FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Consumers routinely search for the best price or the best deal when making a long-term financial commitment – from automobiles to cable companies to phone carriers. They don’t, however, tend to comparison shop once they have committed to a credit card.
A report by creditcards.com shows that some 25 million credit card holders have held the same card for at least a decade, and another 20 million have never switched to a different creditor. This, despite the emergence of rewards programs that offer consumers robust benefits.
Among the most popular perks offered through reward programs are cash-back options and bonus rewards. When offered, cash-back and other reward options can put extra money in the pocket of cardholders. Cash-back benefits can be applied as a credit on a future statement or deposited electronically in the customer’s bank account.
Some financial institutions offer bonus opportunities such as providing customers with as much as triple rewards during certain times throughout the year, when they spend a particular amount on their card or when they charge specified items such as groceries or gas.
Arvest Bank believes it is a good idea for consumers to stay up-to-date on what your card offers and to know what else is available. That’s because, while many consumers select a credit card based solely on interest rates and no annual fee, today’s cards offer much more in the way of evolving rewards and conveniences.
More than half of consumers who did switch to a new credit card made the change because of a better rewards program, according to a creditcards.com survey from 2015. Arvest believes another deciding factor consumers consider before selecting a credit card is a strong sense of security and trust in the financial institution with which the card is affiliated.
A rare and competitive offering among a handful of institutions is a rewards program that touches every level of credit cards. From a classic card to the platinum level, a rewards program could be in place, though the rewards may vary.
In addition, card issuers are becoming increasingly competitive by eliminating various fees, such as annual rewards program fees and balance transfer fees, and increasing the amount of control cardholders have at their fingertips.
Arvest believes the ability for a consumer to manage multiple aspects of their credit card in real-time, either online or through a mobile device, is an increasingly popular and convenient benefit for cardholders. This type of self-serve option gives customers more control over their account, allowing them to make adjustments while they’re traveling, request a spending limit increase at the touch of a button, or to view and redeem their rewards, as well as other options, without the need to talk to a representative.
One factor that will always get the attention of cardholders is interest rates. An individual’s improved credit score could mean they are eligible for a lower rate on their credit card. That provides another option for saving money and another reason to evaluate and compare programs.
The Federal Reserve anticipates additional increases in interest rates later this year. With that change, every percentage point and every rewards option could affect consumers’ wallets in one way or another.
The bottom line for consumers is that, with the emerging new benefits programs offered by credit card issuers and the expectation of a rising rate environment, comparison shopping for the best credit card for their particular needs is becoming more important than ever.