Last week, San Francisco, CA-based financial services provider Wells Fargo & Company announced Go Far Rewards, its merchant-funded credit card rewards programme available to all customers with a rewards-based credit card from Wells Fargo. The programme offers a unique twist on the "relationship banking" reward model popularized in the last decade - instead of allowing you to earn rewards across banking products, Go Far gives members the ability to redeem rewards across banking products. It's a twist that just might pay dividends in the form of enhanced retail banking loyalty.
Through the programme, customers can redeem their rewards at any Wells Fargo ATM, use rewards toward their qualifying Wells Fargo checking or savings account or apply toward the principal balance of a qualifying Wells Fargo line or loan (mortgage, home equity, credit card, personal or auto loan). Customers can also take advantage of options to pool rewards with other customers, gift rewards to other customers or to charity, create wish lists and more. These features are in addition to more traditional rewards such as travel, merchandise and gift cards. Money quote from Beverly Anderson, head of Consumer Financial Services for Wells Fargo:
�Customers use their credit cards to pay for ordinary things they do every day, and we want the rewards they earn from doing that to feel extraordinary. With an emphasis on the flexibility and accessibility our customers told us they want, we spent the past few years updating our rewards programme so significantly we felt it deserved a new name.�
The programme also includes such member-friendly features as pooling rewards with other rewards customers or gifting rewards to other programme participants. Cardholders can also redeem their rewards toward a �CharityChoice� gift card, thereby making a donation to charity through the programme. IIn addition, the programme offers an enhanced travel search engine � including an interactive �How Far Can I Go� feature that provides destination recommendations based on accumulated rewards.
The Bullet Point: Retail banks such as Citi, Banco Popular, and others enjoyed varying levels of success with the "relationship banking" model of the last decade, in which members could earn rewards across the bank's various retail banking products, including mortages, loans, and savings and checking accounts in addition to the traditional credit card spend. While some of these programmes were more successful than others, the model struggled to offer meaningful earning power outside of credit card spend, and in many cases the programmes became little more than "credit card plus" programmes that failed to build traction outside of the core credit card base.
The Wells Fargo model, by contrast, turns relationship banking on its head by allowing members to redeem for rewards across their banking relationships. The merchant-funded model helps control reward costs, while members can use their rewards to pull out a couple of twenties from the ATM, ease the sting of a loan payment, or combine rewards with family members to redeem for big-ticket travel or merchandise.
Whether this model will encourage members to consolidate their retail banking products with Wells Fargo remains to be seen. But it's an interesting twist on an old model, and we look forward to learning how well the programme works for them. It's an innovative twist the likes of which we hope to see more in the banking industry.