Market Research Logo

Co-Branded and Affinity Credit Cards in the U.S., 4th Edition


Attention: There is an updated edition available for this report.

Packaged Facts consumer survey results show that the percentage of consumers using co-branded/affinity credit cards has fallen from 55% to 43% from 2009 to 2013. But while hundreds of smaller and less profitable co-brand programs have been eliminated, more than 120 significant co-brand credit card partnerships remain. In the U.S., they now compete against formidable own-branded credit card platforms catering to a wider audience, as well as a resurgent private label card segment. Targeting the affluent is now the name of the game, but the supply of U.S. affluent households is not limitless, and opportunities exist to target an increasingly healthy middle class, experimenting further with rewards incentives and soft card benefits.

To help industry participants navigate the evolving market for co-branded/affinity cards, Co-Branded and Affinity Credit Cards in the U.S. analyzes co-branded/affinity credit card program features and benefits and retail card strategies and growth trends among bank and non-bank issuers. Coverage of trends and opportunities includes:

  • Assessment of the leading co-branded credit cards from card partners--Ritz Carlton, Hilton, Wyndham, Best Western, Carlson, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Sony, Best Buy, BJ's Wholesale Club, Costco, Dillard’s, Walmart, Macy’s and Amazon--to gauge differentiation and related features and benefits among co-branded hotel, cruise, and retail credit cards.
  • Trending of branded credit card and co-branded credit card usage over time by card association and demographic, and current co-brand/affinity card usage by 11 card types.
  • Via proprietary consumer research, analysis of the degree of importance co-branded credit card users give to features and benefits when signing up for a co-branded credit card. The section assesses the importance cardholders assign to card features & benefits by grouping responses into seven categories: interest rate, spend limits & fees; rewards; discounts; special perks; travel benefits; and protection/management.
  • Market sizing for U.S. general purpose credit cards and co-branded credit cards, as well as a market driver analysis including credit loan volume, delinquency, loans outstanding trending.
  • Market sizing and segmentation by issuer and network/association, by number of partnerships.
  • Trends & opportunities in the co-brand and affinity credit card space, including affluent consumers, the middle class, private label conversion, rewards trends, reaching younger consumers, and cross selling.
  • The co-branding strategies of American Express, MasterCard and Visa, as well as the co-brand/affinity card strategies of Bank of America, Barclays, Capital One, Citibank, GE Capital Retail Bank, JPMorgan Chase and U.S. Bank.


