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Bank of America Jumps on the Personalized Rewards Bandwagon with BankAmeriDeals

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Looking for your next big coupon score? Soon, you might just be giving Groupon a pass and logging on to your online banking system instead. Earlier this week, Bank of America® announced their plans to launch a personalized coupon service called BankAmeriDeals. Here’s how it works: if you’ve got a Bank of America® credit card or debit card, personalized special offers will automatically show up in your online account. The coupons will offer a certain percentage off your next purchase at a major retailer, which you can accept by clicking on the link. You’ll pay full price for items at checkout, but you’ll earn the discount at the end of the month via cash back in your Bank of America® account.

Bank of America® hasn’t disclosed the list of participating retailers, but we’re told they include large discount department stores, fast food chains and local restaurants. BankAmeriDeals will be available for all Bank of America® employees in February as part of its test phase. As of this writing, there’s no release date for Bank of America® customers, but we’ve got good reason to believe it’ll show up sooner rather than later.

A brand-new old idea

Despite the fanfare BankAmeriDeals is getting from the press, merchant-funded rewards programs aren’t exactly new. Bank of America® may be the first mainstream, brick-and-mortar bank to offer a personalized coupon service, but quite a few online banks, including Ally, FNBO and Smarty Pig, already have similar programs. Even some credit unions have gotten in on the action. CO-OP Financial, which develops financial products and services for credit unions nationwide, manages a personalized rewards program called ShoppingFLING.

Chances are, we’re going to see a lot more of these programs in the future. Banks have been desperately trying to rebuild lost revenue from regulations that curb swipe and overdraft fees. Special coupon offers give them an opportunity to earn commissions from merchants. Bank of America® isn’t currently doing this, but they’re definitely hoping BankAmeriDeals encourages their customers to use their debit and credit cards, which gives them more money in swipe fee revenue.

Banking data = epic marketing win

It’s no wonder banks are eager to partner with retailers. Your bank account info is every marketer’s dream! They can see exactly what you’ve purchased, how often you buy things, and how you like to pay for them. This info also gives banks a huge advantage over other coupon sites like Groupon; they can offer targeted deals more easily. Banks can make sure their customers receive offers for stores they already like, as opposed to stores they’d potentially be interested in. Plus, bank coupons are easy to redeem. There’s no new account to sign up for, and nothing to print out. Just click a link, spend the money, and wait for the cash back to magically appear.

But what about my privacy?

What? You don’t want to share your highly personal transaction records with marketing executives? Not to worry; none of these third-party coupon providers will identify you as a face or a name. To the system, you’re just some anonymous person who spends a lot of money on coffee, music downloads, and cat food. Speaking of which, would you be interested in saving $5 on $30 worth of purchases at Petco? For the record, Bank of America® promises not to share customer data with third parties, retailers and marketing firms included, and you’ll always have the option to opt out of the deals service entirely.

How BankAmeriDeals stacks up

When it comes to bonus programs, there are better programs out there than BankAmeriDeals. Here are our top picks for bank accounts with awesome, automatic cash back programs:

Ally Interest Checking with Ally Perks

Ally Perks works just like BankAmeriDeals, except that it doesn’t require any kind of opt-in. If you have an Ally Interest Checking Account, all you need to do is make a qualifying purchase with your debit card, and you’ll receive money back in your account automatically. To see the offers you’re eligible for, log into your account and click on the Current Offers tab under Ally Perks.

PerkStreet

We like PerkStreet because it rewards you for all your debit card purchases. First off, you earn 5% back on rotating merchants that change monthly. You also get 2% back on a list of merchants like Amazon, Walmart and Target when you shop online, up to $2,500 spent a year; 2% back at those merchants in-store, if your account balance exceeds $5,000; and 2% back when you and a friend shop at the same place. Finally, you get an unlimited cash back on all non-PIN purchases.

Sallie Mae High-Yield Savings Account with Upromise

Sallie Mae’s Upromise program is a discount club that helps you save money for college. Shop through their online mall to earn 1 – 25% cash back on qualifying purchases automatically, or register a credit or debit card to get up to 8% cash back at qualifying restaurants. If you opt to transfer your reward money into a Sallie Mae High- Yield Savings Account, you’ll get a 10% annual match on your earnings.

For credit card rewards: NerdWallet’s online discount tool

This is not a bank account, obviously. We just thought we’d remind you to get extra rewards mileage out of your credit card, since that’s kind of our thing. The NerdWallet discount tool lets you search for deals at online credit card rewards malls. Search by card provider or retailer to discover great deals you’re already eligible for, or see if a different card can save you more money with your favorite retailer.