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Tighter eBucks limits mean less value

Potential earnings up to 80% lower in certain categories …

While several significant changes to FNB’s popular eBucks rewards programme kick in this month (Read: Big eBucks changes coming), the tightening up of earn rules across all accounts means that rewards are now capped at far stricter levels.

Certain behaviours (such as holding products or performing certain transactions via specific channels) earn customers points which then determine which reward level they are on for the following month. eBucks are then earned on certain types of spending, depending on reward level. For example, a Premier customer on reward level five will earn 15% back in eBucks on their spend at Checkers/Shoprite, while one on reward level three will only earn 5%.

Regardless of their reward level, however, monthly earning is capped across all categories. It’s these limits that FNB has tightened substantially from July. For Premier (neé Platinum) customers, this means a reduction in potential eBucks earned of anywhere from 33% to 80%. For Private Clients account holders, the drop is between 16% and 78%.

The steepest reduction is for in-store shopping at grocery partner Checkers/Shoprite. Until June, Premier customers could earn eBucks on their first R10 000 of spend at Checkers/Shoprite stores in a month (or 20% of their total qualifying monthly spend). Realistically, hitting that R10 000 base was difficult, especially since the 20% of total qualifying spend rule was also in place (you’d need to spend R50 000 a month on your cards to hit the limit). The new cap is 80% lower, at just R2 000 a month (while the 20% of spend rule remains), which translates to maximum earnings of eB3 000. This means that a customer will only earn the higher percentage of eBucks (up to 15%) at this partner on effectively a large monthly shop from July. Thereafter, any spend at Checkers/Shoprite will fall into the in-store shopping category, at an earn rate of just 2% on a credit card (at reward level five) and 0.25% on a cheque card (regardless of level). On in-store shopping, the limit has been halved to R10 000 a month, whereafter customers will earn a flat rate of 0.5% back in eBucks.

The amount of eBucks customers earn on each litre of fuel has increased from July because of how rewards are calculated. Instead of a percentage earned on total fuel spend, customers will earn up to R4 a litre back at Engen fuel stations only. This means a 45-litre tank-fill will earn eb1 800 (R180) at reward level five, from around eB1 065 (R106) currently. Here, the monthly cap has dropped from R4 500 for fuel and Uber trips to just R2 000 for fuel at Engen (or 20% of total spend). At current prices, customers will only earn eBucks on three (45 litre) tanks of fuel a month: a maximum of eB5 000 (despite the petrol price).

The old and new limits for Premier and Private Clients accounts are compared below:

Premier account

2018

2017

In-store shopping

R10 000, thereafter 0.5%

R20 000, thereafter 0.5%

Online shopping

R2 500, thereafter 0.5%

R5 000, thereafter 0.5%

Checkers/Shoprite

R2 000 (/20% of total)

R10 000 (/20% of total)

Engen (2017: fuel)

R2 000 (/20% of total)

R4 500 (/20% of total)

Uber

R1 000 (/20% of total)

 

Private Clients account

2018

2017

In-store shopping

R15 000, thereafter 0.5%

R25 000, thereafter 0.5%

Online shopping

R5 000, thereafter 0.5%

R7 500, thereafter 0.5%

Checkers/Shoprite

R3 000 (/20% of total)

R13 500 (/20% of total)

Engen (2017: fuel)

R2 500 (/20% of total)

R4 750 (/20% of total)*

Uber

R1 500 (/20% of total)*

*Includes Gautrain

Let’s consider a hypothetical level five Premier customer who does R15 000 in-store shopping (via credit card), R3 000 of online shopping (also credit card), R2 500 spend at Checkers, ±R4 000 fuel spend a month (180 litres), and has R500 of Uber bills. With the new limits (providing they don’t hit any 20% of total spend caps), they’ll earn just over 20% fewer eBucks than before at the same levels of spend. This is significant. These lower limits mean a far lower amount of potential payouts that the bank will have to make via eBucks.

Premier account

2018

2017

In-store shopping

eB2 250

eB3 000

Online shopping

eB525

eB1 200

Checkers/Shoprite

eB3 000

eB3 750

Engen (2017: fuel)

eB5 000

eB6 750

Uber

eB750

Total

eB11 525 (R1 152.50)

eB14 700 (R1 470)

Those households that shift the majority of their spend through a single account ­at the highest reward level to get the maximum amount of rewards – an old ‘trick’ to max out reward potential – are surely unhappy. And customers (like this author) who are on an atypical account-type (such as Gold, but should be on Premier, or Premier, but should be on Private Clients) will also be affected by this change as their spend will generally easily hit the reward caps.

Full 2018 earn rules are available here.

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

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

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COMMENTS   21

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Ruthless tactic… they’ve roped in a substantial amount of clients with their products and now they slowly decrease the benefits and increase the targets. Compared to 4 years ago eBucks is now becoming burden to try and maintain a high level.
Even the products and “savings” on the eBucks website are overpriced and a rip-off.
Really pathetic

So true. Luckily I kept my Capitec account active and go back to that. Will be closing down my FNB stuff except the Easy account. Was good while it lasted though

This was not just a snip and tuck – it is a ruthless cut across the board which is going to drive loyal single banked customers to look @ ‘again’ becoming multi bank like I used to be.

