Airline credit-card reward programs in regulators’ crosshairs

Credit cards

ORLANDO, Fla. — Editor’s note: This story is available as a result of a content partnership between WFTV and the Orlando Business Journal.

The nation’s major airlines are drawing heat over their branded credit-card reward programs, with federal regulators targeting consumer complaints that claim many perks don’t live up to the hype and sometimes cost more than they are worth.


Those findings come from a new report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which received over 1,200 complaints involving credit-card rewards in 2023, a 70% increase over pre-pandemic levels.

Credit-card reward programs are an increasingly important part of the revenue stream for airlines, with the share of revenue generated by loyalty programs for the biggest U.S. airlines increasing from 12% in 2019 to 16% two years later, according to the CFPB.

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