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Data for today’s episode is provided by Mercator Advisory Group’s report –Credit Card Rewards 2020: Another COVID-19 Victim?.
Of the 355 Million Rewards Card Accounts, How Many Are at Risk Due to COVID?
- The safest accounts look to be the 225 million cash back rewards accounts.
- Of the 175 million non-co-brand rewards cards, 35 million have annual fees and therefore hold additional risk of attrition.
- Of the 225 million commercial co-branded cards, 100 million have annual fees and therefore hold additional risk of attrition.
- Of the 100 million commercial co-branded cards with annual fees, 55 million of them are within the airline and travel sectors, which pose additional risk.
- Mercator predicts that combined attrition could affect half of consumer credit card accounts in the US in the next year.
- Three cardholder behaviors negatively impact near term credit card spend:
- Impaired ability to pay
- Lower payment volumes
- Focus on account financial term
Credit card reward programs, a consumer benefit of using a credit card, will undergo change as consumers and financial institutions adapt to the new world of COVID-19. Credit card issuers that rely on rewards to attract and retain customers must consider the changing economic realities and construct programs that do more than link to weakened co-brand partners, advises Mercator Advisory Group’s latest research report, Credit Card Rewards 2020: Another COVID-19 Victim?.
While many consumers gravitate to cash-back rewards, co-brand programs that feature alliances with airlines, cruises, and hotels leave consumers with points that may not be useful for several years. Rewards with cash options, such as those issued by American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi, and Discover will find consumers more likely to gravitate toward cash options than rewards that provide options for hospitality and travel.
“Those aspirational trips to Hawaii lost their panache in 2020. So have hotels on South Beach and the south of France,” commented Brian Riley, Director, Credit Advisory Service, at Mercator Advisory Group, the author of the research report. Riley adds that “credit card issuers need to re-gear credit card reward programs. If they do not, they will miss the way the market is moving.”
This report analyzes Mercator Advisory Group’s consumer survey data on credit card rewards and applies a practical view of both the U.S. consumer and shortcomings in current reward programs. With more than 225 million credit cards targeted at hospitality, retail, and travel, card issuers need strategies that appeal to the new normal. “Business is not business as usual today,” commented Riley.