Understanding Incentive Program Design – Prepaid Card Breakage


According to The Incentive Research Foundation, U.S. businesses are currently spending over $100 billion annually on incentive programs. These incentive programs range from employee recognition to consumer promotions. When implemented properly, incentive programs have the power to influence behaviors desirable to a business. In many cases, an incentive is awarded in the form or a non-reloadable Mastercard® or Visa® prepaid card.

Some use cases include:

  • Rebate paid to consumer for purchases
  • Loyalty programs where consumer accrue points and redeem for prepaid cards or other items
  • ‘Thank You’ gifts for employees or customers
  • Promotional giveaways at events, concerts, conferences, etc.


Incentive, Promotional Prepaid Cards

For Incentive program administrators, offering to pay out an award with prepaid cards has many benefits:

  • Trackable, Visible, and Controllable – ability to know when cards have been received and activated; ability to disable cards if necessary.
  • Eliminate Paper Check – managing paper checks is painful and costly; even in this digital age there are still plenty of paper checks being used to disburse rebates and promotional awards.
  • Branding Reinforcement – as subtle as it may seem – having your corporate logo on the award reinforces to the end recipient the brand with which they have chosen to engage.

Prepaid cards also benefit recipients: they enjoy the freedom to choose their reward based on preference. Prepaid cards are accepted at millions of locations worldwide. Recipients can purchase groceries, book vacations, take the family out to dinner, or a variety of other uses.

That is – if the recipient actually receives and uses those prepaid cards.


Within the context of prepaid incentive cards, breakage is the money loaded onto a card but not used by the card recipient by the time the card expires. The card can no longer be used for purchases at expiration even through the funds are still in the account. In the incentives industry, vendors will often take this unspent breakage as fee revenue. Breakage varies by program, but typically range between 8% to as high as 30%. For example, in a program with $1,000,000 loaded onto cards, there may be $80,000 to $300,000 that never gets used.


There are several ways to view breakage in the context of an incentive card program.

BUSINESS PHILOSOPHY – Conflict of Interest

The primary objective of any incentive program is to drive, incentivize, and reward certain behaviors. When an incentive vendor relies on breakage as the primary source of program revenue, it creates a conflict of interest. The vendor is financially incentivized to minimize the use of the rewards given out to recipients.

A real life example. My wife bought a set of tires and received a $75 rebate prepaid card. She was saving it for a specific purchase but did not pay attention to the expiration date. It expired, and she called the number of the card to asked for a replacement card. They took a hard line and said no. She was frustrated, and guess where she directed that frustration towards? The tire brand (she has no clue who the card vendor was).  The brand lost a customer, and my wife lost what she wanted to buy with that card. The only winner from this situation is the card vendor who pocketed the $75 as revenue. Whose interest did the card vendor serve? A card vendor has said to me: “So what? The consumer already bought the [product] so companies don’t care”. I completely disagree, and I believe most companies that care about their brand would disagree.

With incentive prepaid cards, spend and card usage are measures of engagement. In other words – these vendors are better off financially if the incentive program drives LESS engagement. Think about that. Whether consciously or subconsciously, the vendor will manage the program towards less reward usage and engagement because they are financially incentivized to do so.


Often, a vendor will bid on an incentive program with a low upfront per card fee, knowing that they will be able to keep breakage as revenue.  Clients and buyers who do not know or understand breakage often do not understand the economic model with which incentive services vendors operate. Incentive services companies are not charities – they do not work for free. So the question is whether the incentive program administrators are asking the right questions, and whether the incentive vendor is being transparent.

As an illustrative / simplified example, table 1 below outlines a typical scenario for an incentive / consumer promotion program (10K cards @ $100 each equating to $1MM in prepaid card funding). In this illustrative example, vendors may offer a low $1.95 per card fee but pocket the 15% in unspent funds as revenue when cards expire. Effectively, a corporate client is paying 69% higher effective card fees. Yes, the vendor is “making a bet” and the breakage rate of unspent funds is not guaranteed. Vendors are taking a risk, and arguably have a right to be compensated for that risk, but 69% higher? And furthermore – the more they (even if subconsciously) depress usage and engagement, the vendor can drive up their profits.



