If you have been paying attention to all the different credit card offers out on the market, they all seem to follow each other. Someone adds benefits, another bank adds similar, or even the same benefit. They always try to pull ahead every so slightly, but I think things could keep staying in this marginal improvement loop. For a couple of years now, I have been saying there is a way for banks to separate themselves with credit card rewards.
Next Era in Credit Card Rewards
Last year, Chase introduced possibly the hottest card on the market and the other banks are seemingly play catch up. The Reserve looks less favorable with a 50,000 point bonus and $450 annual fee.
The Reserve like other cards is a one size fits all card. It has the same bonus categories for every person. As “great” as the Reserve is, it doesn’t fit the bill for everyone. I think there are ways for other banks to call themselves “innovative” in dealing with their credit card rewards.
For customers, the benefits of these premium cards are fairly similar. The rewards of the cards are slightly different, but if you look at them many offer (similar) bonus categories that are comparable.
For banks to start separating themselves and to improve the customer experience (and maybe keep customers long term), they need to allow personalized credit cards.
Start allowing people to make a credit card that benefits their lifestyle and need! Currently, the closest option to this is probably the US Bank Cash Plus.
Letting Customer Control Their Card
The big news that came out over the last week or so, was the fact the American Express Platinum (personal) added a “great” benefit of Uber credits. Plus they were restricting the lounge access to 2 guest, on both the Personal and Business cards.
While doing this this increased all annual fees by $100, on the personal card. If you use Uber frequently, this was a win for you. If you travel with more than 3 people, clearly a loss for you. Either way, you probably just found another reason to cancel your card.
The take-a-way of this is some people benefit from this change and some don’t. This causes a problem for American Express as many people will be considering if they should cancel their card or not.
Now, what if American Express gave you the option to add the Uber benefit for $100, or any other benefit for a fee? What if you could select many options to personalize your credit card. One that gives you the options that let you maximize the card.
All the banks are vying for attention and want to be the top card in your wallet. At the same time, I think many people (myself included) would love to have one card that really met all my needs. This would have bonus categories that benefit me, while reducing the number of cards in my wallet.
Not only could this be a great way to make customers happy, but also produce long term customers. That’s what banks want, right? While banks try to produce long term and profitable customers. People want a card that earns high rewards, possibly have perks (like lounge access), and while keeping their fees low.
Cost on Banks
Now I am not an expert, but I highly doubt any of the banks are actually paying full price for the benefits on their cards. Do you really think American Express shelled out $200 for Uber credits and only raised the annual fee $100? I think not.
Banks aren’t going to do something that loses them money. The Reserve lowered Chase profits about $200 million. In the end, they made plenty of money, so don’t feel bad for them “losing” money. In the big picture, banks want you to use their cards, since they make money on the fees they charge the merchant.
I would feel confident to say the banks receive some sort of group discount. Banks have no problem offering these “benefits”, since a portion of people who have these high end cards don’t use all the benefits. In the end I would think the banks get a bulk discount and partners make money in the process.
Wouldn’t it be great if you had a bank of options to choose from when applying for your credit card? Plus, have the ability to make yearly changes to the card benefits.
The cards could have the same “base model” features, bonus categories, travel protection, purchase protection, and similar benefits.
Where you can start to customize these is the extra features, such as lounge access, rental car status, hotel status, TSA/ Global Entry/ CLEAR, etc. Pretty much all the benefits that add money to your annual fee.
Then have possible “buy up” options. This could include improving benefits already on the card, potential to add better bonus categories, or any basic option that could be improved upon by adding money.
Think of building a “perfect” credit card, like building a new car. You start with a base model and the more features you add, the more money it cost you. There could be a whole list of features to add. You could even add a travel credit, but since I figure this to be prepaying your own travel it wouldn’t get a discount.
New Way of Bonuses
Banks have been really tightening up on churners. I think we will see more restrictions by the end of this year. Hopefully, I am wrong.
If banks start allowing customization of your credit card, then they could start incorporating the size of the sign up bonus to the cost of your card. The more perks you add, the higher the fee and in the end the higher the bonus.
Although this seems unlikely, I wouldn’t think anything is off the table as banks try to reduce churners and keep customers for the long term.
As time passes, our credit card needschange as well. This could be due to a move, life event, or change in employment.
Currently, credit cards don’t allow for these changes. That is probably one of their largest downfalls, they are pretty inflexible for personal changes. Which is why you might need a handful (or more) to maximize your earnings for your spending habits.
If banks were to allow you to customize your card, then each year should be able to revisit your benefits and adjust accordingly. This could increase or even decrease your annual fee.
A good credit card should adjust to your needs over time. That is probably why many of us in the game apply for many cards(outside of the bonus).
Banks that allow flexibility could have the greatest success with this option. Not only could this allow banks to produce more long term customers, but could actually have customers who are happy with their rewards.
Do I think banks will actually do this? Probably not.
I’ve thought for a few years that allowing people to personalize their credit cards could be the next big thing. This would make it easier for people who like credit card rewards and could benefit the banks.
In the end, the thought of being able to make my own card sounds awesome. Think of the best benefits of all the cards out there and now think about having them all on one card.