Study: Debit Users Want Rewards, Aren't Getting Them

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Few debit card users report having any rewards associated with their debit card, according to a recent research study by SYNERGISTICS RESEARCH CORP.

Debit card users in the survey were asked to identify which, if any, of a number of discounts or rewards they have associated with their debit card. Overall, slightly more than one-tenth of the debit card users indicate having at least one of the discounts or rewards tested, with cash rebates, travel accident insurance, and frequent-flyer miles the most widely indicated.

Few Are Interested

However, the company noted that each of these is indicated by less than one-in-20 debit card users. The following other rewards or discounts were mentioned by even smaller numbers of debit card users: coupons or points for discounts on merchandise and services, discounts or incentives on other banking services, a catalog of gifts for point redemption, and discounts on gasoline.

The study, entitled "Enhancing the Debit Card Product Line," was based on a telephone survey conducted in March 2003 with 1,003 consumers age 18 or older who have household income of $25,000 or more. Debit card users in the survey were asked to identify which, if any, of a number of discounts or rewards they have associated with their debit card.

"With the settlement of the Wal-Mart lawsuit, many have brought the viability of debit card rewards or loyalty programs into question," said William H. McCracken, CEO of SYNERGISTICS. "The low current incidence of rewards associated with debit cards found in our survey shows that providers are at an opportune time to make a decision regarding their debit card rewards programs.

"They clearly can go either of two ways-they can choose to discontinue or scale back their rewards programs without causing widespread disruption to existing programs, or they can choose to aggressively pursue a fee-based debit rewards program.

"Those providers seeking to promote debit card rewards would most likely do so with the goals of increased usage and fee revenue in mind, which would help to recoup losses from reduced interchange resulting from the settlement."

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