Transparency is the Key

There can be legitimate benefits to operating under a breakage model (lower upfront cost, fixed budgets / costs, etc.). However, transparency is the key – so before accepting an incentives services vendor’s offer of a $1.95 card, ask these questions:

1.    How does the vendor treat unspent funds / breakage? What is the real net effective cost?

2.    If you are designing your incentive program to maximize engagement, does it make any sense to design a program where the vendor is financially incentivized to drive down engagement?

Let’s Talk Incentive Program Design

If you are looking to implement an effective incentives program – let’s connect. We would love to learn more about your objectives, and are always happy to be a sounding board as you consider your incentive card program design. Click the link below to reach out to us:


You can also email us at info@jnrcorp.com with any questions.

Written by: Thomas Chiang, President | Card Services & Technology Solutions 

Top Three Questions to Ask When Designing a Sales Incentive Program

Sales incentive programs have the power to spark passion within your sales force. Especially in a competitive market, there is increased pressure on the sales team to go the extra mile. Recent studies show, successful incentive programs can motivate sales people to go above and beyond, boosting their performance anywhere from 25% to 44%. There is no one-size-fits-all program – a reason why there are so many different systems and approaches. But, successful incentive program design always begins with good questions. Start by asking these three key questions:

What is it that we are trying to achieve through this incentive program?

The goal of most sales incentive programs is to modify participant behavior to grow sales and keep sales reps engaged. Answering the questions below will help you better define your objectives:

Am I rewarding the right behaviors and performance indicators? Without understanding what needs to be rewarded to achieve the company’s overarching goal, it is very difficult to bring value to your program. This is an important conversation that you need to have with all stakeholders involved with the program. Incentives help modify sales rep behavior so using them in an efficient way is essential in achieving your sales revenue targets.

Have you established attainable goals and rewards to target your top, middle, average and under performers? There’s an adage that states the top 20% of your sales team generates 80% of sales. These top-tier employees tend to claim most of the praise and available rewards, leaving future top-tier producers hidden in the crowd and feeling unvalued. An effective incentive program also targets promotions to the next 20% tier of capable employees, laying the motivational groundwork for their entrance into a top-tier.

What is the overarching goal of my company? Am I targeting the right behaviors to achieve that goal?  If the goal of the program is to increase referral sales and that is not clearly targeted by the program, then the program is set up for failure. Referred customer usually have a longer tenure with a brand so promoting referrals can increase the number of loyal customers. The point of the incentive is to really understand the customer, cater to their needs, and provide the right solution. However, if you decide to reward all sales equally, then reps would sell at all costs because this is the rewarded behavior.

Do my desired performance objectives align with a worthy reward?

If the program is designed correctly it should produce results that optimize workflows and increase engagement. Clear rules for the program need to be set up and communicated with the participants. Below are a few questions that will help you better understand a successful program design.

Are the goals achievable? Is everyone getting a fair shot? Goals are supposed to be challenging but if the targets are set out too far, there is a loss in engagement over time. The goals should be set where everyone gets a fair shot at achieving them. The idea here is to drive more engagement and with more sales targets being achieved, sales growth will follow.

How motivating is my plan? If your program is structured to get sales reps to sell more than they currently do, you are motivating them. Remember, this includes all sales reps, not only the high performing ones. Also rewarding behaviors such as attaining additional trainings or certifications can go a long way in creating a company culture that rewards higher education.

Are my reward choices in line with what employees prefer? For an incentive program to work—for employees to be engaged—there must be a reward that has a high perceived trophy value and is appropriate for the desired goal. If the goal is to boost sales performance, a once in a lifetime travel opportunity reserved for the best-of-the-best remains one of the most powerful motivators. Through travel incentive opportunities, morale is boosted, productivity is heightened, and employees return from vacation re-energized and ready to make sales. Prepaid reward cards are another great reward solution. Prepaid reward cards provide the flexibility, freedom, choice, and all-around motivational power you need to drive success. Plus, with the convenience, variety and customization that prepaid cards offer, it’s easy to see why so many companies are choosing prepaid rewards for their corporate incentive programs.

Am I communicating program rules and updates clearly with my participants? It may seem obvious that communication is an important element in incentive programs, but far too often communication is the most overlooked piece of the puzzle. Even the most exciting, big budget program runs the risk of failure if your message is not articulated clearly, thoroughly and often to those you wish to reach.

What tools and processes are necessary to produce the desired result?

Am I using the best tools to monitor and run this program? One of the most important part of running a sales incentive program is having the right platform with the tools you need. Running sales incentive programs offline and through spreadsheets can be cumbersome, inefficient and costly. You need a nimble, web-based platform where participant and program interactions are recorded, analyzed, and utilized to enhance the program as well as the participant experience.

