Banking Loyalty to Customers in Ireland (or lack thereof)

Recently I went for a business lunch in the US.  At the end of the meal, the person I dined with said “I’ve got this.” While that made for a pleasant situation, I was intrigued to see how he paid for the lunch by producing a plastic card with a Bloomin Brands title on it. When I asked him how it worked, he said it was a loyalty program which his bank offered, and that such banking programs were prevalent throughout the U.S.  By simply keeping his credit cards and mortgage with the same bank, he received a $100 loyalty bonus on that rewards card on a quarterly basis.  What a deal!

This got me thinking about the rewards we receive in Ireland. A few years ago Ulster Bank offered a loyalty program for their credit cards. It was based on points earned that could be used for flights, hotels, and electronic goods. Unfortunately, Ulster Bank eventually removed this rewards scheme.  Frankly, it was a disappointment for a business man like me, who frequently uses credit cards. On the other hand, AIB and BOI have started up similar incentive schemes once again that appear to be targeting credit card customers. However, they are still quite limited in what they offer, and are nowhere near allowing you to do what you can in the U.S programs. Moreover, they are missing the mortgage market, an area where people deserve a loyalty bonus based on how much they pay for their mortgage, and how much the banks profit from these mortgages. It would be great to see Irish banks supporting their loyal customers by rewarding their PAYE, SMEs and contractors, who use their services. Let’s see a Bloom Brands loyalty rewards program over here!

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