credit & debt

Coming Soon: Coupons on Your Bank Statement

Millions will be able to collect discounts when they check their accounts online.

The next time you check your bank or credit-card statement online, you might notice offers for discounts at retailers where you recently made purchases. For example, right next to that Starbucks transaction you'll see an offer to get $50 of coffee for $25 (see a sample screenshot). It's like a daily deal personalized for you, says Schwark Satyavolu, CEO and co-founder of BillShrink, the company that has partnered with 2,500 banks and credit unions to offer this service.

Called StatementRewards, the service will be available to more than 8 million bank and credit-card customers in the coming weeks. They'll see on their online statements links to redeem coupons and loyalty rewards based on the amount spent at a particular store (that is, the more you spend, the bigger the discount you'll receive). The key is to use the debit or credit card linked to the StatementRewards account to maximize rewards.

When users click on a link to redeem a reward, they will see an expanded window with full reward detail and will be able to "purchase" it with the card that corresponds to their StatementRewards account, Satyavolu says. They will receive a receipt for the reward and instructions on how to redeem it. All activity happens directly within the online bank statement environment so users never have to leave the page.

And customers with smart phones can choose to be notified of discounts when they're near their favorite stores. The savings may be greater than what they receive on their online bank statements because of customers' actual proximity to a store.

Sounds like an easy way to get discounts at your favorite stores, right? But do you really want to be tempted to spend more as you're looking at the credit-card debt you need to pay off or a checking-account balance that might not be enough to cover the bills? "If consumers were completely rational, you'd argue that anything that helps them save money is good," says Adam Hanft, CEO of marketing firm Hanft Projects. "But it's another way to get people to spend money."

The other thing to consider is that a third party is analyzing your spending habits (then getting a cut of your transactions when you take advantage of the special offers on your account statements). This sort of data mining and targeted advertising isn't a new development by any means, but "it's a little bit more invasive when you get it in your bank statement," Hanft says.

What do you think? Would you like to get special offers this way, or would you rather not have this sort of advertising on your bank or credit-card statement? Share your thoughts on the new StatementRewards service in the comments box below.

In addition to discounts, StatementRewards also offers a bill analyzer service similar to what BillShrink offers on its site now. Users will be prompted to enter some basic information about their cell phone and television use and commutes (BillShrink.com lets consumers compare gas stations and wireless and television service plans, in addition to credit cards and savings rates). The StatementRewards service will then parse through products and services to match users with the best offerings.

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