In Consumer Rebate Programs, Incentive Program Planning

Are Digital Reward Cards The Right Reward Type For Your Rebate Program?

With all of the customer rebate reward options out there, it’s hard to choose the right one! You not only have to think of what’s best for your company, but also what’s best for your customers. (And you can bet your customers have a preference.)

With these questions in mind, consider the reward types you currently offer. Are you using physical prepaid rewards cards? Or are you using virtual rewards cards? While there’s no denying the benefits prepaid rewards cards have, it’s important to take a look at all of your options.

Digital or virtual, reward cards may sound similar to prepaid rewards cards. However, they are quite different! Throughout this blog, we will discuss the differences in these two rebate reward methods, as well as the benefits digital reward cards can offer your company and customers.

What Is A Digital Reward Card?

A digital reward card is similar to a prepaid card in that they each have their own 16 digit number and CVV code. However, virtual reward cards are for online use only and never exist physically.

Similarities between digital and prepaid reward cards

  • Both have unique card number and CVV
  • Each can be used online
  • Easy for the customer to use
  • Co-branding options are available for each

Differences between digital and prepaid reward cards

  • Digital reward cards can only be used online, while prepaid can be used anywhere
  • Prepaid reward cards are physical, digital reward cards are virtual
  • There is no production cost involved with digital reward cards
  • Digital reward cards cannot be lost, whereas prepaid can be misplaced, lost or stolen
  • Digital reward cards can only be re-loaded by the issuer

Think a prepaid reward card might be more your style? Take a minute to read Reasons To Incorporate Prepaid Reward Cards Into Your Rebate Program, where we discuss in more depth the benefits of offering a physical prepaid rebate card as your reward.

How to distribute virtual reward cards

There are multiple ways for companies to distribute digital reward cards. Two of the most popular delivery methods are: Email or Text

Once the participant has sent in their rebate for submission (whether through mail-in, online or both), and it’s approved, your company can send out a website link with a code to receive the digital reward card. Once the customer has received the code, they can then access their reward and spend it however they choose. With any luck, they will decide to invest their rebate reward back into your company!

The Benefits of Digital Reward Cards For Your Company

Choosing this type of rebate can benefit your company in multiple ways. Follow along below as we’ve list a few reasons why you should consider digital reward cards for your next rebate program:

Cost efficient

Three words: no production cost.

This is one of the best reasons to implement virtual reward cards into your rebate program. With prepaid cards or checks, you are having to pay for the production of these items. Not to mention, issuing checks comes with a multitude of other banking and labor fees.

By issuing an online reward card, your company is able to avoid production costs. This helps your company save money on rebate distribution, and instead allocate funds to other parts of your business.

Co-branding options

Digital reward cards also offer the option for co-branding. While you may set up the card through Visa® or another card provider, you are still able to add your branding to the digital reward assets (including claim packets and email communications). This will help keep your brand at the forefront of your customer’s mind (plus a little extra advertising is never a bad thing!)

While a digital reward card and a check both offer the same dollar value, the principle behind the two is completely different. Customers who receive a check see it as more of a “chore” rather than money in their pocket. While mobile check deposits are relatively quick, customers will either have to wait for the bank to approve the deposit, or drive to the bank to deposit it directly.

However, with a digital reward card, customers see it as “free money”. Plus, these cards can be used immediately, without having to wait on snail-mail or a bank to process their deposit.

So what does this free “money mentality” mean for your company? Well, when your customer has a positive rebate experience, the logo on your assets will remind them where this reward came from! While we hope they treat themselves with another product or service from your company, they may use it to treat themselves to something else entirely. At the end of the day though, they’ll have you to thank for it!

Quick and accurate customer data

It’s easy to confuse the difference between instant issue and instant rebate. When your company uses virtual reward cards, a customer’s rebate will be issued instantly (pending funding is provided). Now, this doesn’t mean the rebate doesn’t have to be submitted and approved. This process is still required. It does mean, though, that once the process is completed, the rebate will be instantly issued to the customer typically through email or text.

On the other hand, when a company issues an instant rebate, the rebate is given at the time of purchase. Not only does this cost your company more money, but also prevents you from collecting any data on your customers.

As we talked about before, you need to know your target audience in order to understand what rebate method works best for them. How are you supposed to know what works, or who your customers are, if you don’t have any data?

By sending your customers through a well-designed rebate program they’ll want (and not forget) to complete, you’re guaranteed to collect valuable data about your customers. Without this type of data, you may not see success with your rebate program, which can hurt your business.

While a customer might like the idea of an instant rebate, it isn’t always the best method for your company to offer. That’s why digital reward cards are a comparable (and to be honest, better) option. Your customers will be thrilled with how quickly they receive their reward, and your company will benefit from valuable data—win-win!

Greater customer satisfaction

Going off of our previous point, customer satisfaction is bound to improve due to digital reward cards. Your customers will appreciate that your digital reward is both easy to access and use. Because of this, they’re more inclined to shop with you again in the future—and tell their friends.

When you grant customers the option to treat themselves with a reward card they can use anywhere online, they are bound to be thankful. After all, increased customer satisfaction is what will keep them coming back to your company again in the future.

Quick implementation

Since these reward cards are completely digital, you won’t have to wait for prepaid cards to be designed, created and mailed or checks to be printed and mailed. Not to mention, a digital reward is often much easier to implement into your existing online, mobile, or app platform. This makes the process much easier for your customers.

Digital Reward Card Benefits For Your Customers

While we’re on the topic of customers, let’s dive into the reasons many prefer digital reward cards! Here are a few of the way your customer’s view digital rebate cards as beneficial:


When a customer receives their reward, they’ll get a link or QR code to a website where they can enter a code and access their reward. Once accessed, the individual can use the reward however they’d like online. Virtual reward cards are intended to be this simple, and it’s one of the reasons customers prefer to receive them.

Instant issuance

As we mentioned previously, once the rebate has been approved and funding has been provided, it is issued immediately to the customer. The customer doesn’t have to wait around for a check to be printed and mailed, or a card to be made and mailed. Instead, they simply receive an email or text letting them know their rebate is available. This quick issuance cuts down on the amount of time your customers have to wait on their reward significantly.

Can’t be misplaced, lost, or stolen

With prepaid cards or checks, it’s easy for them to be misplaced, lost or even stolen. While a physical card could be potentially replaced, a check cannot always be reissued. This means lost money for your customer, and a negative impression of your company in a customers eyes.

However, with virtual reward cards, they can’t be lost, misplaced or stolen. Since the card is completely online, it will always be there for a customer to access as they wish.

Spend anywhere online

Customers can spend their digital reward card on whatever they want online. Plus, they could use their card to pay over the phone, or at a POS system that allows device scanning. The options really are endless, and customers will love being able to treat themselves with their reward. Again, this is of great benefit to your company because a happy customer is a returning customer!

Planning every aspect of a successful rebate program is always easier said than done. There’s so much to consider, from rebate type to submission methods, to what kind of reward you’ll offer and how you’ll deliver that reward.

When contemplating the various aspects of your future rebate program, download our Guide To A Successful Customer Rebate Program. Then if you decide you need help with rebate fulfillment, be sure to reach out to our team.

Download The Guide

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