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    This individual Report US Credit Card Reward Program Review is available for purchase. This Report is available to members of Mercator Advisory Group’s Credit Advisory Service. Please be advised that this Report is normally part of a research and advisory service that provides ongoing support throughout the year. As such, this Report contains significant depth of content that is selected for its strategic importance to our members. (For a description of these services, see our Advisory Services section).

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US Credit Card Reward Program Review

Boston, MA
December 2005

U.S. Credit Card Reward Program Review


There has never been a more challenging time for the loyalty marketers of the U.S. credit card industry.  The market is nearly saturated with reward programs, and cardholders have become deal hunters.  There is very little or no differentiation among reward programs, and "giving more" seems to be the only way to compete.  So what can credit card issuers and loyalty marketers do to make their programs more effective in this competitive landscape?  Unfortunately there is no quick-fix magic loyalty formula.  This is rather a difficult task that requires creative use of customer information for segmentation and precise targeting, continuous customer communication and brand building, and fine-tuning of the program to make it more relevant to the consumers.  It also requires a disciplined approach to program cost management as it gets more challenging to sustain top-line growth.

"Long gone are the days of the one-size-fits-all type programs that attract millions of consumers.  Consumers have increased access to information and are increasingly exercising their individual preferences.  This trend of information empowerment coupled with growing individualism strongly influences what they buy, how they buy, and where they buy", comments Evren Bayri, Director of Mercator Advisory Group's Credit Advisory Service.  "This is even more so for the younger generation, Gen Yers", a segment that comprises those born in the late 20th Century, between the years 1977 - 1994.  "Gen Yers constitute the next large group of credit card customers, and marketers that understand them today can turn them into loyal cardholders tomorrow.  For example, their habits regarding media consumption are very different.  They spend more time on the internet than they do watching television."

This report provides a discussion on credit card reward programs and the ways that marketers can improve them.  It includes a list of the loyalty and reward programs available from the U.S. top 50 credit card issuers.  It covers important loyalty issues such as including real-time rewards, local loyalty programs, coalition loyalty programs, and contactless technologies, and provides a discussion on loyalty programs such as the Wells Fargo Link, Wachovia Honors, Citi Thank You, and Nietech COMMUNITYsmart.

The report contains 21 pages and 6 exhibits.

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