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ExxonMobil to Launch New Rewards Card

Also will drop fee on the purchase of gift cards

HOUSTON --ExxonMobil plans to offer its retailers a new rewards card that will allow customers to accumulate rewards--said to be worth “dollars, not just cents”--by shopping at various national-brand chains, CSP Daily News has learned.

The Houston-based refiner notified marketers of the impending launch of the card, called “FuelCircle,” by letter on Monday. Retailers should expect to start seeing the card at their stores beginning Nov. 1. Marketers will be charged a fee of 10 cents on every transaction, company credit-card officials said.

Just in time for the holiday shopping season, the company has also decided to drop fees charged to marketers when customers buy ExxonMobil gift cards on their credit or debit cards. However, with the cancellation of fees, the company will no longer give retailers a discount on their purchases of gift cards that it introduced in 2011. “Our goal is to achieve 100% penetration of ExxonMobil gift card availability in our branded locations,” said Chris R. Mahoney, U.S. branded wholesale manager.

ExxonMobil has given marketers no more details on the FuelCircle card to date. Earlier this year, CSP Daily News was the first to report the launch of the concept. (See “Related Content” below.)

The card is the creation of SVM LP, a Des Plaines, Ill.-based gift and prepaid card provider. The company formed a FuelCircle business unit to focus on gasoline rewards and stored-value card management. The plan was to use SVM’s existing relationships with companies like BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil and Sunoco to create a branded nationwide network for the redemption of stored-value fuel rewards.

The program is a "dollars off” model vs. "cents off" because customers can earn larger rewards as they shop at participating retailers. "Fuel-rewards programs typically are funded at less than 1% to 2% of purchase," said John Cullen, general manager for SVM LP. "But shopping in the circle [or coalition] of stores, they could earn $25, $30, $50."

The longer vision was to develop a coalition program involving non-competing retailers, Cullen added.

"As a result of [the oil brands’] support, we will be able to launch our new FuelCircle reward and loyalty division with nearly 40,000 fuel redemption locations in our network," said Marshall Reavis, CEO for SVM.

In March, Cullen said that retailers would pay no upfront costs for the equipment required to accept the FuelCircle card, but there would be a nominal issuance fee. Otherwise, it’s “pay as you go,” with a monthly fee calculated on a per-store basis. It is not clear if those terms will apply to ExxonMobil retailers.

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