Expect big bonus offers and crypto rewards

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Several great credit card offers came out last year, and they could get even better in 2022.

Key points

  • Credit cards with crypto rewards are my pick for the biggest trend of 2022.
  • Card issuers will also likely launch more exciting introductory offers and special perks.
  • It wouldn’t be surprising to see some annual fee hikes this year.

2021 has been a big year for credit card enthusiasts. Card issuers offered some of the best bonuses we’ve seen in a long time, offered great perks and launched new credit cards.

There is only one question now: what happens in 2022? Although we can never know for sure, we can try to predict some of the major credit card trends that will define this year.

1. Crypto credit cards will be the next big thing

The crypto has had a huge streak of success, both in terms of value and notoriety. The crypto market as a whole grew from around $780 billion to over $2.2 trillion in value in 2021, many of the biggest coins became household names, and the Super Bowl was full of ads for cryptographic applications.

If I had to make a prediction for 2022, it would be more credit card companies expanding into crypto rewards. There are already crypto credit cards available, but this is still an area with plenty of room to grow.

We will most likely see more crypto platforms launching their own card products. Card issuers can also add cryptocurrency as a way to redeem points with some of their rewards credit cards.

2. Card issuers will continue to offer big sign-up bonuses

Sign-up bonuses are one of the most popular incentive card issuer offers for new cardholders. There were several high value bonuses in 2021, as American Express, Capital One and Chase all had 100,000 point welcome bonuses available that year.

Expect to see more big bonuses throughout 2022. This is an effective strategy for credit card companies to attract new customers. Keep in mind that bonuses are often only available for a limited time, so if you see one you like, it’s best to apply for the card as soon as possible.

3. More credit cards will offer balance transfers with an introductory APR of 0%

Balance transfer offers were hard to come by at the start of the pandemic. There weren’t many credit cards offering a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers in 2020, but that benefit started to return last year.

Consumer debt also returned last year. According to the Federal Reserve, revolving credit balances (like credit cards) grew by 6.6% in 2021.

With more people carrying balances, card issuers will likely continue to bring back balance transfer credit cards. This is another way to attract new customers, as they allow you to lower the interest rate on your credit card.

4. Perks will become more diverse and harder to use

The features of the best credit cards have become much more specialized in recent years. For example, there are cards that offer monthly spend credits with top fitness brands, such as Equinox and Peloton, and cards with free subscriptions to Walmart+ and Instacart Express.

As card issuers expand their partnerships, they will continue to offer these types of benefits that work with specific brands.

Consumers aren’t always a fan of these benefits, and I understand why. They can be tricky to use, and if you don’t use them, they’re worthless. On the other hand, I found services that I like only because of the credit card offers I had.

There were big annual fee increases in 2021. The Platinum Card® from American Express went from $550 to $695 per year (see rates and fees). Chase increased the Chase Sapphire Reserve® annual fee from $450 to $550, which it originally planned to do in 2020. It delayed this change for a year due to the pandemic.

I think more annual fee hikes are on the way in 2022, most likely on cards with annual fees between $70 and $250. Most of these cards have been charging the same amount for years, so card issuers may decide it’s time to raise rates.

There’s good news and bad news in the credit card trends I predict for 2022. If this year looks like 2021, we should at least have plenty of exciting new offers to check out.

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