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Create Subscription-Based Banking Services for Frequent Travelers

By Jim Bruene on July 22, 2014 8:17 AM | Comments

image Having just returned from an all-too-short vacation, I continue to believe that banks are missing a lucrative opportunity to help customers reduce their financial anxiety while away from home. Following are the financial travel services I'd love to buy as a package priced at under $10/mo (not including insurance which would likely be sold on as-needed basis).

Travel services not only could be a solid source of fee income, but also put the bank in a great position to sell add-on insurance and credit services to road warriors and frequent travelers. 

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1. Easy-to-set travel flags
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Most travelers have been trained to inform their bank about international travel plans to avoid unnecessary declines. It's a perfect feature for mobile banking, but many (most) banks still require a tedious phone call to the call center. I've written about this before (here and here) and I'm seeing some improvements, though I still had trouble earlier this month with my bank of 20+ years (see note 1 for details). I'd also like to receive an "all clear" notice upon expiration of the flag.

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2. Financial management services
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While spending like crazy on holiday, it would be nice to have the option of seeing a running total of all travel expenses (at least those that weren't prepaid). That would help us pace ourselves to keep from overspending and/or running out of cash before before we get home. Ideally, it would be nice to set up the "vacation ticker" at the same time we set the travel flag (see #1). The info should also be emailed/texted to travelers at the start of each day.

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3. Personal trip journal
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There are already some great services for managing reimbursable expenses on the road such as Expensify. But I want the same thing for personal travel. Sure, my perfect self would keep a neat journal of all the cool places where we visited and dined. But realistically, that's just not going to happen. But I'd love my card app to help me keep a "spending journal" that would be a good substitute. As each expense occurred, the app would prompt me to snap a photo and/or jot down a few words to annotate each expense as they happened. And the bank would store these "travel journals" within secure online/mobile banking for the life of the account, thereby creating a powerful retention tool. 

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4. Special travel service reps (concierge)
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Normal customer service reps aren't always that savvy on the nuances of card usage while on the road, especially overseas trips (case in point, see #1). Provide a special email/text/phone number to "financial travel specialists" to get questions answered and problems resolved.

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5. Convenient travel insurance that covers financial transaction
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Not all the opportunities are around spending. There are important avenues of risk reduction available to savvy FIs. Due to a previous bad experience, I'm always a bit concerned about the safety of my personal belongings on the road. So, I'd like to buy travel insurance that covers:
-- My personal belongings at the hotel or on my person (includes lost luggage)
-- Details re: fraudulent use of my card 
-- Rental cars' damage (not covered by my existing auto policy)

And the whole area of travel interruption is another possible avenue (see previous post).

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BONUS: Chip-and-PIN prepaid cards for USA cardholders traveling abroad
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Last week, I was that guy at the A9 toll booth making everyone back up to get over to the cash lane since none of my U.S. cards would work in the card reader (though they had worked earlier in the day). This included my fancy new BofA chip-and-signature card. We had more trouble than ever with U.S. credit cards in our latest trip across the Atlantic. So, please U.S. card issuers, sell me a prepaid card that really works in Europe. I'd pay a $100 fee (at least) just to avoid another toll-booth incident.

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Note:
1. I called my bank from the airport departure lounge to inform them I'd be using their ATM/debit card in Europe. The CSR insisted that I had to provide the last 4-digits of my checking account number before she could place a travel notice on my account. Since I was sitting at the airport without that info, we were at a standstill. Only after I asked for a supervisor did she come back and agree to do it for me.

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Categories: Fee Income , Travel

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