I had been thinking about posting about these programs for quite some time. Of course, the sudden forum changes made me hold off, but now I think it is time.
In just the past few years, credit card companies have realized that driving credit card volume has become trickier. For awhile it was category based, moving primarily cash/debit traffic over to credit (gas/groceries/etc.). More recently, it has become more merchant-based.
In general, the concept for most of these programs is as follows:
-A merchant offers a discount on a purchase that is done through a specific card type
-There is some sort of criteria setup and/or limit of sign-ups for the discount
-The marketing fee that a merchant has to pay on top of the discount is lower than other channels (it might even be free). This makes the cost of these programs lower than almost any other option.
-The verification of such purchases is much more trustworthy (because the transaction is visible)
Now, the reason why this is a Finance topic and not just a Hot Deal is because it is all about card management. One of the key aspects for these deals is stacking.
Here are two examples:
-Purchase at a certain chain restaurant
- Use of a coupon for a discount off the meal (or a promo meal which can’t have a coupon)
- Earn chain loyalty points
- Use of the backend deal (credited when purchase posts)
- Use of a restaurant rewards rebate (idine/rewardsnetwork/mogl/ebates)
-Purchase of certain merchandise or services online
- Use of a click referral site for a rebate percentage
- Earn company loyalty points
- Use of a coupon code for purchase
- Use of the backend deal (credited with purchase posts)
Now, there are some important considerations of the merchants that offer these deals:
- Usually the merchant is not doing so well (casual dining, fine dining restaurants)
- It could be the launch of a new merchant (dot com)
- The merchant can’t publicly lower prices further or offer coupons due to image (hotels, luxury brands, airlines, etc.)
- Some programs like AmEx Offers have bad loopholes that allow customers to have multiple offers for each card which means you have to be an early bird when the deal is posted to get a chance to add it to your account
I have had the chance to earn rebates on some pretty interesting things, but it has gotten harder to find good offers as I try not to purchase too many things outside of my normal patterns.
Here are some of the biggest programs out there:
-AmEx Offers (appears to be internally ran)
- Very focused on T&E merchants
- Has access to many high-end brand deals
- Many deals are targeted based on spend history and locations
- Very difficult to get high value deals due to sign-up limits
- Sponsors a number of offers directly (no merchant sponsorship)
-BankAmeriDeals (powered by Cardlytics)
- Primarily large chains with many locations or many regional locations
- Deals tend to renew if you did not use them before expiration
-Chase (TrialPay by Visa) alive again
- Only for certain cards (found Marriott only so far: https://chase.visaoffers.com/marriott)
- Tend to be advertised outside of normal account sites/channels (targeted emails)
-Discover Deals (appears to be internally ran)
- Primarily now focused on referral click cashback
- Has almost entirely eliminated backend offers for discounts (not stackable)
- Might have a patent licensing issues
For most offers, you can purchase gift cards to earn the rebate (rare for coupons and referral programs), but if you couldn’t find a way to make a purchase at a merchant, it might not be easier with a gift card (which favors the merchant the longer you hold it).
If you are not getting enough good offers, especially from AmEx, think about where you use the card. It is sometimes okay to split purchase at interesting merchants (like high end stores or certain high end malls) so that you get some exposure. It is also places you vacation or travel that help determine offers (New York, Las Vegas, hotel chains, etc.) which can all drive interesting offers.