Top 50 U.S. Retail Banks and Credit Unions’ Debit Rewards and Loyalty Programs: 2014 Annual Review


Research Finds Debit Rewards Programs Have Turned the Corner and Merchant-Funded Rewards Are Now Integral to Debit

Mercator Advisory Group releases annual update on trends in debit rewards and loyalty programs at top banks and credit unions in the United States

Author: Sarah Grotta
Published on: April 7, 2015

The Durbin Amendment hasn’t decimated debit rewards as was expected. Consumers find far too much value in debit rewards for retail banks and credit unions to eliminate them. Instead, financial institutions are targeting the right rewards to the right consumer and trending toward real-time redemption of discounts and other rewards and toward implementation of mobile apps, mobile couponing, and location-based rewards. It is clear that both retail banks that are regulated by the Durbin Amendment and those that are exempt continue to provide debit rewards. Smaller financial institutions have in fact increased their offering of debit rewards. Larger financial institutions are standing their ground, for the most part, with a few more or less offering debit rewards.

Mercator Advisory Group’s report, Top 50 U.S. Retail Banks and Credit Unions’ Debit Rewards and Loyalty Programs: 2014 Annual Review, provides an update on trends in debit cards and debit rewards. It includes primary data on consumer usage and attitudes, a survey of details of the top 50 FIs’ programs, a look at merchant-funded discount networks (MFDNs), changes in debit rewards among smaller versus larger retail banks and credit unions, and what to expect in rewards in 2015.

This research report reveals that five years after the passage of the Durbin Amendment, debit rewards programs have rebounded such that 50–60% of financial institutions in the United States are offering debit rewards in one form or another. Research finds that consumers prefer cash rewards first and foremost on debit cards, and then traditional points or miles second. Issuers’ strong preference for merchant-funded rewards programs over traditional issuer-funded points programs is also evident.

This report has 24 pages, 8 exhibits, and 2 appendixes with reward program details.

Companies mentioned in this report include: Affinity Solutions, American Airlines Federal Credit Union, America First Credit Union, Bank of America, BB&T, Buzz Points, Cardlytics, Cartera Commerce, Disney, Dynamics, Edo Interactive, Golden 1 Credit Union, JPMorgan Chase, Linkable Networks, PNC Bank, Pulse, RewardsNOW, San Diego County Credit Union, SchoolsFirst Credit Union, SunTrust, TD Bank, Truaxis (MasterCard), U.S. Bank, Welcome Real-time, and Wells Fargo.

Members of Mercator Advisory Group’s Debit Advisory Service have access to these reports as well as the upcoming research for the year ahead, presentations, analyst access, and other membership benefits.

Highlights of the report include:

  • Understanding the evolving consumer trends related to debit cards 

  • Consumer trends that lead to greater debit card usage

  • Merchant-funded discount network from an issuer perspective

  • Debit rewards interest growing among smaller financial institutions

  • Notable changes in debit rewards for top 50 issuers between 2013 and 2014

  • What to expect in debit rewards in 2015


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