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I’d make two observations.
- United President Scott Kirby is squeezing Chase for more revenue.
- United doesn’t appear to be growing its credit card portfolio any increase in MileagePlus revenue seems to be coming from points transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards.
With Chase largely spending the interchange on consumers, and having to make money off the revolve, any more money to United out of each transaction (rather than more money from more customers driving more spend) has to come out of consumers’ pockets.
Still the United Explorer Card is arguably the most benefits-rich airline co-brand credit card. Uniquely it offers annual club passes; a spend threshold bonus; extra saver award availability; last seat availability on extra mileage awards; and primary collision damage waiver.
Most customers aren’t using benefits like price protection. In fact that’s one reason card companies can offer so many bundled benefits — the cost is low because usage is low. A future where less revenue is available to fund benefits (e.g. if interchange rates fall) likely is one with fewer bundled benefits, and if they’re benefits that are used most that trend could accelerate further still.