Card-Linked Offers: What Are They & Why Your Business Needs Them

Customers love receiving discounts. But creating a traditional loyalty rewards program can be complex and expensive. That’s where card-linked offers come in. Using special card-linking technology, you can target customers with digital discounts and loyalty rewards that are automatically redeemed when they make a purchase with their payment card. The best part? It’s quick and easy to integrate into your app or website.

In this article from PlotProjects, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about card-linked offers plus tips and advice about how to get started. 

Card-linking loyalty programs

What are card-linked offers?

Card-linked offers are personalized discounts and cashback offers that can be redeemed automatically when a customer links their payment card to a participating app or website. Using card-linking technology, individual transactions are tracked via the customer’s payment card number, so their credit or debit card essentially becomes their loyalty card too.

Also known as CLOs, card-linked offers are extremely popular with consumers because they are personalized and relevant. By understanding their transactions, businesses can get a better understanding about consumers spending behavior, needs, hobbies and favorite brands. They can use these insights to push more personalized experiences and offers which keep those customers engaged and delighted.

Card-linking technology has boomed over the last decade. It’s been widely used by big retail banks like Visa, Amex and Mastercard within their offers platforms. But with the technology becoming more seamless than ever, more and more businesses are building card-linked offers into their loyalty rewards programs.

In todays’ world you’ll find card-linked offers on all manner of apps and websites, from banks and third-party processors like PayPal and Stripe, to popular apps like Groupon, Yelp and many more. And with the rise in card-linked offers APIs, many more businesses in retail, travel, hospitality and more are adopting card-linking technology.

What are card-linked offers?

How does card-linking work?

Card-linking technology makes it possible for consumers to use loyalty programs automatically. Operators can link discounts and cash back offers directly to a user’s debit or credit card, creating a hassle-free experience for users who can automatically gain their points at the point of sale. 

All the customer has to do is link their payment card to the relevant loyalty or rewards program and they’ll automatically receive merchant-funded offers from their favorite brands without having to worry about scanning a QR code or showing a loyalty card.

Businesses create the offers, rewards and loyalty platforms such as Groupon, Rewards Network and BankAmeriDeals promote the offers, and consumers link their payment card to the relevant app or website to earn rewards from thousands of brands. All the customer has to do is spend at their favorite retail stores, restaurants or local services to redeem personalized discounts and cash back deposited into their bank account.

Card-linked marketing

When customers link their cards, they give permission for the loyalty program to gain insights about how they spend their money. In return, they enjoy personalized offers and experiences which keep them engaged and loyal. Rewards platforms can use these insights in their card-linked marketing strategy and offer rewards in a more segmented, targeted and relevant way.

Card-linked offers & proximity marketing

For an even better, more personalized user experience, card-linked offers can be enhanced with proximity marketing. Companies can use geofencing and beacons to detect a customer’s smartphone. Those customers can then be targeted with relevant location-based deals and cashback offers for nearby retailers, restaurants and services. The closer the rewards are to the consumer’s real-time location and preferences, the higher the chances of redemption.

Local card-linked offers and deals

Through the use of local deals APIs – which aggregate thousands of local deals into one feed – more and more big rewards programs are able to provide local shopping, dining and other card-linked offer content. This brings rewards program members even more ways to find great deals and earn cash rewards on shopping, dining out and other everyday purchases. 

PlotProjects is working with more and more merchants and rewards programs to bring local deals and cashback offers to apps and websites via our PlotRewards platform. Our local deals API aggregates all the most up-to-date and relevant local offers from trusted discount and cashback providers across the globe. Interested? Contact PlotProjects to find out more.

Integrate local card-linked offers via a card-linked offer API

Benefits of card-linking and card-linked offers

Here’s a look at some of the many benefits of card-linking and card-linked offers for businesses and consumers.

Enhanced loyalty programs

Since card-linking enables customers to be identified by their payment card number, it eliminates the need for a separate loyalty card. In essence, the payment card doubles up as a loyalty card. This is super convenient for customers who might find otherwise have to carry multiple loyalty cards or forget to use them.

