Tuesday Tips – Four Ways Banks Can Improve Checking Rewards Programs

by on Jul 24, 2012

altEvery Tuesday, Corporate Insight releases recommendations to help financial services firms improve a key aspect of the online user experience. Recommendations are taken directly from our Monitor Reports and Consulting Services research, which cover the banking, brokerage, credit card, asset management and insurance industries.

This week’s recommendations come from our Bank Monitor report titled Checking Rewards Programs: Deposit Accounts With More Than Just Checks and focus on ways banks can improve their checking rewards programs.

1. Provide checking or debit card rewards – On a very basic level, the best banks offer at least one deposit account rewards program attached to either a checking account or debit card. These rewards programs offer the most to prospective account holders, ensuring that rewards points can be earned on a regular basis. Leaders in this include SunTrust and PNC, which offer an add-on Delta SkyMiles debit card and three rewards account options, respectively.

2. Offer innovative ways for clients to earn rewards – While rewards programs based on notational purchase value are still the norm, firms can also attract new checking clients with programs that are more outside the box. The big provider of such a rewards program in this report is Capital One, whose two rewards-bearing checking accounts generate earnings based on the number of debit card uses, not their value. This encourages clients to make numerous small purchases with their accounts, instead of single big purchases, mirroring the way more debit card holders use their cards. In addition, Capital One (along with a few other banks) offers rewards miles for Online Bill Pay, ATM uses, and other account activity the firm would like to promote. Offering these to users is a great way to increase the frequency an account or a specific tool is utilized, and helps clients feel good about using online features.

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3. Promote rewards options online – One of the most surprising findings in this report is the lack of clarity surrounding many firms’ checking and debit card rewards offerings, especially those programs that are based on purchases at individual retailers or other features. To combat this, firms should revamp their account product pages to more clearly state rewards earnings value. One nice example of a dedicated rewards program page is for the Bank of America Alaska Airlines debit card, which provides detailed rewards information to users, covering earnings, bonus rewards, and affinity earnings – the type of details that a prospect interested in rewards would want to know.

4. Provide accelerated earnings – To help make their checking and debit rewards programs more attractive, banks should look to incorporate accelerated earnings with their programs. This bonus earning power can be based on co-branded affinity purchases, such as is available on the B of A Alaska Airlines debit card and the SunTrust Delta SkyMiles card, or on a wider basket of goods. This type of accelerated earnings, similar to what is available on many credit cards, could help firms generate more interest in (and purchases with) their debit cards.
  
For more information on our Monitor or Consulting services, contact Bob Burlin at 212-832-2002 x-115 or rburlin@corporateinsight.com. You can also use our online contact form.