The has just teamed up with Swipely, a Providence-based company that turns the credit card in your pocket into a loyalty card at small, local businesses.
"The idea is that they can eat lunch, grab their dry cleaning and pick up a new toy for their dog in a single afternoon…and earn rewards at every stop," said founder and CEO Angus Davis.
So far, nine merchants in Back Bay have signed up:
Overall, the company has signed on with 200 businesses in the Boston and Providence area, and has a total of 350 merchants nation-wide - from New York to San Francisco to Washington D.C., Davis said.
Swipely also teamed up with the Back Bay Merchant Association to hold a raffle for free iPads to shoppers who join the Back Bay page.
"We launched the Swipely loyalty program in Providence in early 2011 after local merchants told us they wanted a turn-key way to reward their best customers," Davis said. "And people told us they didn’t want to carry a stack of loyalty cards, cut coupons, buy vouchers or “check in” on mobile phones just to earn loyalty rewards - it’s too much trouble."
Instead, Swipely transforms whatever credit card in your pocket into a loyalty card. Once you register your card at Swipely.com for free, earning rewards is automatic.
You earn a cash-back reward for signing up, and then earn points for every dollar you spend at that merchant. Once you have enough points, you can redeem them for a cash-back reward.
"One of our members just bought a plane ticket with all the cash she saved when buying fresh juices and vegan baked goods - how awesome is that?" Davis said.
Although Visa-centric at first, the company now includes all major credit cards, including MasterCard, American Express and Discover, and every major brand by over 5,000 different banks.
Davis said the company makes money by "providing merchants on Main Street with a direct marketing solution, turning their cash register into a marketing machine that powers business analytics, a turn-key loyalty program and a targeted reward platform -- all through the existing credit card network."
"Many merchants want to offer a loyalty program. Offering a free appetizer that costs $15 to a customer who has spent $200 across 4 visits to your restaurant is not only affordable, it’s a smart business decision to reward loyalty and keep that customer coming back more frequently," he said. "Before Swipely, it was too costly, difficult and time consuming for most merchants to run a sophisticated loyalty program."