Card Spends and inflation

Was remembering my days in the bank when part of my job was to increase Credit card spends by manipulating credit lines for individual customers or clusters. My friend in the same team had a similar goal, but he could manipulate only the offers that were made available to our carded customers.

While the role was really exciting and highly numbers driven, we were not really benchmarking ourselves to some base year/month prices. Consider this: a customer who uses his credit card for all his petrol purchases would have seen 10% increase in fuel spends only because of fuel price hike. This would have resulted in around 5% increase in his total card spends. Add to this the inflation on other consumable items and the average growth in spends would have been around 7-8%.

Credit Card Spends

Now most of the metrics shared amp; reported in monthly decks are not indexed to a base month price at the start of the financial year- so how does the bank really know whether the non-inflation impacted spends have picked up or not?

The reverse should be true in a deflating economy- even if actual spends are falling, maybe there has been a genuine growth in spends indexed to base prices.

Which brings us to the next Q- how do we map spends across categories according to monthly inflation on those individual categories. Its easy to do for fuel- due to the high decibel debates surrounding it- but what about groceries, travel,health etc etc.

Is there a freely available source of monthly change in prices of commodities across categories and how can we easily integrate it into corporate MIS surrounding spends etc?

Taking a slightly different view on this- it also means that if we target categories with higher expected price rise, we might end up getting a higher share of wallet faster- which means that all card issuers who have been offering 0% fuel surcharge- will get to benefit more than the ones that charge 2.5% . I use my HSBC credit card for buying petrol and my Citibank Credit card for all other spends- suddenly the % spend on my HSBC card has increased- without any effort from HSBC’s side. Am sure the next will be grocery and air travel- no wonder I got a mail from HDFC amp; clear trip offering me 50% off on my next purchase.

The game for spend based offers has just become more interesting !