The caps are ridiculous as well R7,500 for online and R30,000 for in-store for Private Wealth clients.

The other one that makes no sense when everyone is trying to drive online purchases is cutting level 5 online purchases from 6% (with new R7,500 cap) to 3% which is the same as in-store.

Sigh…back to opening a Woolies black card to have to start channeling spend to maximise benefit.

Thanks for the new inconvenience FNB – think you will regret this one because it will decrease your volumes and lose you loyal customers which are hard to win back

Have always compared the Discovery Vitality benefits to eBucks and preferred Vitality. As soon as Discovery Bank opens its doors it will be a quick move across now, no regrets in leaving FNB.

Pick ‘n Pay did exactly the same thing with their ‘Smart Shopper’ concept. The moment they thought they had captured a huge slice of the market, then they reduced (halved) the points you got for your spend. You also lost your points if they were not spent by certain time frames. The result is that I now do my big spending at Checkers where they are far cheaper without the loyalty card. So, what will happen now? Discovery is about to embark on a huge campaign to gather the masses for their forthcoming banking release into the South African Market. So bad timing for FNB as many will now play the field – so to speak. I have already cut down the number and type of accounts I have with FNB. So far the winner is Capitec with their minimal cost but high interest rate on daily debit card accounts, and Investec with their high interest rates and NO charges on some of their call account options. Having said that, if Capitec or Investec start playing sill buggers like FNB are doing, I will move my accounts without blinking and eye.

The may have missed the discounted vouchers which plan to be further reduced.

Fuel reward has actually reduced if you were maxing the cap. Now you have to use Uber (expensive when you actually have a car)

Some accounts have had the grocer category and device rebate (R500) taken away completely.

The caps are supposed to growing with inflation (Like bracket creep) instead your nut sack gets squeezed further.

There has been a been a gradual squeeze in the last few years. For this onslaught we need Captain Marvel (bank zero or Discovery bank) to save us.

I think reward systems like eBucks and UCount are inflationary to all consumers. The fact that there are 15% available from retailers like Shoprite etc. means that everyone else ( who is not with FNB, for example) are actually paying 15% more. The rest of the country is thus funding FNB customers’ savings.
Banks should not be allowed to have reward cards. Actually, it should be banned altogether. It just creates inflated prices – and we do not need that. It is, in essence, a scam.

Yep ban everything WE do not like.

WE know everything and WE are always right.

Thanks Hilton; a good article.

Hilton given the moans by the free-lunchers is there any better “free” bank rewards system?

Thanks.

Bad move FNB.

Many people, like myself, were very loyal to you guys. Getting a CC, Cheque Account, Bond, Car Payments, Life insurance, savings into a 32 day ACC to maximise the benefits.

This proverbial F-U to clients will not be taken lightly.

But thank you for allowing customers to wake up and wipe the ebucks tripe out of our eyes. From here on, it’s looking at how I can pay the least while getting the best benefit.

I guess all I can say is that, it has been good but its over now. Thank FNB till we meet again.

Nothing is free that is free

I checked the FNB website. This article has a ‘small’ error in the calculation of the Checkers reward. Once you have reached your cap of R3000 (depending on your segment), you will NOT earn any further ebucks at 2%.

You would earn the rate for normal in-store purchases, surely?

It is 17h55 on Wednesday 4 July. I have just had a call from CCD Couriers for and on behalf of FNB to deliver my new replacement cheque card which expires this month. The gist of the conversation is that the courier company totally at their choice and discretion, will SMS me by tomorrow morning to give me a date and approximate time in the next 3 to 5 working days in order to deliver m new card. I have no choice at all as to the delivery date and time, but I was informed that if the date and time CCD couriers choose to deliver my card does not suit me, then I can go onto FNB’s website in order to see the charges I will incur if I want delivery at a time which better suits me then one selected by CCD. How is that for a cheek? My life must be put on hold to suit a courier company who is being paid a fee by my trusted bankers to provide me with the means to access my own money. FNB have forgotten that I have paid fees for years and that I am the client and not them. Time too give them sight of my middle finger and move on elsewhere. I think when Discovery come on line shortly, FNB is going to be in a severe state of shock, and deservedly so.

I hope somebody at Discovery is reading these comments and paying attention because I too am eagerly awaiting their offering. Ebucks was fun while it lasted, I must say, I used it to the max and got a huge amount of value from it. I stupidly took the free phone option as well (if on level 5) which im now going to pay for as I wont be able to maintain level 5…argh! To their credit I was offered a 5% interest rate on a personal
transaction account yesterday – so maybe they taking notice of Capitec offering!

FNB/RMB have been ripping people off for years, in all kinds of ways that most people don’t ever pick up. This latest scam has finally opened people’s eyes. Great stuff.

Hilton, what about a comparison with SAMBA wrt grocery shopping. They are with PnP and Shoprite/checkers but no garages unfortunately.

How much percent do you get back from Samba? Website mentions annual profit share but no mention of percentage. Similar to Cape Consumers?

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