There is a significant shift in the financial industry as new cardholder generations enter the financial market. More recently, Gen Z is beginning to enter the financial market with exceptional knowledge regarding their options and how to maximize their bottom line because they have been connected to technology and knowledge for most, if not all, of their lives. In contrast, Baby Boomers and older Gen X cardholders are at a point where they are stable within the market because they have a reliable product they like and tend to shy away from change. 

There are many diverse cardholders in the financial market and generational shifts are becoming significantly more impactful to engagement and loyalty performance in order to maintain and grow your organization’s revenue. Our experts have identified the three generational categories in the market and are sharing with you several ways to deliver exceptional products and loyalty to them individually without having to create multiple reward programs. 

Introducing Gen Z

As the newest addition to the financial market, Gen Z cardholders are defined as individuals born between 1997 and 2012 who have been raised around and with technology, making them incredibly resourceful and savvy when it comes to knowledge growth and information technology (Axis). They have been shaped and defined by social media and constant connection, and political/economic changes, such as terrorism and impactful Supreme Court rulings. 

Cardholders that fall within this generation often seek purchase recommendations online from influencers and are highly likely to download apps or interact digitally by shopping from their smartphone (CM Group). To them, authenticity is key in business dealings and they rely on social networks to stay connected with world and lifestyle news. As a financial institution, this is crucial to formulate a program that meets their needs.

As a digital-first generation, it’s important to have a quick and cohesive digital experience for cardholders, offering information and navigation that allows for quick and efficient earning and redemption options. This generation puts a high value on instant gratification, which makes them ideal for real-time rewards and wealth rewards, such as cryptocurrencies. Not only do real-time rewards and wealth rewards offer immediate financial benefits, but they also give surprise and delight to Gen Z cardholders through instant redemption opportunities that help them save and be more financially savvy. 

Generational banking trendsCatering to Millennials

Millennials are the largest living generation, bypassing Baby Boomers in 2016, and are often deterred by labels or brands (Axis). Millennials are more emotionally aware, focusing on positivity over cynicism, and are defined by recessions and major events in American history during the early 21st century, including the Obama election and the events of 9/11. As a generation that has more women in the workforce than ever before, Millennials are more likely to have higher household incomes with two working individuals, but also consume more through splurge purchases with less focus on savings (VISA). 

Overall, Millennials are seeking opportunities to save on larger purchases or overall through discounts because they tend to spend more of their disposable income than other cardholder generations. As a result, not only do they respond well to real-time rewards to reduce balances through cash back in the form of a statement credit, or buy more luxury items with points, such as handbags and travel. Having a well-rounded rewards suite, featuring real-time rewards and classic rewards such as merchandise and travel, can help drive higher engagement from cardholders. Additionally, this generation is more likely to take advantage of bonus point opportunities through card-linked offers and promotions based on merchants or spend amounts because they like maximizing their behavior in exchange for additional points and rewards. 

Retaining Gen X and Baby Boomers

Gen X and Baby Boomers are cardholder generations that are easy to retain – they often do a lot of research and choose selectively in order to build a long-term relationship. These cardholders are born between 1946 and 1980, and they are defined by wars, including World War II, Vietnam, the Cold War and the Korean War (Axis). These generations just started to become progressive throughout their lives, with the introduction of more cultural openness with music, the civil rights movement and expressionism. 

Although these individuals formed some significant societal shifts throughout their generation, they tend to be more pessimistic and reserved when it comes to decision-making. They typically come from less privileged upbringings, making them more dedicated to increasing savings and reducing debt. Gen X and Baby Boomers do not value high priced luxury items and would rather spend their hard-earned money on necessities to provide for themselves and their families. 

As a result, financial institutions should be offering a product integrated loyalty program that rewards these individuals for their behavior. Because they are loyalists to brands they view positively and often will avoid switching out of fear of discomfort, they want an all-inclusive solution, such as a financial institution that rewards them for opening new accounts, saving specific amounts and usage of their credit cards. To deliver on their demands, your financial institution can reward cardholders that open a new mortgage, open a new savings account with a specific initial deposit, or spend a specific threshold with bonus points to drive loyalty and increase product portfolio usage and revenue. 


In today’s shifting society, it’s important to offer a compelling product set that caters to each generation in the financial market.  As their behavior is going to drive your performance through engagement, you want to ensure that you’re maximizing revenue growth. Each generation has different interests, but with a fully integrated and highly engaging loyalty program, you can ensure that the needs of all consumers are fulfilled, delivering exceptional results for your financial institution. 

Need help crafting an exceptional loyalty strategy for cardholder generations? Contact our experts for a free consultation on how we can craft a custom, branded loyalty experience for your cardholders. 

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