Dollars for Your Swipes: Six US Companies Innovating in Rewards

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Behind everything we do, there’s a big company capturing our data, packaging it up and trading it on an open market so companies, marketers, and brands can do a better job selling products. It’s a reality that we’ve all come to accept. Recently, a group of startups has begun to push back and offer products that finally give the individual a role in this exchange and rewards them for their contribution.

There are so many ways to maximize the value of your spending; between cashback apps like Dosh or Rakuten, or various airline miles shopping sites, you can earn rewards on your everyday spending. The problem with most is, at best, you get a nominal amount back for a lot of effort, so sometimes the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.

Recently, a new breed of card-linked rewards platforms has come to the market offering stock and Bitcoin. The effort to earn is minimal, and what you get can grow in value.

As someone who loves getting free stuff, I decided to test out a series of cashback and rewards apps. The following list showcases my particular favorites. After reviewing several platforms, many with notable names, I found the best in class — and the best part is they all work simultaneously, and don’t get in the way of any existing rewards program with your credit or debit card.

1. Bumped
With their beta launch in 2018, Bumped put a stake in the ground and took loyalty rewards to a whole new level. Fast Company agreed and named the company to its 2019 List of the Most Innovative Companies in Finance. If you haven’t requested an account, stop reading this post and go to Bumped and sign up now.
Bumped

Bumped

The platform is simple. During the registration process, users select their favorite brands in several categories, link their credit card, then get rewarded in the form of fractional shares of stock for purchase made at the retailers they’ve selected. Bumped is also a Finra licensed broker/dealer in all states, so users can sell directly through the app.
2. Pei

Powered by Empyr (one of the major card-linked cashback engines), Pei offers cashback for everyday purchases at large chains and small local stores, restaurants, and coffee shops. Their percentage-back per purchase is on par with their competitors, but how they reward customers in what sets the platform apart. Users earn points for purchases that they can redeem for cash, gift cards, or Bitcoin.

Given how the price of Bitcoin fluctuates, with the right timing, what the user earns today, can be worth triple down the line. Or, if the user for a different redemption method, there are bonuses for selecting cash or specific retailers. The company is just getting started and, according to Crunchbase, is still working off of seed capital. Pei is a company to watch.
3. Lolli
Another “free” service we all need is an internet browser, just like other freebies I mentioned earlier, when we use a browser, we’re giving personal information away wholesale. Lolli is working to change this and reward users for purchases they make on their desktop. With a simple browser plugin, users can earn up to 30% cashback in Bitcoin for a majority of the purchases they make online.

Setup is simple, and in a short amount of time, with minimal effort, users can bank a decent amount of Bitcoin.
4. Meemo
Founded by two former Snap product developers, who felt there was no financial service designed for the target user group, they spent the last few years designing for, so they decided to build it. Meemo is a secure, social finance app where the user’s online spending meets their everyday life with automatic rewards.

Unlike other rewards app with a predefined set of offers, Meemo uses AI to determine the user’s favorite places and products based on recent transactions then serves up custom offers. Retailers will be attracted to this approach because it lets them reward repeat customers.
5. Bits of Stock

Bits of Stock rewards users with fractional shares of stock from some of the world’s most well-known companies, by enabling individuals to discover, unlock, and make purchases offers within the app.

Bits of Stock

Bits of Stock

Unlike similar products, through a recently announced partnership with Button, brands can target Bits of Stock users who are most likely to make a purchase, optimizing, and adding efficiency to the affiliate marketing channel in a way that’s never been done before.

6. Spurse (coming soon)

Although still under development, Spurse is part of a new generation of cashback rewards apps that mix commerce and social media by incentivizing individuals to make purchases and share the cashback they earn with friends or various charities. This is a smart way to reward individuals for everyday social media behavior.

Spurse

Spurse

Since it’s card-linked, users will earn rewards for things they buy online and offline purchases. The app will also include an influencer section, where users receive exclusive content and shopping experiences from their favorite influencers.

Honorable Mention – Nate

Although not a traditional rewards app, the incentive Nate offers is efficiency and simplification. The app uses AI to enable users to skip the online checkout process, with one small catch, to use Nate, users have to share the products they’re buying.

The social component of Nate is further enhanced by enabling users to create curated lists and share across their social platforms. This small feature opens up several possibilities for affiliate marketing and has the potential to reshape influencer marketing. The founder’s goal is to take the algorithms out of social buying, and instead let users inspire each other through their purchases.

  • Managing Editor, North America at The Fintech Times

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