A Look at Prepaid Cards in Incentive, Rewards, and Recognition Programs

There are few rewards as satisfying as being able to pull out your wallet to simply slide out a prepaid reward or incentive card that is a branded, physical representation of your hard work.  In recent years, prepaid debit cards have skyrocketed onto the scene to become the most popular tool of choice by various firms to help motivate, engage and reward both employees and customers alike. The popularity of prepaid cards is evident through 75% of businesses believing that prepaid gift cards are among the most effective rewards, especially in driving loyalty and commitment as surveyed by the Incentive Research Foundation.  The majority of incentive planners also promote prepaid cards as a more meaningful, personal and impactful enticement than cash.

Incentive planners and business executives are not the only ones encouraging the use of prepaid debit cards; recipients are voicing their appreciation for these convenient compensations as well. In a study done by the Incentive Research Foundation, 44% of survey respondents proclaimed that prepaid cards are their favorite type of gift or reward. So much so, that when offered a prepaid card or equivalent cash, five times as many respondents chose the prepaid card over other alternatives. This data speaks volumes about the optimistic future of the prepaid debit card industry as it becomes the most notable way of simultaneously increasing both the potential incentives for employees and overall productivity for a firm.

So what’s the draw to these tiny pieces of extraordinary plastic?

There are numerous benefits associated with issuing prepaid cards, including, but not limited to the following:

  • Prepaid cards are being used as incentives across the spectrum as they can be accepted at any retailer where credit cards are taken.
  • Prepaid debit cards, unlike cash, can be used online, a more suitable feature in today’s technological age.
  • Prepaid cards have the ability to be reloaded, providing ease for the cardholder to continuously add funds to their favorite card.

Prepaid cards are being used as incentives on various levels, from spot rewards to holiday bonuses and for merchandise, dining, travel and entertainment. This slew of opportunities connected to each prepaid card has made the business a $46 billion industry in the United States as stated by the Incentive Federation. Furthermore, prepaid cards are now the most frequently used reward in corporate incentive programs, with over 75% of organizations utilizing prepaid debit cards as rewards according to Incentive Magazine’s Gift Card IQ Survey.

Businesses that are able to capitalize on the opportunity to enter into prepaid debit cards will have a positive position looking ahead, as it is widely believed that these cards drive a much higher return on investment than any other type of incentive rewards, such as cash. The flexibility and ease of distributing each card, as well as the ability to customize each as a personalized reward creates a mutually beneficial relationship while also establishing an emotional connection with an employee or customer. The facts speak for themselves, and the secret is out: prepaid cards are now on the map and are here to stay.

For more information on JNR prepaid card programs, please visit our website.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Andy Tallon


JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Prepaid Debit Cards Are Effective Incentive and Reward Options

Prepaid debit cards are a specific type of gift card pre-loaded with a fixed monetary amount. In 2012 alone, $77 billion worth of transactions took place using these rectangular pieces of plastic. It is not surprising that businesses of all types are reaching out to reward both consumers and employees with prepaid cards and their popularity continues to soar. Curtis Arnold of Forbes cites 9 creative ways to use prepaid debit cards in a recent article including: door prizes, employee incentives, event attendance, blog giveaways, and tax refund payments. We want to focus on the effectiveness of these cards in the recognition of not only employees, but also customers, dealers and channel sales personnel.

Over half of the companies that give out non-cash rewards utilize some type of gift card. There are three basic categories. The first type is a debit card offered by credit card companies or banks that can be spent virtually anywhere credit cards are accepted. It is usually pre-loaded with a fixed amount, but sometimes able to be recharged. The second is a retail or manufacturer gift card offered by household name retailers, hotels, airlines, and restaurants. These are typically valid for face value and customizable with company logos or specific product imagery. The third type is a debit credit card. These cards appear to be a standard credit card issued in the user’s name. There is a fixed amount deposited toward the card balance initially and can be spent anywhere credit cards are accepted.

There is an ease of use and flexibility that comes with prepaid cards that benefit the recipient as well as the issuer. Aside from the more obvious sense of appreciation that comes with receiving a gift of material worth, a less obvious response is now being recognized as well. Confidence is an underlying form of appreciation when someone is given a card in his or her name that, due to the economy’s impact over the last seven years, may not have the opportunity to use a credit card otherwise. This provides a level of self-assurance that cannot be replicated with cash rewards and in return, loyalty.

On the issuer’s side, a prepaid card comes with straightforward shipping, customizability, the simplicity of recharging a card without incurring the cost of a new card each time, and an inimitable display of gratification for one’s patronage. Prepaid cards can be used in a multitude of programs at all levels producing a sense of fulfillment and motivation across the spectrum from sales incentives to non-profit event attendance motivators.

The pros of gift cards include:

  • A Plethora of Options – Nearly every retailer and many consumer product manufacturers and travel-related companies offer gift cards.
  • Wallet Power – Unlike cash, these cards will often stay in the wallet of the recipient for an extended period of time, serving as a constant reminder of the generosity from the issuer on the branded card.
  • Ease of Distribution – Shipping a card in the mail is extremely quick, easy and inexpensive.
  • Ease of Use – A majority of cards can be used online or at retail outlets.
  • Popularity – Prepaid cards are the most common gift for recipients. An impressive 44% of IRF survey respondents said that prepaid cards were their favorite type of award. When given the choice between a prepaid card or cash equivalent, five times as many respondents chose the prepaid card. Further, over 71% of respondents said that gift cards are either the “best of all gifts/rewards” or “a good gift/reward” while only 8.47% said they would rather have cash.

When you break it down, the pros of prepaid cards make it a worthy investment for any company or organization.

The prepaid debit card industry is booming for good reason and you need an expert in the field to walk you through the process of effectively using cards and effectively growing your ROI. If you are interested in learning more about a JNR Incorporated prepaid debit card program, please send us an email at jnrinfo@jnrcorp.com. We will fill you in on how we have been leveraging our relationship with MasterCard® rewarding the employees, customers, and channel personnel of our Fortune 500 clients to consistently exceed their expectations.

To read more on prepaid debit cards, check out our research here.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Kristopher Hewkin