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United States Co-branded Credit Cards: Reinventing Themselves Post Covid Losses

  • ID: 5401760
  • Report
  • August 2021
  • Region: United States
  • 24 Pages
  • Mercator Advisory Group
Network Cards Less Affected by BNPL Than Private Label Cards


  • AARP
  • Bank of America
  • Conde Nast
  • Goldman Sachs
  • PayPal
  • United Airlines

This research explains how co-branded credit cards are essential to issuers rebuilding their credit card volume in a post-COVID world. 

This report separates co-branded credit cards from private label credit cards (PLCC) because the markets are diverging. Private label credit cards face pressure from Buy Now, Pay Later lenders that do not affect bank-issued credit cards. Co-branded credit cards are vital components of bank-issued branded network credit cards.

“Issuers must nurture their programs, but they must be careful not to give away the bank,” states Brian Riley, Director, Credit Advisory Service. “Sometimes they must be willing to walk away from a deal. Other times, they might need a good-old-fashioned break-up,” Riley continued, “But a well-run program can add scale, increase loyalty in retail customers, and set the pace for cross-selling. Take American Express, Delta Airlines, Citi AAdvantage, or Chase United as examples. And then, there is Costco (Capital One) and Amazon to consider. The shift (and anticipated shift in the case of Amazon) impact both counterparties in the co-branded relationship.”

One of the seven exhibits included in this report

Highlights of the research note include:

  • Why it makes sense to separate PLCC from co-brands
  • Current credit card volumes
  • Co-branded market volumes
  • The inner workings of a co-branded relationship
  • Not every relationship is forever-even in co-branding
  • Where the industry is headed
  • Strategic plays for credit card issuers
Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown


  • AARP
  • Bank of America
  • Conde Nast
  • Goldman Sachs
  • PayPal
  • United Airlines
  • Executive Summary 
  • Co-branded Cards and Private Label Credit Cards: Similar Concepts, Different Courses 
  • Credit Card Volumes Have Not Recovered from COVID-19
  • Co-brand Partnerships are Complicated Legal Arrangements
  • More than 200 Types of Co-brand Credit Cards are in Force
  • Takeaways for Industry Participants 
  • Conclusions 
  • References 

Figures & Tables

  • Figure 1: Co-brands and PLCC cards have some standard features in common, but face different market challenges.
  • Figure 2: With more than 500 million cards in force, reward cards account for 70%, and the largest segment is co-brands.
  • Figure 3: After a $100 billion decrease, it will take three years for revolving debt to return to pre-COVID levels. 
  • Figure 4: Quarter after quarter, top issuers experienced decreases in revolving debt.
  • Figure 5: Co-branded credit cards carry responsibilities for financial institutions and their partners.
  • Figure 6: Co-branded partnerships break up for various reasons, including profitability, relationships, and technical prowess.
  • Table 1: Twenty top airline co-brands offer incentives and a wide range of interest rates.
Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown


  • AARP
  • Alliance Data
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Allegiant
  • American Express
  • American Airlines
  • Apple
  • Bank of America
  • Barclaycard
  • Capital One
  • Carnival Cruise lines
  • Choice Hotels
  • Chase
  • Citi
  • Conde Nast
  • Costco
  • Delta Airlines
  • Discover
  • Goldman Sachs
  • GM
  • Emirates Airline
  • Frontier Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Holland America Cruiselines
  • Jet Blue
  • LendingTree
  • Macy’s
  • Mastercard
  • National Football League (NFL)
  • Lufthansa
  • PayPal
  • Priceline
  • PNC
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Spirit Airlines
  • SteinMart
  • Synchrony
  • USBank
  • United Airlines
  • Visa
  • Walmart
  • Wells Fargo
  • Wayfair
  • Williams Sonoma
  • Wyndham Hotels
Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown