When Congress threatened to cap the interchange fees that banks collect on debit card transactions, the industry argued that such a move would force it to kill off its own debit rewards programs. As it turns out, the demise of those programs might inconvenience consumers but it is unlikely to deal banks much of a financial blow.
A bank that offers a rewards program typically earns a gross profit of $73 per active debit card per year. That compares with $63 for each account that offers no rewards, according to data from Aite Group LLC. Experts say these figures illustrate only an incremental boost to the bottom line. The industry offers debit rewards as a way to encourage consumers to use their cards, though their influence may be limited.