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What a Terrifying Offer by CIBC

In Canada, we’ve been relatively immune to the churning-restricting terms of “once per lifetime” (or the like) for sign-bonuses. Many US credit cards have churning restricting terms, like Chase’s 5/24 rule, or AMEX’s once-per-lifetime rule which is enforced down South. While AMEX in Canada has introduced similar language, there are few reports of it being enforced. However, CIBC just released a new offer that has the most restricting language we’ve seen to date.

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Source: Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce

The Offer

CIBC is offering the CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite Privilege Card, which has a $399 annual fee and a 50,000 Aeroplan sign-up bonus with the following terms:

You are eligible for this offer only if you apply and are approved for your first CIBC credit card. If you are a current or former CIBC cardholder, we may approve your application but you will not be eligible for the offer. This offer applies to the following eligible card: CIBC Aerogold® Visa Infinite Privilege* Card (“Eligible Card”). If you apply and are approved for a new Eligible Card between November 1, 2017 and February 28, 2018, you will receive a Welcome Bonus of 25,000 Aeroplan Miles after you make your first purchase at any time with your Eligible Card. You will also receive additional 25,000 Aeroplan Miles if you have at least $1,000 in net Eligible Card purchases within the first 3 monthly statement periods.

So CIBC is saying that if you’ve ever held any CIBC credit card at any point in your life, you won’t get the sign-up bonus. This is the strictest language I’ve seen in Canada or the US.

This is a dangerous precedent. Clearly CIBC is aggressively targeting churners, but I think they’re doing themselves an incredible disservice – few people will start a new relationship with CIBC with a $399 credit card. Realistically, this credit card is targeted towards relatively high-income earning CIBC clients, but the bonus terms are going to push them away.

In Summary

Fortunately, this is the only card we’ve seen with this type of restriction, and it may well just be a one-off test for CIBC. But if this is the start of a trend in Canada, the world of churning may be in serious danger.

What do you think of this anti-churning term with CIBC?


  1. It’s the beginning of the end! They’ve been killing the USA’s churning market and now it’s coming to Canada and every issuer is different. The worse is Chase 5/24. What sucks about Chase 5/24 is that they never, ever have it written down anywhere so you apply, get denied and have an extra credit inquiry.
    Some issuers will deny you if you have too many inquiries but they don’t say how many is “too many”. Citi and BOA have more complex rules.
    So it looks like this is the beginning of the end for churners in Canada.

  2. I don’t think the sky is falling.

    By setting the requirement at a “Minimum annual income $200,000 household”, I feel as though this would eliminate the vast majority of would-be churners.

    By the same token, they’re probably also eliminating the vast majority of would-be legit prospects because anyone with that level of household income in Canada has likely already had a CIBC credit card in their lifetime.

    Good luck with that, CIBC.

  3. “Realistically, this credit card is targeted towards relatively high-income earning CIBC clients, but the bonus terms are going to push them away.”

    Actual high-income people don’t churn or sign up for bonuses. They choose cards based on features, and once they find one that meets their needs they tend to stick with it.

  4. I think CIBC just yearns to target the business of coveted few with this card. Definitely not designed to be a mass market card with those restrictions. I wouldn’t be too concerned.

  5. CIBC added this restrictive “once in a lifetime” sign up bonus to several credit cards offers at last a year ago (I noticed in Nov 2016). I will never apply for one of the impacted credit cards. If I ever want one of these particular cards, I will apply for another card which has a sign up bonus without the restrictive “once in a lifetime” rule and then do a product change.

  6. I think that it is too soon for hysteria. These T&C’s are not (yet?) happening “on the ground”.
    Although my income after retirement Is far from the required $200,000, I was able to get approval for the card by meeting with a banking representative. The fact that I had held a CIBC card in the past never came up.

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