2009 Credit Card Rewards—Consumer Insights

First Data Competitive Intelligence conducted the Consumer Loyalty Study with 2,449 U.S. consumers in April 2009. The study focuses on rewards programs with Financial Institutions (FIs), the travel sector and the retail sector. This CI Market Brief focuses on consumer insights regarding rewards for the credit card sector. Sample sizes completing the survey for specific rewards programs are as follows: Bank Credit Card (n=290); Gas Credit Card (n=135); Department Store Credit Card (n = 197).

Key Insights

1. Membership in Credit Card Rewards Programs Decreases 
Among FI members in 2009, significantly fewer of them report being a member of a credit card rewards program in 2009 (67 percent) compared to 2008 (71 percent). Debit card rewards program members among all FI members increased from 34 percent in 2008 to 45 percent in 2009. With the current economic downturn, consumers are abandoning their credit cards in favor of using their debit cards to make purchases. 

2. Gas Credit Card Rewards Members Most Satisfied 
Consumers who are members of gas rewards programs through a credit card report the highest level of satisfaction (39 percent Top-2 box) and value (42 percent Top-2 box), even higher than ratings given for rewards programs overall. 

3. Rewards Membership Influences Credit Card Usage 
Rewards program memberships have the largest influence on choice of gas credit cards, with 43 percent of members indicating that their membership is “very influential” on their choice of company. 

4. Most Consumers Not Willing to Pay Higher Interest Rate for Rewards 
Roughly 70 percent of consumers who are members of credit card rewards programs are NOT willing to pay a higher interest rate for a credit card with loyalty rewards. 

5. Gas Rewards Programs Most Often Used 
Gas rewards programs tied to a credit card are used “every time” or “most of the time” by 76 percent of gas rewards members.