Competition heats up for business credit cards
Direct marketing declines level off; issuers seize market opportunity
Small business owners may be next to see a rise in credit card direct marketing as the card industry shows yet another sign of recovery. Mintel Comperemedia, a service that provides direct marketing competitive intelligence, reports the number of credit card offers received by its small business panel* is no longer in decline.
So far in 2009, the number of mailings received by small business panelists has been flat. This contrasts sharply to steep declines observed throughout 2008: from January 2008 to January 2009, the number of business card mailings tracked by Mintel Comperemedia dropped 82%.
Additionally, JP Morgan Chase launched four small business cards today, including a charge card that will compete directly with American Express’s Gold business charge card. Andrew Davidson, senior vice president of Mintel Comperemedia, views the increase in competition as a positive sign:
“Chase’s decision to launch a charge card in this economy and go head-to-head with one of American Express’s flagship products is significant. It demonstrates a confidence in the market and a willingness to innovate.”
Over the past year, Chase increased its leadership as the top mailer for small business cards. In Q2 2009, Chase accounted for 41% of offers received by Mintel Comperemedia’s small business panel, up from 26% in Q2 2008. American Express, on the other hand, reduced direct marketing, accounting for less than 7% of mailings, down from 23% in Q2 2008.
Other card issuers have also stepped up direct marketing for their small business cards recently. Barclays and Citibank, both of which were prominent small business card promoters in the past, each sent significantly more offers to Mintel Comperemedia panelists in July and August 2009 than in previous months. Bank of America, too, is a leading mailer.
“After scaling back significantly in 2008, card issuers are starting to look at small businesses again,” comments Andrew Davidson. “Small businesses have the ability to create jobs and drive economic growth, but after being starved of credit, they need all the help they can get. By focusing on small businesses, credit card issuers are contributing to recovery.”
*Mintel Comperemedia collects direct mail sent to small businesses in every US state. The company maintains a static panel of 1,000 recipients—each representing a business with fewer than 500 employees—from all different industries.