Today’s credit card rewards programs strive to appeal to the modern-day consumer, but their roots go all the way back to the late 1800s. Founded in 1896 by Thomas Sperry and Shelly Hutchinson, S&H Green Stamps was one of the first retail loyalty programs in the United States. Merchants bought the stamps and distributed them to customers based on the amount of their purchases. 

Although the S&H catalog is a distant memory, customer loyalty programs remain popular – and competitive. Today, industry estimates report that more than three out of five credit cards issued in the U.S. are linked to rewards programs. For credit unions and financial institutions considering a card loyalty program, it’s useful to know the factors driving consumer engagement with card reward programs and how cashback compares to loyalty points in terms of their preference.

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