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The 2022 trends that helped shape the credit card sector

Let’s recap: US credit card transaction volume hit $3.089 trillion in 2022, per Insider Intelligence forecasts. Here’s a look back at some of the trends that influenced the card sector this year.

  1. Card players leaned heavily into payment flexibility. Issuers like JPMorgan and TD Bank introduced new flexible payment offerings in 2022 to compete with buy now, pay later (BNPL) providers and encourage consumer spending. Visa and Mastercard also ramped up their BNPL programs to help them grab a share of the $75.60 billion BNPL market in the US. Consumers embraced flexible payment options as high inflation persisted through 2022.
  2. Rewards remained top-of-mind. Fifty-six percent of respondents in our US Cash-Back Credit Card Emerging Features Benchmark 2022 said rewards were among the top features considered when deciding which card to apply for. Cards launched in 2022—like Wells Fargo’s Autograph Visa card and U.S. Bank’s Shopper Cash Rewards Visa Signature card—prioritized rewards as issuers sought to acquire customers and bolster spending.
  3. Digital co-brand cards gained steam. Although retail, airline, and hotel programs dominate the co-brand card space, digital co-brands—cards tied to digital platforms—gained prevalence in 2022. JPMorgan launched the long-awaited Instacart Mastercard co-brand in July and followed it up with a DoorDash co-brand card announcement. And American Express signed a partnership over the summer with card startup Cardless to launch digital co-brands. Digital programs are ushering in the next wave of innovation in the co-brand card sector.
  4. Issuers tapped small-business credit demand. Credit cards are the second-most-sought-after form of financing for small businesses in the US, according to 2022 Federal Reserve data. Aside from launching new credit cards, many banks introduced small-business credit access initiatives in 2022. Small businesses are an attractive segment for issuers because they account for 99.9% of all US businesses, according to data from the Small Business Administration.
  5. Travel spending bolstered card volume. The travel sector made a huge comeback in 2022 as many consumers released pent-up demand from the previous two years: International travel recovered about 60% of pre-pandemic levels between January and July 2022, per the United Nations World Tourism Organization. This helped boost card volume for Visa, Mastercard, and other payment players. Issuers like Citi and JPMorgan launched new travel perks to capitalize on travel demand and encourage spending.

This article originally appeared in Insider Intelligence's Payments Innovation Briefing—a daily recap of top stories reshaping the payments industry. Subscribe to have more hard-hitting takeaways delivered to your inbox daily.