Fighting Feature Creep and Creating the Right Credit Card Offer

February 1, 2018

Editor’s Note: As seen in Forbes Magazine, this study reveals which features consumers really want in their credit card.

A colleague of mine was strutting around the office the other day, excited about getting Hamilton tickets. A pretty good get, I have to admit. And then he told me that he had used the concierge service that comes with our corporate card to get access to a sold out show. Both of us were surprised to learn that our corporate card even had a concierge service—and that it seemed to work well. That got us thinking. Do most card holders even know the benefits of their credit card? And, if they do, does it matter?  So, of course, we decided to do some research.

It turns out we are not alone. More than half of credit card holders know about few if any of the features and benefits offered by their card. Which means the laundry list of features and benefits that accompany many cards is not having much impact on acquisition. Credit card issuers seem to be constantly adding new features in an attempt to lure more people to open their card. The question is, do any of these features matter, and if yes, which ones tip the balance?

Escalent product development research found that the first priority for consumers is value. Features such as no annual fee, cash back, and low rates are the most important consideration—it is all about making their money work for them. For some of the other features, we discovered that there are very specific needs behind them. For example, for some of these features consumers indicated that they “need to work.” If there is a lot of red tape or hoops for consumers to go through they are not going to be differentiators. Additionally, finds that different benefits are a lot more appealing to different age groups.

Which isn’t to say that features don’t play a role. After establishing the value bona fides, the right benefits can be impactful. Hamilton is great, but, the Costco cash that I get from my credit card works better for me and my family.  My colleague across the hall is not worrying about retailer rewards, though, and he is happier than ever with concierge service. With the array of technology, service, financial and travel rewards available the challenge for issuers is finding the right features for the right target.

That said, I expected to see at least one ad on this weekend’s Super Bowl touting how easy it is to earn trips and dinner. If you are a credit card issuer and are worried about how many viewers it’s off target for and how many card holders you still need to reach, call us at Escalent. We just went through the same thing and can figure it out for you.


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Mike Berinato
Vice President, Financial Services

Mike Berinato is a former vice president in the Financial Services group.