  • Executive Summary
    • INTRODUCTION
    • Report Scope
      • Market size and market drivers
    • Trends & opportunities
    • Card association co-branded strategies
      • American Express
      • MasterCard
      • Visa
    • Co-branded and affinity credit card issuer strategies
      • JPMorgan Chase
      • Bank of America
      • U.S. Bank
      • Citibank
      • Capital One
      • Barclays
    • Co-branded credit card analysis
    • Hotel cards: assessing affluent, middle-to-higher income and middle class card offerings
      • Cruise card comparison
      • Retailer card analysis
    • Co-branded and affinity credit card consumer usage trends
      • Branded and co-branded credit card usage and usage trending
      • HH income trends
      • Affiliation/rewards growth
      • By card association: overview
      • By card association: demographic
    • Features & benefits influencing co-brand/affinity credit card choice
  • Market Size and Forecast
    • INTRODUCTION
    • General purpose credit card market size
      • Table U.S. General Purpose Card Purchase Volume, 2007-2012
    • Co-branded credit card market size
    • Number of co-branded credit card programs
      • It's not whether a co-branded credit card has rewards, it's what kind
    • Partnership industry segments
      • Retail cards most prevalent, followed by airline and hotel cards
        • Table U.S. Co-branded Credit Card Programs, by Issuer & Card Type: 2013
      • Visa has 50% relationship share
        • Table U.S. Co-branded Credit Card Programs, by Issuer & Network/Association: 2013
    • Co-branded airline credit cards
      • Can MasterCard keep US Airways-and steal share, too?
        • Table U.S. Airline Co-branded Credit Card Programs, by Airline, Network/Association, Rewards & Issuer: 2013
    • Co-branded hotel credit cards
      • Going higher, but can they go lower, too?
        • Table U.S. Hotel Co-branded Credit Cards, by Hotel, Network/Association, Rewards & Issuer: 2013
    • Market drivers
    • Improving debt picture
    • Credit card debt declining; accounts stabilizing
    • Delinquency rates on the mend
    • Government data show increase in credit card loans outstanding
      • Table Consumer Credit Card Loans Outstanding, Depository Institutions and Credit Unions: 2010-2012
      • Loan volume and loans outstanding among top five issuers
        • Table Credit Card Loan Volume & Loans Outstanding: Top Five Issuers: 2010-2012
  • Trends & Opportunities
    • INTRODUCTION
    • Pay with points-with an airline co-branded card?
      • A cure for own-branded travel cards?
    • Targeting cardholders
      • Targeted incentives to boost use
      • Merchant directed rewards
      • Listen to the customer, and send offer accordingly
      • Rewards differentiation is imperative
      • Customer satisfaction is improving
      • Give me cash
      • Entertainment exclusives
    • Coexisting or competing against own-brand innovation?
      • Bank of America rewards broader banking relationship
      • Cross sell opportunity
      • Wells Fargo Home Rebate Card
      • Cross sell opportunity
    • Bank of America works to improve cardholder credit and build relationships
      • Cross sell opportunity
    • Another way to assess bank loyalty and card cross sell
      • Who's your primary bank?
        • Table Consumers' Primary Bank, by Usage Penetration: 2013
      • Cards issued by primary bank
        • Table Consumers' Primary Bank, by Usage Penetration: 2013
    • Co-brand conversion at expense of private label
      • Improving economic picture may translate to increased comfort with co-branded risk
      • Private label issuers converting cardholders to co-brand
    • How many affluent cardholders can there be left?
      • Recession results in higher share of affluent consumers?
      • But when is there too much of a good thing?
    • Casting a wider net
      • Why not extend co-branded rewards to middle class?
    • Courting youth
    • Why not prepaid co-branding?
      • Chase Liquid
      • American Express Bluebird
      • Prepaid co-branded success story: Air New Zealand
    • Government is watching
      • Capital One Bank fined for deceptive credit-card marketing practices
      • Discover Bank fined for deceptive telemarketing
      • Customer service leader American Express not immune
      • Chase assuages military partners
  • Card Association Co-Branded Strategies
    • INTRODUCTION
    • Visa has highest share of partnerships
      • Reliance on Chase and U.S. Bank
      • MasterCard relationships spread across more issuers
        • Table U.S. Co-branded Credit Card Programs, by Network/Association, Issuer Share: 2013
    • American Express
    • Value proposition
    • Special services and programs abound
    • Rewards cards and loyalty programs are the name of the game
      • Membership Rewards Program
      • Enhancements
      • Rewards: an increasingly expensive proposition
      • Pay with Points helps soften the blow
    • American Express holds up against affluent & small biz competition
      • Doing well, thank you very much
