The retail credit card landscape: more changes coming!

Yesterday’s WSJ article, “Credit Card Firms Reap Rewards of Consumer Brand Loyalty,” had some interesting nuggets in it–some of which I’d heard, some of which I hadn’t:

  • BP’s credit card is switching from Chase to Synchrony this week.
  • Bed, Bath, and Beyond is ditching U.S. Bank and is currently looking for a new issuer, and U.S. Bank is no longer accepting applications for the BBY card. I checked the U.S. Bank website, and sure enough, that card does not show up. There is still a site for the card, but I don’t see an “apply” button.
  • Some retailer I’ve never heard of called Forever 21 wants to issue a co-brand card.
  • Verizon has looked into issuing a card, but it’s not clear whether or not they’ll do so.
  • Charles Schwab will launch a new card with Amex next year.
  • Discover is sitting out the grab for retail cards, deeming the market overheated.
  • Commerce Bank is going after the affinity market, particularly college & university cards, which were apparently abandoned by B of A after shelling out big bucks to acquire them in the MBNA deal:

Affinity cards were particularly popular in the 1990s but fell out of fashion after MBNA Corp., which had thousands of affinity relationships, was acquired by Bank of America Corp. in 2005. The Charlotte, N.C., bank eventually dropped many of those card deals after the financial crisis when it overhauled its consumer-lending businesses.

The Verizon thing was news to me, and after seeing the new AT&T card from Citi, I’m curious to see what Verizon would offer. And I didn’t know about Bed, Bath, and Beyond either–that one has potential to get interesting as well.

Citibank acquires Brooks Brothers credit card

Citibank’s credit card unit, which has been tearing it up as of late, has added another card to its lineup. I received the following email yesterday:

Your Brooks Brothers Credit Card account currently issued by Synchrony Bank is being acquired by Citibank, N. A. on June 19, 2015. Effective June 19, 2015, Citibank, N. A. will become the owner and issuer of your Brooks Brothers Credit Card account, including all balances due on your account.

I recently wrote up Citi’s retail and store-branded credit cards here, so add another one to that list. Interestingly, Citi seems to be copying some of Synchrony’s retail card marketing techniques. In February, I received a Best Buy credit card offer of a $20 reward certificate in exchange for using my credit card three times. This is the sort of offer I’ve seen on things like the Banana Republic card, but never before on a Citi card.

Incidentally, the Dillard’s credit card recently changed hands from Synchrony to Wells Fargo. Is Synchrony in an Amex-like state of decline right now, or are the big banks just paying too much for credit card portfolios?


Want to get rich quick? Start a blog!

In the wake of the closing of the Miles for Family blog, a few other bloggers such as Doc and TBB offered their thoughts about blogging. To hear them tell it, it’s a lot of hard work and headaches. But you know what? Those guys are a bunch of whiners. Blogging is awesome! And even better, it’s a guaranteed way to make easy money–fast!

I’m here today to tell you how it’s done. Ladies and gentleman, I present to you my super-awesome Road to Internet Wealth Version 1.0! [click to continue…]

Foiled by Amex!

I got one of those marketing survey emails from Amex, the one where they ask you about some new product features they’re considering for their credit cards. I was thrilled to be able to share the survey with you, my internet friends, until I saw this:

amex survey


In case you can’t see that, it says, “This survey may contain information about a new product or idea that may not currently be available. Do you agree to keep any information you learn about a new product of new idea confidential and not disclose it to anyone?”

Well shoot! Those Amex lawyers appear to have outsmarted me–damn their oily hides! I’m still going to share the survey with you, but it will be heavily edited so as not to divulge proprietary corporate information Amex chooses to share with strangers it finds on the internet. I mean, I love you guys, but Amex’s legal team makes way more money than mine.

Here’s the card concept they were testing on me:

amex 2

It’s an interesting concept–the combination of [redacted]% back on [redacted] and [redacted] is one that’s not currently available on the market, though keep in mind it is subject to [redacted]. Also, keep in mind you have [redacted] available on non-bonus spending.

But, that’s just my opinion. What do you guys think about this one?

Hilton brand standards, for anybody who’s interested

I was looking around for boring details of how Hilton’s rewards program works and I happened to find the Hilton Brand Standards, which a handful of you may find interesting. It’s interesting to me first of all because it’s 384 pages, which is a lot of fairly dry stuff for a hotel owner to be on top of. It’s also kind of cool to see some of the behind the scenes stuff hotels have to deal with that we never think about (for example, 384-page brand standards manuals). [click to continue…]