|by Jason Steele|
While kids are making their lists for Santa, I can spend a few minutes dreaming up my ultimate card. It would be easy to think of a card that has a zero interest rate, unlimited bonus miles, and all sorts of impossible perks, but I will try to limit myself to features that could theoretically be offered by a for profit bank.
The Ultimate Card
First, it would have to be a Visa. Sorry Amex, but you guys just aren’t accepted everywhere. Ideally, it would be very similar to my Starwood Amex. Like Starwood, it would have no capacity controls or blackout dates on hotel awards. Also like Starwood, the points would be very flexible, they could be transferred to almost any airline at any time.
Am I Just Looking For A Starwood Visa?
Yes and no. A Starwood Visa would be amazing, but since I am dreaming, here are some more ideas. I would like to see a card offer a retention bonus every year. Many cards will do this, if you call them and ask, but it is not automatic. Why should the big sign up bonuses be showered on new users, instead of loyal, existing ones. In fact, if a credit card company offered a larger retention bonus every year, they would have some extremely loyal customers.
How About Some Intangibles
I have already made the prediction a few times that intangibles rewards are the future of reward cards. By that I mean that card holders will get exclusive access to something, kind of like elite status on the airlines. Maybe that could be the first crack at a new gadget on the market, a black Friday sale, or some other special relationship that the credit card company can negotiate. When I spend 30,000 dollars a year on my Starwood card, I get Starwood Gold status, which is great, but I am sure there are some other perks that a credit card company could get.
Fix Rental Car Coverage
Credit card rental car coverage is great, but it is filled with holes. A big pet peeve of mind is the exclusions for certain countries such as Israel, Ireland, and Jamaica. These are major tourist and/or business destinations, and the card issuers should find some way to include them. Other exclusions include just about any car other than a sedan. If you read the fine print, there is no SUVs, sports cars, and other popular vehicles. Sure, they don’t need to be in the business of insuring people joyriding in a rental Corvette, but in this age of crossover SUVs and sports sedans, where do you draw the line? Is a Subaru Outback an SUV? Is the v-6 base Ford Mustang really a sports car? I am sure most people could not tell you when they rent a car if they are sure it will be covered in the case of an accident.
They also need to handle claims better. Fortunately, I have never had a claim, but from what I have read, you are set up for a mountain of paperwork and back and forth between the card company and the rental car company as each blames the other. It should be more seamless. If they outsource claims, the credit card company should be managing the interaction between the insurer and the rental car company. As it stands now, they just step back and let you duke it out between them.
We know that banks can innovate, as they are constantly coming up with new fees for things I could not have imagined. Maybe they could harness some of that creative power for good. Maybe they could have you rate merchants, and that info could be shared with other card holders? Perhaps you could opt in to have various merchants send you coupons with your bill? Maybe their web site could allow you to set a monthly budget where you can check in every day to see how your charges are meeting your goals? It doesn’t matter, the point is that card companies could really try to provide some value to the consumer at little cost to themselves. The result would be more loyal and satisfied customers.
These are my ideas for a great credit card. What are yours?