Key players in the banking industry use loyalty programs to bond customers and create strong relationships. We compare the earning and rewarding mechanisms of the best of them.
In order to work properly, loyalty programs need to embody the core values of the business and create a seamless connection to retain credibility, but also respond to the needs of the client by incorporating features, mechanics, and rewards that are a direct reflection of the customer’s lifestyle. Nowadays, many banking companies create relationships between them and their clients that are strictly “transactional”, with no deeper understanding of their everyday necessities. Loyalty programs can be a way to incorporate a user-centric element into the core of the company.
It does not come as a surprise that some of the biggest players in the banking industry have already launched their programs. Even though they all belong to the same branch, the mechanisms of the program vary from business to business.
1. Citibank – Citi ThankYou
ThankYou rewards lets users earn points in various ways and collect them in a ThankYou Member Account.
Users can earn points for making purchases with a Citi credit card (1 point = $1 or more for some categories) or for banking with a Citibank checking account and having qualifying products/services linked to their checking account (Auto Save, Savings/Money Market, Mortgage, Home Equity Line/Loan, Personal Installment Loan and Custom Credit Line).
Prizes vary from merchandise, travel rewards, gift cards to cash rewards. Users can also use points to reduce their credit card balance or turn them into a donation to charity.
Becoming a member requires having a Citi credit card with ThankYou Rewards or being a primary signer on a Citibank consumer checking account (that has been enrolled in ThankYou Rewards). The program is not limited to a certain country, however, some rewards are only obtainable in the USA.
2. N26 – Refer a Friend
N26 is a direct bank, created to speed up the process of creating an account. Their “Refer a Friend” program allows to invite a friend directly in the mobile app or through a web app.
When users click on a paper plane button it will direct them straight to their contact list, where they can invite people with a text message or an email.
Once a new user logs in and makes one transaction worth €15, the referring user will receive their reward of €15. A user can earn the Advocate’s Referral Bonus 10 times.
3. Zions Bank – Pays for A’s
The Pays for A’s is a program dedicated to middle school and high school students (ages 12 to 18) in Utah and Idaho.
The program offers a money deposit for each “A” on the student’s report card.
To participate, students should bring their most recent report card and a legal guardian to any branch of Zions Bank. The bank will deposit $1 to the student’s Savings Account (students who are not Zions Bank clients will still be rewarded $.50 cents per “A”). Participating in the program also allows students to take part in a scholarship lottery that will award one student from Utah and one from Idaho with a prize of $1000.
4. ICBC – Reward Program
The ICBC reward program is based on a point system.
The Reward Program offers users 1 point for every HKD/RMB spent with their ICBC credit card.
Points can then be redeemed for a cash discount, cash coupons, air miles (Air China PhoenixMiles, Hong Kong Airlines Fortune Wings Club Miles, China Southern Airlines Sky Pearl Club) and charity donations (Caritas – Hong Kong, Yan Oi Tong Charity).
The number of points collected in a user’s principal Card Account can be checked in the monthly statements. To obtain the prizes, a user must fill out a Redemption Form and send it by mail or fax. Redemption letters will be sent out within 4-6 weeks upon validation of information.
5. Bank of America – Preferred rewards
Bank of America offers a tier system based on a user’s 3-month average account balance.
To obtain better benefits, users have to increase their account balance
Each tier provides customers with different advantages. The first tier – Gold – for customers with a balance that is between $20,000 and $50,000 allows users to enjoy a 5% interest rate booster, a 25% bonus on eligible Bank of America credit cards, a priority credit service, a $200 mortgage reduction, a 0.25% interest rate discount and no fees at select banking services. The second tier – Platinum – for users with a balance between $50,000 and $100,000, offers a 10% interest rate booster, a 50% bonus on eligible Bank of America credit cards, 12 free ATM transactions (per year), $0 online stock and ETF trades, a priority credit service, a $400 mortgage reduction, a 0.35% interest rate discount and no fees at select banking services.
