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Best Debit Card Reward Programs

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A few years ago, debit card rewards were very popular. Whether they were straight up rewards or part of a reward checking account, banks were going crazy offering them. Then, as interchange fee caps came into effect, one by one they started dropping off. Many of the programs were funded by these interchange fees, the fees banks charge merchants for accepting cards, and so when the revenue dried up, the incentive to push those programs and the ability to pay for those programs also dried up.

Nowadays, the rewards are smaller but they’re still there. Here are the best of the debit card reward programs:

Ally Perks

Ally Bank Debit MasterCard® with Interest CheckingAlly Perks is Ally Bank’s debit card reward program and it’s about as simple and straightforward as they come. When you open a checking account, ask for a debit card and you’re enrolled already. You can check the available perks by logging into your bank account and clicking on the menu options to the left. When you earn cashback, it’s automatically credit to your account. There’s no need to opt into a reward, you just get it.

The rewards are structured slightly differently from other programs. Instead of getting a direct percentage back, they look more like coupons (here’s an example of a recent Ally Perk). $5 off a $50 purchase, rather than 10%. Ken at Deposit Accounts speculates that these rewards are the result of deals with merchants rather than being funded by merchant fees. Personally, I like that better because it’s more sustainable.

Perkstreet

Perkstreet was one of the first debit cards to ever offer rewards (at least to my knowledge) and they continue to offer pretty solid rewards. Nowadays, they offer 1% cash back almost anywhere and 2% at some retailers. There are also PowerPerks, which are special offers, which can give you even more. The program is a little confusing when you first read about it (to redeem a perk as a statement credit, you need 2 perks per $20 redemption), so it’s not as straightforward as Ally Perks which just deposit into your account. That said, PerkStreet does give you the ability to potentially earn more overall, depending on where you spend your money.

The biggest downside I see is that PerkStreet only offers a checking account.

Reward Checking Accounts

This is technically not a debit card reward program but it’s an account that will give you above average interest rates on your checking account should you use your debit card a certain number of times. A reward checking account was made popular a few years ago and basically you get a higher interest rate when you meet criteria such as using your debit card 10-12 times a month, opt for paperless statements, and sign up for online billpay. The requirements aren’t extremely difficult but they are designed to generate as much debit card fee revenue as possible. That fee revenue funds the higher interest rate.

Bank of America Keep the Change

Bank of America’s Keep the Change program has been around for many years and it’s one of the best among the traditional brick and mortar banks. It’s a promotional offer, as you’ll see in a minute, whereas the others are permanent. With Keep the Change, BoA rounds up all your transactions and transfers that amount from your checking to your savings account. If you spend $0.79, they’ll round up to $1 and transfer the 21 cents from your checking to savings. Then, they’ll match 100% of your savings (the 21 cents) up to $250 for the first three months of the program.

If you have a BoA account already, makes sense to enroll and get some cashback.

Do you use a debit reward card?

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One Response to “Best Debit Card Reward Programs”

  1. Sally says:

    I wish they offered debit card reward programs here in my place. Maybe they do but I just don’t know. Thanks for introducing me to things like this.


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