What I hope to see from UK credit cards in 2021
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This has been one of the strangest years in living memory and has made predicting and wishing for what’s to come both difficult and almost futile. That’s not to say that I don’t have an opinion.
In the U.K. rewards credit cards market, this year has ended up being the year of surprise benefits. We’ve seen time extensions and addition of benefits to both the Virgin Atlantic and British Airways companion vouchers, maintenance of higher sign-up bonuses, some extended time to hit those bonuses and, in some cases, big cashback offers like the huge spend £400 get £400 back at select Marriott properties.
Looking to 2021, there is a dual challenge for credit card issuers and travellers, alike. Firstly, we can’t be sure what is to come for the world of health and travel. And secondly, we mustn’t forget that Brexit and its uncertainty is here.
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We may not see huge investments in new products from card issuers with a conservative approach to spending and acquisition, although there have been rumours of ongoing and advanced discussions regarding new cobranded airline cards. Could we see a return of cobranded airline cards like Emirates, Etihad or American Airlines?
With travel off the cards and many perks left redundant in the short-term, issuers like Amex went a long way, especially with the Platinum Card from American Express to make up for this. Wide-ranging and regular cashback offers and point-earning bonuses became the norm in the past few months. Should travel restrictions continue, and therefore the ability to take full advantage of all the benefits some cards offer, I hope that we will see a continuation of these sorts of offers.
For example, more offers on hotels and flights will crop us as travel companies encourage bookings. I’m hopeful that itjssuers will dish out other offers and vouchers to ensure the value of their card product and associated annual fees are justified to customers.
One of the most frustrating parts of the U.K. credit card market is that issuers largely still charge an archaic foreign transaction fee. Even cards that are branded as a premium travel card, such as the Amex Platinum Card, still charge a huge 2.99% fee on purchases made outside of the U.K. In 2021, I hope issuers considering removing the fee to encourage international spending on their cards and travel starts to ramp up again.
With the uncertainty of Brexit looming, who knows what’s going to happen? The cap on interchange fees could be discarded and issuers faced with the prospect of increased earnings may compete more aggressively for customers and ramp up offerings to entice sign-ups. I certainly hope so.
This is pie in the sky for now, so all I really hope is that issuers continue to believe in the rewards card market and continue to improve products and provide value where value has been lost due to the global pandemic.
With all the changes to come, we will be here to advise and help you make the right choices and ultimately spend your hard-earned points to realise your 2021 travel dreams.
Featured photo by Liam Spencer/The Points Guy.
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