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Big eBucks changes coming

Fuel rewards are more generous from July 1, but there’s a catch …

FNB has announced a number of significant changes to its industry-leading rewards programme, eBucks. Johan Moolman, CEO of eBucks Rewards at FNB, says eBucks has paid out R10 billion to customers since inception, and is on track to pay out R1.8 billion this year. Since its last major overhaul in 2014, annual changes have been largely evolutionary in nature, rather than revolutionary.

The single biggest change is that from July 1, members will no longer earn fuel rewards for petrol or diesel purchased at any filling station other than Engen. Engen has been an eBucks redemption partner since 2010 (you could spend on fuel using your eBucks card). The earn rules have also changed and you will now earn a certain rand value back per litre, versus the current percentage-based tiers on fuel spend (the changes are explained here). In an environment with sharply rising fuel prices, the new model obviously caps the bank’s payouts better than paying a percentage on actual spend.

Moolman says Engen has been its best fuel partner, and has the largest footprint of filling stations in the country. In addition, the majority of fuel spend by customers has been at Engen.

 

Earn rates

45 litres / R747.45**

2017/18

Level 5: 15%

R112.12 worth of eBucks

Level 4: 7.5%

R56.09 worth of eBucks

Level 3: 5%

R37.37 worth of eBucks

Level 2: 2.5%

R18.69 worth of eBucks

Level 1: 0.5%*

R3.74 worth of eBucks

2018/19

Level 5: R4 per litre at Engen only

R180 worth of eBucks

Level 4: R2 per litre at Engen only

R90 worth of eBucks

Level 3: 75c per litre at Engen only

R33.75 worth of eBucks

Level 2: 25c per litre at Engen only

R11.25 worth of eBucks

Level 1: 10c per litre at Engen only

R4.50 worth of eBucks

* 1% on Gold
** Using inland 95 octane price of R16.61/litre as at June 6

At higher reward levels, earn rates are significantly more generous from 1 July: members will earn about 60% more eBucks on fuel spend. At levels two and three, members will actually earn less, creating a strong incentive to move up (to at least level four).

However, the amount on which you earn eBucks is limited. For Premier clients, the new limit is R2 000 spend at Engen or 20% of your total qualifying card spend per month. Currently, this limit is R4 500 for fuel and Uber, or 20% of total qualifying spend. For Private Clients, these limits will be 20% or R2 500 for Engen, from 20% or R4 750 for fuel, Uber and Gautrain currently. There are separate limits for Uber and Gautrain from 1 July.

These limits mean the average customer – on Premier upwards – will only earn eBucks at Engen on their first (approximately) three tanks of fuel per month.

The second major change is that points levels for Premier, Private Clients, Private Wealth and RMB Private Bank accounts have been reduced. Certain behaviours (such as having a certain number of debit orders on your account) earn customers points in a month, presuming you meet overall qualifying criteria. These points then determine which reward level you are on (one to five). The higher your reward level, the higher your reward rates for spending.

Moolman says that a number of items, such as providing marketing consent, have been removed from the list of ways to collect points for reward levels. He says the bank has been successful in changing customers’ behaviour in many of these instances, and by removing those items, points levels obviously need to be reduced (for example, level five on Premier will require 12 000 points from 1 July, from 17 500 currently).

The current monthly rewards programme will be augmented with instant rewards, called FNB Offers. This is in pilot at the moment (it will go live in the “coming months”) and is designed to drive targeted behaviour change among customers. For example, if you have not yet provided marketing consent, the bank may use FNB Offers to incentivise you to do so with an instant reward voucher from partner Shoprite Checkers. The bank has identified 86 behaviours it wants to change (not all will be in place from day one).

The bank has also enhanced its eBucks Travel portal. Members can now book and pay for flights with eBucks and/or rands across all major airlines, not just its current partners Kulula and Emirates. Discounts of up to 40% on the base fare remain applicable for its partners only, and it has introduced annual caps on the number of discounted flights per year. Members are limited to discounts on 24 one-way domestic economy flights and four return international economy flights (and, on business class, eight one-way domestic and two return international flights). eBucks says discount flight partners will “alternate periodically” from July 1, suggesting a possible change to the domestic Kulula relationship.

There are no other major eBucks changes across Premier, Private Clients and Private Wealth, aside from the earn rates for in-store and online shopping being harmonised (to the lower, current in-store rate). There are minor changes to the number of points collected for certain behaviour (outstanding balance or spend thresholds have largely been adjusted upwards).

