It all started in 1958. The modern credit card, as we know it, emerged as a key element of post-war middle-class expansion. Forms of credit had been around for thousands of years, but American Express and BankAmericard helped fuel a dramatic surge in spending power and financial flexibility. There’s been no looking back since.

The initial value of credit cards was convenience and, well, credit. Before digital payments, you either had to have the cash on hand or have credit. Lacking both? You’d have to go to your bank in person and acquire real cash.

Loyalty Programs Take Off

Alongside credit, airline loyalty programs started in the early 1980s with American Airlines’ AAdvantage mileage loyalty program. Next up over the next decade — co-branded airline credit cards. These continue to be a significant part of the credit cards landscape today. Based on the popularity of airline credit cards, banks have rolled out a series of bank-branded travel cards. These offer flexible rewards that allow consumers to choose how they earn rewards.

Consolidation in Credit

Over the years the nation’s largest banks (Chase, Capital One, Citibank, Bank of America, and American Express) have come to dominate the credit card market. To coincide with the growth of the largest banks, the financial crisis took its toll on smaller institutions. The overall impact? Fewer banks are issuing credit cards.

While the large banks continue to move the credit card market forward in meaningful ways, they need real scale to be successful. Almost inevitably that requires that they offer products that appeal to a very broad range of people.

The down side? Everything to everyone can also be nothing to anyone.

Consumers Want Personalized Credit Solutions

Today you can log on to Spotify and choose from 50 million songs, or more than 5,000 movies on Netflix or Amazon Prime. The Internet has enabled thousands of products which are uniquely customizable to your preferences. How will the next generation of loyalty, rewards and credit programs reflect the heightened expectations of consumers?

Vertical Finance’s Loyalty Platform enables you to have the rewards you truly desire. There are hundreds of incredible hobbies and passions in the world. We each have different ways we want to spend our free time: for some of us its travel. You’re in luck — there are dozens of great travel cards. If travel isn’t your hobby, or if you find travel points complex and hard to redeem, we’re here to build a program for you. There’s never been a better time to align your passions with your rewards!