Barclays is moving away from issuing its own cards and acquiring its own consumer financial services customers, and focusing more heavily on co-brand relationships like their deal with American Airlines. As they work to grow on the back of co-brands, they need both more partnerships and to market those partnerships more aggressively. And they need to introduce new products to sell to their co-brand customers.
Expect Barclays to Aggressively Bid to Keep Its American Airlines Business
American Airlines struck a new credit card deal with both Citibank and Barclays three years ago. Instead of just one bank issuing consumers cards, American has two. This helped drive up the price the airline was able to get for the relationship.
- Barclays can acquire customers inflight and in-airport (but not within 100 feet of an American club lounge)
- Citibank gets all other acquisition channels
Citibank wasn’t willing to go all-in and pay enough to get exclusivity. American wanted more money for ThankYou points transfers. So both banks co-exist, which has been good for consumers because we’ve seen one bank then the other elevate their new cardmember acquisition offers.
While co-brand deals have been frequently been getting longer – instead of 5 year deals we’re often seeing 7 and United’s deal with Chase is 10 years (much to United President Scott Kirby’s chagrin, he wants more money from Chase but isn’t even halfway through his current deal) – I hear the Citi-Barclays-American deal may be just five years.
That would put them up for renegotiation soon at a time where they’re narrowing their focus to co-brand marketing relationships. Barclays “spent several years working to expand beyond its card partnerships with brands such as Uber Technologies Inc. and American Airlines Group Inc” but “will now stick to its more affordable co-branded offerings” citing how expensive it is to acquire customers on their own.
Barclays is Moving Away From Branded Business and Focusing on Co-Brands
Last year Barclays stopped acquiring customers for the Arrival Premier card. That was the issuer’s attempt to get customers to put their own spending ahead of the bank’s fronting bonuses, and it didn’t just not work the effort was killed in a matter of months. This year they even stopped acquiring new Arrival Plus customers.
And they’re explicitly relying on American as a source of customers, according to Barclays CEO Jes Staley:
We have slowed down the building of a Barclays-branded consumer bank..We want to build our unsecured consumer loan book in the United States not off the Barclays brand, which would be extremely expensive to create on a national scale, but on the brand of American Airlines.
This Suggests More and More Aggressive Co-Brands from Barclays
Since this strategy leaves them “vulnerable to losing some partnerships” expect Barclays to aggressively seek to retain their co-brand relationship with American rather than ceding exclusivity to Citi.
It also implies, I think, marketing through their co-brand channels more aggressively.
- Uber card marketing has been anemic. I am a regular Uber customer, yet I’m never prompted to get the card in-app during rides. I don’t receive regular e-mail pitches for the card either. That has to change.
- Bringing on new co-brands. They won’t wrest away deals like Delta, United, Marriott or Hilton. But they could pick off smaller co-brand deals currently held by issuers like Bank of America or Synchrony as those expire or introduce co-brands with travel companies that don’t currently have U.S. card products.
Barclays Needs New Banking Products to Cross-Sell
As credit card rewards have gotten more expensive, we’ve seen a slight pivot towards more aggressive cross-selling. Chase has explicitly justified the expensive of its Reserve card on the basis of marketing other products to millennials such as mortgages. I’m skeptical that will turn the portfolio into a profit engine, however I’ve also long been surprised by how little cross-selling has gone on.
Citi offers AAdvantage-earning banking products. However there’s surprisingly little data mining for high net worth program members where both program and bank could benefit from delivering more richly rewarding services.
Will we see AAdvantage consumer banking and loan products out of Barclays once a new deal is negotiated?