April 24, 2024
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Guest Blogger

Loyalty programs are no longer just a nice-to-have perk; in today’s business world, they’re essential. Haven’t you ever chosen one brand over another—maybe it was a restaurant, or a retailer, or an airline—just because you were part of their loyalty program? It happens more often than we think. These loyalty programs have become a key factor in our shopping habits, helping us feel connected to our favorite brands.


As our expectations as customers evolve, so should the ways in which brands reward us.


Enter the co-branded credit card. Co-branded credit cards aren’t just another line in the loyalty program playbook. They are a whole new way for brands to say "thanks" to their customers. Imagine earning points with a brand not just when you shop at their store, but wherever you use your card. This takes loyalty to the next level, right?


In this post, we’ll look at how loyalty programs and co-branded credit cards are changing the game. And we’ll explore how Marqeta makes it easier than ever for brands to create credit cards that do more than just look for loyalty; they actively build it. Let’s dive in.


Loyalty programs have come a long way

Gone are the days when loyalty programs consisted of simple punch cards. (Buy 10, and your 11th one is free!) Today, loyalty programs are sophisticated tools meant for much more than just encouraging repeat business. Loyalty programs are about creating a bond between the brand and the customer.


But what makes a loyalty program truly stand out in a crowded market? Personalization and the ability to adapt to customer needs.


A survey by SmarterHQ found that 72% of consumers are more likely to be loyal to a brand that offers a more personalized experience with additional rewards. What does this look like in practical terms? Personalization in loyalty programs can range from tailored discounts to exclusive offers based on past purchases, making each customer feel like the brand knows them personally.


However, the challenge for many brands is keeping up with evolving consumer expectations. Traditional loyalty programs—and the technology that supports them—often lag behind, unable to offer the flexibility and personalization that modern consumers demand. This gap presents a unique opportunity for brands to rethink their approach to loyalty programs.


The power of co-branded credit cards

Beyond just offering personalization, an effective loyalty program also requires pushing the traditional boundaries of a brand. One way to offer a seamless extension of loyalty programs is the co-branded credit card. Co-branded credit cards are not just a perk; they're a partnership between brands and their most devoted customers. These cards extend the reach of traditional loyalty programs, making every transaction an opportunity to strengthen the customer-brand relationship.


By allowing customers to earn points, not just when they shop with the brand but in their everyday spending, these cards create a constant connection between the brand and its customers. It's a powerful tool, especially considering that 49% of higher-tier loyalty members see the offering of a co-branded credit card as a desirable way to maintain their status within the program.


Every time a customer uses your co-branded card, they're not just making a payment; they're reinforcing their connection to your brand. This constant engagement is invaluable. It's about keeping your brand top of mind, not just when customers walk into your store or visit your website, but in their everyday lives. Whether they're grabbing a coffee or booking a vacation, your brand is right there with them.


In addition, a co-branded credit card gives you access to better customer data, opening up new avenues for creative rewards. By understanding where and how your customers are spending, you can tailor your rewards and offers more effectively. And it’s this level of personalization that today's consumers are looking for. 


The loyalty program game-changer is here, but is the technology available to support it?


Challenges with traditional credit card programs

While co-branded credit cards are a powerful tool for building customer loyalty, trying to pull this off via traditional credit card programs won’t cut it in today's fast-paced, customer-centric market. What’s the main issue? To put it straight: traditional programs are stuck in the past.


The technology and frameworks that many traditional credit card programs rely on haven't seen significant innovation since the 1970s. Do the math. That’s… 50 years ago. This lack of modernization presents several challenges for brands looking to create truly engaging loyalty programs:


  • Fractured brand experience: Customers find themselves navigating between different platforms and interfaces, which can dilute brand identity and reduce the impact of loyalty initiatives. When your credit card feels like it's part of a different ecosystem than your brand, it creates a disconnect for the customer.
  • Unengaging rewards: Traditional credit card programs are often rigid, offering an unexciting one-size-fits-all rewards system. (2% cash back? Meh.) Today's customers expect rewards that are valuable and relevant to their lifestyles and preferences. A generic points system no longer cuts it.
  • Frustrating end-user experience: The lack of modern tools and APIs in traditional credit card programs can lead to cumbersome processes for both customers and the brands trying to manage these programs. This can result in a loyalty program that feels more like a hassle than a benefit, and your brand will suffer for it.
  • Inability to innovate: Traditional credit card programs require partnering with multiple vendors, resulting in a lack of agility that hinders your ability to stay relevant and responsive to the evolving needs of your customers.


What’s needed is a more modern, flexible approach to credit card programs—one that aligns with modern consumer expectations.


Marqeta’s innovative credit platform

At Marqeta, we understand that in today's market, a credit card needs to be more than just a payment tool; it should be a direct extension of your brand. The Marqeta credit platform is designed to empower companies not just to issue credit cards, but to craft a loyalty experience. Imagine a credit card program that evolves with your customer's needs and preferences, keeping your brand relevant and top of mind. Let’s highlight some of the key features of Marqeta’s credit platform:


  • Embedding credit into the brand experience: Marqeta makes it possible to seamlessly integrate the credit card experience into your mobile app and website. With prebuilt, branded UI/UX templates and over 100 credit APIs, you can maintain your brand's look and feel throughout the customer journey.
  • Dynamic spend controls and Gateway JIT: The platform offers unparalleled control over card spend. Marqeta’s Gateway JIT program allows transactions to pass through custom spend control rules that you set, ensuring that every transaction aligns with your brand values and customer expectations. For example, with Marqeta’s spend controls, you can limit where users can spend funds or the amount or frequency of spending based on specific merchants or categories.
  • Modern and customizable rewards programs: Leverage Marqeta’s rewards engine for end-to-end rewards management. This includes everything from rewards accrual and ledger to redemption, allowing for a truly personalized rewards experience.
  • Data-driven insights and control: All of the data flowing through the Marqeta platform is available via API through its reporting infrastructure (DiVA) as well as Snowflake data sharing. Users of the Marqeta platform can leverage these features to meet their reporting needs in real time.


Leveling up your loyalty program with Marqeta

Co-branded credit cards open up the path toward a modern, dynamic, and personalized customer loyalty program. And Marqeta is leading the charge in redefining how you can leverage these cards to further power your brand. By partnering with Marqeta, you gain access to a platform that combines modern card issuing with comprehensive credit servicing and program management. This puts the power in your hands to build, launch, and iterate on your credit program—on your own terms.


Ready to take your loyalty program to the next level? Dive into the world of Marqeta's innovative credit platform. Explore our developer guides and API documentation, and begin reshaping your rewards program today.

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