Banks are welcoming more partnerships with financial technology companies — adding services in an effort to reinvigorate faith in banks amid the ongoing backlash against new fees.

During the end of 2011, banks succumbed to consumer protests after Bank of America® drew attention to industry-wide plans to charge debit card fees. Aware of the public backlash, Bank of America® and other major banks have rescinded plans to introduce this fee.

As 2012 begins, U.S. banks may be trying to turn a new page. Many of them are tapping financial technology companies to improve their current products — and the new upgrades cost nothing to customers.

Dealing Rewards

Bank of America® unveiled its merchant-funded rewards program, called BankAmeriDeals, that offers customer discounts at participating retailers. After activating an offer online, customers simply use a credit card or debit card to redeem it. The program is powered by Cardlytics, a company that provides loyalty solutions to financial institutions.

Compared to the now-defunct debit card fee, BankAmeriDeals is a 180-degree turn.

Credit Awareness

Capital One has introduced an educational tool called Journey Credit Tracker for Journey® Student Rewards credit card customers. The tool allows these customers to access a TransUnion credit score on monthly basis while also teaching them about credit.

Journey Credit Tracker is powered by Credit Karma, a company that offers credit management services at no cost. With a Credit Karma account, users can access their TransRisk score — not necessarily a credit score used by lenders — and track their credit with a credit monitoring plan.

Social Saving

SmartyPig, the online piggy bank partnered with BBVA Compass, is in talks with several undisclosed U.S. financial institutions to offer its GoalSaver product.

GoalSaver is a platform that uses the same methodology as SmartyPig. Customers are able to set savings goals and invite friends and family to contribute to those goals through popular social networks including Twitter and Facebook.

The adoption of GoalSaver by other banks will expand the idea of “social saving” — SmartyPig’s crowned feature.

Is It All Flash?

Although new additions to bank products serve to deliver a more comprehensive banking experience, it all comes back to cost.

In a 2010 poll by, nearly two-thirds of respondents preferred a free checking account over interest checking (25 percent of respondents) and rewards checking (7 percent of respondents).

Given the option between a less-costly bank account or a feature-heavy bank account, consumers may prefer the former.

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  • Sunk818

    I’ve been wanting any bank, aside from SmartyPig, to let us add virtual goals to our savings account. We don’t need separate accounts, just a ay to know we’ve allocated a certain amount to specific goals in terms of raw dollars or percentages. 

    • Simon Zhen

      I believe PNC Bank’s Virtual Wallet account offers tools to configure money goals. 

      Simple (formerly BankSimple) will also offer such a feature.

  • Great article, I liked the dealing rewards bit. I have to ask though, don’t you think cardholders would be more receptive if they were able to receive offers at the SKU level?

    • Simon Zhen

      It may be better for cardholders, but I’d think that bank and card issuers would rather dole out deals that are attractive to a larger portion of their customer base.

      However, Citi is tested a program similar to what you described – it was called Citi Specials. It offered limited time deals to Citi cardmembers on certain products and merchandise. That program has since been shut down.