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Co-branded credit cards are gaining good traction and attracting customer interest as they are tailored for different purposes and spending segments. The personal finance segment continues to evolve with innovative business models, streamlined transactions and tailored offerings. This innovative approach is helping the credit card industry grow while positioning co-branded cards as the future of consumer spending.

The co-branded credit card market is experiencing significant growth, with reports projecting an increase from USD 12.34 billion in 2022 to USD 25.72 billion by 2030. This impressive expansion, at a CAGR of 9.61%, underscores the rising popularity and economic impact of these tailored financial products.

By merging the benefits of traditional credit cards with unique advantages offered by popular brands, co-branded cards create a win-win situation for issuers, merchants, and cardholders alike. They leverage the combined strengths of financial institutions and well-known brands to provide enhanced rewards, seamless payment experiences, and exclusive benefits tailored to customer preferences.

As point-of-sale systems and online transactions become more sophisticated, the demand for these fusion products continues to grow. Let’s explore why co-branding is set to dominate the credit card industry and how it’s redefining how we think about the plastic cards in our wallets.

What are co-branded cards?

Co-branded credit cards are innovative financial products issued through a partnership between a financial institution (typically a bank) and another organization, fintech company, or brand. These cards feature the logos of both partners and offer a unique blend of traditional credit card benefits and brand-specific perks. They’re designed to appeal to consumers who are loyal to particular brands or frequent specific types of businesses, such as travel, hotels, or retail stores.

Popular categories of co-branded cards

Co-branded credit cards

How do co-branded cards work?

Co-branded cards function similarly to regular credit cards but with added benefits tailored to the partner brand. Cardholders can use them for purchases anywhere the card network (like Rupay, Visa, or Mastercard) is accepted. The key difference lies in the rewards structure and additional perks. When customers make purchases, especially with the partner brand, they often earn enhanced rewards or loyalty points.

For example, a customer earns 1% cashback on every eligible purchase made using a co-branded credit card on an e-commerce app or website. This co-branded card is issued by the e-commerce company in partnership with a major private bank. The partner company usually manages marketing and distribution, while the financial institution handles credit risk assessment and account management.

Recommended Read: Difference between CIBIL Score and Credit Score

What is an example of a co-branded card?

Nowadays, the co-branded credit card landscape is rapidly evolving. These partnerships between financial institutions and popular brands provide tailored benefits to customers. These include exclusive discounts, attractive cashback, and accelerated rewards on partner purchases. By aligning with modern consumer preferences, co-branded cards are redefining convenience and value in the credit market.

For Example:

Raj is a tech-savvy professional who loves to travel and shop online. To make the most of his spending, he uses two co-branded cards:

1. Airline Co-branded Card:
Raj has the ABC Bank X Airlines Credit Card, co-branded by ABC Bank and X Airlines. He uses this card to book all his flights with the X airlines and its partner airlines. Each time he books a flight, he earns Club X points, which he can redeem for future flights, seat upgrades, and other travel-related expenses. As a cardholder, he also enjoys perks like complimentary lounge access, priority boarding, and additional baggage allowance.

2. Retail Co-branded Card:
Raj uses the XYZ Bank X Pay Credit Card for his online shopping, co-branded by XYZ Bank and X retailer. This card gives him 5% cashback on all purchases made on if he is an exclusive member, and 3% cashback if he is not. Additionally, he earns 2% cashback on transactions with X Pay partner merchants and 1% cashback on all other purchases. Raj uses the cashback he accumulates to get discounts on his future purchases, making his shopping more affordable.
By strategically using these co-branded cards, Raj maximizes the rewards and benefits he receives, making his travel and online shopping experiences more rewarding and cost-effective.

Why credit card co-branding?

Co-branding in the credit card industry offers a myriad of benefits for both financial institutions and their partners. Here’s why it is becoming increasingly popular:

Co-branded credit cards

1. Access to a Targeted Customer Base: Co-branding allows banks to tap into the partner brand’s loyal customer base, making a pre-qualified audience more likely to engage with the card offering.

2. Increased Consumer Spending: Cardholders tend to use co-branded cards more frequently, especially for purchases related to the partner brand. This approach leads to higher transaction volumes and revenues.

3. Greater Customer Engagement: Exclusive rewards and perks encourage regular card usage and foster a deeper connection between customers and both parties involved.

4. Improved Brand Visibility: Through the partnership, each brand is exposed to the other’s clientele, expanding their respective markets and reaching new consumers.

5. Enhanced Customer Loyalty: Co-branded cards reward customers with every eligible purchase at their favourite stores. This not only incentivizes repeat purchases but also strengthens customer relationships with both the financial institution and the partner brand.

6. Boosted Revenue Generation: The co-branded card’s rewards and special offers have the potential to increase sales for the partner brand and increase the bank’s card revenue.

Related Read: Surging trends in India’s credit card landscape

Benefits of co-branded cards for cardholders

Co-branded credit cards offer a unique blend of benefits tailored to enhance the lifestyle of cardholders:

  • Exclusive discounts at partner merchants
  • Customized reward programs aligned with customer’s preferences
  • Cashback on diverse spending categories
  • Instant reward points for brand-specific products or services
  • VIP access to brand events and pre-sales
  • Accelerated earning rates on brand-specific purchases
  • Flexible point redemption across multiple partners
  • Competitive annual fees and interest rates
  • Enhanced security features with 24/7 customer support
  • Welcome bonuses and milestone rewards
  • Complimentary perks (e.g., airport lounge access, travel insurance)

    The bottom line

    Co-branding unlocks unique opportunities to cater to specific customer needs while providing financial institutions with better break-even points and lower delinquency rates. The key to success lies in making alliances with tech savvy merchants who prioritize customer value.

    While travel, fuel, dining, and retail sectors dominate the co-branding landscape, there’s immense potential in exploring niche partnerships. Emerging categories like healthcare, sports franchises, and electronics present exciting avenues for differentiation and innovation.
    Ultimately, co-branded cards offer a delicate balance of convenience and rewards. As we move forward, the evolution of co-branded cards will likely continue to reshape the financial landscape, offering increasingly personalized and valuable solutions for cardholders.


    Co-branded credit cards


    1. How do co-branded credit cards differ from store credit cards?

    Co-branded credit cards offer wider usability and more diverse benefits. Unlike store cards, which are limited to specific retailers, co-branded cards can be used anywhere credit cards are accepted. They provide rewards and perks both within and beyond the associated brand, offering greater flexibility and value.

    2. What special benefits do co-branded cards offer?

    Co-branded cards often come with a suite of tailored benefits. These may include enhanced cash-back rates, accelerated points earning, exclusive discounts, and brand-specific perks. For travel-oriented cards, expect benefits like complimentary travel insurance, elite status fast-tracking, and airport lounge access.

    3. How do co-branded cards impact credit scores?

    When used responsibly, co-branded cards can positively influence credit scores. Timely payments and maintaining a low credit utilization ratio are key. But exercise caution when applying for more than one card quickly, as this may temporarily lower your score. Treat co-branded cards like any other credit tool with care and consideration.

    4. What are the pros and cons of co-branded credit cards?

    • Tailored rewards aligned with customer’s spending habits
    • Enhanced benefits with partner brands
    • Exclusive perks and experiences
    • Opportunity to fast-track loyalty status

    • Rewards may be concentrated within specific brand ecosystems
    • Potential for unnecessary spending
    • Typically higher interest rates if carrying a balance
    • Annual fees may offset benefits for infrequent users

    Remember, the ideal co-branded card aligns with the consumer’s lifestyle and spending patterns.

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