Choosing the Right Global Reward for Surveys and Marketing Programs

Choosing the Right Global Reward for Surveys and Marketing Programs

If you manage surveys or marketing campaigns across national borders, you know what a headache it can be to deliver rewards to global recipients.

Sending physical gifts or checks is not only a time consuming and expensive process, there’s always the risk that incentives will be lost in the mail.

Digital incentives, such as virtual Visa/MasterCard, are easy and safe to use worldwide. They arrive in minutes and are trackable online, which makes your campaign more effective and reliable.

But with so many options to choose from, how can you be sure the reward you select will be a good fit for your global campaign?

Here are the ins and outs of digital global rewards.

Which Global Reward Should You Choose?

There are three options for digital global rewards: local e-gift cards (such as Amazon UK), virtual Visa/MasterCard and PayPal.

Each option has its own strengths and weaknesses that are important to understand.

The table below lists some of the pros and cons to consider when selecting a global reward for your survey or marketing program.

Local e-Gift Cards (Example: e-Gift Card)Visa/MasterCardPayPal
Country AcceptanceRestricted to Country IssuedWorldwide (minor list of unsupported countries). Worldwide (minor list of unsupported countries).
Issuing CurrencyLocal Currency Only Example: gift cards are only issued in GBP.

US Dollar (USD)

Canadian Dollar (CAD)

Great British Pound (GBP)

Euro (EUR)

US Dollar (USD)
ExpirationVaries by Country Examples: Gift cards in Canada never expire. Gift cards in India usually have a 6-12 month expiration. 6 – 18 Months expirationN/A
Spending FlexibilityRestricted to Issuing BrandFlexibleFlexible
Online and In Store Purchases

Online and In Store

In store is applicable only if issuing brand has stores

Online and In Store

In store use requires recipient to request a plastic card for a small fee. Plastic card availability may be limited to certain countries.

Online Only
Special Requirements to Receive RewardNoneRegister on Visa or MasterCard Cardholder WebsitePayPal Account Required
Surcharge on Top of Reward CostNo SurchargeNo SurchargeSurcharge Applies

Local E-Gift Cards as Global Rewards

Local e-gift cards from stores like Amazon are a popular incentive option to consider. You can send these with personalized and customizable emails. Recipients love being able to use their incentives for online or in-store purchases. There are no surcharges, or special requirements to receive the reward and most importantly, e-gift cards are securely delivered via email and they’re trackable online.

However, local e-gift cards are restricted to use with the issuing brand.  You can’t use an iTunes e-gift card on Amazon. And, the expiration dates of local e-gift cards vary depending on what country you’re in.  For example, e-gift cards in Canada never expire, but in India, they usually have a 6-12 month expiration.

It’s important to note that most online stores only accept gift cards from their own country. As a result, you cannot use an gift card on Amazon’s German website ( for example. That means you must send separate groups of incentives for each country your recipients live in.

North American and European markets have a huge selection of e-gift cards to choose from. However, you will soon realize that this isn’t the case in the rest of the world. If you choose to use e-gift cards as a part of a global rewards program, proper planning is essential. Make sure you determine that enough e-gifts are available in your participants’ countries.

In general, e-gift cards are a good choice if your recipients are limited to just one or two countries and e-gifts are available for those countries. If your program involves recipients from multiple countries, it is best to consider rewards that are universal and more flexible.


PayPal is a flexible option for incentivizing global participants. PayPal is a popular money transfer service with consumers and online businesses. It also offers businesses the ability to send cash payments across borders.

There are tens of thousands of websites that accept PayPal payments globally, which makes it an appealing option. However, PayPal can only be used for purchases online and cannot be used for in-store purchases.

While PayPal is accepted pretty much worldwide and funds received into a PayPal account never expire, realize that recipients must have a PayPal account to use a PayPal reward and surcharges apply.

International Virtual Visa or MasterCard

Finally, international virtual Visa and MasterCards have become a top incentive choice among global researchers and marketers. Their flexibility and wide acceptance make them popular products.

A virtual Visa or MasterCard can be quickly delivered as a digital code via email virtually anywhere in the world. The recipient then registers the code at a cardholder website to immediately receive a Visa or MasterCard debit card which can be spent online, via mobile apps or on the phone.

With virtual Visa or MasterCard, the same incentive is valid across most countries. These “cards” can be issued  in many major currencies such as USD and EUR. The value of the card can be spent in any currency. The card automatically converts local currency charges to the issuing currency.  That makes it possible to incentivize participants almost anywhere in the world.

Not only can you use virtual Visa and MasterCard online, you can use them in a store as well.  However, in-store use requires the recipient to request a plastic card for a small fee, and plastic card availability may be limited to certain countries.

It is important to note that recipients must register on Visa or MasterCard’s cardholder website, and these rewards are subject to expiration dates. Recipients typically have 6-18 months to redeem their card and spend the balance.


With so many options to choose from, digital incentives provide a fast, safe, and easy way to offer global rewards for surveys and marketing programs.

When deciding which global reward is the right fit for your research project or campaign, make sure you consider the advantages and limitations of each global option.  Whether you decide to use a local e-gift card, virtual Visa/MasterCard or PayPal, every marketing or research campaign can now be supported with a great global digital reward option.

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Brenda Stoltz


Brenda has over 20 years of experience building, selling and marketing products for F100 and start-ups.