Publication: Payment Card Rewards Programs and Consumer Payment Choice

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Title Payment Card Rewards Programs and Consumer Payment Choice
Authors/Editors* Andrew T. Ching, Fumiko Hayashi
Where published* Journal of Banking and Finance
How published* Journal
Year* 2010
Volume 34
Number 8
Pages 1773-1787
Keywords Consumer Choice, Payment Methods, Rewards Programs, Interchange fee
By using a unique data set that contains detailed information on consumer perceived attributes of payment methods and consumer perceived acceptance of payment methods by merchants, we estimate the direct effects of rewards card programs on consumer payment choice for in-store transactions. Our estimation approach allows us to alleviate the endogeneity problem of rewards. To shed light on the public policy debate about whether to allow interchange fees to cover the costs of rewards, we conduct counterfactual experiments to examine the effects of removing rewards from credit and/or debit cards, and find that: (i) a small percentage of consumers would switch from electronic to paper-based payment methods, (ii) the effect of removing credit card rewards is greater than that of removing debit card rewards, and consequently, (iii) removing rewards from both credit and debit cards would reduce credit card transactions, but increase debit card transactions, and (iv) removing rewards could reduce consumer credit card debt. We also discuss implications on how removing rewards may influence card issuer profitability and consumer welfare.
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