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Millennials teach credit card companies a few lessons

Dan Gorenstein Apr 19, 2017
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For many years, American Express was the credit card with cachet. Now, many millennials are looking elsewhere and are shaking up the credit card industry as a result. These younger consumers are also using cards differently than their parents, and companies are trying to catch up.

Credit card companies have gotten to know their millennial customers. One, they love a good deal, said Bill Hardekopf of LowCards.com, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve card that initially promised 100,000 points just for signing up.

Millennials jumped on that card so much that the Chase company actually ran out of the metal to make that card,” Hardekopf said.

Another lesson: Millennials don’t like to carry credit card debt. That cuts card company profits.

One way to make it up: annual fees. That Sapphire Reserve card? It carries a $450 one. Until recently, David Robertson with the Nilson Report said American Express owned those customers who paid on time and were OK with membership charges.

Citi and Chase and the other titans recognized that the demographics are speaking loudly and clearly,” Robertson said.

The risk for the companies: consumers will get all they can before the annual fee kicks in and swap out for the latest card. The upside: hooking a millennial today, who will be a loyal customer for decades to come. 

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