Watch for These Big Changes to Credit Cards in 2021

Laveta Brigham

By Sara Rathner The Covid-19 pandemic forced credit card companies to make dramatic changes in 2020, some of which will continue into 2021. Many issuers tightened their underwriting, leaving consumers with fewer card options to choose from if they had less-than-good credit. Balance transfer cards all but disappeared, with some […]

By Sara Rathner

The Covid-19 pandemic forced credit card companies to make dramatic changes in 2020, some of which will continue into 2021.

Many issuers tightened their underwriting, leaving consumers with fewer card options to choose from if they had less-than-good credit. Balance transfer cards all but disappeared, with some exceptions for those with excellent credit. Travel rewards cards raced to remain top-of-wallet at a time when travelers were canceling trips in droves.

In 2020, we also saw plenty of limited-time pandemic-related credit card offers:

  • Extended time frames to earn sign-up bonuses.
  • Statement credits that took the sting out of otherwise high annual fees, or credits toward purchases at specific merchants.
  • Bonus rewards on groceries, streaming subscriptions, food delivery and other stay-at-home purchases.
  • The ability to redeem travel points toward nontravel purchases at the same value per point.

There’s no telling when things will return to normal, or what “normal” will even look like later in 2021. But as the year progresses, some of these limited-time perks may be quietly eliminated in favor of benefits that are tailored toward consumers who are itching to get back out into the world.

Here are five trends to anticipate in 2021:

1. Contactless Payments Will Continue to Evolve

The world we live in now is one of elbow bumps and those metal hooks you can carry around to open doors. Naturally, this touch-averse mentality extends to what was already viewed as germ-infested: money. Before, contactless technology was a convenience. Now it’s a necessity.

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