A seamless experience

Card-linking offers a seamless experience for the user. It’s quick and easy to link payment cards, and in return the user enjoys real-time communications and highly relevant deals, discounts and cash back offers.

Card-linking provides valuable data and insights

Tracking a customer’s transactions has many advantages. It provides valuable insights about customer’s shopping and spending habits. Businesses can understand their customers’ behaviors and use this data for better segmentation and targeting.

Increased foot traffic

With more personalized and relevant communications comes increased foot traffic to brick-and-mortar stores. Retailers can build stronger engagement, a loyal consumer base and attract new customers.

Reach customers at the right place and the right time 

The insights gathered through card-linking and local deals allow for offers and deals to be served to the right customer, at the right time and through the right channels.

Better attribution

CLOs make it possible to bridge the gap between online advertising and in-store sales. Merchants can accurately track how many in-store visits were driven by their online ads, allowing them to make the most of their advertising budget.

Card-linked offers are cost-effective

Building card-linked offers into your rewards program is cost-effective. There is no big upfront cost, merchants just pay a small fee each time a customer makes a purchase. Many companies use easy-to-implement card-linked offers APIs to build CLO programs into their apps or websites. The use of such APIs is very inexpensive.

Card-linked offers and cash back deals

Card linked offers market size 

The card-linked offers industry is a multi-billion dollar market. Given the many benefits for both businesses and consumers, it’s no wonder that CLOs have become one of the most widely used online-to-offline technologies in recent years. 

According to CardLinx, card-linked offers and card-linked loyalty program growth is surging, with 35% of respondents to a recent DCA survey reporting 100% growth in the previous year. Driving this growth are many factors, such as the shift to cashless spending, the convenience of using cards and popularity of mobile payment apps. And as the technology rises in emerging markets, we are set to see more growth.

The facts are, consumers love having a gratifying rewards experience. Receiving relevant, personalized card-linked offers automatically provides an element of delight and surprise with every transaction. When consumers have a positive experience, along with a reminder of their increasing points balance, they’re likely to return.

What are some card-linked loyalty programs?

There are many card-linked offer providers. Because the technology requires significant data security measures and relies on user permissions for tracking card transactions, it used to be most prevalent in the retail banking sector.

But thanks to card-linking providers like Cardlytics, Fidel and Empyr, as well as easy-to-implement card-linked offers aggregators, creating card-linked offers programs has become more mainstream in retail, travel, hospitality and many more industries.

Is card-linking secure?

Yes, card-linking is safe and secure. Card-linked loyalty programs don’t store any card details and they don’t have access to customer’s bank accounts. Debit and credit card companies such as Visa, Mastercard and American Express send data to secure card-linking providers such as Fidel who are PCI compliant and use a secure API to collect user data and transfer the relevant information between the merchant, card issuer and customer.

The only data provided by the card-linking provider is the merchant location, transaction time, date and amount, the payment method, currency, status and network, plus online & offline tracking data.

This data is used for retargeting customers, allowing businesses to offer more personalized offers and rewards along with a more seamless user experience. Card-linked offers providers many vary in their exact methods of data collection so be sure to research this when incorporating card-linked offers into your program.

Is card-linking secure?

How can I launch card-linked offers?

You can launch a card-linked offer campaign quickly and easily by using a card-linked offers API. Many companies use these card-linked offers platforms to build CLO programs into their apps and websites. 

Software companies used to build their CLOs apps via Payment Networks directly however this can be a complex and expensive process. The good news is that there are many card-linked offer APIs offering more seamless and agile solutions.

Such APIs work with multiple financial institutions giving them secure access to consumer data. They don’t store that data and neither should you, bringing peace of mind to your customers.

All you have to do is subscribe to your chosen card-linked offer API and get started with sending relevant, location-based rewards to your customers, all based on their exact transaction data.

PlotRewards offers a solution that lets companies build local deals and card-linked offers programs within minutes.. Not only is it faster and more seamless than the old model, but it’s also much cheaper. What’s more, our solution will give you highly accurate insights into your customer’s real-time activity and payment data, making it easy for you to push the right offers, at the right time and place.

You can find out more about PlotRewards by contacting the PlotProjects team today.

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