What’s More Effective? Visa® Incentive Cards vs. Gift Card Rewards

by: Luke Kreitner May 20, 2019

What’s more effective, Visa® incentive cards or gift card rewards? OK, that’s a trick question. It comes down to context. When designing an incentive programs, a key piece of strategy is deciding what type of incentive rewards you should use to motivate your target audience. Different incentive rewards make sense in different situations.

Deciding which type of reward you want to use depends on several factors:

  • Defining Your Objective: Is your goal long-term, such as building distributor loyalty? Or is it more short-term, such as promoting a product launch or increasing purchases of part-time customers? Who do you need to motivate to achieve this outcome and how long will this promotion run?
  • Audience Analysis: How big is your target audience? What are their demographics, priorities, and values? Completing this analysis will help you personalize your marketing to them and choose the most effective rewards.
  • Reconciling Rewards Budget: Based on the length of your promotion and the size of your audience, you need to decide which rewards make sense from a budgetary standpoint. How much reward-spending do you want to allocate toward each segment of your audience? Do you need rewards that are scalable based on the priority?

Choosing Reward Type

The answers to those questions will determine the rewards you select. For instance, if you were trying to build customer loyalty with a small group of high value accounts, you would want to invest in high value, personalized reward experiences. In this case, incentive travel would be an effective option that would give you the opportunity to strengthen your relationships with those accounts. Or you might offer promotions with high reward point values that participants can redeem towards custom redemptions or big-ticket merchandise, such as redeeming points towards paying off student loans or buying a family set of Rolex® watches.

But if you’re trying to motivate a wide audience, such as a large, fragmented network of dealers that you don’t know much about, debit card incentives or gift card rewards would be your best option.

Visa® Incentive Cards vs. Gift Card Rewards: A Side by Side Comparison

The advantage of reloadable Visa®; incentive cards and gift card rewards is that they offer quick fulfillment. With Performance Tracking, Visa incentive cards can be reloaded as soon as you’ve verified their sales claim, especially if you integrate Performance Tracking with our Mobile App. Gift card rewards often have e-delivery. The time between action and reward is very short, whereas with merchandise, delivery becomes a factor, and incentive travel requires planning in advance.

Additionally, card rewards are versatile and have wide appeal. Who couldn’t use a reloadable Visa® incentive card? And we have gift card options for over 175 popular brands, such as Amazon, Bass Pro Shop, Home Depot, and Lowes. But are Visa® and gift card rewards interchangeable? Not quite. While they have a lot in common, there are also some nuances to take into account. Looking at the chart below, which option makes the most sense for you?

Visa Incentive Cards vs. Gift Card Rewards

Visa® Incentive Cards Gift Card Rewards Winner
Appeal & Convenience Visa® incentive cards can be used almost anywhere—online or offline. Using a Visa® incentive card requires no
adjustment for most participants.
With online shopping, gift card rewards are more convenient than they
before. However, participants are still limited by specific retail locations.
Visa® Incentive Cards
Delivery Speed Visa® incentive cards can be reloaded almost instantly, with no effort on
the part of the participants.
Although gift card rewards can be delivered via email, participants must
right down the code or print the certificate.
Visa® Incentive Cards
Scalability Visa® incentive cards can be for different cash amounts—offering good
value propositions for high performers and lower performers alike.
Gift card rewards are also highly scalable. However, different values
may get you more or less mileage at Starbucks than, say, Nike.
Draw
Personalization Visa® cards are only a step away from cash. It’s a little more on the
impersonal side. Plus, participants can use them towards utilitarian expenses.
Gift card rewards are a little more personal, since they are to specific
brands and people use them to buy tangible rewards.
Gift Card Rewards
Memorability Our Visa® incentive cards are branded, so participants remember you when
they reward themselves. However, they might not end up with a memorable reward
object.
Our gift card rewards are also branded. Participants usually use them to
buy something fun—a tangible object they can invest with emotions.
Gift Card Rewards

Ultimately, it come down to what you’re looking to accomplish with your incentive program. In some applications, such as if you're trying to train a group of busy contractors to consistently submit warranty registrations, delivery speed might be more important than memorability. But if you were trying to motivate a group of internal sales reps, who already get paid by commission, the personalization and memorability factors of gift card rewards might give you an edge. The good news is that you don't have to perform this sort of strategic analysis by yourself. We're always happy to have that conversation!

Signing off,

Luke Kreitner

VP of Sales
Incentive Solutions

About Luke Kreitner

Luke Kreitner is the VP of Sales at Incentive Solutions, an Atlanta-based incentive company that specializes in helping B2B businesses accelerate growth, increase sales, motivate channel partners and retain B2B customers.