SAN FRANCISCO - Financial services company Citigroup Inc said on Wednesday it had teamed its customer loyalty program with global online retailer Amazon.com Inc in what an executive said was the largest-ever rewards program.
The partnership gives 13 million Citi card members who use a variety of Citi cards the ability to shop online for goods fulfilled by Amazon, the Seattle-based Internet retailer offering a broad range of merchandise.
The program, which also allows members to accrue points by booking travel on Expedia or using Smith Barney debit cards, is part of a long-term strategy to inspire loyalty by providing more rewards selection and better customer service, said Nancy Gordon, executive vice president of Citi's rewards program, called ThankYou Network.
"Compared to a lot of other programs, it's like rewards on steroids," said Gordon.
The stakes are higher for credit card issuers now that consumers are increasingly choosing cash over credit in the midst of the global credit crunch.
At the same time, rising credit card defaults have spurred more stringent lending practices and spending limits on credit cards, which are key profit centers for banks.