Is my platform simple enough for the participant to stay engaged? If your platform is too complicated for the rep to interact with, program participation will be lower than expected. This is a huge problem with a large number of incentive platforms, they are too complicated and don’t offer any real value to the participant.  In order to ensure high engagement levels, a simple, easy to use platform is key.

Do I have access to real time reporting? Are all the program interactions being recoded and reported to me? Metrics drive sales incentive success. Be sure you are gaining valuable insights into your program and your participants with intelligent reporting that tracks: participant enrollment, progress, claims, top performing products or locations, awards funded, redemption and more.

We hope these questions help you figure out how to build a successful sales incentive program, as it pertains to you.

To discover more about these programs and how they can boost your revenues click here to contact us. JNR is a proven single source for strategic partnerships and solutions, offering an experienced team of employees, progressive technologies, best industry practices, and a network of worldwide resources, which support our ever-evolving portfolio of unique, effective and memorable business solutions.

Written by: Shay Malhotra, Marketing Manager | Card Services & Technology Solutions

2017 Global Meetings Industry Day

Today at JNR we celebrate the second annual Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID). Celebrations are happening around the world as we take a look once again at the influence of business meetings on our economy. Click on the infographic below detailing just a few of the impressive stats surrounding the true impact meetings have on making business happen.

At JNR we have been executing effective Meetings for our clients for more than 37 years. From a National Sales Meeting for 300 people to an International Conference for 3,000, our Meetings expertise comes together to create an engaging and impactful attendee experience that not only meets your strategic objectives but also achieves a measurable ROI.

Creating meaningful meetings where employees, clients, executives and thought leaders can come together to discuss and collaborate is an essential part of growing your business.

Let us know how JNR can help you with your next Meeting or Event.  #JNRMeansBusiness



JNR is a full service, globally recognized leader in the incentive industry offering solutions for Meetings and Conferences, Incentive Travel, Special Events and Entertainment, Prepaid Card Services and AXS Contact Center Solutions. We have over 37 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies across many industries. Our clients trust our comprehensive suite of solutions that offer a better way to reach performance, productivity and loyalty objectives. JNR tends to every detail of your program to ensure an extraordinary experience for your customers, employees and participants and a favorable return on your investment. We allow you to step away from the logistical details and let you focus on what you do best.

Employee Incentives at JNR

Working with an incentive travel company you may imagine that JNR employees get the opportunity for luxurious jet setting to remote locations while receiving perks from fabulous hotels and travel vendors. We however, are the ones working behind the scenes planning, negotiating and operating those programs to ensure our clients experience the trip of a lifetime that will have lasting effects of sustained motivation amongst their employees. For those of us left in the office, JNR does give employees several other opportunities to feel incentivized, appreciated and connected to the company culture.

In today’s age of millennial workers, the need to feel appreciated and socially engaged is more important than ever. Work life balance is one of the most sought after perks of a job in today’s culture. Paid time off and a generous 401K plan is not enough to make an employee feel like a valued member of a team. There are several other ways to keep employees feeling appreciated, engaged in their work and loyal to their employers.

Here are three ways JNR incentivizes our employees:

  1. Pre-paid debit cards

At the end of each quarter, JNR employees who receive a “Caught in the Act” recognition from their peers or managers will receive a bonus of $25.00 each on their personalized prepaid debit card. A “Caught in the Act” recognizes an employee for several acts of service. From going above and beyond what is asked, staying late to get the job done or taking on a big project proactively. This is an excellent example of not only verbally praising employees for a job well done, but also giving them an extra monetary incentive to keep up the good work.

  1. In-office parties and celebrations

At JNR you can have your cake and eat it too! What better way to extended appreciation to our employees than with in-office celebrations and catered events. JNR plans monthly birthday celebrations as well as fun national holidays and everything in between. From the March birthday celebration that honored national Mario Cart Day, to our summer office Olympic events, office festivities give employees the opportunity to take a break from their desk and come socialize, play a game and enjoy sweet treats in camaraderie with their coworkers.

  1. Referral program

When current employees refer a friend or acquaintance to JNR for an open position they are rewarded monetarily if the candidate is a good fit. The employee who refers the candidate will receive $50.00 on their JNR reward card after 90 days, and $250.00 after they complete their first year with the company. This is a great way to encourage familiar referrals and maintains the integrity of the applicants.