The highest tier – Platinum Honors – for users with an account balance equal to $100,000 and higher offers a 20% interest rate booster, a 75% bonus on eligible Bank of America credit cards, unlimited free ATM transactions, $0 online stock and ETF trades, a priority credit service, a $600 mortgage reduction, a 0.50% interest rate discount and no fees at select banking services.
6. Wells Fargo – Go Far Rewards
Go Far Rewards is a Wells Fargo’s reward-based credit card system.
Users earn rewards with net purchases and by using the credit card in selected retail stores (eg. Sephora, Target, Walmart, Home Depot).
The program offers a $200 cash reward bonus for users who spend a total of at least $1000 in net purchases (within 3 months of opening a user’s account). Users can pick a prize from 4 categories: merchandise, gift cards, travel and digital downloads
The card has no annual fee and 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 (or 15 depending on the kind of the card) months, after a year the APR will stand between 14.49% to 26.49% based on the user’s creditworthiness.
7. Credit Suisse – The Bonviva Rewards Shop
The Bonviva Rewards Shop is a Credit Suisse’ program based on a points system
The program offers users points for every purchase they make using their credit card. The number of points a user can earn depends on their annual credit card spendings. More exclusive banking packages – Silver, Gold, Platinum – receive more points. Higher status also allows users to purchase products from a wider variety of goods available in the shop. Bonviva Platinum also gives users access to rewards in the Platinum Boutique.
The Bonviva shop offers a wide selection of prizes from air miles to household equipment.
New users can also gain welcome points (up to 20,000) if they use the Bonviva credit card five times in the first three months after receiving it.
8. Lloyds Bank – Choice Rewards
Choice Rewards is a system that allows users to collect points by making purchases with their credit card. Two types of credit cards are available:
- American Express – which gives users more Choice points (10 Choice points for every £1 spent)
- Master Card – which allows users to collect points in over 33 million locations (10 Choice points for every £5 spent)
Choice points can be collected by shopping for groceries, buying petrol or shopping online as long as the client uses their credit card (cash withdrawals, money transfers, fees and charges are not eligible).
Users can spend their earned points on items in four categories: shopping (gift cards and gift certificates to shops like Amazon, iTunes, Debenhams), free time (magazine subscription), travel (Avios programme), cashback (in multiples of £10 up to a maximum of £100).
9. Deutsche Bank – Express Reward
Deutsche Bank launched a loyalty program for all Savings Account holders.
Users are rewarded with points for their daily transactions like Deutsche Bank ATM transactions, purchasing products using their Debit Card or simply registering for only paperless bank statements (to suppress paper statements). Each user can collect up to 1250 Express Reward points per month. Points remain valid for 12 months and the program comes with no charges.
To redeem rewards, users must first collect 400 points (the points can be tracked online, by calling the helpline or on the monthly statements) and call the 24h Phone Banking hotline. Cash credit will be transferred to the user’s account.
10. Barclays – Blue Rewards
Barclays rewards – users with cashbacks from over 150 retailers and financial prizes for using selected products from the Bank.
Earning mechanism and rewards
The program offers cashback for using the following services:
- £3.50 for the first two Direct Debit payments
- up to £3 for Insurance (buildings and contents)
- £1 for using Platinum Barclaycard
- £5 for Mortgage
- £1 for Barclayloan
Users can also get cashbacks when shopping with selected retailers (e.g. Adidas, Clinique or Lego).
Taking part in the program costs £3 monthly. To participate, a user has to fill out an online form and put at least £800 into their account.
How to make loyalty programs work?
When are Loyalty programs successful? When the companies know their clients. Personalization can prevent users from getting frustrated and can create a place where their everyday actions may be rewarded. Even though gaining new customers is a nice outcome, the main focus of loyalty programs should be on retaining existing users with engaging yet simple additions to the bank’s offers.