What the Credit Card Issuers are Saying (Live from the Executive Summit)

Apr 26, 2013

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This morning I went to a session at the Randy Peterson Executive Summit where we got to hear straight from the credit card issuers regarding their loyalty credit cards.  In attendance were the VP of Membership Benefits from Amex, General Manager of Partnership from Chase, a VP from US Bank, and reps from Barclays and Capital One (didn’t get their titles).

I have been live Tweeting some of the comments from the session via @Mommy_Points, but here is a more detailed list of things they revealed in the roughly one hour session.  My thoughts are the ones in italics.

  • Capital One did the 100K match a couple of years to bring the spotlight to their card and get folks to try it out.  They believed once people learned about their card they would stick with it.  In other words, don’t necessarily count on it coming back.  
  • US Bank had a 15 year relationship with Northwest before their merger and it was a true partnership.  After that they were left with 15 years of data and they saw that 90% of the airline tickets their customers purchased were for less than $400.  So, they decided to offer a redemption via FlexPerks that required just 20,000 points for an airline ticket that costs up to $400.  The industry standard was 25,000 miles for a ticket, so they wanted to offer an entry point lower than that.
  • Consensus was that 100K offers are not really sustainable, but that the 30k – 50k offers have become the industry standard.  They were referred to as “table stakes” by the Chase rep.  I did not get any indication that those sort of offers are going away anytime soon.
  • Chase said in addition to the sign-up bonuses, the additional benefits tied to the card are very important in driving retention and spending.
  • Amex said that they focus on what the customer need not what the competition is doing.  But they did also say that they pay attention to things like Flyertalk to see what is going on.
  • Pretty much all of the reps said that they do very much pay attention to what the bloggers are saying about their products (and their competition’s products) and that bloggers have become a “trusted source”.  That being said, there are tons of customers outside of those who are involved with reading the blogs, so they keep it in perspective.
  • Capital One said that social media is like word of mouth on rocket fuel.
  • It was said that the next evolution/revolution in the world of loyalty cards will have to do with personalized and targeted offers (not just sign-up offers, but ongoing offers) based on data collected from transactions and social media.  Also an increase on mobile capabilities.
  • Chase said they would rather someone have two of their different rewards cards than one of their and one from another bank.  They want to have something for everyone from within their card portfolio.
  • Chase implied that they do change the sign-up bonuses for cards in part based on what their competitors are doing.
  • US Bank said the average is 2.3 rewards card per customer – they all know that we like multiple cards and they want to incentivize us to use their card for purchases. 
  • US Bank also said that they pay attention to spending patterns and may give you a targeted offer if they see you aren’t putting a certain type of purchase on their card.  This may explain my targeted Neiman Marcus offer.

All in all it was a really good session.  We matter as customers to them, and the sign-up bonuses aren’t going away any time soon.  They know they are needed to attract customers.  Expect more personalized offers going forward and a continued increase on the “soft” benefits that come with the cards like anniversary bonuses, free checked bags, spending bonuses, etc.

Now on to the next session!


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