eBucks changes explained

The more the merrier … the bank is pushing the ‘family construct’ especially hard this year. Image: Moneyweb

Instant Smart Spend rewards, fewer Slow Lounge visits and other tweaks.

FNB has announced annual tweaks to its eBucks rewards programme, which paid out a total of R2.4 billion in rewards in the last 12 months. This is a sharp increase on the R1.86 billion paid out over the same period a year ago.

The bank has always contended that eBucks doesn’t just offer rewards for rewards’ sake, like a traditional loyalty scheme. Rather, it uses the programme to drive behaviour change among its clients.

Johan Moolman, CEO of eBucks, points to the fact that more than half of its customers (56%) now do all of their pharmacy spend at Clicks since the retailer became a partner in April. Previously, only 27% did all their pharmacy spend there.

The popular fuel rewards via Engen (including quarterly double-up rewards, where up to R8 a litre is paid back) remain the same, as do discounts of up to 15% at partners Checkers/Shoprite and Clicks.

The basic construct of the programme doesn’t change either. Customers collect reward points for certain behaviours. These then determine their eBucks reward level at the end of every month (for the following month). Their rewards – effectively discounts paid back as eBucks – are based on the reward level achieved. So, for example, an FNB Private Clients customer on level five can earn 2.5% back on qualifying in-store spend on their Fusion or credit card. That same customer on level 3 would only earn 1.2%.

Moolman says the bank has responded to feedback from some customers who said understanding how to move up eBucks levels could be confusing.

It has added a ‘Track my rewards’ tab on the app which shows how many points a customer has collected, with shortcuts to actions that will net additional points.

The four big changes from July 1:

  1. Qualifying spend on your cards no longer earns you points to move up reward levels. Until the end of June, you will continue to net a certain amount of points for in-store shopping and online shopping (based on certain bands). Thereafter, eBucks will be paid out instantly as you reach thresholds under a new ‘Smart Spend’ category. On Gold accounts, this could be up to R240 (eB2 400) on R16 000 spend, for Premier customers up to R600 (eB6 000) on R25 000 spend, and on Private Clients up to R1 500 (eB15 000) on R50 000 spend. The eBucks earned on Smart Spend are over and above your usual in-store or partner spend. Removing spend thresholds from counting towards your reward levels, it will now be more difficult to move up levels, or to remain at level five.
  2. To some extent, eBucks has offset this by adding a new way to collect up to 2 000 points per month by using certain streaming or online platforms. These are Deezer, iTunes, Netflix, Spotify, YouTube, Showmax, SweepSouth, Audible, Google Play, Mr D Food, Uber, Uber Eats, PlayStation, Xbox, Google and Bolt. Using one of these a month will net you 500 points, while using four or more of these a month will net the maximum 2 000 points on Gold, Premier, Private Clients or Private Wealth accounts. But – importantly – you will no longer earn up to 15% back on Uber and Uber Eats purchases.
  3. A new family benefit has been introduced where account holders can earn up to 40% back on their Netflix and/or Spotify subscription each month. This is however within a “family construct” only, which requires a partner to have a linked spousal account. It is not available to individual account holders.
  4. FNB has sharply reduced the number of complimentary Slow Lounge visits allocated to Premier, Private Clients and Private Wealth customers on the various eBucks reward levels. Those on lower levels are particularly hard-hit. But customers will get one additional visit per booking made via eBucks Travel, up to a maximum of 12 per financial year (July to June). Moolman says that while “not many customers are flying at this moment in time”, the programme’s “benefits are not tied only to one particular category, such as travel”.

Beyond these major changes, on Premier and Private Clients, thresholds for transaction activity have been adjusted.

Customers now need to do at least six and eight transactions per month on the FNB App  respectively to net 2 000 points (instead of four). There are other new ways to collect points, such as doing two transactions a month on FNB Pay (500 points) and maintaining a “healthy” credit status (up to 2 000 points).

It has also reduced the qualifying monthly deposit requirements for Premier customers (from R16 500 to R13 500) and created a way for customers to earn their cheque account fees back in eBucks by either holding certain minimum balances in the bank’s investment products or meeting certain requirements with personal loans products.

The bottom line, however, is that it will be tough to remain on eBucks reward level five if you do not hold an:

  • FNB insurance product, or
  • A loan (overdraft or credit facility), or
  • A savings account (with a fair amount locked away), or
  • A global debit card, or
  • An FNB investment product (including tax-free savings account),

Alternatively, you would need a linked spousal or child (FNBy) account, with the bank pushing the “family construct” especially hard this year.

You’ll need to likely use at least one of these (or be an all-FNB family) to comfortably be at the maximum reward level.

Brought to you by Moneyweb

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