For Gold Account holders, the model introduced last year continues. Moving up an eBucks reward level requires a customer to use certain products or change behaviours across eight different product categories (from digital banking to saving to borrowing). In effect, a customer needs to use five different products from the bank to achieve the highest reward level. From July, however, FNB has introduced additional products or behaviours to many of the groups, a change which it says makes it easier to move up. Gold Account members will also now earn eBucks on all cheque card purchases (currently they earn on credit cards only).

For the entry-level Easy Account, the bank is scrapping the product groupings and cash-back into savings pockets/accounts introduced last year. From July, Easy Account holders need only have a minimum deposit of R2 000 per month and spend at least R1 per month on their cheque cards at Shoprite, Usave or Checkers to get R15 back in airtime (for any network operator).

* Hilton Tarrant can still be contacted at hilton@moneyweb.co.za.

* He owns shares in FirstRand, first purchased in July 2011.

COMMENTS   25

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Im struck by how easily the press eats up the nonsense that big businesses put out.

I have been an FNB client for over 15 years.

The truth is that each year you have to jump through more hoops and spend more money to earn less rewards. I challenge you to do your homework and prove me wrong.

How can you claim that customers are better off when the Rand cap on Fuel as an example is cut in half?

I use these point to buy vouchers to give to those that need it.
This program no longer inspires loyalty, it actually drives resentment each year. BIG Banks putting the screws on it customers.
C’mon guys!!!

It’s bizarre. Some of the best examples of consumer irrationality are on display when they consume banking services. They buy credit because the bank tells them they qualify for it. They pay hundreds of Rands a month for a different design on their plastic card. They enthusiastically play rewards games to “earn” back money that at least partly they wouldn’t otherwise have spent. etc. etc.

It’s quite brilliant though how the banking industry, and FNB in particular, has taken an intrinsically boring service, like say MWEB’s, and turned it into something more like Apple’s business.

no investigative journalism…but at least the frustration of the clients are noted.

I’ve just taken a homeloan with them, boy am I sorry.

Who knows what next year will bring.

Agree, no loyalty inspired.

Perhaps this will be reversed, to the “bad old rules”

Join the club; I was pestered by an FNB salesman to take a home loan, just beating rates from another provider. Trouble started as soon as I agreed – the rate on the agreement was well more than quoted; to and fro eventually settled for slightly more than the original. The lawyer used was almost backstreet so that was to and from to sign and change. Over the few years of the loan there have been arbitrary changes in the stop order details are all sorts of other hassles that necessitate a visit to the bank; an exercise in patience.

Just yesterday, after another irritating arbitrary change, I said I wish we’d never ever gone with FNB and maybe we should change; we have two other loans with the other provider – zero hassles.

What you say is true, but compared to other banks it is still a better deal. I also know a few people who complained about the limit on vouchers, but for the rest of us it’s a pretty sweet deal.

If my calculations are correct, the max ebucks one can earn per month on Gold Level 5 (given current fuel price) is about eb7500.

I used to earn eb10 000 to eb12 000 easily. This sucks. Will be closing FNB accounts and go back to using Capitec. Just not worth the hassle, especially the Engen only part.

Yea, join Capitec which offers zero rewards. FNB still gives the best rewards despite the reductions.

The biggest impact is not the fuel rewards, but rather the halved spending limits, particular on the total card spend and on Checkers/Shoprite spend. For example, you cannot buy a month’s groceries at Checkers/Shoprite any more. This means clients will likely shop around instead of being loyal to one partner.

For many, having to change their habits to fill up at a different fuel partner may be too much of an inconvenience.

The second biggest impact is the slashing of discount vouchers. In the past, you could get 40% discount on Dischem, Checkers/Shoprite and Cape Union Mart/Poetry vouchers if you paid with eBucks. There was no limit on the amount, as long as you had eBucks. This made the value of an eBucks much higher (1eB = 1.4 discount voucher eB).

The new rules limit this to a few hundred rands a month. This means that if you decided to leave FNB, cashing out your eBucks is much more difficult.

In short, the bank is increasing the incentive to look around at other options. For a significant part of the market, Discovery Bank may be the answer (fingers crossed!).

Hi…where are the details on the reduction on the amount of vouchers you can purchase from the retailers per month?

I looked on the ebucks comms and this article and didn’t see that.

