Q4 2017: U.S. credit card issuer snapshot

Although issuers are benefiting from increased spend and receivables, rising loss rates and rewards costs are continuing to suppress ROAs.

Key themes

  • Receivables and spend increased year-over-year for all
  • American Express, Discover and Capital One led in terms of year-over-year receivables growth
  • Chase and Capital One led in terms of year-over-year purchase volume growth, although all issuers reported strong growth
  • Several banks have suggested that competitive intensity has moderated slightly
  • Although loss rates are normalizing, they remain below historical averages
  • Investments are being made in machine learning, mobile and advanced analytics

Notable happenings


  • PayPal announces an agreement to sell its $ 5.8 billion portfolio of U.S. consumer receivables to Synchrony

Partnership Renewals:

  • Marriott signs renewal agreements with Chase and American Express

New Partnerships:

  • Uber and Barclays introduce a new no-fee credit card
  • Alliance Data gains new partners IKEA and Adorama

New Products/Features:

  • Hilton and American Express introduce a new high-end fee card, Aspire
  • Amazon opens its cashier-free store Amazon Go to the public
  • Chase introduces mobile payments as a bonus category on Freedom cards

Mobile & Tech: 

  • Target introduces a proprietary wallet in its mobile app
  • Kroger and Chase Pay partner on mobile payments

Industry trends (based on non-retail card issuers in scorecard section)

Fig 1: Industry trends based on non-retail card issuers in scorecard section
Click to view larger

1 Total receivables for non-retail issuers at end of 4Q17. 2 Total purchase volume of non-retail issuers in 4Q17. 3 After-Tax ROA excludes Wells Fargo, Chase, Bank of America and US Bank, which do not report credit specific income. 4 YoY = Year-over-year change versus 4Q16. 5 QoQ = Quarter-over-quarter change versus 3Q17. Note: PV is reported PV for the quarter (it is not annualized or TTM)

scorecard—Q4 ($ in Billions)

Fig 2: Issuer scorecard—Q4 2017 in Billions
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1 Chase no longer discloses an ROA measure directly attributable to Card Services. 2 Citi: Purchase volume includes cash advances. 3 Capital One: U.S. card business, small business, installment loans only. Purchase volume excludes cash advances. 4 Bank of America: Receivables, purchase volume and net loss rates are for U.S. consumer cards. ROA estimate is discontinued. 5 Discover: includes U.S. domestic receivables and purchase volumes only. Restated: ROA reflective of Direct Banking segment (credit card represents ~80% of loans) and implied U.S. Cards tax rate of ~40%. ROA denominator estimated from total loans ended totals. 6 American Express: Changed reporting method as of 1Q16. Figures are for U.S. Consumer segment only and exclude small business. 7 US Bank: Net Income attributable to Payments Services totaled $ 309M as of 4Q17, compared to $ 322M in 4Q16; Payments Services includes revenue from consumer credit cards, as well as commercial revenue and other sources. 8 A/R and PV for Retail Card unit only. 9 Loss rates and ROA include all of SYF’s business lines (i.e., Retail Card, Payment Solutions, and CareCredit). Retail Card accounts for about 70% of total receivables. 10 Average Receivables.


  Paul Sammer, Management Consultant





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