Debit Rewards Programs Can Offer Higher Cash Back

November 16, 2007 · 0 comments

My bank formerly had a debit rewards program offered through Visa Extras Rewards, but this year it switched over to a program run by Affinity Solutions. Affinity provides debit rewards programs to several banks including Regions and US Bank. The new program is very different from Visa Extras — on the minus side, you don’t earn from every purchase in-store or online, and online purchases must be made through their own shopping portal, where only certain merchants are listed as participating. On the plus side, however, the program pays in real cash back instead of points, at a much higher rate of earning, and there are still some merchants that reward for in-store purchases, which can now be made either via PIN or signature.
Regions Bank calls their program CheckCard Rewards, and US Bank’s program is called Cash Bonus Rewards. Both programs are free to join and offer cash back of up to 25% when shopping through their rewards portal. US Bank’s program offers many more merchants than Regions, and the cash back rates offered between the two programs vary (for instance, Regions offers 7% cash back for Sharper Image, versus 5% at US Bank).
How do these rates compare to other online shopping rewards programs?
In my 2007 Shopping Rebates Comparison, I found the best reward for shopping at Avon.com was 8% (through QuizPoints). Both Regions and US Bank’s debit rewards programs offer 12%.
The results weren’t always so favorable for the debit rewards programs, though. Both programs pay 4% cash back for Barnes and Noble purchases made through their portal, compared to 7.7% if you shop through MyPoints.
I went through all of the merchants that Regions or US Bank reward for that were included in my 2007 shopping comparison and found that you were twice as likely to get a better reward by shopping through a rewards program…however, sometimes the rewards program didn’t beat out the debit rewards portal by much.
When should you go through a debit rewards program’s portal? When you’re shopping at one of these merchants online: Avon, CompUSA, eBay, FragranceNet, Lane Bryant, Lids, One Hanes Place, Perfumania, Red Envelope, Samsonite, Snapfish, Sunglass Hut, Toys R Us, Urban Outfitters, Walmart, or Yves Rocher. Since you’d be tied for the highest rate elsewhere, you might also prefer to use the debit rewards portal when shopping at Gap, JosABank, Kmart, Kohls, Lamps Plus, NASCAR, Office Max, Spiegel, Starbucks, Tupperware, VitaminShoppe, or Wine.com.
The debit rewards rewards program can also come in handy for purchases in-store at: Advance Auto, Avis, Blockbuster, Budget Rent-a-Car, Chevron/Texaco, Dunkin’s Diamonds, 1800Flowers, Harry and David, Hollywood Video, Home Depot, Illuminations, Pier 1, Rite Aid, Samsonite, TGIFridays, or ToysRUs. Check the fine print in whichever debit rewards program you use — sometimes one of the programs pays for in-store purchases but the other doesn’t, and sometimes there’s a minimum purchase required before you’re eligible for cash back.
Bottom line: the Affinity Solutions-powered debit rewards programs at Regions and US Bank offer the potential for a serious amount of cash back, provided you sign up for the free membership, use their shopping portal for certain merchants (using alternate rewards programs for others), and also use your debit card for in-store purchases at participating merchants. It’s a vast improvement over the Visa Extras Rewards progam, IMHO.
For a breakdown of how all the merchants compared, click Continue Reading. And note that next year, I will be including Regions and US Bank’s debit rewards programs in my annual rebate analysis.


