I seem to be hearing more about check card rewards lately. I guess that since people are using credit less, or not at all, businesses are looking for new ways to get consumers to spend. Their answer? Check card rewards.
Here’s how it happens:
A boatload of businesses team up with card issuers, in conjunction with a Bank, Credit Union or private entity. They form a partnership in which cardholders use their cards online or in store for products from said businesses. The businesses win because it brings business, the bank, credit union or reward program organization wins by revenue from the card issuer (visa, mastercard, etc) and revenue from overdrafts that may occur due to purchases. Who loses? It may be the consumer.
Upon first glance, the rewards program may seem like a win/win. After all, you think you are getting rewards for items you would already be buying, right?
After examining a number of rewards programs, most of which were offered by banks, I find that the items that you are rewarded for purchasing are not items you buy every day. Since I work at a bank that offers one of these rewards programs, I can not go specifically into each program. What I can tell you is, read the fine print. Many check card reward programs will end up yielding little or nothing.
Check card rewards not offered by your financial instution:
Visa Extras Rewards is a program that at first glance, appears to have no affiliation to your card issuing institution, but after reading through the Terms & Conditions, you realize that the program is issued through Visa, but governed by your institution. What does that mean for you?
If your bank/credit union has guidelines governing the behavior required to earn rewards (they do) and you break the rules, the agreement is void. Usually, these guidelines will have to be requested directly from the bank/credit union if you sign up for the program through the visa extras website.
The only “private” bonus check card program I have come across is The Bonus Check Card. Upon inspection of the Terms & Conditions here, I found much of the same language as the Visa Extras program. Signature based transactions are required, the program is subject to conditions dependent on your financial institution, etc. There are two glaring differences with this program.
1)This program is operated by Enhancement Services
Corporation, a company that provides travel rewards in conjunction with over 40 financial institutions.
2)The Bonus Check Card program does not pay cash for any type of purchase, instead they provide travel based rewards such as Hotel and Airline discounts.
I am still playing some mental tug of war as to whether a check card rewards program will be to my benefit. I just can not see signing up for a program like this. If I spent lots of money on recreational and leisure activities, it may be beneficial. For those like me who buy the essentials and not much more, I just see no reason. If I can not get rewards for toilet paper, laundry detergent, food and other household staples than what is the point?
I am afraid that a check card rewards program would do nothing more than induce spending on items that I do not need. I would think more about the benefits of the “reward” than the fact that I was spending frivolously.
Have you or do you currently participate in any kind of Check Card Reward program? If so, is it beneficial? Have you found a way to use it with items you buy regularly? If not, why? Maybe it is for the same reasons that I don’t, maybe you have others. Please feel free to comment, I would really like to learn more about these programs and whether they can be a decent saving vehicle.