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As we head into 2020, there’s a lot to look forward to. We’re living in age of where travel has become even more democratized and easy to access. The proliferation of technology and all sorts of apps have meant that can now carefully organize, curate and narrate our travel stories to the world. Given the massive shifts that we’ve seen, which travel trends or credit card trends would dominate the next year and beyond?

Credit Card Annual Fees

I won’t be surprised if we see newer entrants into the premium credit card market. What I also expect to see is more fee increases to existing products. We’ve already seen annual fee increases on both versions of the Amex Platinum cards. There’s also a rumor that we may see a similar increase in annual fee on the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

For premium card products, issuers are banking on the fact that a small increase won’t directly result in a drop in the number of customers. They’re betting on that fact that a small percentage increase in annual will only cause a small dent but not a trigger a massive customer defection.

More Pricing Complexity

Amex is clearly doubling down on their breakage strategy. With regards to the airline fee credit, I don’t see any possibility of that changing to a travel credit across the board. In fact, by adding other credits like the Grubhub and Uber credits, Amex is clearly signaling their strategy. The idea is to increase annual fees and then offer credits to make money on breakage.

How does this impact airline pricing? I expect more airlines to jump into the fray and introduce more complex pricing structures. Unfortunately, the era of basic economy is here to stay. Expect to see more of these words: economy plus, peak/off-peak pricing and so on.

Marriott’s Make or Break Year

Earlier in the year, I wrote extensively about Marriott’s troubles. However, these troubles present them with an opportunity as well. Given how big the merger was in size, nobody expects Marriott to turn a large ship around. 2020 will be a make or break year for Marriott from a loyalty standpoint. Marriott already has a lot disgruntled customers who were previously Starwood elites.

Hyatt is making the right moves and expanding its portfolio by adopting an acquisition led growth strategy. If Marriott doesn’t put their house in order in 2020, I won’t be surprised if customers jump ship en masse and leave for either Hyatt or Hilton.

The Pundit’s Mantra

There’ll surely be a lot more, but I think that these trends could be interesting to watch out for in the next year. If annual fees tend to increase substantially, I won’t be surprised if many readers start dumping some ‘premium’ cards, since a lot of them have benefits that overlap. Also, I won’t be surprised if more loyalty programs move to ‘dynamic pricing’, much to our chagrin.

In conclusion, I’m thankful for all the travel opportunities that this year gave me. I’m also thankful to all the readers who read, comment and engage in interesting discussions on some of my posts. I wish all my readers a very Happy New year 2020!

What changes do you intend to make to your travel credit card strategy in 2020? Let us know in the comments section.

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