Most mobile-payment platforms tout speed, convenience and security as their main perks. But now Samsung Pay is offering rewards as well.
With its new Samsung Rewards program, the mobile-phone giant offers reward points for Samsung-Pay transactions that can be redeemed for gift cards, Samsung Products and more. Because you’ll still earn whatever rewards you’d earn via your credit card, this is essentially a double-dipping opportunity.
Plus, those who sign up for the program in November and December get double points on purchases made in those months.
How Samsung Rewards works
This program (which begins Nov. 17, 2016) is simple on its face, but becomes more intricate the more you drill in.
The steps to cashing in on this program are as follows:
1. Get Samsung Pay: You’ll need a device compatible with Samsung Pay AND have a debit or credit card registered with the app (private-label cards and the Samsung Rewards Visa Prepaid card don’t count).
2. Sign up for Samsung rewards via the app: You’ll also need to agree to receive notifications (email and push). Only one Samsung Rewards account per person is allowed. If you’re concerned about how Samsung Rewards will use your personal information and any data it collects via the program, you can read about that here. Suffice it to say, if you’re using a mobile payment app AND its affiliated free rewards program, Samsung is curating information on you.
3. Make purchases via the app, earn rewards: You can use Samsung Pay (or any other mobile payment app, for that matter) at any kiosk with the this symbol:
Samsung Pay’s technology is also compatible with terminals that accept only the old-fashioned magnetic stripes, via some magic called Magnetic Secure Transmission.
For each purchase you make via the app, you’ll earn rewards points in the Samsung Rewards program. Each purchase will earn you 10 to 40 points, depending on your tier (more on that in Point No. 5 below). These points will accrue in your Samsung Rewards account until you redeem them, or until they expire (which happens at the end of the calendar month one year after they are earned).
5. Spend more to earn more: The number of points you earn per purchase depends on your tier, which is, in turn, determined by how many Samsung Pay purchases you make per month. Here’s how the tiers look, from Samsung Rewards’ terms and conditions page:
As you can see, Samsung is trying to get you to use its app for every purchase. Tiered status is earned for the remainder of the month you fulfill the required number of transactions AND for the following month. So, if you earn silver status on January 15, you’ll get bumped up for the rest of January and for February. March’s tier will be determined by your spending in February.
However, be aware, there are limits to earning rewards. You will earn points only for up to 50 Samsung Pay transactions each month. And, you’re not allowed to earn points on more than 1 transaction in a five-minute period.
6. Watch for special promos Samsung has stated that it will also offer limited-time bonus offers that allow users to earn extra points. For example, those who sign up in November and December can earn double points in those months.
7. Redeem your rewards: You can redeem for Samsung products, vouchers to use on Samsung.com, value added to your Samsung Rewards Visa Prepaid card and retailer gift cards.
Should you sign up?
Whether you should sign up depends on the phone you have and your appetite for mobile payments. But here are some things to keep in mind.
1. Point value varies
A Reddit user posted a screen shot showing the redemption values for gift cards:
- The redemption value for partner gift cards varies widely, from 0.6 cents per point to 1 cent per point.
- Samsung gift cards (perhaps unsurprisingly) are the consistently best value at 5,000 points for a $50 gift card (1 cent per point).
- There are discounts on some partner gift cards that affect their redemption value.
- You can also redeem for coupon codes to get get discounts on merchandise — 5,000 points for 50 percent off a Samsung fast-charge battery pack, for example.
Samsung Rewards doesn’t always offer an excellent return on spending, it’s true. But it has no major competitors (it’s the first mobile-payments rewards system) and because the program is free, that’s not a make-or-break issue. Something is better than nothing, and you’ll be able to earn Samsung Rewards points without affecting the rewards earned by your credit card or via the retailer’s loyalty program.
2. It’s double dipping at its finest: “Double dipping” refers to earning rewards points in two programs simultaneously on the same purchase. You’ll earn Samsung Rewards points and whatever travel/cash-back rewards you’d earn from the card you use through the app.
3. You can earn rewards via debit cards: While banks’ credit card rewards programs are robust, rewards programs for debit cards are virtually non-existent. But if you link your debit card to Samsung Pay, you’ll earn Samsung Rewards points with it.
4. The app is “free:” Samsung won’t make money from you directly. It also doesn’t charge issuers a fee (like Apple Pay does). Instead, it hopes a robust mobile-payments platform may be a feature that encourages consumers to buy its phones. And all that data it’s collecting on you may come in handy as well.
5. Your cards might incentivize you to use other mobile payment apps: While the Samsung Rewards program is the first of its kind, some issuers may offer you more attractive rewards to use Apple Pay, Android Pay or something else. And that might inform your decision which phone to buy. For example, last year, Discover offered an extremely lucrative limited-time promo with Apple Pay. And the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa card offers an additional 0.3 percent cash back in addition to base earnings for purchases made with Apple Pay and Android Pay.
Plus, keep in mind that some of your cards may not even be compatible with Samsung Pay. You can see a list of compatible cards and banks here.
The bottom line
If you already have the right phone and the Samsung Pay app, the Samsung Rewards program allows you to earn some extra rewards with little effort. It may even be worth trying Samsung Pay for if you haven’t already.
If you’re trying to maximize rewards, though, Samsung Pay shouldn’t be your only avenue. Rewards cards give you a broader range of rewards on a much wider range of purchases.