Discover Financial Services cardholders can now divvy up the rewards they earn, applying them to part of the cost of merchandise bought through its redemption website and paying for the rest with their cards.

 Improving redemption is a good idea for rewards programs, one analyst says. “Every time we research rewards redemption, consumers come back and tell us repeatedly that they value flexibility,” says Megan Bramlette, managing associate at New York-based Auriemma Consulting Group. “They don’t like to be limited in how they use their points, and they don’t want to be locked into one thing on the redemption side.” 

The new "split-pay" option announced Wednesday by the Riverwoods, Ill., issuer is one of several redemption features made available by a Discover bonus program. The revamped site also will make personalized offers based on a cardholder's Discover card purchase habits and previous redemption behavior.

"For example, if a card[hold]er makes purchases at a department store, then we may offer them a department store partner gift card as a redemption option, or if they've redeemed for an electronics partner gift card in the past, then we may offer an electronic" device," according to an e-mail from Mai Lee Ua, a Discover spokeswoman.

Discover also expanded the amount of merchandise cardholders may chose from to redeem points, from 50 items to more than 400, Dana Traci, Discover vice president of rewards and product management, tells PaymentsSource. 

MasterCard Worldwide also makes personalized merchandise offers through a shopping site it launched in April.

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