uCount vs eBucks – battle of the rewards

Standard Bank has launched uCount, a new rewards program for clients to earn cash back each month by transacting with the bank. The program operates on a tiered structure similar to FNB‘s eBucks reward program.

The uCount program allows Standard Bank customers collect rewards points every time they shop with their Standard Bank debit, cheque or credit card. The rewards vary from up to 10% in points on grocery purchases at participating stores, and up to 1.5% in points on all other general purchases.

The program also has fuel rewards where getting fuel from Caltex forecourts returns R1 in points per litre of petrol purchased. This is reward structure is only applicable until 31 December 2013, however, after which the reward rate will be 20 cents per litre.

The program is open to Standard Bank customers who have a personal transactional debit, cheque and/or credit card account in good standing. This includes minors, but excludes business customers.

The uCount points, like eBucks, work on an exchange rate of 10 points to R1.

uCount reward tiers
uCount reward tiers

Tiered value

The program operates on a tiered basis, in a manner very similar to FNB’s eBucks rewards.

The similarities between the two programs continue, as using various products from the bank allows customers to earn more tier points, which in turn allows them to access higher rewards rates.

“The more banking actions per perform and products you use every month, the more tiering points you get. Tiering points don’t hold any value – they only determine what tier you will fall into for the month,” Standard Bank said.

Points earn example
uCount points earn example

Noting the similarities between the two programs, FNB CEO Michael Jordaan cheekily tweeted on Monday (10 June 2013) that it was “flattering” that competitors were catching up to the 13 year old eBucks program.

FNB Jordaan rewards tweet
FNB Jordaan rewards tweet

eBucks versus uCount

While structurally similar to the eBucks rewards, uCount does differ. The program offers rewards for grocery purchases at selected stores, but offers no return for airtime purchases like FNB’s eBucks.

Both programs are capped, with uCount allowing customers to reap a maximum of R15,000 in rewards for tier-4 customers, while tier 1 customers can get back a maximum of R2,000.

FNB eBucks earners are capped by account, with personal cheque account holders only able to earn a maximum of eB9,250 per month, and FNB credit account holders earning eB9,000.

“The caps were put in place to curb possible abuse. When the model was created, we wanted to ensure that the programme could benefit the ‘average customer’ best,” said Jolande Duvenage, CEO of eBucks.

“The caps prevent customers from exploiting the benefits and ensures we create sustainability of the programme.”

Credit and cheque accounts can be linked to the same eBucks account for an annual fee of R200.

The following table compares top-tier rewards with maximum earning value, but should be considered as “up-to” rates.

eBucks uCount
Fuel rewards 15% R1/litre
Grocery rewards 10%
General purchases 2.5% 1.5%
Airtime rewards 15%
Reward cap eB9,250* (R925) R2,000-R15,000
Annual account fee Free** R240

*eB6250 (R625) for personal banking accounts, plus eB1500 (R150) each for fuel and airtime rewards.
**R200 per annum to link a credit account.

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