Banking giant Citibank has recently made a new Facebook app available to customers that allows participants in its ThankYou rewards program to pool their points with their friends and family via the social networking site. Citi will not disclose how many of their customers participate in the ThankYou program but the Facebook app has great potential to vastly increase membership.
Citi’s ThankYou rewards program is a loyalty program that allows Citi checking account and credit card holders to earn points that can, in turn, be redeemed for merchandise or travel rewards. Credit card users generally earn one point for each dollar charged to the card. There are even opportunities for participants to earn bonus points for things like shopping at specific retailers. Customers with a checking account enrolled in the program are eligible to earn points based upon the type of account they have and what other Citi products they utilize.
The app allows ThankYou members to outline a goal on Facebook and request points contributions from their online friends. One example Citibank provides is family members pooling points in order to purchase a plane ticket for a far away relative to use to travel home during the holidays. Another suggestion is friends working together to amass enough points to buy a big-ticket item such as a television to donate to a charity.
ThankYou members have been able to transfer their points to family members and friends via the program’s web site since last year. Because of the positive customer reception to the transfer option, Citi decided to bring it to Facebook.
“We thought, why not bring it to where customers spend time socially, on Facebook? This is a sense of multiple people pooling points for a unified cause or reward,” said Ralph Andretta, who heads up Citi’s card unit co-branding and loyalty division, according to The New York Times.
The is no fee associated with the transfer of points nor is there a limit on the amount of points an individual can transfer. However, all transferred points must be redeemed fairly quickly – within 90 days – or else they expire.
A spokeswoman for Citi asserted that the bank does not grant Facebook access to participants’ ThankYou account information and, additionally, the app has other privacy protection steps built in.
“Way to go Citi!”, – says Michael Germanovsky, Credit-land.com Editor-in-chief. “Facebook is not the only child of World Wide Web that supports Citi’s social buzz driven marketing campaigns. While it is yet to be seen if Twitter will become inventive with financial markets; Google has pioneered, in 2011, a series of projects launched at commercialization of social networking, by creating a Citi based money platform known as Google Wallet. “It’s a good thing that Citi is in an early partnership with Facebook and Google, as it looks like both social buzz driven giants will be the main targets of the 2012 financial marketing campaigns by most major banks”, says Germanovsky.