These perks are just a few little ways that JNR makes employees feel like they are part of a collaborative team. Incentives like these guarantee higher retention rates which is most cost efficient for the company.  When employees feel valued it is directly reflected in company moral. At JNR it is easy to discover the difference in our employees, our work and our service. Contact us today if you are interested in pursuing an employee engagement program for your organization.


JNR is a full service, globally recognized leader in the incentive industry offering solutions for Meetings and Conferences, Incentive Travel, Special Events and Entertainment, Prepaid Card Services and AXS Contact Center Solutions. We have over 37 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies across many industries. Our clients trust our comprehensive suite of solutions that offer a better way to reach performance, productivity and loyalty objectives. JNR tends to every detail of your program to ensure an extraordinary experience for your customers, employees and participants and a favorable return on your investment. We allow you to step away from the logistical details and let you focus on what you do best. Continue reading “Employee Incentives at JNR”

5 Foods for Enhanced Thinking

When running a meeting or conference, the food you offer participants will make a huge impact on the amount of information they retain. Coffee is a morning staple among most people, but the food suggestions offered below offer individuals a more nutritious, as well as a more brain stimulating way of carrying energy levels throughout the day. Here we have five staple foods that will benefit your meeting attendees.

  1. Avocados: Avocados contain high levels of Vitamin K, Vitamin B and Vitamin C. This fruit not only helps memory and concentration, but is low in sugar and high in protein. This “super fruit” is packed with beneficial fats that are also vital for healthy skin.
  2. Blueberries: This tasty fruit is small in size but packs many benefits to get your mind going. It is extremely high in antioxidants, containing Vitamin C, Vitamin K and fiber. Blueberries also have a high level of Gallic acid, which help with stress and protects the human brain from deterioration. Recent studies at Tufts University state that blueberries may be effective in improving short-term memory loss.
  3. Broccoli: Broccoli with its “brain top” appearance also plays the part of being a smart food. Broccoli contains high levels of Vitamin K and choline, which are great for memory. Broccoli is also high in glucosinolates. Glucosinolates slow the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which helps the central nervous system perform properly.
  4. Dark chocolate: Who said eating for enhanced thinking would not be fun? Dark Chocolate contains flavonols, which contain anti-inflammatories and antioxidants. Fiber, iron and magnesium, also found in dark chocolate, are thought to lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the brain and the heart. A recent study showed that eating dark chocolate one day out of the week can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Don’t go crazy on the candy bars quite yet. Be mindful of the amount of sugar it contains and keep this food to a minimum.
  5. Salmon: “The smartest food in the sea” is known for its high levels of omega-3. In recent studies, omega-3 is believed to stimulate activation in the prefrontal cortex, which is associated with memory, the occipital cortex that is associated with vision and the cerebellar cortex that plays a vital role in motor control. This has anti-aging effects and also acts as an antidepressant. For parents, various studies show that feeding children salmon can boost academic performance so imagine the output of your participants when loaded up on healthy omega-3s!

Food is a vital part of work and living in general. Offering foods such as the ones listed above can help peak performance in employees and make the work place a more intelligent environment to be in. When we provide proper nutrition for our bodies, it improves our memory, skin and helps our brains to remain strong and active. These are all things that are vital for success in the workplace and at JNR we want our employees to use their full potential.

Written by Shawn Brown

Works Cited

https://draxe.com/8-salmon-nutrition-facts-proven-health-benefits/ (Dr. axe)

https://draxe.com/15-brain-foods-to-boost-focus-and-memory / (Dr. Axe)

https://authoritynutrition.com/7-health-benefits-dark-chocolate/ (BCC Kris Gunnars)



http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/10-foods-boost-your-brainpower (Nutritionist Jo Lewin)


JNR is a full service, globally recognized leader in the incentive industry offering solutions for Meetings and Conferences, Incentive Travel, Special Events and Entertainment, Prepaid Card Services and AXS Contact Center Solutions. We have over 36 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies across many industries. Our clients trust our comprehensive suite of solutions that offer a better way to reach performance, productivity and loyalty objectives. JNR tends to every detail of your program to ensure an extraordinary experience for your customers, employees and participants and a favorable return on your investment. We allow you to step away from the logistical details and let you focus on what you do best.

Photo: “Brain for everybody” by Ars Electronica is licensed by CC by 2.0.