3 things that disappeared from credit cards in 2020

Dec 29, 2020

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The dominating stories of 2020 involved COVID-19 — and the resulting impact on travel, cards and loyalty. On the cards front, one primary focus was on a number of new benefits added to placate cardholders. After all, we were more likely to stay home and spend money on things that weren’t travel related.

From new cards to new perks and even new ways to redeem points, 2020 kept The Points Guy credit cards team on its toes. But the story of credit cards in 2020 isn’t simply about the additions. The narrative also included some things that no longer are around.

Here’s a look at three notable items that have disappeared from cards over the past 12 months.

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Select American Express benefits

At the start of 2020, Amex axed several card benefits — while also adding a few to the mix for premium travel cards.

Three benefits that got the boot across all Amex cards included travel accident insurance, which covers expenses specifically related to death or dismemberment during a covered trip, along with roadside assistance and premium roadside assistance.

Amex also removed the return protection perk from most of its cards effective Jan. 1, 2020. The benefit offered cardholders compensation when a store didn’t accept an eligible item for return within 90 days of purchase. A select few cash-back cards and premium travel cards (with annual fees) still offer this benefit. They include:

 The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex card and Amex EveryDay Preferred Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

(Photo by filadendron/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, most consumer and small business American Express cards now offer only one year of extended warranty coverage, down from the two years offered in 2019. Additionally, all Amex consumer and business cards that offer purchase protection had this benefit changed to 90 days, down from the 120 days offered previously.

While Amex eliminated and cut many benefits, the issuer did add trip cancellation, trip interruption and trip delay insurance to a select number of premium cards.

High credit limits

Earlier this year, many cardholders woke up to a not-so-welcome surprise from their card issuers: decreased credit limits. To mitigate uncertainty in a tough economic environment, some card companies reduced credit lines — even for those with seemingly healthy credit scores and a history of low-risk behavior.

If you don’t ever spend anywhere near your credit limit on your cards, you may be wondering why this even matters. Well, your credit limit plays a significant part in how your credit score is determined. Your credit utilization is how much of your overall available credit is being used. To keep your score high, you want to keep that utilization ratio below 30%. But when an issuer cuts your credit limit, that ratio will rise.

If you found yourself in this situation in 2020, know that you weren’t alone. And you can do something about it too.

Related: How to ask for a credit limit increase

Cards that you couldn’t tap to pay

(Photo by The Points Guy)

In 2016, only 3% of all credit cards were equipped to handle contactless transactions. However, credit card networks and issuers have seen rapid upticks in contactless transactions in recent years, especially during 2020.

Since the coronavirus outbreak began, fears over the transmission of the disease have forced consumers to rethink how they shop, spend and pay. And issuers have taken notice, too. In fact, Visa says that tap-to-pay transactions in everyday segments such as grocery and pharmaceutical are up more than 100% year over year.

With almost every major card issuer in the U.S. rolling out contactless card technology, 2020 saw tap to pay fast becoming the norm, not the outlier. Goodbye to non-contactless cards.

Related: Best contactless credit cards: Tap to pay

Featured photo by Jacob Lund/Shutterstock. 

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