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Samsung Pay Has a New Rewards Program to Woo More Consumers

Samsung announces new high-end SmartphoneSamsung announces new high-end Smartphone
Samsung Pay is demonstrated on a smartphone produced by the South Korean manufacturer.Photograph by Teresa Dapp — picture-alliance/dpa/AP

Samsung announced on Tuesday a new enticement to woo consumers through a rewards program similar to the credit card industry’s favorite perk.

Under the new rewards program, people who use Samsung Pay will rack up points that can be redeemed for Samsung products, prepaid Visa cards, and gift cards to other retailers. Samsung Pay is only available on Samsung smartphones released in the past few years. But unlike most other programs, it can work with both wireless checkout terminals and older terminals requiring a magnetic card swipe.

Unlike typical credit card rewards programs, Samsung points are not earned per dollar spent but per transaction with the amount of points awarded based on a multi-tiered schedule. People who make up to five transactions in a month will receive 10 points per transaction moving all the way up to 40 points for the 31st transaction and beyond in a month. Points will expire after one year.

The move comes amid a fierce battle among retailers, banks, and technology companies to gain the lead in the tiny but fast-growing market for mobile payments. Everyone from Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOGL) to Walmart (WMT) and Citibank (C) have their own separate, phone-based payments programs.

Consumers still have concerns about security and convenience, however. Less than 1% of the value of all retail store payments was made via a mobile wallet app this year, Fitch Ratings reported this week.

Smartphone-based payment plans haven’t struck most consumers as much more convenient than just pulling a credit or debit card out of their wallet. Thus, Samsung and others are seeking to offer more incentives to pay with a phone. Department store chain Kohl’s, for example, automatically links payments made with its mobile wallet app to its Yes2You rewards program.

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The new Samsung Pay rewards program could be extra appealing for some credit card users. If a credit card has its own rewards program, a user could get rewarded twice by also earning points from Samsung. Debit cards don’t usually have rewards programs, so the Samsung plan is a new way to get something back while using a debit card.

“Samsung Rewards also allows you to ‘double dip’ on rewards points,” Nana Murugesan, general manager of services and new business at Samsung Electronics America, noted in a blog post announcing the new program.

In the fine print accompanying the program, Samsung noted the rewards plan’s “first phase” under the current rules is scheduled to end in one year, but that timing could be shortened or extended at any time. Furthermore, users can only be rewarded for 50 transactions per month and one transaction every five minutes.