Tag Archive for: Partnerships

Upbound Group, a provider of consumer leasing services, has forged an agreement with Genesis Financial Solutions, a provider of near-prime consumer financial services, to provide credit solutions to customers in its platform of brands, including Rent-A-Center and Acima.

As part of the agreement, Genesis will serve as program manager and service a general-purpose credit card for qualified Rent-A-Center and Acima customers, as well as a second-look point-of-sale private label credit card to approve initially declined applicants for Acima’s network of retail merchant partners.

This partnership showcases the enduring value of co-brand and private label credit card products and, more specifically, the potential for second-look services to approve credit applicants who were initially declined. In a recent Auriemma study, 37% of cardholders indicated they had been declined for a credit or store card application. And of the one-fifth offered a second look offer, 76% accepted the alternative card.

With credit conditions expected to tighten at lenders across the country, second look is more valuable than ever for converting more applicants to cardholders.

Cardless, an emerging co-brand credit card provider based in San Francisco, recently announced it secured a three-year, $75 million credit facility from i80 Group. The company stated that the credit facility will enable Cardless “to fund customer receivables, growth, and continue its work with large, globally recognized brands.”

Additionally, Cardless announced that Brian Kelly, founder of The Points Guy, which tracks and ranks credit card value propositions and redemption options, is an investor and advisor.

The entry of Cardless, along with Imprint, Deserve, and Tandym, in recent years is beginning to altered the co-brand and private label credit card competitive landscape, which has been historically dominated by a set of incumbent banks, many of them household names.

Research suggests that incumbents do have significant advantage, as cardholders place a premium on their preferred banks issuing their co-brand cards. Recent Auriemma data indicates that 72% of cardholders say it is somewhat or very important for their preferred issuer to issue their ideal co-brand card.

Nonetheless, co-brand and private label credit cards are in high demand, with 36% of cardholders saying they are likely to apply for one in the next 12 months. The number rises to 56% among Millennials. If new co-brand and private label providers can offer cards for previously unserved brands and deliver valuable product innovations, they should find plenty of room to grow.

(London, UK) Perceptions of loyalty points and miles redemptions has shifted in the wake of COVID-19. The lack of opportunity to travel since the beginning of COVID-19 is eroding the appeal of travel-related benefits from UK loyalty programmes. According to Auriemma’s latest research, 76% of credit cardholders enrolled in a loyalty scheme prefer to use their loyalty rewards for non-travel benefits. Meanwhile, only 35% of programme members intend to use their points or miles for travel-related benefits in 2021.

But how has this change in behaviour been impacting loyalty programmes, and how quickly, if at all, will these patterns return to previous norms?

The large volume of unused loyalty points mean high levels of financial exposure for brands on their balance sheets, which can cause a serious headache for company CFOs. Brands with loyalty programmes which are modelled heavily around offering travel redemptions, such as British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Hilton Honors or Marriott Bonvoy, are at the highest risk in this scenario. As evidenced in April and May 2020 when Hilton Honors sold $1 billion Honors Points to American Express, and Marriot Bonvoy sold a similar $920 million points to American Express and JP Morgan Chase to build up much needed cash flow and reduce their points liability. This is only a temporary fix, however, and with travel restrictions still in place one year later, the problem of over-exposure persists for brands.

Some loyalty schemes have expanded their partnership approach to maintain member engagement and relevance. IAG Loyalty’s recent partnership with Nectar in January 2021 allows the direct  transfers of points between the two schemes providing low value redemptions to BA Executive Club members, also demonstrated with the launch of Virgin Red in November 2020 and its partnership with Greggs. Despite the apparent strengths of these partnerships, they can present poorer value to consumers which will test the theory as to how viable they are in the longer term, once travel restarts.

There remains hope as Auriemma found that 55% of consumers still enjoy earning travel rewards through their loyalty programme or credit card, many with plans to redeem these for travel-related benefits as soon as possible. With the continued effectiveness of UK’s vaccine rollout and the subsequent easing of restrictions, a return to travel could be around the corner.

“Now is the time for issuers and loyalty programmes to focus on member and cardholder engagement,” says Kate Morgan, Head of International Partnerships at Auriemma Group. “As consumer confidence in the ability to travel rises, the appeal of redeeming hard-earned points for bookings should, too. We have seen that delivering relevant, personalised offers and marketing is key, along with cancellation options that give customers the assurances they need to complete the booking process.”

While foreign holidays remain less of a certainty than domestic travel this summer, the airlines face a larger challenge than hotels who have a greater ability to turn the focus inwards on UK stays and vacations. Premier Inn owner Whitbread, UK’s largest hospitality company, is bracing for strong summer demand.  Nevertheless, as most hotel programmes exist without the cushion of commercial partnerships with non-travel-related loyalty schemes, the reopening of UK hotels might be the only opportunity for a profitable 2021.

“The nation eagerly awaits more clarity on the government’s foreign travel policy beginning on 17th May 2021,” says Kate, “and fingers crossed it is good news for the travel industry and the thousands of employees within this sector.”

Survey Methodology

Cardbeat UK

This Auriemma Group study was conducted online within the UK by an independent field service provider on behalf of Auriemma in November 2020, among 845 adult credit cardholders. The number of interviews completed is sufficient to allow for statistical significance testing between sub-groups at the 95% confidence level ± 5%, unless otherwise noted. The purpose of the research was not disclosed nor did the respondents know the criteria for qualification. The average interview length was 21 minutes.

About Auriemma Group

For more than 30 years, Auriemma’s mission has been to empower clients with authoritative data and actionable insights. Our team comprises recognised experts in four primary areas: operational effectiveness, consumer research, co-brand partnerships, and corporate finance. Our business intelligence and advisory services give clients access to the data, expertise and tools they need to navigate an increasingly complex environment and maximise their performance. Auriemma serves the consumer financial services ecosystem from our offices in London and New York City. For more information, call Kate Morgan at +44 (0) 207 629 0075.

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