Here are a few of my predictions and thoughts for 2019. I have tried to detail out my thought process so you can see why I am saying the things I am saying.
More Anti-Churning Rules
If I’ve learned anything from creating and maintaining the list of “anti-churning rules” list, it is that the banks keep adding them! It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that there will be even more of them by the end of 2019.
Other Banks will Stepup Up
In 2019, we should see other banks but Chase, Amex, and Citi step up in rewards game. I think we’ll see a surprisingly good (I’m not saying it will be amazing though) card from at least one of the other banks.
More Shutdown of Churners
Chase will continue to shut people down due to high number of inquires and accounts. I believe that other banks, in their own way, will join this bandwagon. I’m not sure if those cases from other banks will be as widespread as that of Chase but nevertheless we will likely see a few DPs at least. BoA and Citi might be the ones to do this.
Unique Amex Anti-Churning Policy
The general trend with American Express is that they typically do not like flat out copying other bank’s policy. I believe they (rightfully) think themselves as one of the leaders in the market. I believe that their unique anti-churning popup was a direct byproduct of this idea.
I also think that American Express is looking to implement more anti-churning policy and I fear it won’t be as simple as 1/24 that every bank is copy pasting.
Amex RAT Becomes More Agressive
I think by now Amex’s Rewards Abuse Team (RAT) team has a solid idea of what they should do, has hired enough people they need, has an established chain of command, protocol, and so forth. They’ve been fairly aggressive in late 2018 with instances of charging people for Amex offers, clawing back bonuses from many months ago, declining bonuses, and much more.
I’m afraid that going into 2019 they will be even more aggressive. It is well known that RAT reads r/churning or at least the blogs that constantly dig through Reddit for headlines. You now how Business Gold annual fee waiver trick died within 24 hours of a popular blogger blogging about it? Prior to that, same trick had safely been circulating in the dept of daily discussion threads of r/churning.
I’m curious to see how many more times RAT will shut glitches/abuses within 24 hours of it getting popular. I’m also curious to see how many more claw backs will occur on abused that happened months ago! Will further claw back on Saks abuse happen? How about on airline credits? Uh Oh.
Bigger Signup Bonuses
All the anti-churning rules have severely weeded out churners, especially those with very high number of accounts, but banks need to sell more plastic. While they look to add further anti-churning rules, they will also look to fatten existing signup bonuses so as to attract those who can get past their anti-churning rules.
More Spend on Signup Bonuses
I believe the trend of requiring more spend on signup bonuses will catch up. I’m not sure if 2019 will be the year when these types of bonuses will dominate….likely not.
I think that these types of spend will continue to be split into various spend threshold so casuals can still get some portion of the signup bonus.
I quit on Marriott last year and moved on to Hilton. I think more and more churners people will realize that they’re better off with Hilton. The current Marriott cards are very mediocre when compared to that of Hilton. Hilton cards simply provide better status, have easier to use credits, better earning/MS rate, and much more.
It is possible that Hilton may make make some positive changes but the way Marriott is devaluating, it looks like Hilton will come out ahead as long as they don’t do anything stupid.
I would be surprised if we see permanent 0.5 cpp Hilton redemption on Amazon but who knows.
I think Hyatt should continue to be a good alternative. It would be in their best interest to keep expand portfolio…and most importantly not devaluate!
Major MS Avenue will Fall
I believe that one of current the major MS avenues will fall. This has been a trend in the past and will continue to be one.
Saving Rates go UP!
Rates have been going up and I believe they will continue to go up.
Higher Annual Fee
Like it or not American Express has been one of the leaders in premium cards market. For so many years they were the only major player to consistently offer $450 annual fee card. They’re still the only one offering any good lounges or a crap ton of other benefits to go with their lounges.
When American Express increased it’s annual fee on platinum card, everyone was watching like a hawk and I bet they, most notably Chase and Citi, started to collect data as well. Citi has recently increased annual fee on Prestige from $450 to $495.
While I’m not 100% sure if Chase will increase annual fee on Sapphire Reserve. I think there is a good chance Chase executives still see it as a relationship building card in which case its current annual fee is preferred by Chase itself.
However, the increase in annual fee of American Express Gold is likely going to stir some ideas. There is a good chances we will see some competition in that $250 annual fee space by the end of 2019 if not early-mid next year. Currently, other banks are probably still collecting data and crafting possible products at that range.
Price Protection in its Last Leg
I don’t see price protection returning. I would be very surprised if it did. With (almost) every issuer dropping price protection feature, I think Citi is getting hit very hard in this area. Eventually someone will want to change that and I fear that a possibility of altogether dropping it might be considered an option.
I hope I am wrong but I don’t see any improvements being made in this area. The best we can hope is for this benefit to not get dropped by Citi in 2019.
I believe that some banks, most notably Chase and Amex, were not prepared to send tax documents to referrers. Typically referrers are capped to earning of under $600 (or 60k points) per card just to avoid tax mess. Now that referrers are taxed regardless, we might see banks lifting yearly cap on referral. Alternatively, see might see banks persue some other routes that continues to make referral rebates.
I’m not sure if this will be on priority list for banks so I’m not sure if it will happen by 2019 but I think it will eventually happen.
I fear whatever changes Amex RAT brings.