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Bank of America and Discover Share No. 1 Digital Ranking Among Credit Card Issuers According to Keynova Group’s Q4 2021 Scorecard

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Increasing “Buy Now Pay Later” Offerings and a Rising Number of Card Options are Top Trends Among Leading Credit Card Issuers

Keynova Group, the principal competitive intelligence source for digital financial services firms, announced the results of its Q4 2021 Credit Card Scorecard evaluating leading issuers’ websites and mobile channels. For the first time since 2014, a tie occurred at first place as Bank of America matched the overall score of Discover, the Scorecard leader for the past seven years. The Scorecard’s findings show issuers are retooling digital selection tools and applications while enhancing their card products to address competition from a growing set of fintech challengers.

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“The popularity of fintech-supported Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) exploded during the pandemic primarily due to positioning at the digital point of sale (POS). However, card networks and issuers have been increasingly engaged in sponsoring similar payment alternatives,” said Beth Robertson, managing director, Keynova Group. “Issuers are now challenged to improve their digital promotion and positioning of these options and to advocate the superior consumer protections afforded by credit card products.”

Key Findings:

Card Issuers Advancing Their Play for the Buy Now Pay Later Market
As more “interest-free installment payments” from fintech startups are being offered at digital checkout, half of the 10 leading consumer credit card issuers reviewed in the Scorecard are now offering BNPL options – more than double the number at year end 2019. While typically presented at the backend rather than at the point of sale, some nascent partnerships such as American Express’s integration of its Plan It feature on AmexTravel.com are bringing card options to the merchant checkout process. Alternatives under development by other networks and issuers are also targeting consumers at the POS. Credit card networks and issuers have the additional advantage of using their own digital channels to promote their BNPL capabilities via unique cardholder offers, integration into the digital card statement, and tools that help consumers select an optimal pay-off option based on their purchase and needs.

New Cards Proliferate, Driving Need for Digital Upgrades
Driven by pent-up demand and by cardholder acquisition and retention goals, nearly all of the evaluated credit card issuers introduced new credit card products during 2021, offering a unique mix of reward options and/or high-value cash back offers to entice prospective users. However, even as credit card options proliferate, there is room for improvement in related card selection tools and other digital acquisition elements. While most issuers (7 of 10 evaluated) enable prospects to select cards to compare benefits and fees, less than half adhere to suggested best practices for mobile comparison tools such as using static product headers and focusing content to a single screen’s width. Ready access to customer support is key to cardholder acquisition; Bank of America is among just three issuers currently enabling access to live chat from its digital card selection screens. Also of note, Discover – with a recently-launched and streamlined online application – is the only issuer that does not require a full social security number for credit evaluation purposes, reflecting a move to reduce the amount of PII exchanged online to safeguard consumer privacy and security.

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Issuers Enhance Access to Digital Card Information and Tasks
The intersection of technologies is enabling organizations to enhance access to key cardholder data and tasks.

Of the evaluated credit card issuers:

  • 60 percent support Haptic touch from the mobile device home screen to enable users to quickly login directly to desired account tasks;
  • 20 percent offer mobile widgets for direct information access;
  • 20 percent suggest ways to use Siri for actions like paying the credit card bill or accessing account balances; and
  • 20 percent promote the use of smart devices like Alexa to pay a credit card account or obtain transaction details.

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