De-Mystify Credit Card Rewards Points for a Better User Experience

by on Oct 11, 2019

Person on  laptop looking at credit card in handWhat is the value of a point? I don’t mean to get philosophical here; in the real world, credit card customers are often curious about the actual, tangible value of a reward program point.

It’s legitimately confusing. There’s a lot that goes into it. A customer will spend a certain number of points to get a $25 gift card with one retailer, and slightly more to get a $25 gift card with another retailer. And don’t even get me started on travel points, where the cost of the tickets they’re redeeming for can fluctuate day to day.

Then what about the other side of the equation—how do dollars charged to the card translate into points or miles? This is what drives some customers to choose a card, and yet it can be completely opaque. Some cards do give the customer more of a sense of understanding or even control, however.

For example, one of the cards in my wallet has categories that earn me different points; every year I can even choose the percentage I get for a specific category. Of course, I’ve had the card for five years and routinely forget to update my self-chosen category. So maybe I get double points for fish food, and triple points for fishing poles, but I will never remember which is which.

Not surprisingly, customers don’t love this model. It’s not a cut-up-my-cards level of discomfort, but it’s a common wish list item when we user test at Corporate Insight: customers want to know what a point is worth.

Another thing we’ve commonly seen in our user tests: transparency engenders positive feelings toward a brand. We’ve seen users’ impressions of a brand improve when they see explanations of numbers they don’t understand.

So how can you garner some of that good will by making the points process less arcane?

In various user tests we’ve done, when respondents see a column in their recent transactions that shows how many points they earned for each transaction, they are usually pleasantly surprised. Interestingly, though, few of the cards we track in our Credit Card Monitor service display this information.

Our recommendation: if your points are competitive, stand up and take a bow. Show your customers how they are accumulated. If they aren’t competitive, don’t count on customers failing to notice forever.

Join me for Corporate Insight’s upcoming webinar, Improve the User Experience of Your Credit Card Reward Site, where we’ll take a deep dive into our UX research to establish more user-friendly rewards journeys.