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Last month United Airlines President Scott Kirby told financial analysts that co-brand credit card signups were lagging and they were going to change their marketing strategy as a result.
Kirby relayed that United didn’t pitch credit cards onboard because Chase wasn’t paying extra to market in that channel. I think that’s the wrong way to look at a co-brand credit card relationship. The airline and bank issuer want to acquire card customers together, each customer has an expected lifetime value, and they work out the relative split over the value. Anything standing in the way of acquiring more card customers is a problem for both sides.
Kirby relayed they had a relationship reset with Chase and would be improving things going forward. We do not yet see flight attendants pitching cards (for which they receive a commission) the way we do at Kirby’s former employer American Airlines. However there’s a softer pitch: breath mints.
Flight attendants distribute a box of mints with an ad for the card and a website URL with a ‘special offer’. The offer is for a 50,000 mile signup bonus.
Meanwhile, it’s a targeted offer, but United is more aggressively soliciting card applications in other channels as well. Each time I open the United app I’m offered a 70,000 mile signup bonus offer.
Chase is more aggressive both with signup bonuses for the card and with opening up marketing in a new channel that Kirby says was the most effective one at American.
Unfortunately, as much as they want new cardmembers ‘5/24’ restrictions will still apply to the product.