Fidelity Ditches Bank of America, AmEx: Switches To Visa Credit Card

Fidelity, a retail brokerage and retirement-savings provider, said Monday it would begin offering Visa rewards cards issued by U.S. Bancorp to its 24 million customers, replacing rewards cards issued by Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America that had used the American Express and Mastercard payment networks.

This signals the end of a 12-year partnership with American Express that has generated billions of dollars in fees, with Fidelity saying it believed that the new Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature card would be attractive to a wider group of people. Visa cards are more broadly accepted by merchants than American Express cards, which was one of the big drivers behind the change.

“We think usage of the card will go up, which will help build customer relationships,” said Ram Subramaniam, president of Fidelity’s retail brokerage business. “It’s a key value add-on to what we bring to the customer,” he added.

The switch is another setback for American Express, which already is reeling from its lost deal with warehouse club retailer Costco Wholesale Corp. AmEx said earlier this year the loss of the Costco contract would hurt profit for two years. AmEx shares are off 25% over the past year.

In addition to returning 2% on all purchases, the new card does not charge an annual fee. The new card will continue the policy of not putting caps on rewards or limits on spending. The Fidelity Visa card also does not require cardholders to spend in certain categories, like restaurants or gas.

But there is a small catch: Rewards must be deposited into an eligible Fidelity account, including the firm’s traditional brokerage account, the Fidelity Cash Management Account, or retirement accounts such as individual retirement accounts.

The new alliance will feature cards with chip security technology, with access to digital wallets that include Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android pay.