      • OPEN for competition: Strong growth, strong spend
      • Own-brand introduction brings in new affluent customers
      • Co-branded card portfolio provides more card options
      • Niche co-branded initiatives contribute to growing affluent cardholder base
      • Continued growth expected
      • Airlines still part of the foundation
      • To the tune of an estimated $55 billion in U.S. cardholder spending
        • Table American Express U.S. &Worldwide Card Billed Business & Airline Card Billed Business: 2011-2012
        • Table American Express Consumer & Small Business Own-Brand & Co-branded Credit Card Programs: 2013
      • Significant third-party co-branded relationships
        • Table American Express U.S. Third-Party Co-Branded Credit Card Programs: 2013
    • Shift to everyday spending continues
    • U.S. Card Services contributions to card growth
      • Charge cards remain very important
    • Global Network & Merchant Services segment important to co-branding
      • Growing card base
      • U.S. GNS presence
    • Performance summary
      • Table American Express Worldwide & U.S. Card Member Receivables, Bill Business & Cards in Force: 2010-2012
    • MasterCard
      • Sales volume performance summary
    • Co-branding and premier rewards
    • Co-brand: challenges and opportunities
      • Co-branded under pursued, but that's changing
      • Recent traction and building momentum
    • Visa
      • Tiered consumer credit platform
    • Market share leader
      • Ratcheting up pursuit of affluent
      • Credit union and community bank push
  • Co-Branded and Affinity Credit Card Issuer Strategies
    • INTRODUCTION
    • Summary analysis
      • Table U.S. Co-branded Credit Card Programs, by Type, Issuer Share: 2013
    • JP Morgan Chase
    • Value proposition
      • Using the recession to create a healthier portfolio
      • Chasing American Express
      • Rewards and engagement
    • Own-branded initiatives
      • Ultimate Rewards, Blueprint, Sapphire, and Ink frame strategy
      • Targeting affluent
    • Co-brand: Keep stronger hands and eliminate weaker ones
      • Table JPMorgan Chase Consumer Own-Brand, Co-branded & Affinity Credit Card Programs/Cards: 2013
      • Table JPMorgan Chase Business Own-Brand & Co-branded Credit Card Programs: 2013
    • Co-branded card introductions and initiatives
      • AARP credit card launch comes with rational rewards pitch
      • Airline moves: transitioning AirTran credit card portfolio
      • Military moves: eliminating rewards expiration; broadening redemption; pushing cash back
      • Hotel moves: enhancing travel benefits and incenting elite status motivation
    • Bank of America
    • Own-brand strategy: casting a broader net with upside potential
      • Rewards for all but a handful of cards
      • Travel rewards moves
      • Cross-selling potential
      • BankAmeriDeals stimulates customer engagement
    • Co-branded and affinity a strong suit
    • Credit card portfolio growth trends
      • Lower loans outstanding balanced by higher purchase volume and accounts
      • Improving delinquencies
      • Card program divestitures
        • Table Bank of America Consumer Own-Brand and Co-branded Credit Card Programs: 2013
        • Table Bank of America Business Own-Brand, Co-branded & Affinity Credit Card Programs: 2013
        • Table Bank of America Consumer Affinity Professional Organization, Sports & Cause Credit Card Programs: 2013
        • Table Bank of America Affinity University/Alumni Association Credit Card Programs: 2013
    • U.S. Bank
      • Credit card performance summary
    • Own-branded credit card trends
      • FlexPerks
      • Targeting a broad audience
    • Co-branded strength
      • Weighted toward airline and retail
        • Table U.S. Bank Consumer & Business Own-Brand & Co-branded Credit Card Programs/Cards: 2013
    • Recent co-branded moves
      • Focus on apps
    • Citibank
      • Ripe for cross selling
      • Private label revitalization helps co-branded cards
      • Tapping American Express for affluent cache
    • Competitive positioning
      • Portfolio streamlining
    • Own-brand credit card development
      • ThankYou program
      • Simplicity Card
      • Private Pass reboot
      • Citi Price Rewind
    • Co-branded moves
      • Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Visa Signature
      • Best Buy co-branded and private label
      • American Airlines: $40 billion in cardholder spend?
        • Table Citibank Consumer & Business Own-Brand & Co-branded Credit Card Programs: 2013
    • Volume, loans outstanding and account growth trends
      • Table Citibank Citi-Branded and Citi Retail Services Credit Card Loan Volume, Loans Outstanding & Accounts: 2008-2012
    • Capital One
    • Own-brand credit card trends
    • Co-branded credit card trends
      • HSBC deal adds co-branded and private label power
      • Best Buy comes and goes
      • GM and AFL-CIO co-branded accounts stick around
        • Table Capital One Consumer & Business Own-Brand & Co-branded Credit Card Programs: 2013
    • Staying on the revolver sidelines
