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Chicago (July 26, 2011) – Debit rewards programs have often been touted as an easy way to gain and retain customers. But as banks eliminate debit rewards programs as a result of changing legislation, Mintel Comperemedia surveyed consumers on their debit reward behavior and attitudes. It seems debit card programs alone aren’t likely to foster customer loyalty, as 47% of respondents who participate in a debit rewards program have never redeemed their points.

” obviously, a couple different types of people fall into the group who never redeem debit rewards points – some are saving up for something bigger, while others simply haven’t accumulated enough points,”says Susan Wolfe, VP of financial services at Mintel Comperemedia. “However, a number of people participate in a debit rewards program because it’s so easy to sign up but never use the program again. If so, it indicates that the rewards program isn’t working as a way to instill loyalty. “

Mintel Comperemedia segmented survey respondents into three groups: heavy (redeem about once a month), medium (redeem every few to every six months) and light (redeem once a year) redeemers. Thirty-six percent of heavy redeemers and 30% of medium redeemers, compared to 55% of light redeemers, would continue to use their debit card the same way if their bank eliminated their debit rewards program – further suggesting that debit rewards programs are not a strong incentive to stick with a particular banking institution.

” overall, rewards aren’t going away, and many banks will continue to offer and promote these programs,” adds Susan Wolfe. “But we will see a shift in that rewards are offered as a benefit to different levels of customers and in that way, they will become part of an overall loyalty program – rather than just a debit rewards program. “

The survey also assessed consumers’ willingness to pay for a debit rewards program and found that 36% of heavy redeemers are willing to pay as much as $4/month for their debit reward program, while 61% would be willing to pay $1/month. Not surprisingly, it’s those who redeem often who are most willing to pay extra for the benefits.