Amazon renews Prime credit card pact with JPMorgan after flirting with American Express

Amazon renews Prime credit card pact with JPMorgan after flirting with American Express

Amazon has chosen to resume a deal permitting JPMorgan Chase to situation the tech big’s flagship rewards credit card, ending months of heated negotiations, CNBC has realized.

The Amazon Prime Rewards card was one of many trade’s most extremely coveted co-brand offers, a uncommon prize due to the huge scope of Amazon’s loyalty program, with its estimated 150 million U.S. members, in keeping with individuals with information of the talks.

Whereas JPMorgan has issued Amazon’s card because it was little greater than an internet bookseller two decades ago, that did not cease Amazon from soliciting bids to interchange the financial institution in mid-2021. American Express, Synchrony and Citigroup had been among the many issuers concerned in discussions, and Mastercard had hoped to displace Visa as funds community, stated the individuals, who declined to be recognized talking in regards to the personal course of.

“This was a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to penetrate Amazon and have a step change in your card business,” stated one of many individuals.  “If Chase were to lose it, it would be the shot heard around the payments world. Any winner would gain instant credibility and a new growth story for Wall Street.”

Credit card offers with standard manufacturers together with Amazon, Costco and American Airways have change into among the most hotly contested contracts within the monetary world. That is as a result of they immediately give the issuing financial institution a captive viewers of thousands and thousands of loyal prospects who spend billions of {dollars} a yr. The largest pacts could make up a disproportionate share of an issuer’s enterprise; American Express misplaced 10% of its playing cards in circulation when Citigroup gained the bid for Costco’s card in 2015.

The card offers are so essential to banks that CEOs together with JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon and Citigroup’s Jane Fraser are identified to become involved hashing out the transactions, the individuals stated.

Tense talks

Discussions for the Amazon card included JPMorgan’s stance that it could walk away from the two-decade lengthy partnership and promote its mortgage portfolio, Bloomberg reported in June. Loans made by Amazon Prime prospects held on the financial institution’s Chase division complete roughly $20 billion, stated the sources. Doing so would ignite an arduous strategy of switching over thousands and thousands of shoppers to a brand new financial institution whereas ensuring their playing cards nonetheless labored completely.

Which will have been a negotiating tactic on the a part of JPMorgan, as a result of whereas Amazon skilled torrid development through the pandemic as individuals had been compelled to remain residence, different segments that Chase playing cards are identified for — accommodations, eating places and leisure — declined sharply. That made Amazon much more essential for the most important U.S. financial institution by belongings.

Regardless of their significance for banks and to American shoppers, who’ve change into obsessed with maximizing card rewards, the contracts themselves are shrouded in secrecy. Amazon required members to signal non-disclosure agreements and ran its personal RFP, or request for proposal, for the deal, largely excluding third-party consultants, stated one of many individuals.

Recognized for driving onerous bargains with companions, Amazon pushed issuers to simply accept their phrases, stated the individuals. That included sustaining the card’s wealthy 5% rewards fee for and Complete Meals purchases, whereas additionally having to fork over a part of the financial institution’s income from making loans, in addition to rebate among the interchange charges the financial institution would usually preserve, stated the individuals.

Longer offers

As massive retailers flexed their leverage over banks through the previous decade, forcing lenders to simply accept extra onerous revenue-share phrases and supply richer rewards, the offers have grown longer in length. What had usually been five-year contracts have stretched into seven- and ten-year offers, and even longer, in keeping with trade members, giving the banks a greater likelihood at being profitable on the playing cards. For example, Citigroup’s Costco deal is successfully a decade lengthy, stated two of the individuals.

A number of of the banks concerned had hopes that they may dislodge JPMorgan for not less than a part of the enterprise, maybe by being named as a secondary issuer alongside with Chase.  American Express and Synchrony already had different playing cards with Amazon, together with small enterprise and personal label choices. They and the opposite banks declined to remark for this story.

Funds community Mastercard sensed a gap final yr amid a dispute between Amazon and Visa over the interchange charges the ecommerce big is compelled to pay. Mastercard solicited curiosity from banks together with American Express, seeing if they may companion as much as displace Chase and Visa, stated one of many individuals. Conveniently, Visa and Amazon reached a global agreement final month that allowed Visa cardholders to proceed utilizing their playing cards.

In the long run, Amazon selected to remain with JPMorgan and the Visa community. The company relationship stretches all the best way again to 2002, when a Chicago-based lender known as Financial institution One (led by CEO Jamie Dimon on the time) first signed up the promising younger web firm to a card deal. Financial institution One was acquired by JPMorgan two years later.


The non-public relationship between Dimon and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos goes again even additional, to Amazon’s early days. Dimon has stated he even briefly entertained joining Amazon before taking the Bank One job. More recently, the leaders formed a three-company joint venture with Berkshire Hathaway called Haven that aimed to disrupt American health care before disbanding the effort in 2021.

The companies’ latest deal means that for users of the popular Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card, little will change. Prime members will still earn 5% back on and Whole Foods purchases — a top rate among rewards cards — as well as 2% at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores, and 1% elsewhere.

In a brief statement provided to CNBC, Amazon Vice President Max Bardon said the company looked forward to “continuing our work with Chase and its technology and capabilities to enable this seamless, benefit-added payment option to Amazon customers.”

For its part, JPMorgan touted the “multi-year” co-brand deal and said it was “incredibly proud” of its relationship with Amazon.

“Looking to the future, we’re excited to continue delivering new features for this product that delight card members,” said Chase co-CEO Marianne Lake.

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