Your wallet might get heavier next year with more plastic and, in some cases, metal.
That’s because credit card issuers are taking steps to launch more cards with better benefits — all in the hope of enticing customers to thicken their credit card portfolios.
“The market is heating up. We see a lot more offers geared toward consumers who are looking for rewards,” says Rachana Bhatt, managing director of Barclaycard.
Competition means more choices, especially for those with good to excellent credit scores. Here’s what to look out for in 2018.
1. More brands will launch their own cards
In 2017, we saw the launches of the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card and the Uber Visa, as well as the announcement of the Starbucks Visa card. Retailers often view a branded card as a way to capitalize on customer loyalty — and if rewards are generous enough, many customers are happy to sign up. If your favorite retailer doesn’t yet have a spot in your wallet, there’s a good chance it will soon.
2. Premium cards will offer even more luxe benefits
Premium cardholders have come to expect perks including airport lounge access, high rewards rates, ride-sharing credits and travel credits. To stand out, issuers might have to get even more creative. American Express already teamed up with SoulCycle to offer cardmember perks, and you can expect other partnerships between issuers and high-end brands. First-class upgrades, spa treatments and champagne-filled events are all possibilities in this highly competitive world.
3. Issuers will focus on long-term customer loyalty
Sign-up bonuses can be attractive to customers, but expensive for card issuers. In fact, sometimes issuers end up dialing back those offers. Instead of focusing on big, upfront incentives, some issuers may simplify their reward structures or redemption processes to make their products more appealing over the long run. And long-term loyalty is important to these companies, because cardholders who stick around may be more likely to use the issuer’s other financial products, such as mortgages or auto loans.
Issuers can also promote loyalty by emphasizing customer service. Discover recently launched in-app messaging, which makes it easier for customers to connect with an agent via the app. Laks Vasudevan, Discover’s vice president of products and innovation, says that unlike with most session-based chats, agents can see the customer’s entire message history, which eliminates the need for customers to repeat themselves to different agents.
Ultimately, it’s about simplifying the experience for the cardholder. “Consumers should look for things that make their life easier,” Bhatt adds.
4. Credit cards will come in more shapes and sizes
Cardholders have already shown an affinity for metal cards so strong they can slice limes; they also seem to appreciate card aesthetics. If you’ve got at least $15,000, you can order a gem-encrusted, custom credit card from Zurich-based company Rosan Diamond when you apply through a handful of partner banks; the new Uber Visa card contains an appealing array of multicolored dots on a black background. Card issuers will likely continue to play with different colors, and even shapes, to catch consumers’ attention.
5. Issuers will ramp up their emphasis on security
Recent high-profile data breaches may have card issuers doing more to put security-conscious consumers at ease. Credit score monitoring, identity theft resources and enhanced fraud protection are among the features you might find.
Discover has already launched alerts for cardholders whose Social Security number shows up on the “dark web,” thousands of risky websites that are known to illegally sell or trade personal information, Discover’s Vasudevan says.
At Capital One, in addition to a zero liability fraud policy, credit card holders have access to an account-monitoring program called Second Look. Potential problems are flagged for customers to review, says Joe Whitchurch, head of customer experience and innovation for Small Business Card at Capital One.
The bottom line? Consumers who are able to pay off their balances each month and avoid credit card debt will likely see more choices when it comes to credit cards in 2018.
This article was originally published by Forbes.