Custom Debit CardWhen it comes to incentivizing your employees, rewarding your customers for their loyalty, increasing your branding, and streamlining processes on the backend for your business, there are dozens (if not hundreds) of options.

If you’re looking to give something to your in-house team, you could set up a points-based system. You could reward them with merchandise, or custom travel options. You could arrange for and book an employee retreat. Or, you could just write a check and give them an old-fashioned bonus.

Customer loyalty is essential to any business’s success, and investing in it is a wise move. Some companies offer discounts to loyal customers; others utilize membership programs as a cooperative form of membership and issue their customers dividend checks. Still others go with various iterations on the “customer appreciation day”: in-store and online discounts, rewards, and so on.

All of these are good options. However, there’s one that stands out as particularly unique and effective when it comes to interfacing with both your employees and consumers. Believe it or not, there’s a rewards option that works equally well for both your team and your customers, and allows you to effectively brand your offering at the same time. What is this solution? The custom debit card.

It’s true that there are advantages to each of the above programs. A points system in-house can help incentivize your sales team, increasing friendly competition to see who can get the most points. Employee retreats are a great way for co-workers to connect and get to know each other outside of the office environment. And discounts for loyal customers are something that everyone appreciates.

But, if you attempt to offer the array of options above, you’re looking at the potential of having to manage half a dozen different programs within your company. Each of the programs for your employees would require its own dedicated person to manage, and the same would go for customer incentives. Meanwhile, the programs are all incredibly different from each other on the backend, which means there’s little room for crossover. In other words, running all of these programs could turn into a management mess.

Meanwhile, a custom debit card is a sleek, easy, and effective way of showing your team and your shoppers how much you care. Rather than trying to tackle multiple programs all at once, you’re able to offer something that’s versatile (the money can be spent however they wish), branded (we’ll get into the importance of branding your debit cards later), and streamlined (you’re able to offer essentially the same reward to both your customers and your employees).

But what exactly are custom debit cards? Is there more than one type? How are they different from custom credit cards? What are their advantages? What challenges do they present? To put it simply, are they the right choice for your company? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll answer all of these questions. Read on to learn more.

What is a custom debit card, and how is it different than other options?

Custom Debit CardIf you’re like more than 90% of Americans, you have a checking account. And, you likely have a debit card. When we think of debit cards, we typically imagine a bank account with a limited amount of funds available to us. Rather than withdrawing those funds in the form of cash, or writing a check that would allow us to transfer them to another account holder (perhaps at a different bank), we frequently use our card to “debit” the account for the amount of a given purchase.

When it comes to custom debit cards, there are a few variations on the above theme available to you: prepaid, reloadable, and virtual cards. Each has its own unique advantages. Ready to learn about which one’s right for you? Keep reading.

Prepaid debit card

When you want to offer a reward in a fixed amount that’s already been determined, prepaid cards are a great option. You have the opportunity to brand the card with your company’s logo and the recipient’s name. Additionally, by working with Visa, MasterCard, or American Express, you can offer something to your employees and customers alike that can be used virtually anywhere; for a meal out, for household goods, and more.

Writing a check or offering some other form of one-time reward isn’t a bad option, per se, however, one of the advantages of the prepaid debit option is that it puts your business name, logo, and brand in front of the card’s user every time they pull it out of their wallet. And, these cards often reach a zero or near-zero balance, but continue to sit in someone’s wallet for a period of time afterwards. That’s more free advertising for your company. And think of precisely what kind of advertising this is: the user isn’t just thinking about your company in an abstract way. They’re thinking about the things they’ve been able to purchase with that card, and how much they appreciate your company’s generosity.

One of the biggest advantages of a one-time use card like this (in other words, a card that can’t be “reloaded” with more cash later) is their relative ease to set up. The account operating on the backend is relatively simple, and there’s no real user interface needed for the user to be able to add more money to the card. This means that the cost of prepaid is relatively low.

They can be ordered in bulk, or you can personalize them. One of the advantages of ordering in bulk is the cost savings it can represent. You can order them one at a time with a customer or employee name on the card, or you can order a large number of preloaded cards in any amount (say, $50), and then hand these out as needed to customers and employees alike. And remember, they can all be branded with your business’s logo.

Reloadable debit card

A slightly more expensive –but simultaneously more versatile–step up from the prepaid option is the reloadable debit card. Whereas prepaid cards can only be used once, reloadable cards can be “reloaded” with money as many times as you like. This makes them significantly more like a traditional debit card, where the card’s spending capacity is linked to your bank account balance.

Offering a personalized debit card in reloadable form is a sensible move, and in the long run, they reduce waste. For example, you might order personalized, reloadable cards for your employees, and add cash to them in exchange for meeting certain goals. They can be used anywhere that a traditional debit or credit card is accepted, and can have funds added to them rather than tossing them out when they reach zero. And, just as with the prepaid option, they can be effectively branded with your company’s logo.

Compared to prepaid cards, a reloadable debit card may be bit more expensive upfront; there could be higher costs associated with setting up and administering the account associated with it, since it’s possible to repeatedly deposit funds into the account. However, in the long run, a slightly higher upfront cost may give way to long-term savings. Rather than repeatedly ordering and disbursing prepaid cards to employees, for example, you can offer each employee a personalized reloadable card that they hold onto for years.

Virtual debit card

As online shopping because increasingly popular and commonplace with each passing year, virtual debit cards are seeing an uptick in use. With some experts forecasting the end of big box stores and shopping malls as we know them, it makes sense to offer a reward option that’s targeted largely at online purchases.

