SWACHA Survey Uncovers Potential for Debit and Credit Card Issuers to Attract Customers with Appealing Loyalty Programs

Dallas, TX, February 08, 2012 --(PR.com)-- Even though many banks scaled back or even eliminated debit and credit card rewards programs in 2011, many consumers are still searching for ways to make purchases and get a few extra perks in the process. A recent survey of more than 600 Texans by Dallas-based SWACHA, one of the largest regional not-for-profit electronic payment associations in the country, shows that a robust rewards program weighs heavily on consumers decisions when choosing a debit or credit card provider.

Credit Card Loyalty Programs More Important to Consumers
According to the survey, 66 percent of consumers reported credit card rewards programs are important to them with 34 percent ranking them very important and 32 percent ranking them somewhat important. Although slightly lower than credit card interest, 21 percent said debit card loyalty programs are very important and 24 percent said they are somewhat important to them when choosing a card.

“Financial institutions should pay attention to these statistics and realize many consumers are continuing to reevaluating their credit and debit card option and are closely looking at rewards programs,” said Dennis Simmons, AAP, president and CEO of SWACHA. “There are many rewards programs that provide real value to consumers as long as they use caution to ensure that fees associated with reward programs don’t outweigh the incentives.”

Debit Cards Used More Frequently Than Credit Cards
According to SWACHA’s survey, debit cards are currently used to make purchases more frequently than credit cards, with 26 percent of Texans using their debit cards daily compared to 15 percent using credit cards.

“With consumers looking for increased benefits, credit card rewards programs could sway some consumers away from debit cards,” said Simmons. “Regardless of the payment method chosen by consumers, it is essential to make sure you are using the cards wisely. If using credit cards, it’s important for consumers to pay off the balance every month to avoid additional costly fees.”

In fact, SWACHA’s survey found that many are doing just that. Among those surveyed who have credit cards, 44 percent of Texas consumers said they pay off their balance in full every month followed by 16 percent who indicated they pay in full most of the time.

Higher Earners Hold More Credit Cards
The survey also showed that most Texans hold at least one credit or debit card, with 85 percent reporting they have a credit card and 86 percent reported they have a debit card. According to the survey, there seems to be a direct correlation between a person’s income level and the number of credit cards they hold. While 31 percent of consumers who earn between $25,000 to $45,000 hold at least three credit cards, 43 percent of those who earn $45,000 to $55,000, 50 percent earning between $55,000 to $75,000, and 54 percent of those who earn $75,000 to $95,000 hold at least three credit cards.

About the Survey
SWACHA's online survey of 600 Texans was conducted in August 2011 by Decision Analyst with a confidence interval of 95 percent and a corresponding margin of error of +/- 4 percent. Only those respondents who identified themselves as the person responsible for paying household bills were permitted to complete the survey.

SWACHA-The Electronic Payments Resource®, is one of the largest not-for-profit regional payments associations in the country with approximately 1,100 members across the Southwest. SWACHA is the resource of choice for financial institutions and corporations in the areas of education, training, payments system risks and knowledge about electronic payments. For more information visit:

Web - www.swacha.org
Facebook -www.facebook.com/bringingpaymentstogether
Twitter - @SWACHA

Editor’s Note: This is the 6th in a series of releases on SWACHA’s 2011 Consumer Insights Survey.

Granado Communications Group
Chris Martin