MADISON, Wis. (11/18/08)--Credit unions and financial institutions that offer debit rewards and reimburse surcharges are more likely to attract consumers looking to open checking accounts, according to a survey by Aite Group LLC. Forty percent of survey respondents said they want debit cards to provide rewards when the cards are used for purchases. Also, 60% of respondents said they want their financial institutions to reimburse surcharge fees incurred when they use ATMs of competing financial institutions, said the report, “Checking Accounts: Who is Winning the Battle Online?” (ATM&Debit News
Nov. 13). Aite, a Boston-based consulting firm, surveyed 19,000 people who visited findabetterbank.com
--a financial-comparison website--between February and June. Ron Shevlin, report author and Aite senior analyst, grouped the site’s visitors into three categories:
* Those motivated by the monetary aspects of a checking account, including debit card rewards, ATM-fee rebates, interest on balances, unlimited check writing and free or discounted check printing; * Those that favor technology features; and * Those that cannot decide on a specific checking-account preference.
Despite the rise in the use of debit cards and the large number who wanted rewards, just 9% of visitors said rewards were a “must-have” feature. Rewards availability increased in the past year with 51% of 62 financial institutions surveyed offering debit rewards in 2007, compared with 37% in 2006, according to the 2008 Pulse Debit Issuer Study. Most debit-card rewards offered by the top 50 U.S. banks apply only to signature-debit transactions, according to a report by Mercator Advisory Group.