So which lender offers the best bank loyalty programme?
The judges of the 34th annual Retail Banker International annual global awards were in no doubt.
Take a bow Royal Bank of Canada.
Across 22 awards categories, 21 separate financial institutions were recognised on 24 April.
It collected North America Retail Bank of the Year and Best Loyalty/Rewards Strategy.
The overall quality and quantity of the awards submissions did the event proud.
In so many of the categories, it was extremely hard to determine even a shortlist.
And it was harder than ever to agree upon a winner as there were some very close calls.
Such comments do not apply to the category for best bank loyalty programme.
Best bank loyalty programme: RBC a clear winner
For the past 20 years, the bank has invested in making RBC Rewards a unique, market-leading programme.
The scheme provides unparalleled value to Canadians and is the largest proprietary rewards programme in Canada.
In 2018 alone, RBC Rewards delivered over C$1bn in value to its members.
Membership of RBC Rewards now exceeds more than five million Canadians. Unlike traditional coalition programmes, RBC owns and controls its programme.
This, says RBC, gives the bank the freedom to offer its customers and partners’ unparalleled value.
RBC Rewards has been core to the bank’s market leadership position in credit card balances and purchase volumes. It is a key part of RBC’s product value proposition and brand promise.
And it has allowed the bank to organically grow its credit card portfolio at two to three times the rate of its competitors.
Furthermore, it has been the backbone of its ongoing engagement and retention strategy.
RBC Rewards: features include
- Rich travel offerings; flights with any airline anywhere in the world, cruises, hotels, car rentals, vacation packages and tours;
- Canada’s largest gift card and merchandise catalogue with over 150 brands and thousands of products;
- Making an impact in the world. The programme includes supporting an important cause such as providing families in underserved countries with access to school supplies for children, clean water, health check-ups, lunch meals, financial literacy for woman and children;
- Building better financial futures. Points can be redeemed to improve financial well-being like paying down loans, mortgages, credit cards or contributing towards investments in retirement and education;
- Special access to experiences such as front of the line shopping, valet parking, complimentary gift wrapping during holidays, discounts, exclusive events like concerts, dining, and sporting events, or once in a lifetime experiences like a trip to the Superbowl or the Olympics with direct access to Olympians, and
- Points as a currency; the freedom to use points as cash for things like paying bills, buying groceries or their morning coffee.
Best bank loyalty programme: personalisation
The programme has evolved from a points-only loyalty programme to include points, cash-back, discounts, special access, member experiences and events. The aim is to offer consumers a simple, relevant and highly personalised rewards experience. The programme is also truly omni-channel. Members can engage with the bank at home on their mobile, PC or tablet. They can also engage in RBC branches and via its call centres and in retail stores across Canada.
Partnerships are a core element of a best-in-class loyalty programme. RBC’s loyalty partnerships allow members to earn faster or save more through cash back and discounts with these brands.
So RBC is a partner of choice with global leading brands given the size of its programme and purchasing power. Partnership examples include Apple, BestBuy, Starbucks, Amazon, Indigo, Roots, Pottery Barn, McDonalds, Fairmont and Saks Fifth Avenue.
RBC is also the only bank loyalty programme to include key partners such as West Jet, British Airways, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Hudson’s Bay. So members have the flexibility to consolidate their points across different loyalty programmes.
RBC also has a strong relationship with WestJet. In 2018 this helped to deliver over 36% year over year growth in purchase volume and 70% acquisition via digital channels.
And then there is another Canadian first: RBC and Petro-Canada. This deal enables members instantly to save 3 cents per litre at the pump, earn 20% more Petro-Points and 20% more RBC rewards points.
In the first year since its launch, this partnership has delivered more than C$17m in fuel savings to Canadians.
RBC Rewards continues to play an important role in RBC’s differentiation strategy. It is a more than deserving winner of RBI’s 2019 Award for the best bank loyalty programme.