For consumers, credit card rewards programs can be very, well, rewarding.
Consumers routinely earn cash back, free flights, concert tickets, and a slew of other perks not typically available for debit card purchases, and certainly not available when using cash.
For investors, these programs help grow the top and bottom lines by bringing in new customers and creating loyalty with existing card holders. It's a tactic that works across the board, from credit card companies like American Express (NYSE:AXP) and Discover Financial Services (NYSE:DFS) to megabanks like JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) and Bank of America (NYSE:BAC).
Not content to regulate the root causes of the housing market bubble, complex derivatives, "too big too fail" banks, and other truly mission-critical issues, regulators this month announced they will now be reviewing credit card reward programs.
In the video below, I explain my befuddlement with this announcement. Credit card rewards programs are win-win propositions, and they certainly didn't play a role in the financial crisis. Regulators need to focus on the real problems, and leave programs that benefit consumers and shareholders alone.