The past two editions of our roundups have been reflections of events from last year. Now that we are a few weeks into 2020 and the holidays have passed, it's time to address the exciting potential that the new year will bring. For the past few years, Jason has asked for predictions of what is to come and this year should be no different:
"What are your credit card predictions for 2020?"
Miranda Marquit - Nationally recognized credit card expert and founder of Planting Money Seeds
It's always hard to really predict what's coming in terms of credit cards for the new year. However, there are some trends that might continue into 2020. First of all, the premium cards seem to be losing some of their value. Perks aren't as good as they used to be, and there's a chance that the Sapphire Reserve might raise its annual fee to be more in line with the Amex Platinum card. Doctor of Credit has expressed this view, and I think that it's probably a decent bet that the Sapphire Reserve will raise its fee. Plus, the Reserve's signing bonus has decreased in recent years, so that's something that's likely to be on the radar.
Pay attention to awards charts as well. Some loyalty programs might change their awards charts to be less valuable. I've been using Marriott for a long time, and all the changes with Bonvoy have me thinking that I'll need to pay attention to the awards charts to ensure that I get the same value. I'm not sure I will. Even with Bonvoy branded credit cards, the value might not be there.
As we move into 2020, I'm doing my best to stick with a stacking strategy that allows me to earn double or triple rewards with a combination of credit cards, loyalty and rebate rewards. There are also some interesting opportunities, like using apps like Bumped and Acorns Found Cash to continue stacking for investing rewards that have the potential to keep providing value for years to come. More programs that allow you to take advantage of stacking might be the way to go as different loyalty programs and credit card issuers reduce in value.
Eric Rosenberg - Finance, travel, and technology writer in Ventura, California
The new decade is sure to bring new surprises and changes across the credit card landscape. 2020 will likely continue a trend of updating benefits, which is sometimes good and sometimes bad for the cardholder. While some card issuers are likely to remove benefits to save money, cards that are looking to attract high-end customers may add popular benefits like trip interruption and cancellation insurance.
For miles and points cards that earn programs directly with specific airlines or hotels, it may be another year of point value inflation, where points become a little less valuable. That’s just more reason to stay focused on general points and miles cards that allow you to transfer or redeem with a wide variety of travel partners. For anyone willing to put in a little time to learn about how their rewards and redemption options work, the new year will be a great one for rewards credit cards
Dave Grossman from MilesTalk.com - Loyalty program consultant, speaker, author, and credit card rewards junkie.
I have 3 main predictions for 2020 as it relates to credit cards.
First, I expect that Chase will launch a premium card in its Ink Business line of cards, probably very similar to the Chase Sapphire Reserve but with business specific benefits. The card would compete with the American Express Business Platinum.
Second, I expect more consumer cards to crop up with annual fees in the $150-$300 range, similar to the successful American Express Gold card relaunch from 2018.
Lastly, I expect more card issuers to really hone in on how to drive incremental, lasting spend rather than focusing solely on new card bonus offers. Those won't go away, but the focus will be on long-term spend and lifetime customer value.
Emily Guy Birken - Milwaukee-based former educator and freelance writer specializing in personal finance
In 2020, which already seems like a futuristic year, credit cards are going to look more and more like sci-fi technology. Though contactless cards with RFID technology and digital-only "cards" like Apple Pay already exist, this is the year when they are going to become more and more commonplace. Not only will you see more companies embracing this technology, the issuers will also offer incentives to borrowers to adopt the new system. What kinds of incentives? You may see more or better credit card perks available if you choose a contactless card or pay via your digital "card" app rather than with the associated physical card.
Consumers will also encounter more merchants offering one-click payment to checkout. American Express, Discover, Mastercard, and Visa worked together to create this option, which is already available at select retailers. However, we will see this much more commonly throughout 2020 as more merchants adopt the one-click payment button. The technology is purportedly more secure, since it reduces the frequency of entering in your credit card information while also providing more consistency and convenience to the consumer.
Ben Luthi - Credit card expert and a freelance personal finance writer.
It's hard to make any specific predictions because card issuers tend to keep new developments under wraps. However, one area where I think we'll see more improvements is in card security. Contactless credit cards are becoming more popular in the U.S., but there are still some holdouts among major card issuers. I wouldn't be surprised if issuers that don't currently offer contactless capability (like Discover) start doing so and others that offer it on just one or more cards (like Citi and the Costco Anywhere Visa) expand to other cards in their portfolios.
I also wouldn't be surprised to see more card launches in the premium space. The Chase Sapphire Reserve had an incredible launch in 2016, and Amex subsequently beefed up its Platinum Card and also launched premium cards within its Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors portfolios. And with several benefit cuts over the years for the Citi Prestige and a devaluation of the City National Bank Crystal Visa Infinite Card, there's room to compete. I have heard rumors of Capital One launching such a card in 2020, but I'll wait and see what the bank has in store.