Using FinTech to Manage Your Credit Card Rewards
If you’ve ever considered getting a rewards credit card you know it can be a daunting task. Sure the information is all out there but it can be difficult to know exactly which card will make the most sense for you personally. Furthermore managing multiple rewards cards and using each to its full potential is a skill in and of itself. As a result of this confusion it is estimated that consumers in the U.S. let $20.3 billion in rewards go unused every year.
That’s why FinTech startup Birch has set out to make the entire process easier. The company recently launched at TechCrunch Disrupt New York, where they described how their service works and what they eventually hope it will be able to do for consumers. Birch provides cardholders with a way to easily monitor their rewards for multiple cards.
Similar to personal finance apps such as Mint, Birch connects to your bank and credit card accounts in order to display your purchases and break them down into categories. What makes Birch different is that it will then show what rewards you earned per transactions or what you missed by not using another card (in which case it will suggest the card you should have used to get the most reward points). The service can even recommend new rewards credit cards that would make sense for you based on your spending habits.
At Disrupt, Birch co-founder Alex Cohen said, “I started reading through a bunch of blogs and forums when I was doing credit card research and was thinking, holy crap this takes forever. Others were complaining about how not really knowing how rewards programs work and applying for the first cards that look good, and when they had them they didn’t know how to redeem points properly. That’s when I had that a-ha moment, we need to talk to some people and see if people will actually use this thing.” Best of all the service is completely free for users.
In the future the company says they’d like to make it so that users can redeem points from one place. This could include the ability to book flights using rewards points without ever having to leave the Birch site. For now Birch lets user set goals for redemption. For example, if someone if looking to book a trip with points, the app will give them an estimate of when they’ll hit that goal based on their projected spending. The company also says they’re working to be able to send consumers real-time alerts as to which card they should use before the transaction is completed.
To some it may seem like Birch is built simply to sell credit cards, especially since a big part of their funding comes from affiliate programs. However, just like rewards credit card themselves, if used correctly the app can be a big benefit to consumers looking to get the most for their money. It’s also another example of how FinTech companies are making personal finance more efficient and helping consumers manage their money — even their free money.