2011 Debit Card Rewards Survey
The future of debit card rewards

"In the summer, we had one customer use Power Perks at a home improvement store to finish his deck, and then he used the cash back to buy all his Christmas gifts that year," O'Malley says.

At Ally Financial, customers earn cash rebates or Ally Perks, by making purchases -- with and without a PIN -- with their debit card at a specific retailer. Ally used its Facebook page to request recommendations from its customers for merchants they would like to see included in the program. Some of the retailers that have offered Ally Perks include 1-800-Flowers.com, iTunes, PetSmart online and Omaha Steaks online.

"We rotate the merchants every two to four weeks with different offers, which range from 10 percent to more than 50 percent back as a cash rebate that is automatically deposited in the customer's account," says Beth Coggins, spokeswoman for Ally Financial in Detroit.

PerkStreet has been letting its customers select their own categories for earning extra debit card rewards by participating in surveys and making recommendations through social media.

"Recently our customers have requested and received Power Perks from Old Navy, movie theaters, amusement parks, ice cream stores and online bookstores like Chegg.com," O'Malley says. "On the redemption side, they can just keep the cash, or they can use it for prepaid credit cards to use anyplace or on gift cards for a variety of retailers."

Benefit packages for customers

Goldstein says banks also are tailoring benefits such as travel insurance or purchase protection plans for their debit card customers, giving them a list of services from which to choose.

"Financial institutions want their customers to go to daily deals offers, shop within their website and use their travel booking site, so they are likely to give you targeted rewards for using their sites," Christianson says.

Bank of America offers its Add It Up program to bank customers who use its website for purchases. Customers sign up for free and then shop through the site to earn cash-back rebates from more than 350 retailers when they make the purchase with a Bank of America debit card or credit card. The rebates are automatically deposited in a designated Bank of America account.

Some bank customers may be wary of receiving personalized offers based on their financial transactions, but Christianson says, "Financial institutions are far more protective of your privacy than the typical online entity. (Consumers') data is more likely to be compromised when they do a Google search than it is when they use a bank site."

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