Card-linked offers is a technology that automatically links retail discounts to a credit or debit card. It's the ultimate in convenience - no reloadable cards, no Cashback, nothing to remember. Just register a credit or debit card and automatically get the discount when you shop normally.
Sounds perfect. But we don't use them. Here's why.
The technology for card-linked offers has been around since 2009 when it was pioneered in the UK by a company called Reward. We loved the idea and partnered with them immediately, building full integration into Reward Gateway and slick technology to make card registration easy for our users.
Unfortunately, things didn't work out as we hoped. Retailers were not keen to join the program, worrying that the system required too little customer input to create real loyalty. They felt that customers would sign up, forget which retailers were in it, carry on shopping as normal and the retailers would just be giving up margin without creating any loyalty or upside.
Retailer support just didn't materialise. Few retailers joined and those that did gave pitifully small discount rates. We scrapped the project before we launched, saving our users from joining a failing program.
Eight years on, not much has changed. Only 40 UK retailers support the program, none of them major brands and the discount rates have gotten even smaller as retailers confirmed their suspicion that this type of offer would not create brand loyalty. In the USA and Australia, retailer support is nil.
So there is nothing from a technology, buying or negotiation perspective that prevents us from using card-linked offers. We've simply rejected them because the lack of retailer support means they would not be a compelling nor useful part of our service.
Our friends at Quidco, the Cashback site for consumers, use card-linked offers for their high street Cashback product. They've really tried to make it work and you can see the retailers and discounts here on their site. Their page for this product hasn't been updated since 2015, showing that retailers are not forthcoming with their support of the product.