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Clarion Ledger: Personalized credit cards losing punch

A report on how its becoming difficult to find new concepts for affinity and co-branded credit cards.

Last year, card issuers mailed out 5.1 billion offers, but consumers responded to only 0.6 percent of the letters. Competition for new customers has intensified as the industry has consolidated; the top five banks hold more than half of the $635 billion in outstanding loans. The competition and lower interest rates also pressure issuers’ profit margins, and banks are battling higher credit losses from record bankruptcies.

That’s where affinity and co-branded credit cards have helped. Such cards are designed to give consumers an incentive beyond low interest rates and fees to get and use new cards. Banks like such programs because consumers who use an affinity or co-branded card spend at least 30 percent more on it than on a regular classic, gold or platinum card. They are also more likely to pay off their bills.

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