Are debit card rewards and perks the way to make a prepaid card program stand out from the crowd? The number of prepaid debit cards on the market is growing. Many of the cards are issued by the same banks (notably MetaBank, The Bancorp Bank and a few others), and are based on similar platforms and concepts. Distinctive branding and card design can only go so far to make a prepaid program resonate with consumers. A number of program managers are turning to value added features and rewards to stand out from the crowd.
For example, some prepaid card program managers are adding free music downloads, prescription discount cards, or shopping discounts to entice new cardholders. Here are just a few of the programs that are using these enticements.
nFinanSe Gives Free Music
nFinanSe, Inc. (OTC BB: NFSE), the company behind the nFianSe line of prepaid cards, recently announced the launch of a free music site at www.nfinansemusic.com. The site provides free downloads of new artists and is intended to appeal to young adults aged 18 to 25.
The free music does not require users to be nFinanSe cardholders (nor is there any registration required to download the first volume of songs available on the site). According to Jerry Welch, Chairman and CEO of nFianSe, Inc.: “Music is an integral part of each of our lives and we want to use it to connect the nFinanSe brand with the young fans of the emerging, cutting edge artists featured at nFinanSeMusic.com,”
The new site features branding and messaging of nFinanSe and may be a good way to raise awareness of the nFinanSe line of cards.
RushCard Offers Free Prescription Cards
In late 2009, UniRush LLC, the company behind the RushCard line of prepaid cards, rolled out a new benefit for RushCard card holders: a free prescription discount card. The discount card provides cardholders with discounts on regular prescription drugs, with discounts of between 10%-85% on brand & generic prescription drugs. The discount card is accepted by 56,000 pharmacies nationwide, including national chains, regional chains, and independent pharmacies. The discount card is available to all RushCard holders (including holders of the popular BabyPhat RushCard).
The discount prescription card is likely a low cost incentive to UniRush and provides a relatively high perceived value to RushCard card holders.
UPSide Offers Cash Back Rewards
Plastyc, Inc., the company behind the UPSide Visa line of prepaid cards, provides certain cardholders with a 1% cash back bonus. In particular, UPSide EDGE cardholders enjoy a 1% cash back bonus on all funds received on the card. The feature is targeted at parents and teens where the parent sends money to their teen using an UPSide EDGE card regularly. If a parent sends their teen $1,000 a month (for example), the teen would enjoy an extra $10 on the card each month, courtesy of the folks at UPSide.
The feature encourages card use and is a good retention feature.
Facecard Offers “Prewards”
The folks behind the Facecard prepaid MasterCard use a reward concept called “prewards” to entice users to sign up (and keep using their Facecards). According to the Facecard website,
A preward is a digital incentive (like a coupon) automatically added to your Facecard. Merchants in our partner network send digital incentives to your Facecard for you to enjoy at their restaurant, store or place of business. You do not have to do anything to get Prewards except sign up for a Facecard.
The preward concept encourages retention and card usage, and also provides a point of differentiation for Facecard.
MYPLASH Provides the MYPLASH Mall
The MYPLASH prepaid teen debit cards focus on cool and hip artwork and messaging focused on young adults. The MYPLASH cards also come with access to the MYPLASH Mall, an online shopping site where where “MYPLASH Visa Prepaid Cardholders get exclusive access to special offers and discounts on the freshest stuff from their favorite brands, music artists and athletes”. “Exclusive” and “fresh” are big with young adults, and the MYPLASH mall focuses on these as part of their unique selling proposition.
So Which Rewards or Benefits Work Best?
It’s unclear which of these different approaches to stand out from the prepaid card crowd will prevail. However, with over 30 different prepaid cards on the market, one thing is clear – program managers need a hook. Rewards and benefits are one way to stand out.