Virtual debit cards are just what the sound like: rather than receiving a physical piece of plastic in the mail with a 16-digit number printed on it, you’re assigned all of the information associated with the card electronically. You can enter the information to make purchases online, but there’s no physical object to take with you to a store and swipe in person.

The lack of a physical card makes the virtual option quite affordable for your company. Delivery is nearly instantaneous, too, as there’s no need to wait for inventory to arrive and then deal with physical distribution to employees or customers. Additionally, it’s still possible to offer a virtual option as a branded debit card: the lack of a physical object doesn’t mean the card can’t be branded when it’s sent to the user’s email inbox. And, it’s still possible to use a virtual card in a store; the cardholder can simply show it to an retail assistant using their mobile phone. Alternatively, they can print out a copy of the card’s information and display it when making a purchase.

Virtual cards are particularly suited to customer rewards, as it’s possible to disburse cash to customers quickly, easily, and affordably.

What about reloadable credit cards?

Some customers have heard the phrase “reloadable credit card,” or “custom credit card,” and have them confused with the debit options we’ve presented here. In fact, a custom credit card generally refers to the option of having a traditional card customized by the company that provides it, such as with a custom image or company logo. Meanwhile, there’s actually no such thing as a “reloadable credit card.” By definition, credit cards involve a credit line, which determines your spending limit. You’re then required to pay back the lender who issued the line of credit to you, generally on a monthly basis. The idea of “reloading” a card is tied to the definition of a debit card, which involves spending funds which belong to you, and which have already been deposited into an account that can be “reloaded” with more funds in the future. So, if someone says they’re interested in a reloadable credit card, they probably mean to say “debit” instead of “credit.”

Why are you considering a custom debit card?

Custom Debit Card There are a number of reasons why you might be looking as a custom debit option for your business. Let’s take a look at each of them here, and consider why custom debit might be the way to go.

Sales incentives

Lots of people get into sales because they enjoy the work: they’re competitive by nature, and they like the idea of limitless earnings. Aside from offering your employees sales commissions, though, giving them bonuses in the form of a personalized debit card is a great option. Sure, a bonus check spends the same, but a branded debit card is a walking advertisement for your business. It builds employee loyalty and exposes your brand to retailers and shoppers everywhere that it’s used.

Employee rewards

Sales incentives and employee rewards can overlap, but they’re not the same thing. While sales incentives are specific to your sales team, any employee at your company could be eligible for an employee reward. Want to let a team member know that they’ve gone above and beyond? Verbal acknowledgement is great, but a tangible reward is even better. Prepaid debit cards are a great option here: you can have a stack of them available in small amounts, ready to hand out to employees who have shown dedication and delivered major results.

Customer loyalty

Not every business has a customer loyalty program. But, considering that it costs five times as much to bring in a new customer as it does to keep an existing one, focusing on customer lifetime value is important. And maximizing CLV is largely a function of making your customers feel appreciated. How do you do that? With customer rebate, loyalty and rewards programs.

Small, prepaid, branded cards are perfect in this situation. If you’re a smaller company with high spending customers, a reloadable, branded debit card could be the way to go. Or if you’re a large company that wants to offer a significant customer rebate to thank them for choosing your brand, these cards can be extremely beneficial. Either way, going with a debit-based reward demonstrates to your customers that you seriously value them, and consider them to play an essential role in your business.

The advantages of custom debit cards

Custom Debit CardAt this point, you’ve got a good sense of what your choices are when it comes to custom cards, and how they can fit into your business’s customer loyalty and employee rewards programs. But, are there some other advantages associated with custom debit cards? There sure are!

They’re everywhere

One thing is certain in the digital age: less and less people are paying with cash, and an increasingly large percentage of the population prefers to pay with plastic. With debit cards being so ubiquitous, offering a branded one to your customers and employees is an effective way of keeping up with the times.

They’re in the palm of your hand

If you write an employee a bonus check, or send a coupon to a customer, it’s a “once and done” scenario. They deposit the check, or cash in the coupon, and then that’s it. Meanwhile, a custom debit card is in the palm of their hand for months, sometimes even years.

Brand affinity

A bonus check is minimally branded. A customer appreciation day is just that: a single day, and then it’s over. But a custom, branded debit card can create brand affinity over a long period of time, every time a customer pulls it out to use it.

Challenges you might encounter

As you’ve seen, there are a ton of advantages to implementing a custom card program for employees and customers alike. That said, there’s really only one significant challenge involved: they can be a hassle to set up. Trying to work directly with Visa, MasterCard, or American Express is easier said than done. Particularly if you’re a small- or medium-sized business, it can be next to impossible to interact with these providers on your own. What you need, then, is someone who can handle this for you, saving you time and money in the long run.

Level 6 Incentives

Level 6 Incentives™ understands the intricacies of creating, implementing, and running incentive programs at companies like yours. Why choose us?

Experience

We’re one of America’s leading turn-key incentive and rewards program providers. With more than a decade of experience, our team is ready to deliver the results that you expect and deserve.

Custom Software

Any incentive program is only as good as its backend. At Level 6, we’ve developed custom software that providers the end user with an elegant, secure, easy to use experience.

Turn-Key

Our incentive programs are completely turn-key. At the same time, they can be customized to meet your company’s needs.

Value

We’re not just the best at what we do, we’re also affordable. We pride ourselves on offering our customers the best value in the industry. That’s why we created a custom calculator to help your estimate your costs up front.

If you’re ready to get started with a custom debit card solution for your company, contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation.