Are you getting debit card rewards? If you use your debit card at all–and most people do, at least for gas or store purchases–there is really no reason not to be enrolled in a debit card rewards program. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be reviewing rewards programs at banks both big and small; the idea is to let you know how these programs compare and how your debit card can work to save you money. You may even find that you’ll want to use your debit card more and your credit card (or cash, for that matter) less, simply because the rewards and discounts for debit card usage are that beneficial to your personal finances.
The big banks seem to be the ones who are offering some of the best debit card rewards. This is no surprise; after all, many of the big banks are the ones who designed frequent flyer miles and other early rewards programs for credit cards. One of the top programs out there is through Chase Bank. The Chase Leisure Rewards Debit Card allows you to earn points to purchase an exceptionally wide variety of items, including
- Sporting Goods
- Kitchen Items
- Gift Cards
- Adventures and Entertainment
Basically, Leisure Rewards gives you four points for every dollar you spend using your debit card. Like most programs out there, you can’t get points for “PIN” purchases or ATM cash transactions; instead, you would want to tell the merchant to swipe the card as “credit” for the purchase to count toward Leisure Rewards.
There are two things that strike me about Chase’s Leisure Rewards. One is that the theme, though loosely-based, it pretty cool. The idea of having rewards based on relaxation, exercise, and having fun should strike a chord with many of us in the over-worked population. To drive this point home, the program includes “experential” rewards, including adventures like an hour of flying lessons, skydiving, white water rafting, or a ride in a stock car (If you are, like me, a bit less the thrill-seeker you might enjoy the wine tour in Napa Valley). The second key point about Leisure Rewards is that they will email you a monthly statement of your points totals. This is a great alternative to some banks that leaving you waiting on the phone while a call center representative tries to figure out your rewards accumulation. A medium-ticket item, for example a Bluetooth speakerphone with headset, runs about 34,000 points, meaning that you would have to make $8500 in qualifying purchases to get there.
The main drawback that I see with the Leisure Rewards program is that it has an annual fee, which is currently $25. Also the program doesn’t exactly work very quickly. Chase states that points take 1-2 weeks to post, although the bank’s website says online purchases can “take longer,” whatever that means. Throw in the standard four- to six weeks for shipping and handling, and you may be hoping that the tool set that you want is still an option once you’ve earned enough points.
Still, Chase Leisure Rewards can be well worth it for you, especially if you use you debit card as your main purchasing tool. If you have used this program, give us some feedback below.