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Five Questions to Ask About Your Signature Debit Card Program

Your signature debit card program shouldn’t be overly complicated or leave you feeling like you aren’t getting the support you need. Yet, if you’re like most issuers with a legacy network provider, you may not be seeing a clear picture of what your institution is paying in fees and what you are earning after those fees are paid. You also may not have access to the in-person support that would allow you to take your program to the next level.

If this sounds familiar, perhaps it’s time to ask these five questions about what your institution is getting out of the relationship.

Do we know what we are paying for our signature debit program?  I mean, do we REALLY know?  

Don’t worry, most issuers don’t. The billing process can be so complicated, it’s almost impossible for issuers to decipher their 20-25 page bill, or to gain a true understanding of the fees they are being charged. Often, even locating the bill in its entirety can be an overwhelming undertaking that involves contacting multiple departments within your institution. Often times issuers will find additional fees that are passed on to them through their processor. Those can include quarterly fees, annual fees and membership fees.  

Do we know what we are making on our signature debit program?

Much like trying to figure out the cost of your program, figuring out your true net interchange often takes the help of an expert. Many issuers are assessed a multitude of fees that are rolled into their bill. This makes figuring out your net interchange even more challenging. Making sure you understand what your institution’s interchange looks like after your fees are assessed is crucial to getting the full story of your program. If you need help working through the complexity of your bill, work with a debit expert who can answer your questions. Experts at Discover® Debit can help you get started reviewing your existing program and take the complexity out of the process to get more from your program. 

Do we get help from our legacy rep when we need it?  Better yet, do we even have a rep? 

For most community and regional issuers, the best their legacy provider can offer them is a toll-free number. If your team can’t pick up the phone to reach an account manager they know personally, then that is a problem. As an issuer, your team should have access to real people who can help solve real problems, in real time. From your very first meeting with a signature card program provider until long after cards are in the hands of your cardholders, you should never feel like you’re on your own with your debit card program.

Are our volume threshold discounts reasonable and achievable?  

Legacy providers may offer discounts in fees for issuers after achieving certain volume thresholds. Changes in your institution’s cardholder base, market strategy or physical footprint can cause transaction volume to decrease. Stay clear on the contractual volume commitments your institution is being held to, and be sure these commitments aren’t eating into your profitability.

Do we receive ample support for our front line employees?

When working with a signature card brand program, you should be supported long after cards are in market. Increasing activation and penetration rates are one of the many ways you can drive additional profitability from your program. Front line employees should be trained on best practices and client engagement, and should be supported continually through the life of the program. These services should be provided on an ongoing basis to account for new hires and to keep employees engaged and informed.

If you answered "no” to any of the questions above, it’s worth your time to visit with a Discover Debit expert. With a single, all-in fee and an easy to understand 2-3 page bill, your program will be simpler, with increased net income and more dedicated support.


To learn how one Discover Debit issuer saw greater profitability after issuing Discover Debit chip cards, read the Cadence Bank Case Study