First National Bank (FNB) changed the rules of its leading rewards programme, eBucks, from July 1. For the first time, its entry-level Easy account (Bundle and Pay As You Use, or Payu) is included in the programme.
But Easy account-holders do not earn eBucks; instead, they get cash back, Johan Moolman, the chief executive of eBucks Rewards, says.
There are still no subscription fees on the bundled pricing option, and R10 still equals one eBuck.
It works like this:
There are eight bank products you can use to qualify for rewards if you have an Easy account; you need to use at least five to get to reward level five. The products are: a cheque account, a credit card, loans, FNB Connect, a savings product, asset finance, investments and the banking app. Each of the products has different qualifying criteria, such as depositing a minimum of R500 a month into your Easy Payu account, spending a minimum of R500 a month on your Classic credit card, or performing a single transaction on the app once a month.
Some of the criteria are a little steeper: in an investment product, having an equity trading account with a minimum portfolio holding of R10 000, or in savings, having a notice deposit account with a minimum of R10 000.
“On the Easy Payu account, with a R500 deposit you will qualify, in that particular month, for reward level one. But we are rewarding in cash, because it is more relevant and understandable to this market,” Moolman says.
The cash will be deposited into your linked savings pocket, which carries a 5.5-percent interest rate.
There is a flat rate of cash back for levels two and upwards: R10 at level two; R20 at level three; R30 at level four and R40 at level five – irrespective of how much you spend in the month.
If you have an Easy Bundle (which costs R49 a month) or a Classic credit card (R37 a month), and you shop at Checkers or Shoprite, you will get back R1 for every R100 you spend if you’re on level one, all the way up to R5 back per R100 you spend if you’re on level five, to a maximum spend of R4 000 a month. That means you can potentially get back R240 a month if you are on level five, with a R40 flat rate, and R200 from shopping at Checkers or Shoprite.
In addition, FNB is partnering with Shoprite Checkers on EeziCoupons, its coupon discount programme, Moolman says. “Using the FNB app, you will get discounts on items at the store, which you can then redeem at the till point. All you need to do is get the app, link to the coupons and it’s done; there is no need to register at Shoprite Checkers.”
It works the same way if you have a Gold account, although from this account upwards you earn eBucks rather than cash. And the qualifying criteria on some of the products to move to the next reward level are slightly more onerous: you need a Gold cheque account with a minimum monthly deposit of R5 500, for example, or you spend at least R1 000 a month on your Gold credit card. A single transaction on the app is also a potential qualifying criterion.
You can earn up to 50 percent back in eBucks on your transaction charges when you send or receive foreign currency online with FNB Forex.
For the higher end of the market – from the Premier account upwards – things are a little tougher. Instead of qualifying for a reward level based on the products you use, you must collect points based on “the right banking behaviour on the products that you hold”. You need fewer points to jump up a rewards level – 17 500, instead of 18 000, to get to level five.
You can earn points by, among other things, holding a tax-free share account, FNB savings and investments accounts or an FNB Channel Islands 32-day notice or fixed-deposit account.
But in this upper-income segment of the market, the biggest change is the use of the banking app. From July 1, if you have a Premier account, you have to perform at least one transaction a month on the FNB app to earn any eBucks at all, no matter what other products you have. This means you have to have an Android or an Apple phone.
International shopping is no longer a separate category but is included in the normal shopping category, and if you use FNB Forex, you can earn up to 50 percent back in eBucks on transaction charges.
But you earn less for swiping your cheque card when you shop in a bricks-and-mortar store: a flat rate of 0.25 percent back in eBucks, down from between 0.3 and one percent. Online, you earn a flat rate of 0.5 percent, down from 0.6 to two percent. But if you use your credit card, you get two percent back to shop at a bricks-and-mortar store and four percent if you shop online, although you need to have a Premier cheque account to qualify.
You no longer earn up to 15 percent back in eBucks on prepaid airtime purchases; instead, you get up to 40 percent on your FNB Connect contract or prepaid airtime, including fixed LTE.
The rules are similar for Private Client and Private Wealth account-holders, but on the former you need a Private Client credit card to move to level two. You get 15 percent back on Gautrain spend, 2.5 percent on credit card shopping and 5.5 percent on online shopping with your credit card.
If you have a Private Wealth account, there are rewards for offshore savings, and you can get up to 100 percent back in eBucks on smart devices, three percent back on shopping and six percent back on online shopping, but, again, you must use the credit card.
“We have 16 years of learning that have stood us in good stead,” Moolman says. “We are able to teach people about savings and, hopefully, get that savings behaviour to stick. We have done extensive customer research to come up with our new earn rules, which customers want to be simplified, personalised and relevant.”
He says the rewards are funded predominantly “through behaviour change and lower attrition rates”.