Published in: Credit Cards | Jan. 22, 2019

4 Hyped Credit Card Trends That Need to End

By:  Lyle Daly

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Exciting credit card news isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Here are the hyped credit card trends that we’re sick of seeing.

Woman in white t-shirt using scissors to cut a credit card.

Image source: Getty Images

Sometimes it seems like there’s a constant stream of credit card offers coming out on a daily basis. Each one is positioned as the latest and greatest, with banks advertising card benefits in giant letters, telling you exactly how many points you can get or how much money this card could save you.

Don’t let the excessive positivity fool you, though. Not every credit card trend lives up to the hype, and there are a few in particular that we’d like to see come to an end.

1. Hard-to-use credits

This is easily the credit card trend I despise the most. You see a card that offers, for example, a $100 travel credit. Of course, the card has an annual fee, but that credit can help reduce the card’s cost quite a bit.

Only then do you look at the details on this travel credit and notice that it strictly covers airline charges. Alright, that could at least be helpful for seat upgrades or change fees -- nope, those aren’t eligible.

The cards that credit you a set amount per month are just as frustrating. Instead of just giving you the full $100 or $200 annually for dining or rideshares, it’s a smaller monthly stipend, making it harder to max out your credit.

Your credit card is supposed to make your life easier, not make you jump through hoops to use it to its full potential.

2. A credit card for every brand

At this point, I think it’d be hard to find a brand that isn’t offering its own credit card. Here’s just a few of the major brands that either have launched or announced plans to launch their own credit card:

Those are just the tip of the iceberg. Now, it makes sense why companies would do this. Credit cards make money for the card issuer, and a card for a specific brand can help boost customer loyalty.

Just because it’s good for the brand doesn’t mean it’s good for consumers, though. Most consumers would get better rewards and benefits going with one of the most popular travel or cash-back cards, as those are more versatile.

3. Zero-interest offers

On the surface, zero-interest offers seem like a great deal. You can make an expensive purchase and repay it over time without paying anything extra for that privilege. So far, so good.

The drawback here is that these zero-interest offers frequently have deferred interest. What that means is if you fail to pay off the full balance within the intro period, the creditor can charge you all the interest starting with when you first made the purchase. If you really need to finance a purchase, 0% APR credit cards are a safer option since they will have waived interest during the intro period.

It’s also important to recognize that these offers are designed to encourage you to spend money. Many a consumer has bought something expensive they really didn’t need solely because they could get it at zero interest.

4. Airport lounge access for everyone

Unlike the other trends mentioned, this one involves a perk that I actually like. I’m a huge fan of credit cards with airport lounge access, as it’s nice to kick back with free drinks and comfortable seating before your flight.

I should correct myself here -- just about everyone is a fan of credit cards with lounge access, and about as many people have one of their own at this point. Lounge access, in particular access to Priority Pass lounges, has become a common perk among several of the best travel cards. When so many people use a service, it’s bound to get watered down.

Not only can more people than ever get into airport lounges, but they often bring a big group of travel companions with them. That has led to lounges cutting back on their benefits and restricting entry more frequently because they’re close to capacity. Oftentimes those supposedly luxurious airport lounges are just as packed and chaotic as the boarding area.

Don’t fall for the hype

Despite these overhyped trends, credit cards can still be an excellent value when used properly. What’s important is picking a credit card that fits your spending and has perks you can really use.

The first step to picking the right card is figuring out whether you want cash back or travel rewards, and focus on what a card can earn you in either of those areas. If any other card benefits catch your eye, make sure to find out exactly how they work and what they offer so you don’t end up disappointed later.

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