Tuesday, February 14, 2012

While debit rewards decline, credit card incentives on the rise

Rewards for debit card use have declined in the wake of recent regulatory changes, but banks are increasingly making it more attractive to swipe a credit card, a survey from Bankrate.com found.

A much-discussed provision in the Dodd-Frank financial reform law capped the swipe fees merchants pay banks on debit card transactions, but did not set a limit for credit card use. As a result, credit card issuers modestly sweetened the rewards they offer to their customers.

Forty-eight percent of cards now offer 1 percent cash back from the first dollar of spending, up from 42 percent last year, Bankrate found.

"Unlike debit card rewards, which declined sharply over the past year, credit card rewards are still alive and well," said Greg McBride, senior financial analyst for Bankrate.com, in a statement. He said consumers who use their cards frequently and pay their balance in full at the end of the month is particularly attractive in this environment.