One of the banks I do business with gives away as a premium for opening a checking account a benefit where they’ll rebate you $10 per quarter in exchange for submitting grocery or gas receipts.

People usually think this is a way for a marketing company to understand your buying habits. The bank does nothing to dissuade that belief. But that’s not the idea at all.

You have to remember to request rebate forms, they don’t automatically send you more. You have to save your original receipts and mail them in. And then you have to hope they actually process it and mail you the check.

In other words, they get a top line benefit to market that they’re giving you $40. But most people never get anything, or if they do they get $10 per quarter for a couple of quarters and then forget or give up. I have to imagine that on average the benefit really costs them a couple of bucks per accountholder, there are a few people who get their $40 per year but most people get zero.

When making the decision to be a customer, though, people hear $40 rather than $0.

That’s part of the principle at work with the SkyGuide Executive Privilege Club which will reimburse $600 per calendar year for 12 airline lounge visits plus $300 per year for 12 gym visits. And since membership is on a 12-month cycle but reimbursement caps are per calendar year, you can actually get $1800 in reimbursements … for a $20 trial membership.

And the folks signing up for this program, highlighted on my blog and on forums like Milepoint, are much more likely than average to actually put in for their reimbursements. (It also helps that a club lounge pass is going to be $50, not $10, so the incentive to bother submitting the claim is higher.)

SkyGuide also sells their mailing list of high-end clients and makes quite of bit of coin that way as well.

Another similar program came to my attention yesterday, Feecation.

Here’s how it works:

  • There’s a 1 month free trial, then it’s $14.97 a month. So about $180 per year.

  • They will reimburse most any airline, hotel, rental car, and wireless internet access fee — up to $10 per instance.

  • They will reimburse up to $500 in air fees, and $250 each in hotel, car, and wifi, in a year.

  • It’s possible to get $1250 in reimbursements for the $180 in membership fees — doing so would take a minimum of 125 submissions.

  • Break-even is 18 submissions during a year.

Clearly at $10 per submission, the incentive is lower than if they were reimbursing the full cost of fees. But it looks like reimbursement requests can at least be processed electronically rather than having to mail them in.

The company’s business model strikes me as similar to the grocery and gas reimbursement that my bank offers, most consumers will join and not use the benefit, maybe they’ll submit a couple of claims and then forget they’re signed up while they’re being billed $15 per month. They make money on a concept similar to breakage.

Feecation offered me a free one-year membership to try it out in hopes I’d review the site, that’s not my style, so I declined but asked whether I might give away a free one-year membership instead. They were game, though I’m not sure how appealing the concept is, I’d love feedback. Should I do a giveaway of a one-year membership to Feecation? It’s worth ‘up to’ $1250 in reimbursements, of course, and would save the $14.97 monthly fees for someone.

Here’s their FAQ, they do a 30 day free trial, the question folks need to figure out is whether they’re likely to have a minimum of 18 fee submissions per year to break even (and even then it’s not worth it, because you’re not recouping the value of your time to process the submissions). And whether you’re likely to stick to it. There’s a lot of potential here, even more than as I’ve outlined because you can presumably get reimbursements during your 30 day free trial and it doesn’t appear that you’re limited to a certain number of reimbursements per month, you could conceivably max out on your reimbursements long before a year is up and then cancel. But will you really have $250 in wireless access (e.g. Gogo) fees, $10 at a time? And 50 instances of airline fees, 25 instances of hotel extra fees, and 25 instances of car rental fees? Definitely ‘your mileage may vary’.

  1. greek2me said,

    I’d pass. Not a hign enough return on the time and effort for me to bother with, but thanks for putting this out there.

  2. Scottrick said,

    Are these reimbursements for fees only, or for actual purchases that might include fees? An elite member might never have to pay for some of these fees, but he or she is most likely to travel often enough to reach the break even point.

  3. LarryInNYC said,

    Important to note that this appears to apply only to US travel (domestic airlines, US hotels, etc).

  4. Michael said,

    So if I want to try out an admirals club visit next month, which service will allow me to visit it for free (after I submit the $50 fee)?

  5. Jules said,

    Is it just me, or does the name Feecation sound disturbingly scatalogical?

  6. Robert F said,

    Sounds really painful to me. Life’s too short to burn hours filling out, mailing, tracking, and depositing rebates.

  7. Mike said,

    If I am not mistaken you can purchase 12 lounge passes online, submit the paperwork for each, then cancel the membership. Minimal cost for those of us who cant justify an annual membership.

  8. sobore said,

    This covers checked bag fees which could makes this worth it to some.

  9. James said,

    Hmm – Frequent fliers who are also coupon-clippers – sounds like a valuable marketing demographic!

  10. Michael A said,

    But if it’s $10 per instance, that’s not even going to cover a checked bag, right?

  11. Easy Victor said,

    re: wireless internet. Does $10 per instance mean per stay, or per day?

  12. MJL said,

    What a horrible name. When I first saw it I thought, feces-ation LOL.

  13. Jim said,

    So when it says “per instance” does that mean if I have a 10 day stay at a resort (on a single bill), I could get $100 back for resort fees and $100 back for parking fees?

    Could I purchase 50, $10 snacks on one flight and get reimbursed $500 for all of them?

    I could see myself purchasing a things I normally wouldn’t just so I could get a refund…Gogo, food on a plane, GPS, etc.

  14. Anthony H said,

    I just bought it, traveling tomorrow-so we will see what I get reimbursed for. thanks

  15. Jack said,

    I see this as something very risky. They collect lots of monthly fees, delay refunding requests, then quietly disappear into the night, pocketing all the fees. It has happened before, and will again. No one person has enough invested to justify going after them to get their money back, and they’ll come back with another name to nail another bunch of suckers.

  16. Brad said,

    Just want to point out that this is a much more restrictive version of http://www.premiertravelforchase.com

    The Chase program is excellent for reimbursements (takes a week after faxing in receipts) and there is no ‘per-instance’ limit. You can even get reimbursed $200 per year for a lounge membership. Cost is $25.00 per month, and I average $100+ per month in reimbursements (end up cancelling the membership after a few months once I reach the $1k maximum per year on airline fees).

  17. Seth said,

    I recently completed a 30-day trial and charged up $50 of refundable fees. Since then I cancelled m y account and I can no longer log in to check the status of my rebates since they took away my website account access! I emailed customer service (no phone number of course) to see what the status is of the rebates. They clearly should refund them within 3-6 weeks as stated in their terms, but it has been 4 weeks already.

    Not sure that I would recommend this program if they never give me my rebates.

  18. Dusten said,

    How can you signup for the chase premier travel verison?

  19. Patricia Lockwood said,

    I called to have the $1.99 removed from my account. user name is 617113 and password is 32807. if I find you take $14.99 out of account,will be turned over to Better Business and my attorney.

  20. Chris P. Jones said,

    Hey @Seth, did you get your rebates? I’m about to be in the same situation as you, canceling after the free trial.

  21. robertsuriano said,

    I do not want feecation don’t even know how I got itcancel immediately

  22. robertsuriano said,

    I would never fly. Scared to death.
    cancel imeadatly

  23. Tim said,

    You guys do know this is now the website for the program right. I mean to cancel you need to call there customer service and not just post on here.

  24. robertsuriano said,

    I would never step foot on a plane I don’t know how you got my information or how you were able to charge me $15 so I’m filing a claim with my bank against your company

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