers in the Canadian loyalty landscape throughout 2020 across 16 different award categories.
As the year draws to a close, let’s wrap things up with a round of Anti-Awards, in which we’ll ask the opposite question: what were some of the most disappointing phenomena in 2020 for Canadian credit card holders and loyalty program members, and which players in the industry have the greatest room to improve in 2021?
After all, as one of the leading voices for Canadians who are interested in leveraging Miles & Points to travel the world, it’s important that we not only recognize excellence in our space, but also highlight noteworthy weaknesses and opportunities for improvement.
As a community, then, you are invited to make your voice heard across eight Anti-Awards categories, with the end goal of spurring on better performance from the airlines, loyalty programs, credit card issuers, and other companies looking to win our business – and building a richer landscape for all of us in Canada.
(January 2021 update: the results are now in, and the “winners” of the Anti-Awards have been named and shamed in the lists below. Do better next year!
Most Guilty Airline for Withholding Refunds on Cancelled Flights: It’s been one of the stories of the year: Canada’s airlines collectively failing to provide refunds on cancelled flights.
Which airline has been the most guilty of withholding refunds that are due to customers and flouting their obligations under the law?
- Air Canada – Winner
- Air Transat
- Flair Airlines
- Sunwing Airlines
Biggest Loyalty Program Devaluation: There’s no two ways about it: we’ve seen our fair share of devaluations to award charts and redemption opportunities in Canada this year, even if some of the programs would prefer to dress up these devaluations as “relaunches”. Which devaluation has been the most egregious?
- Old to New Aeroplan (November 2020)
- Cathay Pacific eliminating stopovers on one-way awards (April 2020)
- Marriott Bonvoy’s category changes (March 2020)
- Old to New WestJet Member Exclusive fares (November 2020) – Winner
Most Disappointing Credit Card Signup Bonus: Unfortunately, quite a few newly released credit card signup bonuses in 2020 were disappointing relative to historical levels or relative to our expectations. Which of these four signup bonuses did you find most disappointing?
- American Express Platinum Card: 25,000 MR points ($699 annual fee) – Winner
- CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege: 20,000 Aeroplan points + Air Canada Buddy Pass ($599 annual fee)
- CIBC and TD’s core and business Aeroplan cards: 10,000 Aeroplan points + Air Canada Buddy Pass TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite (First Year Free)
- Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite: Effectively 20,000 Scotia Rewards points ($139 annual fee)
Weakest Big 5 Bank Credit Card Portfolio: It’s a widely accepted truth that the Big 5 banks in Canada have some way to go before catching up with the strength of American Express’s credit card portfolio.
Which bank needs to beef up its credit card lineup the most? Don’t forget to factor in each bank’s proprietary points program in your assessment.
- BMO – Winner
Most Cumbersome Credit Card Approval Process: A difficult and cumbersome approval process can easily sour the banking relationship before it even begins.
The following quartet of Canadian credit card issuers have received the lion’s share of complaints about their credit cards being a headache to sign up for; which issuer is in the most dire need of straightening out their approval process?
- HSBC – Winner
Co-Branded Credit Card with Greatest Unfulfilled Potential: Personally, I think there’s so much more room for innovation among various loyalty programs’ co-branded credit cards in Canada.
We’ve seen the new Aeroplan credit cards dabble a bit with more creative perks this year; which of these following co-branded credit cards would you most like to see some serious innovation from in 2021?
- American Express Marriott Bonvoy cards – Winner
- BMO Air Miles World Elite
- MBNA Alaska Airlines Mastercard
- RBC British Airways Visa Infinite
- RBC Cathay Pacific Visa Platinum
Loyalty Program with Most Significant Absence: Many global airline and hotel chains operate in Canada, but currently don’t offer a co-branded credit card or a high-value transfer partner to their loyalty program in the Canadian market.
I’ve picked out five such programs that I believe would stand to benefit from challenging the establishment here in the Canadian loyalty landscape. In your view, which one’s absence is felt most keenly and would benefit the most from adding a Canadian offering in 2021?
- Air France/KLM Flying Blue
- Emirates Skywards
- Hilton Honors – Winner
- United MileagePlus
- World of Hyatt
Most Disappointing Move: All of the following five actions taken by major players in travel, credit cards, and loyalty programs were met with disappointment from the community. Which one was the most disappointing move of 2020?
- Aeroplan’s launch without a proper multi-city search engine
- American Express unilaterally shutting down accounts that are “not being used for the intended purposes” – Winner
- Canadian Transportation Agency commenting that airlines withholding refunds on cancelled flights is “reasonable”
- RBC Avion’s lack of transfer bonuses
- WestJet Rewards suspending Member Exclusive fares for four months
Under the Anti-Awards, you are invited to select only one nominee in each category that you believe most fits the description.
The order of the candidates is randomized as part of the survey to avoid introducing bias into your vote. After you’ve completed your vote and ranked the candidates in all six categories, hit the Submit button and your vote will be counted.
This time, you can follow the below link to access the voting page; after you submit your vote, you’ll be able to see the current running totals for the 2020 Anti-Awards as the votes come in.
Voting will close on December 31, 2020 – and I’ll update this article afterwards to highlight the unwanted “winners” of the 2020 Anti-Awards so that they may do better as we move into 2021.