Voucher vs Plastic card

Pre-paid cards are an increasingly popular alternative to vouchers, but some employees still prefer paper over plastic.

Providing Gift Cards and vouchers as a staff incentive for your employees helps and encourages staff to understand core brand values, deliver enhanced customer service, increases their product knowledge, and generally improves efficiency and profitability. But which is better?

The case for vouchers

There are still many market places where paper remains dominant. Hotel groups are a good example where promotions that are short, sharp and in your face prove most beneficial. The best incentives need to stand out and create the desired buzz reaction, as bar staff generally have to manage a number of responsibilities during their daily role. Paper vouchers are great for managers to give out as instant rewards either at the beginning of the shift to help motivate the staff from the get go or at the end of the shift dependant on performance during that period.

Within the office environment vouchers would work well to bring into line managed campaigns. They can be customised, store specific, product specific or far more generic encompassing a greater spectrum of redemption options. Paper can be discounted and so offers the value proposition – a corporate client can simply take the discount off invoice or can elect to take the discount value to additional vouchers, in which case they’re improving the reward pot.

Are cards the future?

There has been a significant rise in demand for plastic cards over recent years. For some companies the staff reward sector offers fantastic growth potential particularly when linked with flexible benefits and salary sacrifice schemes. By choosing to issue cards you can benefit from reduced risk and costs, as cards do not need to be sent out using expensive secure delivery services. They can also be reloadable, so they only need to be given to each individual once, rather than once a month or however frequently vouchers are distributed. Any new top ups or rewards can be loaded onto the same card as the employees scheme progresses.

Companies are looking for new ways to do business that remove cumbersome processes and reduce overhead costs. Open loop Prepaid cards help improve profitability by streamlining payment processes, reducing costs and giving greater convenience and security. We expect that employers will respond by introducing or ramping up employee benefits schemes designed specifically to limit attrition, improve retention rate and actually help with recruitment.

While cards can offer some cost benefits over paper, they also involve some extra charges that paper does cost. With open loop cards such as Visa and MasterCard there’s limited scope to discount because of the service charge structure.
In the long term I think cards will win, particularly cards that are ‘open loop’ and issued in conjunction with the major credit card organisations such as Visa and MasterCard. Recipients can use them anywhere in the world that accepts the relevant card. They also have the ability to track data – this has been a significant factor in the growth in popularity of card programmes as it offers an important method of measuring the success of a scheme.

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