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Here is a list of merchants that offer higher cash back through the debit rewards program than from other online rewards programs:
- Avon (12% at Regions or US Bank, versus 7.7% at MyPoints, or 7% at BabyMint or MrRebates)
- CompUSA (3% at Regions or US Bank, versus 2.6% at BondRewards or Greenpoints)
- eBay (2% at Regions or US Bank, versus 1.5% at MyPoints or CreationsRewards)
- FragranceNet (14% at US Bank, versus 10% at Extrabux, FatWallet, iBakeSale, or MrRebates)
- LaneBryant (5% at US Bank, versus 4.3% at BondRewards or 4% at BabyMint, Extrabux, or iBakeSale; no reward from Regions)
- Lids (10% at Regions or US Bank, versus 9% at Extrabux or 8% at FatWallet or MrRebates)
- OneHanesPlace (7% at Regions, versus 6.8% at BondRewards or 6% at Extrabux)
- Perfumania (10% at US Bank, versus 8.5% at BondRewards or 6.5% at CreationsRewards or QuickRewards)
- RedEnvelope (7% at US Bank, versus 6.8% at BondRewards or 6.1% at CreationsRewards or QuickRewards)
- Samsonite (5% on orders under $100 or 10% on $100+ with Regions or US Bank both in-store and online, versus 3.1% at MyTroops or 3% at BabyMint, Ebates, FatWallet, or MrRebates)
- Snapfish (15% at Regions or US Bank, versus 11% at MrRebates)
- Sunglass Hut (6% at US Bank, versus 4.1% at QuickRewards; no reward from Regions)
- ToysRUs (3% at Regions or US Bank, versus 2.6% at BondRewards; Regions also pays 1% on in-store purchases of $50 or more)
- Urban Outfitters (5% at US Bank, 4% at Regions, versus 3% at BabyMint, Ebates, FatWallet, or MrRebates)
- Walmart (4% at Regions or US Bank, versus 3% at MedicalRewardsNetwork or 2% at Ebates, LittleGrad, MrRebates, or QuickRewards)
- YvesRocher (15% at US Bank, versus 12.8% at BondRewards or 11.2% at Jellyfish; no reward from Regions)
With these merchants, you’ll earn more if you skip the debit rewards portal and go straight to another rewards program:
- 1800Contacts (7% at Extrabux, versus 5% at US Bank and no reward at Regions)
- 1800Flowers (10% at Upromise or Little Grad, versus 5% on orders <$75 or 10% on larger orders for Regions or US Bank)
- Babies R Us (6% at BondRewards or 3.1% at QuickRewards, versus 3% at Regions or US Bank)
- Barnes & Noble (7.7% at MyPoints or 4.3% at BondRewards, versus 4% at Regions or US Bank)
- BestBuy (2.2% at Jellyfish, versus 2% at Regions or US Bank)
- CircuitCity (3.7% at Jellyfish, versus 1% at Regions or US Bank)
- Dell (3% at FatWallet, versus 2% at Regions and 1% at US Bank)
- EddieBauer (6% at QuizPoints or 5.1% at BondRewards, versus 5% at Regions or US Bank)
- Footlocker (7% at iBakeSale or 6% at BabyMint, FatWallet, LittleGrad, or MrRebates, versus 5% at US Bank or 4% at Regions)
- Hallmark (10.2% at BondRewards, versus 10% at Regions or US Bank)
- Home Depot (3% at BabyMint, Ebates, or MrRebates, versus 2% at Regions or 1% at US Bank — though US Bank will let you earn the 1% on in-store purchases also)
- Illuminations (8.5% at BondRewards or 7.7% at FatWallet, versus 5% at Regions or US Bank)
- JCPenney (4% at Ebates or MrRebates, versus 3% at Regions or US Bank)
- KBToys (4.3% at BondRewards, versus 4% at Regions, and no reward at US Bank)
- Lillian Vernon (8.5% at BondRewards or 8% at LittleGrad or Upromise, versus 5% at Regions, and no reward at US Bank)
- Mikasa (6% at Ebates, versus 5% at Regions or US Bank)
- Motherhood Maternity (6.8% at BondRewards or 5% at Ebates, MrRebates, or QuickRewards, versus 5% on $25 or $50 GCs only through Regions; no rebate at US Bank)
- OldNavy (6% at ClubMom, versus 4% at Regions or US Bank)
- Omaha Steaks (7% at MrRebates, versus 6% at US Bank; no reward at Regions)
- Overstock (7.7% at MyPoints, versus 5% at US Bank or 2% at Regions)
- Payless (8% at FatWallet, versus 5% at US Bank; no reward at Regions)
- PETCO (8% at Extrabux, FatWallet, or MrRebates, versus 7% at US Bank; no reward at Regions)
- Petsmart (8% at QuizPoints, versus 7% at Regions; no reward at US Bank)
- RadioShack (4.3% at BondRewards or 3% at BabyMint, versus 2% at US Bank; no reward at Regions)
- RitzCamera (7.5% at Jellyfish, versus 5% at Regions or 4% at US Bank)
- Sears (2.6% at Greenpoints, versus 2% at Regions or US Bank)
- SharperImage (8% at QuizPoints, versus 7% at Regions or 5% at US Bank)
- Shoes.com (15% at Extrabux or 14.5% at BondRewards, versus 10% at US Bank; no reward at Regions)
- Target (8.5% at BondRewards or 6% at BabyMint, versus 3% at Regions or US Bank)
- ThingsRemembered (8% at Ebates, versus 6% at US Bank; no reward at Regions)
- Zales (4% at Ebates or LittleGrad, versus 2% at US Bank both online and in-store; no reward at Regions)
- Zappos (10.2% at BondRewards or 10% at CreationsRewards, versus 10% at US Bank; no reward at Regions)
Mixed Results:
- Apple iTunes (5% at US Bank or 4% at Regions, versus 4.3% at BondRewards or 4.3% at Extrabux)
- Brookstone (10% at US Bank, 8.5% at BondRewards, 8% at Extrabux, or 6% at Regions)
- TheChildrensPlace (5% at US Bank, 4.3% at BondRewards, 4% at Regions, Extrabux, and iBakeSale)
- DisneyShopping (5% at US Bank, 5% at ClubMom, 4.3% at BondRewards or QuickRewards, or 4% at Regions)
- Drugstore.com (10% at US Bank, 10% at QuizPoints, 9% at Regions, or 8.5% at BondRewards)
- Expedia (a flat 2% at Regions or US Bank, versus up to 3% depending on the type of travel purchased, offered at various rewards programs)
- LandsEnd (5% at US Bank, 4.3% at BondRewards, 4% from Regions, BabyMint, iBakeSale, or MrRebates)
- Linens ‘n’ Things (5% on purchase of $25 or $50 GCs only from Regions, 4.3% at BondRewards, or 3% from US Bank)
Tied for Highest:
- Gap (4% at Regions, US Bank, or MrRebates)
- JosABank (7% at US Bank or Extrabux, no reward from Regions)
- Kmart (2% at Regions, US Bank, BabyMint, Ebates, FatWallet, MrRebates, QuizPoints, SunshineRewards, or Upromise)
- Kohls (4% at US Bank or ClubMom; 3% at Regions but only on $25 Kohl’s GCs)
- LampsPlus (7% at Regions or Extrabux; no reward from US Bank)
- NASCAR (4% at Regions or iBakeSale; no reward from US Bank)
- OfficeMax (4% at Regions, US Bank, or Ebates; though both Regions and US Bank pay 1% on in-store purchases of $50 or more as well)
- Spiegel (3% at Regions, US Bank, Ebates, Jellyfish, or MrRebates)
- Starbucks (9% at US Bank or Extrabux; no reward from Regions)
- Tupperware (6% at Regions, US Bank, or BondRewards)
- VitaminShoppe (7% at US Bank or MrRebates; no reward from Regions)
- Wine.com (5% at US Bank or LittleGrad; no reward from Regions)

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