Chargebacks, Payments

All About Card-Linked Marketing

Fraud False Positives_Blog Image

Merchants are looking for customers. Customers are looking for great deals. It’s not hard to see a way to bridge that gap, and in the age of big data there are countless ways to deliver the best deals and offers to the right customers.

One especially seamless vehicle for coupons and cash back is card-linked marketing, in which customers opt in to special offers that activate when they pay for their purchase with the linked card. How does card-linked marketing work, and is it a safe and cost-effective way for merchants to attract a greater number of deal-savvy customers?

  1. What is Card-Linked Marketing?
  2. Is Card-Linked Marketing Worth it for Merchants?
  3. How Can Fraud and Chargebacks Affect Card-Linked Marketing?
  4. Conclusion

Shoppers are highly motivated by a great deal, with almost two-thirds stating that a coupon or promotional offer can convince them to make a purchase they might otherwise have passed on. For merchants, the challenge is in getting the right offer in front of the person who needs to see it.

BNPL E-Guide

Promoting deals to uninterested audiences is a waste of your marketing dollar, and too much hyper-targeting can feel invasive. To achieve the highest ROI, merchants need to be able to identify targets who are on the verge of purchasing but need a little more incentive.

Another thing that can prevent special offers from succeeding is that they can be cumbersome for shoppers to redeem, even if it’s just a digital code that they need to save and remember.

The easier it is for the consumer to take advantage of the deal you’re offering, the more likely they are to take you up on it.

By drawing insights from a cardholder’s transaction history and activating automatically through the use of the payment card, card-linked marketing can solve both of these problems. Like any marketing initiative, its success will depend on a number of factors, but merchants should be aware of its possibilities and understand how they can use it to their advantage.

What is Card-Linked Marketing?

Card-linked marketing refers to various methods of offering special deals and promotions to your customers through their payment card. Once the customer opts in to the offer, they can receive its benefits simply by using the linked card to pay for it.

There are a few different ways to engage in card-linked marketing. One way is through third-party apps or promoters like Yelp, or Groupon, who help connect merchants with the customers looking for their products and services. Customers can sign up for the offer on the app, link their chosen payment card, and automatically receive the benefits of the deal when they complete the purchase.

In the more direct form of card-linked marketing, the customer’s issuing bank provides them with special deals and offers right on their card statement, or elsewhere within their online banking experience.

Here, the customer can activate the deals they’re interested in as they are reviewing their statement or making a payment, and just as in the previous example, the benefits kick in as soon as payment is made with the linked card. Instant cash back is a popular offering for this type of deal.

Is Card-Linked Marketing Worth it for Merchants?

When issuing banks offer card-linked marketing opportunities, the big selling point is that you can take advantage of insights about shopping habits and customer behavior based on cardholders’ entire transaction history.

This can provide an exceptionally accurate, data-based view into how the cardholder shops, what they’re interested in, and what they’re likely to buy next, allowing you to send your offers to the audience segments that are most likely to appreciate them.

Manage Chargeback In-House Or OutshoreThird-party card-linked offers can be beneficial as well, if you choose the right partners. Customers will specifically go looking for deals on things like travel and dining out, so it’s important to know where consumers go coupon-hunting in your particular industry.

Another benefit for merchants is that you can always properly attribute the revenue earned by card-linked marketing efforts, making it easier to see the true ROI. For more than six out of ten consumers, discounts and coupons are the main thing that builds up their loyalty to a brand. Card-linked marketing can help you strengthen your customer relationships, but there is always some potential for this to backfire.

Cardholders don’t always like to see their purchasing history reflected back at them in the form of anticipatory offers, especially if they receive repeated ads for products that are no longer relevant to them. Merchants who engage in card-linked marketing should track its performance closely.

How Can Fraud and Chargebacks Affect Card-Linked Marketing?

There’s no reason to expect card-linked marketing to increase your exposure to fraud or disputes. Card-linked offers might even serve as useful indicators of safety when you’re using fraud scoring tools to protect yourself. When a customer has signed up for an offer that appears in their own bank statement, that’s a good sign that it’s the actual cardholder, not a fraudster.

One potential impact of fraud is that fraudulent transactions—both true credit card fraud and friendly fraud—can lead to a purchase history that contains inaccurate data for the purpose of generating useful marketing insights.

Merchants should also be careful to thoroughly vet any third-party providers of card-linked marketing services that they’re thinking of using. Look for trusted providers with a proven track record, and know how to recognize the signs of affiliate marketing scams and related forms of fraud. 


Merchants are always under pressure to compete for business and offer the best deals possible. There will always be a coupon-cutting, deal-hunting segment of your audience that will respond well to special offers, but even if you manage to get their attention with the right deal, you still have the challenge of getting them to follow through on redeeming it. Reducing the number of steps in this process and making it as friction-free as possible is one of the great strengths of card-linked marketing.

Any time you change up your marketing, you can be bringing in new customers with new expectations. This always has the potential to affect your chargeback rate, so be sure to monitor that along with the other KPIs that will tell you whether your campaign is succeeding or not. When you know why changes are occurring to your chargeback rate, you can take immediate steps to mitigate the problem.

Thanks for following the Chargeback Gurus blog. Feel free to submit topic suggestions, questions, or requests for advice to:

Chargebacks 101