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8 Key Questions When Choosing a Rewards Provider

June 7, 2017

Looking for a third party to handle your company’s loyalty program? From breadth of options to security measures to customization, here are the questions to ask before signing that deal.

By Jennifer Worley, Vice President, Product Development, Hawk Incentives

Rewards programs are often a significant investment for companies. Before engaging with a provider, it is important to understand its rewards offerings, supporting services, financial stability and the level of care it will provide to you and your program participants. Here are eight important questions.

  1. Are you a full-service provider? The provider should be able to manage your program from end to end: from what the program and rewards look like and where they can be used, to the approval process and how they are delivered. It should be able to receive your program goals, challenges and instructions and take it from there.
  1. Do you offer opportunities for customization? Look for a full-service provider that has a comprehensive rewards portfolio and wide range of customization capabilities. The brand basics should include custom logo and artwork, branded packaging, and single-load and reloadable cards with various fulfillment options. The provider should be able to customize to your users and channels with the ability to support all types of activation, funding and spending. These services can include things like filtering and instant issue. A provider’s options need to match the size and scope of your program.
  1. What is the breadth and depth of choice in rewards? An effective program must offer a breadth of products and options to satisfy a variety of customers. Providers can accommodate customers through a variety of options – physical and digital rewards, a wide range of denominations, delivery methods (electronic or mail delivery), and so on. In addition, customers’ preferences change. Today, they might like physical cards, but tomorrow they might want an e-gift for a major retailer. Make sure your provider has the portfolio to evolve with your customers.
  1. What is your scale and track record? Many providers can execute quickly, but it is wise to verify their track record and current throughput. Scale is important – a provider must be able to handle your program volume without new infrastructure or employees. As your program grows, can the provider continue to support you?
  1. What are your fraud-control measures? Great providers will use multiple levels of fraud control and monitoring – on both the transactional and program level. They should be happy to walk you through risk- and fraud-control measures on both a program and cardholder level.
  1. How easy is it to do business with you? A rewards provider should offer a quick onboarding process and an extensive suite of customized and off-the-shelf web-based applications. This allows for ease of program administration, communication, ordering, tracking and integration into third-party systems. You should have access to strategic account managers who guide, support and help you achieve your business goals. There is no reason your program should be anything other than seamless and user-friendly.
  1. How financially stable is your company? This might seem obvious, but if you are issuing hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, you want to ensure that your money and customers are in good hands. 
  1. Do you have robust client-service and cardholder-support programs? Questions always come up. Does the provider have dedicated support staff for you and your program participants, both online and in person? Depending on the size and global reach of your business, it is also worth examining its international capabilities. Dedicated multilingual support might be necessary if your program will span several currencies and languages.  

Rewards programs can be complicated. Knowing which questions to ask a provider is half the battle. Addressing items like breadth of offerings, fraud protection and support programs will keep your participants happy and help the program save your company time and money.

Jennifer Worley is Vice President, Product Development at Hawk Incentives, a Blackhawk Network business. She can be reached at or 636-226-2181.