    • Declining loans outstanding persist into 2013 but loan volume increases
    • Barclays
    • Co-branded credit card growth and trends
      • Buying, then building the portfolio
      • US Airways, L.L. Bean and Frontier Airlines are largest accounts
      • But US Airways account at risk
        • Table Barclays U.S. Co-Branded Accounts, by Account Number & Total Receivables: 2012
    • Co-branded card portfolio
      • Table Barclay's Consumer & Business Own-Brand & Co-branded Credit Card Programs: 2013
  • Co-Branded Credit Card Analysis
    • INTRODUCTION
    • Summary analysis
      • Hotel cards: assessing affluent, middle-to-higher income and middle class card offerings
      • Cruise card comparison
      • Retailer card analysis
    • Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card
      • Table Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card Incentives, Rewards and Other Features, 2013
    • Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card
      • Table Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card Incentives, Rewards and Other Features, 2013
    • Hilton HHonors & Hilton HHonors Surpass
      • Table Citi Hilton HHonors& Hilton HHonorsSurpass Incentives, Rewards and Other Features, 2013
    • Wyndham Rewards Visa Card
      • Table Wyndham Rewards Visa Card Incentives, Rewards and Other Features, 2013
    • Best Western Rewards MasterCard
      • Table Best Western Rewards World MasterCard Incentives, Rewards and Other Features, 2013
    • Club Carlson Rewards Visa Signature Card
      • Table Club Carlson Rewards Visa Signature Card Incentives, Rewards and Other Features, 2013
    • Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card
      • Table Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card Incentives, Rewards and Other Features, 2013
    • Norwegian Cruise Line Credit Card
      • Table Norwegian Cruise Line Credit Card Incentives, Rewards and Other Features, 2013
    • Princess Cruises Rewards Visa Card
      • Table Princess Cruises Rewards Visa Card Incentives, Rewards and Other Features, 2013
    • Sony Card
      • Table Sony Card Incentives, Rewards and Other Features, 2013
    • Best Buy Reward Zone Credit Card
      • Table Best Buy Reward Zone Credit Card Incentives, Rewards and Other Features, 2013
    • BJ's Visa
      • Table BJ's Visa Incentives, Rewards and Other Features, 2013
    • Costco TrueEarnings
      • Table TrueEarnings Card from Costco Incentives, Rewards and Other Features, 2013
    • Dillard's American Express
      • Table Dillard's American Express Incentives, Rewards and Other Features, 2013
    • Walmart Discover Card
      • Table Walmart Discover Card Incentives, Rewards and Other Features, 2013
    • Macy's American Express/ Macy's Preferred American Express
      • Table Macy's American Express & Macy's Preferred American Express Incentives, Rewards and Other Features, 2013
    • Sears MasterCard
      • Table Sears Card Incentives, Rewards and Other Features, 2013
    • Gap Visa
      • Table Gap Visa Card Incentives, Rewards and Other Features, 2013
    • Amazon.com Rewards Visa Signature Card
      • Table Amazon.com Rewards Visa Signature Card Incentives, Rewards and Other Features, 2013
  • Co-Branded and Affinity Credit Card Consumer Usage Trends
    • INTRODUCTION
    • Summary analysis
      • Branded and co-branded credit card usage and usage trending
      • HH income trends
      • Affiliation/rewards growth
      • By card association: overview
      • By card association: demographic
    • Credit card usage trends: 2008-2013
      • After dropping during recession, credit card use begins to pick up
      • Branded credit card usage rebound lags
    • Branded credit card usage trends: 2008 to 2013
      • Usage penetration down 12%
      • MasterCard usage penetration declines the steepest
        • Table Branded Card Usage Penetration, by Card Association: 2008-2013
    • Credit card usage trends by HH income: 2008 to 2013
      • Overall credit card usage trends
        • Table Credit Card Usage Penetration, by HH Income: 2008-2013
      • Branded credit card usage trends
        • Table Branded Credit Card Usage Penetration, by HH Income: 2008-2013
    • Branded credit card usage trends, by card association
      • Table American Express-Branded Credit Card Usage Penetration, by HH Income: 2008-2013
      • Table Discover-Branded Credit Card Usage Penetration, by HH Income: 2008-2013
      • Table MasterCard-Branded Credit Card Usage Penetration, by HH Income: 2008-2013
      • Table Visa-Branded Credit Card Usage Penetration, by HH Income: 2008-2013
    • 2013 card association branded credit card usage share by HH income
      • American Express still draws its high-income share
        • Table Branded Credit Card Usage by Card Association: Change in Usage Share by HH Income: 2008-2013
    • Affiliation/rewards credit card usage trends: 2011 to 2013
      • Explanation
      • Branded credit card usage penetration trending
    • Branded credit cards: affiliation/reward credit card usage share
      • Table Branded Credit Card & Affiliation/Rewards Credit Card Usage, by Affiliation/Reward Type: 2011-2013
