June 25, 2018 / 5:19 PM / 5 months ago

Wells Fargo jumps into credit card rewards race

FILE PHOTO: A Wells Fargo branch is seen in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois. REUTERS/Jim Young

(Reuters) - Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) introduced a new credit card rewards program on Monday, aiming to stand out against other benefit-heavy cards and gain more of a foothold in a market where it has lagged rivals.

Other big U.S. lenders like JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) have successfully built up their credit card business by luring customers with travel and entertainment benefits in recent years.

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo said it will sweeten the rewards for one of its premium cards next month, offering three points per dollar spent on dining, traveling and streaming services like Netflix for no annual fee.

The move by Wells Fargo comes after the Federal Reserve earlier this year placed a cap on its asset growth until it can prove its governance and risk controls have improved following a string of sales practices scandals.

Banks like Citigroup Inc (C.N) have recorded returns on assets in the credit card business topping 2 percent, making them one of the most profitable consumer loans.

Wells Fargo, fourth-biggest U.S. lender by assets, had said in 2015 it wanted to double its credit card business over the next few years. But its credit cards have held steady at less than 4 percent of its total loans. (reut.rs/2lzYw0I)

Credit cards made up about 30 percent of loans at JPMorgan and 10 percent of loans at Bank of America Corp at the end of the first quarter. (BAC.N)

Wells Fargo’s head of cards and retail services Beverly Anderson said that not having an annual fee will make the card competitive and rewards for everyday activities will help it move to the top of customer’s wallets.

Reporting by Imani Moise; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli

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