Sentiment of the Week: Credit Card Commitment

By: Clarabridge Team

July 9, 2015

by Rachad Davis, Content Marketing Associate

Cheap. Easy. Affordable. Three words that people often cite as their reasoning behind a recent purchase even if that purchase has not been deemed a necessity. But another place you can find these words is behind the rationale of which credit card people choose. According to cardhub.com, the number of active credit cards from the four primary credit card networks—VISA, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover—is about 546 million. Furthermore, 72.1% of adult consumers in 2012 owned at least one credit card, while data released in 2014 found 18% of adult consumers had three to four cards.

Although many Americans rely on credit cards in their daily lives, there is a significant portion of the population who are choosing to navigate through life without them: millennials. Financial gurus often claim millennials are the generation that holds money to a higher standard than others, which may explain why many financial institutions elect to form agreements with colleges to provide accounts and prepaid cards to students, as this is an effective pipeline to create long-term customers.

While people like financial planner Amy Hubble attribute millennials’ unwillingness to sign up for a credit card as millennials being “extremely reluctant to invest or otherwise leverage their precious savings,” we chatted with a few college students who said it was not about money as much as it was about what credit card companies could do for them.

“My brother graduated without a credit card and he found it harder, not impossible, to get a credit card as a young professional,” Michael Cooper, one of the students said.

No matter what specific reasons millennials cited for getting a credit card, the general theme was that a rewards program was a major factor for selecting a credit card. You can see how this played out in a sentiment analysis of reviews of four of the credit cards the millennials used.

2015-427_sotw_7-9_chart3The Chase Amazon.com Rewards Visa card is the obvious runaway winner with the highest sentiment at 0.8. Draws from this card come from a no annual fee and three different ways card holders can put a little money back into their pockets with cash back rewards, as well as a $70 gift card for signing up.

Capital One’s Quicksilver card, in second place in terms of sentiment at 0.47, also provides cash back, but does not segment it, instead providing cash back on all purchases. It also provides a bonus $100 once you have made $500 dollars in purchases after signing up, which is sure to lure millennials concerned about finances. The Chase Freedom card, while second in terms of review volume, had the lowest sentiment at just 0.08 with numerous people voicing concerns about not receiving bonuses that the card promised.

While rewards were the largest deciding factor, other incentives that sparked millennials’ interest when searching for credit cards were mobile banking and apps. While the older population is having some difficulty adjusting to mobile deposits, one college student, Sam Hentschel said he uses mobile deposits frequently. “As soon as I got checks I could just deposit the money on my phone and didn’t have to wait,” Hentschel said.

“I’m used to working through apps so it’s nice to be able to go on to an app and be like ‘okay here’s my credit card statement, here’s my transaction history,’” another student said. “Being able to easily access all of that is really nice.”

So what does this mean? It means that Amy Hubble may have been on to something. While millennials may be reluctant to apply for credit cards, according to millennials polled, rewards make them feel better about lessening the grip on their money. As noted in the data above, while all four of the credit cards come with some form of rewards, the one with the lowest sentiment is the company that has the most complaints about issues with rewards.

Credit card companies can gauge the success of their rewards programs by conducting a sentiment analysis of customer feedback. Companies who do not have any such program in place should still analyze their feedback to see if their customers want rewards programs, or face losing cardholders.

Millennials have different expectations from their credit card companies than the older population. Banks looking to establish lifelong relationships with this young demographic need to fully understand these expectations and the experience that millenials are seeking when they apply for a credit card.