    • American Express affiliation/rewards credit card usage trending
      • Table American Express Credit Card & Affiliation/Rewards Credit Card Usage, by Affiliation/Reward Type: 2011-2013
    • Discover affiliation/rewards credit card usage trending
      • Table Discover Credit Card & Affiliation/Rewards Credit Card Usage, by Affiliation/Reward Type: 2011-2013
    • MasterCard affiliation/rewards credit card usage trending
      • Hotel/airline/organization card share on the rise?
        • Table MasterCard Credit Card & Affiliation/Rewards Credit Card Usage, by Affiliation/Reward Type: 2011-2013
    • Visa affiliation/rewards credit card usage trending
      • Rewards and affiliation usage share gains across the board
        • Table Visa Credit Card & Affiliation/Rewards Credit Card Usage, by Affiliation/Reward Type: 2011-2013
    • Affiliation/rewards credit card usage and usage share, by demographic
      • Younger consumers underrepresented
        • Table Branded Credit Card & Affiliation/Rewards Credit Card Usage Penetration, by Affiliation/Reward Type: Age, 2013
      • Older adults dominate airline usage share; youth gravitates to organization-based cards
      • Affluent dominate co-brand
        • Table Credit Card, Branded Credit Card & Airline, Hotel, Organization, Cash Back & Points Credit Card Usage Penetration by HH Income: 2013
      • $150K+ household income consumers comprise 30% of airline credit card holders
    • Proprietary survey analysis
      • Introduction and context
      • 5 in 10 branded credit card users have co-brand/affinity card; standard cards more prevalent
      • American Express has highest ratio of co-brand/affinity card users to standard card users
      • Proprietary survey results affirm co-brand/affinity demographic skew
        • Table Any Branded, Standard Branded & Co-Branded Credit Card Usage Penetration, by Demographic: 2013
    • American Express and Discover
      • Table American Express & Discover Any Branded, Standard Branded & Co-Branded Credit Card Usage Penetration, by Demographic: 2013: 2013
    • MasterCard and Visa
      • Table MasterCard & Visa Any Branded, Standard Branded & Co-Branded Credit Card Usage Penetration, by Demographic: 2013: 2013
    • 11 co-brand/affinity card types: usage & usage in past 30 days
    • Co-branded penetration four times higher than affinity
      • Retail cards most prevalent
      • Affinity-based card types play minor but important role
      • Retail and airline cards promise stronger engagement?
      • Affinity cards have lower engagement?
        • Table Co-Branded and Affinity Credit Card Usage Ratio, by 11 Card Types: 2013
    • Co-branded cards attract higher incomes; affinity cards attract more males
  • Features & Benefits Influencing Co-Brand/Affinity Credit Card Choice
    • INTRODUCTION
    • Summary analysis
    • Important & most important co-brand/affinity card signup influencers
      • Introduction
    • Interest rate, spend limits & fees
      • No annual fee and low interest rate weighed by many
      • Interest rate teasers and balance transfer options less relevant
      • Interest rate, spend limit & fees: demographic analysis
        • Table Important Co-Branded and Affinity Credit Card Choice Motivators: Interest Rate, Spend Limit & Fees w/ Sub-Categories, by Demographic, 2013
    • Rewards, extra points and discounts
      • Extra incentive more widely considered than rewards
      • Cash back still popular, rewards flexibility not as widely considered as expected
    • Extra points: demographic analysis
      • Table Important Co-Branded and Affinity Credit Card Choice Motivators: Extra Points & Extra Points Types, by Demographic, 2013
    • Rewards: demographic analysis
      • Table Important Co-Branded and Affinity Credit Card Choice Motivators: Rewards & Rewards Types, by Demographic, 2013
    • Discounts: demographic analysis
      • Table Important Co-Branded and Affinity Credit Card Choice Motivators: Discounts & Discount Types, by Demographic, 2013
    • Special perks, travel benefits & protection/management
    • Travel benefits: demographic analysis
      • Table Important Co-Branded and Affinity Credit Card Choice Motivators: Travel Benefits & Travel Benefits Types, by Demographic, 2013
    • Special perks: demographic analysis
      • Table Important Co-Branded and Affinity Credit Card Choice Motivators: Special Perks & Special Perks Types, by Demographic, 2013
  • Co-branding Around the World
    • American Express
      • 2012 signings
      • Global airline co-branded reach
      • Card growth
    • Citibank
    • JPMorgan Chase
      • Visa partnership gives Chase global coverage
    • MasterCard
  • Appendix
    • Methodology
      • Methodology and Sources
    • Consumer survey methodology
      • Packaged Facts' definition versus Simmons
    • Report table interpretation
    • Terms and definitions

Download our eBook: How to Succeed Using Market Research

Learn how to effectively navigate the market research process to help guide your organization on the journey to success.

Download eBook

Share this report