What about the Makro vouchers which disappeared.
I get your point, but it’s actually 1eB = 1.66eB)
Discovery bank will come out with mega offers and you will move your one kidney to them. Once your kidney is there, it will be flame grilled. There hoops have changed more and the investment you make with insurers is sometime bigger than your investment with the bank. (longer term)
The hope is actually for Bank Zero to come show them

Totally agree, whereas I used to buy as much as possible from Checkers…i will now spend R2000 at checkers (no point in spending more) and the rest at PnP.

With the fuel prices expected to climb, the eBucks will become less every month as the reward is based on liters and not Rand value and a Rand limit of R1500
The purchase limit at Checkers has also reduced from R4000 to R1750 and this means we used to earn ebucks of eb6000, now with the reduced limit will only earn eb2625. We used to earn around eb10000 per month and now we will only earn around eb6000.
Very nice of FNB treating their loyal client in this way.

Its obvious that people are unhappy . How can they say its an improvement when they decreasing the Voucher Amount that one can purchase Each Month BY A DRASTIC AMOUNT. I always do one international travel with the family ANNUALLY – How can I now manage on only 4 tickets for economy . Also I was told by the travel dept that the ticket I booked in May will count towards my new yearly allocation – IT IS UNFAIR WHEN THE IMPLEMENTATION ONLY STARTS IN JULY . The Life Cover increase from R 400 000 TO R 800 000 REALLY IS ABSURD . It means my premiums go from 341 .67 to 667.07 a month ( Really whose fooling who ) I can go on and on but the CLIENTS HAVE SPOKEN.

I am sorry but I have to ask — is this a serious comment or subtle tongue-in-cheek?

You do realize the irony of complaining about the cost of international holidays when a lot of our countrymen and women are living hand to mouth?

The comment is about current benefits and how the new benefits will be impacting him. It’s also exactly what the article is about…the new changes.

Not that it matters, but the overseas annual trips could to do charity work or a well deserved holiday.

Definitely a valid and serious comment. I would have rather said if the lifestyle includes overseas annual trips the 800k life cover may be too little…

As with all reward programs. Wait until you have a critical mass that have changed their spending habits. See where you as the provider are giving the most benefit and then slash the benefit and trust that they will continue like morons to follow the same pattern
FNB..you wish us to be loyal customers..be a loyal bank and support us like we support you. Will be looking elsewhere after 30 years of being your customer. PS my nearest Engen in a 104 km round trip..so the ebucks reward does not justify the trip.

Loyalty no longer

Engen is owned by Petronas and Phembani if I am correct. FNB, I have no incentive to support Engen.

Phembani is in turn owned by,amongst others, Standard Bank and Old Mutual, so FNB wants its customers and shareholders to benefit other banks and pay other banks while at it.

Companies owned by established capital get to be listed publicly so that everyone has a chance to benefit from the companies economically and in any other way.

BEE entities and SPV’s don’t do that even if they could list for the benefit of only specific groups of people like your Phuthuma Nathi’s.

It’s now becoming undesirable to support BEE from this perspective. List these vehicles, let everyone in.

I am not interesting in enriching Phembani FNB because as you can tell I am not pleased (I am an African).

Anyways, the reduction of the ebucks benefits just mean that we should’t focus on the ecosystem that it created but search for bargains to realize savings in the real world.

Most people I know who would get excited with ebucks are pretty well-off people, not your average Capitec clients, so I don’t think it’s worth being loyal to the ebucks scheme anymore.

Biggest downside is the limits on how much discount vouchers you can purchase. It was R5k worth of discount vouchers which has now been dropped to R1k per month.

Capitec look all the more attractive Hope FNB reads all there comments

With the hefty spend caps on Checkers, I must not buy the months groceries for my family at Checkers any more. A R3000 cap on my monthly Checkers spend wont touch sides. It will be better to spend at Pick n Pay so I can earn Smart Shopper points. And I need to get a credit card from another bank

Stay away from loyalty programs.
Get Free banking cards from Virgin money.
Great products

And we now forced to put fuel at Engen only, like really. KEEP YOUR FUEL REWARDS

Very disappointing. Have been loyal eBucks member since inception and have promoted it to all and sundry. But like a slow poison the benefits have shrunk to the point it is not that exciting anymore and time to look around. I used to get unlimited discounted trips on business class travel overseas. Then they cut it to 4 trips, then family only – now only two trips!!!! and they not even the best fares – as i say VERY DISAPPOINTING eBucks!

The only way to make money from FNB and the EBucks is to spend your EBucks buying your normal groceries and investing the the equivalent EBusks money in FNB and Shoprite shares.

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