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Amex tightens Delta relationship by bringing BNPL offering to its checkout

The news: American Express made its card-based buy now, pay later (BNPL) feature, Plan It, available at checkout on Delta Air Lines’ website, per a press release.

More on this: Plan it, which launched in 2017, lets Amex cardholders retroactively split transactions over $100 into monthly installments for a fixed fee. It’s been a successful BNPL contender: The volume of Plan It plans originated in Q4 2021 more than doubled compared with Q4 2020, according to the issuer.

Why it’s worth watching: Travel spending is picking back up—and payment providers have an opportunity to sweep up volume as demand for BNPL services in the sector grows.

  • In December, US travel spending reached $92 billion, just 2% below spending levels from December 2019. The US Travel Association said it was the strongest performance since the pandemic began. And travel and entertainment spending accounted for 20% of Amex’s US billed business in Q4 2021.
  • Travel spend will likely ramp up more as pandemic-related restrictions soften: In 2022, US domestic travel and tourism spending is expected to surpass pre-pandemic levels by 11.3% and reach $1.1 trillion, per forecasts from the World Travel & Tourism Council.
  • As consumers become more interested in flexible payment solutions, issuers can capitalize on pent-up travel demand by offering BNPL solutions to customers: 27.6% of US respondents interested in using BNPL for high-value transactions cited travel and vacation services as their top use case, according to a September PYMNTS survey.

Amex’s opportunity: The issuer can use the integration to help drive card growth and strengthen its relationship with Delta.

  • Amex can capture more BNPL volume from its cardholders. Delta already offers its customers BNPL through Affirm, so some Amex cardholders may have opted to pay with Affirm instead of using a card. Adding Plan It at checkout may help Amex recapture some of that volume—cardholders might be more likely to opt for Plan It to earn credit card rewards.
  • It may also help tighten the issuer’s relationship with Delta. Adding Plan It to its checkout lets Delta give its customers more payment options, which may drive conversions. This helps Amex solidify its long-standing relationship with the airline—Amex issues the Delta SkyMiles credit card, which in 2020 composed 9% of Amex’s total billings.

Related content: Interested in learning more about BNPL and Amex’s relationship with Delta? Check out these payments reports: