Credit Card Companies Are Influencing Your Award Travel Plans

Mar 30, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Don’t know yet where you will go for vacation this year? Your credit card company might be the ones trying to influence your decision.

Fuerteventura Canary Islands, Spain
Beach at Fuerteventura. (Photo by @dominiks. via Twenty20)

In the interest of keeping consumers loyal to their brands, credit card companies increasingly turn to artificial intelligence software to influence how cardholders utilize their points.

Marketing to consumers based on past purchases is nothing new: If you’ve recently snuck a peek at that designer dress on Nordstrom’s website, you’re familiar with how quickly ads for the same dress crop up in your Facebook feed. And if you booked a plane ticket last week, you’ll see ads for local hotels and rental cars everywhere.

Yet credit card processors are utilizing additional metrics to predict how consumers will behave.

Financial institutions have front-row seats to our spending habits, from how much we spend to where we spend it. American Express has long utilized intelligent algorithms to target individualized Amex Offers from specific merchants to entice cardholders to spend or redeem their rewards accordingly. And although we here at TPG frequently stress that the best redemption values for most rewards can be found booking travel, credit card companies convincingly persuade customers to redeem their points and miles for gift cards, magazine subscriptions and other miscellaneous offers. 

Maritz Motivation Solutions, a marketing data company, recently partnered with HSBC to bolster the British bank’s credit card rewards program. HSBC sent marketing emails to 75,000 customers using algorithms provided by Maritz Motivation Solutions. In an A/B test conducted by the bank, some of the customers were custom-targeted for a particular credit card reward category — travel, merchandise, gift cards or cash back — based on the company’s AI-generated recommendations. Senior Director of Decision Sciences Jesse Wolfersberger said that around 70% of the targeted customers who redeemed credit card rewards selected the option recommended by the software.

“It used to be, ‘We saw you shop at Apple, so we are going to send you ads for Apple.’ Now, you may not have spent a dollar at Apple previously, but because you spend at other retailers or fit the profile of an Apple customer we can target you,” Wolfersberger told the Associated Press.

“What we see is when people are more engaged with a rewards program they tend to spend more,” said Marcos Meneguzzi, head of cards at HSBC.

Currently, laws governing net neutrality ban Internet service providers from selling information regarding consumer searches and data use. But the pending dissolution of these laws on April 23 will have profound repercussions for consumers, as companies including credit card issuers and retailers gain even more valuable access to customer behaviors.

Once your wistful Google searches for “sunny beaches” are combined with powerful AI software and algorithms like Maritz’s solutions, your next vacation may be far less spontaneous than you think.

Featured image courtesy of Getty Images

The All-New United Quest℠ Card

WELCOME OFFER: Up to 100,000 bonus miles


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X miles on United® purchases

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80K bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 20K bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months
  • $250 Annual Fee
  • Earn 3X miles on United® purchases, 2X miles at restaurants, on select streaming services & all other travel, 1X on all other purchases
  • Earn 3X miles on United Airlines purchases
  • Earn 2X miles at restaurants and on select streaming services
  • Earn 2X miles on all other travel
  • Earn 1X mile on all other purchases
  • Each year, receive a $125 credit on United® purchases and two 5k-mile anniversary award flight credits. Terms apply.
Regular APR
16.49% to 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent, Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.