By AnnaMaria Andriotis
Another debit card rewards program bites the dust. Wells Fargo is eliminating its debit card rewards program for all customers on October 8. The notice will be included in statements Wells Fargo customers receive.
A Wells Fargo spokeswoman says the bank is ending its rewards program in response to recent regulatory changes. In June, the Federal Reserve approved lowering the fee retailers pay banks when a consumer swipes a debit card at the register, from around 44 cents to roughly 24 cents. The banking industry says this will result in a 45% loss in revenue that banks use to provide low-cost accounts to consumers, among other things. This is the latest round of rewards cutbacks at Wells Fargo. By April, debit card rewards were no longer available to new customers.
For consumers, finding a truly rewarding debit card is becoming increasingly difficult. Until this year, most major banks offered rewards programs where consumers could rack up points while using their debit card to shop. But at least three large banks have killed rewards this year: Last month, Chase stopped its rewards program for all customers. In April, SunTrust did the same. And in many cases, consumers have a limited amount of time to redeem their rewards points: At SunTrust, debit card holders have until the end of the year. At Wells Fargo, points can be used up to 60 months after they’re earned. At Chase, however, there’s no official expiration date.
Consumers looking for generous debit-card rewards aren’t entirely out of luck though. Citi still offers rewards as does TD Bank. Though limited in scope, some programs offer rewards in a specific shopping category – consumers can earn airline miles with the US Airways and Alaska Airlines Bank of America debit cards, for example — or for shopping at specific retailers, which could become more popular going forward. This summer, Ally Bank rolled out a new debit card rewards program where consumers who shop at select retailers automatically get money back in their checking account.